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Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase
Listed, Cheltenham 17:30
£60,000 added, 5yo plus,
2m 4f 78y, Class 1    
Tuesday 15th March 2016

Cheltenham £50 Bonus

1 Ballyalton 12/1
2 Bouvreuil 14/1
3 Double Shuffle 8/1
4 Bridgets Pet 33/1
20 ran Distances: ½l, 4½l, 2½l
TIME 5m 8.70s (slow by 10.70s)

Ballyalton lands the Novice Handicap Chase as the curtain falls on day one for Brian Hughes and Ian Williams

© Racehorse Photos

Ballyalton's battling victory in the final race of the day was a first at The Festival for trainer Ian Williams.

Ballyalton, owned by golfer Lee Westwood's father John, was second to Faugheen in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at the 2014 Festival, but has struggled since. He carried joint top weight and beat Bouvreuil by half a length.

An emotional Williams, who trains at Alvechurch in Worcestershire, said: "That wasn't bad for a poor jumper, was it?! He's so good this horse, so good!

"For a horse that has a reputation for not being a great jumper, Brian [Hughes] has given him a great ride. He's ridden him with a lot of confidence; he threw him at one or two fences and the horse came for him.

"He didn't deserve to be here off a mark of 140, which gave me a lot of confidence, but he did have to jump, and jump he did.

"I thought we were beaten - I've been second here so many times and I was gutted to see one head him on the run-in. But he's fought back bravely."

When congratulated by Francois Doumen, to whom Williams was assistant trainer, he said: "It's not a Gold Cup yet but it's my Gold Cup!"

"Ballyalton made a terrible mistake at Ascot [when he fell on his last run] - it was a brave shout to come here and it was a brave ride from the jockey, and it's paid off really well.

"The beginning of this season was a disaster for him, and it was a bit of a shock to find he was still qualified to run in a 0-140 at the beginning of the Festival. It's great to have him here and I couldn't ask for a better result.

"He'll without doubt have another run this year. He loves better ground and he's been waiting for this time of year."

Ballyalton still holds an engagement in Friday's Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Hurdle.


Novices' Handicap Chase (Listed)
£60,000 added, 5yo plus, 2m 4f 78y, Class 1
20 ran
Going: Good to Soft, Soft in places

Pos D Horse SP Jockey Weight Trainer Age
1st Ballyalton (IRE) 12/1 B Hughes
Ian Williams 9
2nd ½ Bouvreuil (FR) 14/1 Sam Twiston-Davies
P F Nicholls 5
3rd Double Shuffle (IRE) 8/1 P J Brennan
T R George 6
4th Bridgets Pet (IRE) 33/1 S A Shortall (5)
A Fleming 9
5th 1 Twelve Roses 25/1 D Bass
K C Bailey 8
6th 1 Aloomomo (FR) 3/1f G Sheehan
W Greatrex 6
7th 9 Thomas Brown 8/1 N D Fehily
H Fry 7
8th On Tour (IRE) 22/1 Paul Moloney
Evan Williams 8
9th Amore Alato 12/1 Aidan Coleman
J Farrelly 7
10th hd Racing Pulse (IRE) 22/1 J J Burke
Miss R Curtis 7
11th ¾ Domesday Book (USA) 28/1 A E Lynch
H de Bromhead 6
12th 5 Jayo Time (IRE) 33/1 C Gethings (5)
Kerry Lee 7
13th Five In A Row (IRE) 25/1 Danny Cook
B Ellison 8
14th 17 Killala Quay 12/1 R Johnson
C E Longsdon 9
PU Katgary (FR) 20/1 Nick Scholfield
P F Nicholls 6
PU Fourth Act (IRE) 33/1 T Scudamore
C L Tizzard 7
F Willow's Saviour 10/1 Harry Skelton
D Skelton 9
F Rezorbi (FR) 20/1 Joshua Moore
Jonjo O'Neill 5
UR Mckinley 14/1 B J Cooper
W P Mullins 6
UR Javert (IRE) 16/1 Sean Bowen
Miss E C Lavelle 7


Ballyalton's chasing career blossomed in one race when he landed today's closing event on day one of The Cheltenham Festival, the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase.

"The Ian Williams-trained nine-year-old, joint top-weight for the race, chased home mighty Faugheen in the Neptune Novices' Hurdle at this meeting two years ago, but in four chase outings this season his form line gained an unseat, plus a heavy fall on his latest start at Ascot. Will Kennedy (twice), Richard Johnson and Aidan Coleman had all failed to get the best from the horse, but Brian Hughes made no mistake today, achieving his second Festival victory following a win two years ago in the Fred Winter Hurdle on Hawk High.

"Hughes said: "I probably didn't appreciate the last one, but I'm older now and I'll appreciate this one today.

"I spoke to Aidan, Dickie and Will about the horse, and Aidan said the horse jumped the first five or six fences really well until his fall [at Ascot]. He obviously learned from it, and when you look back at his form, especially against Faugheen, he had to have a chance today off a mark of 140.

"Ian said, 'pop him out to get a good position and go as easy as you can without putting a gun to his head'. It's probably not surprising that a horse of his ability travelled as well as he did. He had a look at the last when Sam [Twiston-Davies on runner-up Bouvreuil] came alongside but I always felt I could get back past him. Once in front he pricked his ears a little bit. He had to stick his neck out and did it well."


Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase Previous Results

2015-WINNER-IRISH CAVALIER 6-11-07 Owner-Andrew McIver; Trainer-Rebecca Curtis; Jockey-Paul Townend; SP-11/1
2ND-Thomas Crapper 8-11-04 Owner-apis.uk.com; Trainer-Robin Dickin; Jockey-Charlie Poste; SP-6/1 Fav
3RD-Generous Ransom 7-11-06 Owner-Sir Christopher & Lady Wates; Trainer-Nick Gifford; Jockey-Daryl Jacob; SP-8/1
4TH-Horizontal Speed 7-11-07 Owner-Favourites Racing Ltd; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-12/1
20 ran, Time-5m 6.70s, Dist-2½, ½, nk

2014-WINNER-PRESENT VIEW 6-11-07 Owner-Sir Chips Keswick; Trainer-Jamie Snowden; Jockey-Brendan Powell; SP-8/1
2ND-Attaglance 8-11-07 Owner-Mrs H Young, G Eifert, R Snyder; Trainer-Malcolm Jefferson; Jockey-Brian Hughes; SP-10/1
3RD-Pendra 6-11-07 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Charlie Longsdon; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-8/1
4TH-Ahyaknowyerself 8-11-05 Owner-G Carstairs & R Marker; Trainer-Dr Richard Newland; Jockey-Sam Twiston-Davies; SP-33/1
19 ran, Time- 5m 0.10s, Dist-½, 3, ½ 13/2 Jt Favs Art Of Logistics (13th) & Ericht (PU)

2013-WINNER-RAJDHANI EXPRESS 6-11-07 Owner-Robert Waley-Cohen; Trainer Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mr Sam Waley-Cohen;
2ND-Ackertac 8-11-09 Owner- Mark Aspey & Steve Catton; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Sam Twiston-Davies; SP-66/1
3RD-Ohio Gold 7-11-06 Owner-P M Warren; Trainer-Colin Tizzard; Jockey-Joe Tizzard; SP-16/1
4TH-Shangani 7-11-09 Owner-The Bellamy Partnership; Trainer-Venetia Williams; Jockey-Aidan Coleman; SP-6/1
20 ran, Time- 5m 16.00s, Dist-nk, 9, 1¾ 9/2 Fav Colour Squadron (5th)

2012-WINNER-HUNT BALL 7-12-00 Owner-Anthony Knott; Trainer-Keiran Burke; Jockey-Nick Scholfield; SP-13/2 Fav
2ND-White Star Line 8-11-07 Owner-Patsy Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Bryan Cooper; SP-14/1
3RD-Owen Glendower 7-11-09 Owner-The Ten From Seven; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Andrew Tinkler; SP-33/1
4TH-Battle Group 7-11-10 Owner-Jolly Boys Outing; Trainer-David Pipe; Jockey-Tom Scudamore; SP-33/1
20 ran, Time-5m 5.90s, Dist-8, 2, 1

2011-WINNER-DIVERS 7-11-04 Owner-The DPRP Divers Partnership; Trainer-Ferdy Murphy; Jockey-Graham Lee; SP-7/1
2ND-Quantitativeeasing 6-11-11 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-7/1
3RD-Tullamore Dew 9-11-11 Owner-Give Every Man His Due; Trainer-Nick Gifford; Jockey-Liam Treadwell; SP-13/2
4TH-Vino Griego 6-11-05 Owner-C E Stedman; Trainer-Gary Moore; Jockey-Jamie Moore; SP-20/1
20 ran, Time 5m 7.50s, Dist 2¾, 2, 1¼ 3/1 Fav Definity (5th)

2010-WINNER-COPPER BLEU 8-11-01 Owner-Alan Peterson; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-12/1
2ND-Othermix 6-11-00 Owner-Power Panels Electrical Systems Ltd; Trainer-Tom George; Jockey-Paddy Brennan; SP-50/1
3RD-The Midnight Club 6-11-01 Owner-C C R Racing Syndicate; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Paul Townend; SP-16/1
4TH-China Rock 7-11-03 Owner-Michael O’Flynn; Trainer-Mouse Morris IRE; Jockey-Niall Madden; SP-9/1 20 ran, Time-5m 12.50s, Dist-3½ , ½, 3¾ 6/1 Fav Rivaliste (7th)

2009-WINNER-CHAPOTURGEON 5-10-11 Owner-David Johnson; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Timmy Murphy; SP-8/1
2ND-Isn’t That Lucky 6-10-07 Owner-Valda Burke; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Richard McGrath; SP-11/1
3RD-Crescent Island 6-11-02 Owner-Sarah Bays Jill Scott Sarah MacEchern; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Paddy Brennan; SP-25/1
4TH-Northern Alliance 8-11-04 Owner-Irish Rover Syndicate; Trainer-Tony Martin IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP8/1 20 ran, Time-5m 16.44s, Dist-9, 2¼, 6 15/2 Fav Kia Kaha (10th)

2008-WINNER-FINGER ONTHE PULSE 7-10-12 Owner-Conor Clarkson; Trainer-Tom Taaffe IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-9/1
2ND-Barbers Shop 6-10-13 Owner-The Queen; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-12/1
3RD-Possol 5-10-06 Owner-Neville Statham; Trainer-Henry Daly; Jockey-Mark Bradburne; SP-25/1
4TH-Fleet Street 9-10-12 Owner-Henry Ponsonby; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Andrew Tinkler; SP-66/1 20 ran, Time-5m 10.2s, Dist-nk, 1½, nse

2007-WINNER-L’ANTARTIQUE 7-10-11 Owner-Mary Durkan; Trainer-Ferdy Murphy; Jockey-Graham Lee; SP-20/1
2ND-Bob Hall 6-10-09 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Noel Fehily; SP-10/1
3RD-Wee Robbie 7-10-13 Owner-P H Betts (Holdings) Ltd; Trainer-Nick Gifford; Jockey-Leighton Aspell; SP-20/1
4TH-Rasharrow 8-10-10 Owner-Ashleybank Investments Limited; Trainer-Len Lungo; Jockey-Keith Mercer; SP-14/1
19 ran, Time-5m 10.70s, Dist-2, 2½, 4 7/2 Fav New Little Bric (7th)

2006-WINNER-REVEILLEZ 7-10-11 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-James Fanshawe; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-9/2 Fav
2ND-Copsale Lad 9-11-00 Owner-Swallow Partnership; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-8/1
3RD-Tumbling Dice 7-11-01 Owner-Mrs John Donegan; Trainer-Tom Taaffe IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-14/1
4TH-Direct Flight 8-10-04 Owner-Top Flight; Trainer-Noel Chance; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-25/1
18 ran, Time-5m 05.00s, Dist-1.25, 9, shd

2005-WINNER-KING HARALD 7-10-04 Owner-Piers Pottinger & PBJ Partnership; Trainer-Mark Bradstock; Jockey-Mattie Batchelor; SP-9/1
2ND-Lacdoudal 6-11-10 Owner-Carol Skan; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-12/1
3RD-See You Sometime 10-11-03 Owner-J A G Meaden; Trainer-Seamus Mullins; Jockey-Andrew Thornton; SP-12/1
4TH-Sir Oj 8-10-11 Owner-Brian Keenan; Trainer-Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-18/1
19 ran, Time-5m 12.20s, Dist-12, 8, 2 8/1 Fav Captain Corelli (PU)

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