The new National Hunt season is now under-way and with that in mind we thought it was the ideal time to try and unearth some hidden gems to keep an eye on. Fans of jump racing are clambering for five to follow through the season and we thought why not jump that bandwagon and chip in with our own selections for the winter.
We have picked out five horses who we believe could be in the winners enclosure this season and may even be able to arrive at the Cheltenham Festival in March with a chance of claiming a big race success. A number of the big yards are included with two from Willie Mullins, one from Nicky Henderson, one from David Pipe and one from Harry Fry making up out short-list.
Few would be surprised to read that we have started our five to follow with a Willie Mullins trained horse and in truth we could have picked any number of the Irish Champion Trainer's in-mates for this feature (There maybe another one further down the page!). On balance though we have picked out the highly exciting Allez Colombieres who is the latest recruit to the Mullins yard for powerful owner, Rich Ricci.
This four-year-old won three of his four bumper starts in France before being bought for a hurdling career in Ireland he looks an obvious Supreme Novices Hurdle candidate at this stage. The bookmakers have already caught wind of this horse with most having him towards the top of the Supreme market with the ground during the winter likely to be no problem at all. Ricci himself did also name drop Allez Colombieres during a recent interview with At The Races which could be telling in itself and he could be a future star.
Un Temps Pour Tout
A David Pipe trained five-year-old who will be stepped up to three miles this season and is expected to improve plenty as a result. Un Temps Pour Tout had a good career in France before running three times for Pipe last season over hurdles as a big money recruit to the yard. Smashed the well respected Cole Harden by 16 lengths at Ascot on heavy ground back in February before finishing third at Punchestown in handicap company with lumps of weight on his back. He is sure to be a strong stayer in time and could go chasing this season but either way, he is likely to be winning races this term and could easily make up into an Albert Bartlett or RSA horse in March.
Vukovar is one who was picked out by many 12 months ago and we are keeping faith with this Harry Fry in-mate. Arrived from France with a lofty reputation and although he only showed that class in fits and starts last season, he remains a young horse with more improvement to come. He lost to Mr Mole on his British debut over an inadequate trip before hacking up at Newbury at the back end of December by 21 lengths. Last seen when enduring a nightmare trip at Cheltenham in the JLT Novices Chase after being badly hampered early on and was unable to land a blow after that. Connections clearly retain faith in Vukovar with the Paddy Power Gold Cup under consideration as an early season target, while the Ryanair Chase in March is likely to be the long term aim for a strong galloper who we are yet to see the best of.
Tell Us More
We head back to the Willie Mullins yard for our next horse to follow with Tell Us More another one of his smart novice hurdlers in the making. Owned by the Gigginstown House Stud, Tell Us More won impressively in point-to-point company before being bought for a substantial 290,00 euros by Gigginstown and he duly won on his debut under rules back in March. That bumper success came in impressive fashion at Gowran Park on soft ground over 2m2f and it was hard not to be taken by the manner of that victory. Price tag was a big one for this horse but he could have the class to back that up and easy to see him running a big race in the Neptune or the Albert Bartlett come March.
This Nicky Henderson trained four-year-old won a bumper in nice fashion last season and is expected to make an impact as a novice hurdler. That success at Newbury last term was a good win as he won by a length, from subsequent dual winner Tea For Two, with the remainder of the field beaten out of sight which is always a positive note. A son of Medicean, Gaitway quickened well that day despite inexperience and is already a key player in the markets for both the Supreme Novices Hurdle and the Neptune at Cheltenham in March which could be telling. Always difficult to judge a horse after one run but hopes are high for Gaitway as takes to obstacles for the first time this winter.