2022 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Ante-Post Preview – Knappers Can Fly Up The Hill At 25/1
2022 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Ante-Post Preview
Our expert has delved through the current state of play in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle betting market, identifying a selection available at odds of 25/1 with SkyBet Check out their thoughts below, and why not also check out our Champion Chase ante-post article.
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Wednesday 16th March 2022)
This Grade 1 hurdle race has been won by some smart performers in recent years with Envoi Allen sauntering to success in 2020 and the imposing and impressive Bob Olinger romping to victory in last year’s renewal.
The Irish yards have dominated in past renditions and have won seven of the last nine runnings of the Ballymore. They look to have a strong chance once more in 2022 with current market leader Sir Gerhard who will be one of Willie Mullins’ star novices’ to go to war with over the course of the week.
The six-year-old led start to finish in the Champion Bumper at last season’s Festival and was always finding enough up the hill when fending off the late threat from stablemate Kilcruit.
It will be interesting to see how Sir Gerhard is campaigned over the festive period with Willie Mullins having the option to keep him exclusively over 2miles or send him further up in trip.
This former winning point-to-pointer has shown he can win races at 2miles but arguably will be even better suited when granted a test of stamina.
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Trainer Nicky Henderson has only tasted victory in this race once before with the grey Simonsig back in 2012 and the yard could have another live chance with Jonbon in 2022. The £570,000 purchase came over with a huge reputation, being a full brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Douvan and from what we’ve seen so far, he appears to be a top-class animal.
The five-year-old has started to chip away at the lofty price tag with a fluent and stylish hurdling debut in November at Newbury. He currently heads the betting in the 2mile Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on the opening day and connections may opt to keep him at that distance for now.
There could also be a lot more to come from Journey With Me who represents last years winning owner and trainer. Henry De Bromhead has held no secret that this five-year-old needs further than a 2mile trip and Journey With Me showed that when demolishing his rivals over 2m2f in a bumper at Gowran Park by 13l.
He will be a live contender if turning up in this Grade 1 but his two wins to date have come on soft and heavy going and may have to encounter quicker conditions for the first time in his career.
Not many Grade 1 races have eluded champion trainer Paul Nicholls at the Festival but he has yet to have success in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. Connections had a live chance last year with the exciting novice prospect Bravemansgame who ran with great credit to finish third behind runaway winner Bob Olinger.
Paul Nicholls has a fine string of smart novice hurdlers this season including Stage Star, Gelino Bello and KNAPPERS HILL. The latter remains unbeaten in five career starts and has looked very special in his two hurdle outings, only having to be nudged out at Chepstow and Wincanton over 2miles on both occasions to record comfortable victories.
The five-year-old was also very useful when in bumpers, taking a Listed race at Ascot before showing he was one for the big occasion when claiming Grade 2 honours at Aintree’s Grand National Meeting. Knappers Hill has also shown his versatility with the ground he has previously encountered, winning races on good, good to soft and soft ground.
Knappers Hill should relish the step up in trip on pedigree and that could unlock further improvement from Paul Nicholls’ charge. He certainly ticks a lot of boxes and looks to have a leading chance for connections in this contest. The current odds of 25/1 are certainly worth an investment.