Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Tips – Day 1 – Cheltenham 2015
Supreme Novices' Hurdle
The 2015 Cheltenham Festival gets underway with the traditional curtain raiser that is the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1.30), so sit back, fasten your seatbelts and listen to the cheer when the tape goes up!
Winning Start For Mullins?
Punters will look to get the four days off to a good start, and many will be putting their faith in Willie Mullins to get the ball rolling courtesy of his 13/8 shot, Douvan.
Mullins has already won this race three times in the last 10 years, and holds a strong chance of making it a fourth with this 5yo, who is 3-4 over hurdles, and made a big impression when landing a Grade 2 at Punchestown in January. Barely off the bridle in winning by 4l under Ruby Walsh, he has yet to be tested and undoubtedly has more to come.
Some may point to the fact that he has yet to tackle good ground, but they have watered at Cheltenham and it’s unlikely he’ll be unsuited. True, only one favourite delivered during the last 10 years of this race, but that happened to be a Mullins runner in Vautour 12 months ago, and Douvan could well follow-that up.
L’Ami Serge The Value
Value seekers looking to get the jolly beat, however, will point to the fact that seven of the last 10 winners had run in a Grade 1 previously, unlike Douvan, although one with such credentials is Nicky Henderson’s, L’Ami Serge (4/1).
This 5yo has won all three races for Henderson since arriving from France, including a Grade 2 win at Ascot in Decmber, followed by the aforementioned Grade 1 win at Sandown a month later (2m, soft). That 14l victory made people sit and take notice, and if he handles the forecast good to soft ground (raced mainly on soft and heavy), then he has to be thereabouts.
Last Time Out Winners
Past winners of this race who won last time out struck four times more than those that lost directly before Cheltenham, counting against Harry Fry’s, Jollyallan (7/1), runner-up in a Listed event at Sandown 38 days ago, while another of Mullins’ runners, Shaneshill (10/1), was second in a Grade 2 at Navan in December (2m4f, soft).
One who did win last time out was John Ferguson’s, Qewy (12/1), a 5yo who won on his second outing over hurdles at Newbury last month (2m, soft). That 6l win came in an ordinary event, but the horse he beat won since, and he can only improve. He did look a touch quirky at Newbury, and will need to defy the trends, as all bar one of the last 10 winners won at least two hurdles.
Also in the winner’s enclosure last time was Warren Greatrex’s, Seedling (20/1), who won all three races for his current yard, albeit average novice events (2m-2m1f, good to soft/soft). He has to step up here if making the places, although Shay Barry’s 6yo, Bentelimar, won a Listed affair at Punchestown 37 days ago (2m, soft) when beating a decent yardstick in All Hell Let Loose over 3l. If the ground comes up drier than soft, then Bentelimar has a live each-way chance at 20/1.
An exciting clash between Willie Mullins’, Douvan, and Nicky Henderson’s, L’Ami Serge, awaits in the opener, and it is Douvan who gets the nod, having impressed so much at Punchestown, when Mullins couldn’t hide his delight for this winning machine.