Grade One Bective Stud Champion Novice Hurdle Guide 2022

Jake Russell | @JakeRuss1000

Punchestown - April 25 2022
Punchestown 15:15
Paul Townend

Sir Gerhard

J: Paul Townend
T: W P Mullins
Age: 7
Weight: 11-12
OR: 155
Days: 41

The class act going into this field certainly is the Willie Mullins trained Sir Gerhard, the Champion Bumper winner last season at the Cheltenham Festival, and then the Ballymore this season in completely different conditions.

He has been foot perfect over hurdles this season and almost perfect in bumpers last term when losing just once at this meeting last year.

He was contesting over 2 miles on his first two starts over obstacles, before it was decided to take the step up in trip for the festival, which he certainly took in his stride, hacking up in the Ballymore by 3 and a half lengths, jumping superbly and travelling strongly to power away up the Cheltenham hill.

There were question marks leading into this festival, as to whether he would stay at the 2m4f or go back to 2 miles, and it does come as a little surprise that he does take the step back down in trip against a few out and out two milers, but he has won a Grade 1 over this trip so he can clearly do it once again.

He is the class act in the field and has the career record of 6 wins in just 7 runners, including three Grade 1’s and two Cheltenham festival wins.

He was a very good bumper horse but has been even better over the obstacles, making him very hard to beat in this contest, as he looks to land his 3rd Grade 1 of the season.

Ballymore winner last time out in the mud, completely different conditions in this but he has won similarly to this, has been one of the leading Novice Hurdlers this term, making him incredibly hard to beat in this, stepping back down to the 2-mile trip.

The one to side with.

Punchestown - April 25 2022
Punchestown 15:15
Barry Browne

Gatsby Grey

J: Barry Browne
T: Oliver McKiernan
Age: 6
Weight: 11-12
OR: 135
Days: 26

The outsider of the field who does have three victories to his name, at Navan, Limerick and Naas where he won the three races in pretty taking fashion.

He most certainly lacks the Graded quality that the other runners have and was a well beaten 7th behind Highland Charge and Vina Ardanza in the Grade 3 contest last March, so naturally makes this Grade 1 slightly out of his reach.

He is most definitely best watched in this contest.

Punchestown - April 25 2022
Punchestown 15:15
Jack Kennedy

Mighty Potter

J: Jack Kennedy
T: Gordon Elliott
Age: 5
Weight: 11-12
OR: 144
Days: 42

Trainer Gordon Elliott stated a few days before the Cheltenham Festival that he feels Mighty Potter is a forgotten horse going into the festival, and the yard felt he had a decent chance in the opening day of the festival, which naturally gained him some support before the opening race.

He is currently 3 for 5 in his career, including an impressive 1 and a half length win at Leopardstown in the Grade 1 Champion Novices Hurdle at Leopardstown last December.

He pretty much did everything wrong that day, not jumping well all the way around and was short of room in certain places travelling on and off the bridle, with one mistake at the second last where he didn’t jump it well at all at the crunch end of the race.

Normally that would hinder a horse’s chance of winning the race, but not this lad as he regathered up the straight and powered on when asked by Jack Kennedy, winning quite impressively in the end by 1 and a half lengths.

He did disappoint last time out however when contesting in the Supreme Novices Hurdle, not jumping well before pulling up before 3 out.

That was unusually poor from him, which does leave a slight sour taste in the mouth coming into this, but he is already a Grade 1 winner so he could step forward again should he be ok after his last run.

A step up in trip will suit further in his career which is something that might happen further down the line, and he may lack the speed of the other runners, but he is held in very high regard by his trainer and is a Grade 1 winner in a small field so this certainly isn’t out of his remit, even after disappointing at Cheltenham last time out.

Was slightly underwhelming last time out, but that was a red-hot Grade 1, and he has previously won a Grade 1 in a smaller field, so is talented and this isn’t winnable for him, but he needs to step up from his last run and show that hasn’t left a mark on him.

Again, could be the one to upset the favourite.

Punchestown - April 25 2022
Punchestown 15:15
Mr P W Mullins

Dysart Dynamo

J: Mr P W Mullins
T: W P Mullins
Age: 6
Weight: 11-12
OR: 150
Days: 42

This horse was quite the talking horse going into the Cheltenham festival this year, when lining up in the red-hot Supreme Novices Hurdle with Jonbon, Constitution Hill and Kilcruit.

He was unbeaten before lining up in March where he unfortunately fell at the 3rd last, he won twice in two bumper races last season before going on to look even more impressive in his Novice Hurdling season this term, where he has won twice in just two runs over obstacles, including a Grade 2 at Punchestown in January.

The fall in the Supreme last time out did look a heavy one, but he was in the process of running a brilliant race from the front, where he really started to wind it up before falling, but it is hard to see him beating the runaway winner Constitution Hill that day.

His jumping wasn’t particularly great in that race too, not fluent at the 1st, 2nd and 5th obstacle, so up against a rock-solid jumper in Sir Gerhard might catch him out, but he certainly has an engine, and is another one that could potentially step up in trip further down the line.

Should that fall last time out not have taken anything out of him, he could be the one to upset the favourite, who might have had a mark left on him after the last race in very testing conditions.

Heavy faller last time out when running a fantastic race in the Supreme, was unbeaten in four starts before that so clearly is talented, could definitely be the one to really serve it up to the favourite with his front running antics.

Punchestown - April 25 2022
Punchestown 15:15
Davy Russell

Vina Ardanza

J: Davy Russell
T: Gordon Elliott
Age: 5
Weight: 11-12
OR: 137
Days: 18

One of the slightly more unexposed runners in this field, with just the four career runs to his name, he was a bumper winner at Ayr on racecourse debut back in April of last year for the Crawford yard, before going to the Gordon Elliott team and winning on Hurdle debut at Thurles last November, beating the favourite by a short head.

That was a decent performance given it was his first start over obstacles, but the form in behind hasn’t been franked at all.

He then contested in a Grade 3 race at Naas where he was just touched off to finish 2nd behind a nice sort, and then went on to the Aintree Festival where he finished 3rd behind Jonbon and El Fabiolo in the Grade 1 Top Novices Hurdle.

To the eye that does look a decent piece of form, but he was well beaten by 19 lengths, and did look a tired horse, so he would really need to step up to another level to land a blow in this, against some horses at the top end of the market that are top class, but never but it past Gordon Elliott to get some more improvement out of his unexposed runners.

Only had the four career runs, including a 3rd place finish at the Aintree Festival at the start of the month, but was well beaten by almost 20 lengths.

Needs to really step up to win this but is very unexposed so certainly could do so but is up against some top-class horses.