Cheltenham Festival 2019: Supreme Novices Hurdle
The curtain raiser for the week is a race that never fails to disappoint. A two mile novice hurdle ran at a furious pace and normally won by a top quality animal that goes on to achieve bigger things the following season. Recent winners include the brilliant Altior and the much missed Vautour. This race, like last year is a really open looking contest.
The favourite Al Dancer ticks a lot of boxes as a bet, he has won at the course, had more than three starts over hurdles which will provide him in good stead compared to his rivals, additionally will enjoy the ground providing there isn’t a downpour. The quicker they go the better for him, my only issue is his price; at around 11/4 he is not worth betting. Also he wears a hood which would make me question if he is going to get overwhelmed by the big occasion.
The Irish have a fantastic record in this race winning 15 of the last 27 renewals, most notably Willie Mullins who won this race in 2013, 2014 and 2015. His main chance this year seems to be Aramon who was a Grade 1 winner over Christmas at Leopardstown displaying an electric turn of foot but subsequently went down to Klassical Dream at the Dublin Racing Festival when he got outstayed by the narrowest of margins. The latter horse seems to be stepping up in trip to go for the Ballymore on the second day of The Festival. As previously mentioned Aramon has a really good turn of foot but my concern would be if he is held up off the pace the amount of ground he would have to make up coming up the hill passing beaten horses would be a concern. He was also beat last time out which does not bode well when looking at the trends for previous winners of this race, only three of the last twenty-two winners tasted defeat on their previous run.
Fakir Doudairies staked his claim for this when absolutely annihilating the opposition on Festival Trials day at the course at the end of January, and gets weight as a four year old contesting this event. Only one four year old has won this since 1999, combined with the fact this horses action suggests need is in need of softer ground would make me be against him. Especially at the measly price of 11/2 currently on offer in a contest as open looking as this.
Elixir De Nutz, like the market leader has course form but it would concern me we won’t have seen him on the racetrack in over seventy days come next Tuesday. Also you have to factor in the probability he will not get an easy time of it up front I would not consider him worth backing and I would like to think there is a horse that could improve past him.
That brings me on to Mister Fisher, who for me ticks all the boxes of a Supreme winner. First of all, he seems like he will stay further. A lot of horses that go on to get three miles or more win this race, or at least run well in this for example Cue Card, Best Mate and Sizing John. Mister Fisher’s jumping has improved with each run and his experience will hold him in valuable stead in a big field. The faster they go the better effect this horse will be seen to in my opinion. His win last time wasn’t visually impressive but he had to give weight away to the whole field and his previous run at Kempton saw him comfortably beat good horses like Thomas Darby and Didtheyleaveyououttoo. The horse has been trained with this race in mind all season and could not have been prepared for it by a better man for the job. The icing on the cake would be if Noel Fehily rides him as Nico De Boinville will most likely ride his stablemate Angel’s Breath – who looks to need more racing experience to win this race.
Recommendation – Mister Fisher @ 10/1 (Generally available)