Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle takes place on the left-handed, turf-surfaced Old Course at Cheltenham over a distance of 2m 5f. It is the opening race on day two of the annual Cheltenham Festival.
Horses are required to jump ten hurdles and can enter from four-years-old and upwards. The weight carried is set at 10st 12lb for any four-year olds and 11st 7lb for five-year olds and above, with a 7lb allowance for mares and fillies.
Last year’s renewal was won by Willoughby Court, who was ridden by David Bass and trained by Ben Pauling. Connections won £71,875.50 for their victory out of a total prize fund of £125,000.
The 2018 contest sees chances throughout the field, although Samcro is highly-fancied to land a first success in this renewal for trainer Gordon Elliott.
As ever, the race marks the start of Ladies Day on Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival. The starter will waive the runners off at 1:30pm on Wednesday 14th March 2018.
Find out the latest Ballymore Novices Hurdle odds at Ladbrokes
However, it has been known under a variety of different names over the years due to sponsorship. Currently the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, this race began life known as the Aldsworth Hurdle in 1971.
From 1974 until 2006 the race came under the guise of the Sun Alliance Novices Hurdle due to sponsorship from Sun Alliance (which was later Royal & Sun Alliance).
Ballymore Properties took over sponsorship for the following three years before Neptune Investment Management offered their support in 2010. Their sponsorship lasted seven years until Ballymore resumed their association with the event for the 2018 contest.
No single horse has managed to achieve victory here more than once, although several winners have gone on to bigger and brighter things at the Festival including Faugheen (Champion Hurdle 2015) and Simonsig (Arkle Challenge Trophy 2013).
The record for leading jockey is held by Ruby Walsh. The 38-year-old has been aboard four winners of the race, most recently with Yorkhill in 2016. He’s one ahead of Charlie Swan who enjoyed three successes with Danoli in 1994, Urubande in 1996 and Istabraq in 1997.
Walsh’s success has gone hand in hand with that of trainer Willie Mullins. The Irishman has four winners under his belt in this renewal – Fiveforthree in 2008, Mikael d’Haguenet in 2009, Faugheen in 2014 and the aforementioned Yorkhill in 2016. Mullins is one ahead of rival Nigel Twiston-Davies, who has trained three winners.
Neptune Novices’ Hurdle Trends
- Only one of the last 40 winners have been aged six or over.
- 14 of the last 22 winners were aged exactly six-years-old.
- Irish-trained horses have won six of the last 10 renewals.
- Nicky Henderson has won this race just once from 26 attempts.
- Willie Mullins has accounted for four of the last 10 winners of this race.
- Only three of the last 12 SP favourites have claimed victory.
- Even Dawn is the longest-priced winner at 40/1 in 1972.
- 31 of the last 32 winners of the Baring Bingham had finished first or second in their previous start.
- Two of the last 17 victors had previously won the Tolworth Hurdle in the same season.
The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle is an exhilarating race for novice hurdlers aged four and above, ready to make a big impact at Cheltenham for the very first time.
Success in the renewal is often the indicator of a true top-class hurdler. Istabraq won the 1997 renewal before going on to claim a hat-trick of Champion Hurdle successes. More recently Faugheen claimed the 2015 Champion Hurdle as well as a whole host of other major successes over sticks.
Walsh and Mullins have proved the dominant pair over the last decade. The duo have teamed up to enjoy success on no fewer than four occasions over the past ten years.
Novices Hurdle Winners
- 2008: Fiveforthree – Ruby Walsh
- 2009: Mikael d’Haguenet – Ruby Walsh
- 2010: Peddlers Cross – Jason Maguire
- 2011: First Lieutenant – Dave Russell
- 2012: Simonsig – Barry Geraghty
- 2013: The New One – Sam Twiston-Davies
- 2014: Faugheen – Ruby Walsh
- 2015: Windsor Park – Davy Russell
- 2016: Yorkhill – Ruby Walsh
- 2017: Willoughby Court– David Bass