We all know Festival form repeats itself, so I have had a look at the impact that the Novice Hurdles have had over the last twelve years. There are three Grade One Novice Hurdles for horses aged four years and upwards Novices, Kicking King in 2003, War of Attrition in 2004 and Best Mate in 2000.
3 Champion Hurdle winners: Brave Inca, Sublimity & Binocular. Brave Inca was the winner of the Supreme Novices in 2004, Sublimity was fourth in the 2006 Supreme and Binocular was second in the 2008 Supreme.
1 Arkle winner: Sprinter Sacre, who was third in the 2011 Supreme.
1 National Hunt Chase winner: Youlneverwalkalone, third in the 2000 Supreme.
1 Jewson Handicap Chase winner: Copper Bleu, fourth in the 2009 Supreme.
In 2013 the Supreme form will receive another boost when barring accidents Sprinter Sacre looks set to add the Queen Mother Champion Chase to his Festival record. Cue Card, who finished one place behind Sprinter Sacre in the 2011 Supreme and runner up to the same rival in the 2012 Arkle, has the Queen Mother or the Ryanair on his agenda this year.
Last years Supreme winner and runner up Cinders And Ashes and Darlan are heading for this years Champion Hurdle.
Binocular, who was runner up in the 2008 Supreme, is again set to line up in the Champion Hurdle for the fourth time, bidding to regain his crown after victory in the 2010 renewal.
The 2010 Supreme winner Menorah, who also finished third in the 2012 Arkle holds an entry in the Ryan Air.
The Neptune Investments Hurdle (Registered as The Baring Bingham Novices Hurdle) previously sponsored by Royal and Sun Alliance then Ballymore Properties I have used those titles where appropriate. 2000-2012 has produced the following Cheltenham Festival winners:
1 Gold Cup Winner: Denman, second in the 2006 RSA Hurdle
Two Champion Hurdle winners: The dual Champion Hurdler Hardy Eustace, Winner of the 2003 RSA Hurdle and Rock On Ruby, second in the 2011 Neptune.
A triple World Hurdle winner: Inglis Drever, second in the 2004 RSA Hurdle.
2 Arkle Chase Winners: Forpadydeplasterer, fourth in the 2008 Ballymore and Tidal Bay, second in the 2007 Ballymore.
1 RSA Chase Winner: Denman.
2010 Neptune winner Peddlers Cross holds entries in both the Champion Hurdle and World Hurdle at the time of writing. He was second to Hurricane Fly in the 2011 Champion Hurdle but has somewhat lost his way since, However, he still warrants the upmost respect. The horse he beat into second in the Neptune; Reve De Sivola is amongst the favourites for the 2013 World Hurdle, whose Festival score sheet also includes a third in the 2011 William Hill Trophy. On Festival Trials day he had a great duel to land the Cleeve Hurdle with Oscar Whisky, who was fourth in the 2010 Supreme and third in the 2011 Champion Hurdle. Oscar Whisky holds entries in the Champion Hurdle and the World Hurdle but his target and indeed whether we will see him at Cheltenham remains unclear at this stage.
2011 Neptune winner First Lieutenant has entries in the Ryanair and The Gold Cup; he would be a huge player in either. Runner up to Bobs Worth in the 2012 RSA Chase, he seemingly saves his very best for Cheltenham and the better ground. Rock On Ruby who was second to First Lieutenant in the 2011 Neptune, is the reigning Champion Hurdler and will again line up to defend his crown on March 12th. Third home in 2011 was So Young; he holds an entry in the World Hurdle. Oscars Well fourth home in the same race hold entries in the Arkle and the Jewson, but whether we see him travel over after two disappointing efforts on his home turf is unknown at the time of writing.
2012 Neptune winner Simonsig is the likely winner of the 2013 Arkle, barring accidents or an act of God! Monksland finished third to Simonsig last year and is fancied to land the 2013 World Hurdle for Ireland.
The Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle (Registered as The Spa Novices Hurdle), 2005 – 2012 Has produced the following Cheltenham Festival winners:
2 RSA Chase winners: Weapons Amnesty and Bobs Worth, winners of the Albert Bartlett in 2010 and 2012.
1 William Hill Trophy Handicap Chase winner: Wichita Lineman, winner of the Albert Bartlett in 2007.
Arvika Ligeonniere who was fourth to Berties Dream in the 2010 Albert Bartlett holds entries in the Arkle and the Jewson. Bobs Worth landed the 2011 Albert Bartlett and the 2012 RSA Chase and at the time of writing is favourite for The Gold Cup. Champion Court who finished fourth to Bobs Worth in the 2011 Albert Bartlett, also finished second in the 2012 Jewson to Sir Des Champs who also won the 2011 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hurdle. That rival is amongst the market leaders for the Gold Cup. Champion Court has entries in the Ryanair, World Hurdle and the Gold Cup at the time of writing. Boston Bob, runner up to the ill-fated Brindisi Breeze in the 2012 Albert Bartlett, has entries for the Arkle, the National Hunt Chase, the RSA and the Jewson. One suspects the RSA will be the most likely target. Lovecen, who finished fourth in the same race, holds an entry in the World Hurdle.