Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle: Hermes Allen 8/1 for Cheltenham Festival success for Paul Nicholls | Race News
Hermes Allen put in a sparkling performance to remain unbeaten since joining Paul Nicholls in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Bought for £350,000 after winning an Irish point-to-point, he was an easy winner on his debut for Nicholls at Stratford in October.
However, this second year represented an entirely different test, as Willie Mullins with Hubrisko and Gordon Elliott in the form of Music Drive were represented – as well as Nigel Twiston-Davies’ promising bumper winner Weveallbeencaught.
Sent a 9-4 chance, Harry Cobden was keen to make it a real contest over the five-year-old and ensured a decent pace throughout, but coming down the hill towards the penultimate challengers Irish occupied an important place.
Nicholls can’t do much at the moment, however, and Paul Townend soon lost control over Hubrisko and passed out while Music Drive couldn’t hear himself either.
Hermes Allen bounded clear to win by nine lengths and Sky Bet narrowed the winner to 10/1 for Ballymore in March.
“Aidan Murphy bought it for John (Hales) last spring and it was a disappointment. It didn’t run, it was backlogged and didn’t show much. didn’t show much before Stratford,” Nicholls said.
“Obviously he had a big prize and everyone thought he was good so I was a little worried at home and then he went to Stratford and surprised us and won the way he did. Bryony (Frost) said he was a decent horse there, he’s just green and childish.
“From that day at Stratford to today he got better and better, the way he worked, the way he jumped, everything.”
He continued: “The Challow is a race that I like to win, we have a few who can possibly get into it, but you guys might run the best at it. Guys (owners, who also include Ged Mason and Sir Alex Ferguson) Would love to come back here in the spring and maybe it’s good enough, would do three miles on good ground or a little slower, I guess we can do that kind of trip.
“He’s an exciting horse and he’ll be an exciting hunter. There are a few who will improve from their first race, but he’s taken a big step forward.”
He added: “We changed the flow this year and tweaked a few things and that helped. They look great and run to the line.
“We had been fed for five years and sometimes I think you need a change. Last year I was never happy that the horses looked great and we had a spell in the season where they all ran terribly and i never found out why for me i figured it could only be a thing in my mind so we changed it and its the best thing we have ever done.
First Cheltenham victory for Tizzard Jr
Joe Tizzard has been in the Cheltenham winners’ enclosure as jockey and assistant trainer – and now after the success at Amarillo Sky on Friday he has celebrated victory as a trainer in his own right.
“It’s great to win here. Cheltenham has always been a place I’ve loved and we’ve loved as a family,” said Tizzard.
“He hung on very well. He’s a good two-mile runner. We’ll choose our path and he’s a beautiful progressive horse, who proved today that he’s just on the right side of the handicap and j hope he continues to improve.”