Getting day two of the Cheltenham Festival underway is the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle also known as the Baring Bingham. The non-sponsored name of the race honours the man who organised the first ever Festival back in 1902, though in recent years this one has been known as the Neptune (for previous sponsorship purposes).
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 11th March 2020
- Winner: Envoi Allen
- SP: 4/7
- Trainer: Gordon Elliot
- Jockey: Davy Russell
2m5f is the trip for this Grade 1 Hurdle contest which offers £125,000 in guaranteed prize money. The ground at the track is currently described as soft, but the forecast suggests this may firm up slightly come the day of the race. There are several horses in with a real shout of landing this but we reckon we have some cracking value with our tip!
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Soft||2m5f||Grade 1||£125,000||12 Runners||1/5 1-3|
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from the last running of the race. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
Multiple Irish Champion trainer Willie Mullins holds the all-time lead amongst handlers in this race, with four previous wins in the Day 2 opener. The legendary trainer holds the record in many of Cheltenham’s contests but Mullins sends just the one into battle this time around in the shape of the well fancied, The Big Getaway. One might well be enough though and we think he has a great chance of claiming win number five.
Of the British trainers, it is Nigel Twiston-Davies who boasts the best record in this event – sitting just one behind Mullins with three wins in total. Twiston-Davies also sends just the one to post, but it would be something of a surprise were he to add to his haul, with his representative, Mossy Fen, being amongst the rank outsiders.
We have had three winning favourites of this in the past 10 years, but with all three returning a relatively short SP, backers of the market leader would still have registered a level stakes loss of 2.78 units. We think the principle looks far too short this year too and we don’t see that record improving but let’s take a look at the key contenders on this year’s race.
|Envoi Allen||5/4||156||Gordon Elliot||Davy Russel|
|Sporting John||3/1||149||Philip Hobbs||Barry Geraghty|
|The Big Getaway||5/1||146||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|The Big Breakaway||6/1||144||Colin Tizzard||Robbie Power|
ENVOI ALLEN (5/4)
Gordon Elliott’s Envoi Allen isn’t the shortest priced favourite at this year’s meeting, but he isn’t too far off it, and is the horse many Irish racing fans will be relying on to get them off to a flyer on the second day. Elliott has a bit of history with a hotpot in this race, with Samcro being just about the banker of the entire meeting when coming home in front in 2018, and he would look to hold every chance of repeating that success with this son of Muhthathir.
Unbeaten in seven racecourse appearances, Envoi Allen will be bidding for a second Cheltenham Festival success having landed last season’s Champion Bumper in tenacious style from the Willie Mullins runner, Blue Sari.
With the likes of Thyme Hill and Abacadabras also in behind, that looked a solid renewal of the race, and previous form here in March always counts for plenty. The 2m5f trip is a question mark, but he coped well enough when stepped up to 2m4f last time out, and is hard to fault. We don’t dislike him but have to feel he’s just a little short and there is better value to be had lower down the betting.
SPORTING JOHN (3/1)
Heading up the challenge of the home team this year is the Philip Hobbs-trained, Sporting John. This six year old son of Getaway has done absolutely nothing wrong in his career to date – backing up a win in a point to point with three successive novice hurdle victories. There has been a lot to like about those wins, with the slick manner of his hurdling in particular catching the eye and that is always an asset around here.
The bare form of those three wins is also beginning to stack up pretty well. Way too good for the highly regarded duo of Master Debonair and Pipesmoker last time out at Ascot, his earlier success in a Class 4 event at Exeter has also been franked, with the runner up that day, Harry Senior, having since gone on to score in good style here on trials day. Like the majority of these, he is up to this trip for the first time, but looks to possess the gears to play a major role.
THE BIG GETAWAY (5/1)
Willie Mullins has had a fair few sizeable horses in his yard over the years, but apparently none bigger than the absolute giant that is The Big Getaway. Given that size, it may be that it is over fences where this one is ultimately seen to best effect, but that’s not to say he isn’t capable of going very close to winning this.
He clearly has enough pace, having been a very smart bumper performer, including when winning by seven lengths on his seasonal return at Punchestown. He looked all set to make a winning debut over obstacles at Leopardstown in December, only to blunder his chance away at the final flight.
He made no such mistake last time out at Naas though when, having been allowed to make the running, he absolutely trounced his 15 rivals to score by 17 lengths. Clearly this demands more, but he didn’t look anything like fully extended that day and it seems likely that there will be plenty more to come. Overall, we like this one’s chances, particularly if he is able to turn the race into a real test, and in an excellent renewal he looks a solid each way option, albeit that a place only won’t yield the biggest return.
THE BIG BREAKAWAY (6/1)
Another likely to go well is Colin Tizzard’s, The Big Breakaway and this could prove a tricky afternoon for the commentary team! Being sired by Getaway, this one is a half brother to both Sporting John and The Big Getaway, and in common with Sporting John he also arrives at the race having yet to taste defeat.
He hasn’t just won his three starts either, he has thrashed the opposition on each occasion, beginning with a 10-length romp in his point to point back in April, and ending with a seven-length demolition job at Newbury in his most recent start in December. Kept off the track since that win, he will be the freshest horse in this year’s field, and really could be absolutely anything at this stage.
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Winners
|2020||Envoi Allen||4/7||Gordon Elliot||Davy Russell|
|2019||City Island||8/1||Martin Brassil||Mark Walsh|
|2018||Samcro||8/11||Gordon Elliot||Jack Kennedy|
|2017||Willoughby Court||14/1||Ben Pauling||David Bass|
|2016||Yorkhill||3/1||Willie Mullins||Ruby Walsh|
|2015||Windsor Park||9/2||Dermot Weld||Davy Russell|
|2014||Faugheen||6/4||Willie Mullins||Ruby Walsh|
|2013||The New One||7/2||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Sam Twiston-Davies|
|2012||Simonsig||2/1||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty|
|2011||First Lieutenant||7/1||Michael Morris||Davy Russell|
About the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle: A Path Taken by Hurdling Greats
The history of the Cheltenham Festival is littered with legendary horses, jockeys and trainers. None of it, however, would have been possible were it not for one man.
Baring Bingham was the owner of Prestbury Park around the turn of the 20th century and it was he who is credited with hosting the very first Cheltenham Festival in 1902. He may not be the most well-known man in the history of Cheltenham but the organisers have ensured that he will always be remembered by naming an important race after him.
The Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle is the number one race in the mind of many trainers for their leading up and coming hurdlers. Recent stars of the novice hurdling division such as Samcro, Faugheen and Simonsig have hammered home their dominance by winning this race although you’re unlikely to hear many people referring to the race by its official title when discussing those horses’ careers.
What’s In A Name?
The race is currently called the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle after the property development company who sponsor it but it has been variously named after Sun Alliance and Neptune Investment Management over the years.
No matter what it’s called the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle is always won by a top class display of hurdling. With a distance of two miles and five furlongs it is a race that demands a certain amount of stamina from the winner, especially as they climb the famous Cheltenham hill in the closing stages.
It’s also a demanding test of hurdling. It’s rare for one of the most fancied horses to fall in running but with such a high level of competition even the slightest jumping mistake at any of the 10 hurdles will be pounced upon and magnified.
Picking The Winner
As winning the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle takes such a high class performance it is unsurprising that the winner has always shown a high level of hurdling before. The majority of winners had already won at least twice over hurdles and the importance of prior form means that shocks in the betting are very rare indeed.
Clearly, not all previous wins are equal and there are a handful of important races in the build-up that punters should concentrate on. Irish trained horses tend to compete in the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown, the Navan Novice Hurdle and the ‘Monksfield’ Novice Hurdle which are both run at Navan.
The big British trials include the Winter Novices’ Hurdle, both Ballymore Novices’ Hurdles which are run at Cheltenham in January and the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at Warwick.
The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle is usually one of the most exciting and competitive betting heats of the Cheltenham Festival. That’s because there are always a handful of classy young hurdlers in with a real shot. Moreover, it’s not a race which has been dominated by any one trainer although Irish trainers do have a good record with Willie Mullins leading the way.