Tuesday 13th March 2018 – Supreme Novices Hurdle

written by Daniel Roe

At 7/4 Getabird looks too short as favourite for this race considering the strength in depth of it, especially when you consider the two most recent winners of this race to represent the same connections – Douvan and Vautor – went off at 2/1 and 7/2 respectively. It’s perhaps unfair to use those horses’ subsequent achievements as a stick to beat Getabird with because his form this season stacks up really well. He smashed a horse called Impact Factor who went on to finish second in a Grade 2, and then beat Mengli Khan by nine lengths when in receipt of six lbs. He is the correct favourite, with the recent rainfall a benefit to him, but he looks a favourite bookies and punters will be trying to get beat in a particularly strong renewal.

The more I look at this race, there are only six horses that would interest me, who just so happen to be the first six of the first seven in the betting. But with a favourite shorter than he deserves to be, there’s value to be found there. Kalashnikov is a popular pick, and why not considering how impressive he was in the Betfair Hurdle at the finish. He didn’t look comfortable with the strong tempo set that day, and that the Supreme is going to be ran at a strong pace would be a concern for him. The Betfair Hurdle was not a race he looked like winning for most of it as he was off the bridle a long way from home. Betfair Hurdle winners don’t have a great record in this race, at least from a win point of view, and it looked to me as though that was a hard race on him. I can see his appeal, but there are better prices elsewhere.

That Mengli Khan is the sole representative of Gordon Elliot could be seen as a sign of confidence in him, and if you’re willing to forgive two consecutive runs where the horse hasn’t been himself, you’ll get double-figure odds for a Grade 1 winner who deserves to be a bit shorter in betting. He looked a potential star in the Royal Bond, setting a good time on the clock to boot, and given the Festival record of the connections he is a little over-priced. Paloma Blue is another coming over from Ireland, who hasn’t been out of the first three in four runs over hurdles. He was very free last time out, when nine lengths behind Samcro, but he was travelling well enough around the final bend and was not given a difficult race by Davy Russell. I can see the argument for him – a stronger pace should suit him much better and the softer ground won’t be a problem – but if you’re backing him at around 12/1 you’re doing so on the assumption he will improve, which he will certainly need to.

There are two British contenders who put up big performances on the clock last time out, who look over-priced. The first is third-favourite SUMMERVILLE BOY at around 9/1, trained by Tom George. Two starts ago he ran fine over course and distance, when third in a novice hurdle. He was held out the back off a very steady pace, which wouldn’t have suited this strong-travelling stayer, and as a such he could do no better than third. He then bolted up in the Tolworth Hurdle, beating Kalashnikov with ease, in a race which was ran at a strong gallop. He tanked his way through the race, and it was only through inexperience that he fluffed the last flight and didn’t seem entirely sure what to do when he found himself clear in front. Noel Fehily had to give him two reminders with the whip, but he responded immediately and has won with plenty in the tank. The other I like is FIRST FLOW at around 10/1, who won last time out on Haydock-heavy ground so we know conditions here will be to his liking. He travelled very powerfully throughout, his jumping was slick and he found plenty off the bridle when asked. It’s said you need stamina to win a Supreme, and he has it in spades – he’s going to be a fair staying chaser in time. In theory he will need to improve to win this, but he’s nonetheless a Grade 2 winner who’s chances increase more as the rain keeps coming.