Novice hurdler Hermes Allen showcased his Cheltenham Festival credentials when he landed the final Grade One contest of 2022 at Newbury on December 31st. The unbeaten hurdler kept up his 100% record under Rules with victory in the Challow Novices’ Hurdle.
On what was testing ground at the Berkshire racecourse, the six-year-old did not need to come off the bridle, as he cruised to victory for a comfortable success. The win has elevated him into one of the leading novice hurdlers in the UK and Ireland this season.
Foot-perfect Hermes Allen simply dazzles in the Grade 2 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle @CheltenhamRaces for @PFNicholls and @CobdenHarry ��� pic.twitter.com/YKSjYMfjZS
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) November 11, 2022
As a result of that Grade One triumph, Hermes Allen is now the 11/4 favorite for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. Horse racing bets can already be taken for the race at the Cheltenham Festival in March which looks to be his target from here.
Given how visually impressive Paul Nicholls’ runner was at Newbury, he is likely to be one of the popular selections in the horse racing predictions for the biggest meeting of the year in March. That was just his third run over hurdles, so more improvement is likely.
The test in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle is likely to involve taking on some of the leading novice hurdlers from Ireland, many of which remain unexposed. One of those could be Gaelic Warrior from Willie Mullins’ yard. He was successful by 86 lengths in a maiden contest at Tramore earlier in the campaign.
Irish Champion Trainer Mullins is expected to have a strong hand in the Ballymore race. Impair Et Passe and Grangeclare West are set to join their stablemate as they bid to deny Hermes Allen a victory for the home team. Mullins has won the novice hurdle contest a record five times, including with Sir Gerhard in 2022, so he knows exactly the type of horse needed for this race.
Challow Winner One of Many Stars in Ditcheat Yard
Champion Trainer Nicholls has made a fantastic start to the 2022/23 campaign as he bids to defend his Trainers Championship. Hermes Allen was just one of his stars who shone over the festive and new year period on the track.
Bravemansgame had a similar profile to Hermes Allen two seasons ago, and he was victorious in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day at Kempton. His next assignment is likely to be the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
Bravemansgame is much too good in the Charlie Hall for @CobdenHarry and @PFNicholls! ��� pic.twitter.com/qEH0FTsgG0
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) October 29, 2022
The second-season chaser began his campaign with a win in the Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. He has shown he has the stamina to compete in the 3m division, but his next assignment will be his toughest to date, as not only will he be stepping up to 3m2½f, but he also will be taking on the Irish star chaser Galopin Des Champs.
Despite having some talented horses around him at his yard, Hermes Allen has the potential to end the campaign not just as the most exciting novice in Nicholls’ yard, but also as one of the biggest stars in the sport. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him replicate some of Bravemansgame’s success when he switched to fences next season either.