Five horses to follow for the National Hunt season + weekend tips
Following last weekend’s Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster, which went the way of Irish raider Mac Swiney, the attention in Britain turns to Jump racing as an exciting autumn of National Hunt action looms.
With plenty of action also set to take place over hurdles and fences on Town Moor, we have previewed five horses to follow for the upcoming Jumps season; a novice hurdler, a hurdler, a novice chaser, a chaser and our dark horse.
Novice Hurdler – Farouk D’Alene – Trained by Gordon Elliott
A fascinating contender for staying hurdles this season. Farouk D’alene was bought for £260,000 in 2019 having won his point-to-point by 18 lengths. He duly won his bumper first time out for Elliott by 17 lengths at Down Royal on Boxing Day last year. Despite being workmanlike when shouldering a penalty at Naas in February, that race could work out to be a pretty decent event and Elliott is chasing further riches over hurdles this season. He clearly is a staying type being by Racinger and looks a very exciting prospect who returns to action at Down Royal this afternoon.
Hurdler – Edwardstone – Trained by Alan King
A lovely prospect for his Barbury Castle handler. Edwardstone won his first two starts over hurdles, defeating subsequent Grade One winner Fiddlerontheroof at Wincanton on his first start last season. He was a narrow second when the ground was possibly too testing in a Grade Two event at Haydock in January, before the ground once again went against him when a well-beaten sixth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. He clearly needs a sound surface and his trainer has earmarked the Greatwood Hurdle in November at Cheltenham as a possible starting point. Two miles on good to soft ground is right up his street and he could develop into a Graded hurdler this season.
Novice Chaser – The Big Breakaway – Trained by Colin Tizzard
A €360,000 purchase, The Big Breakaway was bought on the back of a stunning 10 length win in a point-to-point in April 2019. Adored by his Sherborne handler, the son of Getaway lived up to his billing on his first two starts when winning easily at Chepstow and Newbury respectively. He shaped with promise but seemed to get outpaced when only fourth in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival behind Envoi Allen. Chasing was always going to be his game given his size and scope and he looks one of the most exciting novice chasers in the game.
Chaser – Hold The Note – Trained by Mick Channon
Only a six-year-old, there is plenty more to come from Hold The Note. He struggled early over fences last season before posting a fine effort when a good second in a Graded event at Warwick in January. He then went on to finish a good third in a Listed event at the Cheltenham Festival and there is plenty more improvement to come off a mark of 146 this season.
Dark Horse – Presenting Percy – Trained by Gordon Elliott
Not a usual dark horse, but Presenting Percy is a fascinating contender for staying chases this season given he is now trained by Cullentra maestro Gordon Elliott. Formerly trained by Pat Kelly, Presenting Percy has struggled to recapture the form which saw him land the RSA Chase in breath-taking fashion at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival. Winless since the Galmoy Hurdle in January 2019, the son of Sir Percy was running an eye-catching race when falling at the second-last in this year’s Gold Cup. It is difficult to tell if he would have played a role in the finish of that event but the manner in which he was staying-on augurs well for this season. Elliott looks sure to eke out a bit of extra improvement and he has to be feared when making his reappearance in Saturday’s Champion Chase at Down Royal which will give further proof as to what to expect from him this season.
There is plenty of fascinating action this weekend which includes one of the early highlights of the Jump season, the Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on Saturday.
The Paul Nicholls-trained Cyrname bids to return to winning ways after falling in the Ascot Chase in February. He had previously been second in the King George at Kempton Park, but he does need to prove he is as effective going left-handed. Stephen Harris of BettingExpert is taking him on with the progressive Vinndication. He was a fine fourth under top-weight in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in March and he looks a type who is only going to improve with age.
Away from Wetherby, the Grade One Champion Chase is the highlight at Down Royal. Delta Work was fifth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last season having previously completed a Grade One double in the Irish Gold Cup and Savills Chase. He is trained by Gordon Elliott as is Presenting Percy who has first run for the yard since falling at the second-last in the Gold Cup. One thing is for certain, National Hunt Racing is back.
BettingExpert’s Stephen Harris ITV Racing Tips for Saturday.
13:20: Dr Sanderson
13:55: Amoola Gold (Nap)
15:05: Kid Command
15:40: Black Corton
14:45: Lisnagar Oscar
14:25: Delta Work
Tips and analysis via Betting Expert