2021 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle tips – Runner-by-runner preview of the Festival opener
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-by-runner guide
The traditional curtain-raiser to the Cheltenham Festival the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle kicks off the first of four fantastic days’ racing at the ‘greatest show on turf’ and we’ve picked out our Supreme Novices’ Hurdle tips as we take a runner-by-runner look at the field.
The 2021 Cheltenham Festival kicks off on Tuesday with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle which goes to post at 1.20pm and the first Grade One of the four days is sure to be another cracking contest despite a relatively low turnout of just eight runners.
The two-mile contest can often throw up a future Champion Hurdle contender and is sure to attract plenty of attention from punters looking to get off to a flying start in their battle with the bookies.
Live on ITV Racing as part of their coverage of day one of the Cheltenham Festival we’ve picked out our Supreme Novices’ Hurdle tips as we take a runner-by-runner look at the big-race field.
SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE TIPS – RUNNER-BY-RUNNER PREVIEW OF THE FESTIVAL OPENER
Willie Mullins has won this race six times and the Jeremy gelding holds solid claims of taking another win back to Closutton.
Runner-up in last season’s Champion Bumper behind stablemate Ferny Hollow he has won all three starts this campaign over hurdles which includes two Grade Ones at Leopardstown where he’s had reopposing Ballyadam behind both times.
His jumping latest wasn’t the best but he still had enough in the tank to see off rivals and he’s likely to have further improvement to come with this track likely to play to his strengths.
However he’s short enough in the betting and trend watchers will be keen to take him on given favourites haven’t done too well in this race in recent years with the last being Mullins’ Douvan in 2015; while the last seven-year old to win this race was Captain Cee Bee back in 2008 and he could be a vulnerable favourite despite his form this campaign setting the standard.
Point and bumper winner who added a brace of hurdles victories to his record which include a Grade One victory in the Royal Bond Hurdle back in November although he’s twice had his colours lowered by Appreciate in successive outings at Leopardstown.
One of a handful of horses to have left Gordon Elliott for Henry De Bromhead the Fame And Glory gelding might be invigorated by a change of scenery and regime and there’s cause to think he can improve on his recent performances to offer up stiffer opposition to Willie Mullins’ charge.
Drying ground could well prove to be more in his favour than the more testing ground he’s been tackling of late and he’s 2-2 on ground described as yielding or better in Ireland so he could find some improvement as a result.
While he will need to raise his game if he’s to get the better of Appreciate It this time around he might find the undulating track more to his liking than the much flatter Leopardstown where speed tests may not have seen him at his best and he could do better.
Has just three starts to his name since joining Willie Mullins from France but he’s already proved himself to be a very smart prospect and the Blue Bresil gelding isn’t without hope with the potential for further improvement to come.
He won a French hurdle race earlier in his career and made his first start for Mullins a winning one when gaining a narrow verdict over Julies Stowaway at Punchestown in November.
There was no caste lost in defeat behind Bob Olinger in the Lawlor’s Of Naas Hurdle and he was doing good late work when finishing third to Appreciate It and Ballyadam in the Chanelle Pharma Hurdle when last seen.
On that evidence he has a bit of work to do with that pair but he could easily have more to come and the stiff finish ought to suit given how he finished off last time so he’ll likely be running on late and he has to be respected for top connections.
Progressive over the summer where he won three times at a lesser level Alex Hales’ charge took his form up a level when out-pointing Third Time Lucki in the mud at this venue in November with a Grade Two win in the Sharp Novices’ Hurdle.
That form has been franked a couple of times since but the Excelebration gelding was disappointing back from a break when last seen finishing down the field in the Betfair Hurdle behind the reopposing Soaring Glory.
On form he has a bit to find with this field and others make more appeal although he’s entitled to take his chance and he should give connections a good run without being quite good enough.
Didn’t show much in a couple of runs for David Pipe but has taken his form up a level since switching back to Chris Honour, winning his last three starts in good style albeit at a much lower level.
All three wins have come at Chepstow so undulating tracks clearly aren’t an issue and he latterly ran out a comfortable winner over Eamon an Cnoic last month although that level of form is some way below that required to win a race of this nature.
The Shirocco gelding is entitled to take his chance however but big-race jockey Bryan Carver can’t claim his usual 3lbs which makes the task a little more difficult and he’ll need to find a significant level of improvement to come out on top here.
Second of two runners from Henry De Bromhead and the Jukebox Jury gelding shouldn’t be underestimated after just three starts over hurdles.
The Gigginstown runner was a winner of his debut at Clonmel in October before twice trying Graded level where he’s come up against Appreciate It and Ballyadam each time, coming up short behind both rivals and finishing nine lengths behind Willie Mullins’ charge on both occasions.
The more testing conditions both times perhaps haven’t seen him in the best light and the drying ground at Cheltenham could elicit some improvement; while he has to buck up his ideas and find a fair chunk of improvement it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him run well for all he has a bit to find.
A useful performer on the flat in Ireland for Andrew Slattery the Mastercraftsman gelding is 3-3 over hurdles since joining Harry Fry and the progressive sort could easily have more to offer.
His latest win came when romping to a twelve lengths’ victory over Shakem Up’Arry in the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown although that wasn’t the strongest of renewals of that contest and his overall form to date can be picked apart.
That said he’s open to plenty of improvement and he can only beat what’s put against him which he’s done impressively thus far and there’s reason to think there’s more to come from him assuming he handles the potentially quicker conditions.
All three wins have come on soft and heavy ground which is a slight worry given conditions on Tuesday are likely to be far less testing than he’s encountered; but he has to be respected and further improvement can’t be ruled out so he could run well.
Beat the well-regarded Bravemansgame at Chepstow on his hurdles debut but met with defeat the next twice although looked set to collect at Wetherby when falling at the last hurdle when still travelling best.
Jonjo O’Neill’s charge subsequently bounced back to finish a good third behind My Drogo in the Kennel Gate Hurdle and that form has been franked with the winner since landing the Premier Kelso Hurdle.
Given a break following that defeat he returned to run out an impressive winner of the Betfair Hurdle, beating Fifty Ball by three lengths and there could be more to come from the Fame And Glory gelding now fitted with cheekpieces.
This will be a big step up but that Newbury contest can often throw up a decent sort for this race and he has to be respected with further improvement a possibility although he will certainly need to raise his game a notch.
2021 SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE – BIG RACE VERDICT
Appreciate It could prove a tough nut to crack as he bids to give Willie Mullins a seventh win in the race and his form this season entitles him to do so.
However at the prices it might be worth giving another chance to BALLYADAM who makes his first start for Henry De Bromhead following his move from Gordon Elliott and the switch of scenery might just be what the doctor ordered.
He’s possibly not been seen to best effect in his recent starts at Leopardstown behind the ante-post favourite where soft ground and the emphasis on speed probably haven’t played to his strengths. However he’s likely to get better ground now and a more undulating track might show him in a different light this time around as opposed to the much flatter Leopardstown.
He will have to improve on this season’s form if he is to topple Appreciate It given that that one has beaten him twice already; nevertheless he might be worth chancing to find some improvement for his new yard and with drying ground likely to be more in his favour.
Big-race jockey Jack Kennedy has yet to finish out of the places in his three rides in the race, winning with Labaik in 2017 and Henry De Bromhead’s charge ought to give a good account in a race that may play more to his strengths than recent Leopardstown encounters.