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Day Two

Ballymore Novices Hurdle – Horse by horse Guide



Day 2 featured races quick links:

13:20 Ballymore Novices Hurdle

15:05 Queen Mother Champion Chase

13:20 Ballymore Novices Hurdle

Bear Ghylls                                         (Matt Griffiths/NickyMartin)

Went off 33-1 for his bumper at Lingfield last season but created a striking impression when beating a useful rival in Guard Your Dreams by nineteen lengths. Remains unbeaten after three starts over hurdles, winning tidy novice events at Lingfield and Ffos Las, as well as an Exeter handicap.

Jumping has occasionally lacked fluency, and he’s still a horse who looks as if he’s learning on the job, but he possesses an immense engine and is a fantastic long-term prospect, even if he is caught out for a bit of maturity in this.

Bob Olinger                                         (Rachael Blackmore/Henry De Bromhead)
Impressive winner of a Gowran bumper on his only start last season and made a highly encouraging start to hurdling when running last season’s Champion Bumper winner Ferny Hollow to within a length, the pair pulling thirty-one lengths clear of the third.

Landed odds of 1-8 on his next and justified favouritism when stepping into Grade 1 company to win the Lawlor’s Of Naas with the minimum of fuss.

That was an impressive performance and there’s a lot of Irish confidence behind this one, so he looks likely to go very close.

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Bravemansgame                                (Harry Cobden/Paul Nicholls)
Cost £370,000 after winning his point and was narrowly touched off by Betfair Hurdle winner Soaring Glory on his hurdles debut.

Quickly rattled of a hat-trick after that, culminating in Grade 1 success in Newbury’s Challow Hurdle, where he tanked clear of the previously impressive Star Gate.

Perhaps a little bit more raw than a few rivals here, but Bravemansgame has already been likened to the great Denman by trainer Paul Nicholls and this relentless galloper looks like a potential monster.

Does He Know                                    (David Bass/Kim Bailey)
Showed promise in a couple of maiden hurdles last season and put that experience to good effect his time around when winning three times before the end of November, including twice over the Ballymore course and distance.

He was soundly beaten in handicap company at Exeter last time, might be better on quicker ground and should out of his depth in this company

Gaillard Du Mesnil                              (Paul Townend/Willie Mullins)
Showed smart form in a couple of French bumpers and the Mullins camp were probably surprised to see him beaten on his hurdles debut.

Imperious when winning a maiden at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting on his next start and took a further step forward to win in the Grade 1 Nathaniel Lacy Novices’ Hurdle over 2m6f at the Dublin Racing Festival last time out.

That was probably the deepest novice hurdle of the season so far, though he does shape like more of a stayer than Bob Olinger or Bravemansgame.

Clearly very smart though, and will go very close if able to match the pace of his main two rivals.

Keskonrisk                                          (Donagh Meyler/Joseph O’Brien)
Looked very smart when winning a Fairyhouse bumper for Timmy Hyde last season and was brought to Joseph O’Brien’s yard for £370,000 during the summer.

After scraping home in a Fairyhouse maiden in his first hurdles start, he showed promise when staying on from the rear to finish third in Leopardstown’s Future Champions’ Novice Hurdle at Christmas.

This step-up in trip looks a sensible move and he remains a fantastic prospect to move forward with, but he’s not quite at the level of the market leaders yet and this should be educational for him.

Optimise Prime                                   (Daryl Jacob/Ben Pauling)
Won twice at Hereford before Christmas but had his limitations exposed when only third in the Sidney Banks last time out. Out of his depth here.


The best novice hurdle of the week with three hugely exciting Grade 1 winners clashing.

There’s very little between them on form, but preference is for Bravemansgame, who is likely to go forward ahead of Bob Olinger and Gaillard Du Mesnil, and may be hard to peg back if maintaining his gallop.

20yo from Halifax. Written articles for Timeform, BT Sport and more. Grand National obsessive. In love with about 40 different staying chasers. Contact me via email or follow my twitter feed here

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