Cheltenham Festival Novice Hurdles Ante-Post Tips, Odds & Analysis

In the second of his 2020 Cheltenham Festival Ante-Post series, Diarmuid Nolan takes a look at the Novice Hurdles and throws in a bonus tip for the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle!

Cheltenham Festival Novice Hurdles Ante-Post Tips, Odds & Analysis
Cheltenham Festival Novice Hurdles Ante-Post Tips, Odds & Analysis


TipOddsBet with
Elixir D'ainay to win the Supreme25/1Betfair
Fury Road to win the Albert Bartlett10/1Bet365
The Bosses Oscar to win the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle20/1Boyle Sports

It's amazing how many decisions need to be made for horse racing punters at this time of the year. How many days will we head over for the festival? Club Enclosure or Tatts? How much money will I need this year? It's endless.

Trainers have much more difficult decisions to make of course and I always think about how many tough choices there has to be with novice hurdlers particularly. You can only know so much about some novices, so at times I'd imagine it's informed guesswork when it comes to picking each horses best trip.

Taking advantage of the doubt surrounding potential targets can prove fruitful. With this in mind, I take a look at the Novice Hurdlers this week.

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Supreme Novices' Hurdle

This year, with the Ballymore a notable exception, we have some seriously open novice hurdle markets. The Supreme Novices' Hurdle really shows this - it's wide open!

Abacadabras is the favourite here, at a best priced 5/1 with Paddy Power, and I really like his chances. He's done everything brilliantly and he looks the type who will actually only get better as the ground dries. His one defeat this season came to Envoi Allen and there's no harm going down to one as good as that.

I think he's the most likely winner, but I don't think he'll be much shorter on the day than he is now. The value here from an ante-post point of view lies elsewhere.

Shiskin was superb last time, and is clearly a very talented horse, but I'm going to shirk him in regards to the Supreme. He will arrive into this missing a lot of experience that the others have and while he could well prove to be the best of these long term, I'm happy to take him on here.

Nicky Henderson has had 32 runners in the last 20 years in the Supreme and has only had one winner (Altior), with 13 places. I just don't think Nicky trains his novices for these big early days really and he has much more of a long term thought process. The stats back this up.

I don't think Envoi Allen will run here, and whilst Fiddlerontheroof is a horse who is full of promise, I'm not convinced about him at all over two miles. He strikes me as one who will reach his full potential over fences, not this year in a supreme. His form doesn't really excite me, and if you like him you probably have to like Edwardstone at much bigger odds who beat him earlier in the season.

Edwardstone was held by Stolen Silver last weekend at Haydock, so I'm just not convinced about this form overall.

Captain Guinness, the aforementioned Edwardstone and Master Debonair are all nice types who could well win this, but none of them excite me as a betting proposition.

The key to this race probably lies with JP McManus, but trying to guess where his horses will go is like trying to read with your eyes closed. I love a challenge however, so I'll give it a go!

Chantry House will bring some serious form into this race (Arguably holds Edwardstone and Fiddlerontheroof), but he has only had the one start to date over hurdles and you'd have to think he could end up going up in trip. Being from the Henderson yard, you'd worry about him here as well.

Andy Dufresne is not a horse I could back here either. I don't think his form amounts to much and I think he was lucky last time to see off Captain Guinness last time who was far too keen (Rumoured to also now be owned by JP McManus).

It's mind boggling when you think about the fact that JP also has Blue Sarri, Front View, Unexcepted and Sporting John to fire at the festival, yet my fancy is a completely different challenger from the green and gold battalion! A few of the above will more than likely end up in handicaps you''d have to think.

Elixir D'ainay is one I'm very interested in were they to drop him back in trip here at 25/1 with Betfair.

He has a fantastic cruising speed, jumps very well and his aggressive tactics would really suit the Supreme. Two of his three runs to date over hurdles have been over further, but you need stamina to win this race and he has that in abundance

On his only run of last season he ran a blinder over 2 miles to get close to the smart Vision D'honneur. After this he beat the smart Longhouse Poet (14 length behind in third was Column Of Fire who has won since) and last time produced a brilliant performance when getting within four lengths of Envoi Allen. To get that close to that rival shows the quality Willie Mullins' charge possesses.

Envoi Allen is the best novice hurdler around by some distance this season for me and I doubt connections will want to take him on again. Elixir D'ainay looks to have the pace for two miles at the festival and I'm happy to find out if they will reroute him down to the minimum trip at the current odds.

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Albert Bartlett

This race is a bit more straightforward for me, as I really feel that Fury Road will win the 2020 Albert Bartlett.

Thyme Hill, Monkfish and Latest Exhibition are just three of what will be a quality field, but Fury Road has impressed me all season and his odds of 10/1 with Bet365 will have long disappeared next weekend if he wins as I expect him to at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Hopefully after he takes that contest next weekend he will be heading into the Cheltenham Festival with 4 runs behind him over hurdles, and three runs previously in bumpers. He has gathered plenty of valuable experience and that's exactly what you need in this war of attrition.

Gordon Elliott has had plenty of likely types flop in this race, but that doesn't worry me at all - Fury Road won't know this happened and each race is its own event.

I really think he takes the world of stopping in March.

Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle

As I said above JP McManus has too many novice hurdlers and some of these will have to, you would think, end up running off nice weights in handicaps. The same can be said for Gordon Elliott who simply has a plethora of top class novices hurdlers to go to war with.

The Bosses Oscar looks like one who could well end up in handicaps, and was given a lovely mark of 136 by the British Handicapper. This screams a mark for the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle, a race Gordon loves to win with his well known ties to the great man Martin Pipe himself having previously worked in his all conquering stable.

The Bosses Oscar was superb at Christmas when seeing off the well backed Jon Snow and could well be a graded horse turning up in a handicap off a very nice mark. To qualify for the race he will have to run once more over hurdles.

At odds of 20/1 with Boyle Sports he is worth a wager to find out if connections fancy plundering a festival handicap!

This Week's Cheltenham Ante-Post Tips

TipOddsBet with
Elixir D'ainay to win the Supreme25/1Betfair
Fury Road to win the Albert Bartlett10/1Bet365
The Bosses Oscar to win the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle20/1Boyle Sports

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