The Ballymore Novices’ Hs a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race in Great Britain which is open to horses aged four years or older.
It is run on the Old Course at Cheltenham over a distance of about 2 miles and 5 furlongs and there are ten flights of hurdles to be jumped.
The Irish have won seven of the last eight renewals of the race. Willie Mullins is the winning most trainer of the race and has taken the prize four times in the last thirteen years so it is a race that he clearly targets with his staying novices.
Gordon Elliott has a better recent record in it though striking in two of the last four renewals. Nigel Twiston-Davies is the winning most trainer of the home contingent having won the race twice with the likes of Fundamentalist and The New One.
The race usually takes in and around five minutes to complete. It usually pays to side with horses who have at least been placed at Graded level and have won a race within the previous three months.
The only five-year-old to have won this race in the last decade was The New One back in 2013. The winner is also usually well found in the market with Willoughby Court being the only double figure priced winner in the last decade.
Previous Winners of the Ballymore Novices Hurdle
Runners To Watch
Below are selected runners who hold entries for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle 2023.
Karl Hedley provides some recent form notes to help point you in the right direction of identifying the winner.
HERMES ALLEN (150) – PAUL NICHOLLS
Comes here in search of a four timer. The six-year-old gelding has done nothing wrong this season including when running away with the Challow Hurdle at Newbury at the end of December.
The form is working out well as You Wear It Well, Passing Well and Marble Sands have all come out to win subsequently.
Paul Nicholls has an absolutely rancid record in the race though and has never managed to win it, even with the unbeaten Stage Star as well as the highly regarded Bravemansgame.
Despite having won over the course and distance previously, he looks a false favourite with the Irish having such a strong record in the race and looks opposable.
IMPAIRE ET PASSE (148) – WILLIE MULLINS
Won his maiden at Naas by 18 lengths in December before being justifiably raised in class to contest the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.
Always prominent under Paul Townend that day, the six-year-old assumed the lead when entering the straight. He barely turned a hair as he continued his rapid improvement through the ranks.
He looks like he has the potential to go right to the top. Whilst he remains an exciting prospect, he has as yet to prove himself at this trip and that has to be a concern.
GOOD LAND (147) – BARRY CONNELL
Had too much in hand for his rivals when beating Absolute Notions and Sandor Clegane in a Grade One over slightly further at Leopardstown during the Dublin Racing Festival.
He travelled with complete fluency and stayed on well in the closing stages for Barry Connell and Mickey O’Sullivan.
If he wins here, he picks up a decent prize for the stable staff too, so plenty will be cheering him on. He is certainly a contender and has to be on the shortlist.
GAELIC WARRIOR (157) – WILLIE MULLINS
He won a Grade B handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival with the minimum of fuss giving away a stone and a half and over a three-length beating to the runner up.
He is clearly better than that and deserves a crack at a major prize such as this. As yet he is untested beyond two-miles so that is an obvious concern.
Having won this race five times previously, if Willie Mullins sends him here, he has to be considered.
CHAMP KIELY (149) – WILLIE MULLINS
Stepped up in trip to win the Lawlors of Naas Novice Hurdle back in January when beating Irish Point by over two lengths.
The race he won has been used as a stepping stone to success in this race in three out of the last four years with the likes of City Island, Envoi Allen and Bob Olinger all going on to complete the double.
He needs to iron out the kinks in his jumping but he looks to be well suited by stepping up further in trip and is at least proven in this grade.
HO MY LORD (UNRATED) – WILLIE MULLINS
Didn’t get off to the best of career starts when falling on debut at Leopardstown. He was clearly none the worse for the bad experience when winning a Navan maiden by just over four lengths just last month.
The form is not really working out and this step up in trip and grade is a massive unknown. Has every right to improve, but that may not be seen today.
AMERICAN MIKE (140) – GORDON ELLIOTT
There has to be strong doubts about him in this company. He has only ever won at listed level and has been beaten in lesser graded events than this in his recent runs.
This step up in trip may well bring about some further improvement but I don’t expect him to make a dent on his market rivals.
MARBLE SANDS (136) – FERGAL O’BRIEN
Has won three of his last four starts so probably deserves his place in the field. He has work to do to reverse recent form with Hermes Allen based on their run in the Challow Hurdle where he was beaten thirty-seven lengths.
With the improving Irish Novices’ thrown in here he looks to be in big trouble.
PERSIAN TIME (128) – NICKY HENDERSON
Was beaten nearly ten lengths in a class two novice event at Ascot last month so should be readily swept aside in this.
Quite surprised the McNeill family are running him here as it could be dangerous for one so inexperienced. Readily dismissed.
MASTER CHEWY (122) – NIGEL TWISTON-DAVIES
Beaten in every start so far this year and now looks thoroughly exposed. Locally trained and that is why he is likely in this race. He has been out of his depth all season and will be again here.
Ticks The Right Boxes?
2023 Ballymore Novices Hurdle Tips & Key Trends
For three of the last four years, winning the Lawlors of Naas Juvenile Hurdle was the key form race going on to win this.
For that reason, Champ Kiely is taken as an each-way selection as he is well suited by this staying trip and is proven in this grade.
Willie Mullins will dictate as to where the likes of Gaelic Warrior will line up whilst Impaire Et Passe could well be anything, he needs to prove that he can shine in bigger fields.
The Irish have ruled in this sphere for many years and previous winners of the Challow Hurdle have always been beaten in this race so that significantly rules out Hermes Allen.
Key to taking this is being already a winner of a graded race so Good Land is respected.
- 12 of the last 14 winners were top or second top rated on official ratings
- 11 of the last 14 winners had won a Graded race
- 22 of the last 28 winners won last time out
Odds With Paddy Power – correct at time of publication
- 7/4 Impaire Et Passe
- 3/1 Hermes Allen
- 4/1 Good Land
- 11/2 Gaelic Warrior
- 8/1 Champ Kielys
- 25/1 Ho My Lord
- 33/1 American Mike
- 100/1 Marble Sands
- 100/1 Persian Time
- 150/1 Master Chewy