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2015 Supreme Novices' Hurdle tips - Douvan to get Willie Mullins bandwagon off to a flyer in opening race of Cheltenham Festival

  • Douvan set to get favourite backers off to the perfect start with Supreme Novices' Hurdle success.
Douvan works out at Cheltenham ahead of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

Tipster Brian Healy previews the opening race of the 2015 Supreme Novices' Hurdle, which features a strong Willie Mullins challenge for the Grade One contest.


At 1.30pm on Tuesday, the famous Cheltenham roar will ring round from the stands and terraces around Prestbury Park as the tapes go up on the traditional Festival curtain-raiser – the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

The two-mile contest has a rich history of classy winners, including last year’s victor Vautour and Champagne Fever the year before; as well as the likes of Al Ferof, Menorah and Brave Inca, and can often provide pointers to future Champion Hurdle contenders.

The 2015 renewal of the race has attracted a final field of twelve runners for the contest, which will be broadcast live as part of Channel 4’s racing coverage.

Willie Mullins has won this race ineach of the past two renewals, and the County Carlow trainer saddles a strong entry for the latest contest with four intended runners, including DOUVAN (7/4, Paddy Power) who is undefeated in both starts for Mullins since arriving from France.

The Walk In The Park gelding has lived up to his sire’s name in starts at Gowran Park and latterly at Punchestown when landing the Grade Two Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle in facile style, beating Alpha Des Obeaux by four lengths.


Douvan can get favourite backers off to the perfect start in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

His debut was equally impressive though, slamming Sizing John (33/1, Coral) – a subsequent Grade One winner himself – at Gowran Park.

Running in the colours of Rich Ricci, who was also the man behind both Vautour and Champagne Fever, Douvan looks set to give owner, trainer and jockey a third successive win in the race.

They won’t have it all their own way though, and there are plenty of chances throughout the field; none moreso than Nicky Henderson’s L’Ami Serge (7/2, Ladabrokes) who is also an ex-French import and boasts a 100% record for the Seven Barrows trainer since arriving from Guillame Macaire.

Thrown into a Listed race on his debut for Henderson, he beat the smart Kilcooley by six lengths and then was a ready winner of an Ascot Grade Two contest next time, beating Killultagh Vic.

Sent to Sandown after for the Tolworth Hurdle, he trounced his three opponents in facile style, coning clear of Jolly’s Cracked It.


L'ami Serge won't be a pushover, and bids to end Nicky Henderson's run of seconds in the race.

Nicky Henderson has saddled the runner-up in this race in each of the last four renewals, and he will be hoping for better luck; the Simon Munir-trained gelding looks set to pose a stern challenge to Willie Mullins’ star, but there has to be some concern over the ground as all of the King’s Threatre gelding’s runs have come in the mud, and the quicker ground at Cheltenham must rate as an unknown quantity.

However, his form is solid and he looks the main challenger to Douvan.

Last year’s Champion Bumper runner-up Shaneshill (12/1, William Hill) is one of three other Willie Mullins runners in the race, atoning for that Cheltenham reversal behind Silver Concorde to reverse the form with the same rival at Punchestown.

He made a pleasing start to his hurdles career when winning at Fairyhouse, beating Keppols Queen, but was beaten fair and square by No More Heroes in the Grade Two Navan Novice Hurdle in December.

The King’s Theatre gelding has shaped like a stayer and may not appreciate the drop back to this trip although previous course form is a plus. It would be no surprise to see him running well, but he might just lack the gears of a couple of these over the trip.


Will Shaneshill handle the drop back to two miles, having looked a stayer in earlier races?

Alvisio Ville (16/1, Bet365) also represents the Willie Mullins team and having won his debut at Leopardstown when beating Baily Cloud by just over five lengths, he was fast-tracked into Grade One company where he was a well-beaten third behind Nichols Canyon in the Deloitte.

Possibly found that trip just stretching his stamina, and returned to two miles he can do better.

Tell Us More (16/1, Coral) is the final Mullins representative, and the Gigginstown-owned Scorpion gelding was only narrowly denied by McKinley in a Naas Grade One where he perhaps just failed to get home in the soft ground over the additional trip.

He had previously ran out an easy and impressive winner of a Gowran Park maiden, and returned to this trip he should be capable of a big run and no surprise to see him outrun his big price with the promise of more to come.

Qewy (14/1, Ladbrokes) is a very interesting runner for John Ferguson, who has no equal when it comes to improving ex-Flat performers over hurdles.

The Street Cry gelding was only a useful performer on the level for John Qxx, but made a pleasing hurdling introduction when finishing third to Aso in the Grade Two Rossington Main at Haydock, where he shaped as if he’d benefit from the experience.

Sent to Newbury after, he was impressive in dispatching a useful field by six lengths anda more, only needing to be pushed out to score and he looks a potentially very smart prospect.


Qewy is an interesting runner for John Ferguson, and the ex-flat performer can go well.

Warren Greatrex has seemingly found the answer to Seedling (20/1, Paddy Power) who has won all three starts for the trainer since switching from Charlie Egerton’s yard, and the Cockney Rebel gelding won well last time over course and distance in a hot novice event which included Some Plan (40/1, Bet365) that has been working out very well, with that rival scoring since at Musselburgh.

He’s been given a break following that most recent success, and while he has to pull out more, he remains open to progress and could yet do better.

Jollyallan (8/1, Paddy Power) scored in each of his first three outings over timber, and the former bumper winner lost nothing in defeat behind a rejuvenated Garde La Victoire last time at Sandown where he was just outgunned on the run-in by his gutsy opponent.

Harry Fry’s charge had previously looked progressive in racking up the wins at Exeter, Newbury and Kempton, and had chased home Shaneshill in the Champion Bumper at Punchestown in April.

He is likely capable of better, and while he faces some serious rivals here, he should give a good account.


Harry Fry's Jollyallan is no forlorn hope of getting into the places.

VERDICT

Willie Mullins boasts a strong team in the first race of the 2015 Cheltenham Festival, and the County Carlow trainer can get off to a flier with DOUVAN (7/4, Paddy Power) who has been hugely impressive in winning both starts over hurdles without coming off the bridle.

He had subsequent Grade One winner Sizing John behind on his debut at Gowran Park, before barely breaking into a sweat to land a Grade Two next time, and he looks something special. 

Willie Mullins has won the last two renewals of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but the Walk In The Park gelding looks set to make it a hat-trick.

Nicky Henderson will be hoping for better luck, having saddled the runner-up in each of his last four attempts at the race, and L’ami Serge can lay down a stern challenge to Douvan; however, quicker ground is an unknown for the King’s Theatre gelding, with his form all coming in the mud.

Qewy is an interesting runner from the John Ferguson yard, and he was impressive in winning a decent novice event at Newbury last time; he can improve, and the ex-Flat performer could reward each-way support.

SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE SELECTIONS – DOUVAN (7/4, Paddy Power); Qewy (14/1, Ladbrokes, each-way


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2015 Supreme Novices' Hurdle tips - Douvan to get Willie Mullins bandwagon off to a flyer in opening race of Cheltenham Festival

Tipster Brian Healy previews the opening race of the 2015 Supreme Novices' Hurdle, which features a strong Willie Mullins challenge for the Grade One contest.

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