My Top 15 Races Of The Jump Season

tiger
Tiger Roll won the Grand National

 

By Samantha

These past six months have been full of amazing races and huge equine stars but also tinged with sadness. Richard Woollacott and Malcolm Jefferson, two brilliant trainers passed away in January and a huge amount of horses died at Cheltenham this year. This was only meant to be my top ten horses but I found it impossible to narrow it down so here are my fifteen favourite performances of the season:-

Number 15
Poetic Rhythm (Paddy Brennan and Fergal O’Brien)- Challow Hurdle, Newbury, 30/12/17
The reason I selected this race was because I loved the way it was run and it was Fergal O’Brien’s first Grade One winner, which was much deserved. Turning into the home straight, Adrian Heskin kicked for home on Muchays Hill and went clear. The ground was horrible and little by little, Poetic Rhythm gained on Tom George’s horse. They jumped the last in sync and battled it out to the line. Mucahys Hill surged but Poetic Rhythm stuck his neck out and got his nose in front. The scenes afterwards from connections were brilliant. ‘Gorgeous George’, as he is known at home, did them proud!

Number 14
Regal Flow (Sean Houlihan and Bob Buckler)- Midlands Grand National, Uttoxeter, 17/3/18
This race was a slog- there’s no other way to put it. The ground was heavy so the four mile two trip felt even longer for the horses. Regal Flow was the only horse who stayed the trip. He went second before the fifteenth when he took over from The Artful Cobbler. He had a clear advantage over the rest of the field by when they passed the omitted third last fence. Second placed Milansbar couldn’t get close to him. It was a proper staying performance and Sean gave him a brilliant ride.

 

raz
13 year old Raz De Maree after winning the Welsh Grand National

 

Number 13
Raz De Maree (James Bowen and Gavin Cromwell)- Welsh Grand National, Chepstow, 6/1/18
This win was truly spectacular. Raz De Maree was thirteen years old when he won this. He was just three years younger than his jockey- sixteen year old Champion Conditional James Bowen, who was claiming five pounds. The second placed horse, Alfie Spinner was also thirteen and his jockey Richard Patrick was claiming five pounds but they weren’t on Raz De Maree’s level. He pulled six lengths clear of the second and they were a further nine lengths ahead of Final Nudge in third. Raz De Maree went on to finish tenth in the Aintree Grand National.

Number 12
Ms Parfois (Sean Bowen and Antony Honeyball)- Hampton Novices’ Chase, Warwick, 13/1/18
This mare has been one of my favourite horses this season so she deserves a place in my top fifteen. I love everything about the way she runs and I think there are some good prizes left in her. She won this race really easily beating the boys and doing it impressively. She had next time out winner Big River in third. That was her third win of the season and she was second in a Grade Two behind Black Corton in February and concluded the season with two strong performances in second at the big meetings in the four miler and the Grade One Mildmay Novices’ Chase.

Number 11
Foxtail Hill (Sam Twiston-Davies and Nigel Twiston-Davies)- Randox Health Handicap Chase, Cheltenham, 28/10/17
This race reminded me of why I love horse racing. For me, it summed up why racing is great. Foxtail Hill was out in front the whole way- ears pricked. He jumped completely for fun and when he got tired, after setting a quick pace, at the end of the two mile trip, he battled the challenge from Le Prezien to prevail by a neck. The race was just under ten seconds quicker than the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival so it was a speedy performance. He seemed to love jumping and leading the pack and that was great to see!

 

politologue
Politologue

 

Number 10
Politologue (Harry Cobden and Paul Nicholls)- Tingle Creek Chase, Sandown, 9/12/17
The Tingle Creek has been a happy hunting ground over the years for Paul Nicholls. Before the 2017 running, he had won the two mile Grade One Chase nine times. He was double handed in this year’s running with Politologue and San Benedeto. Plitologue went into the lead with two to jump under Harry Cobden. Up the run-in, the favourite, Fox Norton, came to challenge but Politologue wasn’t for passing. The grey horse won giving Harry Cobden his first Grade One and Paul Nicholls his tenth win in the race. The race was tinged with sadness after it came out that Sir Valentino died after his fall in the race.

Number 9
Bristol De Mai (Daryl Jacob and Nigel Twiston-Davies)- Betfair Chase, Haydock, 25/11/17
Going into single digits now, it was disappointing that just six runners lined up for the first leg of the ‘Jump Racing Triple Crown’. The weather was miserable; the ground was bottomless. Despite this, Bristol De Mai shone like a star. The others couldn’t live with his turn-of-foot through the mud. An uninformed onlooker could’ve thought the grey was simply doing a piece of work for the rest of the high-class field were fifty-seven lengths behind him as he crossed the line. He barely broke a sweat but the others had to almost climb the last fence to finish, they were that tired!

Number 8
Tiger Roll (Davy Russell and Gordon Elliot)- Grand National, Aintree, 14/4/18
The Grand National is always a thrilling race and this renewal was as thrilling as it gets. As they went out onto the last circuit, Pleasant Company was leading the field. At two out, pint-sized Tiger Roll was shunted into the lead by Davy Russell and they went five lengths clear at the elbow. Pleasant Company wasn’t going to go down that easily though he came galloping up to Tiger Roll, under David Mullins, who was tiring, and they hit the line together. A photo finish was called and eventually Tiger Roll was named the winner, much to Russell’s delight. It capped off a fantastic year for Russell and Gordon Elliot.

 

might bite
Might Bite

 

Number 7
Might Bite (Nico De Boinville and Nicky Henderson)- King George VI Chase, Kempton Park, 27/12/18
Might Bite’s performance in this race was electric. It was his second start of the season and travelled really well throughout. He lead after four out and began to be pushed along from three out. He stayed on well from there but slowed in the final few yards allowing Double Shuffle to shorten the winning margin to a length. The race wasn’t as explosive as Thistlecrack winning it the year before but it was still exciting race to watch.

Number 6
Native River (Richard Johnson and Colin Tizzard)- Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, Cheltenham, 16/3/18
This was a brilliant race. For all of the race, you could tell it was a two horse race between Might Bite and Native River. They were together for most of the way. Native River looked beaten first but rallied on and the two horses jumped the last on the same stride. When push came to shove, lightly-raced this season, Native River found the most and gave connections their first gold Cup success.

Number 5
Footpad (Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins)- Racing Post Arkle, Cheltenham, 13/3/18
You probably didn’t see an easier win by any horse at the Cheltenham Festival of 2018. He made a few errors but, from the second last onwards, he stamped his authority on a group of classy rivals. Ruby Walsh barely has to move in the saddle after the last, where his mount flew as if he was a fresh horse. There are endless possibilities for this horse and who knows what he can achieve!

 

samcro.jpg
Samcro looks exciting.

 

Number 4
Samcro (Jack Kennedy and Gordon Elliot)- Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, Cheltenham, 14/3/18
Arguably the most exciting horse to race this season, Samcro, did just as fans hoped he would in the Ballymore. Gordon Elliot’s chestnut effortlessly moved away from the field on the run up to the last. Black Op couldn’t catch him and none of the others could get close. He did absolutely nothing wrong throughout the race and proved he was the best novice hurdler around at the minute. It will be interesting to see what he can do against the older horses over hurdles next season as we got no clues when he ran at Punchestown last week as he fell when going really well. There is a possibility that he could go over fences next season though.

Number 3
Edwulf (Derek O’Connor and Joseph O’Brien)- Irish Gold Cup, Leopardstown, 4/2/18
Edwulf almost died at the Cheltenham Festival just under a year before this race. In the Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase at Chelteham, Edwulf went wrong after jumping the last and Derek O’Connor pulled him up quickly. Minutes later, the horse collapsed and started having fits. Forty minutes after he collapsed, he got up and made his way into the equine ambulance. He has now made a full recovery. I had no idea what an amazing feat it was for him to even be running before that race. Afterwards, things came trickling out in the media about this horse. I didn’t know the full extent of what he had been through until I wrote an article about him for this website. The way he travelled throughout the Irish Gold Cup, made it evident that he would be in the frame. His jockey barely had to move until he was locked in a head-to-head battle with Outlander. He hasn’t had much luck throughout the rest of this season but he can win more prizes next term.

If you want to learn more about Edwulf, click this link- Cheltenham Stories 2018- Edwulf

Number 2
Smad Place (Wayne Hutchinson and Alan King)- Old Roan Chase, Aintree, 29/10/17
Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I’m obsessed with Smad Place. I adore everything about him- the way he jumps, the way he travels and the way he looks. I had to mention this lad as his win in the Old Roan Chase was brilliant! He won the race in spectacular fashion showing glimpses back to when he was at his best. He has been retired but will live on in my heart as one of the best jumpers around!

 

terefort and cyrname
Terrefort and Cyrname

 

Number 1
Terrefort (Daryl Jacob and Nicky Henderson)- Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase, Sandown, 3/2/18
This looked an exciting race from one look at the racecard. Progressive Cyrname won the Grade Two Wayward lad Novices’ Chase over Christmas by seven lengths. His main danger Terrefort was an unknown quantity. He had won his debut at huntingdon by ten lengths but was jumping up in grade to Grade One company. It was a thrilling duel. The pair were neck-and-neck all the way down the run-in and they jumped the last almost in sync. Terrefort, carrying 3lbs less, prevailed by a neck under Daryl Jacob. This holds my number one spot because for me it summed up the essence of racing- two really smart horses, who look to have bright futures, jumping so well and battling out a brilliant finish.

One to watch out for next season?
Commander Of Fleet is my horse to watch for next year. He is by Fame And Glory out of Coonagh Cross, a bumper winner. He won a point to point that none of his other rivals managed to complete. He is currently in training with Gordon Elliot and is owned by Gigginstown House Stud. His debut performance was really impressive. From three furlongs out, he was clear and none of the other runners could get close. Personally, I can’t wait to see him jump a hurdle! He looks a big horse who will improve for going over obstacles and I loved the way he went about his work.

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