Whether it be Ryanair Chase winner Vautour, Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase champion Douvan or Stayers’ Hurdle victor Klassical Dream, the class required to reign victorious in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham is significant.
The last three renewals have been no exception – and with that in mind – read on as we take a look at the 2020, 2021 and 2021 winners of the Grade 1 affair.
Shishkin – 2020
With four wins from six appearances to his name leading up to the 2020 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Nicky Henderson-trained Shishkin took in with him a strong run of performances that included back-to-back triumphs at Newbury and Huntingdon.
Despite his form, Gordon Elliott’s Abacadabras and Willie Mullins’ Asterion Forlonge were favoured in the horse racing betting lines – with the former’s triumph at the Future Champions Novice Hurdle and the latter’s unblemished record a major reason behind that.
It was to be Shishkin and jockey Nico de Boinville’s day however, as they overcame the odds to finish first past the post from Abacadabras by a head. It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Shishkin, who after making a mistake at the third and failing to find a clear run at the top of the hill, needed every ounce of his class to rein in the leaders.
He and de Boinville would do just that, making headway to challenge at the last and running on strong over the final 100 yards to bag his connections more than £70,000 in prizemoney. As is the case with so many Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winners, Shishkin has gone on to bigger and better things in National Hunt racing, securing notable victories such as the Arkle Novices’ Chase, the Clarence House Chase and the Ascot Chase to name a few.
Appreciate It – 2021
Coming off the back of three consecutive victories at Cork and Leopardstown (x2), the Willie Mullins-trained Appreciate It entered the contest as the 11/8 favourite. The Irish horse justified his favourite’s tag and then some, jumping well and making steady headway at the third before taking the lead and refusing to let up en route to a dominant 24-length victory.
The now nine-year-old’s results have been somewhat inconsistent since, with him notching up emphatic wins at Punchestown and Naas, to coincide with less than stellar runs at Cheltenham’s Champion Hurdle and the Dublin Racing Festival’s Irish Arkle Novice Chase.
Appreciate It will have the opportunity to secure another Cheltenham victory at the famed meet this month, with Mullins entering his gelding into both the Arkle and Turners Novices’ Chase – where he is 16/1 and 5/1 respectively.
Constitution Hill – 2022
For those who follow National Hunt racing closely, it’s no secret how good Constitution Hill is. By the time he lined up for last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Nicky Henderson-trained five-year-old had already shown his enormous promise in a pair of wins at Sandown by 12 and 14 lengths respectively.
As a result of his aforementioned triumphs, he garnered odds of 9/4 heading into the fixture, which was good for joint favourite alongside Dysart Dynamo. It would end up being all one-way traffic, as Constitution Hill would go on to dominate the field by a comfortable 22 lengths.
Winning as impressively as he did on as big a stage as the Cheltenham Festival proved his legitimacy – and his form since has been nothing short of incredible. Constitution Hill has raced a further two times since finishing first past the post at Prestbury Park last year, reigning supreme in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle and in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton by a combined margin of 29 lengths.
He will line up in the Champion Hurdle at 2023’s renewal, and unsurprisingly, is the red-hot favourite at 2/7 to make it back-to-back triumphs at the Festival.