Our Cheltenham ante-post series continues into the Wednesday, with the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle kicking off proceedings at Prestbury Park on the second day.
The likes of Faugheen, Envoi Allen and Bob Olinger have won this contest in recent years, with the Irish winning seven of the last eight renewals.
Our team have made their ante-post predictions for the 2m5f contest, in hope of landing some value before the National Hunt curtain-raiser in October.
Here are three runners to consider for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
NO ORDINARY JOE (16/1 – bet365)
Even with the Irish dominating recent renewals of the Ballymore, Nicky Henderson’s No Ordinary Joe could well level the playing field in this contest come March.
The son of Getaway landed victory on his debut in a Sandown bumper, but was given a tough assignment in the Grade 2 Supreme Trial at Ascot, finishing 11 lengths off the winner in fourth.
He has returned to winning ways since however, as the five-year-old claimed success in a novice hurdle at Southwell over 2m4f in May before landing victory at Worcester three weeks later.
No Ordinary Joe will need to prove himself in better company, but his odds of 16/1 offer some value at this time.
THREE STRIPE LIFE (33/1 – bet365)
Currently under the guidance of Denise Foster, Three Stripe Life could be of some interest over this distance next season.
The gelding cleared away from his rivals on debut at Navan in January before finishing a respectable fourth in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in March.
He has only run over the minimum trips to date, but his pedigree suggests that distances around the 2m4f mark should suit him and he could well have more to offer in the locker.
The five-year-old holds a huge price tag of 33/1 currently and he could well be of interest in the Ballymore in seven months’ time.
HOLLOW GAMES (50/1 – William Hill)
Another representative from Denise Foster’s yard, Hollow Games could well sneak into contention for the Ballymore over the coming season.
The gelding has looked mightily impressive in bumpers, claiming success in all three of his starts and by a combined total of 38¾ lengths.
His pedigree suggests that between two to two and a half miles should be perfect for him and he clearly has plenty of potential.
The five-year-old is yet to tackle obstacles at this stage, but his 50/1 price is simply too big to ignore at this stage.