Supreme Novices’ Hurdle: JP McManus’ potential runners at Cheltenham

As the Cheltenham Festival draws near, all eyes are on the opening race — the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, where the legendary JP McManus seeks to add to his remarkable record at the prestigious event. 

With over 70 winners, including eight Champion Hurdles, multiple Stayers’ Hurdles, and a Gold Cup triumph with Synchronised in 2012, McManus is undoubtedly a dominant force in UK and Irish National Hunt racing. 

Last year, McManus clinched the Leading Owner award with four victories across the four days — and he is poised for another strong showing in 2024. 

Among his potential stars are Fact To File, Jonbon, and Dinoblue, but the spotlight is particularly on the aforementioned Supreme Novices’ Hurdle — a race he hasn’t won since Captain Cee Bee triumphed over Binocular in a McManus 1-2. 

At the forefront of McManus’ Supreme Novices’ Hurdle challenge are two leading contenders – Mystical Power and Jeriko Du Reponet.  

So, let’s assess the chances of these horses along with others in the mix. 

Mystical Power – 4/1 

Mystical Power has emerged as the 4/1 favourite in the sports betting markets after an impressive victory in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown in January.  

Trained by the highly respected Willie Mullins, this five-year-old made it three wins in as many races with a commanding seven-length success over Jigoro. 

His debut win over obstacles at Galway in July, also by the same margin, further underscores his immense potential. 

With such a solid form, Mystical Power appears to be a strong contender for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. 

Jeriko Du Reponet – 5/1  

Initially leading the market, Jeriko Du Reponet is now priced at 5/1 following Mystical Power’s recent victory. 

Trained by the experienced Nicky Henderson at Seven Barrows, this five-year-old boasts a perfect record of two wins in as many starts — both at Newbury in December. 

Despite being a topic of discussion in the sports betting tips before making his first racecourse appearance under rules, Henderson has expressed caution about Jeriko Du Reponet’s chances in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. 

The uncertainty adds an intriguing element to his prospects in the race. 

A Dream To Share – 14/1  

A Dream To Share, trained by John & Thomas Kiely, started as an early favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle after winning five consecutive races last season — including the Champion Bumper and the Punchestown Champion I.N.H Flat Race. 

However, setbacks have plagued his hurdling debut season, and as a result, he has drifted in the market — currently priced at 14/1. 

The market trend suggests caution, and it remains to be seen if A Dream To Share can overcome the setbacks and shine at Cheltenham. 

Others in the mix 

Mirazur West, despite losing market support after a disappointing hurdle debut at Leopardstown on Boxing Day, remains in contention. 

No Flies On Him, despite winning a Maiden Hurdle on the same Boxing Day card at Leopardstown, is priced at 25/1. 

Meanwhile, Down Memory Lane and Johnnywho, with odds of 50/1 and 100/1, respectively, still hold entries but are unlikely to compete in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. 

As the anticipation builds for the Cheltenham Festival, the form, and fitness of these horses will be closely scrutinised. 

With McManus’ illustrious history at the event, racing enthusiasts eagerly await to see if he can add another Supreme Novices’ Hurdle victory to his extensive list of Cheltenham triumphs. 

Image credit: John Light licenced under CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED

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