The new National Hunt season brings it with it an exciting new raft of horses that will be competing for major honours for years to come. Trainers aim to make immediate statements with victories at the notable meets for younger competitors, including the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival.
Some of the horses that have triumphed in the meet have gone on to dominate in the National Hunt and we’ll now look at the leading contenders for this term’s event, who may shape the future of the sport.
Nicky Henderson has trained three winners at the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and will be aiming to make it four when Angels Breath competes. The Irish horse has been established as the leading contender on redbet sportsbook after putting forward a statement in the first race of his career. Angels Breath was the favourite for his bow at Ascot in the Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle in December 2018 with Nico de Boinville in the saddle.
The grey gelding was in contention from the off, keeping pace with the pacesetters. He shifted gears to move into second place two furlongs out before making a surge to take control of the meet.
Angels Breath proved that he had the speed when it mattered the most, pulling away from the rest of the field to win the event by four-and-a-half lengths. Henderson will have his charge ready for the event and he could be in line to join one of the modern greats, Altior, to claim the crown.
Elixir De Nutz
Since transferring into Colin Tizzard’s yard, the French-bred horse has staged a rapid improvement in his form on the track. Under Philip Hobbs, he struggled to make an impact in his two races at the end of the 2017/18 National Hunt season.
However, Elixir De Nutz was able to put his past disappointments aside in his first race of the new term in the Foundation Developments Ltd Maiden Hurdle by placing second with Harry Cobden in the saddle. In the Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle in November 2018, he was not considered the leading contender for the meet but duly delivered a strong performance to come through the field to secure his maiden triumph.
Tizzard’s charge continued to enhance his reputation with another fine performance to win the National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle. Elixir De Nutz was able to continue his brilliant form with his third win on the bounce, edging out his compatriot Grand Sancy by half-a-length at the Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle. Tizzard has never won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle but the French horse could end his drought.
The German horse will be Willie Mullins’ hope to continue his fine record at the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Since 1972, no trainer has won the event on more occasions than Mullins’ triumphs. Between 2013 and 2015, Mullins trained three winners – Champagne Fever, Vautour and Douvan. Aramon has some of the same qualities, winning his first race in the Devitts, Doheny & Nesbitt Maiden Hurdle with a dominant performance in Kilbeggan. A mistake early in his second outing cost him the victory at the Gas Networks Ireland Novice Hurdle as he struggled for fluency in Listowel.
The bay gelding bounced back with a strong outing to win the For Auction Novice Hurdle in Navan, only to fail to build on his triumph with an underwhelming outing at Fairyhouse in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle as his stable-mate Quick Grabim notched the victory. The German horse proved his quality as Ruby Walsh took to the saddle in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle. Aramon hammered the rest of the field with a 10-length victory and he could be the horse to get Mullins back in the winners’ circle in the first race at Cheltenham Festival.