Bob Olinger heads for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle a fresh horse having being saved for Cheltenham since winning at Naas in January.
Trainer Henry de Bromhead did not see the need to go to Leopardstown for the Dublin Racing Festival in February, after the six-year-old won the Grade One Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle.
“He seems great and we’re delighted with him, and hopefully Cheltenham will suit,” said the County Waterford-based handler.
“He’s had three runs and he won his Grade One at Naas – the Lawlor’s is a really good race – so I didn’t feel any need to go to the Dublin Festival with him.
“He’s a good moving horse and works well on good-ish ground, so hopefully he should be fine.”
Gaillard Du Mesnil confirmed his place in the field when capturing the Grade One Nathaniel Lacy And Partners Novice Hurdle over two and three-quarter miles at Leopardstown last month.
Trainer Willie Mullins believes this slightly shorter trip will suit the five-year-old.
“He hasn’t done much wrong. We ran over two-six last time because we didn’t want to go back to two miles with him,” he said.
“I prefer this distance, and I think the pace there will suit us. He’s a horse that I like a lot and I think he’s improving all the time.
“Danny (Mullins) was very good on Stattler (in the race at Leopardstown). He got the fractions right and nearly stole the race himself, but when push came to shove, Gaillard Du Mesnil showed what he’s made of and hopefully he’ll be able to do that at Cheltenham, too.”
Paul Nicholls believes Bravemansgame has a big chance and would not swap the Challow Hurdle winner for anything else in the race.
“He’s a very relaxed horse and not keen. He’s a good ride and a class horse,” said the Ditcheat handler.
“The Ballymore is a hard race to win. Denman got beat in the race and there are some good horses in it.
“He’s definitely improving physically all the time and the best will come from him when he jumps a fence in the future, but I think he’s going into the race with a leading chance. He’s a lovely horse for the future.”
Joseph O’Brien is happy with the improvement shown by Keskonrisk in just two races over hurdles.
“Keskonrisk has pleased us with his progression so far this season,” O’Brien told Betfair.
“He got himself out of trouble to make a winning hurdling debut at Fairyhouse in November and we threw him into the deep end in Grade One novice hurdle company at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting after that.
“Considering how much of a step up in class that was for him, we were very happy with his effort in finishing third to Appreciate It. We had a good think about which race to send him to at this meeting and we opted to go up in trip for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
“He isn’t a flashy work horse at home, so it’s hard to know where the ceiling of his improvement will be, but there should be more to come from him. This looks a very good renewal of this race, but hopefully he will be up to competing.”
Nicky Martin’s Bear Ghylls is unbeaten in three races over jumps and takes a big step up from maiden, novice and handicap company to the top level.
The Kim Bailey-trained Does He Know and Ben Pauling’s Optimise Prime complete the seven runners.