Ten Horses To Follow In The 2017/18 National Hunt Season
The winter is fast approaching and that means that jumps racing fans are busy whipping themselves into a frenzy. Social media is awash with buzz horses to follow, so we thought we would hop on to the bandwagon with our editor, Sean Raymond, picking out his ten to follow...
Benie Des Dieux – 6yo
Trainer – Willie Mullins
Owner – Mrs S Ricci
Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci have enjoyed a long line of top class mares over the past five years or so, and that looks set to continue this winter with the highly exciting Benie Des Dieux at their disposal.
Another recruit from France, Benie De Dieux made her debut for the Closutton handler at Limerick just after Christmas last year, and boy did she make an impression. Albeit in a weak looking mares’ beginners chase, she was popped out in front by Paul Townend, and proceeded to jump and travel like an extremely high-quality animal to claim the win with her head in her chest.
It is always hard to gauge the quality of these horses in such weak races but visually, she was mightily impressive that day, and hopefully she can join the likes of Vroum Vroum Mag as one of the elite mares at the yard. Looks a natural chaser as a granddaughter of Robin Des Champs but connections clearly taking their time with her, and rightly so.
Bullionaire – 4yo
Trainer – Harry Fry
Owner – P Fry & C Walker
A highly exciting horse for Harry Fry who made a major impression on his only start last season when he won the Goffs UK Spring Sales Bumper at Newbury.
Despite it being his first appearance on the track, the big scopey 4YO powered clear of the field that day at Newbury in the style of a potentially exciting animal. He was wisely put away for the summer after that performance, and we can expect him to be a major presence as a result over hurdles this term.
The old cliché of “whatever he does over hurdles will be a bonus” very much applies to Bullionaire with the frame of the horse clearly suited to fences in the future. By the same sire as Holywell and Sausalito Sunrise, he is also related to Alvarado, so extended trips is likely to be his bag as he gets older with a trip to the Neptune, rather than the Supreme, more likely to be his target if he progresses this winter.
Dead Right – 5yo
Trainer – Neil Mulholland
Owner – JP McManus
A Punchestown Festival winner who can be excused his one poor run over hurdles last season for Neil Mulholland.
Ran a decent race when very green on debut at Uttoxeter when beaten into 2nd place by the very solid De Dollar Man, before picking up a minor injury on hurdling debut at Newbury in his subsequent start.
The 5yo returned in a strong looking bumper at the Punchestown Festival and won with more than something in hand for JP McManus. He was getting weight from most of his rivals that day in Ireland, but on just his 3rd start, he comfortably beat Champion Bumper 4th Next Destination by over four lengths, and it was hard not to be impressed.
A strong point-to-point (P2P) family background suggests that a step up in trip should suit this horse in time, but for now he is expected to be an above average novice hurdler.
Jerrysback – 5yo
Trainer – Philip Hobbs
Owner – JP McManus
Another potential star for JP McManus to go to war with this season after an impressive start to his career under rules. A winner between the flags, the 5YO won both of his starts for Philip Hobbs last season as a novice hurdler, and in turn he is clearly expected to take high order over fences this winter.
Despite being described as a “big baby” by Barry Geraghty, he won a decent race at Plumpton on debut, before improving again to win at Wetherby on his subsequent start back in February.
Connections decided to swerve Cheltenham with him last season with a career over fences in mind, and he certainly looks like the type to take to the bigger obstacles. Both his novice hurdle wins came at an intermediate trip, and as a P2P winner, few would be surprised to see him as a contender for something like the RSA Chase come the spring.
Monbeg Worldwide – 5yo
Trainer – Gordon Elliott
Owner – Gigginstown
Gordon Elliott has an embarrassment of riches on his hands these days, and there is certainly strength in depth in the yard when it comes to novice hurdlers this season.
One of the potential stars of that sphere could well turn out to be the Gigginstown owned Monbeg Worldwide who was one of the stand out bumper horses last winter. A P2P winner on his only start between the flags, this big imposing animal won all three of him bumper starts under rules subsequently.
His most impressive display came at Naas on his most recent start when giving weight away all round, he managed to hold on to win the race by a neck. There never seemed to be any temptation to take the horse to Cheltenham Festival for the Champion Bumper after that success, and instead he was put away with the future firmly in mind.
A Grandson of Oscar, he is related to some high-class animals and this is a horse who is going to make a big stamp of a chaser in time, but like most of these, he will go over hurdles first.
Pym – 4yo
Trainer – Nicky Henderson
Owner – Mrs Patricia Pugh
A very taking bumper winner last season for Nicky Henderson in the same colours as the famous Altior.
A four-length winner of the flat race at Ayr on debut during the Scottish Grand National meeting in a race farmed by seven Barrows over the years. Nicky Henderson won the same contest north of the border with the legendary Sprinter Sacre back in 2010, and having won it five times since, we know it is a race he likes to aim his better young horses towards.
The manner of his victory was particularly impressive on debut with the horse looking beaten at one stage before picking up in taking fashion, and we can expect the son of Stowaway to be another star for Nicky Henderson to go to war with over hurdles.
Red Jack – 4yo
Trainer – Noel Meade
Owner – JP McManus
A dual bumper winner for Noel Meade, who was snapped up by JP McManus following a very taking debut win at Naas back in January. Subsequent Cheltenham Champion Bumper 2nd, Debuchet, was behind Red Jack that day, and the form line through Fayonagh looks rock solid to say the least.
He followed that Naas success up with an equally impressive display at Fairyhouse last time out, beating a potentially nice animal of Gordon Elliott’s, and there is no doubt that Red Jack is a horse of immense potential.
Well worth following as a novice hurdler this term, but he is related to Grand National winner Numbersixvalverde, so we can expect him to enjoy a stamina test at some point during his career. Connections decided to swerve the Cheltenham Festival last season, perhaps wisely, but that is unlikely to be the case in 2018 given the undoubted talent of this young horse. High expectations.
Sam Brown – 5yo
Trainer – Anthony Honeyball
Owner – T Frost
A potential stable star for Anthony Honeyball who won both of his bumpers last season in races that worked out very well.
The 5YO plugged on gamely to win on debut at Wincanton back in February before he defied his penalty to win again at Newbury on his 2nd start ahead of a potentially decent animal from the Nicky Henderson yard. Honeyball remarked after the race that he “could be our best young horse”, and that certainly looks the case.
The form of his debut win at Wincanton was well and truly franked when Lalor, who was behind Sam Brown that day, won the bumper at Aintree during the Grand National meeting in very taking circumstances.
A son of Black Sam Bellamy, who was also the sire of The Giant Bolster, we can expect Sam Brown to make up into a grand chaser in time, but he is another one who is clearly full of promise at this early stage of his career.
Samcro – 5yo
Trainer – Gordon Elliott
Owner – Gigginstown
A £335,000 Irish bumper star who is expected to take the highest order in the novice hurdling division this winter.
A winner on all three of his starts last season for Gordon Elliott, he saved his best performance for last when he scorched clear at Fairyhouse to win by a remarkable 17 lengths, and mark himself out as a potential star of the future at the same time. Versatile in terms of ground, he is also a P2P between the flags winner so we know that a stamina test and fences is likely to see him to best effect down the line.
A big scopey chaser of the future, connections will be hoping they have another Don Cossack on their hands, but before that, he is without doubt one to watch as a novice hurdler with intermediate and extended trips likely to suit this exciting 5yo.
Will also be popular with fans of Sons Of Anarchy.
The Worlds End – 6yo
Trainer – Tom George
Owner – McNeill Family
The Worlds End will already be known to the majority of racing punters but he did slip under the radar slightly at the back end of last season, and is worth a mention as a result.
A winner of his bumper the season before last at Chepstow, he took to hurdles like a duck to water last term with four wins from his five starts for Tom George. He was travelling well in the Albert Bartlett when falling two out at Cheltenham, but he bounced back from that to claim the Group 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at the Grand National festival in good style.
It was a fair effort to bounce back from a fall to win in Liverpool just a few weeks later, and the future clearly remains bright for this horse. Comments at the end of the that Aintree win suggested he would stay over hurdles with a tilt at the Stayers’ Hurdle a potential long term target this season, although there is no doubt he has the look of chaser going forward.
Author - @seanraymond
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