RACING anorak Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) analyses the field for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival opener, the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle | Tuesday 10th March 2020, 13:30 | ITV1
The Supreme Novices' Hurdle is the traditional curtain-raiser at the Festival and this year looks a very good renewal in my eyes. Plenty of potentially top-class horses line up here and as ever it's likely to throw up plenty of future Grade 1 winners.
Abacadabras was fourth in the Champion Bumper last year and has developed into a top class hurdler whose sole defeat came to Envoi Allen. He is a speedy sort, and I am a big fan, but this race will most likely be a real test which I suspect won't play to his strengths and may be one for another day.
Fiddlerontheroof has impressed me this season and with his mix of speed and stamina ticks a lot of boxes for this race. However, Tolworth hurdle winners don't have a great record here and I suspect he may lack tactical speed at the crucial point in the race.
Shiskin has visually impressed on his two wins over hurdles but it's hard to weigh up what he's achieved. His trainer is no stranger to success in this race and the noises coming out are very positive, but this is a hugely different test from what he's experienced before and as much as I wouldn't write him off he's a short price on all known form.
The one I'm siding with is Asterion Forlonge
. In a short period of time he's jumped to the top of the Irish contenders and he is exactly what I look for in a Supreme contender.
His jumping isn't slick however he's a novice and I'm sure Willie Mullins will have worked on that since his last start. What I do like though is he has pace, races prominently and has stamina all through his pedigree.
As long as he doesn't jump too big he is likely to prove hard to pass in the final stages.
1:30 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – Asterion Forlonge to win (11/4 Betway)