On March 11th it returns. Equine lovers from all over the world will gather in England to watch a few days of unmatchable racing. David Rusk previews the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, a race that is run over two miles, and usually won by a flawless round of fantastic jumping. However; the fact that the race is two miles, also creates a challenge for the horses – as the pace is usually a blistering one.
Last year the race was a fascinating contest. Jockey Ruby Walsh won the race for Willie Mullins, whilst riding Champagne Fever. It was a tremendous ride from Walsh, he has even been acknowledged in the Racing Post top rides at Cheltenham list. He’s up against some fantasic rides, including Tony McCoy’s outstanding ride on Synchronised in the Gold Cup in 2012. Champagne Fever defeated some notable opponents last year, including Champion Hurdle hopeful, My Tent or Yours, who was the 15-8 favourite. As well as Jessica Harrington’s Jezki. Champagne Fever won at 5-1 on the day.
Tipping for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is no easy feat. It is a very open race and roughly eight or nine horses will have an massive chance. Nonetheless; the favourite is a very talented horse. Vautour is priced at 11/4 with SkyBet. He was an extremely impressive winner last time out on the 9th of February. He defeated the 9-10, dual Grade 1 winner, and Supreme Novice hopeful – The Tullow Tank by three lengths. Before the race The Tullow Tank was heavily tipped, but he disappointed. Willie Mullins spoke about Vautour after the race: “He did it the hard way and made the running for The Tullow Tank and everything rlse and they had to go at him and he just galloped away. I’m still happy to go for the Supreme Novice and they’ll go a fair clip in that on better ground and he won’t need to make his own running. It looks like he stays and will gallop up that hill and wasn’t stopping there.” It seems Mullins really fancies Vautour for the Supreme. I’m nearly certain that by the time Cheltenham begins – his odds will not be 11-4, they will be shorter, perhaps a starting price of 2-1.
If you’re looking for value this could be the race for you. Cinders and Ashes’ win in 2012; was an excellent start for many punters. For a 10-1 horse, there seemed to be big support for the him just before the off. This year I feel the two main outsiders could well be, The Liquidator and First Mochian. The Liquidator has some fantastic form this season, winning some top level bumpers. He is trained by D E Pipe and Tom Scudamore should be the jockey on the day. He made an impressive start over hurdles. Easily dispatching rivals in Punchestown at a short price of 2-7. He then won his first Class 1, when he beat Sea Lord very impressively by 15 lengths. After his victory against Sea Lord at Cheltenham; he was available at odds as short as 10-1 for the Supreme Novice’s Hurdle. Everything changed then, he was sent off at Kempton on Janurary 11th as the 11/8 favorite. He finished 5th out of 6 on the day. I’m assuming that this was just a blip. Yet, he’s available at odds as big as 25-1 (SkyBet) for the race so it could easily be worth an each-way shout. He does have fantastic form at Cheltenham.
Another outsider I have high hopes for is First Mochian. The former flat winner has very little experience over hurdles, having said that, his first outing was a Class 4 in Doncaster, he began at an early price of 7-4 but was pushed out to 7-2. He went on to win the race by three-quarters of a length to Huff and Puff who is trained by the on form trainer Venetia Williams. Keep an eye out for her and Liam Tredwell at the festival too. I think that First Mochian has potential, and speed. There still is question marks over his jumping. Still, I feel the Alan King horse could have an each-way shout for the Supreme. He also has recieved some early betting and his available at odds of 14-1 with SkyBet.
Finally, if I’m being honest. Vautour will be extermely diffucult to defeat. He looked like champion when he won at Leopardstown. His main danger on the day could well be Irving, who is running on Saturday in the SkyBet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton. If he could win this then his odds will be reduced again. At the moment his available at 8-1 which seems rather large for a horse of his calibre, he has not lost in his three starts over fences, however, Vaultour showed be on a different level to him.
Selection: Vautour (11-4) Each Way: The Liquidator (25-1 SkyBet)
Pundit Arena, David Rusk.
Featured Image By Carine06 from UK [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.