Following on from my Novice Chasers Preview here is a run down of my novice hurdlers to follow in 2013-2014.
Minella Foru’s victory at Listowel last Saturday came as a wonderful reminder that the new winter Jumps Season is virtually upon us. A point to point winner back in March, this was his first run under rules for trainer Edward Harty. The horse travelled well through the race, jumping beautifully, before changing gear after the last to beat a well thought of Willie Mullins horse. Harty struggled to hold back his excitement, whilst stating it would be “one step at a time” for his promising hurdler.
Minella Foru is a son of King’s Theatre and looks to have plenty of ability. He is the first on my list of novice hurdlers to follow over the winter. He looked to have plenty of speed, and was very slick over his hurdles. It’s possible that he could step up in trip during the season.
As with this winter’s novice chasers – read my Novice Chasers to follow - the Irish appear to have a strong hand with the novice hurdlers. Willie Mullins will hope to have another successful season, and he certainly has plenty of firepower in this division.
Briar Hill won the Champion bumper at Cheltenham in March. A son of Shantou out of a Bob Back mare, he powered up the famous hill to victory, and is sure to make a terrific hurdler. His breeding, and indeed his victory in March suggests that he could become a better horse when aimed at the Neptune over 2m 5f. The same was thought of Champagne Fever of course, but this winter Mullins has plenty of options for The Supreme.
Faugheen is very highly thought of by the Irish Champion trainer. He was devastating in May at Punchestown when winning by 20 lengths in a two mile flat race. A son of Germany, a sire that could be popular this winter, he is out of an Accordion mare. His pedigree suggests he may need decent ground to be seen at his best. He looked special back in May and could well be one for The Supreme come next March.
Mullins has another promising looking son of Germany, with the Gigginstown owned Made In Germany. He won flat races at Navan and the Curragh back in February and May. He was especially good in May when travelling strongly before pulling away from good horses including Robert Tyner’s ‘point’ winner Concordin.
Turnandgo is the last of the Mullins novice hurdlers on my list. Another carrying the Gigginstown colours, he is a son of Morozov and looks more of a staying type. He ploughed through the mud at Punchestown in April thrashing Nicky Henderson’s Captain Cutter by nine lengths. He should excel in Ireland’s deep winter ground. He could become an Albert Bartlett type.
Very Wood is trained in Ireland by Noel Meade. Another ex-pointer, he also carries the famous Gigginstown colours. He was also impressive at Punchestown in heavy ground, winning a flat race over two miles in April. He’s a son of Martaline out of a Cadoudal mare. He is another that looks a strong staying type.
The final Irish horse on my list is Moonshine Lad. A son of Milan, he won a point to point in March in very impressive fashion. The runner-up that day is now with Donald McCain. Gordon Elliott now trains this five-year-old and he looks set to have a great winter.
As good as the Irish novice hurdlers look, there is plenty of talent in stables this side of the Irish Sea. Nicky Henderson is set to have another terrific season, and he has a number of potential top-class novice hurdlers.
West Wizard burst on the scene in March when winning a flat race at Kempton in stunning style. He is another son of the prolific sire King’s Theatre. He looks an imposing, athletic horse and his win was very impressive. A Supreme horse or maybe aimed at The Neptune, he looked something special.
Another from the Henderson stable is the JP McManus owned Clean Sheet. Another point to point winner, he looks to be a horse with gears. A son of Oscar out of a Phardante mare he has great potential.
Paul Nicholls has again looked to France as he battles to claim back his trainers title. The best of his new novice hurdlers could be Vicente. A son of Dom Alco, one of Nicholls favourite Sires, he is only a four-year-old and has solid French form. He was purchased by Anthony Bromley, who thinks a lot of him.
Anthony Honeyball paid only 20,000gns for Regal Encore back in 2011. It’s proved to be an inspired purchase from the West Country trainer. The horse was second in Cheltenham’s Champion Bumper and looks set to have a great season over hurdles. A beautifully bred son of King’s Theatre out of a Bob Back mare, he is slightly small, but clearly very talented. His long term target will probably be the Supreme Novices Hurdle.
The final two in my list are trained by major forces in the National Hunt game. Diamond King won flat races at Bangor and Wetherby for Donald McCain, and looks a potential quality staying hurdler. Another son of King’s Theatre, he is a relentless galloper.
Finally, a horse that impressed me as much as any when winning a two mile flat race at Haydock in March. Royal Regatta is trained by Philip Hobbs and has the look of another Hobbs star, Menorah. A stocky, powerful type he is yet another son of King’s Theatre. He will need decent ground to be seen at his best. He could be special.
So there you have it. A selection of horses that have the potential to thrill us during those cold winter months. Now sit back and enjoy the show!