BALLYMORE PROPERTIES UNVEILED AS NEW FESTIVAL SPONSOR
SEAN MULRYAN'S PROPERTY GROUP SUPPORTS SIX PRESTIGIOUS NOVICE HURDLE RACES
Cheltenham Racecourse is pleased to unveil Ballymore Properties as the new sponsor of the prestigious Grade One hurdle, formerly known as the Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle, which will be run on Wednesday, March 14, as the Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle.
The race has a record prize fund of £120,000, which is an increase of 20 per cent over last year's total for the race.
As well as supporting the Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle, the influential leader in urban development and regeneration is extending its commitment to jump racing this season by supporting a series of Pattern novice hurdle races, which are traditional stepping-stones to the two mile, five furlong novice hurdle championship at The Festival in March.
The five other premier contests that now carry the Ballymore Properties name are the Grade Two Ballymore Ontario Tower Novices' Hurdle at Chepstow, which has already been run, the Grade Two Winter Novices' Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday, December 2, the Grade One Challow Novices' Hurdle at Newbury on Friday, December 29, the Grade Two Leamington Novices' Hurdle at Warwick on Saturday, January 13, and the Grade Two Classic Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham on Wednesday, January 27, all of which will have the Ballymore Properties or associated suffix.
Ballymore Properties is named after the village of Ballymore Eustace in Ireland where renowned racehorse owner Sean Mulryan founded the company in 1982.
Originally established to provide a construction service to people who wanted to build their own homes, the company has continued to expand. By 1995, Ballymore Properties had constructed and sold over 600 apartments in London's Docklands and continues to be a major developer in the city, with the Ontario Tower, Pan Peninsula and Arrowhead Quays just three of its latest projects. Ballymore Properties is now spreading its expertise in creating large-scale mixed sites across Europe.
Mulryan's dark blue and yellow colours have become an increasingly familiar sight on racecourses in recent seasons and were carried to third place in the 2006 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup by his high-class chaser Forget The Past.
The Mulryan-owned Ambobo scored a famous success in the Grade Two Classic Novices' Hurdle, which is now sponsored by Ballymore Properties, at Cheltenham in January, 2005, when trained in France by Arnaud Chaille-Chaille.
The French handler has several Mulryan horses in his care, notably the brilliant pair of Mid Dancer and Cyrlight, and the exciting Grade One-winning four-year-old chaser, Or Noir De Somoza.
Mid Dancer suffered defeat in the Grade One Irish Independent Arkle Trophy at this year's Festival, but subsequently won the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil in June. He is being aimed at the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Mulryan has also tasted Group One success on the Flat with the Andre Fabre-trained Linda's Lad, who won the 2005 Criterium de Saint-Cloud and contested this year's Vodafone Derby at Epsom.
The Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle has a distinguished history as a path for future champions and its roll of honour includes many of the great names in Jump racing, with the legendary Istabraq (1997) and Hardy Eustace (2003) landing the prize in the past decade en route to Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle glory.
The Grade One contest was introduced to The Festival in 1971 as the Aldsworth Hurdle, and that first running went to the Tom Jones-trained Midsprite, ridden by Macer Gifford. Sun Alliance, who merged with Royal Insurance in 1996, became the sponsor in 1974 and enjoyed a long association with the race up to the 2006 Festival, after which the insurance company decided to concentrate on the equally longstanding Royal & SunAlliance Chase.
The 2005 renewal of the Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle was of a particularly high standard as the Noel Meade-trained Nicanor ran on strongly to conquer the previously undefeated Denman, who had taken the Grade One Challow Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in January, by two and a half lengths, with the prolific winning mare Refinement six lengths further back in third.
The Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle has provided many great Festival memories and Danoli's victory in the 1994 race has gone down in Cheltenham folklore. Trained in Ireland by the relatively unheralded Tom Foley, Danoli was the subject of a massive gamble that saw him sent off the 7/4 favourite before returning victorious to a hero's reception.
Danoli subsequently landed two renewals of the Grade One Aintree Hurdle and was placed in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle before proving himself a top-class chaser with victory in the 1997 Grade One Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Leopardstown.
Willie Wumpkins won the Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle in 1973 for Irish trainer Adrian Maxwell and went on to clinch an unprecedented hat-trick of wins in the Pertemps Hurdle Final (1979-1981), while Davy Lad's success in 1975 preceded his totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup triumph two years later.
Sabin Du Loir, who went on to become a top hurdler/chaser for Martin Pipe, won the contest in 1983, while the brilliant trio of French Holly, Barton and Monsignor were wide-margin winners between 1998 and 2000.
Istabraq's victory in 1997 was the first of four consecutive Festival triumphs that included three Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdles. Hardy Eustace went close to emulating that feat after winning the Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle in 2003, but could only finish a respectable third behind Brave Inca in March as he bid for a Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle hat-trick.
Cheltenham Racecourse's Managing Director, Edward Gillespie, commented: "Cheltenham is thrilled to welcome Ballymore Properties as the sponsor of one of The Festival's most prestigious races.
"Following the decision by Royal & SunAlliance to focus attention solely on the Grade One Royal & SunAlliance Chase after 32 years of generously supporting the two mile, five furlong novice hurdling championship, we were keen to find a suitable sponsor with a respected reputation.
"Ballymore Properties encapsulates what we desire in a sponsor and has generously boosted the prize fund for this year's race to a record £120,000. The company's decision to also support the five British novice hurdles that are traditional stepping stones to the Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle emphasises its commitment to the sport.
"Ballymore Properties is a welcome addition to The Festival sponsorship fold and we look forward to working side by side to ensure that jump racing at Cheltenham remains the best in the world."
The Festival takes place at Cheltenham Racecourse, the home of Jump racing, on four days between Tuesday, March 13 and Friday, March 17, 2007.
As a Grade One race, the Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle is registered as the Baring Bingham, Cheltenham Racecourse's founder.
NEW ALCO PENCILLED IN FOR BOYLESPORTS.COM GOLD CUP
- IVOIRE DE BEAULIEU ON TARGET FOR CROSS-COUNTRY REPEAT
- MURPHY PLEASED WITH POSSIBLE BOYLEPOKER.COM CHASE CANDIDATES
Trainer Ferdy Murphy is hoping that Paddy Power Gold Cup third New Alco can go two places better in the £150,000 Boylesports.com Gold Cup over two miles, five furlongs on day two of Cheltenham's Boylesports International, Saturday, December 9.
The Boylesports.com Gold Cup has received a £40,000 prize money boost thanks to the generous support of Boylesports, Ireland's fastest growing independent bookmaker, and is one of the feature races of the Boylesports International, which commences on Friday, December 8.
New Alco stayed on well to finish three and a half lengths third to Exotic Dancer in the two mile, four and a half furlong £110,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup on November 11, and Murphy believes there is more to come from the five-year-old.
Murphy revealed this morning: "New Alco will have an entry in the Boylesports.com Gold Cup. I was very pleased with his last run at Cheltenham and he's in grand form. He's only five and I think he'll be one of those that will keep on improving.
"The ground doesn't make a difference to him. Whether it's good or soft, it wouldn't be a worry."
Entries for the Boylesports.com Gold Cup close tomorrow, Wednesday, November 22. All other races at the Boylesports International close at the six-day stage.
Murphy is hoping to field a strong team at the Boylesports International, which stages two days of excellent racing at the spectacular home of Jump racing.
The North Yorkshire handler is looking for a repeat victory with cross-country specialist Ivoire De Beaulieu in the £23,000 Sporting Index Handicap Chase on Friday, December 8. The seven-year-old French import took last year's thrilling renewal by two and a half lengths from Shady Lad.
Ivoire De Beaulieu heads to the three mile, seven furlong cross-country contest after finishing eighth in the Sporting Index Chase at Cheltenham's Open Meeting - his first outing since Boxing Day, 2005.
Murphy reported: "Ivoire de Beaulieu will go for the Sporting Index Handicap Chase again. He came out of his last race fine with not a bother on him and I'm happy with him.
"All of my horses returned great from The Open at Cheltenham. They were all sound and are in good form."
The feature race of Friday's high-quality seven-race card is the Boylepoker.com Chase over three miles, one and a half furlongs, which carries fantastic doubled prize money of £100,000.
Murphy is hoping to run exciting young chaser Another Promise - who won his first two starts over fences before falling in a good quality Bangor handicap won by Bob Bob Bobbin on November 8 - alongside 2005 Scottish Grand National winner Joe's Edge.
The trainer said: "Another Promise and Joe's Edge will be entered in the Boylepoker.com Chase. I'm pleased with them both and, after Cheltenham, the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby will be the aim for Another Promise."
Saturday's superb seven-race card also features the £200,000 Boylesports.com International over two miles and a furlong, which was won last year by the brilliant Noel Meade-trained Harchibald, who could hopefully return this year, with Greatwood Hurdle victor Detroit City set to be one of his top-class rivals.
The Grade Two Boylesports.com International is one of the season's premier races for Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle candidates. Boylesports has transformed the prize money and is also offering a huge £200,000 bonus (£180,000 to the owner, £10,000 to the trainer & £10,000 to the yard's stable staff) to any horse that can win the Boylesports.com International and the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on March 13.
The Boylesports International will be staged on Cheltenham's New Course, which has not been used since May.