On Tuesday, March 13th, at 1.30pm the 2019 Cheltenham Festival will begin in earnest. The tape will come down on the Supreme Novices Hurdle starting line and the Cheltenham roar will go up. But in one of the most hotly contested races, who will go off as favourite and who looks good for the win?
Not only is this the first race of the festival, it is also the first Grade 1 race of the event. Run over 2 miles and half a furlong, there are still 61 potential runners vying for one of the 22 spots available in the race. If you fancy taking a punt on this race then find the best online bookies and compare the odds. Even one point difference can change any potential winnings significantly!
Gordon Elliott dominates the entries with 12 from his yard. However, despite this, none of his figure in the top five of the betting. Battleoverdoyen is his shortest priced potential runner on odds of 12/1.
Continuing the trend of Irish dominance, Willie Mullins has nine potentially in contention. With an enviable record in the race, Mullins won it for three consecutive years with Champagne Fever (2013), Vautour (2014) and Douvan (2015). And all had jockey Ruby Walsh on board.
For 2019 his most likely contender is Klassical Dream. Currently 5th in the betting markets, he is around 8/1 for the Supreme Novices Hurdle. Originally run in France, he a break of a year before being transferred to Mullins in November 2018. A month later and he made his debut at Leopardstown where he showed his credentials, winning by just over a length. That was followed up by a second win at the same course in February. So overall, he may lack a little experience but he is on good form.
Al Dancer, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, is the clear favourite for the Supreme Novices Hurdle with the bookmakers. Best priced at 3/1, it’s easy to see why. He has a perfect record over hurdles and goes into the Festival with four back-to-back wins.
Trainer Joseph O’Brien looks set to saddle Fakir D’oudairies for owner JP McManus. A solid runner with recent wins at Cork and Cheltenham, the only issue is his age. At four years old, this will be a steep learning curve. No horse that young has won the Supreme Novices Hurdle since 1999 when Hors La Loi III got the win for jockey AP McCoy and trainer David Pipe.
Next in the betting is Angels Breath. With just one PTP and two hurdles under his belt, he is more inexperienced than a lot of other contenders. With one hurdle win from two outings, form is debatable. However, he is trained by Nicky Henderson and that man knows how to win a festival race!
At 7/1 is Elixir De Nutz. Trained by Colin Tizzard since October 2018, he has run four times for his new yard. Three of them were at Cheltenham and he won two of those, bagging a third win at Sandown last time out.
If you’re working off the statistics then either Al Dancer or Elixir De Nutz look like lively contenders. They have the form, the experience at Cheltenham and the going will suit them.