The horses who could stun Willie Mullins’ strong contingent in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

View of Cheltenham racecourse with a hurdle in view

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The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is the traditional curtain raiser to the Cheltenham Festival, and racing enthusiasts will be watching with anticipation as the best youngsters from the top yards across the United Kingdom and Ireland vie for the £75,965 top prize.

The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle has an incredible role of honour, with Constitution Hill, Vautor, Altoir, Shishkin, and Klassical Dream just some of the standout winners in recent memory — proof that the majority of champions go on to have glittering careers.

Willie Mullins is also synonymous with the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival. The Irish handler has won the Grade 1 contest a record seven times, and he appears to have the best hand in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle 2024.

Ballyburn, who won a Grade 1 at Leopardstown when he was last seen, Listed winner Tullyhill, and Grade 2 Sky Bet Moscow Flyer victor Mystical Power are all at the top of the market as Mullins looks to extend his tally to eight in the Supreme.

While it is very difficult to overlook those three horses in the betting, there are a few potential entries that could prove a thorn in the side of Mullins’ runners and spoil the Closutton handler’s hopes of getting the 2024 Cheltenham Festival off to a winning start.

That said, let’s assess some of the outsiders who could upset the odds and deny Mullins an eighth Supreme Novices’ Hurdle win.

Firefox – 6/1

The most likely horse outside of the Closutton contingent to win the Supreme is Firefox, according to the horse race betting.

The 6/1 shot, who is trained by Mullins’ fierce rival Gordon Elliott, won a couple of Bumpers at Navan and Fairyhouse last year before starting this season off with another victory on the flat at Down Royal.

Firefox made a seamless transition back to hurdles in December, winning a maiden by over two lengths clear of the now Supreme favourite Ballyburn at Fairyhouse.

However, he was disappointing in the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle in January, finishing fourth in the seven-runner field.

Despite that blemish on his record, some racing pundits and fans alike are still keen on Firefox’s chances in the Supreme, and 6/1 could prove good value.

Jeriko Du Reponet – 9/1

Jeriko Du Reponet is an interesting one, as some racing experts were tipping the Nicky Henderson-trained horse to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle before the five-year-old even made his rules debut for Seven Barrows.

Those early backers were left feeling rather smug when Jeriko Du Reponet won his maiden appearance at Newbury in December by a comfortable enough three-and-a-quarter lengths.

He returned to the Berkshire course later that month with another win, but this time by a shortened length and three quarters.

Jeriko Du Reponet’s slender win in the Grade 2 Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster in January has perhaps put punters off due to a lack of conviction.

However, he still boasts an unbeaten record and it would be foolish to rule him out just because his wins were not overly impressive.

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