Supreme Novices Hurde, Cinders And AshesDonald McCain’s Cinders And Ashes (pictured) landed last year’s renewal of the Cheltenham Festival’s traditional curtain raiser, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. We’ve taken a look over the 2013 lineup and picked out a couple of generously priced horses, including a Dermot Weld trained 33/1 (34.00) chance with SportingBet. Read on, for our preview of the 2013 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle…

As always, we’ve taken a look over recent winners of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and picked out some important trends that emerge. We can use these to build a profile of a likely Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner and thin out the 2013 field. Here are the key trends that we discovered:

Key Trends

Recent Form

  • All of the last 12 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winners had contested between 2 and 4 races from the start of September up to the Cheltenham Festival
  • 11 of the last 12 winners had won 50% (or more) of those races
  • 10 of the last 12 winners had won their final preparation race ahead of the Festival

These trends pretty much speak for themselves. As with the majority of Cheltenham Festival races, we should be looking for a horse that is arriving at Prestbury Park nearing its peak. The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is no exception.

Past Form

  • All of the last 12 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winners had landed at least one race with 14 or more runners
  • 9 of the last 12 winners had won a bumper

The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is usually a big field affair, so it makes sense that our selection should be proven in big fields, where they are likely to be knocked about. We want a horse with a good attitude.

Three-quarters of the last 12 winners had won a bumper, while the three exceptions to this trend were all horses that had enjoyed a career on the flat, with none of them being rated below 86. This suggests that we want a horse with ability on the flat, as speed is crucial to the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Official Rating

  • Just 1 of the last 14 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winners was rated 143 or higher
  • 7 of the last 8 winners were rated 136 to 147

Although some winners had no rating, just one of the last 14 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winners that did have an official rating was ranked 143 or better. Seven of the last eight winners were rated 136 to 147 (inclusive) and the one exception to this rule had no rating.

In short, horses officially rated lower than 136 are probably not good enough, whereas those rated 143 or better are probably overexposed and should be swerved. Unrated horses are perfectly acceptable selections as we’re looking for a potential improver.

Summary

After applying all of the above trends to the 2013 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle field, the four that look the best to me are Annie Power, Rock Critic, Pique Sous and Whispering Gallery. All are currently available at big prices, but that’s fine as the favourite hasn’t won this race since 2004 and we’ve seen some big priced winners in recent times, including a 40/1 shot (Ebaziyan in 2007).

The Willie Mullins trained pair of Annie Power and Pique Sous look interesting, the latter especially so having finished third in last year’s Champion Bumper (showing that he is likely able to cope with the uniquely testing Cheltenham track). Mullins has trained the winner of this race twice (1995 and 2007) but his overall record isn’t actually that great – taking his winner Ebaziyan out of the equation, he has saddled 13 runners in the past ten renewals, with every single one finishing out of the frame.

I’m happy to chance Pique Sous Each-Way at a current best price of 20/1 (21.00) with Stan James based on that Champion Bumper form, but I don’t want to put all my eggs in the Mullins basket with his recent record, so I’ll put a line through Annie Power.

With the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle having consistently been a tricky puzzle to solve in recent times, I’m going to put up a second Each-Way recommendation. Of the two left on my shortlist, I marginally prefer Rock Critic, thanks to his recent victory over hurdles at Fairyhouse.

That day he beat Make Your Mark, who has placed in a Grade 2 hurdle and wasn’t exactly disgraced in the Neptune at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, by a long way. Admittedly that horse may not have been fully fit, but that form is easily the best on offer of the two, so I favour the Dermot Weld trained eight year old. The current best odds of 33/1 (34.00) with SportingBet look juicy.

Advice

The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Tuesday 12th March 2013, 13:30
Pique Sous (Each-Way) @ 20/1 (21.00) with Stan James
Rock Critic (Each-Way) @ 33/1 (34.00) with SportingBet

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