It’s the race that starts with a roar!
The Supreme Novices Hurdle, which kicks off proceedings for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, is renowned for the opening roar from the packed stands which greets the first action of the four day meeting.
This year’s renewal is a classic dual between Ireland and England. Nicky Henderson unleashes the mighty Shishkin whilst Gordon Elliott will be hoping his charge Abacadabras will continue his good recent form.
We’ll assess the chances of these two market leaders and check out the rest of the field for value.
So over to Shishkin. Hype horse or the real deal?
His reputation could certainly be described as lofty although his 2 wins this season at Newbury and in The Listed Sidney Banks Memorial Novices’ Hurdle at Huntingdon have been impressive and demonstrated enormous potential. Trainer Nicky Henderson is fairly bullish regarding his chances in The Supreme Novices.
Henderson said: “You would like to think Shishkin would be one of our best chances. He has looked very good so far and he is a genuine two-miler.”
He also went on to say that Shishkin has many gears but hasn’t really got out of first in his races so far.
Former jockey Ruby Walsh has also sent some positive signals out for the horse, believing Shishkin’s turn of foot will make the difference on race day.
He has been well backed recently. The 3/1 hung around for a long time after his impressive Newbury win and the best 11/4 available (Betfair, Coral, Betfred, Boylesports) is full ante post rules. 5/2 with NRNB available with Bet365, Bet Victor and Paddy Power.
Gordon Elliott’s progressive six year old has respectable enough claims to figure in this competitive opener. His last run in The Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown at the end of December was impressive enough in the margin of distance, 8 lengths over some decent rivals.
However, his jumping is suspect and he would have to improve on this to compete at the level of The Supreme. Plenty of question marks over whether he’ll stay up the hill also. 9/2 even with the NRNB with Bet365, Paddy Power and Bet Victor doesn’t seem good value at the moment.
This Willie Mullins entry comes into the reckoning based on two decent novice Grade 1 wins in Ireland the latter being at Leopardstown in The Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle where he scored by 8 lengths over Easy Work.
A bold run can be expected in The Supreme but there has to be a concern over his tendency to jump slightly to the right which he has demonstrated in his last two wins.
That will not be forgiven in the hustle and bustle of The Supreme, on a left handed track and with plenty needed in the tank for the uphill finish.
This Unibet Tolsworth Novice Hurdle winner, trained by Colin Tizzard represents far better value in the each way scenario (8/1 William Hill, Coral, Betfred, full ante post rules apply).
However, the horse will need soft ground and connections are not absolutely committed down the Supreme route with the Ballymore on Day 2 still very much in mind.
Chantry House merits decent each way claims for trainer Nicky Henderson (11/1 William Hill, full ante post rules apply) whilst Sporting John would need to improve to get competitive here but looks great value at 20/1 with Betfair (full ante post rules apply).
This looks like a first win in this race for Nicky Henderson since Altior triumphed back in 2016. Shishkin looks the ideal type for the course and distance whilst the turn of foot he showed at Newbury could prove decisive up the Cheltenham hill and get favourite backers off to a great start.
The two big Irish challengers represent major dangers if they show improvement. Fiddlerontheroof for the each way value.
MORE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL!
- How To Bet on the Cheltenham Festival!
- How To Bet on Horse Racing!
- How To Win at Cheltenham Festival!
- Cheltenham Festival 2020 Betting Offers!
- Cheltenham Festival 2020 Events Page!
Please note all odds are correct at the time of publishing (10:30am 23rd February 2020) and are subject to change.