Analysing a competitive Supreme Novices’ Hurdle ante-post market
The curtain raiser of the Cheltenham Festival, the Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle sets the tone brilliantly for what is to come over the course of the next four days. A thrilling way to open the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’, the Supreme is the leading race for the faster of juvenile horses, as it’s contested over a trip of just two miles, while it also asks serious questions of their jumping ability — as there are eight hurdles to take with speed and accuracy.
It’s also a tone setter from a punter’s point of view. A winner in the first top-grade race of the Festival can set the ball rolling nicely for the exciting week ahead, while your selection not crossing the finishing line in first is certainly not how you want to start the meeting off. With that in mind, we have delved into the ante-post market and scoured the Cheltenham betting tips for what is set to be a hugely competitive race — one that has almost everybody divided on who will come out on top.
So, without further ado, read on as we dissect the favourites and analyse their true chances of winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle…
Having been tarred and feathered by the Irish last year, embarrassingly losing 23-5 in the Prestbury Cup, many will be hoping that the British come back with a vengeance this year and they can get off to the perfect start thanks to Constitution Hill. The Nicky Henderson-trained five-year-old is unbeaten over hurdles, beating Might I by 14 lengths on his rules debut at Sandown in early December and the juvenile backed that up on his return to Surrey racecourse in January — winning the Grade 1 Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle by 12 lengths. It’s unlikely he’ll have as much breathing room in the Supreme, but he’ll certainly be there or thereabouts come the finish.
It appears that Mullins and his number one jockey are yet to decide what path Dysart Dynamo will go down at Cheltenham. The six-year-old holds possible entries in both the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and the Supreme, with the bookies favouring him more in this race, so for the purpose of this article let’s assume he runs here. Also unbeaten under rules, the six-year-old won two National Hunt flat races last season and has looked just as impressive over hurdles this campaign — winning both his races thus far by 19 lengths, including the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown. It’s perhaps the lack of clarity that is keeping Dysart Dynamo out at about 3/1.
Another horse Mullins has been umming and ahing over in the build-up to the Festival, Sir Gerhard’s Cheltenham route is also a bit blurred — with entries in both the Supreme and the Ballymore, just like the aforementioned Dysart Dynamo. A Champion Bumper winner last year after being switched to Closutton from Gordon Elliott’s shamed yard, the seven-year-old has also enjoyed an unbeaten start over hurdles this year — winning on both of his appearances at Leopardstown, including a six-length victory over Three Stripe Life in the Ireland Novice Hurdle. If Sir Gerhard is to run in this race, you’d have to fancy his chances of winning. Currently 9/2 in the ante-post market, those odds will be massively slashed if his entry is confirmed.
It’s a card set to be dominated at the fore by Mullins and Henderson, with Jonbon only slightly further out for the Seven Burrows handler. The general consensus amongst the punters is that the six-year-old is being criminally overlooked by the bookies at odds of around 5/1, but if he goes on to win then they certainly won’t be complaining. That looks to be a real possibility as well, with the JP McManus-owned horse three for three over hurdles this year — including impressive victories in the Grade 2 Howden Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot and the Grade 2 Supreme Trial at Haydock in January. Considering his form this season, it would be no surprise if Jonbon wins the Supreme.