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National Hunt horses to follow - 18 horses from 18 trainers

Jonathan Vine in Tips 23 Oct 2018
Lots of horses...

In the final instalment of his popular series, our expert picks out 18 horses from 18 different trainers for jumps racing fans to track during the new season.

This series has gone down really well with our readers! Those who have been following will be happy to know there will soon be a category on Racing Tips which will list all the horses featured and how they get on throughout the season – two winners already during October!

To wrap things up, I’ve picked out 18 horses from stables I haven’t already covered, who I feel have plenty of room for improvement and will challenge for victories during the upcoming season.

Aye Aye Charlie - Fergal O'Brien

Poetic Rhythm handed Fergal O’Brien a first Grade One prize when winning the Challow Hurdle last season, but it was another of Fergal’s novices, Aye Aye Charlie who caught my eye on several occasions. After beginning life over hurdles with two losses behind On The Blindside, Aye Aye Charlie ran in a Listed race, a Grade Two on Cheltenham Trials Day and two Grade Ones during the Spring.

Aye Aye Charlie crossed the line seventh behind Samcro in the Ballymore, before running a blinder at Aintree - finishing a four length fourth in the Mersey when carrying a 25/1 price to post. The fact he didn’t manage to win in six starts over hurdles means Aye Aye Charlie can continue in novice company when returns to action and O’Brien is bound to find this two-and-a-half miler some winning opportunities during the season.

Bigmartre - Harry Whittington

It was inevitable that this big, scopey horse would take well to chasing and Bigmatre kicked off his novice season with two impressive victories at Ludlow and Newbury. Whittington’s gelding found the step up to Grade One company in the JLT a little too much too soon, but Bigmatre was on hand to take advantage of some falls from the market principles to win the Grade Two Future Champions Novices’ Chase at Ayr on his final outing.

Saint Calvados will be Whittington’s flag-bearer during the season and he’s sure to be campaigned at a high level. Bigmartre, on the other hand, looks set for a year on the handicap circuit and – if he can keep his rating to a reasonable level – he could be a big player in races like the Grand Annual or the Red Rum Handicap Chase on good, spring ground he clearly relishes.

Brewin'Upastorm - Olly Murphy

Olly Murphy will be hoping to build on a superb break-out season over the coming months and Brewin’Upastorm has the potential to make waves in the novice hurdling ranks. An eight-length victor on his only start between the flags, the five-year-old Milan gelding thrashed Portrush Ted on his stable debut on the level.

Richard Johnson’s mount was backed into joint-favouritism for the Listed bumper at Newbury in February, where Brewin’Upastorm disappointed slightly when finishing fourth. Despite that loss, he enters his first campaign over jumps with plenty of reason to be optimistic – especially after Portrush Ted boosted his bumper form with a victory in the Grade Two Flat Race at Aintree back in April.

Clyne - Evan Williams

One of my favourite hurdlers over the last couple of seasons, Clyne continued to impress during 17/18, ending the season on a rating of 152. A seven-race winless run was ended as Williams’ charge shouldered top-weight when scoring in a Class Two Handicap at Uttoxeter, before Clyne carried odds of 25/1 into the places behind L’Ami Serge and Supasundae in the Aintree Hurdle.

Although he may lack a little class to win at the highest level, big handicap prizes, and maybe even a Grade Two over hurdles, look within reach for this hardy, consistent sort. His sire, Hernando has produced plenty of strong staying chasers over the years too, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Clyne jump a fence in the near future.

Richard Johnson and Defi Du Seuil celebrate after winning the 2017 Triumph Hurdle.

Defi Du Seuil - Philip Hobbs

After claiming multiple Grade One honours as a juvenile, no-one would have expected Defi Du Seuil to struggle so badly during his second season over hurdles. Hobbs’ stable star was only able to make two appearances - finishing 17 lengths adrift of Lil Rockerfeller when starting the Ascot Hurdle as the odds-on favourite, before another weak effort in the Irish Champion Hurdle in February.

Hobbs stable was hit with a bug during the first half of last season and it took Defi Du Seuil a long time to shake the virus off. The plan is to take the former Triumph winner novice chasing this term and, if back to peak form and fitness, Defi Du Seuil could return to Cheltenham as a lively contender in the Arkle come March.

Duke Street - Dr Richard Newland

A solid performer on the level and the winner of a valuable spring handicap over hurdles, Dr Newland threw Duke Street straight into Class Three company when he started out over fences last season, finishing well down the field behind Benatar on his second start at Ascot. The son of Duke Of Marmalade wasn’t seen again until popping up at Worcester in June, where he bolted up to win a competitive novice contest by five lengths.

Duke Street will continue in novice chasing company when he returns to racing. I’m quite surprise Dr Newland hasn’t sent his charge out already, with ground all over the country remaining suitably firm. Given the right conditions, I’m sure Duke Street could land a nice novice chasing handicap this season and could even challenge for Listed prizes as the season unfolds.

Dlauro - Joseph O'Brien

An interesting new recruit to O’Brien’s ranks, having been purchased by Lloyd Williams for 410,000 euro at the end of the season. Dlauro has made just one appearance in a point to point, where he stretched clear to beat a couple of subsequent winners by six lengths at Belharbour back in February.

Williams’ silks may not be familiar with jumps racing fans, but he’s a part-owner of Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling and Latrobe carried his full colours to victory in the Irish Derby during the summer. Rhinestone and Lone Wolf may be the obvious novice hurdlers to watch from O’Brien’s stable, but Dlauro will have to be respected wherever he eventually makes his stable debut.

Emitom - Warren Greatrex 

Warren Greatrex has been very vocal about this novice during the off-season, after he secured a nice victory on his stable debut in a bumper last season. The team had thought Emitom would need the experience before that bumper at Warwick, so Greatrex was pleasantly surprised to see the four-year-old hold on to claim a near two-length victory, especially after looking a little green in the closing stages.

Gold Well has produced some excellent jumpers in recent years and Emitom is only going to improve over hurdles. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him line up in the Supreme or the Ballymore when the Cheltenham Festival rolls back around.

Jetz - Jessica Harrington

Jetz may have failed to win in six starts after a comfortable reappearance victory at Fairyhouse. However, when you look at the company he kept thereafter, Harrington can be mightily impressed with her gelding’s efforts. Jetz finished second to Samcro in a Grade Three, third behind Next Destination in a Grade Two and lost out by just a head in the Grade One Nathaniel Lacy Hurdle at Leopardstown in February.

Harrington’s six-year-old had to settle for second again as Pallasator scored in a Grade Two at Fairyhouse, before finishing well down the field on his first crack at three miles at Punchestown. The plan now is to take Jetz down the novice chasing route and this son of Flemensfirth could quickly progress into a Graded-level performer when he returns to action over fences.

Kalashnikov - Amy Murphy

Arguably the most high-profile name to feature on this list, Kalashnikov blossomed during his first season over jumps, with his storming victory in the Betfair Hurdle one of the most memorable performances of last year. Murphy’s star was then heavily backed heading into the Supreme at Cheltenham and ran another fine race before finishing an agonising second to Summerville Boy. 

After a summer of deliberation, team Kalashnikov have decided to go novice chasing. The fact that Kalanisi’s progeny have often prefer to stay over hurdles may be a niggling worry in Murphy’s mind, but Kalashnikov has plenty of size to go with his talent and there’s no doubting he has the potential to win Grade One prizes during 2018/19.

Kildisart (left) clearing the last en route to winning at Ascot.

Kildisart - Ben Pauling

Following an impressive run of results during the winter, punters were left disappointed when Pauling’s well-backed favourite fell to a disappointing defeat in the Spring Garden Handicap Hurdle at Ascot. Kildisart made up for the loss by scoring in the Matchbook Silver Plate Handicap at Kempton in March, before rounding off his novice campaign with a ninth place finish in the Mersey.

I remember thinking, as Kildisart won at Kempton, that he would make up into a fine chasing type and I was delighted to hear that was the plan for this six-year-old moving forwards. Kildisart carried the Munir & Souede colours well last season, but I expect him to progress beyond his rating of 142 when he starts out over the bigger obstacles.

Lil Rockerfeller - Neil King

It’s really hard not to love Lil Rockerfeller. Despite his fairly diminutive size compared to some of his counterparts, Neil King’s stalwart several Graded prizes over jumps, with his most recent win coming over L’Ami Serge in the Ascot Hurdle last December.

After an underwhelming end to the season, Lil Rockerfeller stormed to victory on the flat at Glorious Goodwood before beginning his chasing schooling. King will have been pleased to see his charge stay on nicely to win on his debut over fences at Uttoxeter earlier this month and he has the potential to make up into possible challenger in the JLT, if everything goes to plan during the core season.

Ms Parfois - Anthony Honeyball

Ms Parfois was rated just 123 when she finished third of four on her chasing debut last autumn. Three straight victories followed – the final two coming in Listed company within her own sex – before Anthony Honeyball’s mare ran a great race to place second behind Black Corton in the Grade Two Reynoldstown.

William Biddick gave his mount an excellent ride in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham, only to be nabbed on the line by Rathvinden. A Grade One debut followed at Aintree, where Honeyball’s charge ran another storming race to push Terrefort all the way to the line. Ms Parfois stole a place in my heart with her efforts last term and I truly believe she could contend in the Welsh National, or even the Grand National, should the ground at Aintree come up favourably juicy.

Paloma Blue - Henry De Bromhead

After ending his bumper season with a strong runner-up finish behind Fayonaugh at Punchestown, it took Paloma Blue three starts to open his account over hurdles. Three Grade One appearances followed during the New Year, with De Bromhead’s novice finishing third behind Samcro at Leopardstown, before running well to claim fourth in the Supreme at Cheltenham.

Paloma Blue has been schooling over fences during the summer and will make his novice chasing debut during the autumn. Two miles seems to be his optimum trip and this son of Stowaway could contend in next year’s Arkle, should he show a similar level of form over fences to that he produced over hurdles.

Roksana - Dan Skelton

Despite winning two of her opening three starts over hurdles, Roksana carried a lengthy price of 8/1 into the Grade Two Novices’s Hurdle Finale at Chepstow. After securing victory by two lengths, Skelton decided to throw his mare into the Sefton at Aintree, where only Santini was game enough to deny Roksana on her three-mile debut.

Novice chasing will likely be on the agenda where Roksana returns to action and she could run roughshod through the chasing ranks within her own sex. By the time Cheltenham comes around, and outing in the RSA could be on the agenda, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Skelton chose to target the Mares’ Hurdle and she could give her Irish counterparts a run for their money.

Thomas Patrick leaps the last on his way to winning the Betway Handicap Steeple Chase at Aintree.

Thomas Patrick - Tom Lacey

Tom Lacey made the unusual choice to send Thomas Patrick novice chasing half-way through his first campaign over jumps. That decision paid dividends during the spring, as Lacey watched his charge make all to win a Class Three at Newbury and secure a four length triumph in the Betway Handicap at Aintree.

The Ladbrokes Trophy could be first on the agenda for Thomas Patrick and his performance there could shape the rest of his campaign. If he doesn’t progress up to Grade One and Two level, then I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lacey target an appearance in the Grand National, for a chaser who looks tailormade for a gruelling test of stamina.

Vinndication - Kim Bailey

Vinndication enjoyed an excellent novice hurdling campaign last season, winning all three of his start over jumps and storming to an impressive Listed victory on his final outing at Huntingdon. Bailey’s plan was to enter the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, only for injury to rule Vinndication out for the rest of the season.

Now fully over those injury woes, plans remain fluid for the upcoming season. Vinndication proved last season he was capable of going on all kinds of ground and would be a dangerous addition to the novice chasing ranks, should Bailey decide to give his charge a look at the larger obstacles.

Yalltari - Venetia Williams

Two defeats during the spring of 2017 saw Yalltari start off as a second-season novice last December. Williams’ charge hacked through heavy ground to secure emphatic victories in competitive handicaps at Hereford and Exeter, before making all and holding on gamely to land a Class Two prize at Uttoxeter in January.

As with most of Venetia Williams’ horses, Yalltari will likely be saved for the worst of the weather during the winter. When he returns to the track, novice chasing could be on the cards and Yalltari certainly has the potential to win plenty of races during his first season over fences.

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National Hunt horses to follow - 18 horses from 18 trainers

In the final instalment of his popular series, our expert picks out 18 horses from 18 different trainers for jumps racing fans to track during the new season.

Read more »

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