Ireland has produced many big star horses in recent seasons and for the 2018/19 season, I hope I can point you towards the next crop of potential superstars.
My Irish Trained Ten to Follow for 2018/19
Laurina (5yo b m)
Last season saw the Willie Mullins trained Laurina jump straight in to the spotlight when she coasted to victory in the ‘Trull House Stud Mare’s Novices Hurdle’ at the Cheltenham Festival. An almost effortless display propelled her right in to the public imagination, and in early comparisons to the likes of Annie Power.
This season’s return will be highly anticipated and a strong tilt towards the Champion Hurdle in March seems to be top of the list of priorities this season.
Le Richebourg (5yo b g)
The novice hurdle form in Ireland was very strong last season. Joseph O’Brien’s Le Richebourg was mixing it with the best of them early season, before running a disappointing race in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
This beautiful looking horse looks built for fences, and has already got off the mark in his beginner’s chase and in the Grade 3 Like A Butterfly Novice’s Chase. This is most certainly one to look out for over the intermediate trips this season, and could potentially be a Grade One winning chaser in the future.
Annamix (5yo gr g)
Reputations can be burnt or enhanced in racing. The Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci connection may have another superstar in its ranks with Annamix. After a setback last season and still not seen racing in public under Irish rules, this grey gelding has a big reputation and holds high expectations this season. He is currently favourite for the Supreme Novices hurdle at the festival. This is most certainly a horse people will latch on to, if he is to go on and make an impressive winning debut. One to wait for in excitement.
Ballyoisin (7yo b g)
Horses take a while to get going occasionally, and do not blossom until they reach a level of confidence and consistency. Enda Bolger is most famous for his cross country runners, but in the shape of Ballyoisin he may have a rapid improver in the two miles chase division. This lad loves to jump out and make the running and has proven how good he has become with some very good performances recently. This horse may well be one to take top ranks in Ireland this year challenging the seasoned campaigners. Big prices are being offered for the Champion Chase in March. There will be worst ways of investing ante post this year. This could be the dark horse of the season.
Mengli Khan (5yo bg)
Gordon Elliot’s grade one winner Mengli Khan showed a high level of promise last season over hurdles. Running a massive race in the Supreme at Cheltenham finishing third, he proved to be one of the most consistent performers of the entire season.
Novice chasing seems to be the call of order for this season. I am very excited to see what this horse can achieve over the larger obstacles. He looks to be built for fences, and improvement is highly likely. This horse could be one for the Arkle in March.
Great Field (7yo bg)
After missing almost a year of action, the Willie Mullins trained Great Field returned to action last March to win a good race against some fine horses in a competitive two mile race over fences.
Undefeated under rules apart from one effort when being pulled up as favourite for the County Hurdle a few seasons ago, fans of this horse will be waiting in anticipation for his return to action this season. He is held in very high regards and could be one to win some very useful races this season over fences at the shorter trips.
Presenting Percy (7yo bg)
This two time Cheltenham Festival winner is currently favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup with most bookmakers. After claiming the Pertemps Final in 2017, Presenting Percy went on to put in his best ever performance by demolishing his rivals in the RSA chase.
Pat Kelly’s stable star looks a natural over fences, and has jumped superbly so far in all of his starts and could be the winner of the Gold Cup this season. He travels, he stays and with plenty of big prizes on offer this season in Ireland, he could well be one to back now for March before he wins big races and crashes in price.
Delta Work (5yo br g)
The Pertemps final has thrown up some class winners in recent seasons and this horse Delta Work could be another to follow for a tilt towards the RSA Chase or JLT. He made a winning performance over fences at Down Royal in early November and has to be taken as a serious prospect for the season.
Tornado Flyer (5yo b g)
The Punchestown Champion bumper hero Tornado Flyer is top of the list of novice hurdlers to follow this season. He was well in the mix with the other Willie Mullin’s top bumper performers Blackbow, Carefully Selected and the Cheltenham winner Relegate.
All of the above mentioned horses could well take top honours in the novice hurdle ranks this season, but my pick of the bunch is Tornado Flyer.
Rebel Og (5yo br m)
This horse has ran once in Ireland in a bumper at Downpatrick in August. This was quite simply a brilliant performance. Willie Mullins has once again got a potential star on his hands, but one that may well go under the radar.
This is a horse who is hard to evaluate due to only ever running once under rules, but is one for the tracker.
Some great racing this weekend at Punchestown including the Grade Two Craddockstown Novices Chase and the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle.
Over in England, Cheltenham hosts its annual three day Open Meeting, with the feature race being the BetVictor Gold Cup on Saturday.