BALLYMORE NOVICES’ HURDLE

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.

Grade 1 | 4yo+ novices | Wednesday 13.30
2 miles 5 furlongs | 10 hurdles | Old Course
Weight: 10st 9lb (4yo) / 11st 7lb (5yo+) | Allowance: 7lb for fillies & mares
Prize money (2022): £135,000 | 1st: £75,965

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.

7 of the last 8 winners were Irish trained
6 of the last 8 winners were rated 150+
10 of the last 11 winners were aged 6
21 of the last 27 winners won last time out
6 of the last 20 favourites won

Class has come to the fore in recent years and there has been no Ballymore Hurdle winner rated below 146 in the past decade.

Three of the last four 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 4 winners, but the last of those was in 2016 (12 runners in the 5 renewals since).

Gordon Elliott has been successful recently with Samcro (2018) and Envoi Allen (2020).

Sir Gerhard (151) and Ginto (150) are the only horses rated higher than 144 set to line up in this year's Ballymore.

LAST 5 WINNERS’ DATA

YEAR
AGE
OFFICIAL RATING
WEIGHT
2022
7
151
11-7
2021
6
150
11-7
2020
6
156
11-7
2019
6
147
11-7
2018
6
155
11-7

RECENT WINNERS

YEAR
WINNER
JOCKEY / TRAINER
SP
2022
Sir Gerhard
Paul Townend / W P Mullins
8/11f
2021
Bob Olinger
Rachael Blackmore / Henry De Bromhead
6/4f
2020
Envoi Allen
Davy Russell / Gordon Elliott
4/7f
2019
City Island
Mark Walsh / Martin Brassil
8/1
2018
Samcro
Jack Kennedy / Gordon Elliott
8/11f
2017
Willoughby Court
David Bass / Ben Pauling
14/1
2016
Yorkhill
Ruby Walsh / W P Mullins
3/1
2015
Windsor Park
Davy Russell / Dermot Weld
9/2
2014
Faugheen
Ruby Walsh / W P Mullins
6/4f
2013
The New One
Sam Twiston-Davies / Nigel Twiston-Davies
7/2
2012
Simonsig
Barry Geraghty / Nicky Henderson
2/1f
2011
First Lieutenant
Davy Russell / Mouse Morris
7/1
2010
Peddlers Cross
Jason Maguire / Donald McCain
7/1
2009
Mikael d'Haguenet
Ruby Walsh / W P Mullins
5/2f
2008
Fiveforthree
Ruby Walsh / W P Mullins
7/1
2007
Massini's Maguire
Richard Johnson / Philip Hobbs
20/1
2006
Nicanor
Paul Carberry / Noel Meade
17/2
2005
No Refuge
Graham Lee / Howard Johnson
17/2
2004
Fundamentalist
Carl Llewellyn / Nigel Twiston-Davies
12/1
2003
Hardy Eustace
Kieran Kelly / Dessie Hughes
6/1
2002
Galileo
Jason Maguire / Tom George
12/1
2001

Festival Cancelled

2000
Monsignor
Norman Williamson / Mark Pitman
5/4f

The 2021 Ballymore Hurdle was won by Bob Olinger, ridden by Rachael Blackmore:

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:

Looking back further, Istabraq was made to graft to win this race in 1997 before returning to win three Champion Hurdles:

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: