Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Tips and PredictionsRacing Post experts predict the likely big players and identify the each way value in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle as well as analysing the trends and predicting the winner.

Can anything stop Envoi Allen?

Envoi Allen is unbeaten in seven races under rules and his performances this season suggest it will take something special to stop him. The six-year-old has improved with every run on Racing Post Ratings and handled the step up in trip when landing a Grade 1 novice hurdle at the start of January. He’s also proven his versatility on ground ranging from good to soft.

Who is best of the rest?

There are a number of hot commodities also set to line up, with the Philip Hobbs-trained Sporting John an exciting prospect. Like Envoi Allen he is unbeaten and really caught the eye when roaring home at Ascot in February to leave some classy types behind. The Big Breakaway is another who is worthy of being on anyone’s shortlist, having won comfortably on both starts this season, but must prove his mettle as he steps up in grade for Colin Tizzard.

Trends analysis

As many as 19 of the last 21 runnings have been won by horses who had previously raced in bumpers This has long been a race for horses bred for jumping, with Istabraq, who came off the Flat to land this in 1997, the exception to the rule. It’s a race for speedy jumpers on the rise, so if there’s an older Flat horse in the field don’t go thinking they’ll necessarily have a pace advantage. As for age, it’s six-year-olds all the way. They’ve won every year since 2014 and two of three runnings before that. Many horses bred for the jumps are too backward to be winning this at four and five, while there have been only two winners older than six since the event began in 1971. You would expect Ireland to have a fair record and it’s no surprise in this era of Irish dominance that they have won five of the last six runnings. Look out for any unbeaten horses trained by Willie Mullins, as Ireland’s champion trainer has won it four times with horses who were unbeaten when in his care.

Verdict

The one who would be most interesting is Asterion Forlonge, an unbeaten Mullins hurdler straight from the National Hunt schooling system. However, it seems he’s set for the Supreme and therefore the three who come out best are Cobbler’s Way, Minella Melody, who is favourite for the mares’ novice, and Envoi Allen. Given he’s a six-year-old former pointer the choice has to be the favourite.