Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Cheltenham) Betting Tips & Preview – Wednesday 14th March 2018

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).

The highly regarded Getabird was one of the late withdrawals from the race but Samcro has been preferred here over other options. With one of his main rivals out of contention, the odds-on favourite looks like enjoying his first taste of Cheltenham success.

Top Tips

Samcro to win @ 8/13

Vision Des Flos @ 16/1

Odds correct at time of writing but may have changed since. Check site for latest prices.

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Race Info

The ground at Cheltenham doesn’t look like firming up much ahead of this race and we look set for a very muddy start to day two of this celebrated racing festival. Willie Mullins is responsible for four of the 14 names declared as he seeks to extend his position as the leading trainer in this race.

GoingDistanceGradePrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Heavy 2m 5f 26y 1 £125,000 14 1/5 1-3

Recent Winners

There have been some fine victors of this race in recent years who have gone on to claim even more hurdle success. Among them are former Champion Hurdle winner Faugheen and Aintree Hurdle champion, The New One.

The betting has tended to be a useful guide in this race with just one of the last 10 winners setting off at odds greater than 7/1. The exception was last year’s champion Willoughby Court, who edged out the favourite, Neon Wolf, by a head.

YearWinnerSPTrainerJockey
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

Analysis: Ballymore Will Prove to be Best Choice for Samcro

The trends in this race are indicating this could well be a two horse race between Next Destination and Samcro, the only two options trading short than 7/1.

Boggy conditions increase the chances of an upset though so we’ve picked out a long-shot who could prove to be the surprise package in this race.

Samcro to shine

Also entered in the longer Albert Bartlett and shorter Supreme Novices’, Gordon Elliot felt that a two mile five furlong test would be best suited to his six-year-old. He’s only once competed close to this mark, a two and a half mile test at Navan, but it was arguably his best showing to date. Upon taking the lead in the latter stages, victory was never in doubt and jockey Jack Kennedy was even able to take his foot of the gas. The six-year-old has bags of talent and should relish a test of this length.

Next Destination to fall just short

Next Destination comes into this race on the back of three consecutive victories this season. He’s happy to run over this distance and the ground does not look like being a problem either. He beat Cracking Smart and Jetz in heavy going at Navan in December but the latter is a horse Samcro beat by a much larger margin just a month earlier. It wouldn’t be unfair to draw from this that Samcro is operating on a slightly higher level than Next Destination although there isn’t a big gap between them.

Vision Des Flos an outside option

There’s just the one performance that Vision Des Flos has put in that makes you think he stands a half a chance here. Underwhelming in 2017, his sole start in 2018 saw him secure a Listed win at Exeter in heavy going. It’s the first time he’s competed in such conditions and it played a huge part in his 31 length victory. He’s got an extra four furlongs to travel this time but he had plenty left in the tank at Exeter and is no stranger to a trip of this length.

Black Op one to avoid

Black Op’s mistake on the last hurdle in his last outing proved to make the difference as he ended up being pipped by Santini at Cheltenham. There were still positives to draw from the performance though and Tom George’s horse coped well with the testing conditions underfoot. It’s clear that he’s a horse worthy of being in the mix at graded level but he never rides fluently enough to make us think that he’s a genuine contender here.

Final Verdict

Samcro is the odds-on favourite for a good reason and his price is far from an unfair one. Back him to continue his winning streak and opt for Vision Des Flos for an each way/place bet on the side if eager to back a horse with longer odds.

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