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Ginger Joe - Cheltenham 2024 - Supreme Novices' Hurdle Preview

Publish Date: 28/02/2024
Fact checked by: James Leeland
Key Points
  • Supreme Novices’ Hurdle preview
  • Next up, my take on the Arkle Chase
  • Plenty more Cheltenham betting tips incoming soon

The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle starts the Festival with a roar

Today, I’m taking a close look at the very first race of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and I can almost hear the Cheltenham roar, as we are now only 13 days away from the big event.

Next up, I’ll be reviewing the Arkle Chase, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for that later in the week.

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The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 2m – Tuesday 12 March - Preview and predictions

The Cheltenham Festival opener is the two-mile Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and it’s a race that really sets the tone for the rest of the week. When the tapes go up and you hear the crowd roar, it’s an unbelievable experience, which I am lucky enough to enjoy every year.

Ballyburn

The current favourite is Ballyburn, for Willie Mullins, but his target is still unconfirmed. I’m fairly confident he will run here, but there is a slim possibility he could turn up in the Baring Bingham instead. The fact is that we won't be 100% sure until Sunday 10 March, just a couple of days before the Festival kicks off.

Whichever race he turns up in though, he is likely to be favourite and a worthy one at that. He has shown sufficient speed to take on the Supreme, but as a son of Flemensfirth, he clearly doesn’t mind a trip either.

Mystical Power

Mystical Power has been pinpointed as an intended runner in the Supreme and he certainly has the right form, having won the Moscow Flyer in good style. He has definitely pulled some unexpected tricks out of the bag, and he has plenty of gears to get involved here too. This son of Annie Power holds a big reputation and I think he will be very well suited to Cheltenham, but is he as good as Ballyburn? I think perhaps not.

Tullyhill

Willie Mullins also intends to run Tullyhill, who had been largely disappointing until his last start. However, as impressive as he was that day, I don’t think he is quite up to the standard required to win a Supreme.

Firefox

Firefox is very interesting indeed as he actually beat the hot favourite Ballyburn when they both met on their hurdles debuts and even though it didn’t quite work out for Firefox when he went up in trip, the drop back to 2m to me looks ideal and he ought to run a big race.

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Slade Steel

Slade Steel is similar to Firefox in the sense that they travel the same way and both look very powerful types. Slade Steel finished behind Ballyburn at the Dublin Racing Festival, but that is a huge piece of form and perhaps a change of tactics could see him finish a little closer this time. He is a very straightforward sort and still has the option of going up in trip, should connections decide to stay clear of Ballyburn and head to the Baring Bingham instead.

Jeriko Du Reponet

The surprise package could be Jeriko Du Reponet, for the Nicky Henderson team. He looks a proper nice type and a very slick Hurdler too. A lot of people have dismissed his form, but he is beating decent enough horses while doing plenty wrong, so you have to assume there is more to come from him. The main concern is you would have perhaps liked to have seen him mature more in his three starts to date but there is still time, and he is entitled to just continue improving as a novice.

Mistergif

Mistergif is an outsider to keep an eye on. He was very impressive on debut, but it’s hard to weigh up his potential here, based on that form, as nothing particularly special finished behind him that day.

My Supreme Novices’ Hurdle predictions

Ultimately, I think the one to side with is Ballyburn. As I mentioned right at the start, I’m pretty convinced that he will end up running here – he has the highest cruising speed out of these Novices and he will be very tough to beat in this field. Of the remainder, I think Jeriko Du Reponet and Firefox will pick up the next two places.

  1. Ballyburn
  2. Firefox
  3. Jeriko Du Reponet

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