Just over a year after winning his four-year-old maiden at Portrush for Colin McKeever and Wilson Dennison, Ballyadam was in the winner’s enclosure having landed the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novices’ Hurdle, the biggest prize in his young career.
Sent off as the 8/15 favourite for the two-mile contest, the five-year-old is living up to the buzz that was created following his £330,000 purchase at the Tattersalls Cheltenham November Sale, as he overcame a number of early sluggish leaps under 21-year-old Jack Kennedy to hit the front at the penultimate flight.
Pushed out inside the final quarter of mile to fend off the challenge of the hat-trick seeking Cask Mate, Ballyadam made his first start into Graded company a winning one by prevailing in the Cheveley Park Stud colours by one and a half lengths.
“Jack said he was a bit novicey, it is only his second run over hurdles. He said he still has a bit to learn but there are plenty of positive to take from that,” said trainer Gordon Elliott.
“The one thing that I did like was that all he had to done from the back of the last was hands and heels. He gave him one flick and said there was plenty of horse there.
“He is still only a baby, there is a lot of learning still to do. He is a tough horse, he found plenty for pressure. He has relaxed now he was very keen in his bumpers when he was young.
“I would imagine he will probably go to Leopardstown now.
Now the ante-post favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, that intended next target would see him once again line up in Grade 1 company for the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle on day two of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.