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Cheltenham: Supreme Novices Hurdle Preview

This year’s race will be similar to last year’s. It has a Willie Mullins favourite and an English second favourite. Here David Rusk previews the Supreme Novices Hurdle.


 

Last year this writer picked the winner of this race. Vautour was a common selection amongst the Irish Punters, he made all the running last year, he kicked for home two fences out and that was that.

It is undoubtedly a race which Irish raiders enjoy. Irish runners have won it 13 times since its inception in 1977. Willie Mullins has had four of the 13, and this year himself and Rich Ricci bid to make it three consecutive wins. Their horse Douvan will provide them with their best chance.

There are numerous trends that you must take into account when analysing this field. Firstly, as the winner has usually run in the previous months before the event, it doesn’t bode well for Shaneshill’s. He has not run since a set-back in December. However, his form at Cheltenham is pretty solid and he finished runner-up to Silver Concorde in last year’s Champion Bumper.

Douvan is a class act, but it’s worth noting that out of the previous eleven favourites priced 3/1 or shorter, only two have won: Like-A-Butterfly in 2002 and Back in Front in 2003. Two factors working for him are that he is trained in Ireland and he has had two or more wins over hurdles.

He put Sizing John to the sword at Gowran Park, and he easily dispatched Alpha Des Obeaux in his last appearance at Punchestown. He oozed confidence and class that day. Willie Mullins will be desperate to start the week with a win, and Douvan seems like a worthy favourite for the opener.

Nicky Henderson hasn’t saddled the winner of this race since 1992. Yet, L’ami Serge offers him a really strong chance to break the run; he has been in stellar form this season. He outlasted better horses than Douvan has beaten this season, including Killultagh Vic and Jolly’s Cracked It. Yet, the Mullins-Walsh combo will instantly place Douvan ahead of him in the market.

The one horse that this writer fancies is Jollyallan. He ran a huge race last time out, finishing half a length behind Garde La Victorie. Last year both Shaneshill and Silver Concorde beat him on the flat, yet he seems to be much stronger than them over hurdles.

It is AP McCoy’s final ride in the Supreme so he will be desperate to win a race which he hasn’t won since 1999, when he won on Hors La Loi III. Now he seems to be in with a realistic chance, and Harry Fry may get his first Supreme win.

Out of the rest there are a few with big chances. The main two who this writer believes to possess potential are:

Seedling – who is the only horse to have course and distance form; and Qewy – who was most impressive last time out and he really seems to be a progressive horse.

Selection: Jollyallan (7/1 Ladbrokes) Each-way: Seedling (16/1 Ladbrokes)

David Rusk, Pundit Arena

Featured image By Paul (UK Horse Racing) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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