Racing: Jumpers for the winter

Sue Montgomery suggests 10 horses to follow for the National Hunt season
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Part of the fun of a new season is the sense of anticipation that all but the most jaded must feel. Bubbles have not yet been burst, dreams of glory are still running and the opportunity for star-spotting still exists. There is an enormous amount of satisfaction, verging on unbearable smugness, to be had from naming subsequent stars or money-spinners in advance of their exploits. Here are some names to conjure with - some already exposed, some darker - for the forthcoming jump campaign. It is to be hoped that they will provide some magic.

BAKKAR

(David Nicholson, 3-y-o)

Joined his trainer's strong team at a cost of 70,000 guineas from the Newmarket sales last month. Twice a winner on the Flat for John Oxx, and bred by the Aga Khan, whose cast-offs tend to do well over obstacles. An unknown quantity, but will have the best of educations and two of his dam's half-brothers, Irish Stamp and Paddy's Return, are no mug jumpers.

BELLS LIFE

(Philip Hobbs, 8-y-o)

A long-term Grand National hope who showed a liking for the big fences when he won the John Hughes in March and improved handicap form all last season. A very sound jumper who is best with give in the ground. His stamina is untested beyond three miles, but should last further.

CHAI-YO

(Jim Old, 7-y-o)

Progressive sort who may have more to give his season and will be well placed. Was in contention when falling two out in the Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle at Sandown in March and is the type to pick up one of the season's big handicaps. Has had two recent Flat runs.

COLOUR CODE

(Ann Swinbank, 5-y-o)

Flat cast-off (a half-brother to the high-class performers Cezanne, Colorspin and Bella Colora) and winner of his only two bumpers, one by 20 lengths. Exciting novice hurdling prospect.

DORANS PRIDE

(Michael Hourigan, 8-y-o)

A winner twice already this term, including his beating of ring-rusty Imperial Call on Thursday. His only defeat in his completed starts over fences (he was a top-class staying hurdler before transferring his talent to the bigger obstacles) was in last year's Gold Cup, when he was a tired third as a novice. Stronger and more mature now, he is a worthy favourite to go two better.

DISCO DES MOTTES

(Gordon Richards, 6-y-o)

He was a leading young chaser in France before his move to Britain last year. Notched a hat-trick in a fortnight in March, culminating in a most impressive hard-held 12-length beating of another above-average type, Kenmore-Speed, and is almost certainly better than his current rating indicates. Will be shrewdly placed by Richards and is one to look out for in a big staying handicap.

FINNEGAN'S HOLLOW

(Aidan O'Brien, 7-y-o)

He has had his physical problems in the past, but is full of talent and an abiding memory is Charlie Swan swinging off him before he tipped up two out in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in March. Should take high rank as a novice chaser.

ISTABRAQ

(Aidan O'Brien, 5-y-o)

Bred to win a Derby, as did his half-brother Secreto, but Cheltenham, not Epsom, is his arena. Last season's best staying novice but was hugely impressive back at two miles at Tipperary last month, when he thrashed the more than useful Cockney Lad, and looks proper Champion Hurdle material for Ireland.

SPARKY GAYLE

(Colin Parker, 7-y-o)

A superb jumper who was unbeaten in his six chases last season, including victory in the Cathcart Chase on his only venture south. He has not yet raced beyond two miles five furlongs over fences, but should stay further and the Gold Cup is on his long-term agenda. Meanwhile, he will return to Cheltenham for the Murphys Gold Cup on Saturday.

TULLYMURRY TOFF

(Malcolm Jefferson, 6-y-o)

Developed into a tough, consistent staying handicapper last term, his second over hurdles, and looks the type to do even better over fences. May prove one of the best novice staying chasers in a season which will feature some exciting young prospects.

Comments