The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, the opening race on Day 2, is arguably the strongest of the four novice hurdles run at the Festival.
Sponsored for many years by Sun Alliance (1974-2006) - it has since been known as either the Neptune or the Ballymore Hurdle.
However, its registered name is the Baring Bingham Novices' Hurdle in honour of William Baring Bingham who organised the first National Hunt meeting at Prestbury Park in 1902.
It has often been an excellent guide to future Champion Hurdles, even though it's run on a trip of over half a mile longer.
Previous winners of both races include Istabraq, Hardy Eustace and Faugheen.
The race has also been won by plenty of future chasing stars such as Davy Lad, Sabin du Loir and First Lieutenant.
BALLYMORE NOVICES’ HURDLE TRENDS
Class has come to the fore in recent years and there has been no Ballymore Hurdle winner rated below 146 in the past decade.
Four of the last five favourites have won and there has only been one winner priced at over 8/1 since 2007.
The New One (2013) is the only five-year-old to win in the last 10 years, with six-year-old's dominating.
Willie Mullins is the most successful trainer with 5 winners, while Gordon Elliott has been successful recently with Samcro (2018) and Envoi Allen (2020).
BALLYMORE NOVICES’ HURDLE 2024 ODDS
LAST 5 WINNERS’ DATA
Sir Gerhard powered through the soft ground to justify his short odds in the 2022 Ballymore.
The previous year's Champion Bumper winner handled the step up to two miles and five furlongs with aplomb under Paul Townend:
The 2021 Ballymore Hurdle was won by Bob Olinger, ridden by Rachael Blackmore.
His trainer, Henry De Bromhead, was delighted he saw out the trip:
Irish banker Envoi Allen extended his unbeaten record, ahead of stablemate Easywork for a Gordon Elliott 1-2 in 2020:
The ultra-tough City Island was trainer Martin Brassil's first Festival winner in 2019:
Samcro was another unbeaten hotpot to score for Gordon Elliott in 2018, having cruised into contention at the final bend:
Willoughby Court just beat favourite Neon Wolf in a thrilling battle to the line in 2017, a first Festival winner for trainer Ben Pauling:
Windsor Park 2015
Back in 2014 Faugheen won this before going on to win the Champion Hurdle 12 months later:
The New One 2013
While in 2012 the brilliant grey Simonsig, who won the Arkle Chase the following year, never came out of second gear and cruised up the run-in under Barry Geraghty:
Peddlers Cross 2010
Hardy Eustace 2003
Looking back further, Monsignor won by eight lengths in 2000, in what was regrettably his final ever race due to a tendon injury.
It completed an unbeaten novice hurdle season for the giant horse who had won the Champion Bumper 12 months earlier and looked destined for greater things.
French Holly was another huge horse to cap an unbeaten novice campaign by winning this race - speadeagling the field in 1998.
Third behind Istabraq in the Champion Hurdle a year later, a tragic schooling accident meant he also never got to fulfil his potential over fences.
A year earlier, Istabraq himself had been made to graft to win this race, before returning to win the Champion Hurdle three times:
But the most popular winner of the race must surely be Danoli - darling of Irish race fans.
There was a great roar when 'The People's Champion' hit the front at the top of the hill and delirious scenes after the race:
Thetford Forest 1992