Ballymore Novices Trial Guide

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The Nicky Henderson-trained Birchdale has been given the nod to race at Cheltenham in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle Trial on Saturday, and as a result has been installed as the 13/8 favourite.

The JP McManus owned youngster will be the sole runner for the yard, after the Champion Trainer opted to withdraw current favourite for the real thing in March - Champ, stating he did not want to run him 'for the sake of it'.

The 5yo Birchdale has only run twice in his career and could hold a vast amount of potential. He landed a point race in Ireland over three miles and made his rules debut at Warwick not too long ago; beating a field of seventeen and he could be something special in the years to come.

The form has worked out pretty well from that race as the second, third and fifth have all gone onto win since.

Like Birchdale, both Bold Conduct and Buster Valentine will put their unbeaten records on the line here.

Bold Conduct though will be making his first start for last season's Gold Cup winning trainer Colin Tizzard, and won on his one and only start for Warren Ewing in Ireland.

Buster Valentine has a bit more experience, with three wins from three in his career - two for Ruth Jefferson, winning his maiden at Ayr before a narrow victory at Newcastle latest.

Brewin'Upastorm is the interesting one for Olly Murphy, after his sparkling win in a Novice at Huntingdon was followed by a decent fourth in the Challow Novices Hurdle behind Champ.

Only just over three lengths adrift that day on his first start in graded company, he certainly did not feel the effects of the giant step from a Class 4 Novice.

Many have even gone on to suggest the 6yo son of Milan surely boasts the best and most reliable form guide and should surely be more prominent in the market.

Jarveys Plate was a smart course and distance winner here on his latest start in Listed company and could make an easy transition to the top banded category.

He comfortably swept smart novice I Can't Explain from Henderson's yard that day, who was smashed up to set off a 5/6 favourite. The Fergal O'Brien gelding was also second at Prestbury Park to Supreme candidate Elixir Du Nutz earlier in the season, and appears to be relishing the four furlong step up.

Hold The Note is another sporting the Mister Whitaker colours of Mick Channon, and was a smart winner over Christmas in a lower class.

Another horse looking to handle the step-up is Howling Milan who absolutely ripped his rivals to shreds at Newbury last week, streaking clear by twenty-six lengths.

Quoi De Neuf will be looking to bounce back after a recent mishap, whilst Nestor Park and The Wolf seem firmly adrift of the rest.

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