Cheltenham - At The Races

13:30 Cheltenham 12 Mar 2019

Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4YO plus)

Winner £70,338 - 16 ran

Weighed In

Gary Nutting
by Gary Nutting

Published 11th February

Nicky Henderson could conceivably have three strong contenders for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle but at the prices CHAMPAGNE PLATINUM appeals as the value pick.

The star-studded team are all in different ownership with the selection representing JP McManus, who recently bought second favourite (in most lists) Fakir D’Oudairies, trained by Joseph O’Brien.

However, as Henderson also trains Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle favourite Champ for McManus and Champagne Platinum has yet to go beyond two miles, this would seem the grey’s logical target even if he lines up as his owner’s ‘second string’ on the day.

Henderson implied as much in a recent edition of his Unibet blog, adding that blogger Barry Geraghty “is mad about this horse.”

So far Geraghty has ridden him for speed, whilst also teaching him to challenge between rivals, justifying short-priced favouritism with ease at both Newcastle and Newbury, the latter under a penalty.

Don’t be surprised though if more aggressive tactics are employed at Cheltenham because the gelding is bred along very similar lines to Champagne Fever, the 2013 winner of this.

Don’t be surprised though if more aggressive tactics are employed at Cheltenham because the gelding is bred along very similar lines to Champagne Fever, the 2013 winner of this for Willie Mullins, being by Stowaway out of a Roselier mare. Ruby Walsh, attacking from the word go, succeeded in getting his mount to outstay a couple of subsequent Champion Hurdle stalwarts in My Tent Or Yours and Jezki that day.

With regards the selection, who knows what improvement Champagne Platinum may be capable of in a more competitive environment that invariably tests stamina as well as speed.

Favourite with most firms (11-2 best) is stablemate Angels Breath, who dotted up on his only racecourse start in a Grade 2 event at Ascot just before Christmas. Undeniably impressive there, he nevertheless appears priced up more on home reputation than what he’s achieved on the track.

Henderson’s other main contender, Mister Fisher, is perhaps more realistically priced at around 11-1 having followed up his Kempton novice success by beating dual winner Bright Forecast in the Grade 2 Rossington Main at Doncaster.

Available at similar odds is Al Dancer, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, and likely to have gone off clear favourite for the cancelled Betfair Hurdle.

Winner of all three starts over hurdles, including a Cheltenham handicap that’s been franked by the comfortably held runner-up, he runs in the same colours as Angels Breath.

Gary's Recommended Bet (scale 1-5 points):


1pt win CHAMPAGNE PLATINUM (18-1 bet365, 16-1 general)

Gary provides regular ante-post updates on Twitter. His username is @horsetraderinfo

Previous Winners
Year Going Ran Winner Draw Age Weight OR Form Last run Trainer (Distance) Jockey SP Time
2018 Heavy 19 Summerville Boy 6 11 7 - 12231 66 days T R George (14 miles) N Fehily 9/1 4:05.00
2017 Good to Soft 14 Labaik 6 11 7 - R11RR6 16 days G Elliott J W Kennedy 25/1 3:52.70
2016 Good to Soft 14 Altior 6 11 7 - 3-61111 80 days N Henderson (51 miles) N De Boinville 4/1 3:46.10
2015 Good to Soft 12 Douvan 5 11 7 - 2111 59 days W P Mullins R Walsh 2/1 3:47.50
2014 Good to Soft 18 Vautour 5 11 7 - 22-111 30 days W P Mullins R Walsh 7/2 3:46.40
2013 Soft 12 Champagne Fever 6 11 7 - 11-1231 31 days W P Mullins R Walsh 5/1 3:55.60
2012 Good 19 Cinders And Ashes 5 11 7 - 50-2111 52 days D McCain (62 miles) J Maguire 10/1 3:56.60
2011 Good 15 Al Ferof 6 11 7 - 12-F311 31 days P Nicholls (69 miles) R Walsh 10/1 3:52.20
2010 Good to Soft 18 Menorah 5 11 7 - 11212 24 days P Hobbs (90 miles) R Johnson 12/1 3:56.30
2009 Good to Soft 20 Go Native 6 11 7 - 1-12121 16 days N Meade Paul Carberry 12/1 4:01.00