Grade Two Ballymore Novices' Hurdle Guide 2022

Cheltenham - January 29 2022
Cheltenham 15:40
Richard Patrick


J: Richard Patrick
T: Henry Daly
Age: 7
Weight: 11-10
OR: 139
Days: 28

Wearing the green and yellow quarters of the late Trevor Hemmings is 7 year old Hillcrest.

Henry Daly’s charge has a near perfect record under rules having won 4 of his 5 starts. Coming second on his bumper debut behind Wiseguy the only blip on his CV.

After winning his next and only other bumper outing, the gelding has since found his feet as a novice hurdler striking up an impressive three wins over timber. Showing his tenacity to score at Aintree, he battled back despite being headed late on.

He then managed to back that up under a penalty with a devastating 20 lengths win at Wetherby.

Last seen testing his credentials for a tilt at the Ballymore, he made every yard in a listed event over course and distance at the start of the year to beat the well fancied I Am Maximus.

A course and distance win in the books, a listed win on his résumé already, he sets a strong standard at the head of affairs.

Cheltenham - January 29 2022
Cheltenham 15:40
Brian Hughes

A Different Kind

J: Brian Hughes
T: Donald McCain
Age: 5
Weight: 11-8
OR: 132
Days: 16

The in form Donald McCain saddles 5 year old A Different Kind here with Brian Hughes in the plate of the back of a perfect start to life as a hurdler.

Making waves in low class affairs he broke his maiden over 2 miles by an eye-catching 15 lengths up at Sedgefield before quickly racking up a hat trick of wins at the course despite shouldering penalties for his success.

Graduating from low class affairs with a combined winning distance of 40 lengths, he was destined for bigger things.

Moved up in class for a small field class 2 race up at Haydock, he cut through the mud to deny odds on favourite and subsequent winner Green Brook, showing a real potent finish over the minimum trip.

Green Brook did boost the form on his next start and went off joint favourite for the Lanzarote Hurdle earlier this month but failed to complete.

Another easy low class victory has since followed for A Different Kind, despite giving chunks of weight away. He’s been demolishing poor races but faces a real test here.

Versatile for ground and has now won over 2.5 miles. Sure to be in the mix if handling a stark step up in grade.

Cheltenham - January 29 2022
Cheltenham 15:40
Nico de Boinville

Balco Coastal

J: Nico de Boinville
T: Nicky Henderson
Age: 6
Weight: 11-5
OR: 130
Days: 38

Nicky Henderson and Nico De Boinville team up with Balco Coastal who put himself in plenty of trackers when winning an all weather bumper at Kempton last February with a blistering turn of foot.

Sent off favourite for the grade 2 bumper at Aintree off the back of that success, he failed to justify the hype and trailed home in 7th.

With a longer summer break under his belt he returned in December as a hurdler and got off the mark at the first time of asking at prohibitive odds at Huntingdon. The form of which hasn’t worked out particularly well.

Last seen kept in a low class affair and at the minimum trip, Balco Coastal did justify skinny odds to hold off subsequent winner Frere D’Armes.

Again the form does not have much substance to it but it did work out better than his first outing.

Moving up in trip and grade here throws up plenty of questions and he looks to be best on a sound surface where he can use that lethal turn of foot.

Henderson will be hoping the rain stays away.

Cheltenham - January 29 2022
Cheltenham 15:40
Kielan Woods

Harper's Brook

J: Kielan Woods
T: Ben Pauling
Age: 6
Weight: 11-5
OR: 123
Days: 57

The lowest officially rated runner in the field represents Ben Pauling in the shape of point to point winner Harper’s Brook.

Scoring over 2.5 miles between the flags saw him then make his rules debut in a bumper won by Hillcrest. An enterprising ride saw him try to catch the field turning for home but he was quickly reeled in and beaten by 3.5 lengths by the market leader here.

Given the summer off, he’s returned as a hurdler he may have got a touch lucky to break his maiden at the first time of asking as leader at the last Brayhill ran out at the last flight.

The form did take a boost however with the 2nd place, Famous Bridge, narrowly winning a novice on his next outing.

Harper’s Brook was moved up in trip and grade for his next run when contesting a grade 2 event over 2.5 miles at Sandown but failed to get seriously involved behind the very impressive Lossiemouth. Eventually coming home around 25 lengths behind the winner.

He hasn’t been seen since but based on his only outing over the trip at the grade, he’s one that’s best watched.

Cheltenham - January 29 2022
Cheltenham 15:40
A P Heskin

North Lodge

J: A P Heskin
T: Alan King
Age: 5
Weight: 11-5
Days: 56

A £63,000 purchase by the McNeill family, North Lodge has only been seen racing once but left a lasting impression.

Trained by Alan King, the 5 year old made his debut in a 2 mile novice event at Aintree where he just managed to get the better of the well touted Bombs Away.

The form looked impeccably strong with the 3rd, Richmond Lake, recently coming 2nd to Jonbon in the Supreme Trial at Haydock.

North Lodge showed some real professionalism to beat more experienced rivals on debut, with one going on to place in graded company since it would suggest he’s got plenty of improvement to come.

Moving up in trip looks a smart move and he could be more than capable of giving the favourite a serious run for his money.

Cheltenham - January 29 2022
Cheltenham 15:40
Daniel Hiskett


J: Daniel Hiskett
T: Richard Phillips
Age: 8
Weight: 11-5
OR: 129
Days: 51

A horse that would appear hasn’t been straightforward to train. Picanha made her debut in an Irish point to point when beating Defuture Is Bright.

He then went on to be trained by Richard Phillips and scored on her rules debut when taking a bumper at Exeter. Showing a strong late flourish and plenty of stamina to get the job done.

This was back in 2019 however and she must have had a setback to not be seen on course again until November of last year. Despite having a mammoth two year break between runs she still managed to run a creditable 3rd on hurdle debut behind the impressive Ask Me Early who’s won again since.

With a run under her belt she used her experience and race fitness to break her maiden when last seen. Winning a 2 mile and 5 furlongs race at Warwick last December.

The form doesn’t look to have worked out brilliantly but with another run in the books she’ll likely come on again.

She’s very lightly raced for an 8 year old and looks to have some real stamina to tap into if this becomes a gritty test of staying ability.

Fast ground might not be to her liking however as her wins under rules came on soft ground.

Andy Smith | @AndySmithRacing