2019 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Preview

Douvan jumps the last on his way to victory in the 2015 Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival

Will Reilly takes a stats-based look at Cheltenham’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Stats-based preview of the 2019 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1:30pm, Tuesday 12th March)

Horses trained in Ireland have won 14 of the last 27 Supreme Novice Hurdles, but only five of them were sent off as the outright-favourite. This includes a purple patch from 2002-2004 when Like-A-Butterfly, Back In Front and Brave Inca came home in front as the market leaders.

Mind you, since 2005 four well-supported Irish favourites have been beaten: Sweet Wake (5/2, 2006), Cousin Vinny (9/4, 2009), Dunguib (4/5, 2010), Min (15/8, 2015) and Getabird (7/4f, last year).

In fact, favourites have won only six of the last 29 Supremes, the other ones being the 7/4 chance Forest Sun in 1990, Vautour (7/2 joint-fav) in 2014 and Douvan (2/1f) in 2015.

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This means that there has been no UK-trained winning-favourite of the race since Forest Sun in 1990.

Also, there is usually a big-priced horse that manages to bag at least a place; in fact, six of the last 22 winners have been returned at 20/1 or bigger, the most-recent of them being Labaik (25/1) in 2017.

Furthermore, 22 of the last 27 market leaders (including one co-favourite and two joint-favourites) have finished in the first five in the Supreme.

Of the last 16 winners, only one (Captain Cee Bee, 2008, who was seven) has not been aged five or six – six five-year-olds have won and nine six-year-olds during that time.

All bar one of the last 27 Supreme winners had won during the season in which they were triumphant at the festival, the exception being Labaik (2017), and 20 of them had won their last race before Cheltenham.

On only five occasions in the last 27 Supremes has the winning distance been ten lengths or greater, and on 16 occasions the winning distance has been four lengths or less.

In eight of the last 17 Supremes, the winning distance has been less than a length.

Only seven of the last 28 Supreme winners had previously won at Cheltenham, and only four of those had won over hurdles at the track.

All of this suggests the following (based on the stats listed above):

  • The favourite has a just-over 20% chance of winning
  • A UK-trained favourite has a minimal chance of winning (1 from the last 28 and not since 1990)
  • There is an 85% chance that the favourite will finish in the first five
  • There is a 50% chance that an Irish-trained horse will win the race.
  • There is around a 65% chance that the winning distance will be less-than four lengths


  • Previous Cheltenham form is no guarantee of an advantage in the race
  • There is a near-80% chance that the winning distance will be less than 10 lengths
  • It is around even-money that the winning distance will be four lengths or less (based on last 17 Supremes).

Willie Mullins has won three of the last six Supreme Novices’ Hurdles – Champagne Fever (2013), Vautour (2014) and Douvan 2015), each of them ridden by Ruby Walsh. Willie has also won it with Ebaziyan (2007) and Tourist Attraction (1995).

Willie Mullins holds the trainers’ record with five wins in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle


  • The stats tell us that an Irish runner that is NOT the outright favourite has a good chance of winning, and horses aged five or six have a better than evens chance of success.
  • If you trust the stats then an Irish-trained runner that ISN’T favourite has a good chance of winning, and a horse with a double-figure price will run well.
  • The race is due off at 1:30pm on Tuesday 12th March as the opening race of the 2019 National Hunt Festival.


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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article