Ballymore Novices Hurdle Tips - 1:20pm Cheltenham

With it being St Patrick's Day, the Irish will be keen to get the day off to a flyer in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle. The race is runon the Old Course over an extended two-and-a-half miles. As the name suggests the race is for Novice Hurdlers aged four or older and there are ten flights of hurdles to be jumped.

This is a race that the Irish have dominated in recent years with the likes of Envoi Allen, City Island and Samcro all taking the prize back across the Irish Sea. When looking at stats for the race, nine out of the last ten winners have been six-year-olds. The only five-year-old to break that trend was The New One back in 2013. With the exception of Willoughby Court in 2017, the winner of this race usually comes from those in the front three in the betting.

Willie Mullins has won this race twice in the last ten years with the likes of the recently retired Yorkhill (2016) and Faugheen (2014). He looks set to rely on Gaillard Du Mesnil this time around and he is a rapidly improving horse. His two most recent wins at Leopardstown included a valuable Grade One win in the Lacey and Partners Novice Hurdle where he cut through the opposition like a hot knife through butter. The further they went that day the better he looked and he ran out a convincing five length winner over the likes of Gentlemansgame and Stattler.

Bob Olinger is next best in the market and he too comes here in search of a hat-trick of wins. The six-year-old's most recent win came in the Grade One Lawlor's of Naas Novice Hurdle, where he travelled supremely strongly. He ranged up to tackle Gabynako two from home and readily asserted in the closing stages. He jumped with fluency and came away in the style of an impressive horse suggesting bigger and better days were ahead for him.

Bravemansgame heads the home contingent of challengers for Champion trainer Paul Nicholls. This horse was last seen creating a favourable impression when hammering the likes of Star Gate and The Glancing Queen in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury back in December. Nicholls was taken with his performance and even compared him favourably to Denman at the same stage of his career. I would certainly like to see him have another run in a proper trial before reccomending him as a bet for this. Paul Nicholls has only had 13 winners from the last seven festivals giving him a strike rate of in and around only 12 percent. Something that all punters need to be wary of.

Minehead trainer Nicky Martin relies upon her unbeaten Bear Gyhlls. The six-year-old has taken races at Lingfield, Ffos Las and Exeter all in much weaker company than this but it would massive take a leap of faith to think he were capable of troubling his shorter market rivals who are at least proven at this level.

Given that the top three in the market are almost certain to run here the one I would want to side with is Bob Olinger. He is a proven Grade One winner and may not have had as hard a race as Gaillard Du Mesnil in preparation for this. There is undoutedly more to come from him and with Rachael Blackmore likely to be in the saddle the pair can keep Irish eyes smiling for a while longer.

Punters Lounge Tip: Bob Olinger @ 9/2 at bet365 - Click Here To Bet

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