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supreme novices hurdle cheltenham festival day 1 12/03/2024 sport preview

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – Cheltenham Festival Day 1 12/03/2024

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Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 12/03/2024
  • Ballyburn
  • Tullyhill
  • Firefox
  • Mystical Power
  • Jeriko Du Reponet

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – Cheltenham Festival Day 1 12/03/2024

Venue: Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham UK | Dates: 12-15 March 2024 | Official Site: Cheltenham Festival 2024

1:30 Winner: £75,964.5 Runners: 38 Going: Soft Distance: 2m0f87y

The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle kicks off the Cheltenham Festival, serving as the premier race for fast-paced novice hurdlers over 2 miles. Known for its demanding test of accurate jumping at speed, winners like Altior, Vautour, and Douvan have gone on to achieve multiple Grade 1 victories.

10 Year Official Rating Trends

  • Highest Winning Official Rating:   155
  • Lowest Winning Official Rating:    144
  • Average Winning Official Rating:  152



The son of Flemensfirth heads the betting following two very impressive wins at Christmas and at the Dublin Racing Festival (DRF) in early February.  He followed a very impressive 25 length romp over 2½ miles at Leopardstown in December with a Grade 1 victory back at the same track when dropping down to 2 miles.  In truth his pedigree suggests he will be better suited by the 2m5f journey posed by the Baring Bingham Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham though many believe that he is the best novice around at any distance hence his position at the head of the market in both races.  He is considered to be by many good judges the proverbial ‘Irish Banker’ and the common train of thought is that he will win whatever race he runs in.


In truth this Mullins inmate has been a bit of a slow burner this season.  Beaten out of sight when second over 2m6f in a maiden hurdle at Punchestown in late November, he has jumped to prominence with a couple of victories over 2m during the early part of 2024.  The second of these came in a listed hurdle back at Punchestown where he comfortably beat the well regarded No Flies On Him by 9 lengths.  Allowed to dominate out front, he never looked in any danger throughout and he looks to have one way of going.  Expect to see him make the pace and wind it up from the front.  The main question surrounding him appears to be will his jumping stand the test of a Supreme?


Gordon Elliott fields a very interesting runner in the shape of Firefox.  This is because the gelded son of Walk In The Park holds a victory over the afore-mentioned Ballyburn.  The par of them dominated a maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse in early December with Firefox coming out on top by 2½ lengths from the Willie Mullins horse.  A subsequent defeat in the 2½ miles Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle in early January was disappointing though his trainer feels that the horse failed to show his true colours that day.  This reason plus the drop back to 2m is expected to see Firefox in a much better light and he is a big player based on his Fairyhouse victory.

Mystical Power

A fascinating runner who is bred to be a little bit special.  By Galileo out of the top-class mare Annie Power, Mystical Power is unbeaten in three starts.  He followed up an impressive novice hurdle victory at Galway in late summer of last year by winning the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novices Hurdle at Punchestown in mid-January.  It may not have been the greatest Grade 2 ever run containing as it did just the 4 runners however Mystical Power could do more than put 7 lengths between himself and a useful yardstick in Jigoro and the feeling is that he can only get better as he gains more experience.  He will need to step up another level to be competitive here and there is every possibility that he will do so.  There is also the possibility that he will head to the following day’s Baring Bingham Novices Hurdle with the extra distance there thought to be of no real concern.

Jeriko Du Reponet

There is something striking about this Nicky Henderson inmate.  Unbeaten in a point and 3 hurdle races he hardly came off the bridle to win his first two hurdle races however he was made to knuckle down and work hard for his Grade 2 success at Doncaster at the end of January.  Mark Walsh had to get serious with the French bred fully 3 furlongs from home and to be fair to the horse he toughed it out well and he was going away at the line.  The jockey described him as ‘electric’ over the final three hurdles and the feeling is that this race may have brought him on again given the battling qualities on display.  The Doncaster form has received a huge boost as the second and third horses have gone on to finish first and second in the Grade 2 Dovecot Hurdle at Kempton and so the form now has some real substance.  His shrewd trainer is a committed fan and he looks to be the best of the ‘home’ team.

Of the rest, Tellherthename and King Of Kingsfield (may well head to the County Hurdle) could potentially outrun their double-figure odds if turning up here, with the former being held in the highest regard by connections.  On genuinely good-to-soft ground he could easily make his presence felt.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Summary:

The race currently revolves around Ballyburn.  If he turns up here then he is the one they all have to beat.  That said, this also looks to be the race that could test him the most as he looks tailormade for the following day’s Baring Bingham Novices Hurdle.

If Ballyburn doesn’t turn up here then his Fairyhouse conqueror Firefox would be the suggestion.  A line would need be put through his last run however his form before that would give him every chance.  That said, the bet that has already been struck is Jeriko Du Reponet each-way.

The average winning official rating for the past 10 years is 161 and it generally takes a horse of mid-150’s calibre to win the race.  Jeriko Du Reponet is currently rated 132 and he has plenty to find on that basis though the feeling is this horse has much more under the bonnet and he is selected to run a big race.

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