Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle

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What you need to know:

  1. The Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle is the opening race of Champions Day, the first event of the world famous Cheltenham Festival, this year it all starts 15th March 2016, race time 1.30pm.
  2. Our tip for the Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle can be found on our free daily horse racing tips page and is published on the day of the race. 
  3. The race is renowned for the Cheltenham Roar as the tape rises to signal the start of the Festival.
  4. It is a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race raced over 2 miles and 110 yards and eight hurdles.
  5. Originally run in two divisions and called the Gloucestershire Hurdle, the race has been an annual event since 1972 and is currently sponsored by Skybet.
  6. Last year’s winner was Douvan, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh, a winning combination for the past three years in this race.
  7. Favourites for this year’s race include Altoir, Buveur and Yorkhill – latest odds and all runners below.
  8. The race is broadcast live on Sky Sports or tickets can be bought to go and see the first day of the greatest festival of horseracing in the world, in person. 

What is the Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle?

The Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle is a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race held on the Old Course at the famous Cheltenham Racecourse. It is raced over 2 miles and 110 yards (3,319 metres) and includes eight hurdles.

The race is for novice hurdlers, and is open to horses aged four years and over.   

The Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle is held on the opening day of the world renowned Cheltenham Festival, Champions Day. As the first race of the festival, the start is traditionally met with the famous Cheltenham Roar, a loud cheer from the crowd to celebrate the start of the festival.

This year’s race takes place on Tuesday 15th March. For more information, take a look at our Guide to the Cheltenham Festival.

This Years runnings and latest odds

History of the Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle

The Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle was first run in 1946 as racing resumed after a long hiatus during the Second World War. It was originally called the Gloucestershire Hurdle, and until 1972 it was split into two divisions (three in 1946 and 1963).

During this period, a long list of highly renowned horses, jockeys, and trainers tasted success in the race. Most notably, the Irish trainer Vincent O’Brien recorded an astonishing ten victories during an eight year spell. This run included winning all the races bar two between 1955 and 1959.

In 1972, the race reverted to being a single annual event, and in 1974 the name changed to the Lloyds Bank Champion Novices Hurdle, after the first race sponsors. From 1978, when Waterford Crystal took over sponsorship, it has held its current title.

In the modern era, the most successful trainer has been Willie Mullins, who has trained four winners. This includes three recent winners, with Ebaziyan (2006), Champagne Fever (2013) and Vautour (2014) all coming from his stable.

The most successful jockey has been Ruby Walsh, who rode Mullins’ two most recent winners plus Noland in 2006 and Al Ferof in 2011.

Waterford Crystal sponsored the event until 1990 and since then it has had many different sponsors. The current sponsors are Skybet, and the race has a total prize purse of £120,000, with £68,340 going to the winner.

Past Winners


2002 Like-A-Butterfly 8 Charlie Swan Christy Roche
2003 Back In Front 6 Norman Williamson Edward O'Grady
2004 Brave Inca 6 Barry Cash Colm Murphy
2005 Arcalis 5 Graham Lee Howard Johnson
2006 Noland 5 Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls
2007 Ebaziyan 6 Davy Condon Willie Mullins
2008 Captain Cee Bee 7 Robert Thornton Eddie Harty
2009 Go Native 6 Paul Carberry Noel Meade
2010 Menorah 5 Richard Johnson Philip Hobbs
2011 Al Ferof 6 Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls
2012 Cinders And Ashes 5 Jason Maguire Donald McCain
2013 Champagne Fever 6 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins
2014 Vautour 5 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins
2015 Douvan 5 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins


The 2016 Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle: this years’ favourites

As a novice’s event, there will once again be an entirely new field for the 2016 running of the Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle. But some of the races most successful trainers will be back and looking to add to their record of winners in the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival.

Amongst them will be the race’s most successful trainer, Willie Mullins, 20 years on from his first festival winner, he has trained the last three years winners.

His horse Min is likely to be right up there at the end of the race, and although the trainer himself has advised caution from punters, there has been a lot of early money laid down, making him one of the early favourites.

Yorkhill is another horse from the Mullins stable which has seen early and sustained punter popularity as is Bleu Et Rouge which has won several of its races over hurdles to date.

One to potentially watch this year is Moon Racer, if he is confirmed as returning, we think David Pipe is playing down the horses chances, but we are confident he will be ready if he starts.

The Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle, as the first race of one of the biggest festivals of horse racing anywhere in the world, is hugely popular with punters. It has an incredible atmosphere, with the horses cheered round by a crowd excited by both this race, and the many more to follow it.


Betting on the 2016 Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle

It always attracts big crowds at the course, and is live on TV meaning it is watched by people across the UK and beyond.

As a novice race, it has a fresh line-up each year, making it an unpredictable event, and a great race for punters and bookmakers alike.

Favourites have a good track record, but there have also been no shortage of outsiders doing well, and for those who like an each way bet, there is more than often likely to be at least one surprise package.  

As the first race of the festival it is also very popular amongst those who like an accumulator bet. Indeed for many their bet will never get beyond this race.

There are plenty of bookies on the course, but if you can’t make it to Cheltenham, there are plenty of Online Betting Sites where you can place a bet from the comfort of your living room.


Attending Champions Day at the Cheltenham Festival

The Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle takes place on Champions Day, the opening day of the world famous Cheltenham Festival. In 2016, it takes place on Tuesday 15th March at 1.30pm.

If you want to be there to experience the famous Cheltenham Roar as the race gets the Festival underway, then tickets are available from Champions Day page of the Cheltenham Festival website.

Tickets range from £25 for an advanced single to £35 on the day, with more expensive options and a range of packages available. Be aware that whilst the Cheltenham Festival does not have a dress code, in some areas fancy dress is not permitted, and in the Club Enclosure it is usual for men to wear suits, and ladies to wear hats during the Festival. However last day for advanced ticket prices is 13th March.

Anyone who is looking to attend, should think about booking their tickets before 25th January, as after this date, the advance purchases prices will increase.


How to get to Cheltenham Racecourse

Cheltenham Racecourse is located just outside the picturesque Gloucestershire market town of Cheltenham Spa.

Trains are easily available from London (taking about two hours), Birmingham (about 35 minutes) and Bristol (35 minutes). The racecourse is a ten minute taxi journey from the station and during the festival there is a free shuttle bus in operation.

If arriving by car, the nearest motorway is the M5, with the racecourse being clearly signposted in both directions. Parking is available but there is a charge during the festival.

Buses 527 and D from Cheltenham town centre stop near the racecourse, and during the festival there is a free shuttle bus which runs from Cheltenham Spa Station and outside the WH Smith.


Further Reading


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