Cheltenham Festival News

Balco Coastal in reckoning for Ballymore trial

Thu 20 Jan 2022

Balco Coastal could be set for a trip to Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham later this month as Nicky Henderson bids to find out if his unbeaten novice hurdler can make into a Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle contender.

 Balco Coastal is two from two over hurdles and highly regarded (Photo: Focusonracing)
Balco Coastal is two from two over hurdles and highly regarded (Photo: Focusonracing)

With Henderson targeting his two exciting prospects Constitution Hill and Jonbon at the two-mile Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Seven Barrows trainer is looking for hopefuls for the Ballymore over an extra five furlongs as he aligns his very strong hand of novice hurdlers this term.

Balco Coastal has started as favourite on all four of his racecourse appearances and landed both hurdles starts at Huntingdon and Ludlow in promising fashion, although he is yet to race beyond two miles.

“I think Balco Coastal will go to Cheltenham possibly, as I think he might be a two-and-a-half-mile horse,” said Henderson.

“I’m trying to juggle them. I think we know where the other two are going (Jonbon and Constitution Hill).

“They do look as though they will be taking each other on and they are both two-milers. They will both get two and a half – there’s no doubt about that – but at the moment they are two-milers.

“If Balco Coastal got two and half, we probably might run him in the Ballymore Trial, so Walking On Air (impressive winner at Newbury on Wednesday) would have another look somewhere else, but he is bred to get two and half and Nico (De Boinville) said he felt like two and half.”

Henderson revealed Firestep, a six-year-old he holds in high regard, will have to wait until next season before making his jumps debut.

The Mahler gelding won both his bumpers last term and was expected to make his mark this season.

“Firestep has had an issue and is going to have to wait until next year, because to be honest, it is too late to get him out and get enough experience into him for this year,” he said.

“He was part of what I thought was the A Team at the beginning of the season, but the rest have done what we hoped they might do.

“The first step for this fella will be novice hurdles next year. We might as well make sure we have got one for next year.”

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