20 To Watch For This National Hunt Season

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Terrefort (left) and Ms Parfois (Right)

By Samantha

These are my ‘20 To Watch For The Season’ horses. You may be thinking- “Urgh, not another one!” but please take a few minutes to peruse this article. I have tried to go for horses who people may not have mentioned in theirs so mine is a bit different to others. I am not saying any of these are going to be superstars (a few already are) but they are horses I like and think have big futures, whether that be in handicap chases or at grade one level.

So enjoy! 🙂

1.Le Richebourg

5yo bay gelding (Network x Fee Magic)

Trainer- Joseph O’Brien

Owner- J P McManus

I assume this horse is held in quite high regard. He was a wide margin winner of three hurdle races after the summer last year but was later stepped up into Grade One company and he came undone in races won by three of the top novice hurdlers of the season. Well beaten at Cheltenham, he returned in August and ran a good race in the Galway hurdle to finish fifth. He was a short priced favourite on chasing debut in mid September and he obliged in decent style. Last time out, his second chase start, he won a Grade Three by seven lengths beating some decent horses. He jumped nicely and possibly will have a more success over fences than hurdles.

Possible end of season aim- JLT Novices’ Chase (Cheltenham Thursday)

2.Commander Of Fleet

4yo Bay gelding (Fame And Glory x Coonagh Cross)

Trainer- Gordon Elliot

Owner- Gigginstown

This horse won a point to point at Moig South before making his debut at Punchestown on Champion Chase day. I don’t think I have ever been more visually impressed with a bumper winner before. He did it in such an amazing style that his jockey barely needed to move at the three pole when he eased away to win by eight and a half lengths. The thing I most liked about this performance was how, on the run around, he was looking around as if for a jump and I think he’s going to come on leaps and bounds for running over obstacles. In second was a well related son of Robin Des Champs. Based on the way he won, I would think he will get further in time as he ran on well and is a nice big horse.

Possible end of season aim- Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

 3.Jack Regan

3yo Bay Gelding (Rock Of Gibraltar x Chelsey Jayne)

Trainer- Ian Williams

Owner- Sohi & Sohi

 This horse caught my eye whilst beating the extremely talented Cracker Factory, who was, up to this point, unbeaten, on his hurdling bow. He did it very nicely and won convincingly from a hands and heels ride. The form has already been franked as the eighth horse went out and won next time out. He has had quite a successful flat career also and will likely be a typical classy Ian Williams dual purpose horse to follow.

Possible end of season target- Triumph Hurdle

 4.Ms Parfois

7yo Chestnut Mare (Mahler x Dolly Lewis)

Trainer-Antony Honeyball

Owner- Mr M R Chapman

 This mare was my favourite horse last season. She was beaten on chasing debut after a decent hurdle campaign the previous season. She then won her next three starts including two Listed Mares’ Chases. She has been second on all three of her other starts behind Black Corton in a Grade Two, Rathvinden in the Grade Two Amateur riders’ race at Cheltenham and behind Terrefort in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at the Grand national meeting. She jumped brilliantly in all of those stars and seems to have stamina in abundance. I think connections should take her down the nationals route as she will stay over four miles.

Possible end of season target- Randox Health Grand National

5.Topofthegame

6yo Chestnut Gelding (Flemensfirth x Derry Vale)

Trainer- Paul Nicholls

Owner- Mr Chris Giles & Mr & Mrs P K Barber

 This horse burst onto lots of people’s radars when a staying on fourth in the Listed Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle. Next time out, he won a grade three handicap hurdle at Sandown over two miles seven which was probably on the long side for him. He was dropped back to two miles five for the Coral Cup at Cheltenham and kept on when headed to only be denied by a neck. He is absolutely huge and built for chasing which wasn’t as much an advantage when he was running over hurdles as sometimes he was a little bit scrappy. I think he will improve for the change to chasing which I believe is the route he will go this season. He has already had one run over fences before and he fell five from home. He is more mature now and I think he will be a nice handicap chaser in the future.

 Possible end of season target- Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase    

 6.Carefully Selected

6yo Bay gelding (Well Chosen x Knockamullen Girl)

Trainer- Willie Mullins

Owner- Miss M A Masterson

This horse is one from two in point to points and his win was by thirty lengths to a horse who has won since. He moved to Willie Mullins and transferred that form into bumpers where he won his first two starts in good style. He then ran in the Champion Bumper and was beaten just a neck behind smart stable mate Relegate. He then finished third in the Champion Bumper at Punchestown. His dam is unraced but related to hurdle winners and that suggests that he will be able to take the step up to hurdles. I am also a fan of his brother by Rule Of Law who sold at the Tatts August Sale for € 28,000 and his younger brother is currently unbeaten in bumpers.

Possible target for end of season- Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

lalor3
Lalor

7.Lalor

6yo bay gelding (It’s Gino x Laviola)

Trainer- Kayley Woollacott

Owner- Mr D G Staddon

If you are on twitter, I recommend following Kayley Woollacott Racing purely to see this horse and Kayley’s daughter Bella. These two are best friends and you can tell he absolutely loves her. This horse was a very classy one from the outset as he won two of his four bumper outings. He then ran three brilliant races in novice hurdles. The horse’s trainer Richard Woollacott died suddenly in January 2018 and the horse switched to be trained by his wife Kayley. He was well beaten on his first start for her in the Betfair Hurdle. Connections then sent him out to the Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle. He was a brilliant and welcomed winner for the team and six winners have come out of that race. He is set to go over fences and I think he will step up even further from this and be a really nice horse.

Possible send of season target- Arkle Challenge Trophy if he has the speed if not the Grand Annual

8.Drinks Interval

6yo bay mare (King’s Theatre x Dame Fonteyn)

Trainer- Colin Tizzard

Owner- The Land Value Partnership

Before July, this mare had only won twice in twelve starts but she seems a new horse now she has been running over fences. She made a pleasing debut beating The Unit, who beat her by three lengths next time out and is a smart horse. When she was beaten by The Unit next time out, she didn’t seem to have the pace to keep up. Connections stepped her up in trip last time out and she was very impressive on that occasion. She jumped brilliantly and looks tailor made for big field handicap chases this season.

Possible end of season target- Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase

9.Rocklander

9yo Bay Gelding(Oscar x Rua Lass)

Trainer- Tom George

Owner- D O’Donohoe, J Cavanagh, S Nelson

This horse gets entered in the most perfect races but he just never delivers- he either ends up falling or getting going too late. He has bags of ability which he showed on his first try over fences and then unseated at the first in a grade two that he realistically should’ve won if he hadn’t of fell. He won a Novices’ Limited Handicap in good style next time out in December and then was unraced until finishing a brilliant third in the Close Brothers Chase at the Cheltenham Festival which he should’ve once again won but just folded tamely towards the end. He then went to Aintree and ran in the Betfair Chase. That was another race I thought would be perfect for him but he fell at the eighth and broke Adrian Heskin’s arm. You are probably wondering why he’s in my horses to follow and in all fairness there is probably a better horse I could’ve picked but I really think this horse can win a big handicap chase this season.

Possible end of season target- Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase

10.Mulcahys Hill

6yo bay gelding (Brian Boru x Belsalsa)

Trainer- Warren Greatrex

Owner- McNeill Family

This horse ran a fabulous race in the Betfred Challow Novices Hurdle after Adrian Heskin deployed some very cunning tactics by kicking for home at the top of the home straight. The horse jumped very well but just missed out on winning because fast finishing Poetic Rhythm tackled him at the finish to win by a short head. He didn’t replicate that effort when favourite for the Ballymore Classic Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in January and then was pulled up at Cheltenham in the Albert Bartlett. He is set to go chasing this season and it seems as though he will be suited to fences and will be successful over the larger obstacles.

Possible end of season target- Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase

11.City Island

5yo bay gelding (Court Cave x Victorine)

Trainer- Martin Brassil

Owner- Mrs Bernadine Mulryan

Huge price on debut but out-ran his odds to be second. He won next time out in a bumper at Punchestown and ran on nicely. I first saw him run on his most recent start and I was extremely taken by it. He was a 10/1 shot and not exactly fancied against some classy representatives of the Mullins families. He stalked the first four for most of the way but his jockey Mark Walsh kicked for home at the home turn and he accelerated past Debuchet and Getareason really. He was ridden out to win by over three lengths. Next time out, Getareason won by over six lengths and he made Debuchet, a Listed winner, look ordinary. He is related to multiple chase winners so may be better with time but has a big future. An interesting thing to note is that his Flame And Glory half brother sold for €125,000 at the sales in June.

Possible end of season target- Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

first flow
First Flow

12.First Flow

6yo bay gelding (Primary x Clonroche Wells)

Trainer- Kim Bailey

Owner- Mr A N Solomans

This horse was fourth on both tries in NH Flat races but looked a new horse when absolutely hosing up on hurdling debut and then winning by 20 lengths. He jumped really well on that day. That performance warranted him a place in the grade two Supreme Trial at Haydock. He won in brilliant style and he stretched away from four furlongs out to win by 10 lengths, beating Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Midnight Shadow. From then, all attentions turned to Cheltenham where he was a 12/1 shot for the opening race of the meeting- the Supreme Novices Hurdle. He ended up pulled up before the last after making a few mistakes. This season, he is set to go over fences and I think he will really improve for it as he is a big strong horse who always jumps well and looks made for fences. His trainer has said that he will be targeting the Dunlin Racing Festival for this gelding as he thinks there are lots of suitable races for him.

Possible end of season target- Red Rum Handicap (Aintree Grand National Meeting)

13.Terrefort

5 yo grey gelding (Martaline x Vie De Reine)

Trainer- Nicky Henderson

Owner- Simon Munir and Isaac Souede

 This horse burst onto the British racing scene when winning a chase at Huntingdon by ten lengths. Before that, he had had a relatively successful career racing in France where he won twice and he was then sold to his current owners. His first British start must’ve impressed connections as he then ran in the Scilly Novices’ Chase. Him and Cyrname, another classy chaser who will do good things this season, had a ding-dong battle up the straight and the grey son of Martaline prevailed by a neck. He then went to the Cheltenham Festival and ran in the JLT Novices’ Chase. He lead from three furlongs out but was beaten seven lengths into second by a mare who he was giving weight to. That was a very strong performance and he won next time out in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase. He asserted down the run-in suggesting he will possibly be able to stay longer than the three mile trip.

Possible end of season target- Cheltenham Gold Cup

14.Dinsdale

5yo Bay Gelding (Cape Cross x Emmy Award)

Trainer- Michael Scudamore

Owner- Mr Martin Jones

This gelding seems a new horse now going chasing. He won convincingly on chasing debut by eight lengths. Since then, he has ran two good races behind some nice types and he hasn’t been beaten far on both occasions. I think will have a better time of it over fences compared to hurdles and could be one to keep on the right side of in handicap company.

Possible end of season target- Grand Annual Chase

footpad.jpg
Footpad

15.Footpad

6yo Bay Gelding (Creachadoir x Willamina)

Trainer- Willie Mullins

Owner- Simon Munir and Isaac Souede

 This horse was one of the stars of last season. He was a dual grade one winning hurdler as a novice but then didn’t win at all in his first season not a novice over hurdles. He was raced in only group one races for that whole season and he didn’t seem to have the class to feature at the finish. He had a huge change of fortune in the 17/18 season though when he went chasing for the first time. He was the 4/6 favourite and made all of the running to score by eleven lengths. He then won the grade one Racing Post Novices’ Chase. He followed that up with a win in the Arkle Novices’ Chase at Punchestown and the Cheltenham namesake. He did both of those in brilliant style. He concluded the season by winning the Ryanair Novices’ Chase at Punchestown. He stays past two mile three bu has the sspeed for two miles so he has multiple options for the seasons.

Possible end of season target- Queen Mother Champion Chase

16.Vinndication

5yo bay gelding (Vinnie Roe x Pawnee Trail)

Trainer- Kim Bailey

Owner- Moremoneythan

 I read an article on the At The Races website the other day about Kim Bailey and he mentioned that this horse could be one of the best novices he’s ever trained. He has won all of his four starts. He made his debut at Ludlow in a bumper and he ran on nicely to win by three quarter lengths. I saw him make his hurdling debut at Leicester and he did it really nicely to win by over four lengths beating some subsequent winners. He won nicely next time out and then landed a listed contest at Huntington beating a horse who has ran decent races in grade one company since. He missed out on Cheltenham due to injury and he is set to go over fences this season. He looks as though he will be suited to them as he seemed to still have a lot of growing to do.

Possible end of season target- JLT Novices’ Chase

17.Castletown Quarry

5yo bay gelding (Scorpion x Jigs ‘n Reels)

Trainer- Eoin Griffin

Owner- Great Palls Partnership

This horse really impressed me on his second start in NH flat races. He was a bit all over the place up the run in but when rider Jamie Codd properly got to work with him, he lengthened and strode on well to win comfortably. I presume he won’t go hurdling this season and will stay on the flat for now and he seems a nice type to properly put Eoin Griffin’s yard on the map.

Possible end of season target- Champion Bumper.

18.Clara Sorrento

7yo grey gelding (Maresca Sorrento x Call Me Clara)

Trainer- Noel Meade

Owner- Gigginstown

 This horse has run three times over fences and was fourth on his first two tries. I don’t think he stays the trips he raced at on those occasions as he ran prominently on both occasions but was headed turning for home. Next time out, he was dropped back to two miles five and he won it very nicely. He jumped well and, despite hanging left in the closing stages, he won pleasingly. He will have come on from that and there will be a lot to come from this flasy grey.

Possible end of season target- JLT Novices’ Chase

19.Getaway Trump

5yo bay gelding (Getaway x Acinorev)

Trainer- Paul Nicholls

Owner- Owners Group 023

 I know a lady who has a share in this horse and I think he can give connections a nice time this season. He ran three times in point to points and he won his last start by nine lengths. After that, he was sold for £90,000 to Paul Nicholls. He made his debut in February but raced very keenly and couldn’t last it out to the finish behind a horse that has a big future in the form of Commanche Red. On his most recent start, he probably didn’t handle the ground and ran very novicey once again. Hopefully, this season, he has matured further and can learn to settle when he goes jumping because that seems to be his main issue. His dam is a half sister to a group three winning, multiple hurdle and chase winner so he has the pedigree for the jumps.

Possible end of season target- Fred Winter Nocices’ Handicap Hurdle.

 20.Pearl Of The West

4yo bay filly (Teofilo x Creese)

Trainer- J C McConnell

Owner- Derek Kierans

 Mixes it over hurdles and on the flat but she’s more successful over an obstacle. She’s won twice this summer and one of those was a very good win in a mares’s hurdle in August at Bellewstown when she beat classy Willie Mullins inmate Pakora by ten lengths. Whether she is classy enough to figure in races like the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham is an unknown but I’m sure she’ll be able to win some nice races this season and get important black type. Based on her run last time out in Grade Three company, when she was beaten over fourteen lengths, handicaps may be the route for her.

Possible end of season aim- County Handicap Hurdle (Cheltenham Friday)

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