Supreme Novices Hurdle 2013 Preview, Trends and Tips
The opening race of the Cheltenham Festival 2013 will be the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, a high class event run over the two mile trip. It’s a race typically won by a smart horse, and there are some fairly strong angles to go at, so let’s get on with it.
Supreme Novices Hurdle 2013 Trends
– Last time out winners have won fourteen of the last sixteen renewals of the race, at a level stakes profit of over 25 points. During the last fifteen years, just two out of 183 horses which didn’t win last time out scored here, for a 149 unit loss at level stakes. Last time winners included Indefence at 25/1, Ebaziyan at 40/1, and Sausalito Bay at 14/1.
– Whilst one each of four year olds, seven year olds, and eight year olds have won the Supreme Novices in the last fifteen years, the other twelve winners were all five or six years old. Indeed, just five winners since 1973 were not five or six years old.
– Whilst eight of the last fifteen winners had yet to receive an official rating, six of the other seven were all within a fairly tight ratings band of 136 to 142. So unrated or 136-142 looks appropriate.
– Thirteen of the last fifteen winners had their last race between 16 and 60 days prior to the Supreme itself.
– Eight of the last fifteen Supreme winners were Irish-trained.
– No horse has won the Supreme Novices with less than two hurdles starts since Flown won off a single hurdles run in 1992. Thirteen of the last fifteen had between two and four prior hurdles runs.
– And fourteen of the last fifteen winners had had between one and three prior hurdles wins. Twelve of the last fifteen winners had two or three hurdle wins.
It is likely, given the ‘days since a run’ trend, that a number of key contenders will have another race before the Festival, and they’ll need to win that to be considered contenders in the Supreme itself.
Making the assumption that all horses will race once more – and win that race (a precarious assumption, I admit) – the likely shortlist on trends looks like this:
Waaheb, My Tent Or Yours, Pique Sous, Don Cossack, Shutthefrontdoor, River Maigue, Chatterbox, Sizing Rio, Ned Buntline, Un Atout, New Year’s Eve and Puffin Billy.
Although this list contains most of the top horses in the betting, it notably doesn’t include likely warm favourite, Jezki; nor the relatively over-exposed Dodging Bullets; and nor the older than ideal Melodic Rendez Vous.
Supreme Novices Hurdle 2013 Preview
As with all races at the Festival, when betting ante-post, do try to take advantage of a bookmaker offering a non-runner concession. More frustrating even than your selection getting injured is the pesky ‘wrong race scenario’. An example of this is my ante-post voucher on Puffin Billy, struck on 21st December after the horse had hacked up over two miles. On 8th January, his trainer stated Puffin Billy was more likely to go for the longer Neptune Hurdle than the Supreme. I now need to use my prayer mat each day to hope Billy goes Supreme.
Had I used BetVictor’s magnificent ‘non-runner free bet’ offer, I’d have been able to console myself with a free bet to the same value if my fellow doesn’t line up in the Supreme. I didn’t. More fool me.
OK, tale of woe aside, do look for a safety net where possible. At time of writing, only BetVictor have a non runner concession, but others will join that jamboree nearer the time.
To the preview, and the obvious place to start is with the shortish favourite, Jezki, a best-priced 7/2, and a possibility to be shorter on the day. Jezki has run four races over hurdles, and won all four, including twice in Grade 1 company. All runs have been on soft or heavy ground and, despite connections suggesting the horse will improve for quicker ground, there’s simply no evidence to support that.
Indeed, his two runs on good produced a fairly workaday win in an ordinary bumper, and a relatively moderate eighth of twenty in the Cheltenham Festival Bumper. That latter run suggests either he’s not as good on good as they’re saying or he doesn’t act around Cheltenham… or both!
Whereas plenty of his rivals on the day have more improvement to come, it’s possible that Jezki has now revealed the full extent of his (in fairness, considerable) talent. Indeed, in his last three runs he’s recorded Racing Post Ratings of 148, 149 and 149. It’s probably reasonable then to assume he’ll run no better than 150 in the Supreme itself.
Cinders And Ashes ran 151 when winning the Supreme last year; Al Ferof ran to 155 the year before; Menorah ran 150 in 2010; Go Native ran 152; Captain Cee Bee 159; Ebaziyan 150; and so on.
Basically, he will need to improve, and ratings suggest he won’t, and that something else might. But which one?
River Maigue is the next in the betting, at around 10/1. This Hendo inmate was possibly done up by the slow pace when finishing second to Dodging Bullets on his first hurdle start in a Grade 2, and put that right when bolting up in a good novice at Kempton. He’s got an entry at Haydock on Saturday 19th January, though he will need to improve by around a stone on what he’s done so far to have a chance on Festival Tuesday. That’s not out of the question, but there may be more likely candidates at this juncture.
Puffin Billy is next and, as I’ve intimated, he’s more likely to run in the Neptune. If he were to show up here, his last time out Racing Post Rating of 150 (comment: ‘cruised clear’) would give him a serious chance. Whilst 12/1 is available, the only prudent option is to side with BetVictor’s 10/1 with the non runner free bet concession. I wish I had…
My Tent Or Yours is as short at 7/1 in a place, and as long as 12/1 with Ladbrokes. Laddies don’t normally get these things badly wrong, and the fact they’re standout best price is a note in itself to my eye. MTOY has run a 149 RPR to date and is favourite for the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on 9th February. He’s got plenty of weight there and it’s a big ask. If he wins that, clearly he’s going to take some beating in the Supreme too. But that’s a sizeable ‘if’.
Again, I couldn’t put you off the 12/1 but he wouldn’t be for me… yet. If he wins the Betfair, or runs very well, I’d be happier taking a shorter price on the day of the Supreme Novices to shore up/insure my position on the race.
I can’t really have the next two, Dodging Bullets and Melodic Rendez Vous. The former has had plenty of hurdle races (six) and it’s rare for a horse to run in two novice hurdle events at the Festival: DB was fourth in the Triumph last term.
He seems best suited by a slower pace, as when scampering away from River Maigue earlier this term; and, subsequently, when grabbing third in the Christmas Dawdle… sorry, Hurdle, at Kempton.
MRV is trained by the upwardly mobile Jeremy Scott and seems to love deep ground. Three runs on heavy have yielded form of 211, including a Grade 1 bumper and a Grade 1 novice hurdle. He’s got an entry in the Neptune and that would seem a more obvious place for him to me, though the trainer is veering towards the Supreme. As a seven year old, and in what looks a pretty good year, he’s got it to do… unless it comes up bottomless at Cheltenham. (Surely we’re due some respite from the weather soon..!)
Two interesting Irish entries are Un Atout and Waaheb. The former is unbeaten in a bumper and a novice hurdle and, whilst he’ll need to improve his jumping, he has an opportunity to do just that in a competitive looking novice at Naas on Saturday. If he takes his chance, I’d expect him to go close there. If he wins nicely, I’d expect him to go close at Cheltenham on soft ground. His only entry is the Supreme, so at least if he does go to Cheltenham, it’s highly likely it’ll be in the opening race.
Waaheb is trained by the magnificent Dermot ‘Wizard’ Weld, and though Weld’s record in this race is surprisingly poor (0 from 7, six of them priced 16/1 or shorter), I do like his fellow here. Waaheb has won four of his six starts in bumpers and hurdles, and finished second in the other two – both Grade 1’s.
He travelled well into the race last time behind Jezki, but when he clouted the second last, that ended his rally. Again, jumping needs to be of a very high class around Cheltenham, but a clear round would put him in the shake up. Unlike plenty of these, he doesn’t look to be ground dependant either, with decent form on both good and soft turf. If anything, he’s expected to improve for better ground, and 20/1 with BetVictor looks fine. (He’s a good bit bigger on the exchange if you don’t mind betting without the safety net).
And finally, one which catches my eye at a bigger price is Noel Meade’s Ned Buntline. Meade won this race with Go Native in 2009, and with Sausalito Bay in 2000, so he knows what’s required. He also had the second in 2005, and fifth in 2006, so he knows what’s required.
And Meade likes this fellow. A cosy winner last time on ground which was soft enough for him (and it was only soft), he will want things a bit quicker ideally. If he gets that, it ought to help him jump a bit better, and his high cruising speed should suit the licketty-split nature of the Supreme optimally. At 25/1 with BetVictor, I’m sorely tempted – and will likely be involved by the time you read this!
Supreme Novices Hurdle 2013 Tips
Although most of the market jostling is complete, there are still likely to be a few more skirmishes amongst the main Supreme Novices Hurdle contenders prior to the race, so we are at best taking a chance by wagering at this stage. Fortunately, BetVictor will bail us out if our nag fails to show in the race; and also we are getting a bit more jam on our bread if we’re smart/lucky enough to find a shortener.
My fancies for the race are Puffin Billy (IF he runs – only bet with BetVictor); and the Irish trio of Un Atout, Waaheb and Ned Buntline, all at prices.
Win selection: Puffin Billy (10/1 BetVictor Non-Runner Free Bet only)
Each way possibles: Un Atout 20/1 betfred, sportingbet (16/1 BetVictor Non-Runner Free Bet); Waaheb 20/1 BetVictor Non-Runner Free Bet; Ned Buntline 25/1 BetVictor Non-Runner Free Bet
Who do you like here, and why? Feel free to leave a comment and share your views.
p.s. Please take a moment to answer my latest poll question (thank you).