Ballyalton (right): worked well at Kempton recentlyPICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Weather boost for Williams with Ballyalton
IAN WILLIAMS is keeping a close eye on the weather and hoping conditions continue to improve as he seeks a first Cheltenham Festival triumph with Ballyalton in Wednesday's Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle.
Owned by top golfer Lee Westwood's father John, Ballyalton won his first three starts this term, but struggled in testing conditions at Cheltenham in January when he finished fourth.
Williams, who has yet to book a jockey, has been pleased with the promising seven-year-old's progress since then and is keen for a dry period before the festival.
"Ballyalton is in good form and worked very nicely at Kempton earlier in the week," Williams said on Friday.
"I am just hoping that the ground dries out to be somewhere around good to soft on the day. The weather forecast looks very pleasing at the moment.
"I am not worried that he has not run since New Year's Day as it was never our intention to run him again after he ran on such deep ground at Cheltenham."
Ballyalton is 16-1 for the Neptune, for which the Willie Mullins-trained Faugheen is 3-1 favourite.