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Which race should Ballyburn run in at the Cheltenham Festival? Our experts have their say

Ballyburn has been favourite for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the Baring Bingham Novices' Hurdle for some time, but we are still none the wiser as to which race he will run in. We asked our experts where they would run the exiting Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old . . . 

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Baring Bingham

I think Ballyburn will probably win either race, but I have more reason to take him on in the Supreme, so I would run him in the Baring Bingham. He was probably nowhere near full fitness when beaten by Firefox earlier in the season over 2m, but I do think a speedy performer like Firefox could catch him out over the minimum trip. He also takes a few strides to find top gear and that could leave him vulnerable. He has won over 2m5f on heavy ground, so stamina won't be an issue in the Baring Bingham. I think he would be bomb-proof in that race, so that is where I would go.
Tom Park, tipster

Baring Bingham

Ballyburn looks mightily progressive and wouldn't need to improve much on a Racing Post Rating of 158 to land either of his festival options. That said, if he were mine, I'd be inclined to run him in the Baring Bingham. There seems to be the potential for more to go wrong in a Supreme, where horses often jump at pace for the first time. In recent years, both Summerville Boy and Shishkin had to overcome quite significant trouble in running to win, and it's certainly not a race for the faint-hearted. In contrast, this year's Baring Bingham field looks packed with future staying types and Ballyburn should prove too sharp at the business end.
Joe Eccles, reporter

Supreme

I'd run him in the Supreme. He is the best Irish novice hurdler and his dominant success at the Dublin Racing Festival gave no indication he should be running in the longer-distance race – you have to stay well to win a Supreme. However, if Willie Mullins wants to maximise his chances of winning as many Cheltenham Festival races as he can, I can see why he would opt for the Baring Bingham. Mystical Power doesn't look an obvious contender for the Baring Bingham, given how hard he pulls, and Tullyhill has only an entry in the Supreme. Ballyburn has already had a comprehensive victory over 2m4f, so the Baring Bingham would make sense, but I'd still run him in the Supreme.
Maddy Playle, reporter

Baring Bingham

Ballyburn may win whichever race he goes for, but the Baring Bingham looks the right opportunity for him. Firefox was too quick for him over two miles on his debut, but he’s clearly not short of speed, given his dismissal of Grade 2 winner Slade Steel over that trip at the Dublin Racing Festival. However, it’s hard to forget what he did at Christmas when upped to two and a half miles at Leopardstown, where he sauntered effortlessly clear of a couple of decent sorts. He’s sure to be a stayer in time, but this intermediate trip looks perfect for him at this stage, and his high cruising speed and sharp turn of foot should lend themselves perfectly to the test.
Harry Wilson, tipster

Supreme

I’d run him in the Supreme and tell Paul Townend to use his proven stamina and attempt to make all on what is likely to be soft ground. Willie Mullins won the 2m Leopardstown Grade 1 that Ballyburn landed last month with subsequent Supreme winners Champagne Fever, Vautour, Klassical Dream and Appreciate It. Mullins has a decent chance of winning the Baring Bingham with Ile Atlantique and is also likely to run Predators Gold over the intermediate distance. Given that owner JP McManus will be represented by the unbeaten Jeriko Du Reponet in the Supreme, I can see Mystical Power potentially emulating his stablemate Impaire Et Passe by following up victory in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle with success in the Baring Bingham. That gives Mullins three of the top four in the betting for the Baring Bingham should Readin Tommy Wrong go to the Albert Bartlett and Ballyburn run in the Supreme, which should be the favoured route as I would not be relying on Tullyhill or Asian Master to kick Closutton off with a winner.
Charlie Huggins, reporter

Silk
Ballyburn13:30 Cheltenham
View Racecard
Jky: Tnr: W P Mullins
Silk
Ballyburn13:30 Cheltenham
View Racecard
Jky: Tnr: W P Mullins

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Published on 5 March 2024inCheltenham Festival

Last updated 08:19, 5 March 2024

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