10 NH Horses To Follow 2018/2019

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The winter jumping season is creeping up on us as we said goodbye to the speedsters last Saturday on Champions Day and we say hello to the exciting jumpers for the upcoming season.

There were some great performances last season from the likes of Native River in the Gold Cup, Raz De Maree in the Welsh Grand National and Tiger Roll doing the Cheltenham – Aintree double when winning the cross-country race and the Grand National.

Everyone is out looking for the next big star to follow and here are our ten to watch out for…

If The Cap Fits
If The Cap Fits

#10 If The Cap Fits

Age: 6

Sex: Bay Gelding

Breeding: Milan (GB)-Derravaragh Sayra (IRE) (Sayarshan (FR)

Trainer: Harry Fry

Owner: Paul & Clare Rooney

Fry named If The Cap Fits as his horse to watch last season, following two wins in three runs in bumpers the season previously. In fact, his only victory came at the hands of Lalor in the Aintree bumper, where other quality horses such as Black Op, Claimantakinforgan and Western Ryder also suffered defeat.

If The Cap Fits had an immaculate start to life over hurdles with victories at Exter, Bangor and finally Kempton, on his only three runs last season. He wasn’t ever asked a serious question on any of these starts and was one of the talking horses of the season.

However, injury ruled him out for the remained of the season following his victory in that novice hurdle on Boxing Day at Kempton. Following that victory he had been a general 11/2 shot to win the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham and who knows, if he had lined up he just might have.

It’s worrying that we haven’t seen the son of Milan since Kempton but if Harry Fry can get him back on track, then he can keep progressing into a proper graded performer either over hurdles or fences. Although I’d imagine he’s future will be over fences, perhaps the Arkle will be a season target.

Santini
Santini

#9 Santini

Age: 6

Sex: Bay Gelding

Breeding: Milan (GB) -Tinagoodnight (FR) (Sleeping Car (FR)

Trainer: Nicky Henderson

Owner: Mr & Mrs R Kelvin-hughes

Nicky Henderson’s six-year-old has only graced the racecourse on four occasions and has won on three of these starts, with his only defeat coming in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices´ Hurdle.

Santini is a big horse and the up and down nature of Cheltenham didn’t play to his strengths but it was still a huge run considering how competitive the race was and it was only his third career start. He showed his true quality when winning at Aintree and given normal progression, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with over fences this season.

Nicky Henderson is obviously looking forward to seeing him over the large obstacles with him saying:

“He is a three-miler and he was very good over hurdles and only got beaten the once in the Albert Bartlett and the won a Grade 1 at Aintree. He is a very big horse and he has already been schooled over fences and is very good”

Either the JLT Chase or RSA Chase would be his likely season targets, where would be a  big player on both!

Sizing Pottsie
Sizing Pottsie

#8 Sizing Pottsie

Age: 4

Sex: Bay or Brown Gelding

Breeding: Kapgarde (FR)-Line Salsa (FR) (Kingsalsa (USA)

Trainer: Jessica Harrington

Owner: Ann and Alan Potts Limited

Sizing Pottsie came with a big reputation when making his racecourse debut at Leopardstown at Leopardstown last May. If this was due to hi burning up the gallop or punters just grasping on to his name. One way or the other he was well fancied and duly obliged under a fine ride from Kate Harrington.

The runner-up that day was Eagle Roque who gave the form a strong look as he had finished in behind the ill-fated Balliniska Band(Also won a listed bumper) on debut.

Jessica Harrington’s charge then went to Punchestown for a valuable sales bumper, where he was sent off hot favourite but having raced in midfield throughout he just got outpointed to finish an honourable fourth behind some smart looking rivals.

Sizing Pottsie looks made to jump and with a race like the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle an obvious season target, he’s a horse to keep a close eye on.

Jessica said of her promising youngster:

“He’s in great form. The plan is to go straight over hurdles with him. I think I’ll start him at two miles, as he doesn’t seem to be slow, but he should stay two-and-a-half miles. He’s a very nice horse and I’d be hopeful he could make up into a Graded-class novice hurdle.”

Shattered Love winning at Cheltenham
Shattered Love

#7 Shattered Love

Age: 7

Sex: Bay Mare

Breeding: Yeats (IRE) -Tracker (GB) (Bustino)

Trainer: Gordon Elliott

Owner: Gigginstown House Stud

Shattered Love had a dream first season over fences last season, winning two Grade Ones, with the highlight coming in the JLT Novices Chase at the Cheltenham festival by a very impressive seven lengths.

She probably paid the price for a busy period when running disappointingly at the Punchestown festival but she is a mare on the upgrade and if Gordon can work his magic, she may develop into a Gold Cup contender, for which is currently a tempting 25/1 shot.  

She could start the campaign at Down Royal for the JN Wine Champion Chase, which will help Gordon map out the season ahead and she could be a lot shorter for the Gold Cup afterwards. 

Gordon said in his stable tour:

We knew she would do better over fences than she did over hurdles but I suppose we never thought she would win two Grade 1s and be a Cheltenham Festival winner. In saying that, I did really fancy her for the JLT and I actually put her up at a few Cheltenham preview nights I was on.

We’ll start her off in the chase for second-season novices at Down Royal next month and what she does there will probably decide what path we take with her. She probably needs to improve a bit to be a Cheltenham Gold Cup contender but it’s not out of the question.”

Getabird
Getabird

#6 Getabird

Age: 6

Sex: Bay Gelding

Breeding: Getaway (GER) – Fern Bird (IRE) (Revoque (IRE)

Trainer: Willie Mullins

Owner: Mrs S Ricci

As quick as Patrick Mullins crossed the line aboard Getabird at Fairyhouse in December, he was top of all the ante-post lists for the Cheltenham Bumper. He made it two wins in as many runs when beating Hardline at Gowran Park in January 2017 but injury ruled him out of the festival.

In fact, we didn’t see him again until December where he made a winning debut over hurdles and followed this up in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer hurdle at Punchestown. Such was the manner of this performance and confidence behind Getabitd, that he went off a very prohibitive 7/4 to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Unfortunately for supporters of the opening day “banker” having raced prominently throughout under Ruby Getabird had nothing left turning for home and trailed in a very disappointing eleventh beaten over forty lengths.

This run was followed by a poor run in the Champion Novice Hurdle where it transpired he has struck into himself in the early stages of the race. Willie had confidence in his imposing son of Getaway as he turned him out quickly to run in another Grade 1 at Punchestown three days later. Alas, luck was not on his side as he ran into the stricken Debuchet 2 out and was brought to a standstill.

I think this will be a breakthrough season as the former point to point winner tackles fences for the first time on the racecourse proper. Although Cheltenham may not be his track, I’m sure Willie will be tempted to run him in one of the novice chases, perhaps the Arkle as I expect him to be unbeaten come that time of the year.

Willie said of his novice chaser:

“He will go novice chasing. We’ll start him off when he’s ready and I won’t worry too much about what trip that is over. We’ll assess him once he’s out and running, but I suspect he’ll end up in the mid-range or staying divisions. He seemed to show a preference for racing right-handed so we might try to lean him that way if we can.”

Footpad
Footpad

#5 Footpad

Age: 6

Sex: Bay Gelding

Breeding: Creachadoir (IRE) – Willamina (IRE) (Sadler's Wells (USA)

Trainer: Willie Mullins

Owner: Simon Munir & Isaac Souede

Footpad was one of the most exciting if not the most exciting chaser last season, with four Grade 1 victories from five runs. He was simply electric to jump and was able to transfer the speed he showed to finished fourth in a Champion Hurdle to the bigger obstacles.

His win at Cheltenham in the Arkle Chase where he proved fourteen lengths too good for the well-regarded Brain Power. This was a very impressive performance but it was also disappointing that he only faced four rivals. I suppose such was the manner of his previous victories, he scared off some potential rivals.

Footpad is still only a six year old, with many options given he had the speed for a champion hurdle but was also placed in the stayers’ hurdle at the Punchestown festival. He also jumps so well, it gives him a great chance of staying over longer distances.

Willie has got such a versatile that he could aim him at the Champion Chase, Ryanair Chase or the Gold Cup. Footpad would have a live chance in any of these races and it’s a nice decision that Willie has to make with him saying recently:  

“He has come back in from grass looking very well. In terms of his trip, much will depend on what his owners want to do. It is easier to keep chasers sounder over shorter trips than longer trips, but he is bred to stay, has form over further and is a very efficient jumper of a fence, so he has the option of running over longer trips too. I’ll have to have a good discussion with his owners before we make any firm decisions on him.”

Presenting Percy winning the RSA Chase
Presenting Percy

#4 Presenting Percy

Age: 7

Sex: Bay Gelding

Breeding:  Sir Percy (GB) – Hunca Munca (IRE) (Presenting (GB)

Trainer: Patrick Kelly

Owner: Philip J Reynolds

Presenting Percy has won at the last two festivals when landing the Pertemps and the RSA Chase. This is quite a training feat for any trainer but for Pat Kelly, it’s amazing given the size of his yard. Kelly only had 48 runners last years and still managed seven winners. In fact, he has won two of the last three renewals of the Pertemps with Mall Dini (2016) and Presenting Percy (2017).

Kelly will be aiming his stable star at the race which defines many trainers careers, the Cheltenham Gold Cup this season. Given how impressive he was in the RSA when beating the well-fancied Monalee, he must have a big chance in jumps racings blue ribbon event.

We haven’t seen him since that RSA victory, with Kelly patiently minding his stable star. Everything will be geared around the Gold Cup for which he holds leading claims.

Samcro winning at Cheltenham
Samcro

#3 Samcro

Age: 6

Sex: Chestnut Gelding

Breeding: Germany (USA) – Dun Dun (IRE) (Saddlers' Hall (IRE)

Trainer: Gordon Elliott

Owner: Gigginstown House Stud

Gordon confirmed on Monday that last season’s talking horse will stay over hurdles this with the Champion Hurdle the main target. Elliott said that:

“He’s in great form and the plan is for him to start off in the Grade 2 WKD at Down Royal on Friday”

It has been the talk of the summer, whether last season’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle winner would stay over hurdles or embark on a campaign over the larger obstacles. Gordon is very keen to win the Champion Hurdle and one would assume this has had a factor in the decision.

The imposing son of Germany has only been beaten once and that was as the Punchestown festival where he fell while travelling well in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle.

It will take a very special horse to beat Samcro as he possesses all the attributes you look for in a horse; speed, size, quality and his effortless jumper. Nicky Henderson will have to make sure Buveur d’Air is on his “A Game” in a bid to land the Champion Hurdle hat-trick. Samcro will definitely prove his biggest test and it’s already a duel I can’t wait to see.

Gordon added:

“I’m under no illusions about the challenge that he faces but he was a top-class novice hurdler last season and the race he won at Cheltenham has produced a number of previous champion hurdlers in Faugheen, Hardy Eustace and Istabraq. Samcro has a long way to go to be mentioned in the same breath as them but he’s done absolutely everything that we have asked of him so far and I’m hoping that there’s more to come”

Carefully Selected
Carefully Selected

#2 Carefully Selected

Age: 6

Sex: Bay Gelding

Breeding: Well Chosen (GB) – Knockamullen Girl (IRE) (Alderbrook (GB)

Trainer: Willie Mullins

Owner: Miss M A Masterson

Carefully Selected was one of the most likeable bumper hoses last season and went into lots of notebooks when just getting chinned on the line after making most of the running in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. On that day he was just chinned on the line by stablemate Relegate.

Punchestown was the next port of call for Willie’s son of Well Chosen and he again ran with credit to finish third behind another pair of stablemates. Carefully Selected looks made to go jumping and anything he did in bumpers would only be a bonus and given that he’s already a point to point winner, he looks like a horse to follow over hurdles this season.

The Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle looks like one of the possible Cheltenham targets and given his physique, he may appreciate the step up in trip.  

After making a winning debut Mullins said:

“He could be an Albert Bartlett horse for next year. That's the sort of road I'd be aiming at. There were a lot of fancied horses there and he made them look ordinary. He gallops all day and he's not the slowest horse either. I was very pleased with him”

Donald McCain trainer of Uppertown Prince

#1 Uppertown Prince

Age: 6

Sex: Bay Gelding

Breeding: Strategic Prince (GB) -Tarrawarra (IRE) (Kayf Tara (GB)

Trainer: Donald McCain

Owner: T G Leslie

This lightly raced six-year-old started off life like so many others by running in an Irish point-to-point, where he finished midfield. Such is the strength of these races it subsequently transpired how good this run was as winner On The Blin Side went on to win his next three races, two of which were Grade 2 events.

Uppertown Prince himself scored impressively on his second start in a five-year-old maiden at Belharbour where he jumped well throughout and scored by a comfortable ten length victory. A move across the pond to Bank house lay ahead for the son of Strategic Prince and he quickly repaid connections by winning twice.

His final start of the season came in the Grade 1 Sefton Novice Hurdle where he belied his 40/1 starting price to finish a mere ten lengths behind Santini. Whatever he did last season was always going to be a bonus, as his future has always been over fences and he looks like a very exciting addition to the novice chasing ranks. In a recent stable tour, McCain said:

“I’m very fond of this horse, and he’s arguably my best prospect. I bought him because of the way he jumped throughout when winning his point-to-point and I’m really looking forward to sending him chasing this winter. He ran a really nice race when fourth to Santini in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, and also finished runner-up in a Haydock Grade 2 on heavy ground before winning as he liked at Ayr. He’s one to be excited about.”

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