The Grade One Ballymore Properties Novices Hurdle was first run in 1971 and this years race on Wednesday, March 11, has attracted 125 entries, 46 of which are Irish-trained and two French-trained.
The unbeaten Diamond Harry landed his second Cheltenham success of the campaign in the Grade Two Racecourse of the Year Classic Novices Hurdle on Festival Trials Day, January 24. The Nick Williams-trained six-year-old saw off the Alan King-trained Bensalem in a close finish, having previously defeated another King inmate, Junior, to win the Grade One Challow Novices Hurdle at Newbury in December.
Few horses so far this season have created such a favourable impression as Diamond Harry, who is now unbeaten in six starts and one of 125 entries for the Ballymore Properties Novices Hurdle. Two of his victories have come at Cheltenham , most recently in the Grade Two Racecourse Of The Year Classic Novices Hurdle on Cheltenham Festival Trials Day, January 24. There are 46 entries from Ireland while Francois Doumen supplies the two contenders from France.
Kings five-strong entry also includes Karabak, who easily defeated Kangaroo Court in an extended two mile, three furlong novice hurdle at Ascot on January 17.
The Malcolm Jefferson-trained Cape Tribulation was impressive when winning the Grade Two Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle at Doncaster on January 24, and has been entered alongside stablemate McMurrough.
Seven Barrows trainer Nicky Henderson has a strong hand. His nine entries include the unbeaten Mad Max and that geldings half-sister Caroles Legacy, successful in four of her five career starts. Burton Port was a comfortable winner at Hereford on January 19, while Zaynar won at Ascot the same day, having previously defeated Walkon at Newbury in December.
Philip Hobbs saddled Belcantista to finish second in The Ladbroke and his entry also includes Copper Bleu, while the Carl Llewellyn-trained Den Of Iniquity made a winning debut over hurdles at Folkestone on January 27, Noel Chance may run Aux Le Bahnn and Donald McCain has engaged Grade Two Blue Square Novices Hurdle runner-up Son Of Flicka alongside Comhla Ri Coig and Strokestown.
Howard Johnson was victorious in 2005 with No Refuge and could run the giant Quwetwo. Jonjo ONeill has engaged Sandown Listed handicap winner Sunnyhillboy.
Paul Nicholls seeks a first success in the race with three entries American Trilogy, Massasoit and The Nightingale. David Pipe is also looking to break his duck with eight entries including the unbeaten three-time winner Great Endeavour, Auteuil winner Ruthenoise and Big Eared Fran.
Irish-trained horses have won two of the past three renewals, with the Willie Mullins-trained Fiveforthree taking the prize last year. The trainer has 12 engaged, notably 2008 Weatherbys Champion Bumper hero Cousin Vinny, dual Grade One winner Hurricane Fly, Grade One Barry & Sandra Kelly Memorial Novices Hurdle victor Mikael DHaguenet, Quiscover Fontaine, The Midnight Club and Kempes.
Noel Meade saddled Nicanor to defeat Denman in this race three years ago and he has five entered including Pandorama, who won five races in a row before running second to Mikael DHaguenet in the aforementioned Navan Grade One. Realt Dubh and Donnas Palm could also line up.
Philip Fenton has entered multiple winner Caim Hill, while Oliver Brady could run Grade Three Punchestown Juvenile Hurdle hero Ebadiyan. The Colm Murphy-trained Zaarito defeated the Tom Mullins-trained Time Electric at Punchestown on January 12.
The two French entries are trained by Francois Doumen - Newbury bumper fifth Doctor Pat and the unraced Moneywise.