Sports

Favourite Sir Gerhard to face eight rivals in Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle


Hot favourite Sir Gerhard is set to face eight rivals in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Winner of the Champion Bumper at last year’s festival, the Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old is unbeaten in two starts over hurdles, with both victories coming at Leopardstown.

He won a Grade One at the Dublin Racing Festival last month, and connections left it late before deciding whether to run in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle or step up in trip in the Cotswolds.

Cheveley Park director Richard Thompson revealed late last week the Ballymore was the favoured option, however, and Sir Gerhard is now odds-on to provide his trainer with a fifth victory in the race.

The Jeremy gelding is joined by two stablemates in Haxo and Whatdeawant, while Gordon Elliott relies upon Three Stripe Life, who was a six-length runner-up to Sir Gerhard in early February.

Journey With Me puts his unbeaten record on the line for Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore, who combined to win last year’s renewal with Bob Olinger.

The home team is headed by the Paul Nicholls-trained Stage Star, who has been kept fresh since winning the Challow Hurdle at Newbury in December.

Hemlock (Tom Gibney), I Am Maximus (Nicky Henderson) and Scarface (Colin Tizzard) complete the line-up.

Stable star

Nicholls ace Bravemansgame and Lucinda Russell’s stable star Ahoy Senor renew rivalry in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

Bravemansgame was an emphatic winner when the pair clashed in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on St Stephen’s Day, and both horses have won since – Bravemansgame at Newbury and Ahoy Senor at Wetherby.

Nicholls has a second string to his bow in Threeunderthrufive, while L’Homme Presse is four from four over fences and is stepped up to an extended three miles for the first time by Venetia Williams.

Mullins runs both Capodanno and Gaillard Du Mesnil.

Tiger Roll bids to go out in a blaze of glory in the Glenfarclas Chase.

Gordon Elliott’s dual Grand National hero is set to be retired after he bids for a fourth win in this cross-country event and sixth festival victory overall under Davy Russell.

His 15 rivals include stablemate Delta Work and Enda Bolger’s pair of Prengarde and Shady Operator.

Well fancied

The Bosses Oscar (Elliott) heads a maximum field of 26 set to go to post for the Coral Cup. Leading hopes include The Shunter (Emmet Mullins), Saint Felicien (Elliott) and Unexpected Party (Dan Skelton), but the well fancied Good Risk At All (Sam Thomas) is first reserve.

Last year’s winner Sky Pirate (Jonjo O’Neill) leads the way in the Grand Annual, while red-hot favourite Facile Vega is one of seven runners for Willie Mullins in the Champion Bumper.

Ireland’s champion trainer, who is bidding for a 12th win in the race, also runs Houlanbatordechais, James’s Gate, Madmansgame, Redemption Day, Seabank Bistro and Viva Devito.

The biggest threat to the Mullins battalion appears to be the Elliott-trained American Mike.



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