Ballymore Properties Hurdle Tips - 1.30pm Cheltenham

Leading Contenders

The last time this race was run under the Ballymore banner was in 2009 when the Irish trainer Willie Mullins won it with Mikael d’Haguenet. Since then it’s been called the Neptune, although not much else has changed as Mullins has won it a further twice with Faugheen and Yorkhill.

This time round the Irish wizard has the 6yo Next Destination at the top of his pecking order. Owned by Malcolm Denmark the likeable gelding has won the first three of his starts over hurdles to date. The last victory in January was a Grade 1 contest at Naas over 2m4f, he battled on well to be at Cracking Smart and that’s decent form.

As with most of the Mullins runners he is also entered for the Albert Bartlett and although he looks sure to stay the extra distance at the moment this looks the most likely target.

A staying on third in that race at Naas was stable mate Duc Des Genievres, that was his first outing since coming over from France and was a very promising start. The 5yo followed that by running on late to snatch second spot behind Samcro at Leopardstown over two miles. Again it was a run full of promise and he could easily improve enough to be a serious threat here.

One of the most impressive novices seen this season has been the Gordon Elliott trained Samcro. The 6yo won a point and three bumpers in his first year in training and has since steadily improved with every out over hurdles.

He kicked off with a 15-length victory in a weak race at Punchestown and then stepped up in class to take the Grade 3 Monksfield Hurdle at Naas by 12 lengths. That was over 2m4f and beat Jetz and Delta Work who have both run well since.

He surprisingly stepped back in trip next time out at Leopardstown; the thinking was connections didn’t want a hard slog over 2m5f on bad ground as his Festival prep so kept him at the minimum instead. It mattered not as he bolted up and beat a decent field in the process.

Gigginstown boss Michael O’Leary insists he will go back up in distance and run in this race next and is already the banker for many people on day two of the Festival.

Elliott also has Dortmund Park in the list of entries; he was disappointing on his first run in Ireland but improved no end to land a maiden at Fairyhouse and then followed up at Thurles by 16 lengths. That earned him a tilt at a Grade 1 contest but could only finish 4th to Tower Bridge after looking a player going to the last.

On the home front the main challenger to Samcro could come from On The Blind Side, an unbeaten 6yo trained by Nicky Henderson.

He won an Irish point last January and then joined the Seven Barrows yard for his hurdling campaign. He opened his account at Aintree over 2m4f and then improved to win a Grade 2 contest over this course and distance. He won another Grade 2 race at Sandown by 9 lengths and has just progressed with every run. The feeling is that he wants decent ground to show his best and ought to be thereabouts.

Trainer Tom George and owner Roger Brookhouse have an interesting dilemma, the combo are responsible for both Black Op and Summerville Boy. They both have multiple entries and there is not much to choose between the pair.

Summerville Boy has the form in the book having won the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown, that was over two miles and was bouncing back from a poor effort at Cheltenham the time before, the muddling pace was the excuse that day and he is expected to improve when he steps up in trip.

Black Op was only 4th on his hurdling debut at Newbury but then trounced the opposition by 17 lengths on his next outing at Doncaster. His progression continued next time when finishing a close second in the Grade 2 trial race here at Cheltenham in January.

Ainchea runs in the Potts Family colours and is trained by Colin Tizzard. The 5yo has kept a low profile this season but was in the process of running a very nice race at Sandown in February before coming down at the last. He was a couple of lengths up at the time and the eventual winner Countister is well regarded. Prior to that he had won a small race at Sandown and finished second at Cheltenham in heavy ground. He could be a live outsider and should improve for a better surface.

One more horse worth a mention could be Kalashnikov trained at Newmarket by Amy Murphy. This 5yo has been a real boost for the relatively small yard and has won two of his three starts over hurdles so far. Victories at Wetherby and Doncaster earned him a tilt at better company and didn’t let his supporters down. The gelding finished second in the Tolworth at Sandown behind Summerville Boy and then landed the Betfair Handiacp off a mark of 141. He’s progressing nicely and a step up in trip looks the way to go although he is fancied for the Supreme too.

Ballymore Novice Hurdle Runners

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Ballymore Novice Hurdle Trends

Ballymore Novice Hurdle Previous Winners


Year Winner Age Jockey Trainer SP
2017 Willoughby Court 6 David Bass Ben Pauling 14/1
2016 Yorkhill 6 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins 3/1
2015 Windsor Park 6 Davy Russell Dermot Weld 9/2
2014 Faugheen 6 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins 6/4
2013 The New One 5 Sam Twiston-Davies Nigel Twiston-Davies 7/2
2012 Simonsig 6 Barry Geraghty Nicky Henderson 2/1
2011 First Lieutenant 6 Davy Russell Mouse Morris 7/1
2010 Peddlers Cross 5 Jason Maguire Donald McCain, Jr. 7/1
2009 Mikael d'Haguenet 5 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins 5/2
2008 Fiveforthree 6 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins 7/1

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