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Matthew Sutcliffe’s Cheltenham Value Punts – Henderson’s Baie Overpriced For Supreme

Regular GG contributor Matthew Sutcliffe has been knocking in a few winners in recent weeks with his Value Punts column, so we’ve now got him on the hunt for some Cheltenham Festival value in the weeks leading up to the March National Hunt showpiece.

He tackles the Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle first, which kicks off the jumping jamboree on Tuesday 12th March and has a big-priced contender for Nicky Henderson.

Updated: 1.40pm 23rd January (Odds correct at time of publication)

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The prestigious Cheltenham Festival is the pinnacle of National Hunt racing. While some may be adverse to the notion that the season is geared around this illustrious week of racing, it’s undeniable that it is the case. The famous Cheltenham roar is synonymous with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle which opens the week, and I believe there’s one very much missed in the market here.  

Nicky Henderson has won three of the last ten renewals, with Altior, Shishkin and Constitution Hill, and has Jeriko Du Reponet at the top of the market, whose only entry is in the Supreme. While he looks a smart type, I still gather the impression that his price is formed on the basis of reputation as opposed to what he’s actually achieved on track thus far, and I’m happy to take a plunge on another Henderson trained runner in the form of JANGO BAIE. The only slight spanner in the works is that as entries have come out today, Jango Baie is doubly entered in both the Supreme and the Baring Bingham, however given he is still seemingly learning on the job and keen enough, I’d be very surprised should connections entertain the Baring Bingham option, as I doubt he will have the stamina at this stage to get home over 2m5f. He’s entered in both the Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle over 2m 1/2F and the Classic Novices’ over 2m4 1/2F, so I’m sure we’ll discover our fate regarding his eventual declaration this weekend, but should it be the 2m option, then the price will undoubtedly plummet for the Supreme.

Obviously Jeriko Du Reponet is entered in the Rossington, but I’ve more of an inkling we’ll see him take the Shishkin route and go for the 2m3f contest in the Sidney Banks at Huntingdon. It’s worth remembering that when Henderson won the Supreme with Constitution Hill and Shishkin, JP and Hendo had Jonbon and Chantry House both convincingly beaten and JP’s record in the Supreme isn’t entirely compelling.

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Regarding Jango Baie, he was just touched off in his P2P by the now JP-owned No Flies On Him, who was a smart winner on debut at Leopardstown in December, posting a higher RPR in the race than when Klassical Dream did in 2018 en-route to winning the Supreme the following year.

Jango Baie was then a pointer for the column when beating the well-regarded Tellherthename at Ascot in  November. Despite pulling hard the whole way and unsuited by the steady gallop, he came upsides the eventual second in a canter before being headed, and it looked as if his early keen exertions were to naturally see him weaken. In a rare turn of events, Jango Baie was able to battle back the lead and get up for the win by a nose. I thought that was, and still may be, one of the  best novice performances we’ve seen all season as to pull that hard and still have enough left in the tank to find an extra gear to rally back the win was exceptional.

The performance goes under the radar as he didn’t blow away the field in a flashy style, but he showed all the qualities you want in a racehorse there, and the winner has since won two novices events by fourteen lengths, rated 135. While the overall time of the contest was nothing special provided they went slow  throughout, Jango Baie was much quicker in the latter stages of the race than the 130-rated Knickerbockerglory who won the next race over the same distance. It’s also worth noting that Nicky Henderson won that race with Altior in 2015 en-route to winning the Supreme, so it’s a tried and tested formula regarding Jango Baie’s journey.

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The son of Tiger Groom was then sent to the Formby (or the old Tolworth for the sake of nostalgia) and defied a market drift to draw away from the well regarded Favour and Fortune. Again, it wasn’t a flashy performance but I don’t think the soft/heavy ground would’ve suited him particularly given his keenness, though he settled much better there.

The immediate reaction after the race was that Farren Glory would’ve won had he not fallen, however I don’t think that was an absolute given as there’s no telling how he would’ve picked up in the ground and Jango Baie was travelling just as well in behind. It was a gritty performance, but once again he’s outbattled a promising type and won going away.

The collective opinion is that you need a horse who stays for the Supreme as it’s often run at a good clip and the hill requires an extra surplus of stamina, Jango Baie embodies that beautiful cocktail of speed and stamina. While he may be no Constitution Hill, the latter also took the Supreme after dotting up in the Tolworth so it’s another typically tried and tested method from Nicky Henderson. 

While I’m aware the fate of this selection hangs in the balance of the weekend’s action, should Jango Baie consciously confirm the manifestation he’ll run in the two miler this weekend and  hopefully win once more, then we’ll be sitting pretty on our 33/1.

2024 Supreme Novices’ HurdleJango Baie (e/w) – 33/1 Betfred, 25/1 generally


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