With yesterday’s launch of our National Hunt Guide by Graham Richards and new Eyecatchers feature from Cathryn Fry, there are now 2 more reasons to sign up for Community Membership.
— JP (@JPFestival) October 26, 2013
With yesterday’s launch of our National Hunt Guide by Graham Richards and new Eyecatchers feature from Cathryn Fry, there are now 2 more reasons to sign up for Community Membership.
— JP (@JPFestival) October 26, 2013
Following on from British 10 to Follow, this second piece concentrates on the vast array of talent that Ireland has to offer and with the country having so much, I found it very difficult to keep it down to ten especially as I was trying to include some outside the box. Here are my Irish 10 to Follow: Back In Focus – Willie Mullins I believe this is Ireland’s best chance of winning the Grand National since Silver Birch’s victory in 2007. He has all the attributes of an ideal National candidate. He jumps well, stays forever and has a touch of class about him which is all important in this race these days. Away from Aintree, he can also show his presence up to the highest level, especially if the ground came up really testing on Festival Friday for the Gold Cup. It will be interesting to see where he goes for the first half of the season especially with some of the bigger handicap chases like the Hennessy or the Welsh National in which the testing ground that Chepstow usually gets will suit him perfectly. Baily Green – Mouse Morris A very consistent performer who ran the race of his life when second behind Simonsig in the Arkle at 33/1, although to the fair to the winner, he scoped dirty. He did disappoint in his final two starts at the end of last season but there were excuses. At Aintree, he ripped a shoe off and at Punchestown on dreadful ground it was the end of a long season for him. His return at Down Royal was promising behind Sizing Europe and it showed he got the trip of 2m4f with the Ryanair looking the favoured option at Cheltenham. Briar Hill – Willie Mullins It’s extremely rare to see a Ruby Walsh/Willie Mullins combination go off at 25/1 at the Cheltenham Festival. However, those who were on were rewarded when he bolted up beating Regal Encore by seven lengths. They wisely decided not to take their chance at Punchestown on desperate ground and saved him for this season where he will take a leading role in novice hurdles. The exciting part is we don’t know what his Festival target will be, although as a point to point winner you would expect either the Neptune or the Albert Bartlett to be the target for the season. Champagne Fever – Willie Mullins Potentially, he is the most exciting novice chaser to come out of Ireland this season. For a horse that is a staying chaser of the future, his win in the Supreme Novice Hurdle shows his class. It was interesting that before the beginning of last season that Willie Mullins considered going down the Florida Pearl route avoiding novice hurdling with an encouraging schooling session around Punchestown was well documented. His hurdles form was a mixed bag but you can forgive his worst run when he came back a sick horse behind Rule The World at Naas. The only other horse to beat him over hurdles being Jezki, who looks a live contender for a Champion Hurdle. He will have entries in all the big novice events at the Festival. I would prefer to see him take his chances in the Jewson rather than the Arkle or RSA Chase especially as the latter can bottom good horses plus the stable won the Jewson with a Gold Cup prospect with Sir Des Champs. Edeymi – Tony Martin Two seasons ago, he ran an excellent race to be second in the Fred Winter behind Une Artiste before slightly losing his way. He ran a promising race behind Tennis Cap in a two mile handicap hurdle at Leopardstown, before being brought down in the Martin Pipe race at Cheltenham when travelling nicely. He fell in a beginners chase in May before winning a big flat handicap at the Galway Festival before finishing second behind Domination at Cork over hurdles. If there is a trainer who can get horses prepared for a big handicap anywhere, it is Tony Martin and this horse fits the bill whether it be over hurdles or fences (once he gets a handicap mark). First Lieutenant – Mouse Morris One of the toughest and most consistent horses in both UK and Ireland over the past year. His form ties in with the very best staying chasers and one of my personal highlights of last season was his amazing leap at the final ditch in the Hennessy. His second to Tidal Bay in the Lexus in probably the finish of the season was also strong. After that, there was plenty of discussion about his Cheltenham target. Although the owner has Sir Des Champs as well, a lot of people felt the Gold Cup was the right race for him. This judgement would appear to have been correct as he got outpaced and made mistakes in the Ryanair at a critical point when second to Cue Card. It was brilliant to see him finally get his Grade One prize at Aintree where he showed guts and courage to beat Menorah and Silviniaco Conti before he ended his season with Sir Des Champs and Long Run in the Guinness Gold Cup. His comeback run this season was as good as you could have hoped for as he would not have been 100% fit at Punchestown and wasn’t on his first start last season, so he still has potential to improve to be a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner. Flaxen Flare – Gordon Elliott Although he is only four, some of the big two mile handicap hurdles in England could be his for the taking. He absolutely bolted up in the Fred Winter off a mark of 127 beating Caid Du Berlais by four and a half lengths. He then ran respectably at Aintree behind L’Unique when fourth, before a good second on ground that was probably too soft for him in the Galway Hurdle behind Missunited. Races like the Racing Post Hurdle and the Ladbroke early on in the season would suit him down to the ground, as long as the ground isn’t too testing. Home Farm – Arthur Moore A horse that looks very exciting for handicap chases this season. He first caught my eye when he won a beginners chase over 2m5f at Fairyhouse where he beat the likes of White Star Line and Marasonnien before being well fancied in the Irish National. He ran really well that day for a horse so young and inexperienced over fences behind Liberty Counsel. He reminds me of Moore’s staying chaser Organisedconfusion who won the Irish National aged 6 and further down the line, he could easily become a National horse. But this season could see him take a strong hand in big 3m handicap chases such as the Troytown or the Paddy Power Chase over Christmas. Our Conor – Dessie Hughes Apart from Sprinter Sacre, this horse gave the performance of the 2013 Cheltenham Festival. The Triumph Hurdle is a tricky race in the best of years but for a horse to take apart two very consistent yardsticks in Far West and Rolling Star in the manner he did was amazing to watch. His slick hurdling with his instant turn of foot was a joy to behold in all of his races last season, not just the Triumph. The only concerns for this season are whether he left that one performance behind last season and that five year olds tend to have a dismal record in the Champion Hurdle. But he wouldn’t need to improve much to be the best two miler over hurdles. He looked in good heart on his return to action when he was fourth on the flat at Naas. Rogue Angel – Mouse Morris Whilst Gigginstown have plenty of top class horses to go to war with in big novice chases, this one has slipped under that radar. I was pointed in this horse’s direction by a good friend of mine who said to keep an eye on him after his last fence fall at Punchestown last week. He won a four year old point to point by a distance although his main rival did fall at the last leaving him clear. He was disqualified and placed second on his only bumper start at Fairyhouse before beginning his novice hurdle career in which he only won once but he is a prime example of one who was bred to be a chaser with everything done over hurdles just building up until he jumps a a fence. Most of his running had been over soft/heavy ground but I felt he handled the better ground nicely at Punchestown and jumped fantastic before unluckily falling at the last behind Bonisland. Whilst he may not feature at Cheltenham this season, he has the potential to win several novice chases in Ireland. What do you make of Adam’s Irish 10 to Follow? Let us know in the Comments below or tweet @JPFestival. Thanks. JP Read British 10 to Follow
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’.
With Cheltenham’s Showcase Meeting upon us, I have decided to do a couple of Ten to Follow lists which I hope cover most areas in Jump Racing. Included are a few horses that could potentially be underrated going into the season, plus some obvious key contenders for the top races at the Cheltenham Festival. This first piece focuses on ten British contenders that are worth keeping an eye on with the ten Irish contenders published next week. Irish 10 to follow now published. JP
At Fishers Cross – Rebecca Curtis
If there is a horse that could take on Big Buck’s in the World Hurdle then this horse comes out top of the list. He went the whole of last season unbeaten progressing to be the top staying novice hurdler in the UK with his two Grade One successes at Cheltenham and Aintree. The latter being his most impressive on quicker ground that connections feared he wouldn’t handle. Whether he returns at Wetherby on Charlie Hall day or at Newbury on Hennessy day, he is one to be very excited about. However, having seen Big Buck’s in the flesh recently, he will have to improve even further from his novice season but I’m confident he will.
Close Touch – Nicky Henderson
Whilst Nicky Henderson has plenty of novice chasers to go to battle with this season, this is one that wouldn’t be on the top of most people’s lists with the likes of Oscar Whiskey and Chatterbox coming out of the same stable. Owned by the Queen, he has strong form with another horse that I rate highly in African Gold, when second to him at Doncaster. The decision to miss the big festivals will be of benefit to this son of Generous. He ended his season on a high with a dominant display in the Grade Three novice handicap hurdle on Imperial Cup day where he beat Many Clouds by twelve lengths. He is the type of horse that I see sticking to 2m4f this season, where I can see the Grade Two novice at the Newbury Hennessy meeting being an early target before a possible trip to the Jewson, although Henderson would want to keep him apart from Oscar Whiskey.
Diamond King – Donald McCain
This son of King’s Theatre remains unbeaten after two facile successes in bumpers at Wetherby and Bangor with a combined distance of 35 lengths. Although the horses he beat look average at best, he couldn’t have done it any easier on both starts. He looks to be one of the leading novice hurdle contenders at around 2m4f and will take a lot of beating in novice hurdles up north. He could be the type for the Neptune come March time.
Grand Vision – Colin Tizzard
A horse that missed the whole of last season through injury, he had a successful novice hurdle campaign the season before with his final two runs being the most significant. The first one being in a Pertemps qualifier which he won in great fashion from Sa Suffit, but what made that win all the more impressive was the fact that four others came out of the race and won at the Festival. He was sent off at 25/1 in the Albert Bartlett where he ran the race of his life to finish third behind Brindisi Breeze and Boston Bob. If the horse has recovered 100% from his injury, then a novice chase campaign would probably be the plan. He could turn into a lively RSA Chase outsider or end up in the National Hunt Chase.
Keltus – Paul Nicholls
Although he has had only one run under British rules, he won comfortably in a juvenile hurdle at Chepstow and should have plenty of improvement still in him. Whether he can become a Triumph horse remains to be seen, but he was fluent and accurate enough on his debut, plus he handled the inclines of Chepstow well enough to suggest Cheltenham won’t be a problem for him. He could go back to Chepstow over Christmas for the Grade One juvenile.
Module – Tom George
A second season chaser that definitely looks open to plenty of improvement. His novice chase campaign got off to a bad start when he took an uncharacteristic fall at Exeter when travelling strongly, but he set the record straight with a win at Newbury beating Colour Squadron before going on to a facile success at Leicester. Pitched in against the likes of Dynaste and Captain Conan in the Jewson, he ran a fantastic race to be fourth having been outpaced. This horse looks the type for an early season big handicap like the Paddy Power Gold Cup and longer term he could potentially develop into a Ryanair horse.
Potters Cross – Rebecca Curtis
Whilst racking my brains to try and find a couple to put in this that are potentially under the radar or will improve for the future, this horse stuck out like a sore thumb. I was at Chepstow when he made his hurdles debut and was taken immediately by his size and scope in the paddock. A point to point winner, throughout the race last Saturday, he jumped most of the hurdles as if they were fences. He looked the likely winner at one stage before two costly errors late on scuppered his chances and already looked to want at least three miles over hurdles. He will be one who will stay further in time over fences as well and should pick up some long distance novice hurdle prizes this season.
Real Milan – Donald McCain
I always like to take a long term view and look out for potential Grand National horses and being trained by none other than Donald McCain, this horse could fit the bill. Having won two novice chases on desperate ground at Carlisle and Ayr, he stepped up in grade for the Reynoldstown at Ascot where he sadly made an awful mistake and was lucky to stay on his feet. He then went on to Cheltenham where he ran much better than the end result suggested in the RSA Chase, as he was right there turning into the straight before he stopped very quickly. This was due to a problem with his wind which has been rectified over the summer. Although I mentioned Aintree’s greatest steeplechase, I feel he’s on an attractive mark on 132 for some big staying handicaps earlier on in the season so he will be one to watch out for.
Tiger Cliff – Alan King
It’s always nice to see a classy Flat horse go over hurdles and this one could potentially be very smart over obstacles. Swapping from the yard of Lady Cecil to Alan King, the Henry Ponsonby owned gelding has had a highly successful year which includes a win in one of Europe’s biggest handicap, the Ebor. He looks to have scope to be able to jump a hurdle with the Supreme Novice Hurdle probably being the big target this season, although I wouldn’t be surprised if something like the Totesport Trophy at Newbury crossed the minds of connections.
Unioniste – Paul Nicholls
The final horse on my ten to follow list is one that will divide opinions. Trained by Paul Nicholls, this five year old grey achieved the rarity of winning one of Cheltenham’s biggest handicap chases at the age of four in convincing style beating Walkon. Although he got the weight advantage and was carrying 9-9, he couldn’t have won more impressively. He then stepped up to three miles at Newbury where he only just beat Hadrian’s Approach before being disappointing behind Lord Windermere in the RSA Chase. However, he was only beaten nine lengths and was over the top having not had a break when coming over from France. Having had a summer to develop and strengthen up, Nicholls could have plenty of fun with him this season with plenty of options whether in staying handicap chases or in Graded company.
What do you make of Adam’s British 10 to Follow? Let us know in the Comments below or tweet @JPFestival. Thanks. JP
Irish 10 to follow now published. JP
Update – Saturday 19 October
I’ve been involved in horse racing at all levels from journalist, owner, point to point steward and also as a racing tipster. This all started way back in 1986 when I used to do the tips for The Sunday Independent. I had a very successful run which prompted me to enter the world of full time tipping and I haven’t looked back since. National Hunt racing is my favourite by far and it’s great to have met someone as passionate about the jumps and The Cheltenham Festival as me in JP. This is my favourite time of the year with the beginning of the NH season nearly upon us. Like me, I’m sure you’re already anticipating that almighty roar of the Supreme Novice Hurdle starting what is always a magical 4 days of racing. At the beginning of a new season, I start calling a few contacts from the point to point community and looking through the off season sales in England/Ireland and France and compiling a list of horses who could make the breakthrough from impressive amateur to weekend or even Festival bound horses. I usually like to have a good notebook of horses that many won’t be aware of unlike those on the majority of dark horses lists you can find online. Often these have already ran under rules somewhere and can easily be tracked down via the Racing Post and SportingLife websites; not what I’d call under the radar. I was halfway through this exercise when I decided that this year I’d put them all together and made a e-book for my subscribers. It was just a late night throwaway idea, but already we have had 4 runners of which 2 have won and 2 have placed which is pleasing, so have been sending copies to a few like minded souls who have given me positive feedback. So I may go more in-depth for the following seasons. Anyway, here are 10 horses from my list to add to your own notebooks for the upcoming season in the hope that around the time of the big Festivals you’ll be able to tell your friends you’ve followed this horse since it’s debut run under rules and are sitting on a juicy ante-post voucher! If you would like a free copy of my e-book with all 50 dark horses please contact me at www.rogergreenracing.co.uk and mention JPFestival.com and Dark Horses Volume 1. I will limit this to the first 50 I hear from so if you like what you see below please get in touch. Vesperal Dream(FR) – Paul Nicholls 4yo Network (GER) — Pampanilla (FR) (April Night (FR ) This 4 year old maiden has had 6 runs in France in all spheres. Was beaten 4 1/2 lengths on his last run in an Auteuil maiden hurdle from which the winner has gone on to win a decent listed race easily a few runs later. Gone to Paul Nicholls and with him being a maiden over both hurdles and fences, Paul could really make use of what looks a decent mark of around 125. Wouldn’t suprise me to see him run in a handicap hurdle and then go straight over fences after, as he is a big strong type and fences will definitely bring out the best in him. Started off on the Flat at a lowly provincial meeting at Argentan in Normandy when with Guy Cherel, he has improved slowly with every run. He is by the new wonder sire Network (Sprinter Sacre), and by the look of him will enjoy better ground than he has been encountering in France. Dispour (IRE) – Donald McCain 3yo Monsun (GER) (12.3f) — Dalataya (IRE) (Sadler´s Wells (USA) Dispour is another of Aga Khans ex-French trained horses. Just a 3 year old, so the Triumph hurdle is on the agenda. He is a half brother by German sire Monsun, (Novellist , Manduro, Foreman), to Punchestown festival winner of this year Dalasiri. Only had the 4 runs on the Flat. He won his last start in a handicap at Maisons-Laffitte over 1 miles 2 f. Donald McCain picked him up for 175,000 EUR at the Arqana sales and he should improve this very nicely bred juvenile. He looks the sort to mop up Northern juvenile hurdles and gain lots of experience before hopefully taking on better quality youngsters later on in the season. Dell’arca (IRE) – David Pipe 4yo Sholokhov (IRE) (12.2f) — Daisy Belle (GER) (Acatenango (GER) A Sholokov gelding that looks like a ready made chaser. Just a 4 year old he has had 3 runs on the Flat and 3 over hurdles in France. Trained by Laurent Viel at France’s new improved state of the art training centre Sennones-Pounace, he won on the Flat and was placed in both other runs but jumping was always going to be his game. He won with a little bit in hand on his second start at Compiegne, then went on to finish second at Auteuil to a nice horse that had won every completed start. Ended up going to David Pipe after a bit of a bidding war ensued and he was purchased for 280,000EUR by Caroline Tisdall. Martin Pipe knows just what to do with these ex-French horses and I think he will assist David into getting the very best out of this one over hurdles before taking on the bigger obstacles. Madame de Guise (FR) – Nicky Henderson 4yo Le Balafre (FR) — Paradana (FR) (Dress Parade (12.8f) A 4 year old mare that has had 3 runs in France for trainer/owner Yannick Fouin, who is well known in France to be a very good trainer with expertise in schooling young horses. Finishing 3rd in both her last two runs at Enghien-Soisy. Looks to of needed the experience in her homeland, but the move to Nicky Henderson should see stacks of improvement in her this season and better ground over here will suit her as she is by the Flat bred La Balafre. Owned now by the Million in Mind partnership, she should be up to winning early season novice hurdles at least. Lochnagar (GER) Venetia Williams 4yo Sholokhov (IRE) (12.2f) — Lindenblute (Surumu (GER) (10.8f)) Lochnagar is a 4 year old ex-German trained Flat winner of two races. Has only been out of the frame on two of his nine runs to date in Germany and at the Parisian tracks in France. Gets 1 mile 4 furlongs easily on the Flat so 2 miles and maybe a bit further will suit this big rangy German bred. Venetia does really well with her horses from abroad. By the sire Sholokhov, the sire of France’s multiple graded winner horse Esmondo, he will improve with age and hurdling should see the best in him. A very interesting recruit to the Williams yard. Tara Point – Paul Nicholls 4yo Kayf Tara (13.7f) — Poppet (Terimon (12.0f)) A horse with a very bright future is this mare by Kayf Tara. Looks the perfect type for the new mares races and Paul Nichols has a few more mares than normal this season to campaign in them. She was clear when trained by Chloe Roddick and tipped up 3 out having the race in safe keeping. Made no mistake next time out winning her open maiden in fine style at Heythrop under Nico de Boinville, A lovely big strong 4 year old that is sure to win over hurdles before going on to better things over fences. One to keep on the right side of. Baradari (IRE) Venetia Williams 3yo Manduro (GER) (10.5f) — Behra (IRE) (Grand Lodge (USA) (9.8f)) One that I cannot wait to see run over hurdles is the Aga Khan bred Baradari. Only a 3 year old, the Triumph Hurdle looks to be the target for this 3 times listed place and conditions winner in France. Purchased by Guy Petit for 235,000 Euros at the Arqana summer sale. By Manduro, he is a half brother to Evan Williams tough Barizan, a multiple winner over hurdles. Who can forget his front running display in the Triumph hurdle to finish second to Soldatino? He easily gets 1 miles 4 furlongs on the flat and goes on all grounds. Venetia will be schooling him plenty before he runs and I can see this lad having a touch of class over obstacles. Cadoudoff (FR) – Charlie Longsdon 3yo Davidoff (GER) — Hera Du Berlais (FR) (Cadoudal (FR ) (18.0f)) It was a very taking performance by Charlie Longsdon’s new recruit on his second start over hurdles at Lyon Parilly, where he won going away by 3 lengths. It may not have been a great race, but the manor he did it in really bodes well for the future. He was thought good enough to start out in a listed race at Auteuil on his first racecourse start. Charlie could have a nice youngster on his hands here. Only a 3 year old he should win another hurdle at least this year before making up into a nice young novice chaser next season. By the Montjeu young stallion Davidoff, this is his first crop to go jumping and I await with interest as to how he gets on. Pamplona Run (IRE) – Harry Fry 5yo Flemensfirth (USA) — Bilboa (FR) (Phantom Breeze (8.8f) A very exciting son of Flemensfirth , out of champion hurdle 3rd Bilboa, he cost Aiden Murphy 95,000 euros as a foal. He has not let them down and won his maiden in style after running loose before hand. Owned by Graham Roach, he then went on to win his restricted in a battling style. Being this well bred and going to the new up and coming trainer Harry Fry, this is one for the future. Will Biddick has described the Graham Roach five year old as ‘very green’ but it would be surprising if this Richard Barber trained youngster didn’t go onto much great things over the next few seasons. Billy Biscuit – Alan King 5yo Presenting (14.1f) — Native Novel (IRE) (Be My Native (USA) (11.7f) A lovely looking 5 year old son of Presenting. He has had the one run in points and was fortunate to win when Scotch Dry n Ice came down 2 out. He is homebred by Tim Curtis and looks a real staying chaser in the making. From the family of Weapons Amnesty, Black Apalachi and Weird Al. This lad could be anything.
Our first ever Tweetup took place in the Montpellier Wine Bar, Cheltenham yesterday, the first day of the Showcase. What’s a Tweetup? A Tweetup is an informal meeting of people who have met through Twitter and want to meet face to face. Whilst turnout was on the low side, those that came along enjoyed Cathryn Fry and Dave Massey’s run through the card, with Cathryn putting in a strong word for Trackmate. This was backed up by owner Barry Preece who kindly provided the latest news on his pride and joy. Hopefully, those present has a few shillings on with Trackmate winning the Pertemps Qualifier at a tasty 9/1 in an exciting finish.
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!
The weather is finally turning. It was certainly much colder and wetter this morning, with a definite autumnal feel. There was even a robin skipping around on the lawn last night, watching over me as I completed my gardening chores. There can be little doubt that winter jumps racing is only a Sprinter Sacre leap away.
With October on the horizon there is no time to waste, as we start to focus on the contenders for the thrilling winter which lies ahead. National Hunt fans have an incredible appetite for any information that may help them in their quest to find a winner. Books, magazines and high class websites, such as this one, (Thank you! – JP) will help to point our great sport’s followers in the right direction.
In this article I will be looking at the novice chase division which looks set to be of a very high standard this winter.
Quality chasers are often bred for the game. It’s no surprise to see the likes of Beneficial, Presenting, Bob Back or King’s Theatre as the top of the jump racing sires league. They consistently produce the best chasers around.
Over the past few years new names have started to appear as sires to follow. Robin Des Champs, Network and Dom Alco in particular, are French stallions that have made a big impression. They have produced the likes of Sprinter Sacre, Sir Des Champs and Silviniaco Conti.
So who will be the new young chasing stars, tackling the bigger obstacles, on the road to Cheltenham and an Arkle or a RSA crown?
I’ve decided to name ten horses that are likely to have what it takes to make it over fences, a mixture of the right breeding, size and scope, along with a suitable attitude for the challenge.
African Gold seems a pretty obvious contender. Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, he became a terrific staying hurdler last season, finishing second in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham. A big powerful son of King’s Theatre, he is out of a Presenting mare. He has all the attributes to make a top-class staying chaser. The RSA Chase is the likely long-term target.
Champagne Fever is another of the more obvious contenders. Trained by Willie Mullins, he has already won twice at ‘The Cheltenham Festival. A powerful horse with plenty of size and scope to tackle the larger obstacles, he is set to become a top novice chaser. The only real question is whether he will be an Arkle horse or be sent over further and aimed at the RSA Chase.
Un De Sceaux is something of an unknown, and just how good he is will have a bearing on Champagne Fever’s targets. He was devastating at Punchestown in April when beating a few decent types in a novice hurdle over two miles. He has the look of a quality chaser, but as yet I am unaware of his targets this winter. He is still young and there is a chance he may be kept over hurdles for another campaign.
Many Clouds has the look of a terrific staying chaser. Owned by Trevor Hemmings, he is a big, strong, rugged type, who puts his head down and battles all the way to the line. Out of a Bob Back mare, he looks to favour soft ground and may not have the ‘gears’ to be a champion. I feel he could be the type for Cheltenham’s four miler come next March.
The Irish look to have a strong hand in this division, and another fancied to do well over fences is Un Atout. By Robin Des Champs, he was a very good novice hurdler, but always looked a top chaser in the making. His long-term target looks certain to be the Jewson or the RSA. He has a touch of class.
Morning Assembly burst into the spotlight with a stunning win at the Punchestown Festival. The step up to three miles brought about massive improvement, and he stayed on strongly to beat a high-class field. He’s out of a Montelimar mare which leads me to believe that he will ‘stay’ all day. If he hasn’t the class to win a RSA Chase he will almost certainly appreciate the marathon four miler at Cheltenham.
Sizing Gold is a horse I’m excited about. A beautiful looking son of Flemensfirth, he could be something special over the larger obstacles. He looks the type that will suit better ground, and I fancy him to make a real impact over fences for the Henry De Bromhead stable.
Bright New Dawn is another that should be better suited by a sounder surface. A lovely mover, he ran terrific races behind Champagne Fever and Jezki over hurdles. He is by Presenting out of a Bob Back mare. He was born to jump fences.
Ballycasey is another Willie Mullins horse that looks destined to do well over fences. He’s perfectly bred as a staying chaser and did wonderfully well over hurdles when still lightly raced. He is another RSA type who should stay marathon trips.
The final horse on my list is slightly less obvious. Le Bec looked very much a work in progress last season. A big baby, he ran some cracking races for a horse that looks certain to be much stronger this winter. His run in the Albert Bartlett must have thrilled connections. Emma Lavelle could have a quality chaser on her hands.
So there you have it. A small yet beautifully formed list of possible chasing stars of the 2013/14 Jumps Season. Winter is almost upon us. Another fabulous season lies ahead.
Corduroys at the ready, the starter’s on his rostrum.
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