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Cheltenham Gallagher Hurdle tip (1345): Ballyburn to romp home with Handstands in his rear-view mirror

The Festival’s opening day was dominated by Willie Mullins-trained short-priced favourites, and that trend looks set to continue on day two when Ballyburn lines up for the Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle.

(Due to the abandonment of the Cross-Country Chase, this race time has been moved from 13:30 to 13:45)

13:45 (due off at 13:45): Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle (2 miles 5 furlongs)

A two-time bumper winner a year ago, Ballyburn had to give second best to Firefox on his hurdling debut three months ago, but he quickly found his way, romping home by a combined 32 lengths in his two subsequent outings at Leopardstown.

The latter of those victories saw him ease seven lengths clear of Slade Steel, who franked that form by landing the Supreme Hurdle here in a memorable Festival curtain-raiser.

There have been whispers about the six-year-old becoming a future Champion Hurdler, and anything close to that level of performance here should see him land the odds easily under Paul Townend. 

Planet Sport Bet: Bet £20+ cash on any runner in the race and if the favourite wins (including joint), get a £5 Free Bet!


Unless combined into a forecast, the favourite’s short price offers little betting value for the casual punter, but it does ensure that the remaining seven runners are available at a decent price, and as long as there are no withdrawals that means the minor places are up for grabs at decent each-way odds.

Four of those seven also hail from the ubiquitous Mullins yard, with Ile Atlantique expected to offer the sternest challenge, but we’re going to look for place value beyond the Master Of Closutton.

Jingko Blue won nicely at Sandown last month and should be even more useful in the hands of Nico De Boinville, but with doubts currently surrounding the current form of Nicky Henderson’s runners, we’re swerving him in favour of one of Ben Pauling’s charges.

Pauling is enjoying a successful campaign, and has eased Handstands into his first season with one outing a month since December, all of them culminating in a visit to the winning circles at Hereford, Newcastle and Huntingdon respectively.


Suggested bet: Handstands each-way in the 13:30 (13:45) at Cheltenham


Harry Cobden took the reins for the last of those wins, seeing off Listed company that included the highly-rated Jango Baie, and he displayed his appetite for a stamina test with plenty of scope for further improvement.

Cobden’s Festival got off to a dismal start in day one’s Ultima, when Trelawne failed to make it past the second obstacle, while Liari was later pulled up in the Fred Winter, so Planet Sport Bet’s popular racing ambassador will be hoping to make more of an impact on day two.

He has a good chance on Stay Away Fay in the second race, but Handstands might just give him an encouraging start for a yard who won this race back in 2017 (the only British-trained winner in the last decade).

READ MORE: Harry Cobden’s Planet Sport Bet Blog - some great chances on Day Two 

Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle key stats

Top 3 trainers (last 20 years)

  • Willie Mullins - 38 runners with 6 winners and 12 places
  • Nigel Twiston-Davies - 11 runners with 2 winners
  • Gordon Elliott - 9 runners with 2 winners and 2 place

Top 3 jockeys (last 20 years)

  • Paul Townend - 11 rides with 2 winners and 4 places
  • Rachael Blackmore - 4 rides with 1 winner and 1 place
  • Sam Twiston-Davies - 5 rides with 1 winner

Past 5 winners of the Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle

  • 2019 City Island 8/1
  • 2020 Envoi Allen 4/7F
  • 2021 Bob Olinger 6/4F
  • 2022 Sir Gerhard 8/11F
  • 2023 Impaire Et Passe 5/2 

Britain v Ireland

  • Ireland - 13 winners, 20 places from 99 runners
  • Britain - 7 winners, 19 places from 167 runners

READ MORE: Cheltenham Festival ITV racing tips: Best bets for Day Two on Wednesday March 13


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