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Supreme Novices Hurdle 2016 Result
Tue, Mar 15th, 2016

ALTIOR LANDS THE OPENER

Trainer Nicky Henderson was delighted after Altior landed the opening race of the Festival, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The 4/1 second favourite was always travelling kindly under jockey Nico de Boinville and the response was instant when asked for his effort, the pair scampering clear up the hill to record a seven length victory over 15/8 favourite Min.

"He always looked to be in the right place and Nico's given him a lovely ride," said the trainer.

"I was always happy - he is very good I think. I think between the two of them (Altior and Buveur d'Air, who finished a further length and a half behind Min in third), we had to win this race as it was our best chance and they've both run very well.

"Although he wasn't favourite and some of the pressure has been on other trainers, you can never relax. This week is going to be tough as they are all good races but we had to win that otherwise it was going to be uphill all the way. Now there's a bit of downhill in sight.

"We'll look at where we go next. We'll see how it goes and I won't rule Aintree out but we don't have to go there. He's had a good break though since Kempton on Boxing Day so he's come here a fresh horse.

"There won't be much else for him though apart from Aintree and Punchestown. It's tempting but it's only three weeks between here and Aintree. When you don't need to, why head there?

"Nico has given him a beautiful ride. He was always in the right place and had the confidence to take him where he wanted. I just always thought he was a proper horse. He looked it at Kempton and looked it here again. He worked at Kempton on the all-weather the other day and worked very well.

"We've always thought he was seriously good. We've had some very good horses beaten in this race (My Tent Or Yours in 2013, Darlan in 2012, Binocular in 2008, while Sprinter Sacre was third behind Al Ferof in 2011) so it's nice to have one win for a change.

"He does look smart enough to think about hurdling again next year but he will make a lovely chaser. I hope he's back here next year but doing what I'm not too sure at the moment."

DE BOINVILLE ON A HIGH ON ALTIOR

Nico de Boinville rode the Nicky Henderson-trained Altior to score by seven lengths in the first race of The Festival 2016.

De Boinville, who won last year's Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup aboard Coneygree, said: "David Bass set very good fractions [on Charbel] - he has gone a good pace and Altior has settled off that. I always felt that he would settle and stay well off of a strong pace and that is exactly what he did.

"I knew we had to get upsides Min at some point, then Altior has just gone on away, so that was great. That was class and we will make the most of today. He's lovely and has a big future ahead of him.

"The ground is good to soft. It's exactly what they say - it's lovely ground."

De Boinville rode Altior to win his four previous starts, including the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in November. This is the jockey's third Festival victory so far.

1.30pm Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle
1) Altior (Patricia Pugh) Nicky Henderson 6-11-07 Nico de Boinville 4/1
2) Min (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 5-11-07 Ruby Walsh 15/8 Fav
3) Buveur D'Air (Potensis Bloodstock Ltd & Chris Giles) Nicky Henderson 5-11-07 Noel Fehily 10/1

Distances: 7, 1½

MIN FLIES, BUT NOT QUITE AT ALTIOR'S ALTITUDE

Prospects of a Willie Mullins-trained four-timer on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival were dented when 15/8 favourite Min finished runner-up in the first race, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

The lightly-raced gelding had no answer to the more-experienced Altior, who screamed home by seven lengths for trainer Nicky Henderson. In third, beaten a further one and a half lengths, was Altior's stablemate Buveur d'Air, and a further four lengths behind was the Gordon Elliott-trained Tombstone.
Mullins, who also ran Petit Mouchoir (eighth) and Bellshill (13th of the 14 runners - who all finished), said: "We knew that if Altior proved as good in this race as he has looked in previous races we were up against it, and it looks as though that is as good as Min is. They went fast and our horse settled, but he wasn't as good as the winner.

"I was very pleased with Petit Mouchoir, who ran a fine race, but Bellshill was disappointing."
Min's owner, Rich Ricci, said: "He ran his heart out, but the winner looks a very good horse. Our fellow travelled well, and made just one mistake down the back when he was a little bold, but he was beaten by a better horse, so well done to Nicky [Henderson]."

JOCKEYS GIVE THEIR VERDICT ON THE GOING

Before the first the official going was: Good to soft, soft in places

After the first race the riders reported:

Winning rider Nico de Boinville, said: "It's exactly what they say it is, it's lovely ground."

Ian Popham, who finished sixth on Mister Miyagi, said: "Good to soft, a bit dead in places"

David Mullins, rider of the eighth horse home, Petit Mouchoir, said: "Soft side of good."

Harry Skelton, who rode North Hill Harvey to finish ninth, reported: "Good to soft, a bit dead."

Aidan Coleman, who finished twelfth on Pengali Pavilion, said: "It's a fraction dead, but I'd say it's the soft side of good."

Davy Russell, who finished fourteenth and last on Silver Concorde, said: "Better than yielding, but it's not fast."

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Race Preview

The opening race of the Cheltenham Festival is the Supreme Novices Hurdle. It is run over the same distance ( 2 miles and 110 yards) as the Champion Hurdle and horses winning this might be expected to contest that race in the following season. The last horse to win both the Supreme Novices and Champion Hurdle was Brave Inca (2004 & 2006). The 2014 Champion Hurdle winner had finished third in the 2013 Supreme.

The 2015 Supreme Novice Hurdle winner Douvan this year has commenced a novice chase campaign and is a warm order to become the first horse since Flying Bolt to win the Supreme and Arkle in successive seasons.

In all the Supreme Novices' Hurdle roll of honur includes one winner who doubled up in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup and three in the Stan James Champion Hurdle. L'Escargot won in 1968, before consecutive Gold Cup triumphs in 1970 and 1971. Bula scored in 1970, before Champion Hurdle victories in 1971 and 1972, the 2002 Stan James Champion Hurdle winner Hors La Loi III took the race in 1999, and Brave Inca captured the Stan James Champion Hurdle in 2006, having landed the novice event two years earlier. The best renewal of recent times was probably the 2011 race - the 2013 Champion Chaser Sprinter Sacre finished third with the 2013 Ryanair Chase winner Cue Card a place further back in fourth.

Supreme Novice Hurdle Stats 2006-2015

  • 11 out of 12 won last time out
  • The last two favourites have won
  • Just 4 of the last 18 horses to start at 3/1 or less have won
  • 11 of the last 12 came from the first 6 in the betting
  • Five champion bumper winners have contested this since 2007 finishing 7 5 3 4 1
  • 10 out of 12 had a prep run between 16 and 52 days beforehand
  • Paul Nicholls has trained two winners since 2006
  • Nicky Henderson has sent out 27 runners since last winning this race in 1992 with Flown.
  • Henderson horses overturned in recent season include My Tent or Yours (2nd) Darlan (2nd), Spirit Son (2nd), Sprinter Sacre (3rd) and Oscar Whisky (4th)
  • The Irish have won 7/12
  • The Mullins/Walsh/Ricci combo have won the last three

Supreme Novice Hurdle Winners 2006-2015

LR = Last Run, FOF = Fate of favourite, MP = Market Position of Winner

We have analysed the form of the Cheltenham Festival's winning most jockeys since 1946 - Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty in this article.

Supreme Novice Hurdle Trivia

  • The race was originally known as the Gloucestershire Hurdle.
  • Between 1948 and 1972 the race was split into two divisions.
  • Between 1954 and 1959 Vincent O'Brien trained the winner 9 times.
  • Tommy Burns rode 7 of O'Briens 9 winners during this spell.
  • Irish trained horses won seven successive renewals between 1977-83
  • The longest-priced winner was Arctic Kinsman at 50/1 in 1994,
  • The 2007 victor Ebaziyan is one of only two 40/1 shots to have scored.
  • The shortest-priced winners at 4/9 were Tsaoko in 1950 and Flyingbolt in 1964.
  • Favourites have been successful 10 times (20 per cent) in the 43 runnings since 1972.
  • The 1993 winner, Montelado is the only horse to have won consecutive Festival races, landing the Champion Bumper in 1992, the last race of that year's meeting, and returning to win the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in 1993, the first race 12 months later.

SUPREME NOVICES HURDLE MOST SUCCESSFUL OWNER

Susannah Ricci has owned the last three winners. Previously Jim Joel enjoyed three successes with Beau Normand (1961, Division 1), Deetease (1963, Division 3) and Beacon Light (1976). Since the race ceased to be divided in 1972, and prior to Mrs Riccis three wins the most successful owners were J P McManus and John Hales, who have both owned two winners. McManus was successful with Like-A-Butterfly (2002) and Captain Cee Bee (2008), while Hales triumphed with Noland (2006) and Al Ferof (2011).

SUPREME NOVICES HURDLE MOST SUCCESSFUL TRAINER

Before the Supreme Novices' Hurdle ceased to be divided, the most successful trainer was Vincent O'Brien, who landed an amazing 10 divisions between 1952 and 1959. Since 1972 Willie Mullins is leading supreme novices trainer with five wins (Tourist Attraction (1995), Ebaziyan (2007) Champagne Fever (2013) Vautour (2014) and Douvan 2015 . A total of seven trainers have won the race twice. Mick O'Toole (Mac's Chariot (1977), Hartstown (1981)), Edward O'Grady (Golden Cygnet (1978), Back in Front (2003)), Nicky Henderson (River Ceiriog (1986), Flown (1992)), Martin Pipe (Sondrio (1989), Hors La Loi III (1999)), Pat Flynn (Montelado (1993), French Ballerina (1998)), , Noel Meade (Sausalito Bay (2002), Go Native (2009)) and Paul Nicholls (Noland (2006), Al Ferof (2011)).

Last 10 years Trainer Form

Runners/Wins/Places SP P/L
W. MULLINS 20 4 1 +34.50
N. HENDERSON 17 0 8 -17.00
P. NICHOLLS 11 2 1 +7.00
P. HOBBS 7 1 1 +6.00
N. MEADE 6 1 0 +7.00

SUPREME NOVICES HURDLE MOST SUCCESSFUL JOCKEY

Before 1972, the most successful jockey was Tommy Burns, who landed seven divisions between 1955 and 1959.

Since the race ceased to be divided Ruby Walsh has won five times (2005, 2011,2013, 2014 and 2015). Two time winners are Charlie Swan (1993 and 2002), Tommy Carmody (1980 and 1983), Niall 'Boots' Madden (1978 and 1981), Jamie Osborne (1992 & 1997), Paul Carberry (2000 & 2009) and have each won the race twice.

SUPREME NOVICES HURDLE BETTING

The longest-priced winner was Arctic Kinsman at 50/1 in 1994, while the 2007 victor Ebaziyan is one of only two 40/1 shots to have scored. The shortest-priced winners at 4/9 were Tsaoko in 1950 and Flyingbolt in 1964. Favourites have been successful 9 times (20 per cent) in the 42 runnings since 1972.

SUPREME NOVICES HURDLE WINNER AGE

The oldest horse by far to have won was 12-year-old Beau Caprice in 1966 (Div One). At the other end of the scale, 13 four-year-olds have been successful, although none since Hors La Loi in 1999.

The overall breakdown by age since the race was run as single division in 1972 is as follows:
4yo - 2 wins
5yo - 17 wins
6yo - 18 wins
7yo - 2 wins
8yo - 2 wins

SUPREME NOVICES HURDLE RECORD TIME
The fastest time for the winning horse was achieved by Montelado in 1993 at 3m 50.6s. French Ballerina came close to that record in 1998 when her time was 3m 50.9s.

SUPREME NOVICES HURDLE OVERSEAS-TRAINED WINNERS
The race has been won by Irish-trained raiders on no less than 41 occasions, and by the French once. Of the 16 divisions from 1952-59, Vincent O'Brien won an amazing 10. Ireland also kept a stranglehold on the race for seven years from 1977-83 and has won seven of the last 12 runnings, most recently with Go Native in 2009.

If you are a Cheltenham Festival fan we would love to get your views on our discussion forum. We have dedicated threads for all 28 races and will be gathering stats, quotes and tips in the Countdown to 15 March 2016.

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2016 DISCUSSION FORUM

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