Fortunate enough to go in to semi retirement at 43 - I still enjoy a punt but try to be more selective these days. I like nothing more than having a go at non-h'cap races with long odds on favs - very often eway value can be found betting against the market leader. Over the years I have had a few nice touches with eway doubles and trebles betting this way ; but the majority of my bets are win or eway singles - it's the best way to seek consistent profit making.
Much of my time over the summer is spent studying the form book and watching replay after replay of races from the jumps season that had not long ended, with the task of trying to find some untapped potential and as many future winners as possible. Bumpers are a good source for spotting talent for the following season, many will go on to make decent novice hurdlers. Novice hurdles themselves can provide future handicappers and also potential steeplechasers for the forthcoming years. I can't stress how important is is to watch as many races as possible, be it on TV or from a day at the track, and don't forget to keep a notebook for future reference - they can often be a great asset, along with the many '' Alert Sites '' on the internet. I find it very satisfying when I can identify horses in their infancy that go on and develop in to useful performers. These last ten weeks or so have been spent compiling my list of fifty horses which I hope will provide many winners over the winter months. Enjoy the read and fingers crossed for a successful season.
It doesn't seem that long ago that we were all watching the festivals at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown, well how time flies - and in a few weeks time the ' proper ' jumps season will be starting to get in to full swing once again.
1. Al Shahir ….. 5yo G ( Dan Skelton )
Got off the mark at the third time of asking in a Newcastle bumper in mid February when easily accounting for Wig Wam Wiggle by eight lengths, prior to that run he was runner up in a couple of ordinary looking bumpers. Bred to appreciate jumping being by Robin Des Champs out of a Dr Massini mare, Al Shahir should have little trouble staying two and a half miles when sent over timber and opportunities should be found if he is not aimed too highly. Relishes testing conditions from what we have seen to date.
2. American ……. 7yo G ( Harry Fry )
A lightly raced but progressive novice chaser last season, winning his three races over the larger obstacles in decent fashion. Fancied by some to run well in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham festival, but unfortunately had to be withdrawn in the lead up to the race due to the lack of rain, in fact it may be that American will always need the word ‘’ Soft ‘’ appearing in the going description if he is to show his best form. Despite having to miss Cheltenham he made up for it somewhat when collecting a fair handicap for novices at Uttoxeter on the Saturday of festival week, giving the impression that he would not have been out of place in the RSA under suitable conditions. He will start the campaign from a mark of 157 so the better quality races should be on the agenda for him, and if we were guaranteed soft ground in March 2018 then the 40/1 currently available for the Gold Cup would look very generous indeed.
3. Ballyandy …… 6yo G ( Nigel Twiston Davies )
There looks to be a number of options open to Ballyandy for the new season, one of which maybe to send him straight over fences. However there could also be the temptation to aim him for something like the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in the second week of November before deciding on his future. He wasn’t far off the best of the novices last term, although his sole success in five starts came when taking the competitive Betfair Hurdle ( Handicap ) at Newbury in February a race in which his canny trainer had in his plans for a couple of months. Following the Newbury success Ballyandy was steadily supported for the Supreme Novices Hurdle for which he started a 3/1 joint favourite, he ran well in that race but on the day found three too good for him in the shape of Labaik Melon & River Wylde. He remains a horse full of promise whatever route connections decide is best for him and should be winning races over trips of up to 2m 4f.
4. Ballymoy ……. 4yo G ( Nigel Twiston Davies )
Signs of ability in a couple of four year old maiden point to points in Ireland in the spring despite being beaten by a total of twelve and fifteen lengths, so much so that his trainer had to go to £75,000 to secure the gelding at the Goffs sales towards the end of May. Good Man Pat the winner of Ballymoy’s second point looks potentially a useful performer for the future and it wouldn’t surprise me if a few winners came out of that race. Ballymoy is related to a number of winners, most notably the useful Invictus via his second dam Clashwilliam Girl. Very much a dark horse at this stage but sure to be placed to the best of his ability.
5. Brain Power …… 6yo G ( Nicky Henderson )
A very smart hurdler at his best, winning four of his nine starts to date over timber, but maybe just a little short of the absolute best. His best performance last season came when impressively taking a valuable Grade 3 contest at Ascot in December by an easy looking five lengths, defeating his stablemate Consul De Thaix while conceding a stone in weight. I would imagine connections will be contemplating a novice chase campaign for Brain Power, and I’m sure if that is the case then the son of Kananisi has the ability to reach a decent standard. Two miles seems the logical starting point, but he may well be worth testing over further as he gains experience. All roads are likely to be aimed towards Cheltenham in March, however one slight concern is that in two previous visits to the track he appears to have underperformed, that said I will be disappointed if he can’t win his share of races over the winter months. Probably best served by good to soft conditions.
6. Brio Conti ……. 6yo G ( Paul Nicholls )
Paul Nicholls has done well with offspring of Dom Alco - Silviniaco Conti, Neptune Collonges, Al Ferof , Vincente and Unioniste are just a handful that have passed through the trainer’s hands. Brio Conti himself by Dom Alco looks set to be the next chaser in the making for the master of Ditcheat. A fair hurdler winning two of his six starts and rated 145 at the end of last season, he always struck me as the type to progress further over the larger obstacles. He stays at least 2m 5f and has every chance of staying 3 miles, he has won on a sound surface and also good to soft, plus a close runner up on soft indicates that testing underfoot conditions may well be within his capabilities. I’d imagine Nicholls would give him a gentle introduction to fences before stepping up in grade, with a long range target being the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in March if he shows enough potential along the way. A likeable individual.
7. Bullionaire ………. 4yo G ( Harry Fry )
Created a good impression when taking a fair looking bumper at Newbury in late March, and looks a nice prospect for novice hurdles. Travelling well he led five furlongs out and only needed to be pushed clear to come home three and a half lengths ahead of Midnight Stroll with a further four and a half lengths back to Silver Kayf. Bullionaire is by Gold Well who is responsible for the decent chasers Holywell and Johns Spirit, out of a fairly modest mare whose only success came in the pointing fields. He looks capable of winning at the minimum trip over timber, but further improvement is possible when stepped up in distance. It’s far too early to determine any going preferences, but he clearly coped very well on good to soft at Newbury.
8. Capitaine ……. 5yo G ( Paul Nicholls ) French bred gelding by Montmartre who showed a fair level of form over hurdles. Interesting to note that his trainer gave him the experience of an outing in a novice chase at Newton Abbot in May, where he made short work of three rivals coming home an easy ten lengths winner from the Evan Williams trained The Gripper. It is as a novice chaser that Capitaine is nominated for the season ahead, and he may just be the type to run up a sequence at around the minimum trip. Top of the ground or good to soft are probably ideal conditions, and I would have some reservations about him on very testing going. It would be a major disappointment though if he failed to add to his winning tally.
9. Celebre D’Allen …….. 5yo G ( David Pipe )
Placed third in two modest looking bumpers, travelling well on both occasions before failing to have the necessary pace in the latter stages. He should be seen to better effect with hurdles to jump and will hopefully be able to find a race in ordinary novice company. Celebre D’Allen was also in the process of going close in his sole point to point in Ireland when coming to grief at the last before joining Pipe, so trips of two and a half may not pose a problem when he gains a little more experience. Will hopefully reward his connections and followers over the winter months.
10. Charbel …… 6yo G ( Kim Bailey )
A bold front runner who was in the process of running a big race in the Arkle Trophy until coming to grief two from home, he was around half a length in front of Altior at the time and in all probability could have finished runner up but for falling. Charbel underperformed on his final start at Aintree when third of five to San Benedeto but that was only his fourth career start over fences, and I do believe he is open to further progress particularly if he can be a little less keen in the early stages of his races. He appears to act on any going and should always be best suited by the minimum trip, hopefully a good prize awaits him this season.
11. Cirano De Sivola …….. 5yo G ( Warren Greatrex )
Took a 2m 4f Point to Point at Larkhill at four, and won his bumper at Warwick in January on his second start under rules. Given two months off the track and then sent over hurdles for his only other outing where he was sent off a well backed favourite at 5/6 in a field of five at Stratford, but could only manage third that day behind the Neil Mulholland trained Cornish Warrior. Cirano De Sivola strikes me as the type to improve with more racing, and can only benefit from a summer behind him. His Larkhill win was on good to soft and his bumper on soft so it seems clear that he appreciates some rain, improvement should be forthcoming too when stepped up in trip. I’d imagine he will start off his campaign at around two and a half miles and hopefully it won’t be long before he manages to get his head in front again.
12. Cockney Wren ……… 4yo F ( Harry Fry )
Showed steady improvement in four bumpers last season, winning on her final outing at Taunton in April coming home six lengths clear of Jaunty Soria, with the Warren Greatrex trained Ilovemints a further length and a half back in third. The form probably doesn’t amount to a great deal but the filly showed a likeable attitude and should be up to winning in maiden / ordinary novice company when sent over hurdles. She acts well on a sound surface and I would think will be best suited to trips of around two miles for the time being.
13. Coeur De Lion …….. 4yo G ( Alan King )
Looks always likely to show his best form when the mud is flying, Coeur De Lion is a winner of two from five starts over timber with another brace of runner up spots, on going ranging from good to soft to as testing as heavy. Those four runs earned the son of Derby Winner Pour Moi a crack at the Triumph Hurdle, unfortunately for connections the going at the festival was on the good side and Coeur De Lion was never travelling well enough to be competitive and eventually finished seventh behind Defi Du Seuil beaten almost eleven lengths. That said it was probably a reasonable effort for a horse that started at 33/1 on unsuitable going. He will return this season with an official rating over hurdles of 144 and will hopefully be found opportunities in handicap company when the emphasis is on stamina over two miles, and is certainly worth a try over further at some stage.
14. Copper West …….. 6yo G ( Tom George )
A late developing son of Westerner ( runner up in Ascot Gold Cup & Arc ) who is responsible for NH performers such as Cole Harden, Champagne West and Arkle Trophy Winner Western Warhorse. Coppers West was owner trained in Ireland when showing signs of ability in a couple of bumpers ( was fifth & fourth, looking as if the trip was short of his optimum ) he also won a point to point in December, when only two of the eleven that set out completed the course. He must have caught the attention of some people, and the very capable trainer Tom George had to go to £55k at Goffs to secure him. I’d imagine he will go over hurdles initially for George, although it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise if he decided to send him novice chasing. Two and a half miles is likely to be the absolute minimum of his requirements, and there are races to be won with him providing his targets are not set too highly.
15. Daphne Du Clos …….. 4yo F ( Nicky Henderson )
Won over a mile and a half in the French Provinces in October of last year before joining Henderson in December. At Cheltenham on New Year’s day she created a favourable impression when just being touched off by Fergal O’Brien’s Cap Soleil, who herself looks smart in a Listed Bumper over 1m 6f. Daphne Du Clos got off the mark in the UK on her only other outing, when collecting a decent race at Newbury in February in a field containing six previous winners. She travels well in her races, stays two miles comfortably, has won on typical winter going, and can also quicken toward the end of a contest, all aspects that bode well for her future. Daphne Du Clos looks a very nice recruit to the novice hurdles scene and should have little trouble in winning her share.
16. Diable De Sivola ……. 4yo G ( Nick Williams )
Proved himself a fair juvenile hurdler last season despite just the one success in six races. That win came at Uttoxeter in the summer on his racecourse debut, beating Hygrove Percy by a shade under three lengths. Some decent placed efforts followed, notably when runner up to Defi Du Seuil at Chelteham in November, but in fairness he was probably flattered by the margin of defeat of just a length and three quarters. Diable De Sivola was raised eight pounds by the handicapper for that effort, it was probably fair in hindsight because on his final start of the campaign he ran a fair race to be fifth in the Fred Winter Juvenile behind stable companion and surprise winner Flying Tiger. Diable De Divola acts well on top of the ground and good to soft, he is yet to race on anything softer. Hopefully a handicap can be found from his current mark of 132, and maybe worth trying at further than two miles at some stage.
17. Dessinateur …….. 4yo G ( Venetia Williams )
Appeared to be well suited to soft going when collecting a Chepstow bumper in March, it was only a five runner affair but he showed a likeable attitude to get the better of the David Pipe trained Warthog by a length and a quarter despite looking as if the run would do him no end of good. It was the first time the son of Alberto Giacometti had seen a racecourse, whereas the runner up ( and the fifth place Indian Hercules ) had winning point to point form, so in hindsight it was a fair performance. Dessinateur should stay further in time and I see no reason why he shouldn’t take to hurdles. More races await under suitable conditions and more than one win would come as no great surprise.
18. Destined To Shine ……… 5yo G ( Kerry Lee )
Showed the benefit of his debut in mid January when getting off the mark at Towcester in testing conditions a month later springing a 25/1 surprise in the process. His only other outing came in April at Carlisle when third of eleven behind Court Affairs and Luckime, giving away seven pounds to those two rivals. Destined To Shine’s overall form is nothing to shout home about, but his style of racing should see him collect more prizes. He appears to like to make the running and when conditions are on the emphasis of stamina then he should give a good account of himself if not aimed too highly. Should stay 2m 4f+ when sent over timber and will hopefully be a winner for his followers and his very capable trainer Kerry Lee.
19. Diamant Bleu ………. 4yo G ( Nick Williams )
Yet to race in this country but has four runs under his belt at France’s premier jumps track Auteuil, winning on his third start in a conditions race worth almost £20,000 to the winner, he also has a second place to his credit. It’s hard to evaluate the form but he should be the type to find further success if sent over hurdles in this country. He acts very well in testing conditions and stays at least two and a quarter miles. Diamant Bleu is in good hands to have his talent developed.
20. Duhallow Gesture …….. 5yo M ( Anthony Honeyball )
Looked pretty modest in 2016 when contesting two bumpers and a point to point in Ireland, but a lot of that may have been down to immaturity. She put that to right when returning to action in April following a five months break by collecting a mares maiden point at Quakerstown, and four weeks later taking a bumper at Tipperary over two and a quarter miles despite still appearing a little bit green. She clearly caught the eye nonetheless and her new trainer had to go to a six figure sum to secure the mare at the Goffs Sales in late May. Duhallow Gesture should improve further with experience and looks a mare to follow over the winter months. She is by King’s Theatre, and is one of five winning offspring from the Shalford dam Rare Gesture, she comes from the same family as the good jumpers Rhinestone Cowboy & Wichita Lineman. Duhallow Gesture should stay three miles in time, but will hopefully pick up races over shorter this season. One to keep on your side.
21. Enniscoffey Oscar ………. 5yo G ( Emma Lavelle )
Took a bumper on the all weather at Lingfield on his debut under rules, narrowly getting the better of a three way battle by two short heads from Nicky Henderson’s Take To Heart and the Johnny Farrelly trained And The New. Enniscoffey Oscar travelled well throughout and found more for pressure late on after taking up the running inside the final quarter of a mile. A trip to Aintree followed on his only other start of the season where he contested the Grade 2 event on the Friday, he showed the benefit of his Lingfield run by running an excellent second to the surprise 33/1 winner Lalor. It looked a strong renewal going in to the race with fifteen of the nineteen starters having already won at least once before. Opportunities should be found in novice company over timber in the new season, initially over trips in the region of two miles but there’s every chance of staying further in due course.
22. Eur Gone West …….. 4yo G ( David Pipe )
A hint of ability for Colin Bowe when third of thirteen in a point to point for 4yo’s at Ballynoe in April, and has since joined the David Pipe stable over the summer. I would imagine he will start off in bumpers initially before a campaign over hurdles. By Westerner out of a modest maiden pointing mare he is unlikely to prove anything special, but hopefully his trainer will be able to place him to win races in ordinary company, he should stay at least 2m 4f in time.
23. Gunfleet …….. 5yo G ( Emma Lavelle )
A fairly late foal ( 17th May ) Gunfleet only made his racecourse debut at the start of April, going off an unfancied 16/1 chance. He did however reward his connections and followers that day at Stratford coming home a shade over two lengths clear of the Harry Skelton trained Solomon Grey. It looked only an ordinary bumper on paper but it did include a previous winner in the shape of Arakhan, and two of his other rivals have since gone on to win over hurdles at least once, so at least there is some substance to the form. Gunfleet is by Oscar and can only improve with experience, further bumpers may be on the cards but he should also have little trouble winning a novice hurdle or two over the course of the season. Will stay further than the minimum trip.
24. Hear No Evil …….. 5yo G ( Dan Skelton )
First Foal of a maiden King’s Theatre mare, Hear No Evil looked a little short of pace in two bumpers last term, but did however run with plenty of credit on the second of those two starts when beaten just three quarters of a length by Espoir De Teillee at Ffos Las in April. The form of the race at this stage looks only modest but he showed a likeable attitude, travelling nicely and battling on well in the closing stages despite never looking likely to catch the winner. A step up in trip should suit him, and opportunities should be found in novice company over timber.
25. Jaunty Flyer …….. 5yo G ( Tim Vaughan )
Dam Jaunty June has produced five foals to make it to the track, four of which have won between them a total of 16 races only Jaunty Walk failed to win ( on her only appearance ) but herself went on to produce three winning offspring ( seven races ) from just the three to date. Jaunty Flyer got off the mark at the third time of asking when taking a modest looking bumper at Exeter in April, winning quite comfortably by eight lengths. He looks a late maturing type and should stay further, success in ordinary novice company will hopefully be forthcoming when sent over hurdles, and being from an unfashionable stable may well pop in at rewarding odds. Sold out of Brian Eckley’s stable for £65,000 at the Spring horses in training sales.
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