The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, registered as the Hyde Novices’ Hurdle, is the last race run of the first day of Cheltenham’s November Meeting.
A relatively new contest, this race was first run in 1996 when Nicky Henderson and Mick Fitzgerald teamed up to win with Hunting Lore.
Some top horses have been victorious here before going on to have successful National Hunt careers including 2012 winner Coneygree who went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2015.
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: 13th November 2020
- Winner: Does He Know
- SP: 11/8
- Trainer: Kim Bailey
- Jockey: David Bass
The trip is 2m5f for the Grade 2 highlight on the opening day of Cheltenham’s November Meeting (or the Open Meeting as it used to be called, until it was decided that would get confused with the Open golf …which never even took place this year!). Asides aside, £26,000 in total prize money is on offer in this event, a little down from last year, and the ground at the track is currently described as good. With decent weather set for the day of the race and the day prior that could yet firm up a little so that is something to keep an eye on.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Good||2m5f||Grade 2||£26,000||7 Runners||1/4 1-2|
Ballymore Novices' Hurdle Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
Philipp Hobbs leads the way in the all-time trainers table for this race with a total of four previous wins, the most recent of those coming last year when Thyme Hill did the business. Hobbs doesn’t hold an entry this year, but of the trainers who are on show it is two-time winner, Nicky Henderson (On The Blind Side in 2017 and Hunting Lore in the inaugural 1996 running) who boasts the best record. The Master of Seven Barrows sends the well fancied Grand Mogul into battle this time around.
Open to all novice hurdlers aged four and older, it is the five year olds who boast the best record here, with exactly half of the 24 renewals to date falling to a runner from that age bracket – including seven of the past 10. It is rare to see a horse younger than five or older than six win, though we have seen winning seven year olds in 2001 and 2004, and victors aged four in 1999, 2000 and 2003.
As an early season contest between runners with only limited established hurdles form, it perhaps isn’t too surprising that the market has struggled to call this correctly. The past 10 years have featured just the two winning favourites, handing supporters of the market leader a level stakes loss of -£5.82.
|Does He Know||13/8||141||Kim Bailey||David Bass|
|Grand Mogul||3/1||130||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville|
Does He Know – 13/8
Heading the betting this year is the hat-trick seeking Does He Know from the yard of Kim Bailey. Purchased by current connections on the back of a promising success in a point to point over 3m at Charm Park in April of last year, this grand sort looks a staying chaser in the making - but that doesn’t mean he can’t first scale the heights in the hurdling division.
The five year old by Alkaased has certainly made a promising start to life over the smaller obstacles in never finishing outside of the first two in four starts under rules. Second in a maiden and an Introductory event last season, he was undone by the inadequate 2m trip in the first of those, before looking in need of a stiffer track at Ludlow.
Having said that, Ludlow didn’t prove so much of an issue on his comeback run this season, when dropped down to Class 4 level and coasting to a 7½l success. It is however his subsequent effort which makes him of major interest here, coming as it did over this very course and distance at the back end of October.
He did make a couple of niggly errors that day, in addition to being ridden a fair way from home when seemingly hitting a flat spot. Once over that though, he fairly powered home to stay on much the best for a 4¾ win. He’s up from Class 2 to Grade 2 level here which is a big step up, but an ability to handle this tough track counts for plenty and it is very easy to see why he is proving so popular with punters.
Grand Mogul – 3/1
Next in the market comes the aforementioned Grand Mogul from the yard of Nicky Henderson. Formerly with Gordon Elliott, this six year old by Presenting boasted some decent bumper form, including an eight-length romp when breaking his duck at Thurles. The fact that he had a year off the track following that effort, before then making the switch to the Henderson operation, suggested that he may well have had his issues, and in two efforts last season he certainly didn’t look anything like a future graded winner in the making. Pulled up at Newbury on his debut for the yard, he then looked pretty clueless when last of six at this track in January.
Fast forward to the current campaign and it was difficult to know what to expect when he lined up for a class 4 Maiden contest at Chepstow, although the fact that he was sent off as a relatively well-supported 9/4 shot did suggest that a good run may be in the offing.
What followed was a throwback to that bumper effort at Thurles back in 2018 as the six year old loomed up ominously two from home before scooting clear on the run in under only minimal urging to register a visually impressive seven-length success. Jumping pretty big at his obstacles, he is another who looks likely to make a decent chaser in time, whilst the fact that he won so easily despite reportedly not appreciating the soft ground augurs well for his chances here, especially as the ground looks set to dry even further.
Ballymore Novices' Hurdle Winners
|2020||Does He Know||11/8||Kim Bailey||David Bass|
|2019||Thyme Hill||11/8||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson|
|2018||Coolanly||7/2||Fergal O'Brien||Paddy Brennan|
|2017||On The Blind Side||9/2||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville|
|2016||Peregrine Run||13/2||Peter Fahey||Roger Loughran|
|2015||Shantou Village||9/2||Neil Mulholland||Noel Fehily|
|2014||Parlour Games||10/1||John Ferguson||Barry Geraghty|
|2013||Creepy||9/2||Martin Keighley||Ian Popham|
|2012||Coneygree||8/1||Mark Bradstock||Mattie Batchelor|
|2011||Fingal Bay||4/5||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson|
About the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle: A Glimpse Of Future Star Hurdlers?
The Ballymore Group, an international property development company who are based in Ireland, are big supporters of horse racing. They have lent their name to a number of different National Hunt races, including the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle run during Cheltenham’s November Meeting.
The Grade 2 contest plays an important role both during the November Meeting itself and in the wider context of the novice hurdling division. It is also a race which is on the up in terms of reputation so it is important both to racing fans and savvy punters looking for clues for future races.
The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle was introduced to the National Hunt schedule in 1996. It was then known as the Hyde Novices’ Hurdle and is still officially registered under this name. Over the years the race has had a couple of different names. Before the Ballymore Group got involved it was sponsored by Neptune Investment Management but has been known as the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle since 2017.
During Neptune Investment’s time sponsoring the race it was promoted to a Grade 2 race. Before that point it was already a race that powerful trainers took seriously with both Venetia Williams and Philip Hobbs winning twice, with Hobbs adding a further two victories since then.
The prestige of the race has subsequently taken a significant boost with Coneygree perhaps the most well-known winner. Mark Bradstock’s charge won this race as a five year old before progressing to becoming the first novice chaser to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup for over 40 years.
There is no real way of knowing whether any horse who wins the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle will go on to have a successful career over fences or if their best results will be over hurdles. It’s no real surprise given that the competitors are at such an early stage of their careers with most winners aged either four or five.
That said, winning this race demands a high level of stamina for such young horses. Winning over two miles and five furlongs is tough enough whatever pace they go off at before you factor in ground that is often soft on the Old Course and the infamous hill leading up to the winning post at Cheltenham.
Outsider Success Unlikely
2019 winner, Thyme Hill, was the first winning favourite of the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle since Fingal Bay in 2011. That suggests that this competitive race is an unpredictable one for punters but it is also not a race that provides too many shocks. Double figure winners are a rarity and most winners come from the top three in the betting markets.
Interestingly, both Thyme Hill and Fingal Bay won this race when carrying a penalty for a previous Graded wins. Several favourites have failed to cope with similar penalties but it is worth noting that of the 10 winners between 2019 and 2010, six carried a penalty which shows the importance of previous winning form over hurdles.