10 Jumpers To Follow

10 jumpers to follow

As a National Hunt fan it feels like your being drip fed slowly. The two day festival at Chepstow always signals the arrival of the jumps season but a return to starvation was the theme this weekend as attentions turned back towards the flat and the Champions Series at Ascot.

As we gear up for Cheltenham’s first meeting of the new season next weekend, take a closer look at 10 selected jumpers to follow over the coming weeks and months ahead !

National Hunt (Movewiththetimes)

Movewiththetimes (IRE)  

(6-y-o chestnut gelding)

Trainer: Paul Nicholls

Owner: JP McManus

Seasonal target: Arkle Novices Chase (25/1)

In a year that saw the passing of Presenting, could this also be the year that sees the same legendary stallion finally sire racing’s elite 2m novice chaser ? Famous for fathering predominantly middle to long distance handsome looking chasers, it’s still difficult to believe that one of Presenting’s offspring hasn’t slipped through the net providing an Arkle winner. Denman, Dunguib and Yorkhill, none of them ever lacked pace so it does make you wonder what ever happened to leave such a void?  Movewiththetimes could certainly be a horse to break the mould.

Similar to his brothers and sisters, Movewiththetimes is a terrific looking individual. Lightly raced over hurdles, his best day came in the Betfair hurdle at Haydock where he produced a great effort to finish second behind Ballyandy. Nicholls was quite keen that he’d go on to run a big race at the Cheltenham festival but a bruised foot ruled him out. Nicholls himself hasn’t had much luck with Arkle horses since Azertyuiop in 2003 but there is real confidence surrounding Movewiththetimes. Could be top class.

National Hunt (Mala Beach) 2Paloma Blue (IRE)

(5-y-o brown gelding)

Trainer: Henry De Bromhead

Owner: Chris Jones

Sire: Stowaway (UK) Dam: Court Leader (IRE)

Seasonal target : Supreme Novices Hurdle  (25/1)

For a number of seasons now, owner Chris Jones has been hitting the crossbar in attempt to find a real jump racing superstar. Mala Beach and Zabana both threatened to be top class but ultimately failed to reach the top table. Paloma Blue will represent the hopes and dreams of the Co.Meath owner this term. Very lightly raced in bumpers he’s open to any amount of improvement going hurdling.

A stat that may suprise you: Henry De Bromhead has had 29 runners in bumpers over the last 12 months with only two winners, Paloma Blue was one. Stats along with non market support on debut suggest Paloma Blue may have given connections a pleasant surprise when winning at Fairyhouse. Runner up to Fayonagh at Punchestown was a big step forward on just his second start proving there’s no shortage of ability.

At his stable tour trainer Henry De Bromhead described him as a relentless galloper but don’t be fooled to believe he’s short of boot. The Deloitte Novices hurdle at Leopardstown could be targeted on route towards the Supreme, a similar path was taken by Sizing John when with the trainer.

National Hunt (Nicky) 1River Wylde (IRE)

(6-y-o bay gelding)

Trainer: Nicky Henderson

Owner: Grech & Parkin

Sire: Oscar(IRE) Dam: Clarin River (IRE)

Seasonal target: Arkle Novices Chase (25/1)

Rated 147 over hurdles it would be no suprise to see this ex pointer River Wylde find improvement when faced with a fence. The Henderson starlet traveled like a bike freewheeling it downhill for the majority of his Supreme Novice Hurdle run last season. The fuel tank emptied in the closing stages but to his credit he plugged away finishing third. Early exuberance the downfall.

River Wylde has the ability to make up into an Arkle contender provided he settles better in his races. The son of Oscar can add to Henderson’s illustrious record in the Arkle and at this stage he looks to be the trainers leading hope. Apparently he has schooled impressively over larger obstacles and is likely to be primed for the spring festivals. In his stable tour Nicky mentioned he won’t be run on soft ground.


National Hunt (Lavelle) 2

Irish Prophecy (IRE)

(4-y-o bay gelding)

Trainer: Emma Lavelle

Owner: Mr N. Mustoe

Sire: Azamour (IRE) Dam: Prophets Honor (FR)

Seasonal target : Supreme Novices Hurdle (33/1)

This selection is unlikely to be in many peoples horses to follow list. Emma Lavelle’s youngster has run twice in bumpers and couldn’t have been more impressive on both occasions. On his second start he took on Nicky Henderson’s well touted Champ (named after AP McCoy) and was himself well supported and the subject of a late gamble. Connections clearly knew the story and the 4yo son of Azamour failed to  disappoint. A two length victory on paper didn’t exactly reflect how visually impressive this performance was.

Surprising given his flat pedigree this fella doesn’t lack size or scope. Open to much physical improvement this season, expect Emma Lavelle will take her time with Irish Prophecy. He may start off in a maiden over 2m – 2m 3f before taking aim at novice contests. Not short of ability it would be disappointing were he not competitive in grade ones this spring.

National Hunt (Ricci)

Benie Des Dieux (FR) 

(6-y-o bay mare)

Trainer: Willie Mullins

Owner: Rich Ricci

Sire: Great Pretender (IRE) Dam: Cana (Fr)

Seasonal targets: Mares chase programme in Ireland  Temptation : Ryanair Chase Cheltenham (20/1)

This may not be the first Willie Mullins selection on every racing fans list but one you could be hearing an awful lot more about in 12 months time. Rich Ricci has had an incredible amount of luck with mares in recent years and that looks like it may continue. Vroum Vroum Mag captured the attention of the racing public three years ago and this mare can make the breakthrough in similar fashion this season. Another French import for Mullins she was sensational on her debut and sole start for Mullins over fences Limerick last Christmas.

That was only a beginners chase at Limerick but it was some performance.Racing prominently, her speed over fences and level of accuracy was evident. She looked exceptional ! We didn’t see her again thereafter and Willie reported a small setback to be the reason why she hasn’t raced since. It’s hard to imagine Benie Des Dieux not sticking to fences this season although she could revert if needs be having raced seven times over hurdles in France.  She literally could be anything !

National Hunt (Debece) 1

Debece (GB)

(6-y-o bay gelding)

Trainer: Tim Vaughan

Owner: Mr Robert Kirkland

Sire: Kayf Tara (IRE)  Dam: Dalamine (Fr)

Seasonal target : RSA Chase Cheltenham (33/1)

If ever there was the perfect illustration of what they call a big strapping old fashioned chaser Debece is probably it. Probably the tallest horse in training and it’s very exciting to see him going over fences. Looking at his distinctive physique some might argue that he over achieved over timber.

He reached a high level last season when second to The Worlds End at Aintree (G1, 3m Nov Hdle). Debece had climbed 21Ibs in the handicap having three quick runs a over the space of two months. With each run last term you could see him maturing and he still hasn’t even filled his frame. Pedigree screams 3m, the RSA chase looks like a realistic target at this stage.

National Hunt (Coney Island)

Coney Island (IRE)

(6-y-o bay gelding)

Trainer: Eddie Harty

Owner: JP McManus

Sire: Flemensfirth (IRE) Dam: Milys Gesture (FR)

Seasonal target: Cheltenham Gold Cup (33/1)

We have now left a vintage Gold Cup era behind. It wasn’t long ago that we were licking our lips thinking about the possibility of Vautour taking on Don Cossack, Coneygree, Cue Card and the likes in Cheltenham’s ultimate showpiece. How things have changed !

Last season we saw Sizing John emerge from left field to dominate what looked like a weakened division. The common theory for the season ahead is to look outside last years Gold Cup form and side with whats potentially coming through the ranks. Of lasts seasons novice chasers , Coney Island is certainly one to keep an eye on. Leopardstown’s Christmas form is stacking up well so far and we may not yet have seen the best of Eddie Harty’s horse.

Ruled out of Cheltenham for a minor setback last term, Coney Island won the Drinmore mightily impressively and proved himself as a lively RSA chase contender. Apart from being potentially outstayed by Our Duke late in the final 50 yards on just his third run over fences at Leopardstown, this horse showed plenty of ability and proved his jumping.

Expected come forward again this season, Coney Island will be seen to better effect on decent ground. You’d have to be disappointed if he wasn’t in the Gold Cup shake up come March.

National Hunt (Samcro) 2

Samcro (IRE)

(5-y-o chestnut gelding)

Trainer: Gordon Elliott

Owner: Gigginstown House Stud

Sire: Germany (USA)  Dam: Dun Dun (IRE)

Seasonal target: Neptune Novices Hurdle (6/1)

He’s planted in almost every fans horses to follow list but we simply just couldn’t leave him out. He trounced every opponent put in front of him last season progressing as unbeaten in bumpers. Elliott’s young gun made a breathtaking start over hurdles at Punchestown this week showing a slickness over his flights, appearing only second gear. Undoubtedly his biggest challenges are to come but visually he looks immense.

Sometimes as fans and punters we often fall into the trap of talking up hype horses, especially when it comes to unexposed novices who realistically we don’t have a clue how good they are. The last time I remember this much hype or public chat regarding a novice this early in the season, the horse came from the point to point field also, the horse was unbeaten in bumpers also, the horse was sired by Germany also and the horse was called Faugheen. Neptune looks a natural target for what could be the next National Hunt superstar.

National Hunt (Altior)

Altior (IRE)

(5-y-o chestnut gelding)

Trainer: Nicky Henderson

Owner: Mrs. Patricia Pugh

Sire: High Chaparral (IRE) Dam: Monte Solaro (IRE)

Seasonal target: Queen Mother Champion Chase (6/4)

You simply cannot leave out the best horse in training. When we built up the possibility of Altior skiping the Arkle to go straight for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, National Hunt fans were licking their lips. Nicky Henderson was quick to shut down all rumours and Altior went on to sweep all before him and successfully take novice chasing’s biggest prize.

This season we may eventually witness the dual that everyone wants to see Altior vs Douvan. Throw in other contenders like Great Field, Min and Fox Norton this could be the best Queen Mother for many years. Altior didn’t appear to be at his brilliant best in the Arkle last season but his love for the track was proven 12 months previous with an extraordinary victory in the Supreme.

For anybody  in Douvan’s corner, it would be urged that you glance back over Altior’s scintillating performance at Newbury last December before nailing your colours to the mast. A frightening display from a novice chaser against hardened performer Fox Norton, who himself has boosted the form many times since. It’s hard to see Altior beaten this season.

National Hunt (Ballyward) 1

Ballyward (IRE)

(5-y-o bay gelding)

Trainer: Willie Mullins

Owner: Graham Wylie

Sire: Flemensfirth (IRE) Dam: Ifyoucouldseemenow (IRE)

Seasonal target: Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle (25/1)

Not your typical son of Flemensfirth, Ballyward is a smaller horse in stature than most of his Daddy’s offspring. Mightily impressive 16L bumper winner at Leopardstown last Christmas, he missed out on a trip across the water due to a minor setback just before Cheltenham. Given his pedigree and his point to point background, suspect the engine is there. The Albert Bartlett over 3m looks a likely target but this fella isn’t slow so the Neptune Novices could also enter the equation.

By Barry Doyle – 22/10/2017