We have already listed our National Hunt Ten To Follow for the imminent Jumps season, but we now turn our attentions to the handicap sphere, and pick out five horses that could be set for a successful campaign in that area, so check out are handicappers to follow here.
Trainer - Dan Skelton Owner - Triple F Partnership
Heading into the 2016-17 campaign Willow's Saviour will be fast-approaching veteran status, but the nine-year-old, who had a two-year absence from the National Hunt sphere between December 2013 and November 2015, could well turn out to be a sparkling handicapper to follow this season, as the Dan Skelton-trained raider aims to bounce back from a tumble at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
A fine winner of the Ladbroke Hurdle on his last start over hurdles at the back end of 2013, the Triple F Partnership-owned star blossomed on his chasing debut at Wincanton before finding the classy Ar Mad too hot to handle in the Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown Park, but it was his late fall, when challenging in the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase on day one of the Cheltenham Festival, that left many believing he has a workable handicap mark.
He is currently rated 138 and Skelton, who is set to continue his progression up the National Hunt training ladder this season, could well have a lot of fun with him this year, and BetVictor have already priced him up as a 20/1 shot for the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham in a few weeks, and it would be no surprise to see him run well on his return to Prestbury Park, and he certainly has the capabilities to become a 150-rated horse by next spring.
Trainer - Dan Skelton Owner - Mr T Radford
Second on our list is another Dan Skelton-trained horse and this time we focus our attentions on Kasakh Noir, who was last seen finishing sixth in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but could be another from the Skelton stable that can emerge as a flagbearer for his improving yard, and is certainly one to keep on the right side of.
A winner on his first British start at Newbury, the Tim Radford-owned charge relished testing conditions last season, as was shown when he landed a Market Rasen prize in heavy going, but while he found it tough in the Fred Winter it could be a step up in trip that may see him improve this season, and yet again he may relish the wet stuff with Skelton sure to have a big handicap prize on his radar.
The Ladbroke is certainly one race that jumps out as a potential race for Kasakh Noir to take his chance in, while the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton Park could be another that is worthy of a second look, with the Coral Cup a potential spring target, but he may well be an out-an-out winter horse for the 2016-17 season with one final campaign over hurdles before a move to the chasing arena.
Trainer - Nicky Henderson Owner - Mr JP McManus
Eighth in the 2015 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, Full Shift was always destined for a career over the larger obstacles, but while he was an adequate fourth in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Plate at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival the Nicky Henderson-trained raider failed to build on those exertions, and will now head into the 2016-17 season on what could be an attractive mark.
Third in a Listed race at Ayr's Scottish National meeting, finishing behind Definitly Red, who you will hear more about later, Full Shift could only finish seventh on his last start at Punchestown, but with another winter on his back he could finally show his full potential and impress off his current mark in the 130s and excel in the coming months.
A horse that shows his best on a quicker surface, the JP McManus-owned raider could be out in the early stages of the season to make the most of the quicker ground, but he could sparkle in the spring and may find himself challenging for a Cheltenham Festival prize come March, with the Galway Plate sure to be the sort of race pencilled in for him in the latter part of the Jumps campaign.
Trainer - Warren Greatrex Owner - Swanee River Partnership
Two impressive novice chase victories was the catalyst for Out Sam being propelled to favouritism for the Ultima Handicap Chase on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival last season, but Warren Greatrex's seven-year-old struggled to land any sort of blow as he eventually finished seventh in what is always a tough, competitive race.
Outclassed when seventh of eight behind Native River in the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices' Chase at Aintree, it will be back to the handicap sphere for Out Sam this season and surely he has the potential to make the most of what could be an attractive mark of 139 and he is certainly one for the handicap notebook this season.
Proven in soft ground, he just struggled to deal with the hustle and bustle of a tough handicap at Cheltenham, but he will benefit from that experience this term, and if he can maintain a prominent position in the early stages of a race and get in a rhythm over his fences then he has the capabilities of being another horse that can make it into the 150s by the end of the season and challenge for some big handicap prizes in the 2016-17 season.
Trainer - Brian Ellison Owner - Mr P Martin
An impressive win at Ayr's Scottish National meeting at the end of last season left many etching Definitly Red into their notebooks and Brian Ellison's seven-year-old could be a potential top notch staying handicapper this term and the form of that Ayr race could well turn out to be red-hot as the abovementioned Full Shift could build on his performance north of the border.
A faller in the four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival, Definitly Red looked to be struggling up against Minella Rocco, and while they may hand him a chance in Graded company it could be the handicap sphere where he is most likely to excel, and while he will have to take a hit for that aforesaid Ayr win he shaped like he could have the capabilities of striking this season.
He is 33/1 for the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham and with stamina needed in abundance to shine in that race then he could well be a lively outsider, while the likes of the Eider Chase and bet365 Gold Cup are another couple of races that could be his targets depending on his form during the season, but he is certainly an exciting fifth member of our handicappers to follow list.