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Ballymore Classic Novices Hurdle

The Classic Novices Hurdle is a National Hunt hurdle race that is run at Festival Trials Day every January.

Festival Trials Day is a single day event that takes place on the last Saturday of every January at Cheltenham Racecourse. It gives all those closely involved a chance to make their final preparations before the next event at Cheltenham – The Festival.

This year’s Festival Trials Day is scheduled to take place behind closed doors on Saturday the 30th January with the first race of the day beginning at 12:40.

About the Race

The Ballymore Classic Novices Hurdle is a two miles four furlong and 56-yard National Hunt hurdle race that is open to all horses of aged four years and above.

This race is run over the New Course at Cheltenham Racecourse and consists of 10 hurdles for the young novices to jump over.

The Ballymore Classic Novices Hurdle is run every January for The Festival Trials and has done so since its first edition in 2005 which was won by 5-year-old Ambobo, ridden by jockey Barry Geraghty and trained by Arnaud Chaillé-Chaillé.

Race number 5 at Festival Trials Day is where you’ll catch this year’s episode of The Ballymore Classic Novices Hurdle. This will begin at 15:00 on Saturday the 30th of January 2021.


The 2021 Ballymore Classic Novices Hurdle will consist of 5 running competitors who will be hoping to clutch the £12,814 first-place prize.

  1. Annual Invictus (IRE) – 6 years old – weighing in at 11-5 – trained by Chris Gordon and ridden by jockey Richard Johnson
  2. Bear Ghylls (IRE) – 6 years old – weighing in at 11-5 – trained by Nicky Martin and ridden by jockey Matt Griffiths
  3. Optimise Prime (IRE) – 5 years old – weighing in at 11-5 – trained by Ben Pauling and ridden by jockey Daryl Jacob
  4. Took The Lot – 7 years old – weighing in at 11-5 – trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and ridden by jockey Sam Twiston-Davies
  5. Wilde About Oscar (IRE) – 6 years old – weighing in at 11-5 – trained by Dan Skelton and ridden by jockey Sam Skelton


It’s only a five-horse race and anything is possible. The competition at this year’s Ballymore Classic Novices Hurdle is close with entry hoping to take home the £12,814 first-place prize.

Festival Trials day is known for attracting a lot of attention from those hoping to place a few bets on the winners of these races as well as those they believe will go on to win their races at The Festival in March.

With Cheltenham Racecourse having to close its doors to spectators for this Festival Trials Day due to the national lockdown, those that like to check out the horses in person before they make their way to the starting line may have to settle to hearing it from the tipsters – but worry not, we have some of the best around that have all the knowledge to point you in the right direction of a winning bet slip.


There have been no particular upsets in the previous 5 Classic Novices Hurdle races at Cheltenham, so maybe we’re just about overdue one? Or maybe you trust the bookies for this one where the favourites seem to perform well year after year.

Festival Trials Day will always entice fantastic promotions from the bookies so you’d be a fool to not take every opportunity to make this racing season’s Ballymore Classic Novices Hurdle race a profitable one.

It’s Bear Ghylls that’s looking like the race favourite going into the 15:00 Ballymore Classic Novices Hurdle on Saturday with his starting price sitting around the Evens mark.

Wilde About Oscar and Annual Invictus are priced almost neck and neck for second place with odds sitting at just over 3/1 for each of them.

Optimise Prime is tipped for a fourth-place finish with his current odds at 8/1 with many bookies, and finally, it’s Took The Lot with a starting price of 25/1 that’s looking like the most unlikely to place in this race – but who knows when it’s Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies taking the reigns.

Previous Winners


6-year-old 4/1 Harry Senior won the Ballymore Classic Novices Hurdle last time out, ridden by jockey Robbie Power and trained by Colin Tizzard.

6/4 race favourite King Roland finished in second-place followed by 3/2 Protektorat who was ridden and trained by the Skelton’s. 150/1 French Kiss would have been happy just to keep up with the pack in this race but was forced to pull up after weakening before the last.


In 2019, 2/1 second-favourite Birchdale won the £18,006 first-placed prize, ridden by jockey Barry Geraghty and trained by Nicky Henderson.

Race favourite Brewin’upastorm was leading until jockey Richard Johnson fell at the last hurdle. 16/1 outsider Buster Valentine took second place, much to the delight of many that trusted the jockey skills of Leighton Aspell.


It was Santini that won the £18,224 first-place prize in the Ballymore Classic Novices Hurdle back in 2018, ridden by Jeremiah McGrath and trained by Nicky Henderson with a starting price of 4/1.

11/4 favourite Malcuhys Hill only managed fourth-place while second and third places were occupied by 8/1 and 16/1 outsiders Black Op and Aye Aye Charlie.


In 2017, The Neptune Investment Management Classic Novices’ Hurdle was won by 11/4 favourite 6-year-old Wholestone, ridden by jockey Daryl Jacob and trained by the notorious Nigel Twiston-Davies.

Nicky Henderson trained William Henry occupied second-place with a starting price of 5/1, while 16/1 outsider Poetic Rhythm took the third-place prize.


On the 30th of January 2016, 2/1 favourite Yanworth won Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle after an impressive session. Yanworth was ridden by jockey Barry Geraghty and trained by Alan King.

The race went pretty much as expected with 9/4 Shantou Village ridden by Ruby Walsh finishing in second, then 6/1 Champers On Ice taking third prize.