The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is the event that gets the Cheltenham Festival underway each year, prompting the first famous ‘Cheltenham roar’ of the festival.
Run over the Old Course of just over two miles, this event is the earliest opportunity for bettors to begin their yearly battle to win money from the bookmakers.
Aimed at horses aged four and over, this event has acted as an early showcase for many later winners of other events at the Festival for more experienced horses.
History of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle began life as the Gloucestershire Hurdle and was originally split into two (or occasionally three) separate divisions.
In 1974 sponsorship changed the name of the race to the Lloyd’s Bank Champion Novices’ Hurdle. Shortly after this Waterford Crystal began to act as sponsors, and the current name (Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle) was born when Sky Bet took over.
- Maximum number of runners allowed: 24
- Largest ever field: 30 in 1985 and 1998
- Smallest ever field: nine in 1950 (division one)
- Fastest winning time: 3m 50.6s, Montelado, 1993
- Longest priced winner: Arctic Kinsman, 1994 (50/1)
- Shortest priced winners: Tsaoko, 1950 / Flyingbolt, 1964 (4/9)
- Cheltenham Gold Cup winner: L’Escargot won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 1968 before going on to take the Cheltenham Gold Cup in both 1970 and 1971
- Number of hurdles: eight
- Course distance: 3,319m
- Oldest winning horse: Beau Caprice, aged 12, 1966 (division one)
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is one of the most prestigious and respected events for novices. Prize money in 2015 reached just over £68,000 for first place.
While the race is particularly testing for young, inexperienced horses, it is also viewed as highly significant in terms of gaining racing experience.
Over the past decade the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle has been dominated by jockey Ruby Walsh, who has managed to ride five of the ten winners home. The last ten winners are as follows:
- 2006: Noland – Ruby Walsh
- 2007: Ebaziyan – Davy Condon
- 2008: Captain Cee Bee – Robert Thornton
- 2009: Go Native – Paul Carberry
- 2010: Menorah – Richard Johnson
- 2011: Al Ferof – Ruby Walsh
- 2012: Cinders and Ashes – Jason Maguire
- 2013: Champagne Fever – Ruby Walsh
- 2014: Vautour – Ruby Walsh
- 2015: Douvan – Ruby Walsh
The first race of the Cheltenham Festival sets the standard for thrills and excitement, showcasing some of the most promising young talent in horse racing and kicking the whole event off in style.