Cheltenham Ante-Post Tips 2024: Back Ballyburn… for the Supreme

 | January 17 | 

4 mins read

Cheltenham racecourse races generic scaled

For me, this is the best novice hurdler around - but I disagree with the consensus about his 2024 Cheltenham Festival target.

Cheltenham Ante-Post Tips 2024

  • Ballyburn @ 7/1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle

It's not as strong as it was immediately after his maiden hurdle victory at Leopardstown over Christmas, but there seems to be a belief that Willie Mullins will send Ballyburn to the Baring Bingham Novices' Hurdle (former Ballymore).

The six-year-old is 7/2f for the opener on the Wednesday of the Cheltenham Festival, but I fancy he'll turn up in the Supreme exactly 24 hours earlier.

Naturally, many are of the opposite opinion given this horse is bred for a trip and was beaten over the minimum distance on his hurdling debut before improving significantly when tried over further next time out.

I don't think it's quite that simple, though. There's many reasons other than the greater test of stamina that explain the improvement shown between his defeat to Gordon Elliott's Firefox at Fairyhouse in early December and his 25L trouncing of Cleatus Poolaw at Leopardstown.

It's quite clear that Ballyburn was undercooked going into that clash with Firefox. Connections were unusually lowkey about his chances beforehand and his weakness in the pre-race market told the same story.

Firefox, meanwhile, was race-fit and dictated things from the front, turning the contest into a sprint-finish which was always going to suit him best.

It's also worth noting that Mullins runners improving substantially between their first and second run has been a constant theme throughout the season.

And boy, did this horse do just that. I thought his performance at Leopardstown was immense.

He didn't beat superstars, but he did so in some style, clocking a quicker time than the 135-rated, second-season novice Jetara, who was carrying 12lbs less, in the G3 Mares Hurdle immediately after.

Factoring in opposition, times and the manner of victory, I think that was as good as anything we've seen from this season's crop of novice hurdlers.

He's highly-likely to return to Leopardstown for the Dublin Racing Festival next, with two Grade One entries - over 2m and 2m6f. The latter, which is more of an Albert Bartlett trial, seems unlikely. Recent support for stablemate Predators Gold for that race adds weight to that suspicion.

For me, it's odds-on he goes to the two-miler - and with a leading chance too. It doesn't look the best renewal, and I'd rate Ballyburn a very likely winner.

Mullins has won the last five renewals. Four of those went on to contest the Supreme (two won it) and only one, Sir Gerhard, headed to the then-Ballymore. That was only due to the presence of the keen-going Dysart Dynamo too.

I thought Mullins' comments after Ballyburn's maiden win were also a bit of a tell as to his next steps. He said:

"We'll see what his next race will be. We have a lot of staying types in the Lawlor's Of Naas so we won't make any decisions until after we've seen the Naas race."

Since he had the 1-2 at Naas courtesy of Readin Tommy Wrong and Ile Atlantique, who were over seven lengths clear of the rest of the field, the Closutton maestro already has a strong grip on the Baring Bingham market.

On the other hand, he's a bit light in the Supreme. He has Mystical Power, who currently heads the betting after landing the Moscow Flyer in impressive fashion last weekend, but he's owned by JP McManus and therefore will be ridden by Mark Walsh.

Paul Townend will want a good chance in the curtain-raiser and, if things play out as I've suggested, Ballyburn could be the one - and in that case he won't be anywhere near 7/1, that's for sure.

Ballyburn at 7/1 to win the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival

Stay tuned to Betfred Insights for more Cheltenham Tips as we build-up to the 2024 Festival

Share Article

(Visited 480 times, 1 visits today)