Both Sir AP McCoy and Andrew Thornton questioned the inclusion of Hermes Allen in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, even at the favourite odds of 9/4.
Speaking on the second day of William Hill’s Cheltenham Festival Preview Night, held at Wetherby Racecourse, the two-time Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup winner stated that Hermes Allen is “running the wrong race” and should be racing in the Albert Bartlett.
He explained: “He’s just running the wrong race, he should be running the Albert Barlett, Hermes Allen, but I don’t train him and I don’t ride him so it’s nothing to do with me but horses that win the cello have a much better chance of winning the Albert Barlett.
“I think he’s a good horse, Hermes Allen. I like him, but he’s running the wrong race.”
Echoing those thoughts, Thornton emphasised that this is the “lay of the meeting” for Hermes Allen and pointed attention to Gaelic Warrior, who William Hill has at 4/1.
Thornton added: “I think he was given a brilliant ride in the Cello by Harry Compton. He went all over the track looking for the better ground. They say that the race worked out well, yes the horse in behind has gone on and won but they haven’t won any graded races… I don’t think it’s the strongest form. I think he’s short enough.
“I’ve got a fly in Gaelic Warrior in this. I think the best thing that happened to him was getting beaten last year. If he would have won the Boodle last year, a very inexperienced horse that went went in the Boodles, I think he was a last minute entry, but went straight in on an English handicap mark and he looked an exceptionally well handicap, but he was unfurnished and got murdered passing the winning post and everything didn’t really go to plan.
“I just think he’s a stronger horse and an up trip to 2/5 I think that’s ideal for him and I just think Hermes Allen is too short and I’m against him. I think Champ Kiely (8/1) will run well, he could set the fractions and has got a real good gallop on him but Gaelic Warrior for me.”
The 2023 Cheltenham Festival Preview Night, hosted by Ross Brierly, included six panellists split into two teams, with McCoy and Thornton joined by William Hill Ambassador Leonna Mayor.
Alternatively, the second team consisted of multiple Grade One winning jumps jockey Barry Geraghty, The Inside Track’s Kate Tracey and Andy Holding.
Alongside speaking about the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, the discussion also touched on the additional Grade Ones on the second day, such as the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase and Queen Mother Champion Chase.
The day two preview is rounded off by Thornton and Holding putting up their best bets for the Handicap events across Day Two.