Fusil Raffles (Saints Des Saints)
Age: 4yo Trainer: Nicky Henderson, Berkshire Owner: Simon Munir & Isaac Suide
Target: Champion Hurdle (Cheltenham) 16/1
Nicky Henderson looks well stocked once again in the Champion Hurdle department with two times champion Buveur D’Air, and Triumph winner Pentlands Hills towards the head of the betting.
I’d be keeping an eye on Fusil Raffles!
Having had two runs over hurdles in France for G. Macaire, the Saints Des Saints gelding knew his job well on British debut and ran out an impressive winner of the Adonis (Sandown) in February.
A stone bruise unfortunately ruled him out of the Cheltenham Festival when lying second favourite for the Triumph Hurdle.
Return to G1 winning action at Punchestown illustrated his well-being. On paper, two graded victories in only two starts for Nicky Henderson looks very promising and skies could be the limit with further progression expected.
For anyone worried about the “5yo’s can’t win Champion Hurdle” theory, Gavin Cromwell quashed that with Espoir D’Allen last season.
Can make up into a live contender!
If The Caps Fits (Milan)
Age: 7yo Trainer: Harry Fry, Dorset Owner: Paul & Clare Rooney
Target: Stayers Hurdle (Champion Hurdle) 10/1
Believed to be of Champion Hurdle class at the beginning of last season and campaigned accordingly.
Following moderate efforts over 2 miles in the Elite Hurdle (Wincanton) and Christmas Hurdle (Kempton) trainer Harry Fry changed course!
Up in trip significantly, a horrendous final flight error at Aintree was not enough to deny If The Cap Fits a first G1 victory in what was a tremendous race featuring Apple’s Jade and Rocksana.
Albeit Sean Bowen was in line for ride of the season, the horse must be given serious credit for guts shown to get back up on the line!
If The Cap Fits versus Paisley Park could transpire into being one of the rivalries of the winter over hurdles, both are lightly raced open to any amount of improvement.
Chacun Pour Soi (Policy Maker)
Age: 7yo Trainer: Willie Mullins, Closutton Owner: Rich Ricci
Target: Queen Mother Champion Chase (Cheltenham) 5/1
Rich Ricci’s Chacun Pur Soi is hugely exciting and must have oodles of ability!
It’s almost unimaginable to think a Naas Beginner’s Chase winner could saunter out at Punchestown and bully off the park a field which included the Arkle and JLT winners both. Check out the winner’s ears the whole way down the home straight, scary scenes !
It’s hard foresee a busy campaign given his fragility but expect Ricci’s newest star to mop up whatever he goes for this side of the Irish Sea on route to March.
With stablemate Min successfully stepping up in trip at Aintree last term and Altior’s days likely to be numbered over the minimum distance, it seems like the obvious route would be to stay at 2 miles.
Ante post punters should bear in mind the following bit before steaming in at 5/1 ….
Patrick Mullins spoke about how difficult “Chac” was to keep sound on the champ.ie podcast prior to Punchestown. (listen back)
Age: 7yo Trainer: Nicky Henderson, Berkshire Owner:
Target: Gold Cup (Cheltenham) 10/1
The 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup looks certain to be a cracker this season and Santini is the horse I’ve decided to go to war with !
Last season’s RSA Chase looked a proper contest with Topofthegame running out the winner but I’d be surprised if Santini doesn’t end up the best 3 miler from last year’s crop.
Without getting totally side-tracked, wasn’t the RSA some buzz? Santini, Delta Work and Topofthegame all going over the last together, I’ve goosebumps thinking of it!
Prior to the festival, one of the key nuggets thing to note was Toby Lawes (NJ Henderson Assistant Trainer) professed love for Santini.
Reading between the lines, whatever the galloping son of Milan (Santini) did in the RSA, ultimately it didn’t matter because Santini would be a horse of completely different colour in 2020.
Expect a primed Santini on Ladbroke Trophy Chase day (Hennessey previously). I’d be disappointed if he doesn’t go close off top weight, shortening his price for March!
Age: 5yo Trainer: Nicky Henderson, Berkshire Owner: Mrs. J. Donnelly
Target: Supreme Novices Hurdle (Cheltenham) 25/1
Shishkin made a striking impression when winning on debut for Nicky Henderson at Kempton just 25 hours after the same owners (Mrs. J. Donnelly) landed the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Al Boum Photo.
By Rathbarry resident Sholokhov (sire of 2016 Gold Cup winner Don Cossack) and out of a half-sister to the classy Voler La Verdette, Shishkin is certainly bred to get a trip.
Without question, this fella looked pacier than his typical relatives and it’s likely Shishkin will start off at the minimum distance over hurdles.
Chantry House (Yeats)
Age: 5yo Trainer: Nicky Henderson, Berkshire Owner: JP McManus
Target: Ballymore Novices Hurdle (Cheltenham) 25/1
JP McManus signed the cheque for Chantry House on the advice of Jamie Codd following the 4yo’s point victory for Co. Dublin based handler Cian Hughes at Tattersalls Farm.
An expensive fee of £295,000 was enough to snap up the son of Yeats and the youngster didn’t disappoint for Nicky Henderson on racecourse debut at Warwick.
It was a likable performance considering they went a crawl for the first half mile. Despite travelling strongly, race education was obviously high on the agenda and Geraghty buried the favourite amongst horses for three quarters of the race.
When invited to the party, Chantry House didn’t need a reminder, drawing clear by 3 lengths and galloping through the line powerfully. I just loved his head carriage!
An anticipated hurdling debut at Punchestown didn’t materialise at the back end of last season but I suspect it will be worth the wait when we eventually see this fellow over obstacles.
I’ve taken 25/1 for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle and I’ll also be watching a replay of Chantry House’s bumper win before bed, every night between now and March.
L’air Du Vent (Coastal Path)
Age: 5yo Trainer: Colin Tizzard, Dorset Owner: Brocade Racing
Target: Supreme Novices Hurdle (Cheltenham)
L’Air Du Vent was the Tizzard’s only bumper winner last season and showed a lovely turn of foot on winning debut at Bangor.
In November 2018, the Coastal Path gelding unsteated Jamie Codd when sent off a hot favourite for a point to point which featured Shishkin (above) at Lingstown.
Another p2p recruit highly regarded by Jamie Codd and Jonjo O’Neill Jnr also, L’Air Du Vent was described by the latter as the “best bumper horse” he’d sat on all year following victory at Bangor.
Looks a good horse to go hurdling!
Age: 5yo Trainer: Joseph O’Brien, Pilltown Owner: Lloyd J Williams
Target: Ballymore Novices Hurdle (Cheltenham) 20/1
Another lofty purchase from the point to point scene, Dlauro was bought at the Cheltenham February sales for a whopping £410,000 following his victory in a 5yo maiden at Bellharbour.
An alliance we could usually associate with a fancied runner for the Melbourne Cup, It appears Joseph O’Brien was given clear instructions to recruit a “good one” for Australian property developer and racing owner Lloyd J Williams.
Based on early evidence and what we saw of Dlauro’s debut at Punchestown, Lloyd may have gotten his wish!
Hayes Stud (Co. Meath) will also be watching Dlauro with big interest this season as their resident stallion Lauro is bids to stamp some authority on the National Hunt circuit. I wish them luck and hope Joseph O’Brien’s youngster can deliver over hurdles.
Bright Forecast (Acardio)
Age: 5yo Trainer: Ben Pauling, Gloucestershire Owner: The Aldaniti Partnership
Target: RSA Novices Chase (Cheltenham) 20/1
Ben Pauling continues to make no secret about how highly he regards Bright Forecast.
Despite travelling the widest route throughout and being chivied along in patches, the strapping son of Acardio was staying on better than any up the Cheltenham hill, finishing third behind City Island in the Ballymore.
Originating from the point to point scene, Bright Forecast is almost certain to improve for a fence and step up in trip.
Trainer Pauling has suggested his first main target might be the Kauto Star Novice Chase at Kempton.
I’d be confident Bright Forecast can make up into a leading RSA Chase contender!
Allaho (No Risk At All)
Age: 5yo Trainer: Willie Mullins, Closutton Owner: Cheveley Park Stud
Target: JLT Novices Chase (Cheltenham) 20/1
French bred 5 year old, who improved dramatically from his bumper (beaten when well-fancied) to his hurdles debut at Clonmel in February.
In only his second and third starts over timber, the son of No Risk At All ran two mighty races behind the talented Minella Indo at both spring festivals.
Allaho looks every inch a chaser to follow this year and considering how freely he raced over 3 miles, a drop down in trip might suit better.
Reminds of a gangly Sir Des Champs and may take another two seasons before we see the best of him. I’m excited to see him over a fence.
JLT bound I hope.
Getaway Trump (Getaway)
Age: 6yo Trainer: Paul Nicholls, Somerset Owner: Owners Group 023
Target: Arkle Novices Chase (Cheltenham) 16/1
Even though Champion Hurdle was considered, Paul Nicholls has decided to go chasing with 155 rated hurdler, Getaway Trump.
He’s won on heavy going in the past but the 6yo son of Getaway was undoubtedly seen to best effect on a better ground last season.
I’d imagine he’ll be unleashed at Cheltenham in October if the ground is suitable and if Getaway Trump improves for a fence like plenty of the Nicholls Academy, we’re then entering exciting territory!
I’ve taken 16/1 for the Arkle.
Gypsy Island (Jeremy)
Age: 5yo Trainer: Peter Fahey, Monasterevan Owner: JP McManus
Target: Dawn Run Mares Novice Hurdle (Cheltenham) 7/1
Highly talented Jeremy filly who’s unbeaten in three bumper starts for Peter Fahey.
Improved rapidly in a short space of time last term, showing a devastating turn of foot most notably when held onto tightly and delivered late at Fairyhouse.
Currently Gyspy Island lies favourite for the Dawn Run Mares Novice Hurdle 2020 but may not be confined to female company.
Potential superstar mare!
Age: 5yo Trainer: Willie Mullins, Closutton Owner: Simon Munir & Isaac Suide
Target: Dawn Run Mares Novice Hurdle (Cheltenham) 10/1
Ran six times on the flat in France for trainer Christophe Ferland. Bought for €75,000 at the 2017 Arqana Summer Sales before being sent to Willie Mullins.
An imposing chestnut sent off 66/1 for the Dawn Run Mares Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival 2019 on first start for the stable.
Travelling the widest route throughout, Concertista quickened very easily must have touched 1.03 in running when jumping the last in front! Stable mate Eglantine Du Seuil had other ideas and came from Planet Mars to deny Concertista victory on the line.
In what was only her first ever start over hurdles, it was a great effort!
Novice status is maintained for this season and Concertista can certainly go back to Cheltenham with a leading chance!
Fly Smart (Day Flight)
Age: 5yo Trainer: Willie Mullins, Closutton Owner: Rich Ricci
Target: Supreme Novices Hurdle (Cheltenham) 25/1
Another exciting recruit from France, Fly Smart has an almost identical early career profile to the late Vautour, winning his only start on the flat in France before finishing second over hurdles for trainer Guillaume Macaire at Auteuil.
The son of Day Flight was bought in November for the Ricci’s and appears to have been given maximum time to mature.
We’re somewhat speculating about his ability, but the form of Fly Smart’s hurdle race in France looks red hot (12 wins have come from same).
It’s almost become a tradition for goodness sake, Rich Ricci, Willie Mullins and the short price favourite for the Cheltenham festival opener.
I’ve had a speculative 1pt win on Fly Smart at 25/1 for the Supreme.
From Left Field
Vinndication (Vinnie Roe)
Age: 6yo Trainer: Kim Bailey, Gloucestershire Owner: Moremoneythan Syndicate
Target: Gold Cup (Cheltenham) 100/1
Kim Bailey’s 151 rated chaser underwent a wind operation over the summer months and is likely to return over fences at Carlisle with a view to stepping up in trip at Weatherby for the Charlie Hall Chase.
Rated 149 over hurdles, Vinndication brought with him a large reputation before going chasing. On the face of it, his hurdles form looks fairly impressive with novice wins over Champ and Western Ryder.
Although chasing began promisingly for Vinndication with wins at Carlisle and Ascot, his form sort of plateaued shortly after Christmas only placing at Sandown (2m 4f) followed by a fifth in the JLT Novice Chase at the festival.
More to come:
Stepping up in trip this season should definitely see an improvement and it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility we’ll see Vinndication competing with the very best.
Kim Bailey’s flag bearer needs to eliminate the occasional jumping error but 100/1 does seem outlandish for March’s showpiece!
Coeur Sublime (Elusive Pimpernel)
Age: 4yo Trainer: Gordon Elliott, Trim Owner: Chris Jones
Target: Stayers Hurdle (Cheltenham)
Labelled one of best work horse in Gordon Elliott’s yard, Coeur Sublime didn’t hit some of the heights expected on the racetrack last season and go in under some people’s radar for the upcoming season.
Second in the triumph hurdle to Pentland Hills proves grade one ability and stepping up in trip this season is sure to bring out further improvement. Could be a dark horse for the stayers hurdle.
One to keep onside and looks like the type to pop up when you least expect it!
Siruh Du Lac (Turgeon)
Age: 6yo Trainer: Nick Williams Owner: John White and Anne Underhill
Target: Betvictor Gold Cup (Cheltenham November Meeting) 10/1
Winner of the Brown Group Advisory Plate, this fella jumps for fun!
Winner 4 times over fences last season, the handsome son of Turgeon improved a massive 27Ibs and may not be finished improving.
Trainer Nick Williams has talked about the Betvictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham’s November Meeting will be his target. Six-year old rated 150, he could be competing in Grade 1 races before too long!
Power of Pause (Doyen)
Age: 4yo Trainer: Willie Mullins, Closutton
Doyen gelding bought for €180,00 by Harold Kirk and Willie Mullins following victory in a 2m 4f point to point at Punchestown in February.
Patiently ridden, Power of Pause clocked an impressive time and showed plenty of boot to quicken up the straight winning by 6L. Perhaps not one we’ll see this side of Christmas but could be very well suited to bumpers!
Mister Malarky (Malinas)
Age: 6yo Trainer: Colin Tizzard, Dorset Owner: Wendy & Malcom Hezzel
Target: Welsh Grand National
150 rated chaser who finished fourth in last year’s RSA chase, Colin Tizzard’s 6yo may be worth following staying handicaps this winter.
Up 3Ibs for finishing second to Kildisart wouldn’t seem unreasonable and he can improve in his second year over fences. Seemed to enjoy being ridden handily at Aintree and the Welsh National could be his primary target!
Age: 6yo Trainer: Alan King, Wilts Owner: Niall Farrell & Friends
Target: Greatwood Hurdle (Cheltenham November Meeting) 33/1
Progressive novice hurdler last term who’s best effort came when finishing second to Getaway Trump at Sandown on the final day.
We’ve already seen a glimpse of Harambe this season at Chepstow, and he was slightly disappointing when beaten a whopping 37L by Thyme Hill.
Harambe backers (like myself) can take some encouragement with the fact he pulled far too hard early on in a slowly run affair and never got home.
Off a mark of 137 and a guaranteed stronger pace to run at in the Greatwood Hurdle, we could see an entirely different proposition come November.
2020 Ante-Post Porfolio:
- Shishkin (25/1) – Supreme Novices Hurdle – 1pt win
- Fly Smart (25/1) – Supreme Novices Hurdle – 1pt win
- Fusil Raffles (16/1) – Champion Hurdle – 3pt win
- Getaway Trump (16/1) – Arkle Novices Chase – 1pt win
- Bright Forecast (20/1) – RSA Novices Chase – 3pt win
- Allaho (20/1) – JLT Novices Chase – 2pt win
- Chantry House (25/1) – Ballymore Novices Hurdle – 2pt win
- Dlauro (20/1) – Ballymore Novices Hurdle – 2pt win
- If The Cap Fits (12/1)- Stayers Hurdle – 4pt win
- Santini (10/1) – Gold Cup – 3pt win
- Concertista (10/1) – Dawn Run Novices – 1pt win
- Siruh Du Lac (40/1) – Ryanair Chase – 1pt win
- Vinndication (100/1) – Gold Cup – 1pt win
By Barry Doyle – 16/10/2019