Ballymore Novices' Hurdle Guide 2022

Andy Smith | @AndySmithRacing

Cheltenham - March 16 2022
Cheltenham 13:30
6
Paul Townend

Sir Gerhard

J: Paul Townend
T: W P Mullins
N/A
Age: 7
Weight: 11-7
OR: 151
Days: 38

Heading the market for Willie Mullins and Cheveley Park is 7 year old Sir Gerhard.

Showing what he was made of last season by setting the bumper division alight, he captured a listed bumper before winning the Champion bumper at the festival last year. Beating stablemate Kilcruit before that form was reversed at Punchestown.

He’s a perfect two from two over hurdles this season. Making a late debut over timber saw him win his maiden hurdle in December at Leopardstown before winning a Grade 1 at the same venue during the Dublin Racing Festival.

His form certainly sets the standard but he’s yet to tackle 2.5 miles and has stamina to prove.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
26/04/22PUN16.5Gd/Y11-123
16/03/22CHL21Sft11-71
06/02/22LEO16Y/Sft11-121
26/12/21LEO16Sft12-01
28/04/21PUN16.5Y12-23
Cheltenham - March 16 2022
Cheltenham 13:30
7
Harry Cobden

Stage Star

J: Harry Cobden
T: Paul Nicholls
N/A
Age: 6
Weight: 11-7
OR: 143
Days: 77

6 year old Stage Star represents the English contingent for Paul Nicholls. Winning a bumper on debut he then contested some high level bumpers, coming 2nd in a listed race behind Knappers Hill and then coming 3rd behind the same rival in the Grade 2 bumper at the Grand National Festival.

Taking to hurdles this season has seen him win a maiden at prohibitive odds with bundles in hand before defying his penalty to win a novice hurdle at Newbury. All over 2.5 miles.

Last seen contesting the Challow Hurdle at Newbury at the end of December saw him capture Grade 1 honours. However the Challow is a poor trial for the Ballymore and the winners have a dreadful record in this race.

One to approach with caution.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
01/11/22WAR20GS11-21
09/04/22AIN20GS11-4PU
16/03/22CHL21Sft11-7PU
29/12/21NBY20.5Sft11-71
26/11/21NBY20.5GS11-41
Cheltenham - March 16 2022
Cheltenham 13:30
4
Rachael Blackmore

Journey With Me

J: Rachael Blackmore
T: Henry De Bromhead
N/A
Age: 6
Weight: 11-7
OR: N/A
Days: 32

A 6 year old gelding for Henry De Bromhead, Journey With Me has followed a similar route to last year’s winner Bob Olinger.

Owned and trained by the same connections, Journey With Me won a point to point before being picked up and winning the same bumper as Bob Olinger did on rules debut.

Another one who took to hurdles quite late in the season, he didn’t debut until late December but won an incredibly strong maiden to beat Minella Crooner and Kilcruit.

Unlike Bob Olinger however, they haven’t stepped Journey With Me up in grade and he only contested a novice hurdle last time out. Still, he defied his penalty and had the well touted O’Toole easily held back in 4th.

Maybe not quite as good as Bob Olinger, he has a similar profile and the form of his maiden win couldn’t be much stronger.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
27/04/22PUN24Gd/Y11-107
16/03/22CHL21Sft11-7F
12/02/22NAA19Sft11-101
29/12/21LEO20Y/Sft12-01
12/03/21GOW18Hy12-21
Cheltenham - March 16 2022
Cheltenham 13:30
3
Nico de Boinville

I Am Maximus

J: Nico de Boinville
T: Nicky Henderson
N/A
Age: 6
Weight: 11-7
OR: 134
Days: 74

A 6 year old gelding who looked to be a potential world beater when making his debut in a good bumper at Cheltenham last season when beating My Drogo.

Taken hurdling he was narrowly beaten on hurdle debut but managed to get off the mark at the second time of asking when taking a maiden at Newbury.

With a win in the books, connections wanted to take him up in trip and he contested a listed race over 2.5 miles at Cheltenham. Sent off favourite he failed to live with Hillcrest but finished a valiant 2nd.

The form is looking strong now with Hillcrest easily winning an Albert Bartlett trial recently.

He has a big reputation at the yard and was only outstayed up the hill by the bigger Hillcrest.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
16/03/22CHL21Sft11-74
01/01/22CHL20.5Sft11-72
15/12/21NBY16.5GS11-41
10/11/21EXE16.5GS10-123
24/10/20CHL16.5Sft11-01
Cheltenham - March 16 2022
Cheltenham 13:30
8
Davy Russell

Three Stripe Life

J: Davy Russell
T: Gordon Elliott
N/A
Age: 6
Weight: 11-7
OR: 144
Days: 38

A runner for Gordon Elliott in the shape of 6 year old Three Stripe Life. A good winner of his bumper on debut, he then contested the Champion Bumper at last year’s festival and ran creditably to be 4th behind Sir Gerhard.

Taken to hurdles for this season he’s only been campaigned over 2 miles. Winning his maiden at short odds back in November with ease he then moved straight up into graded company.

Running in a Grade 1 over Christmas, he was a close 2nd to Mighty Potter at Leopardstown. He then ran well again to be 2nd in a Grade 1 behind Sir Gerhard during the Dublin Racing Festival.

He has shaped like going further would suit but he has 5 furlongs of unexplored territory to conquer and looks held on form by Sir Gerhard.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
12/11/22NAA20Y/Sft11-121
29/04/22PUN19.5Gd/Y11-103
09/04/22AIN20GS11-41
16/03/22CHL21Sft11-72
06/02/22LEO16Y/Sft11-122
Cheltenham - March 16 2022
Cheltenham 13:30
9
Danny Mullins

Whatdeawant

J: Danny Mullins
T: W P Mullins
N/A
Age: 6
Weight: 11-7
OR: N/A
Days: 73

Another runner for Willie Mullins who notably scalped Ginto in a bumper on his debut despite that rival being a well fancied odds on favourite.

He then went on to finish a distant 3rd behind Kilcruit in the Grade 2 bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival. He was then given 10 months off before making his debut as a hurdler when getting off the mark at the first time of asking with relative ease at Navan.

Last seen contesting the Lawlors Of Naas he struggled to make the transition up to grade 1 company and despite being well backed only managed to come 5th behind Ginto.

With some more experience he might come on but he looked out of his depth at Naas and has plenty to find here.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
16/03/22CHL21Sft11-73
02/01/22NAA20Sft11-125
04/12/21NAV20Y12-01
06/02/21LEO16Sft/Hy11-123
03/01/21FAI16.5Hy12-01
Cheltenham - March 16 2022
Cheltenham 13:30
5
Brendan Powell

Scarface

J: Brendan Powell
T: Colin Tizzard
N/A
Age: 5
Weight: 11-7
OR: 128
Days: 25

One of the outsiders of the field for Colin Tizzard, Scarface made his racing debut this season in a bumper but failed to win in any of his three starts in flat races.

Ending up well beaten in a listed bumper, he then went hurdling off the back of that and finished 2nd in a maiden at Exeter over 2 miles.

Last seen taken up in trip he ran in a decent novice hurdle and came a narrow 2nd to Skytastic, with the pair well clear of 3rd.

He travelled well last time out but just got out battled by Skytastic. He looks to have too much to find to get competitive here however.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
31/10/22PLU20.5Gd11-01
16/03/22CHL21Sft11-77
19/02/22ASC19.5Sft11-02
18/01/22EXE16.5GS11-62
17/12/21ASC15.5GS11-410
Cheltenham - March 16 2022
Cheltenham 13:30
2
Darragh O'Keeffe

Hemlock

J: Darragh O'Keeffe
T: Thomas Gibney
N/A
Age: 5
Weight: 11-7
OR: N/A
Days: 22

The outright outsider of the field for Thomas Gibney, Hemlock is already a massive 150/1 with most firms.
A winner of a bumper at Perth, it took him three attempts to notch his first win in bumper company.

He ran in a bumper on his first run of this season contesting the listed bumper won by American Mike. He was 4th past the post but was disqualified for weighing in light.

The 5 year old has subsequently been beaten twice in maiden hurdle company. Coming 2nd on both occasions over 2 miles and 2.5 miles.

He’s run well enough in defeat but nothing that could suggest that he could win a Grade 1 at the festival.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
16/04/22FAI24.5Gd/Y10-113
16/03/22CHL21Sft11-75
22/02/22NAV16Hy11-122
22/01/22NAV20Y12-02
18/12/21NAV16Gd/Y11-13DSQ
Cheltenham - March 16 2022
Cheltenham 13:30
1
Sean O'Keeffe

Haxo

J: Sean O'Keeffe
T: W P Mullins
N/A
Age: 5
Weight: 11-7
OR: N/A
Days: 21

Seemingly the third string for Willie Mullins, Haxo started life over in France running in AQPS races, winning one over 12 furlongs on his penultimate run south of the Channel.

Being beaten in 3 of his 4 outings in 4 year old national hunt flat races in France over 12 furlongs, he performed best on a sounder surface and scored his only win on good ground.

He’s only run once for Willie Mullins since moving to Ireland when contesting a maiden hurdle on deep ground at Punchestown last month. Coming 2nd as 2/1 favourite, he lost momentum over the last but stayed on well.

He’s lacking experience and it’s unlikely he’ll break his maiden in a Grade 1.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
16/03/22CHL21Sft11-76
23/02/22PUN16Sft/Hy11-122
13/05/21LEL12GS10-16
02/05/21LPH12Gd10-11
29/03/21NAN12GS9-118

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