Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle race analysis and tips

Ballymore Novices' Hurdle race analysis and tips

Black Op

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Betting Tip: @ Black Op each-way @ 12/1 with williamhill

1:30 2m5f (2m5f26y) Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The Baring Bingham) (Class 1) (4yo+)

Last year (horse – trainer – jockey – SP):
1. Willoughby Court – B Pauling – D Bass – 14/1
2. Neon Wolf – H Fry – N Fehily – 2/1f
3. Messire Des Obeaux – A King – D Jacob – 8/1
(15 ran)

Nature of the race
This novice contest tends to be run at a more sensible gallop than the Supreme. That’s probably got something to do with the start being located in the relative quiet middle part of the track and, crucially, there is a long sweeping bend before the runners get on to the racecourse proper and a hurdle comes up quickly when they do. That takes some of the emphasis away from being able to jump at speed, but horses need to settle and have a turn of foot at the business end. It’s much less of a stamina test than might be expected at the trip.

Trends analysis
Perhaps because they go a steady pace, there are usually few excuses for the also rans and the form horses from the front of the market tend to dominate – 13 winners this century have gone off at 17/2 or shorter. That’s great news for punters and it’s better they concentrate on strictly National Hunt types, rather than horses that started out on the Flat. To emphasise that point, 17 of the last 19 winners began their careers in bumpers and five of the last eight started out in points, which is good news for this year’s red-hot favourite, Samcro.

Festival form
Like the Supreme, Festival form has had a limited impact with the only relevant race being the Champion Bumper, which has produced three winners this century: Monsignor did the double in 2000, Fiveforthree (2008) was fifth and The New One (2013) was sixth. Next Destination, who is clear second best in the betting behind Samcro, finished fourth in last year’s Bumper.

Trainer watch
This has historically been a good race for the Irish and a particularly good one for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, who hold the record of having won this four times together. All his winners had unblemished records over hurdles coming into this and that’s another tick for the stable’s Next Destination (3-3 this season). But it’s not been all about Ireland as British yards are edging the winner count 9-8 so far this century, although it hasn’t been a great race for the two leading British trainers, Paul Nicholls (has never won it) and Nicky Henderson (one winner with Simonsig).

Best of the Irish
Gordon Elliott’s decision to bypass last year’s Festival with the now six-year-old looks a wise one as he is more the finished article this time around. The winner of a point and three bumpers, he has stayed unbeaten this season, winning three times over hurdles and by an aggregate of 32 and a half lengths, and looks every inch a superstar in the making. Jack Kennedy, who rode the same stable’s Labaik to victory in last year’s Supreme, is trusted in bringing home the bacon aboard his nation’s ‘banker of the week’.

That said, Willie Mullins’ Next Destination hasn’t done much wrong either in going unbeaten in three runs over hurdles this season, including a Grade 1 last time. He was under consideration for the Albert Bartlett over further, which suggests his connections think he’ll stay 3m, and his stamina is going to stand him in good stead in the likely testing conditions. Ruby Walsh rides.

Best of the home challenge
Tom George’s Black Op found the smart Santini too good in a hot novice hurdle at the track last time after looking much the best horse for the final mile (traded at 1.25 in running), with the heavy going put forward as an excuse. Better ground and a more patient ride could see him find more improvement and, as the winner of a point-to-point and a bumper, he’s cut from the same cloth as most recent winners.

Others to consider
Willie Mullins’ second-string Duc Des Genievres was no match for Samcro over 2m last time but that was just his third start and 2m5f is more his trip. More is needed, though, and the same comment applies to Colin Tizzard’s recent runaway Exeter winner Vision Des Flos, albeit he will love the conditions.

Best bookmaker offers
Boylesports are refunding losing stakes – as a free bet up to £20 – if your horse finishes 2nd or 3rd to the SP favourite, which will be of interest to those punters looking to take on Samcro.

Samcro is hugely exciting but the hype surrounding him has very much affected his price – no bigger than 4/6 at the time of writing – and he wouldn’t be the first hot-pot to come over the Irish Sea and get beat. Dunguib and Cousin Vinny, who were sent off at 4/5 and 9/4 respectively for the Supreme, failed to deliver, while Death Duty, a stablemate of Samcro who was a ‘banker’ for many when sent off 13/8 favourite for last year’s Albert Bartlett, was beaten before he unseated Bryan Cooper at the last. Besides, this is quite a deep renewal and with the race having a nice each-way shape to it, the pick is BLACK OP at Hills’ 12/1.

Betting Tip: @ Black Op each-way @ 12/1 with williamhill

All odds were correct at time of posting.

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