A trappy renewal of the 3m Grade 2 West Yorkshire Hurdle is the chief supporting race on Charlie Hall Chase day at Wetherby (15:05), and Ballyandy looks worth chancing on his first try over a staying trip.
Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies whose Gloucestershire stable has had its customary good to start to the jumps season proper, the eight-year-old son of Kayf Tara made a successful switch back to the smaller obstacles last term.
Ballyandy won the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham back in 2016 and landed the ultra-competitive Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle the following campaign.
Although then far from disgraced when fourth in the Supreme at the 2017 Festival and winning his chase debut the following autumn, he hasn’t really taken to fences.
That prompted connections to go back hurdling with Ballyandy. After trying to give 20lb away to Erick Le Rouge and going down by just three lengths in a Kempton handicap on Boxing Day, he resumed winning ways with victory at Uttoxeter.
Ballyandy scored off top-weight staying on stoutly for a 4 1/2 lengths success.
While he was then bested by Brio Conti at Ascot, he reversed the form when a gallant half-a-length third in the ultra-competitive Grade 3 Coral Cup at Cheltenham.
Worth trying in a stayers’ race like West Yorkshire Hurdle
That 2m 5f contest is one of the hottest handicap hurdles in Britain and, although Ballyandy’s challenge petered out close home, he handled the trip well.
There was also lots to like about his return to action when making some progress under a welter burden once more to finish sixth to Flash The Steel in the Grade 3 Silver Trophy at Chepstow.
As Ballyandy was giving a stone-and-a-half to the winner, he did well to be about a dozen lengths behind.
The West Yorkshire Hurdle race terms favour him for once and he comes out 2lb clear of the top rated veteran Unowhatimeanharry when penalties are considered.
With adjusted figures on his side and some rivals clearly using this a pipe opener for other things, plenty points to Ballyandy getting back on the scoresheet. His pedigree strongly suggests the trip is no problem too.
Twiston-Davies’ yard is on about a 20 per cent strike rate in the last 14 days at the time of writing.
Taking all that into account, Ballyandy is a 2/1 chance with Betway to land the West Yorkshire Hurdle and reinvent himself as a stayer.
Lady Buttons fancied for more Listed success
Lady Buttons is arguably the best dual-purpose National Hunt mare in training and, after winning the Listed race for her sex on this card last year, she is a strong fancy for victory in the 2m contest again (13:55).
Trained by local handler Phil Kirby, the nine-year-old daughter of Beneficial chased home subsequent Grade 1 novice chase heroine La Bague Au Roi in this event two years ago. She then landed a Listed affair over fences at Bangor.
As Lady Buttons went one better last season when running on well to score by 1 3/4 lengths, that set her up for an even better campaign.
She won chases at Newbury and Doncaster before switching back to the smaller obstacles.
A Grade 2 hurdles victory on Town Moor followed with Lady Buttons holding the re-opposing Indefatigable by a neck. As they meet off the same terms, there is no reason why she can’t confirm the form.
She was then pitched in at the highest level and far from disgraced when a fine fourth in the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Lady Buttons ended the campaign with second place behind Moon Over Germany in the Grade 3 Red Rum Handicap Chase at Aintree. All of that form reads well in the context of this lower grade affair.
It would be no surprise, then, to see Lady Buttons give weight all-round, as she’s penalised for the Doncaster hurdles triumph, and land this again.
Despite the presence of a couple of unexposed four-year-olds in the JP McManus owned Vision Du Puy and Zambella for Twiston-Davies, Lady Buttons rates a great bet at 2/1 with 888Sport on West Yorkshire Hurdle day.
Old Jeroboam another to consider on West Yorkshire Hurdle day
Trainer Charlie Longsdon opened the Charlie Hall meeting with a winner and has claims of another in the 2m novice hurdle courtesy of Old Jeroboam (14:30).
The five-year-old son of Jeremy is an unbeaten course bumper winner after scoring on his racecourse debut here in March.
Old Jeroboam made headway and tracked the leaders three out and ran on strongly to just touch Biblical off by a head.
It was an encouraging bow, especially as he was giving the runner-up a 7lb sex allowance.
As Old Jeroboam then followed-up when again running on well to score by a length at Southwell, connections had a decent prospect on their hands for hurdling.
He confirmed that impression when he made it three out of three under Rules at Worcester. Old Jeroboam was always prominent, but again produced late for a 2 1/2 lengths victory over hot favourite Cat Tiger.
Aidan Coleman again takes the ride and the first three home pulled 20 lengths clear of the remainder.
The runner-up landed two Grade 3 chases in France before joining Paul Nicholls, so it was a fine effort from Old Jeroboam.
Although under a penalty in this, he can defy that after giving weight to rivals on two of his career starts. Old Jeroboam is a 5/1 fancy with BetVictor to go in again.