Who Will Win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle?

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. 2023

We now have under a week to go until the greatest show on racing turf, as the trainers, jockeys, and punters begin their final preparations for the 2023 Cheltenham Festival. As ever, four days of the very best entertainment that the sport has to offer are in store, and it all kicks off on Tuesday 14th March!

All 28 races are hotly anticipated to some degree, with the likes of the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup, in particular, dominating the column inches and racing discussion forums. However, as is always the case, one of the most iconic moments of the meeting will arrive as the roar goes up for the opening event of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Landed by superstars of the ilk of Vautour, Douvan, and Altior in recent times, this race is invariably one of the biggest betting events of the week, as punters endeavour to get their Festival off to a flying start.

Here we take a look at the race from a trend's perspective using data presented by Newbettingsites.uk, highlighting the runners most likely to claim one of the most coveted novice events of the jumping season.

Age of Winner

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

No surprise to see youth strongly favoured in a race contested by hurdlers in the early stages of their careers. Beau Caprice somehow managed to win this as a 12-year-old in that famous footballing year of 1966, but other than that the race has been dominated by 5 and 6-year-olds, with over 76% of all winners falling into that age bracket.

Applying that trend to this year’s field doesn’t help whittle the list of runners down too much, but does suggest that the four-year-old, Scriptwriter and seven-year-old duo of Givega and Parramount may be up against it.

Trainer Trends: Big Guns Lead The Way

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle top trainers

First successful with Tourist Attraction back in 1995, Willie Mullins now has seven wins to his name, with five of those successes coming since 2013. That record makes him officially the most successful trainer in the history of the race (Vincent O’Brien has ten wins, but many of those came during years when the race was split into two divisions). Given those stellar results, for many punters, the search for the winner will begin and end with Mullins list of runners. However, zeroing in on one is no straightforward task, with the Irish Champion Trainer currently having no fewer than eight entered in the race.

Leading the charge is last season’s Champion Bumper winner, Facile Vega, who had traded at a shade of odds on for this until blotting his copybook with a last of five effort at Leopardstown. Impaire Et Passe is another obvious contender, having won all three of his starts to date, but he may go for the Ballymore instead. Il Etait Temps does, however, seem likely to go here, having bolted up in a Grade 1 in Ireland last time out, whilst the twice-raced Diverge falls firmly into the “could be anything” category.

Having won three of the past seven editions, Nicky Henderson is another trainer to be feared, but his chances seem to hinge upon whether Luccia goes here or takes up a potentially easier engagement in the mares race.

Of the other trainers with a previous win to their name, Paul Nicholls relies on Tolworth Hurdle winner, Tahmuras, and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Master Chewy is amongst the rank outsiders. Gordon Elliott, meanwhile, isn’t too far behind Mullins, with seven entries at the time of writing, the pick of whom could be the consistent duo of Doctor Bravo and Imagine.

Focus On The Head of the Market

Whilst rarely being a straightforward race to call, in recent years the betting market has proven to be an excellent guide. Looking at the past ten editions of the race, only one winner has returned a double-figure SP. That shock came in 2017 when Gordon Elliotts Labaik arrived with form figures of Refused to Race, Refused to Race, Beaten 100 lengths, only to land this prize at 25/1!

Putting that unfathomable result to one side, a runner from the first five or six in the betting has come out on top more often than not, with the past ten years seeing four winning favourites or joint-favourites.

Other Factors

  • Look for runners arriving in form - 16 of the last 17 winners had finished in the first two on their most recent start.
  • Proven Class a Big Bonus - 9 of the past 10 winners had already tasted success in Graded company.

Summary: Marine to Reign Supreme, Cross in with a Squeak

A very tricky edition to assess - mainly due to the poor performance of previous hot favourite Facile Vega at Leopardstown. He is certainly in the right hands to bounce back, but is up against it on the trends with so many recent winners arriving on the back of a good run. Il Etait Temps then looks the obvious one, but the fact he could manage only fifth in last season’s Triumph Hurdle is a little off-putting. If Mullins opts to run Impaire Et Passe here rather than in the Ballymore he will be the one to carry our cash, but at this stage, the best bet may be to side with Barry Connell’s unbeaten, Marine National at 7/2 with QuinnBet. We loved the battling qualities this one showed to land the Royal Bond back in December and, having been deliberately kept fresh since, he could just be up to this.

Paul Nicholls Tahmuras would look a big player for those seeking an each-way punt at a double-figure price, but he may need the ground to come up soft to bring his stamina into play. One horse who may just be flying a little under the radar is John McConnell’s Fenor Cross. A dual course winner, this one makes it through the form trend filters and can be backed at a big 50/1 with BetUK. However, our advice would be to wait until the day, as many firms may be offering additional places on the race.

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