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Supreme Novices’ Hurdle betting tips: Best bets for the opening race of Cheltenham Festival

    A view of the runners in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle. (credit:Credit by bettingpro)

    Our expert takes a look through the betting for the opening race on day one of the Cheltenham Festival and provides readers with his tips on Tuesday 12th March.

    Days, weeks and months of anticipation reach a climax on the first Tuesday of the Cheltenham Festival. National Hunt racing’s premier meeting kicks off in superb style with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the roar that erupts from the Prestbury Park patrons when the starter drops his flag can be heard from halfway across the county of Gloucestershire.

    Some of the greatest horses in the history of the sport have capped their first season over jumps with a victory in this Grade One, with the names of Flyingbolt, Brave Inca, Douvan and Altior shining on the honours boards. Favourite to add his name to the famous trophy in 2019 is Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Al Dancer (11/4 Unibet), who has enjoyed a faultless first campaign as a hurdler.

    Since finishing fourth in the Grade Two bumper at Aintree, Al Dancer has secured four straight wins over jumps. An eleven-length triumph in a handicap at Cheltenham was the perfect preparation for the rescheduled Betfair Hurdle at Ascot, where Sam Twiston-Davies’ guided the short-priced favourite to a superb four-length triumph. 

    The previous two winners of the Betfair Hurdle, Ballyandy and Kalashnikov both went on to place in the Supreme. Al Dancer has course form in the bag and is sure to like the ground, which looks certain to come up good-to-soft, or even good, on the opening day of the meeting. Al Dancer is the one to beat.

    Ireland has enjoyed plenty of success in the Supreme in recent season, with raiders from the Emerald Isle winning seven of the past 12 renewals. Ground conditions in Ireland have meant the likes of Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott haven’t been able to get some of their most promising youngsters out on the track – which could explain why this crop of Irish two-mile novices’ doesn’t seem as strong as the squads we have seen in previous seasons.

    Willie Mullins’ pair of Aramon (10/1 Unibet) and Klassical Dream (9/1 Unibet) served up an excellent finish in the Grade One Chanelle Pharma at the Dublin Racing Festival last month and both bring Grade One-winning form with them to England. I doubt Mullins would have plucked out Aramon as his best shot in the Supreme at the start of the season and the way Klassical Dream battled back to win at Leopardstown makes you think the Ballymore would be the most appropriate race for him.

    Gordon Elliott’s Supreme team will be led by Felix Desjy (20/1 Unibet), who benefitted from a change of tactics when winning the Moscow Flyer, but that was a weak race and he’s been found wanting in better company. Vision D’Honneur (20/1 Unibet) shot up the ante-post betting for this Grade One following a maiden victory at Punchestown, before being outclassed behind two possible rivals at the Dublin Racing Festival.

    Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly considering the seeming lack of depth in the Irish novices, Ireland leading hope in this year’s Supreme comes in the shape of juvenile Fakir D’Oudairies (4/1 Unibet) Joseph O’Brien’s charge jumped to the head of the Triumph betting after trouncing a decent field in the Triumph trial on Trials Day at Cheltenham.  With O’Brien set to unleash Sir Erec in the Triumph, switching Fakir D’Oudairies to the Supreme seems a logical choice. 

    A repeat showing of his Trials Day victory would put him in the frame, especially with the four-year-old gaining weight from his elders. However, only one juvenile has won the Supreme since 1974 and Fakir D’Oudairies may still have some growing up to do.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Angels Breath (7/1 Unibet) step up into the Ballymore. The former Supreme favourite was beaten on his most recent start in the Dovecote, forcing Henderson to consider a step up in trip, leaving Mister Fisher (10/1 Unibet) as the leading light from Seven Barrows. 

    Mister Fisher won a very strong race at Ascot before travelling to Haydock to claim the Rossington Main. That may not have been the strongest renewal of that Grade Two, but Mister Fisher clearly has plenty of speed and appeals at an each-way price. As does Grand Sancy (12/1 Unibet), who has gone from strength-to-strength since taking part in last season’s Fred Winter. 

    An each-way punt is clearly the way to find some value in this year’s Supreme and, while both of the above appeal more than the market leaders, the one who catches the eye in the current market is ELIXIR DE NUTZ (7/1 Unibet).

    I highlighted Colin Tizzard’s charge a couple of weeks ago when he was sitting on 14/1 - a ridiculous price considering what he’s achieved this term. After losing out to Thomas Darby (25/1 Unibet) in October, Elixir De Nutz claimed an impressive victory in the Grade Two Sharps Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, before securing a second course-and-distance victory over a subsequent Listed winner in Jarvey’s Plate at the International Meeting. 

    Elixir De Nutz was then a 3/1 shot in the Tolworth at Sandown. A fine front-running display and plenty of bottle in the closing stages saw Tom O’Brien’s mount hold off Grand Sancy and Angels Breath’s Kempton conqueror, Southfield Stone to claim a maiden Grade One title. 

    Summerville Boy won the Tolworth before claiming Supreme glory 12 months ago and Elixir De Nutz has both course and Grade One-winning form in the bag. Even at his current price of 7/1, he could be the best value bet in the race.

    For my second tip, I’m going to look a little further down the market for extra value. Rouge Vif (40/1 Unibet) is a horse I think will progress to a high level and Thomas Darby has a win over Elixr De Nutz to his name. Olly Murphy’s charge is clearly a talent and Murphy could be a trainer to follow at this Festival, but it’s his supposed second-string, ITCHY FEET (20/1 Unibet) who has the most going in his favour and he could be a solid each-way option at 20/1.

    Itchy Feet made hay during the dry autumn months at the start of the season, winning a bumper at Southwell before making all to beat Grand Sancy in a messy renewal of the Listed Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton. Murphy’s five-year-old then came up just short of Elixir De Nutz in the Sharps, but Itchy Feet was giving five pounds to four talented horses – three of which have come out and won since, with Seddon placing in a Graded Handicap Hurdle at the start of the New Year.

    Good ground is integral to Itchy Feet’s chances. Olly Murphy’s novice will arrive at the Festival fresh and has some vital experience around the tricky Cheltenham track. He, along with Elixir De Nutz, are the two I will be backing in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

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    Supreme Novices’ Hurdle betting tips: Best bets for the opening race of Cheltenham Festival

    Our expert takes a look through the betting for the opening race on day one of the Cheltenham Festival and provides readers with his tips on Tuesday 12th March.

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