Birchdale Gets The Nod As Champ Drops Out

The J P McManus owned Birchdale has been given the nod to race at Cheltenham over the weekend as another of his horses Champ will be saved for another day.

The Nicky Henderson trained youngster will be the sole runner for the yard in the Grade 2 Ballymore Novices Hurdle with the Champion trainer opting to send Champ down a different route in his run up to the festival.

(Credit @sevenbarrows) Henderson said on his personal Twitter account:


Birchdale is a really exciting five year old for his owner and the yard as he has only run twice in his career to date and could hold an unlimited amount of potential whether be over hurdles or fences.

He landed a point race in Ireland over 3 miles and made his rules debut at Warwick beating a field of 17 to really show how good he could be in the future. This form has worked out well from this race as second, third and fifth have all won since.

Champ, who is named after 20 time Champion Jockey A P McCoy has already gone on to land his last four races out of five over hurdles including a Grade 1 in December at Newbury in the Challow Hurdle.

The plan was for McManus' number one jockey Barry Geraghty to get the leg up on Champ on Saturday but plans are now up in the air who will ride Birchdale with the favourite still being Geraghty.

Champ is the current 4/1 favourite to take the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices Hurdle at the festival, which was won by Samcro last year. Birchdale is a general 20/1 to take the race but he could also head to the Albert Bartlett on the Friday, which he is a similar price.