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Il Etait Temps runs in the familiar Hollywood Syndicate colours in the 2023  Cheltenham Festival’s opening event, the Grade 1 Supreme Novice Hurdle, at 15H30 tomorrow (Tuesday). 


Il Etait Temps, who runs in the colours of the Hollywood Syndicate and is owned also by the Kieswetter family’s Barnane Stud, runs in the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival tomorrow, the Grade 1 Supreme Novices Hurdle, which starts at 15H30 South African time.

Stu Williams of Oddschecker previewed the 11 runners who are inside 50/1 for the race, which has a field of 14 runners in all. 
Facile Vega
Wonder mare Quevega wowed the Cheltenham faithful for six straight years between 2009 and 2014 when landing six consecutive renewals of the Mares’ Hurdle.
Her son, Facile Vega, followed in her Festival winning footsteps when landing the Champion Bumper 12 months ago and he will attempt to double his Cheltenham tally in the curtain raiser.
The exciting six-year-old has been favourite for this contest ever since the ante-post markets were produced and understandably so given that he looked like a future superstar when landing three Grade 1 bumpers last term.
Facile Vega shed his maiden tag at the first time of asking before stepping into Grade 1 company at Christmas, where he readily dispatched stablemates Il Etait Temps and Ashroe Diamond. However, It Etait Temps reversed that form at the Dublin Racing Festival last month as Facile Vega could only finish fifth.
That run was far too bad to be true and there were certainly reasons for it, as Facile Vega and High Definition went toe-to-toe from flag fall and the pace didn’t drop in spite of the latter checking out at the fourth flight of hurdles.
Facile Vega ran himself into the ground on that occasion and that alone could explain his lacklustre finish. However, he was also found to be lame following the race, which provides further explanation.
That is the only blemish on an otherwise impressive CV and connections are seemingly happy with where he is at this stage. In fact, that reverse could be a blessing in disguise for punters who can now back the Mullins horse at more attractive odds.
Marine Nationale
Marine Nationale hasn’t been seen since landing the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse in December, but this race has been the plan ever since.
Barry Connell’s promising six-year-old is unbeaten in four starts (two bumpers, two hurdles) after bursting onto the scene at Punchestown last spring, and his latest victory suggested that he could be a very high class performer indeed.
Plenty went wrong for Marine Nationale at Fairyhouse yet he still came out on top after demonstrating a good attitude and a smart turn of foot following a less than fluent leap at the last.
There were three hurdle races over 2 miles that day and Marine Nationale clocked a time four seconds quicker than the Grade 3 Juvenile Hurdle won by Triumph Hurdle hope Lossiemouth (who carried 23lbs less) and three seconds quicker than the Grade A Handicap Hurdle later on the card (the winner carried 13lbs less).
That rates a very smart effort on just his fourth trip to the racecourse and clearly Barry Connell felt that he didn’t need any more experience before boarding the ferry for Cheltenham.
Needless to say he will need to jump better than he has to date given the level of opposition he will face in the Cotswolds. However, he seemingly possesses a smart engine and significant potential, which makes him a very big player.
Il Etait Temps
Il Etait Temps brings experience to the table as a second season hurdler and he naturally commands respect on the back of his Grade 1 triumph at the Dublin Racing Festival last month.
It was, of course, Il Etait Temps who picked up the pieces when stablemate Facile Vega bowed out last month, reversing the form of their clash at Christmas when Facile Vega had seemingly won with ease.
While Facile Vega had excuses, as discussed above, it should not detract from what Il Etait Temps achieved on the day as the runner-up was a 141 rated Grade 2 winner and the third placed horse had been unbeaten to that point.
The race was run as such a pace that Il Etait Temps clocked a time three seconds quicker than stablemate State Man in the Irish Champion Hurdle and it demonstrated that he is well suited by a strongly run race, something that he should get once again at Cheltenham.
However, he may struggle to confirm last month’s form if his stablemate bounces back to his best.
Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle hero Tahmuras will lead the British charge and it’s easy to argue that he’s being slightly overlooked in the betting at this stage.
Paul Nicholls’ charge is unbeaten in three starts over hurdles and has seemingly progressed with each run. He overcame a mistake at the penultimate flight of hurdles when winning cosily at Sandown and the fourth has won his only subsequent outing, while the only other horse to run subsequently finished third in the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle.
The Falco gelding defeated a solid yardstick in Sizing Pottsie on his penultimate outing at Haydock and the third placed Snake Roll gave that form a boost when scoring by 14 lengths next time out.
Paul Nicholls hasn’t won this race since gallant grey Al Ferof flew up the hill to deny Spirit Son, Sprinter Sacre and Cue Card in 2011. However, he hasn’t fired too many bullets in recent years and this may be his best representative in a while.
Diverge failed to surpass a rating of 65 on the flat and could only muster a sixth placed finish on his hurdling debut at Leopardstown. However, he took a giant leap forwards when scoring by 23 lengths at Punchestown in January and he rates an intriguing contender in this contest.
The chestnut son of Frankel made light work of his opposition and clocked a time 11 seconds quicker than the following 2 mile handicap hurdle in spite of carrying 24lbs more than the winner of that contest.
That’s certainly enough to raise the eyebrow and suggest that he could be a smart prospect going forwards, especially as he was fairly keen in the early stages and didn’t always jump slickly yet still won with his head in his chest.
He will naturally face far sterner opposition at Cheltenham, where his jumping will be put to test. However, the likely strong pace should help him to settle and he could easily outperform expectations.
Chasing Fire
Menorah carried the colours of Mrs Diana L Whateley to victory in this contest in 2010 and Thomas Darby went close to replicating that success when finishing second in 2019. The latter was trained by Olly Murphy and both owner and trainer will be hopeful that they can go one place better on Tuesday.
Unbeaten between the flags, in bumpers and over hurdles, Chasing Fire doesn’t boast form that sets the pulse racing but has comfortably dispatched all that have been put before him, which is all that he can do.
It remains to be seen what he will find in the heat of battle, for that he picked up nicely at Sandown last time out, and you get the impression that connections have been looking after him this year with a view to going chasing in the autumn.
That said, they clearly feel that he can make his presence felt in this company and it’s impossible to know where his limitations lie.
High Definition
It’s not that long ago that High Definition was contesting favouritism for the Epsom Derby and you probably would have been laughed at for suggesting that he would ever line up in a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
The former Ballydoyle inmate boasted a rating of 108 on the level and he made a smooth transition to hurdling at Leopardstown in December, when defeating 26 rivals including the aforementioned Diverge.
That success earned the five-year-old a shot at the Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing where he would lock horns with the Facile Vega, which perhaps ultimately proved his undoing as the pair took each other on early and High Definition unseated his jockey at the fourth flight of hurdles.
That’s obviously far from ideal given his lack of experience and it leaves us in the dark regarding his ability. However, he did show an aptitude for hurdling in December and he could easily run a big race if putting in a clear round.
Inthepocket was handed his first defeat when finding only Il Etait Temps too good in the Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival last month. However, it was still a huge run for such a lightly raced horse and he can improve for the experience.
The JP McManus owned six-year-old won his solitary start between the flags and made a perfect racecourse debut at Wexford in October,  when comfortably defeating a competitive field that included subsequent scorer Joyeux Machin.
Inthepocket took another step forwards when accounting for Three Card Brag and Absolute Notions at Naas and his stamina probably earned him second place at Leopardstown given the pace set by Supreme Novices’ Hurdle contenders Facile Vega and High Definition.
This contest will almost certainly provide an ever sterner test for Henry de Bromhead’s charge, who will almost certainly need to improve once more in order to be competitive.
Dark Raven
Dark Raven placed third behind Il Etait Temps and Inthepocket in the Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival last month.
The Simon Munir and Isaac Souede owned gelding accounted Doctor Bravo at Leopardstown in December and Gordon Elliott’s charge has franked the form subsequently courtesy of a smooth win at Down Royal and a fine third placed effort in the Grade 3 Red Mills Hurdle.
Dark Raven has plenty of work to do to reverse the Leopardstown form. However, he is clearly open to progression.
Doctor Bravo
Doctor Bravo went from landing a bumper to placing second in a warm maiden hurdle inside of 23 days during December, only finding the aforementioned Dark Raven too good at Leopardstown on Boxing Day.
He comfortably shed his maiden tag at the second time of asking and was then thrown into open Grade 3 company, where he acquitted himself well against vastly more experienced rivals and was only beaten a length and a half.
Only the 147 rated Fil Dor and 155 rated Sharjah finished ahead of him on that occasion and it’s even more impressive when you consider that he didn’t step foot on a racecourse before December.
Gordon Elliott’s charge clearly possesses a great deal of natural ability and he could easily outperform market expectations.
Rare Edition
Rare Edition is arguably being unfairly overlooked due to his defeat in the Listed Sydney Banks Memorial Novices Hurdle at Huntingdon. However, that was over a trip just shy of two-and-a-half-miles and he could easily leave that run behind him back over the minimum distance next week.
Charlie Longsdon’s six-year-old won his first three starts over 2 miles culminating in a smooth success at Kempton on Boxing Day. The form of that race looks solid as the runner-up landed the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton two weeks ago and Rare Edition shares the same rating as the aforementioned Tahmuras, who arguably has the best British form on offer.
Rare Edition could easily outperform market expectations.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 2023 Tips & Prediction
Marine Nationale was impressive on the clock when landing the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle and it was always the plan to to come here fresh.
His jumping didn’t help exactly his cause at Fairyhouse. However, he overcame trouble in running and displayed a smart turn of foot which will aid his prospects tomorrow.
Il Etait Temps took his form to a new level when landing the Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle and he clearly thrives on a truly run race.
He will likey get that again given this race is traditionally run at a frantic gallop and that may give him the best opportunity of confirming that form with Facile Vega.
High class flat performer High Definition could feature prominently if getting into a good rhythm out in front. While Tolworth Hurdle winner Tahmuras has solid form in the book and could also outperform market expectations.
However, FACILE VEGA had excuses when blowing out at the Dublin Racing Festival last month and it may pay to forgive him that blip.
Willie Mullins’ charge was unbeaten prior to that outing, including when landing the Champion Bumper at this meeting last year. He clocked a good time when scoring in Grade 1 company at Christmas and this race has been his target all season.
Facile Vega came from behind when landing the bumper last year and I’m sure Paul Townend will look to get cover on this occasion, which will be a lot easier given the competitive nature of this race.
There are many promising horses that will line up in the contest. However, Facile Vega is the only contender whom has flashed star potential at this stage and he has been strong in the betting as the race has drawn closer.

Doctor Bravo and Rare Edition may fair best of those at bigger prices.