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Guide to the
Cheltenham Festival

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Ballymore Novices' Hurdle 2019 Racecard

The Ballymore Novices Hurdle is a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race which takes place each year during the Cheltenham Festival in March. Open to horses four years and older who are novices (meaning they hadn’t won a race over hurdles prior to that season), the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle is run on the Old Course at Cheltenham over a distance of about two miles and five furlongs (2 miles 5 furlongs and 26 yards), with 10 hurdles to be jumped.

1:30

Wednesday 13 March

Distance: 21f 0y Age: 4yo + Prize: £125000 Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places)

FORM SILKS HORSE AGE ODDS
ENTRY JOCKEY & TRAINER WGT
jockey silks ASK DILLON (IRE)
11 stars
6 11-7
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1 J: Sean Bowen
T: Fergal O'Brien
Created a good impression when winning first start over hurdles at Ascot (21.6f) in December. Followed that with a solid effort in defeat at Exeter but this represents a big step up in class.
jockey silks BATTLEOVERDOYEN (IRE)
55 stars
6 11-7
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2 J: J. W. Kennedy
T: Gordon Elliott, Ireland
Winner of sole start between the flags and made it 3-3 under Rules when landing a Naas Grade 1 (2½m) in January. This assignment is tougher but yard won this last year and he's potentially very smart.
jockey silks BEAKSTOWN (IRE)
33 stars
6 11-7
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3 J: Harry Skelton
T: Dan Skelton
Scopey sort who has created a good impression since switched to hurdles, winner of Warwick Grade 2 when last seen in January. Remains open to improvement but this demands a sizeable step forward.
jockey silks BREWIN'UPASTORM (IRE)
33 stars
6 11-7
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4 J: Richard Johnson
T: Olly Murphy
Not beaten far behind Champ in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury, and probably would've emerged on top had he not exited at the last in a Grade 2 here (20.2f) last time. Not ruled out by any means.
jockey silks BRIGHT FORECAST (IRE)
22 stars
5 11-7
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5 J: Nico de Boinville
T: Ben Pauling
Big-field Newbury maiden hurdle winner on Rules debut and improved since, following up in a Leicester novice prior to finishing second in Grade 2 company at Haydock. Not without each-way hope.
jockey silks CASTLEBAWN WEST (IRE)
22 stars
6 11-7
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6 J: P. Townend
T: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
Bumper winner who made a bright start to hurdles career when runner-up at Clonmel. Duly went one better at Leopardstown (2½m) next time but Ruby Walsh prefers Easy Game on this occasion.
jockey silks CHAMP (IRE)
44 stars
7 11-7
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7 J: Barry Geraghty
T: Nicky Henderson
Cosy winner of what looked a competitive handicap on return at Newbury (20.5f) in December. Duly followed up in a Grade 1 over the same C&D later that month and he possesses considerable potential.
jockey silks CITY ISLAND (IRE)
33 stars
6 11-7
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8 J: M. P. Walsh
T: Martin Brassil, Ireland
First past the post all 3 hurdle starts, notably beating dual subsequent winner Dallas des Pictons in Leopardstown handicap (2m) on Boxing Day. This is a big step up in class but he's very promising.
jockey silks DUNVEGAN (FR)
22 stars
6 11-7
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9 J: D. J. Mullins
T: P. A. Fahy, Ireland
Looked good when opening hurdles account on return at Fairyhouse (2½m) in December. Reportedly found to be amiss post-race when well held in a Leopardstown Grade 1 next time.
jockey silks EASY GAME (FR)
22 stars
5 11-7
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10 J: R. Walsh
T: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
Made it 4-6 in this sphere when landing a Grade 2 at Navan (2½m) on latest start in December. More on his plate here but he's clearly talented and should make his presence felt.
jockey silks GALVIN (IRE)
33 stars
5 11-7
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11 J: Davy Russell
T: Gordon Elliott, Ireland
Dual bumper winner who maintained unbeaten record when landing a 2m Ayr novice last month. Pitched into far deeper waters now but has done everything asked of him so far and should stay this trip.
jockey silks JARVEYS PLATE (IRE)
22 stars
6 11-7
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12 J: Paddy Brennan
T: Fergal O'Brien
Perth bumper winner who confirmed previous hurdling promise when running away with a listed event here (20.2f) in January. However, limitations seemingly exposed in Grade 2 back here next time.
jockey silks NOTEBOOK (GER)
11 stars
6 11-7
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13 J: Rachael Blackmore
T: Henry de Bromhead, Ireland
Point winner who opened Rules account at third attempt in 2m Tramore maiden hurdle on New Year's Day. Further progress when runner-up in Thurles Grade 3 since but this is much tougher.
jockey silks SAMS PROFILE
33 stars
5 11-7
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14 J: B. J. Cooper
T: M. F. Morris, Ireland
Winner of big-field Cork maiden on return/hurdles debut in November. Improved form in defeat in graded company since, latterly making Battleoverdoyen work hard at Naas, and he's an each-way player.
jockey silks SEDDON (IRE)
11 stars
6 11-7
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15 J: Noel Fehily
T: Tom George
Hasn't done much wrong since switched to hurdles, twice placed in graded company prior to making the frame in competitive 19.2f Ascot handicap. Probably biting off more than he can chew here, though.
jockey silks VALDIEU (FR)
11 stars
6 11-7
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16 J: Sean Flanagan
T: Noel Meade, Ireland
Good form in bumpers and made bright start to hurdles career when striking at Naas in January. Struggled in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown next time, though, and may again find the competition too hot.

Analyst's Verdict

It wasn't a particularly strong Grade 1 that BATTLEOVERDOYEN landed at Naas but there's plenty to like about how much he's done so soon in his development, and there's good reason to believe that he has more to offer. Gordon Elliott's charge gets the nod ahead of another highly promising novice in Champ, while City Island and Brewin'upastorm are others to consider.

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The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle is the first race on day two of the Cheltenham Festival.

The race was first established in 1971, and was won by the Harry Thomson Jones-trained Midsprite under jockey Macer Gifford.

In 1974, Sun Alliance (an insurance company which was later know as Royal & Sun Alliance) began sponsoring the race and as a result the contest became known as the Sun Alliance Novices’ Hurdle.

The association lasted over 30 years until Ballymore Properties backed the event for the first time in 2006.

Just four years later, Neptune Investment Management took over the reins as main sponsor, and the race was run under their banner for seven years, before Ballymore resumed sponsorship for the 2018 running.

The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle has produced some top-class hurdlers in the past, notably three-time Champion Hurdle winner Istabraq and two-time Champion Hurdle winner Hardy Eustace .

Faugheen produced one of the best performances in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle since the turn of the century when successful in 2014, beating Ballyalton by four and a half lengths under Ruby Walsh, overcoming a bad mistake at the third last in the process.

Faugheen also went on to win the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival the following year, further enhancing the record of winners of the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle that go on to do well in that race.

More recently, the Gordon Elliott-trained Samcro was another impressive winner of the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle when sauntering clear of his rivals to win the 2018 renewal. He produced the best performance in the race since the aforementioned Faugheen when readily justifying favouritism.

The most successful Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle trainer in recent times is Willie Mullins , who has won the race four times, with: Fiveforthree (2008), Mikael d’Haguenet (2009), Faugheen (2014) and Yorkhill (2016).

The most successful Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle jockey in recent times is Ruby Walsh , who has won the race four times, with: Fiveforthree (2008), Mikael d’Haguenet (2009), Faugheen (2014) and Yorkhill (2016).

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CHELTENHAM COUNTDOWN 2020

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CHELTENHAM RACES 2019

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NEXT RACE SMART STATS

2 Nicky Henderson's number of winners in past 4 runnings. (saddles MORNING VICAR)
46% Nico de Boinville's strike rate on hurdling favourites (rides MORNING VICAR)
£22.20 David Pipe's profit to a £1 level stake with hurdlers being stepped up in trip for the first time (saddles REMASTERED)

LATEST RACING RESULTS