Past Winners » Ballyhill


I thought that Burtons Well would be interesting here, back on soft ground, after his promising run at Stratford in October, but I didn’t expect that he would be favourite.  He could well win, but I am leaving him alone at 4/1.

Old friend Top Gamble is also interesting, he ran well for a long way behind Un De Sceaux in the Hilly Way Chase last time, and he will have the soft ground that he relishes.  He is down to a mark of 154 now, and James Bowen takes off another 5lb.  He has finished third in each of the last two renewals of this race, and he was tempting, but I think that this trip on heavy ground is at the outer reaches of his stamina limit and, at a bigger price, I prefer Ballyhill.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ horse was travelling well in a decent handicap chase at Aintree last time when he fell at the 10th fence.  It was too far out to conjecture as to how he would have fared, but he had been doing everything very easily up until that point.

At worst, it was a step up on his previous run, when he produced a lack-lustre effort at Aintree in November.  But it could have been even better than that.

The handicapper obviously had no option but to leave his handicap mark unchanged at 133, and that is a mark that could under-estimate him.  His early-season form is top notch.  He finished second to Sceau Royal at Warwick in October, and Sceau Royal won the Henry VIII Chase and is now second favourite for the Arkle.

Then Ballyhill finished a close-up third behind North Hill Harvey and the same Sceau Royal at Cheltenham in October, and North Hill Harvey followed up by winning the Grade 2 Arkle Trial at Cheltenham in November.  That is high-class novice chasing form.

He has just turned seven and he has run in just four chases, so he has lots of potential for progression.  He goes well at Cheltenham, he handles soft ground and he won over two miles and five furlongs over hurdles.  He has lots in his favour.

He does lack chasing experience, but he was travelling and jumping well among seasoned handicappers at Aintree last time before his departure, so hopefully he will be able to get into a nice racing rhythm from early today.  And Jamie Bargary is good value for his 3lb claim.