David Pipe has a whole host of festival options for BallynagourPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Ballynagour blitzes Budbrooke brigade
Report: Warwick, Friday
Budbrooke Chase Handicap (Class 2) 2m4½f
HORSES arriving from France can occasionally make fools of the handicapper and Ballynagour proved a case in point, landing what was supposed to be a competitive £30,000 handicap by 19 lengths on his first start for David Pipe.
Inconsistent in France, where he won two of his ten starts under rules, Ballynagour began life in Britain with a chase mark of 122 and he wasted no time in taking advantage, despite racing from 1lb out of the handicap, coming home clear at a canter as his rivals toiled in his wake.
A morning price of 11-2 soon evaporated and the seven-year-old was supported all the way into 7-4 favouritism. There was never a moment of wory for his supporters. Settled in fourth, Ballynagour travelled and jumped so well he pulled his way through the field, eventually taking it up in the back straight on the final circuit and having more than 15 lengths on his rivals turning for home.
From there Tom Scudamore was able to take it very easily indeed. The strong early pace, set by the duelling Little Josh and Golden Chieftain asked a lot of the field, and in the back straight Ballynagour fueled the flames, increasing the temperatue and causing his rivals to wilt.
Pipe was understandably impressed and said: "Visually it looked like he's done it easily, but sometimes on this ground it can take more out of them than it appears."
On his next target, Pipe added: "We'll get him back and see how he is and hopefully we can look to Cheltenham. I'd imagine we'd look at one of the chases."
Bookmakers were taking no chances and William Hill responded with drastic cuts across the board. They went 10-1 (from 20) for the Byrne Plate, 14-1 (from 40) for the JLT Specialty and 14-1 (from 20) for the Grand Annual.
With his mark of 122 over fences sure to rise substantially, William Hill were taking no chances over Pipe potentially exploiting a lenient looking hurdles mark of 129. They went 16-1 (from 33) in the Coral Cup betting, 16-1 (from 40) in the County Hurdle and inserted him at 16-1 in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle market.
It was 7-1 shot Niceonefrankie who fared best of the rest, with Golden Chieftain, who returned at 11-2, a further five lengths back in third.