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Supreme fancy Ballyadam out to build on promise; 1.05 Fairyhouse Royal Bond Novice Hurdle 2m, Grade 1 RTE2/RTV Card and Spotlight, page 47.

Byline: Race analysis by David Jennings

SAME colours, same trainer, same race and a very similar profile - so is Ballyadam a carbon copy of Envoi Allen? We will find out here.

Last year's Royal Bond worked out spectacularly well with subsequent Ballymore winner Envoi Allen beating Supreme runner-up Abacadabras and Champion Hurdle third Darver Star.

It is hard to believe this year's running will work out so well but Ballyadam has a big reputation and anything other than victory will come as a surprise to connections.

Gordon Elliott was surprised when the strapping son of Fame And Glory was beaten at 1-4 in a Navan bumper in February, and we knew why when he won by 18 lengths next time at Downpatrick.

That performance prompted Jamie Codd to say Ballyadam could be one of the best horses he has ever ridden and a 12-length romp on his hurdling debut at Down Royal did little to dispel that theory.

A slick jumping display and a smart turn of foot earned him a Racing Post rating of 144 and he is now disputing favouritism for the Supreme at 8-1.

Victory here would probably see him assume outright favouritism in the festival opener.

Cask Mate is an interesting opponent and he was runner-up in three maiden hurdles prior to spending the best part of three years on the sidelines.

He returned better than ever at Limerick in October when shedding his maiden tag, but it was his performance in a novice hurdle at Punchestown last time that made us sit up and take notice.

The seven-year-old coasted clear of Dewcup, putting ten lengths between himself and Ted Walsh's charge who boasts a rating of 137. He was in receipt of 10lb, but it was still very impressive and the drop in trip should not pose a problem.

N'golo is three from four over hurdles and but for a blip at Kilbeggan in August when odds-on he would be unbeaten. He is now rated 137, but you sense he will have to step up again on what he showed at Navan in a Grade 3 last month to beat Ballyadam.

Annexation went down by a length and a half to N'golo at Navan but he did make a mess of the last and it would not be a huge surprise to see that form reversed here.

The race revolves around Ballyadam, though. If he is as good as those close to him seem to think he is he can provide Elliott with his third victory in four years.

What they say Gordon Elliott, trainer of Ballyadam, One Down and The Very Man It's hard to believe looking at the race that there are three or four of them rated only 137 or 138. You would like to think that Ballyadam could improve past that level. The Very Man and One Down are in good form but will need to improve to win.

Noel Meade, trainer of Cask Mate He's in good form and we can't have him any better. Whether he's able to up it to this level or not, I don't know. Ted Walsh, trainer of Dewcup I think he's perfectly entitled to take his chance. When you take the favourite out of it, the others are only rated 137 and 138, so he has as good a chance as any of them. He's in grand old form.

Willie Mullins, trainer of N'golo Paul [Townend] was very good on N'golo at Navan the last day but he'll probably have to improve to win this. The improvement could be there, I think Paul learnt plenty about him at Navan, so we'll see. He has the pedigree to be a proper winter horse. I've no doubt he can step up in trip as well.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Race analysis by David Jennings
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Nov 29, 2020
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