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Ballymore Novices Hurdle Tips - 1:30pm Cheltenham

2020 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Preview

The opening race on day two of the Festival is the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, formerly known as the ‘Neptune’. The intermediate trip of 2m5f gives us the best of both worlds and this race often throws up a future star, whether that be over hurdles or fences.

Champion Hurdle winners such as Istabraq, Hardy Eustace and Faugheen were all successful in this race so speed as well as stamina are required to win this prize.

The Irish have won four of the last five renewals and their big hope this time round is Envoi Allen trained by Gordon Elliott. A few decent judges think the 6yo should go for the Champion Hurdle in what looks an open contest this year but connections are keen to take their time and stick with the novice route this season.

Owned by Cheveley Park Stud Envoi Allen is now unbeaten in eight races, including a point, four bumpers and three starts over hurdles. This time last year he won the Champion Bumper from Blue Sari and was backed that day as defeat was out of the question.

He started off this season with a smooth win at Down Royal, he beat Front View by 6 ½ lengths, could have been double that. He was immediately stepped up to graded class next time and took on stablemate Abacadabras, who incidentally was just behind him in the Champion Bumper.

The pair fought out the finish with Envoi Allen asserting after the last to win by a workmanlike length and a half. That form looks very solid especially with the third horse Darver Star subsequently finishing second to Honeysuckle at Leopardstown in February.

Next time out he was stepped up in trip and completed his hat-trick over hurdles without using too much energy. He beat Elixir D’ainay by and comfortable 3 ½ lengths and that performance has put him on a figure of 152.

Elliott also saddles Easywork for the Gigginstown Stud, the 6yo has won two of his three races since going hurdling and last time out lost nothing in defeat when second to the very useful Asterion Forlonge. He looks a big price and maybe the forgotten horse with the yard responsible for the hot favourite.

Last year’s winning trainer was Martin Brassil and he has a similar type in Longhouse Poet. The 6yo has lots of form that gives him a chance on the day. He was second to Elixir D’ainay at Naas, third to Envoi Allen in the Grade 1 at the same venue and then last time out was a close 3rd behind Latest Exhibition over 2m6f at Leopardstown.

Willie Mullins has won this race four times since 2008 and although he has no stand out player this year, as well as Elixir D’ainay has an improving sort in The Big Getaway to consider. He won a point and a bumper and was made favourite to get off the mark on his hurdles debut at Leopardstown at the Christmas meeting, things didn’t quite work out and he was only fourth to Cobbler’s Way.

Looking back that form wasn’t too bad but he made amends next time out when taking a maiden hurdle at Naas by 17 lengths. He still has a bit to learn but could be very useful.

Colin Tizzard has a horse by the same sire ‘Getaway’ in the line-up. His The Big Breakaway has also began to make his mark in the game, he won a point by 10 lengths and then bolted up in a novice hurdle at Chepstow in November. He beat Blackjack Kentucky by 8 lengths that day who has since gone on to win a race himself.

Next time out he went to Newbury and was very impressive when beating some useful sorts by an easy 7 lengths. He had the likes of Papa Tango Charley, I K Brunel and Craigneiche in behind so it looks very solid form.

Of the others the Philip Hobbs trained Sporting John is of interest now stepping up in trip. He won a point over three miles and then made a winning debut over hurdles at Exeter over 2m1f. He beat the useful Harry Senior that day who has gone on to win a Grade 2 contest.

Next time out he went back to Exeter and defied a penalty when bolting up by 8 lengths hard held and did with a right hind shoe missing. He confirmed his promise by winning last time out from at Ascot by 6 1/2 lengths. He is obviously one for the future being owned by J.P.McManus and still has plenty of scope over hurdles before going chasing.

Nicky Henderson won this race with Simonsig a few years ago but generally the Ballymore has not been a happy race for him, he saddles Son Of Camas for owner Jared Sullivan and he will start as one of the outsiders. He won his bumper and hurdle debut both at Newbury but was put in his place by Fiddlerontheroof when stepped up in class last time out at Sandown. You would have to think connections will be looking to the longer trip to bring about some improvement, which he needs to figure here.

Punters Lounge Tip: Envoi Allen 5/4 at bet365 - Click Here To Bet
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