The Leamington Novices’ Hurdle (Saturday 12 January) is a possible stepping stone to the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. However, this 2-miles-and-5-furlongs Grade 2 Hurdle is very much a prestigious race in its own right and forms part of Warwick’s Classic Chase Day Card.
Notable past winners include The New One, Thomas Hobson, and Carruthers, whilst last year’s runner-up Paisley Park has since gone on to win the Grade 1 JLT Long Walk Hurdle.
Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle Trends
- The last nine winners have all been aged five or six
- Seven of the last 14 favourites have been successful
- The biggest-priced winner was 8/1
- Nicky Henderson, Ben Pauling, Nigel Twiston-Davies, and Dan Skelton have all trained winners
Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle Main Contenders
Nicky Henderson trained winner of a point-to-point and his only hurdle race so far, and he was a massive ante-post gamble for last week’s Grade 1 Challow Hurdle before being withdrawn. It’s a bit worrying the Henderson-trained Rathhill in the Challow Hurdle ran poorly, but Birchdale won impressively over course and distance on his stable debut and the runner-up has since won by 10-lengths. Obvious chance for the stable that won it last year.
Winner of both his hurdles races so far for Phillip Hobbs, notably beating Nicky Henderson trained horses into second on both occasions. Neither of those runner-ups have run since, and it will be interesting to see if Tidal Flow can lower the colours of another Nicky Henderson trained runner here.
Winner of four of his seven races including two of his three starts over hurdles. However, has fallen short when stepped up into this sort of company previously, including when well-beaten in last season’s Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival. Also beaten in a lower-class over hurdles at Ascot and may come up short if there’s a genuine grade 2 performer in the line-up.
Trained by the in-form Jane Williams and, though he was a much bigger-price that Tidal Flow when the two met at Newbury last time, he was still upsides the winner when falling two from home. May find this course more to his liking and no surprise if he goes close if last time’s fall hasn’t dented his confidence.
Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle 2019 Summary
With favourites having a 50% strike-rate in the race and the biggest price of any winner being just 8/1, it may pay to concentrate on the first few in the betting. Moonlighter and Stoney Mountain aren’t without chances but the form of Tidal Flow and Birchdale looks better. Tidal Flow is the sort of tenacious sort who could easily grind this out but, as he’s beaten two Nicky Henderson trained horses so far this season, you have to think that Henderson has a decent idea of the standard of horse needed to beat him. Therefore, Birchdale can hopefully add his name to the list of winning favourites.
Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle 2019 Tip