Cooldine leads hot properties of winter game

Chris McGrath toasts the quickening tempo of the jumps season by picking 10 horses to follow
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The Independent Online

1. Alfie Sherrin (Trainer: Paul Nicholls)

Rated one of the best young prospects in the champion trainer's care, and has duly started hot favourite for a bumper, novice hurdle and competitive handicap. His first failure, when beaten 18 lengths in the latter at Chepstow last month, may cause some to desert him but it was actually a fine effort for an inexperienced horse, closing smoothly off a quickening pace before tiring. A chaser in the making, but worth following wherever Nicholls takes him.

2. Carrickboy (Venetia Williams)

A bit in-and-out last season, but his final effort suggests he has more to give – whether sticking to hurdles, or trying his luck over fences. He cut down the leaders stylishly when leading two out in a competitive handicap at the Grand National meeting, before keeping on for fourth. He may be better again dropped back to two miles, having previously shown plenty of gusto over shorter trips.

3. Coolcashin (Michael Bowe, Ireland)

Looks yet another tough, progressive jumper from the yard that won so many plaudits with Limestone Lad. Still going strongly when almost brought down three out in a novice chase at Punchestown last weekend before rallying to force a photo. A smart hurdler, who is set to be even better over fences.

4. Cooldine (Willie Mullins, Ireland)

Proved himself the best staying novice over fences last season, but a subsequent, tired defeat at Punchestown and the continued eminence of Kauto Star and Denman suggest he could remain profitable to follow. His RSA Chase display was every bit as striking as Denman's, and at 10-1 he looks much the most eligible bet to shake up the old order in the Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.

5. Drunken Sailor (Paul Flynn, Ireland)

Crowned a season of steady progress on the Flat this summer with a career best at Newbury in September, finishing second of 20 in a hot handicap. A light first season over hurdles means that he could prove very dangerously treated on his return to timber, and he has the redoubtable attitude to take advantage – perhaps in a valuable handicap like the Pierse Hurdle at Leopardstown in January.

6. Fredo (Ian Williams)

Caught the eye at Cheltenham the other day, storming up the hill for third in a competitive handicap hurdle, in the process confirming himself capable of further progress once his German staying genes are put to the test. That was his first completed start at two and a half miles or more, and a steady gallop did not play to his strengths, either.

7. In Compliance (Dessie Hughes, Ireland)

Though already a Grade One winner, a frustrating injury record means he has never quite reached his full potential. Seeks a fresh start now, following the retirement of his previous trainer, and could not have begun more purposefully than he did in ending another long absence at Thurles last month. Jury still out on the limit of his stamina, but likewise on the limit of his ability. Remains very lightly raced, after all, and hardly over the hill as he approaches his 10th birthday.

8. Mille Chief (Alan King)

Represents a trainer who consistently produces one of the best juveniles on the scene and this one arrived from the same yard, in the French provinces, as Walkon last year. Duly started odds-on at Market Rasen the other day, the first start of his new career, and was still cruising when brought down two out.

9. Sa Suffit (James Ewart)

Exuberant French import who laid auspicious foundations in his first season over fences, following a two-year absence. Despite a ghastly fall at Ayr on his second start, he generally looked a natural over his fences. Still unexposed, he glides through soft going and could be the horse to bring his young Borders trainer to southern attention. Set to reappear at Haydock tomorrow, but likely to build on whatever he does there.

10. Some Present (Tom Mullins, Ireland)

There is little point including Dunguib on a list like this, because he is demonstrably the most freakish talent to have emerged from bumpers in a long time. This one saw off all the rest at the Festival, however, and consecutive defeats over timber this autumn should not discourage the belief that he can be a force back at the big meetings. All he needs is a strong gallop and/or a step up in distance. And, naturally, to steer clear of Dunguib. His trainer also looks a man to follow with Some Slam and Bob Lingo.

Turf account: Chris McGrath


Cassius (2.25 Kelso) Took his time to open his account, waiting until his final start last season, but a promising resumption over this course implied further progress.

Next best

Zabeel Palace (3.50 Ascot) Has made rapid progress since winning a Fontwell seller and reached a new peak in defeat last time, pulling miles clear in pursuit of a well-handicapped rival.

One to watch

Powerful connections are not messing around with Eleanora Duse (Sir Michael Stoute), who could have qualified for handicaps in her third maiden at Kempton yesterday but proved very strong in the betting and duly romped clear.

Where the money's going

The gamble on Barbers Shop for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury tomorrow week continued yesterday, William Hill going 8-1 from 9-1.