Supreme Novices' Hurdle Tips 2020: Tizzard can strike first

Colin Tizzard has a live chance in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle with Fiddlerontheroof.
Colin Tizzard has a live chance in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle with Fiddlerontheroof.

Nick Seddon previews the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, which will kick-start the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday afternoon, and picks out his best bet in the race...

The Supreme Novices' Hurdle is the traditional curtain-raiser for the Cheltenham Festival, and it's a race which superstitious punters tend to take very seriously, given that a win in the opening race can very much set the tone in terms of fortunes for the week ahead. 

The traditional port of call for punters who had any kinds of doubt about who to side with in the Supreme would be to turn to the warm embrace of Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins, who have teamed up to win four of the past seven renewals. However, with Walsh now retired, it's a new partnership that heads the market at the time of writing in the form of Willie Mullins and Paul Townend, who team up on Asterion Forlonge. An expensive purchase as a four-year-old, Asterion Forlonge has yet to put a hoof wrong in three starts under Rules, building on a clear-cut winning debut over timber at Naas in January by taking the step up to Grade 1 company in his stride when romping home in the Pharma Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown last month. That win propelled him to the top of the market for this, and bearing in mind that he also had entires in the Ballymore and the Albert Bartlett, the forecast soft ground should very much play into his hands if this becomes a test of stamina. However, there's a lingering feeling that he could well be at his best over further, and it looks worth taking him on at the prices. 

Rather unusually, Asterion Forlonge's main market rival Shishkin also carries the colours of Joe Donnelly, who has opted to send both of his promising novices to the same race. Shishkin represents the Nicky Henderson team, and although he was a faller on his debut at Newbury in December, he's shown plenty of ability in two starts since, showing a good turn of pace to win a listed contest over two and a half miles at Huntingdon last time out. The drop back in trip for Shishkin should hold no fears here given that he showed plenty of speed for his latest success, and a bigger worry is the step up in class he'll face here. He could well prove himself to be more than up to the task, but like Asterion Forlonge he is well found in the market, and better value can be found elsewhere. 

Also heading here from Seven Barrows is the J.P. McManus-owned Chantry House, who is unbeaten in three starts under Rules so far. Two of those wins have come over timber, including when winning a minor event on Betfair Hurdle day at Newbury last month. There's been plenty of style to what we've seen so far from Chantry House, showing bundles of speed on his most recent outing, though we're yet to see too much substance to that form, and this will represent a huge step up in grade for the six-year-old. Of course, he hasn't been given the opportunity to show what he can do yet, but he's best watched in this tough assignment. 

An interesting alternative is the Irish raider Abacadabras, who like Asterion Forlonge can boast some Grade 1-winning form, having struck at the top level at Leopardstown over Christmas. Admittedly, that form isn't the strongest we've seen so far this season, and he'll need more here after a break, but it's worth noting that the only horse to lower his colours in four starts to date over hurdles is the highly-regarded Ballymore favourite, Envoi Allen, and he deserves plenty of respect. Another who has chased home Envoi Allen this term is Elixir D'Ainay, who was three and a half lengths behind that rival at Naas in January. He's since finished fifth in a Grade 1 contest over 2m6f at Leopardstown last month, and although the return to two miles will suit, he needs more. 

Two more to consider are Edwardstone, and Allart. The latter arrives here on a roll, having won back-to-back minor events at Ludlow and Doncaster the last twice, and although he'll need plenty more here, he deserves to take his chance and rates as a lively outsider for his powerful connections. Edwardstone boasts some strong form, having taken the notable scalp of Fiddlerontheroof when winning on hurdling debut at Wincanton in November, before following up at Aintree a month later.  Fiddlerontheroof has since franked that form by winning the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January, though Edwardstone could only finish second in a muddling Grade 2 Trial for this up at Haydock in January, and although this strongly-run affair will suit him better, he'll need more here. 

Instead, it is Fiddlerontheroof who makes the most appeal, having gone from strength to strength for the Colin Tizzard team. He took a little while to find his feet over timber, hitting the frame in his first two outings, but he built on those by recording back-to-back wins, including at Grade 1 level back in January. The manner in which he was able to pull clear of a smart field that day was particularly taking, and a strongly run, big-field affair should hold no fears. With the forecast soft ground very much playing into his hands, it might be worth chancing at the prices that the prominently-ridden Fiddlerontheroof can pinch a couple of lengths from the field turning the bend for home, and if he is able to do so, he could prove particularly tough to peg back. 


Supreme Novices' Hurdle - Cheltenham Festival, Tuesday 10th March 2020 – back Fiddlerontheroof at 7/1 

Supreme Novices' Hurdle
Fiddlerontheroof silk


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