8th February 2021
GAILLARD DU MESNIL got things underway at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival, with a brilliant performance in the opener. The five-year-old was cut into favourite with most bookmakers for the race. 8/1 before the race, he’s now a best price of 7/2 and 3/1 with a number of firms. Sent off 13/8 favourite earlier today, he travelled well throughout the contest under Paul Townend, before powering clear of his rivals approaching the final flight of hurdles. He stayed on strongly and it was no surprise to see his odds half off the back of that performance.
27th Jan 2021
Harry Fry is leaning towards the Supreme for METIER rather than the Ballymore after entries for the novice hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival were revealed. A Best priced 7s (6s NRNB), Metier is 2nd Fav after the five-year-old recorded an impressive 12-length victory in the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown earlier this month. Fry said: “Metier is a Tolworth winner and the Supreme is the much more likely of the two races, rather than the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, but we will just keep our options open at this stage. He has got an entry in the Betfair Hurdle in just over a fortnight’s time, but there is no definite decision yet. He has done everything right so far over hurdles and is a very exciting novice that seems to be progressing into either a Supreme or a Ballymore horse. There is a race at Exeter the day after (the Betfair) in which he would only have a 5lb penalty, but then if you are looking at that why not run in a Betfair? If the weather keeps as it is there is every chance he will line up in the Betfair Hurdle. I think a better race with an even stronger gallop will suit him better again. We were able to drop him in the last day in the Tolworth, but we would have still been happier if they had gone faster. All his form is on the slower ground and it would be interesting to see him on better ground. At some point, we will encounter it, but good horses go on all ground. We would have to weigh up and decide the pros and cons whether going on better ground means we would have to step him up in trip.”
Willoughby Court won the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle for Ben Pauling in 2017 and he is hoping for similar with OPTIMISE PRIME. The five-year-old caused a 50-1 upset when winning on his hurdling debut at Hereford in November and followed up with a smooth victory at the same venue in December. Pauling said “Optimise Prime is in great order. He is entered at Cheltenham on Saturday. If he doesn’t run there because the ground is terrible, he would probably wait for the Sidney Banks at Huntingdon. He is a lovely horse that has done nothing wrong in winning a couple of races at Hereford, which will hopefully work out OK, but he has got to prove he can do it at the next level now. I took him out of the Leamington at Warwick as it was bottomless ground and I wasn’t overly fussed about missing it as we always knew that his next race would be his prep for the Cheltenham Festival, where we plan to go for the Ballymore.”
Harry Fry has entered BOOTHILL in both the Supreme and the Ballymore. The 6yo won a Taunton Novice Hurdle by 9+l at Taunton in December. Harry Fry said: “Boothill had a splint flare up about 10 days after he won at Taunton and that just held us up for a few weeks. I had hoped to get him back for the Sidney Banks at Huntingdon, but that is just going to come too soon. He could end up going to the Dovecote at the end of February. In the worst-case scenario, he might even end up going straight to Cheltenham – I would like to get another run into him between now and then, but we will be guided by him. We are back pressing on again with him. Hopefully, we don’t get a recurrence of the splint injury and get a clear run with him. Certainly, on the manner of his debut win at Taunton, there look to be lots to look forward to. Boothill and Metier are completely different types. Metier is an ex-Flat horse that is very workmanlike at home and is very much a hurdler, whereas Boothill is a proper chasing type who impresses in everything he does at home.”
26th Jan 2021
Skelton’s Ascot Grade 2 winner MY DROGO is on course for a run at Huntingdon on Feb 11th in the Sidney Banks, a race won by Shishkin last season. “After that, we’ll have a think. If he was to run at Cheltenham I think it would be the Ballymore but he’s not necessarily committed to that. We may miss it entirely.”
15th Jan 2021
BALLYADAM is a concern for the Supreme Novices as some thought he looked as though he needed further LTO. He has an entry for the Ballymore and you can still get 25s with no concessions and 12s NRNB
14th Jan 2021:
Following his winning November run at Navan, giving 7lbs all round, and his third behind Ballyadam in The Royal Bond at Fairyhouse, a number of race readers thought N’GOLO prime for the Ballymore Hurdle and that 25s was far too big. However there was also some conjecture that he’d be even better over further so, they reasoned, why did Willie Mullins keep him over 2 miles for his next run? Could it have been to keep his 138 OR safe and inside the 145 max of the Martin Pipe Handicap? Thus he is 10s NRNB in two places and 14s with Bet Victor.