2020 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle tips – Tips for Festival opener

A wonderful view at the start of the Cheltenham Festival.

Supreme Novices Hurdle Tips

Jon Vine takes a look through the betting for the first race of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival and provides readers with his 2020 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle tips for Tuesday 10th March.

At 1:30pm on Tuesday afternoon, a roar will erupt from the stands at Prestbury Park that will be heard half-way across Gloucestershire, as the starter sends the runners on their way in this year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

The opening race on the day one of the Cheltenham Festival has been won by many of the sport’s greats. Flyingbolt, L’Escargot and Golden Cygnet began their careers with victory in the Supreme, and they’ve since been followed into the winners’ enclosure by modern legends like Brave Inca, Douvan and Altior.

This year’s edition is looking stacked with quality and should open the 2020 Cheltenham Festival with an almighty bang. I’ve taken a look at the most likely runners to come up with my 2020 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle tips.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Tips – The Home Challenge

Shishkin

A winning point-to-pointer who hacked up in a bumper last season. Shishkin’s (11/4 Ladbrokes) hurdling career started with an early fall, but Nicky Henderson’s youngster has been flawless since. Nico De Boinville hardly needed to move as his young mount powered to a maiden triumph at Newbury. It was a similar story in the Sidney Banks at Huntington, where Shishkin cruised to an emphatic victory over a couple of 140-rated rivals. A worthy Supreme Novices’ Hurdle favourite.

Fiddlerontheroof

Thrown straight into the Grade Two Persian War on his hurdles debut, where Fiddlerontheroof (8/1 William Hill) lost out narrowly to Thyme Hill. Edwardstone then got the better of the short-priced favourite at Kempton, but Colin Tizzards’ charge bounced back with a bloodless maiden victory a month later. Fiddlerontheroof then produced a composed display to win the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle. While I think he’s an excellent prospect, that looked a particularly weak renewal of that Grade One, and I fear Fiddlerontheroof may lack the speed of some of his Supreme rivals. He’d be much better suited to the Ballymore.

Chantry House

Barry Geraghty needed to roust Chantry House (11/1 William Hill) along fairly early on his hurdling debut at Cheltenham. The favourite responded nicely, grinding out a snug victory over future Grade Two winner, Stolen Silver. Chantry House then produced a more dominant display at Newbury, winning by almost five lengths without being fully extended. There’s a chance, with Shishkin heading the market here, that Chantry House could be pushed up into the Ballymore. He could even enter the Martin Pipe off his current handicap mark. I have no doubt he would get two-and-a-half-miles. If he does run in the Supreme, then he’s shown enough to suggest he could challenge the fancied horses.

Fiddlerontheroof powers home to win the Tolworth.

Supreme Tips – The Raiding Party

Abacadabras

Secured impressive victories on his first couple of starts over hurdles, including a three-length triumph over Latest Exhibition. Abacadabras (11/2 William Hill) then sprang from the pack to serve up a challenge to Envoi Allen in the Royal Bond, but couldn’t muster the strength to pass his impressive stablemate. Looked a little workmanlike in winning a terrible Grade One at Leopardstown on his most recent start. Gordon Elliott’s charge also hung left and faded noticeably when finishing fourth in the Champion Bumper last year. I don’t think Cheltenham is Abacadabras type of track. He won’t be one of my 2020 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle tips.

Asterion Forlonge

Cruised to victory on his opening start of the season in bumper. Asterion Forlonge (6/1 Ladbrokes) then jumped out to his right throughout his first hurdles start at Naas, but quickened clear in eye-catching fashion to beat the firm-favourite by ten lengths. Willie Mullins’ grey then took on Easywork at the Dublin Racing Festival, and again displayed an impressive turn-of-foot to seal a nine-and-a-half-length triumph. Although the runner-up underperformed that day, take nothing away from Asterion Forlonge’s display. He’s a prime Supreme contender.

Captain Guinness

Having bolted up by seven-lengths on his stable debut, Captain Guinness (14/1 Unibet) took on Andy Dufresne in the Moscow Flyer. Henry De Bromhead’s charge came out second-best that day, but stuck to his guns well in crossing the line a half-length runner-up. The winner that day wasn’t deemed good enough to run in any of the races at Cheltenham, which has to be a knock to Captain Guinness’ form. I don’t think he has the experience to win this historic Grade One.

Supreme Tips – Overlooked Outsiders

Master Debonair

Was backed into a short-price on his hurdling debut at Cheltenham, but was beaten by 33/1 outsider Heaven Help Us. Colin Tizzard then watched Master Debonair (16/1 William Hill) grind out an impressive seven-length triumph at Ascot, before a similarly emphatic victory in the Kennel Gate. There’s no doubting that was a poor Grade Two, but Master Debonair still won easily on heavy ground which didn’t seem likely to suit. He shouldn’t be underestimated.

Edwardstone

Having beaten Fiddlerontheroof and Harry Senior in novice hurdles, Alan King’s charge went to post as the favourite for the Rossington Main. Edwardstone (20/1 Unibet) looked to have done enough to win that day, only to tie-up in the closing stages and allow the fast-finishing Stolen Silver to pip him to the post. King’s charge plummeted down the Supreme betting after that narrow defeat, but I thought the reaction was a little excessive. As each-way Supreme Novices’ Hurdle tips go, he’s one of the best available.

Edwardstone (left) gets up to beat Albert Bartlett contender Harry Senior.

Janidil

Finished a close second to Notebook on his first start on Irish soil last season. Janidil (25/1 Ladbrokes) has amassed a perfect record since his return to action in October, winning a maiden over two miles before sealing back-to-back handicap triumphs. Handicap form shouldn’t be good enough to win any Supreme, let alone this year’s edition, so won’t feature amongst my Supreme Novices’ Hurdle tips. A run in the County Hurdle seems much more likely.

Sporting John

Another who beat Harry Senior over two miles earlier in the season. Sporting John (25/1 William Hill) then faced little in the way of opposition on his second start at Exeter and won as easily as you’d expect from a 1/4 shot. He would have to take his form up to a new level to get involved here, and the betting suggests an outing in the Ballymore is more likely. Connections think highly of him, though, and Sporting John shouldn’t be overlooked too quickly.

Supreme Tips – Look At Those Odds

Soviet Pimpernel

Came to Cheltenham in November and lost out narrowly to future Contenders’ Hurdle winner, Quel Destin. Soviet Pimpernel (40/1 Unibet) then claimed a deserved Grade Three triumph at Limerick, beating Gardens Of Babylon by a couple of lengths. Was outclassed on his only previous outing in a Grade One. Shouldn’t really be a factor here either, but could finish strong if that race falls apart.

Son Of Camas

The most overlooked of Nicky Henderson’s ten entrants. Son Of Camas (50/1 Unibet) shot into Supreme contention with a taking victory over King Roland at Newbury. Henderson’s charge jumped poorly and faded behind Fiddlerontheroof in the Tolworth, but Cheltenham could suit this chaser-in-the-making much more than Sandown.

Mt Leinster

Was fancied by many to run a big race in the Chanelle Pharma, having won comfortably on his previous start in a maiden. Mt Leinster (50/1 William Hill) struggled in that Grade One though, and was taken off his feet as Asterion Forlonge and Easywork pulled clear rounding the final bend. I doubt he has the speed or quality to contend, but he’s worth a mention anyway. He could even end up in the Martin Pipe on the final day.

Stolen Silver

Went into the Betfair Hurdle on that back of that surprise triumph over Edwardstone in the Rossington Main. Stolen Silver (50/1 Unibet) was one of the last away after the standing start and never got involved, staying on to eventually place sixth. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge was unlucky that day and shouldn’t be underestimated if he was to take his chance in the Supreme. He could be one of the best each-way Supreme Novices’ Hurdle tips.

Thebannerkingrebel

Ran well to place third in the Rossington Main, where he gave five-pounds to Edwardstone and Stolen Silver at the weights. Thebannerkingrebel (66/1 Ladbrokes) got away nicely in the Betfair Hurdle and grabbed an inside pitch. Jamie Snowden’s charge then couldn’t find the pace to stick with the leaders rounding the final bend and faded rapidly after being swallowed by the pack. He won’t be one of my Supreme Novices’ Hurdle tips, but no-one should give up on this talented two-miler just yet.

Asterion Forlonge bolts up in the Chanelle Pharma.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Tips – Verdict

Nicky Henderson has clearly got an excellent prospect on his hands with Shishkin, who’s looked a Grade One-quality animal on both his most recent starts. Chantry House and Fiddlerontheroof also look to have bright futures – especially over fences – but I think both would prefer a stronger test of stamina.

Shishkin still offers value sitting on 11/4 and that price will likely get shorter as we draw closer to the meeting. I, however, would rather side with a horse with proven Grade One pedigree, so I’m going to side with another of the Donnelly’s flag-bearers in ASTERION FORLONGE.

Willie Mullins’ grey looked an outstanding prospect when winning a maiden at Naas in January, despite a few wayward leaps. Although he was still jumping out to his right at Leopardstown, Asterion Forlonge’s hurdling improved significantly in the Chanelle Pharma and the turn of foot he displayed to see off Easywork was extremely impressive.

The time of that Chanella Pharma was a second quicker than the Spring Juvenile Hurdle run that same day. A Wave Of The Sea came from well of the pace to win that juvenile race, as the pace-setters faltered close to home. Asterion Forlonge helped make the running with Easywork on very tacky ground, but still had more than enough in the tank to pull clear and win going away in the end.

I think there’s plenty more improvement to come from this horse. Asterion Forlonge can improve greatly in the jumping department and looked a little green when he hit the front at Leopardstown. You cannot ignore the turn of foot this horse possesses and, being unbeaten in four career-starts so far, he clearly has the attitude of a winner. At 6/1, Asterion Forlonge offers plenty of value and he’ll be my sole Supreme Novices’ Hurdle tip.