Cheltenham Preview: the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Cheltenham will again be packed to the rafters for this year's Festival

Will Reilly looks at the stats and facts that could lead you to the winner of the 2020 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Stats-based preview by Will Reilly of the 2020 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, which will be run at 1:30pm on Tuesday March 10th

This piece is based on this century’s runnings of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, of which there have been 19.



Horses trained in Ireland have won 12 of the 19, but only four of them were sent off as the outright-favourite. You can add in one joint-favourite, Vautour in 2014.

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) and Getabird (7/4, 2018).


The great Brave Inca


Fate of the Favourites

The market-leader has, in fact, won only four of the last 19 ‘Supremes’ (plus one joint-favourite) and only one outright-favourite has won since Brave Inca scored in 2004, which was Douvan in 2015.

There has been no British-trained winning-favourite since Forest Sun in 1990.


Initial Conclusions

What we can conclude from these facts and figures is that it has been a good race for Ireland this century, but not for the race-favourite.

It has, though, been rare for the favourite to run poorly in the race this century, with 11 market-leaders (or joint-favourites) finishing in the first three and only three finishing outside of the first five.


Willie Mullins

Willie Mullins record in the race since 2013 is 1112201, although he has had 18 runners in those seven renewals.

Willie’s winners of the race so far are – Tourist Attraction (1995), Ebaziyan (2007), Champagne Fever (2013), Vautour (2014), Douvan (2015) and Klassical Dream (2019).


Willie Mullins has a fine record in recent years in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle


Further Conclusions

The favourite often runs well without winning, and whatever Willie Mullins runs has to be seriously considered.


Age, Form, Winning-Distances

Seventeen of the last 19 winners have been aged five (7) or six (10).

Sixteen of the 19 ‘Supreme’ winners this century had won last-time out; eleven of them had won in February of the year they won it and 15 of the 19 won in January or February in the year they won it.

Only four of the last 19 ‘Supreme’ winners had previously won at Cheltenham and only two of them had won over hurdles at the track (Altior and Noland).

Winning distance: 10 of the 19 have been won by two lengths or less; 15 of them by 4.5 lengths or less; four have been won by six lengths or more, and just one has been won by a double-digit margin – Back In Front, by ten lengths in 2003.


Don’t forget that we will be BOOSTING THE PRICE of the FAVOURITE on the LIVE SHOWS in EVERY RACE at the CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL (shops and online) >>


More Conclusions

The favourite has a just-over 20% chance of winning.

A favourite trained in Britain has not won the race this century. In fact, the last favourite trained in Britain to win the race was Forest Sun in 1990.

However, there is a near-75% chance that the favourite will finish in the first five and a better-than 60% chance that an Irish-trained horse will win the race.

There is also a high-degree of probability that the winner will have won last-time out (16 of 19 have done that) and that they will have run in January of February in the year of their ‘Supreme’ victory (15 of 19).

Previous Cheltenham form is no guarantee of an advantage in the race and there is a better-than 65% chance that the winning distance will be four lengths or less (13 of 19).


And Finally…

The stats also tell us the following:

An Irish runner that is NOT the outright-favourite has a better-than 33% chance of winning (7 of 19)

The winner will be aged five or six (17 of 19)

The winner will have won last-time out, probably in January or February (15 of 19)

The favourite, if trained in Britain, has 0% chance of winning. Connections of Shiskin, look away now!



Based on the stats, Willie Mullins’ Asterion Forlonge is the one to be on. At the time of writing (11am on Friday 21st February) his price was 5/1

****NB Gordon Elliott’s exciting prospect Envoi Allen could switch from the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and run in the race if the Cheltenham going is deemed to be testing. If so then the negative favourite stat for Shishkin goes out of the window and Shishkin, Envoi Allen and Asterion Forlonges would all have to be considered serious players in the race.



The latest Bar One Racing Supreme Novices’ Hurdle prices are available here


Don’t forget that we have been NON RUNNER/NO BET (I.E. CASH BACK) on the CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL since 10am on FEBRUARY 10TH >>


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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article