Cheltenham countdown: 18 declared for Supreme Novices' Hurdle

Sun 10 Mar 2019

Ante-post favourite Al Dancer heads a field of 18 runners for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – the first race of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival.

The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained grey leapt to the head of the betting for the traditional curtain-raiser when extending his unbeaten record for the season to four with a dominant victory in last month’s Betfair Hurdle at Newbury.

His major British-trained rivals on Tuesday include Nicky Henderson’s pair of Angels Breath and Mister Fisher, Colin Tizzard’s Elixir De Nutz and Grand Sancy – trained by Paul Nicholls.

Willie Mullins has saddled a record five previous winners of the Supreme, including three of the last six.

The Closutton maestro fires a twin assault – with stablemates Klassical Dream and Aramon renewing rivalry after being split by just a head in a Grade One at Leopardstown last month.

Gordon Elliott runs Felix Desjy and Vision D’honneur, while the only four-year-old in the field – Fakir D’Oudairies – is a serious contender for Joseph O’Brien, receiving an 8lb allowance from his elders.

Olly Murphy’s pair of Itchy Feet and Thomas Darby, Beaufort West (Tizzard), Brandon Castle (Neil King), Normal Norman (John Ryan), The Big Bite (Tom George), The Flying Sofa (Gary Moore) and Tokay Dokey (Dan Skelton) complete the line-up.

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