The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, originally known as the Gloucestershire Hurdle, was first contested in 1946. As the name suggests, the race is open to novice hurdlers – that is, horses that have not won a hurdle race before the start of the current season – aged four years and upwards and is run over 2 miles and 110 yards on the Old Course at Cheltenham. The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is currently the opening event of the Cheltenham Festival and is synonymous with a boisterous barrage of sound, known as the “Cheltenham Roar”, from racegoers as the tapes go up.
Willie Mullins is the most successful trainer of the modern era in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with five wins – Tourist Attraction (1995), Ebaziyan (2007), Champagne Fever (2013), Vautour (2014) and Douvan (2015) – while Ruby Walsh, who rode Champagne Fever, Vautour and Douvan, plus Noland (2006) and Al Ferof (2011), is the most successful jockey, also with five wins.
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is a Grade 1 race, in which the weight carried by each horse is determined by its age and sex, not by its ability. The race which, at the time of writing, is worth £120,000 in guaranteed prize money, is obviously a prestigious and valuable contest in its own right, but also a source of winners at subsequent Cheltenham Festivals. Notable horses that have finished first or second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in recent years include subsequent Champion Hurdle winners Brave Inca, Hors La Loi III and Binocular, subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Best Mate, Kicking King and War Of Attrition and, most recently, subsequent Arkle Challenge Trophy winner Douvan.