Cheltenham – Ballymore Hurdle: Unbeaten high-class novice too good for the field


RACING anorak Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) analyses the field for the opening race on Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival, the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

1:30 Cheltenham | Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle | ITV1

The opener to Day 2 is the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and this is a race I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Partly because it’s generally won by a high-class novice, but mainly as it another chance to see the brilliant Samcro (8/11 BetBright) in action.

Next Destination (7/2 BetBright) is a very good novice hurdler. He was placed in the Champion Bumper and is now a Grade 1-winning hurdler from the red-hot Willie Mullins yard.

The fact he is available at 7/2 tells you the task he faces here, and though he is the most likely to challenge the winner, I would be surprised if he’s good enough to beat the favourite.

Samcro has the potential to be anything. He’s unbeaten, he’s started odds-on in every race and he’s looked better with each start. His trainer has made no secret of how highly he rates him and he expects this to be a stepping stone to greatness.

Yes he’s odds-on, yes the stable had a bad opening day, but I have backed him and I expect to see him win.

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1:30 Cheltenham | Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle – Samcro to win (8/11 BetBright)


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I grew up watching Hearts games with my dad and playing football at every opportunity so betting on it was the logical next step! Football coupons became a Saturday ritual and it introduced me into the world of horse racing. I started watching it on a regular basis, and after Galileo's Derby win in 2001 I was hooked. I follow both flat and national hunt racing attending the northern meetings when possible.

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