Ballymore Novices' Hurdle Ante-Post Tips: Nailing down the winner is a Bravemansgame

Ballymore Novices' Hurdle: Both Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls hold strong hands.
Ballymore Novices' Hurdle: Both Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls hold strong hands.

Joe Tuffin takes a look at the 2021 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, which will see three hugely exciting novices clash in the Grade 1 contest...

At the time of writing It’s Wednesday the 17th of February and at this exact moment in a month's time, the horses will be in the parade ring for the first race of day two at the Cheltenham Festival and the excitement will be palpable from sofas up and down the country. The levels of anticipation will be higher still owing to that race being the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, which is subjectively the most interesting novice hurdle event at this year’s racing extravaganza.

The top of market is a flush with proven quality and class, and this applies none more so than to Gaillard Du Mesnil, yet another top class prospect owned by the emerging power owners of the Donnelly’s - who must fancy themselves to bag a good haul of Festival winners this year. A model of consistency, he’s not finished outside of the top two in his eight starts since his debut France, and finally added Graded honours to his CV when impression tremendously at the Dublin Racing Festival, getting up by five easy lengths. Trained by the ever brilliant Willie Mullins, he was duly placed at the top of the market for the Ballymore and will surely to continue to attract support if (dare i say when) the Mullins train steams through day one, but there could be a bit more value sitting just below him in the form of the Paul Nicholls trained Bravemansgame.

A horse who has drawn comparisons to the mighty Denman after winning three on the bounce, including the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle last time out, he’s one that immediately catches the eye owing to his brilliant athleticism and enthusiasm for the game after such little experience. Now it’s worth noting that, to even come close to the legend that is Denman it would be some achievement, so comparison to him are not to be taken lightly. Even though it’s clear a career over the bigger fences awaits him, the ‘Tank’ managed second in this race as a hurdler before wowing us all with his power and athleticism over fences, so to be ‘as good’ as him has to place him right there. Some questions have been asked over his form, but he readily dispatched Grade 2 winner Star Gate in the Challow and you can be sure there is a whole lot more left in him.

The other main protagonist in this triplet of of ability laden future stars is the Henry De Bromhead trained Bob Olinger, who besides bumping into Cheltenham Festival winner Ferny Hollow in a maiden hurdle of which he is excused, has developed quite the habit for impressive victories, winning his other three races by a combined 30 lengths. Like the aforementioned, his last time out performance saw him bag Grade 1 honours in the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle, but as impressive as it was, It was only Blue Lord who chased him home that day. It’s not bad form by any means but it’s also not great, with Blue Lord finishing behind the likes of Appreciate It and Ballyadam also this term. He could carry on with his upward trend of form but Bravemansgame is fancied to beat him next month.

Cheltenham Festival Races

Sitting fourth in the market is the hugely exciting Appreciate It, though he is all but confirmed to be going to the Supreme so stay well clear unless you’re stepping into the Non-Runner No Bet market, as he would probably have won by this time in a month.

Ballyadam is the first to hit double-figures in the Ballymore market and like Appreciate It, he looks set for a go in the Supreme. But there is that nagging question with him, how on earth does he reverse the form with Appreciate It? Twice beaten by the Mullins hot shot, he looks firmly second best in the two-mile Irish Novice Hurdle division and why send him to Cheltenham for him to be beaten yet again? There is a case to be made for him to come to the Ballymore instead of the Supreme to avoid that clash in which the writing is already on the wall, but equally he may fall short of the market principles here and is probably best left in both races, unless you can get some double-figure about him for the Supreme.

Further down at around the 16/1 mark is Gentlemansgame, who sports the same silks as Bob Olinger, giving owners Robcour quite the hand in this race. Last seen behind the favourite Gaillard Du Mesnil, he looks like a horse with plenty of ability and an extremely bright future, shown by a 21-length win on debut. Problem with him for this race is that the owners probably have him beat with Bob Olinger, so why waste him here? He also holds an entry in the far more open Albert Bartlett and I expect to see him lineup there.

With many of the horses holding multiple entries, it’s hard to pin down one outside of the main protagonists that might be seen here. But outside of my A bet in Bravemansgame, I’ll also be chancing my hand on the big outsider Pipesmoker, who at the time of writing is priced at the 66/1 mark. Another holding a Supreme entry (A recurring theme), he was a horse touted for a great season before injury sidelined him, but he makes his comeback tomorrow (18th of February) at Sandown Races over two-mile and a powerful winning display will see him shorten for both races. Definitely one to back in the NRNB market, his last performance almost a year ago was a smart one, chasing home now Grade 1 winner Sporting John at Ascot over two-mile-and-three-furlongs. This is pretty good form, better than some others around this price, and tomorrow’s run over two-mile may just be a sharpener to get him fit for this trip - of which seems more his forte. I always like to hold a big each-way antepost slip for the races at the Festival but with this race being so open it’s really quite tricky, but hopefully Nicky Henderson’s charge will line up here and give us a good account.


Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, Cheltenham Festival, Wednesday 17th March - back Bravemansgame at 9/2 
Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, Cheltenham Festival, Wednesday 17th March - back Pipesmoker Each Way at 50/1 (Betfred NRNB)

Ballymore Novices' Hurdle
Bravemansgame silk


Ballymore Novices' Hurdle
Pipesmoker silk

Pipesmoker (EW)

Cheltenham Festival Tips
Advert Disclaimer is a free online resource which endeavour to provide helpful and useful content and odds comparison to its visitors. Please be advised that accepts affiliate commission from the companies appearing on the site, and agreed commission levels impact the location and order in which the companies (and/or their products) are presented on the website. Any ratings that appear on this site is determined by our subjective opinion of the brand but also based on market share and reputation, each brand's conversion rates, commission paid to us and general consumer interest. Company listings on this page don't imply our endorsement. We do not feature all providers on the market. Except as expressly set forth in our terms and conditions, all statements and warranties regarding the information presented on this page are disclaimed. The information, including odds, which appear on this site is subject to change at any time.

100% Up To £50 Welcome Bonus + 25 Spins

#AD 18+; New bettors get 100% of deposit up to £50; Once per household; Min deposit £15 (no Skrill/Neteller); Wager a total of 8 times deposit + bonus, with max qualifying bet stake equal to your initial bonus amount; Bonus expires after 60 days; Min odds of 4/5 on singles, or 2/5 per leg for acca; Some bet types excluded; Free spins validity: 7 days; Free spins max. winnings = £100; See full terms; Terms apply.
Bet £10 Get £30 In Free Bets
#AD 18+. Play Safe. New customers using Promo code H30 only, Min £10/€10 stake,  min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 2 x £15/€15, free bets credited after  settlement of first qualifying bet, free bets will expire 30 days after  the qualifying bet is placed, payment method/player/country restrictions apply.
Bet £10 Get £30 Free Bets (APP Only)
#AD New UK, IE & Malta customers only. 18+. Min £10/€10 first deposit using Debit Card or Trustly. Place a bet of £10 at min odds of 1.5. Free bets expire in 90 days. Full T&Cs apply.
Welcome Offer
#AD Bet £10 & Get £50 in Free Bets for new customers at bet365. Min deposit requirement. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply. The bonus code SPTS365 can be used during registration, but does not change the offer amount in any way.
Bet £10 Get £60 in Bonuses
#AD New UK customers only. Register using the promo code BETFRED60, deposit and place first bet of £10+ on Sports (cumulative Evens+) within 7 days of registration. First bet must be on Sports. £20 in Free Bets to be used on Sports, £10 in Free Bets to be used on Lotto and 50 Free Spins (20p per spin) credited within 48 hours of bet settlement. Further £20 in Free Bets credited 5 days after settlement. Bonuses have a 7-day expiry. Payment restrictions apply. SMS verification and/or Proof of I.D and address may be required. Full T&Cs apply.
Bet £20 & Get It Back As CASH If It Loses
#AD New customers only. Place your FIRST bet on any Horse Racing market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £20. Only deposits made using cards will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Money Back As Cash Up To £20
#AD Max £20 refund on first bet. Bet must be placed in first 7 days of account opening. Only deposits made via Debit Card will be eligible for the promotion. T&Cs apply. 18+
Bet £10 Get £30 Free Bets + £10 Casino Bonus
#AD Minimum deposit of £10 using deposit code 30F - A qualifying bet is a ‘real money’ stake of at least £10 placed on any sports market - Minimum odds of 1/2 (1.5) - Free bets credited upon qualifying bet settlement and expire after 7 days - Free bet stakes not included in returns - Casino Bonus must be claimed within 7 days • To withdraw bonus/related wins, wager bonus amount x40 within 14 days • Wagering req. vary by game • Withdrawal restrictions and Full T&C’s apply. 18+
Bet £10 Get £30 Free Bets
#AD Offer includes a free £1 Race Index spread bet to try out our exciting 50-25-10 race markets. Place a £10 fixed odds bet at minimum odds of 1/2. Get 2 x £10 free fixed odds bets + 2 x £5 free Winning Favourites spread bets. Bet with live streaming on all racing and greyhounds! Ts&Cs Apply. 18+
Bet £10 Get £10 + £10 Casino Bonus
#AD New UK customers (Excluding NI) mobile only. £20 in FREE Bets (FB) as £10 in sports bets & a £10 casino bonus (CB). Min stake £10. Min odds Evs. FB applied on 1st settlement of any qualifying bet. FB 7 day expiry. 1 FB offer per customer, household & IP address only. Payment restrictions. 14 days to accept £10 CB, then active for 3 days. CB 5x wagering & max redeemable £100. Game restrictions apply. Cashed out/Free Bets won’t apply. 30 days to qualify. 18+.  T&Cs apply
£25 Free Bet + 10 Free Spins
If your account has Sportsbook losses at the end of your first day's betting, QuinnBet will refund 50% of your losses as a Free Bet up to £25 (min 3 bets) Plus 10 Free Spins on Asgard Warriors. Even if your account is up, you're guaranteed a £5 Free Bet Plus 10 Free Spins provided you place at least 1 bet of £10 or greater at the minimum odds. T&Cs apply | 18+ New UK Customers Only |
Latest racing results
3rdTommy G
1stGerard Mentor
2ndOpening Bid
3rdNever No Trouble
1stMount Bonete
2ndCawthorne Banker
3rdLilting Verse
View All Today's Results