The Supreme Novices' Hurdle is the championship race for 2-mile novice hurdlers and traditional curtain-raiser to the Festival.
As such, it is greeted by the famous Cheltenham roar, as the tapes go up to signal the end of 12 months wait for the highlight of the jumps season.
It is often a stepping stone to further glory, with those involved in the finish frequently going on to even bigger and better things.
Brave Inca was the last winner to go on to win the Champion Hurdle, but since then Binocular and Buveur d'Air both placed in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle before doing so.
The Supreme has also showcased future Cheltenham Gold Cup winners: Best Mate, Kicking King and War Of Attrition were runners-up in 2000, 2003 and 2004 respectively.
More recently, Sizing John finished third in 2015 before winning the Gold Cup in 2017.
SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE TRENDS
Willie Mullins has trained the winner of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle a total of seven times, but he has also saddled a number of beaten favourites in recent years:
Dysart Dynamo 9/4jf (2022), Asterion Forlonge 9/4f (2020), Getabird 7/4f (2018), Melon 3/1jf (2017) and Min 15/8f (2016).
But the market remains a decent guide - the enigmatic Lebaik is the only Supreme winner at double-figure odds in the last 10 renewals.
The longest-priced winner was Arctic Kinsman at 50/1 in 1994, while 2007 victor Ebaziyan is one of two 40/1 shots to win.
Very few genuine ex-flat horses have featured in the finish recently, with the emphasis instead being on NH pedigrees and, very often, high-class bumper form.
The last horse to do the Champion Bumper-Supreme double was Champagne Fever (2013).
More recently, Appreciate It was runner-up in the Bumper before winning this race.
LAST 5 WINNERS’ DATA
Constitution Hill produced a performance for the ages in 2022, winning by 22 lengths in a new course record time of 3mins, 44.43secs.
Prepared as a foal at the home of Barry Geraghty, who rode 43 Cheltenham Festival winners, the five-year-old simply glided up the hill to the delight of his former owner.
He subsequently received an official rating of 170, the highest given to a novice hurdler since Anglo-Irish Classifications began in 1999:
Runner-up in the Bumper 12 months earlier, Appreciate It fully justified market support to win the 2021 Supreme for Willie Mullins.
His 24-length victory was the widest winning margin in a hurdle at the Festival this century, albeit his closest pursuer fell at the last:
Nicky Henderson's Shishkin came from some way off the pace to edge out Abacadabras in a thrilling finish in 2020:
Klassical Dream was an emotional winner in 2019, with his owner John Coleman having passed away the previous year.
But his widow Joanne was determined that he should be at Prestbury Park anyway:
Summerville Boy snatched victory in the last few strides in 2018, despite errors at the final two hurdles in the hands of Noel Fehily:
Labaik was a surprise winner in 2017, not least because of a tendency to refuse to start races.
The quirky grey was ridden by 17-year-old Jack Kennedy, for whom it was a first Festival win:
Altior won a classic renewal in 2016, beating the likes of Min and Buveur D'Air.
Trainer Nicky Henderson, who had seen future stars Binocular and Sprinter Sacre fall short in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, was relieved:
Douvan bolted up to justify considerable pre-race hype in 2015, with future Gold Cup winner Sizing John third.
It was the third year running that trainer Willie Mullins, jockey Ruby Walsh and owner Rich Ricci had won the Festival opener:
Vautour collected the first of his three Festival wins in the 2014 Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
In command turning for home, the five-year-old took off up the hill to record a decisive success which surprised even Willie Mullins:
Champagne Fever, winner of the Champion Bumper in 2012, won what proved to be a vintage renewal of the Supreme in 2013.
It also featured the likes of 2014 Champion Hurdle winner Jezki, 2015 Champion Chase winner Dodging Bullets and future three-time Festival winner Cause Of Causes.
My Tent Or Yours (three-time Champion Hurdle runner-up subsequently) was favourite, and the pair jumped the final flight as one:
In 2012 Cinders And Ashes, trained by Donald McCain and ridden by Jason Maguire, won the Supreme despite flattening the final flight:
Future superstars Sprinter Sacre and Cue Card both came up short in the 2011 Supreme.
Second to Cue Card in the Bumper 12 months earlier, Al Ferof didn’t look the most likely winner turning for home under Ruby Walsh:
The Phillip Hobbs trained Menorah edged out Get Me Out Of Here in a thrilling finish to the 2010 Supreme Novices' Hurdle, with the odds-on favourite Dunguib third.
Looking back further, in 2006 Noland came with an incredible late drive under Ruby Walsh to deny Straw Bear close home:
Brave Inca's clash with War Of Attrition in 2004 was one of the great Supreme battles.
Brave Inca went on to win the Champion Hurdle in 2006 and War Of Attrition the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same year.
Another future Gold Cup winner, Kicking King, finished runner-up to Back In Front in 2003.
He spreadeagled the field to give his trainer Edward O'Grady an 18th Festival success - 25 years after his Golden Cygnet did the same:
In 2002 the JP McManus-owned super mare Like-A-Butterfly, ridden by Charlie Swan, was an Irish banker at 7/4 in a huge field of 28.
She won by a neck from Westender, under Tony McCoy, but many were left feeling that the Willie Mullins trained Adamant Approach would have won had he not fallen at the last:
While in 2000, the future three-time Gold Cup winner Best Mate couldn't reel in Sausalito Bay with a late charge alone under the stands' rail:
A year earlier, Hor La Loi III, ridden by Tony McCoy, was the first four-year-old winner of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle since 1973 and went on to win the 2002 Champion Hurdle.
The ultra-classy French Ballerina, ridden by Graham Bradley, beat no fewer than 29 rivals in the 1998 renewal.
The versatile Pat Flynn-trained mare had already won three listed races on the flat, but tragically broke down in that summer’s Ascot Gold Cup and could not be saved.
The 1995 Supreme Novices' Hurdle was also notable, with Tourist Attraction giving Willie Mullins his first win as a trainer at the Festival.
He had previously ridden two Cheltenham Festival winners as a jockey.
Arctic Kinsman 1994
The 1993 winner, Montelado, is the only horse to have won consecutive Festival races, having won the Champion Bumper in 1992, the last race of that year’s meeting.
Back in 1978, the year the race was first called the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, the ill-fated Golden Cygnet won by 15 lengths.
He ended the season with a Timeform rating of 176 - which remained their highest rating for a novice hurdler until the 2022 Supreme winner Constitution Hill (177).
Described by the great Vincent O'Brien as 'the best hurdler I've ever seen', he was leading on the bridle entering the straight under amateur jockey Niall 'Boots' Madden.
He then strolled majestically up the hill leaving Fred Rimmell, trainer of the runner-up Western Rose, astounded: