The kids might still be on their summer holidays but we are already starting to see one or two nice jumps horses being given entries. Chief among those is the Neil Mulholland trained Shantou Village who is set to be one of the most exciting novice chasers in training this upcoming winter.
Connections are clearly eager to get a run into the horse whilst the ground remains good with Shantou Village holding an entry for the 2m5f Novice Chase at Fontwell on Thursday as well as a race over the same trip at Cartmel on Sunday afternoon. It will be a rare early treat for National Hunt fans to run the rule over a horse that could potentially take major order in the big spring Festivals.
Shantou Village was an excellent hurdler as he showed last November when he destroyed Champers On Ice to win the Grade 2 Hyde Novices Hurdle to mark himself out as a potential star. He followed that up with a respectable 2nd behind the top class Yanworth on Trials Day before disappointing in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival, when well fancied.
The Albert Bartlett was his first try up at 3m which could be a reason for his poor showing that day whilst the vet also reported the horse had been struck on his left hind. Connections clearly retain a huge amount of faith in the horse and although these early season races are unlikely to cause him any trouble at all, it will be great to see how he takes to a fence.
The long term aim for Shantou Village will of course be one of the staying novice chases at Cheltenham with 33/1 the current best price with Sky Bet about him winning the RSA Chase and it will be fascinating to watch as he makes the first step on that journey this week.