The organisers of the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival in March certainly should be applauded for opening the four day meeting with such a competitive opening race. The Supreme Novices Hurdle is usually one of the best races on opening day
The race always attracts a large competitive field and although it is more famed for the 'Cheltenham roar' when the tape goes up for the first of the Festival's 25 races it is still a facinating event that sees some of the best up and comign horses go head to head.
Race experience of the horses in the race has proved crucial in recent years with those horses who have raced in large fields and can handle the rough and tumble of a fast run race having an edge over those who come in only lightly raced.
Surprisingly, the Supreme Novices does not produce too many who go on to win the Champion Hurdle, the last horse to do this was Hors La Loi in 1999. Instead many go on to the chasing races and there are several recent winners now racing for top honours in the big chases. Hoses such as the Paul Nicholls trained, Noland who won the race in 2006. The 2008 winner, Captain Cee Bee, unfortunately has been ruled out this season through injury, but Binocular who finished behind him in last year’s race, is now favourite for the Champion Hurdle and Snap Tie, who was third in the 2008 renewal is also high in the Champion Hurdle betting having beaten 2008 Champion Hurdle winner, Katchit, earlier this season. Statistics tend to be very reliable pointers for any of the Cheltenham races and the Supreme Novices is no exception, but also remember it is not a great race for favourite backers with only three favourites winning in the last fifteen years.There are some very interesting facts concerning this race:
30 from the last 34 winners were aged 5 or 6 so check the age of the selection before making a bet.
12 from the last 13 won last time out, so always look for a 1 in the recent form box.
10 from the last 17 have been Irish trained.
The 2009 Supreme Novices Hurlde looks set to be dominated by the Irish, with Cousin Vinny, who won the Cheltenham Festivals Champion Bumper in 2008 current favourite following his seasonal reappearance in November. In that race, he was third behind stable mate Hurricane Fly, who also features high in this years betting, but it is believed that Cousin Vinny is the one who will improve the most before the Festival. Trainer, Willie Mullins was absolutely delighted with Cousin Vinny and believes the horse has a great future. He is next due to race at Navan on the 14th December, a race that is sure to have a huge impact on the Supreme Novice Hurdle betting , with Hurricane Fly also entered to run in the same race. It is also worth noting the performance of another Irish Raider in the form of Zaarito this coming weekend, also at the Navan. This horse was the favourite (finishing third) in the Bumper won by Cousin Vinny and if he shows signs of improvement for the switch to hurdles on his seasonal reappearance then the current quote of 16/1 about a Novice Hurdle win could look excellent value come Saturday afternoon.