Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle
1st (8) Mikael D'Haguenet 5/2 fav
Maestro Mikael Swoops in Ballymore
Mikael D’Haguenet justified his connections’ high opinions when - sent off the 5/2 favourite - he came home a length and three-quarters in front of Karabak under Ruby Walsh in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
Trainer Willie Mullins hopes the five-year-old could be a totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup horse of the future and said: "He's 17 hands and a big, long angular horse - I would say a typical French-bred. It took him years to mature but when I started working him at home he just showed a gear and, from day one, he has shown me that he is better than I thought was possible. This is unbelievable.
"I think that he adjusted his stride coming down the hill. We have watched him all winter on really heavy ground and he had a huge, high action. Today on better ground, I saw him going down to the start and after jumping the first and second - he had a long low action like a good ground horse. It was as if he changed his stride and very few horses can do that. I don’t think I’ve seen another one do it.
“When he won at Naas, Ruby said he was a machine and might one day win a Gold Cup and I don’t see any reason to change that view after today. He's probably my best chance of having a Gold Cup horse - I hope he can come back here in two or three years over fences.
“I’d favour going to Punchestown with him next and then back to run in France but he was bought to go chasing and that’s what he’ll do next year. This was a bonus! I’d see him as an RSA type of horse next year.”
Walsh added: "He's a machine. He travelled far too well all the way and even at the top of the hill when I got a gap that I didn't want - he just charged into it.
“When the gap between China Rock and Diamond Harry came, he just shot through it - in two strides it was over. That’s the sign of an exceptional horse. He’s very special.
“He had a look at the inside wing of the second last flight and missed it but when they closed up around him he came back on the bridle again. He's a cracking horse. He handled softer ground and he is a wonderful jumper.
"He has stamina, he has speed, he has heart - he has everything. He has a wonderful turn of foot.
“He didn’t surprise me in the slightest and I couldn’t understand why people were saying things like the trip was too short for him. He’s never done anything wrong either on the track or in his work at home. Hopefully next year he’ll take to fences.”
Mikaeal D’Haguenet is just 5/1 with Boylesports and Cashmans for next year’s RSA Chase and quoted at 8/1 by Paddy Power to win the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup at any time in the future.
KING DISAPPOINTED, HARRY DOWN BUT NOT OUT
"They seemed to go a very steady pace and then sprinted which really wouldn’t suit our horse. He’s run well, but..." said King, who clearly thought that this was a race they could have won.
Diamond Harry, a further three and three quarters lengths back in third, may have lost his unbeaten record in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle but his trainer Nick Williams was not too disappointed.
Williams said of the 4/1 shot: “The betting suggested there was nothing between the first three horses home and the other two have just had the edge on the day.
“That is five sound races he has run now this season. He was up in grade today and has run another solid race. Timmy Murphy did say that he emptied a bit today and thinks that the horse is a bit better than he showed today. However, it was still a very good run.
“That’s definitely his last race of the season, we always said that would be it for the year after Cheltenham. He will go over fences next season.”
Previous results - BALLYMORE PROPERTIES NOVICES’ HURDLE
2008-WINNER-FIVEFORTHREE 6-11-07 Owner-Olde Crowbars Syndicate; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-7/1
2007-WINNER-MASSINI’S MAGUIRE 6-11-07 Owner-Alan
Peterson; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-20/1
2006-WINNER-NICANOR 5-11-07 Owner-Des Sharkey; Trainer-Noel Meade IRE;
Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-17/2
REFUGE 5-11-07 Owner-Andrea & Graham
Wylie; Trainer-Howard Johnson; Jockey-Graham Lee; SP-17/2
2004-WINNER-FUNDAMENTALIST 6-11-07 Owner-Gripen; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies;
Jockey-Carl Llewellyn; SP-12/1
2003-WINNER-HARDY EUSTACE 5-11-07 Owner-Laurence Byrne; Trainer-Dessie
Hughes IRE; Jockey-Kieran Kelly; SP-6/1
2002-WINNER-GALILEO 6-11-07 Owner-Sharon Nelson, Allan Stennett, Terry
Warner; Trainer-Tom George; Jockey-Jason Maguire; SP-12/1
2001-Cancelled (Foot and Mouth Disease)
2000-WINNER-MONSIGNOR 6-11-07 Owner-Malcolm Denmark; Trainer-Mark Pitman;
Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-5/4 Fav
1999-WINNER-BARTON 6-11-07 Owner-Stan Clarke; Trainer-Tim Easterby;
Jockey-Lorcan Wyer, SP-2/1 Fav
1998-WINNER-FRENCH HOLLY 7-11-07 Owner-Kieran Flood; Trainer-Ferdy Murphy;
Jockey-Andrew Thornton; SP-2/1 Fav
1997-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 5-11-07 Owner-J P McManus;
IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-6/5 Fav
BALLYMORE PROPERTIES NOVICES’ HURDLE ROLL OF HONOUR
Year Winner Age/Wt Jockey Trainer Owner SP Ran
BALLYMORE PROPERTIES NOVICES’ HURDLE FACTS AND FIGURES
1. The Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle was introduced to The Festival in 1971 as the Aldsworth Hurdle. Sun Alliance, who merged with Royal Insurance in 1996, took it on in 1974, together with the Sun Alliance Chase, having previously sponsored the Foxhunter Chase. Ballymore Properties sponsored the contest for the first time in 2007.
2. The Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle, along with the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and the RSA Chase, are acknowledged as championship races for the staying novice hurdler and chaser.
3. Only one horse has won both the Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle and the RSA Chase. The West Awake took the hurdle race in 1987 and the chase event a year later.
4. The smallest field for the Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle was 14 in 2000, when there were three non-runners. Previously the lowest number of runners was 15 in 1973, the year of Willie Wumpkins, who later dominated the Coral Golden Hurdle Final at The Festival with three straight wins from 1979-81. There were also 15 runners in 2004, 2007 and 2008. The largest field was 29, achieved in 1979, 1984 and 1991. The current safety limit is 24.
5. The Irish-trained 1994 winner, Danoli, was the subject of a massive gamble and was sent off the 7/4 favourite. The shortest-priced winner was another Irish victor, Mr Kildare, at 8/11 in 1978. Favourites have been successful in 12 of the 36 runnings. The longest-priced winner was 40/1 chance Even Dawn in the second running in 1972.
6. The Irish have an excellent record in the Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle with 14 wins, including six consecutive victories from 1973-78.
7. Aidan O’Brien, Martin Pipe, Oliver Sherwood, Mick O'Toole, Edward O'Grady and Nigel Twiston-Davies have each won two Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdles. Oliver Sherwood and Dessie Hughes are the two trainers to have also won the race as jockeys. Sherwood was in the saddle on Venture To Cognac in 1979, while his training wins were with The West Awake (1987) and Rebel Song (1988). Dessie Hughes was twice successful as a jockey with Davy Lad (1975) and Parkhill (1976) and sent out Hardy Eustace (2003) to victory as a trainer.
8. The fastest time for the winning horse was 4m 52.0s set by Monsignor in 2000, beating the 4m 56.2s of Regal Ambition in 1990.
9. Istabraq (1997) and Hardy Eustace (2003) both won this race en route to victory in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle while Davy Lad (1975) went on to take the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.
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