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.
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. 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.
26. Kaveman ………. 5yo G ( Gary Moore )
A full brother to five previous winners �" most notably the useful Ballyandy trained by Nigel Twiston �" Davies, and from a family that trainer Gary Moore knows well. Kaveman is still a maiden after three outings in bumpers last term but showed enough to suggest he is up to winning over hurdles in ordinary company. All his siblings are / were best suited to trips of around two miles and I see that being the case for him for the forseeable future, and it maybe the case that he will be better suited to tracks where there is less emphasis on stamina �" as on his third outing last season at Towcester he appeared to finish fairly tired. It’s far too soon to identify any going preferences but he did seem to cope with quick conditions on his last two starts.
27. Lalor ……….. 5yo G ( Richard Woollacott )
Ended the season as one of the leading bumper performers with three successes in four races, culminating with a 33/1 surprise in the Grade 2 contest at the Aintree Grand National meeting. There certainly didn’t appear to be any fluke regarding the result, his starting price may have had some bearing on the fact that he was unproven on a sound surface prior to Aintree, with wins on soft at Wincanton on Boxing Day and on heavy underfoot conditions when easily accounting for Daylami Kirk by thirteen lengths back at the track in March. Lalor looks an exciting prospect for novice hurdles over the winter, and appears an uncomplicated sort with his wins coming under three different jockeys. Trips of around two miles should suit Lalor initially but could be worth a try at further at some stage.
28. Lifeboat Mona ……. 7yo M ( Paul Nicholls )
Not overly raced for a horse of her age but a genuine and consistent performer with six wins from the ten starts under rules. She comfortably won a couple of races last season �" a handicap and a mares listed race �" before being raised in class to contest the OLBG Mares Hurdle at the Chetenham festival. Her trainer fancied her that day to be thereabouts if she produced her best form, sadly though she failed to get competitive and finished a well beaten eleventh of the seventeen starters. Lifeboat Mona acts very well on a rain softened surface and is capable of winning again if kept over hurdles, however I feel she could be sent novice chasing where opportunities should be found for her to get back on the winning trail. She is proven at trips close to two and three quarter miles over hurdles, and was also successful over three miles in an Irish Point to Point back in 2014.
29. Little Miss Poet …….. 5yo M ( Philip Hobbs )
Won two and was runner up three times in five starts over hurdles between January and April, impressing on her final start when travelling strongly throughout and coming home twelve lengths clear of her nearest rival �" Sue Be It �" despite being heavily eased inside the final furlong. Her overall form is nothing to shout about and there is still some room for improvement in the jumping department, but she’s a likeable sort who may still be capable of better. She is rated 121 at present which I hope is a mark that can be exploited, Little Miss Poet has won on both a sound surface and soft underfoot conditions and should have little trouble staying at least 2m 4f. I would imagine a campaign in handicap company awaits the daughter of Yeats.
30. Longtown ……… 6yo G ( Philip Hobbs )
A lightly raced three mile chaser in the making. Got off the mark at the fourth time of asking when taking a 2m 5f maiden hurdle at Warwick towards the end of March, staying on in gritty fashion to get the better of the Dan Skelton trained Earlshill by five lengths on soft going. The form is only ordinary at best but he strikes me as the type to do better when sent over the larger obstacles. Prior to the Warwick outing he ran as if something may have been amiss at Exeter in mid January, but clearly the break did him good. Longtown strikes me as a late developer and he should improve as he gains experience, well suited by plenty of give he is sure to be placed to the best of his ability and will hopefully reward his connections and followers over the course of the season.
31. Melrose Boy ……… 5yo G ( Harry Fry )
Has shown enough ability in just three starts over hurdles to suggest there is a race or two to be found for him. His best performance was probably when a seven lengths runner up to River Wylde at Ludlow in December, given that the Henderson horse progressed enough to be contesting Grade 1 events at Cheltenham and Aintree. Melrose Boy had just the one other run after Ludlow, again running with promise when third at Wetherby in mid January behind the Kerry Lee trained Eaton Hill. I noted at both Ludlow & Wetherby that he hung left in the latter stages of the race, possibly he was feeling something ( hence not running after January ) or maybe he was showing signs of inexperience and was in need of some headgear to help him concentrate. Either way I feel Melrose Boy starts the campaign on a mark ( 123 ) that his trainer could exploit over the winter. He’s no worldbeater but I am convinced if he is fit and healthy then he should be able to pick up a handicap over hurdles. At least 2m 4f is within his compass.
32. Midnight Shadow ……… 4yo G ( Sue Smith )
Landed a minor punt from 16/1 to 11/1 on his debut in a Junior Bumper at Newcastle in December, travelling well throughout and staying on strongly to come home ten lengths clear of the James Ewart trained Dunly. Just two other starts followed, running with promise again when runner up in a four runner contest at Doncaster, and then a seventh of twenty behind the potentially useful Bullionaire at Newbury. His form is nothing special but judged on his Newcastle win alone Midnight Shadow should be up to winning ordinary novice hurdles in the north. He is a full brother to a winner over two and a half miles and I see no reason why he shouldn’t stay that sort of trip himself.
33. Moonshine Bay …….. 4yo G ( Colin Tizzard )
Won a Maiden Point to Point for 4yo’s at Loughrea on the second of two outings in the Spring in fine style under Jamie Codd. There was much to like about the performance and it came as no great surprise when there was plenty of interest in him when he appeared at the Cheltenham May Sales, he eventually fell to the agent Tom Malone for a bid of £120k to go in to training with the Tizzards. By Milan out of a half sister to a French Group 3 winner Moonshine Bay’s long term future may well be over fences, however that is likely to be a year or two away and in the meantime he should have the ability to make his mark in bumpers and over hurdles. Sure to be placed to have his potential nurtured to the maximum, Moonshine Bay is a dark horse to keep an eye on in the months ahead.
34. Most Celebrated …….. 4yo G ( Neil Mulholland )
Ex Saeed Bin Suroor / Godolphin before joining his current stable back in January. He immediately showed a good attitude for hurdling and trounced a field of maidens at Wetherby by twenty eight lengths and upwards later in the month. In four other outings he managed one more win, a brace of runner up spots and also a third place. He will hopefully prove a profitable handicapper to follow over hurdles this season and starts the campaign from a mark of 129. He is by the five times Group 1 winner New Approach out of a French bred mare that won over a mile, so I would think that his immediate future would be over trips in the region of two miles. He has been successful on good to firm and also good to soft.
35. Oh Michelle …….. 6yo M ( Nigel Twiston �" Davies )
By Kayf Tara out of a Presenting mare, Oh Michelle is bred to appreciate a trip, so it came as no great surprise that she looked a tad one paced when contesting bumpers last season. That said she performed with credit to be placed in three of them. She is bred by the Twiston �" Davies family, in fact Sam even won five Point to Points on Oh Michelle’s dam Grenfell before becoming an established jockey under rules. She should jump fences one day but I imagine Our Michelle will contest novice hurdles over distances between 2m 4f and 3 miles in the immediate future. She has shown enough so far to suggest she should be up to winning in ordinary company at least.
36. Peterborough ………. 4yo G ( Evan Williams )
French bred gelding successful in a Maiden Point to Point for 4yo’s at Curraghmore. Joined Evan Williams when the trainer paid £60k at Goffs in May, and hopefully that will prove money well spent. Peterborough is a half brother to the very smart Pythagore ( by Kahyasi ) who won eighteen times for Emmanuel Clayeux at the leading tracks in France. It’s far too early to predict what standard Peterborough may reach under rules, but it will be surprising if he can’t be placed to recover some ( if not more ) of his purchase price. His Curraghmore win came on top of the ground but Pythagore was well served by testing underfoot conditions so there is more than hope that Peterborough will not be ground dependent.
37. Pym ………. 4yo G ( Nicky Henderson )
Pym looked a bit of a baby on his only racecourse performance to date, that said it was a winning one, coming home four lengths clear of the Iain Jardine trained Cool Mix in an Ayr bumper on Scottish Grand National day, leaving the impression that there was plenty more to come. Pym is by Stowaway �" a sire responsible for the likes of Hidden Cyclone, Champagne Fever and Outlander to name a few. His dam Liss Rua was only modest on the track winning just a bumper from ten appearances, but has produced four winners as a broodmare, with Pym looking potentially the best of them. He may well take in another bumper or two before embarking on a hurdling career and in time should have no trouble staying 2m 4f.
38. River Wylde ……… 6yo G ( Nicky Henderson )<
Reached a good standard as a novice hurdler last term �" winning his first three, and was also a fair third beaten around ten and a half lengths behind Labaik in the Supreme Novice at the festival, may well have been a little over the top at Aintree when a slightly disappointing fifth of nine behind Pingshou but remains a horse with plenty of potential for the future. I’d imagine a novice chase campaign will be the plan this season and hopefully River Wylde will be even better over the larger obstacles. The Arkle Trophy back at Cheltenham in March would be a realistic long range target at this stage, but whatever happens between now and then I would be disappointed if he doesn’t win his share along the way.
39. Robbin’ Hannon ……. 6yo G ( Philip Hobbs )
Won a maiden Point to Point at Dromahane in November before joining his current stable. Robbin’ Hannon rewarded connections faith by taking a Warwick maiden hurdle on his debut under rules, and towards the end of April ran the smart Gayebury to three and three quarter lengths up at Perth, pulling almost twenty lengths clear of the third placed horse. He looks a chaser in the making and stays three miles well, and quite possibly acts on most surfaces having won his point on top of the ground and his hurdle on as testing as heavy. Robbin’ Hannon looks a nice prospect for novice chases and could be one to keep in the notebook for some time.
40. Rosemary Russet ……… 5yo M ( Harry Fry )
Got off the mark at the third time of asking when collecting a Southwell bumper back in the Spring. The form is nothing special but the mare strikes me as the type to already need further, even at this early stage of her career. There should be more opportunities for her when she is sent over hurdles and I can’t visualise two and a half miles posing any problems. She’s in good hands and sure to be placed to the best of her ability. Rosemary Russet appears well served by a soft surface.
41. Sam Brown …….. 5yo G ( Anthony Honeyball )
Unbeaten in two bumpers to date, Sam Brown looks a potentially smart and exciting young horse for the season ahead. On his debut at Wincanton in February he beat none other than Lalor who progressed throughout the season, ending his campaign by winning a Grade Two event at the Grand National meeting, in fact that was Lalor’s only loss in four races. Sam Brown’s second win also had substance to it, with the third placed Talkischeap winning twice over hurdles in May, the fifth placed horse Dame Rose went on to win a Mares Grade Two contest at Aintree, while the seventh home Spider’s Bite managed to lose his maiden tag in a bumper. He’s by Black Sam Bellamy whose best known NH performer was The Giant Bolster who was placed 2nd. 3rd and 4th in three Cheltenham Gold Cups, while his dam won three hurdle races and one chase all in the region of two miles �" but did have placed form at 2m 4f. Sam Brown himself should stay two and a half miles and will hopefully reach a fair standard over hurdles, possibly even contesting one of the novice races at Cheltenham come March.
42. Sam Spinner ………… 5yo G ( Jedd O’Keeffe )
Yet to finish outside of the first two home in six career starts, winning a bumper and three times in novice company over hurdles. He goes in to the new season rated 136 which suggests handicaps could well be on the cards. However he strikes me as the type that should jump fences one day, so it is just possible that his trainer may decide to go down that route. Whatever is decided Sam Spinner should continue to pay his way over the winter months. His wins have come on soft going and also Good to Soft. He appears a genuine and likeable individual.
43. Serosevsky ………. 4yo G ( Harry Fry )
Winner of a maiden Point to Point for four year olds at Chaddesley Corbett on the second of just two starts for Philip Rowley. Purchased for £60k at Goffs by Harry Fry who is sure to bring him along with the long term future being of paramount importance. He’s unlikely to be rushed and will probably take in two or three bumpers before turning to hurdles, with a career over fences most likely in two or three years time. Serosevsky’s dam Be My Rainbow has produced six foals to race under rules to date, four of which have won and were best served at trips of 2m 4f up to around three miles, these are trips which should suit Serosevsky in time, but hopefully he will be able to win a race or two at shorter as he gains experience. Very much a dark horse at this stage.
44. Singlefarmpayment ………. 7yo G ( Tom George )
An improving novice chaser last season, winning one from five and runner up twice, he was also a tad unlucky when making progress in to contention at Cheltenham in January but was unfortunately brought down. His trainer was keen to send him to the festival in March, but rather than the RSA Chase Tom George decided his charge would be better suited to the challenge of the Ultima Handicap over 3m 1f . Singlefarmpayment was well supported in the lead up to the race and eventually started a heavily backed 5/1 favourite, failing by just a short head in a driving finish against the David Pipe trained Un Temps Pour Tout. Singlefarmpayment is a smooth traveler and stays at least three and a quarter miles, with an added bonus of acting on most types of going �" with the possible exception of very quick. A target such as Ladbrokes Gold Cup ( formerly the Hennessy ) would seem the ideal race in the first half of the season, and personally I think he has the ability to become a serious candidate for the Aintree Grand National in the Spring of 2018. Only time will tell, but fingers crossed he pays his way over the course of the season.
45. Swift Crusador ………. 6yo G ( Evan Williams )
Won a two and a half mile novice hurdle at Ffos Las by thirty lengths at the beginning of March on his debut under rules, but was a rather fortunate winner as the 4/11 favourite Bob Mahler was a length and a half up after jumping the last but stumbled and unseated his rider. That said Swift Crusador looks the type that should be placed to win more races and can improve further as he gains experience. He is also the winner of a Point to Point in Ireland before joining Williams and should jump fences �" possibly even this season. He acts well with give in the ground, and his Ffos Las win came on heavy going.
46. Thumb Stone Blues …….. 7yo G ( Kim Bailey )
Has finished out of the first three only once in eleven starts to date, winning a bumper and twice over hurdles. He is effective between two and a half miles and three miles one furlong, and shows no signs of being ground dependent. Thumb Stone Blues should continue to pay his way over the season ahead and is worth a try over fences where possible improvement may come, but should his trainer decide to keep him over hurdles then he is on a fair enough mark of 133 to find further success in handicap company.
47. Topofthegame ………. 5yo G ( Paul Nicholls )
Achieved an official rating of 139 after just three outings over hurdles last season, despite looking somewhat immature. He won on his debut under rules at Ascot over an extended 2m 5f in mid December, narrowly getting the better of Alan King’s Criq Rock. He travelled strongly that day and was clear when making a hash of the final flight, idling badly on the run in and could be deemed to be a slightly fortunate winner. Two further runs confirmed his promise, a fourth place in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham behind Wholestone and a neck defeat by Beyond Conceipt back at Ascot in February. I find it interesting that his trainer rested him for the remainder of the season, most likely with an eye to the future. My view is that whatever Topofthegame achieved over hurdles �" he will in time make a better chaser. Winner of an Irish Maiden Point to Point for 4yo’s in the spring of 2016 beating the useful No Hassle Hoff by an easy looking nine lengths, he has every chance of staying three miles with a bit more experience behind him. He appears to cope well in rain softened conditions and I await his return with interest.
48. Whiskey In The Jar ……… 5yo G ( Dan Skelton )
Successful on his only start for the Skelton stable when hacking up by seven lengths in a Warwick Bumper at the end of March. There looked to be plenty more to come from him that day and I expect him to take to hurdling with little difficulty. Whiskey In The Jar was also runner up in an Irish Bumper prior to joining Skelton and the form of that race is working out fairly well, with the winner Monbeg Worldwide now unbeaten in four starts, and the third home Mr Showtime has won three races since. He is very much a dark horse at this stage but I will be very surprised if his trainer cannot place him to win in novice company over hurdles. Whiskey In The Jar is a son of Oscar and should stay around two and a half miles.
49. Willoughby Court ……… 6yo G ( Ben Pauling )
Progressed at a rate of knots in four outings last season, culminating with success in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, getting the better of the very talented Harry Fry trained Neon Wolf in a driving finished by a head. Two other wins preceded Cheltenham, with his success at Warwick when beating the smart Gayebury by eight lengths marking him down as a horse with a future. He’s quoted in most bookmakers lists for the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham for 2018, however I am sure connections will be tempted to send him over fences with either the RSA Chase or The JLT Novices Chase as a possible target, ( my personal preference at this stage would be the latter ) Whatever is decided for the horse I keep my fingers crossed he stays fit and healthy, and connections will hopefully be in for another good season.
50. Wotzizname …….... 7yo G ( Harry Fry )
Very lightly raced under rules with just the four starts, but immediate signs of a fair level of ability when collecting a brace of novice hurdles in the Spring of 2016. Switched to the larger obstacles in November he slightly disappointed when a ten lengths runner up to Arpege D’Alene in a three runner contest at Aintree. He was then given three months off and reverted to hurdles ( in order to protect his novice status over fences ) for his next outing at Musselburgh where he performed with credit when a one paced staying on fourth over 3m 2f. I assume the plan is to send him over fences again this season and trips of three miles plus should be his optimum, his hurdles successes came of good to soft & good, he was also a winner of an Irish Point to Point in the past on soft. He strikes me as the type still capable of better in the future. Here’s hoping I am correct in that prediction.
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