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2021 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle Tips – Bob's the best bet in day two opener

  • We’ve published our guide to the 2021 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle
  • The Ballymore is the opening race on day two of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival
  • We fancy Bob Olinger over Gaillard Du Mesnil and Bravemansgame
ballymore novices' hurdle
The runners round the bend in last year's Ballymore Novices' Hurdle. (Getty)
Jon Vine 15 Mar 2021
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Day two at the Cheltenham Festival opens in fitting fashion, as a raft of talented youngsters takes part in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. First staged in 1971, this Grade One has been the launching pad for many of horse racing superstars, and provided maiden Cheltenham wins for greats like Hardy Eustace, Faugheen and Instabraq.

This year’s Ballymore is shaping up to be one of the races of the meeting, with three Grade One winners currently locked in a battle for favouritism.

2021 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Guide

2021 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Odds

Gaillard Du Mesnil5/2
Bob Olinger4/1
Bear Ghylls12/1

*Odds taken from Betfair on 24/2/21*

2021 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Tips – The Top Three

Gaillard Du Mesnil leapt to the top of the Ballymore betting following an excellent victory in the Nathaniel Lacy at the Dublin Racing Festival. Having been beaten by Holymacapony on debut, Willie Mullins' star thrashed two future winners in a maiden over Christmas, and was too good for the likes of Stattler and Gentlemansgame at Leopardstown.

Bob Olinger's Grade One victory came in the Lawlor's Of Naas, which was won last season by a certain Envoi Allen. Henry De Bromhead's star lost out to Ferny Hollow on his hurdles debut, but made all to win a maiden at Navan in December, before showing Blue Lord and Gabynako a clean set of heels on the run to the line at Naas.

Britain's hopes lie in the hands of Bravemansgame, who has only been beaten by Betfair Hurdle winner, Soaring Glory in four starts over hurdles. Following victories at Exeter and Newbury, Paul Nicholls' star powered to victory from the front in the Challow Hurdle, beating a Grade Two winner in Star Gate by ten lengths.

2021 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Tips – Most Likely Winner

Ireland has dominated the opener on day two of the Cheltenham Festival in recent seasons. Ten of the last 15 winners were Irish trained. Willie Mullins has won the race four times, while Gordon Elliott has won two of the last three.

While Bravemansgame is clearly a very talented horse and will make up into a beautiful staying chaser, I think he’ll get found out by two rivals who have an equally high cruising speed and a little more fluent over their obstacles.

While I do think Gaillard Du Mesnil is a very classy animal, you can poke holes in his Nathaniel Lacy win. Gaillard Du Mesnil didn't need a blistering turn-of-foot to get by Stattler and Gentlemansgame. In fact, from the second-last to the line, Gaillard Du Mesnil was two seconds slower than Tower Bridge, when Joseph O'Brien's outsider won the Nathaniel Lacy on similar ground over the same trip in 2018.

Stattler is a three-mile stayer destined for the Albert Bartlett, and Gentlemansgame isn't even going to Cheltenham. I think Willie Mullins' charge saw off two tiring stayers that day, and I worry whether he has the gears for a Ballymore.

de bromhead
Henry De Bromhead could be in for a profitable Cheltenham Festival. (Getty)

BOB OLINGER, on the other hand, does possess an eye-catching turn of foot, even on heavy ground. Henry De Bromhead even said he fancied Bob Olinger to beat Ferny Hollow when they clashed over two miles, so his charge must have been showing plenty of speed on the gallops.

When winning at Navan second time out, Bob Olinger was a second-and-a-half quicker than Ashdale Bob - who won a Grade Two on the same card, and fell early in the Lawlor's Of Naas - from the second-last to the line. 

Rachael Blackmore's mount quickened clear of a very good rival in Blue Lord to win the Lawlor's Of Naas by six lengths. Bob Olinger was three seconds quicker from the second-last to the line than the handicap winner over the same distance that day, and was only fractionally slower from the two-out than On Eagles Wings, who won over two miles with five-pounds less on his back.

I think Bob Olinger is the most talented horse in this race. I backed him to win the Ballymore at the start of the season, and I think my money is looking relatively safe.

2021 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Tips – Potential Party-Poopers

Bear Ghylls 2021 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle ContenderGET 14/1 HERE
18+ only. Ts and Cs apply. Gamble responsibly.

British horses to have tasted Ballymore glory in recent years include Peddlars Cross, Simonsig and The New One, three very classy hurdlers who impressed at future Cheltenham Festivals. Only four British horses who went off at a double-figure price have managed to make the places in the last 15 years. 

Bear Ghylls is clearly a nice prospect, but it takes a very good British horse to make an impact in the Ballymore, and I’m not sure whether the novice form in Britain – Bravemansgame’s Challow Hurdle aside – is up to much.



The top three in the betting look a good deal better than the other entrants in this year's Ballymore, and I'm a huge fan of Bob Olinger, so he'll be my best bet.

2021 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle Tip 1: Bob Olinger Straight Win @4/1 at betfair - 25 Units

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