Racing is a game of opinions and Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers to Follow – buy here – is full of them. It’s fast approaching Ten To Follow time, and as such we are at the part of the season when Horses To Follow books begin to fly off the shelves. With Timeform, Racing Football Outlook, Racing Post, Mark Howard and Marten Julien publications already out, there are plenty to choose from, but they will find it very hard to compete with the quality book that Paul has produced. With the assistance of a long list of trainers; Alan King, David Pipe, Paul Nicholls and Jonjo O’Neill to name a few, his long list of horses soon gets whittled down to his ’40 Leading Prospects.’ Thorough as ever when putting forward his case as to why these horses deserve to be on that list, he trawls through their form with a fine toothcomb and their breeding with an even finer one. Planning the campaign, even the career, of each horse as if it were his own, with ideal starting assignments and possible end of season targets. Here are some examples: African Gold “Equally effective over 2m4f as 3m, the Scilly Isles appears as a feasible pre-Cheltenham target, given that the stable won that contest in 1993 with Young Hustler and with Jack Doyle in 1998…” O’Faolains Boy “His profile reminds me of that of stable-mate Teaforthree, who finished eighth behind Bobs Worth in the 2011 Albert Bartlett and returned to the Festival the following year to take the 4m National Hunt Chase.” Away from the Leading Prospects, he goes far and wide to get the latest on horses which he things are worthy of note describing it as “A whistle stop tour around the yards of the country” Even this early in the season, horses that didn’t make the big 40 are showing he has a keen eye for talent with Hannibal The Great (Charlie Longsdon) and Oscarteea (Anthony Honeyball) notable winners. Paul used his strong analytical and interviewing skills when it comes to input from professionals with Nick Schofield and Jane Mangan providing first hand insight on their horses to follow this season. And for me, no racing book would be complete, without a section devoted to the Green and Gold operation, ‘Searching for Green and Gold’. Like the placement of this section in his book, I normally find them in rear. For the price of a few quid you may end up throwing at a Wolverhampton AuctIon Maiden, I think it’s certainly worth investing in Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers to Follow. You may not agree with every comment. For me, Wilde Blue Yonder a shocking omission in the Leading 40 :-), but it’ll get you thinking, and that’s far better than hearing every horse ‘has strengthened up over the summer and should win a nice race….blah blah’.
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