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Ballymore Novices' Hurdle

13:30 Cheltenham Festival

2022-03-16

Winner: £76030.08

Runners: 9

Going: Soft

No. of hurdles: 10

Distance: 2m5f0y

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The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, which takes place on day two of the Cheltenham Festival, is the premier race during the jumps season for novice hurdlers over the trip of 2m5f. It is a launchpad for top-class hurdlers and has been won by the likes of Istabraq, Hardy Eustace and Faugheen, all of whom went on to win the Champion Hurdle the following season.

NO.DRAW
FORM
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6(0)
11-311
silk
Sir Gerhard

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J: Paul Townend
T: W P Mullins
7
11-7
151
159
Made all in last year's Champion Bumper here (good to soft) and has impressed on both hurdling starts this season, more recently when far too strong for Three Stripe Life in Leopardstown Grade 1 last month (2m, yielding to soft); not bred to benefit from today's step up in trip but, nevertheless, he's a leading contender.
7(0)
23-111
silk
Stage Star

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J: Harry Cobden
T: Paul Nicholls
6
11-7
143
152
Smart in bumpers last season and has done very little wrong since switched to hurdling this term, with the latest of three stylish wins gained in Grade 1 Challow at Newbury (2m4f, soft) in December; will be fine on today's slightly faster ground and needs to be taken very seriously.
4(0)
1-11
silk
Journey With Me

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J: Rachael Blackmore
T: Henry De Bromhead
6
11-7
-
149
Well-bred 6yo who easily won heavy-ground Gowran bumper on last season's rules debut and also impressed in very strong Leopardstown maiden (2m4f, yielding to soft) on hurdling debut in December; didn't need to improve to maintain 100% record at Naas (2m3f, soft) last month; this will be the quickest ground he has encountered, but it's very hard to gauge the limit of his ability; respected.
3(0)
1-312
silk
I Am Maximus

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J: Nico de Boinville
T: Nicky Henderson
6
11-7
134
149
Beat subsequent Grade 1 hurdle winner My Drogo in soft-ground bumper here last season and has made good start to hurdling career this term; drew nicely clear to win Newbury maiden (2m, good to soft) in December and was clear of the others when creditable second to leading Albert Bartlett hope Hillcrest in 2m4f Listed race here (soft) in January; still has potential; not ruled out each-way.
8(0)
14-122
silk
Three Stripe Life

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J: Davy Russell
T: Gordon Elliott
6
11-7
144
149
Fourth to Sir Gerhard in last year's Champion Bumper here and has quickly developed into a smart novice hurdler this season; again found Sir Gerhard too good when 6l second in Leopardstown Grade 1 (2m, yielding to soft) last month but his stouter pedigree offers significant hope that he can get closer to that rival over today's trip.
9(0)
13-15
silk
Whatdeawant

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J: Danny Mullins
T: W P Mullins
6
11-7
-
143
Finished well to make winning hurdle debut in Navan maiden (2m4f, yielding) in December; only fifth of seven when second favourite for Naas Grade 1 (2m4f, soft) the following month but a slight stumble after the third-last flight seemed to knock him off an even keel and he certainly didn't run badly; clearly needs to improve but he remains a very good prospect.
2(0)
-71D422
silk
Hemlock

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J: Darragh O'Keeffe
T: Thomas Gibney
5
11-7
-
133
Comfortably won good-ground Perth bumper last summer and ran to useful level when second in two big-field maiden hurdles at Navan this year (2m4f, yielding/2m, heavy); looks out of his depth here.
5(0)
54022
silk
Scarface

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J: Brendan Powell
T: Colin Tizzard
5
11-7
128
139
Unplaced in three bumpers towards end of 2021 but has shown significant improvement on his two hurdling starts this year, more recently when close/clear second at Ascot (2m3f, soft) last month; travelled strongly for a long way there and can probably do better again in due course but this is a very daunting assignment.
1(0)
08-162
silk
Haxo

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J: Sean O'Keeffe
T: W P Mullins
5
11-7
-
132
Won French AQPS flat race last spring (1m4f, good) but had to settle for second when favourite for Punchestown maiden (2m, soft to heavy) on last month's stable/hurdle debut; unexposed and might be seen in a better light now back on a quicker surface and upped in trip, but needs to take a huge step forward.

RACING POST TIP

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silk
Stage Star
Last year's Champion Bumper winner Sir Gerhard has made an excellent start to his hurdling career and could be very hard to beat but his stamina for this trip is not copper-bottomed and preference is for the other Grade 1 hurdle winner, STAGE STAR. Paul Nicholls' runner drew clear for an emphatic success in the Challow at Newbury in December and, amidst the talk of Irish dominance at the Festival, he might have been underestimated in this field. Journey With Me represents last year's winning connections and also has a significant role to play. Whatdeawant is a more speculative option to consider.

Verdict

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BALLYMORE NOVICES HURDLE PREVIOUS WINNERS

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BALLYMORE NOVICES HURDLE KEY TRENDS AND STATS

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WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR - BALLYMORE NOVICES HURDLE 2021

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