Ballymore Novices Hurdle Guide

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Birchdale currently heads the betting for Grade 2 Ballymore Leamington Novices Hurdle for Nicky Henderson.

The Champion Trainer was left disappointed after the run of Rathhill in the same ownership in the Tolworth a week ago, and now has another novice Festival hopeful in this 5yo, who could go down the avenue of this named race - in the 2m5f division.

Birchdale is a course and distance winner on his sole start over timber, when running on strongly in the closing stages to land a maiden.

The third Johnbb has since won his own maiden at Ayr in the last few days to boost the form, and Barry Geraghty's mount looks a leading contender here.

Tidal Flow could be his closest challenger, who is two from two over hurdles, after wins at both Newbury and Kempton. He upset the odds-on favourite Downtown Getaway at Newbury, and looks to possess a lot of qualities from a typical Hobbs type.

Also in there is Stoney Mountain, who is two from three for Henry Daly, who is seeking his first winner of 2019 at the time of writing.

He was an easy winner at Southwell when last seen, but will need to handle the rapid step-up in class, as will Down The Highway for Emma Lavelle, who was pulled up in his first start in top-banded company having climbed up the weights with a victory in a Class 3.

Elsehwere, Rockpoint - in the colours of the well-known Thistlecrack (John and Heather Snook) will need to handle a penalty, after a win in a Grade 2 Albert Bartlett trial at Cheltenham in December.

Likewise is Coolanly, who won over this distance in a Grade 2 Ballymore Trial at the Festival venue in November.

Others to mention are Moonlighter, who gave Lizzie Kelly no chance when falling two out when about to mount a strong challenge in the race at Newbury won by Tidal Flow.

Beakstown is a very lightly raced 6yo with just two runs over hurdles, winning on his debut at Uttoxeter in November and there could be more to come, along with Finawn Bawn, who won over timber on only his second start for Olly Murphy at Bangor on the 1st of December.


In the last twelve years, all the winners had arrived here with a win to their name over at least two-and-a-half miles before in any sort of competition. In fact, double that up, because all of the last twelve had won at least once over timber, over any distance.

All twelve again finished first or second last time out - eight of which winning, and bar one, all had raced in the last five weeks. Going well so far?

Favourites have won half of the last twelve contests since 2007, with the six losers placing.

Six of the last twelve winners were aged five, and three more won by a distance of just three lengths or less. It's not over until it's over.

Money wise, eleven of the last twelve winners came from the top three in the betting. All twelve returned at 8/1 or shorter in the betting.

Ten of the last twelve went onto run at that season’s Cheltenham Festival, with two winners: No Refuge, 2005 RSA Novices’ Hurdle, and The New One, 2013 Neptune - now known as the Ballymore.

The average winning SP in the last 8 years is 3/1.

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