Stable additions aspire to join old favourites

RACING: With the Flat season coming to a close next Monday and the National Hunt campaign starting to get into full swing, the trainers tell Greg Wood of the jumpers that should keep punters warm with their profitability during the winter months
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Some may feel that it is both an attraction and a drawback of National Hunt racing that it already has more than enough horses to follow. Old campaigners return year after year, and few punters can resist reviving long-standing friendships which, from a strictly financial point of view at least, might be better left to wither.

At first sight, then, we should have enough names to look out for without adding 30 more to the list. The horses listed here, though, owe little to sentiment. Instead, they are the choices of many of the country's best trainers, some of whom have been at the top of their profession for 20 years or more, and even with the Cheltenham Festival five months distant, most handlers will already have a shrewd idea of where their best chances lie.

Some trainers are missing on the grounds of superstition. "I just know that if I give you two names," Jimmy FitzGerald said, "I'll go out tomorrow morning and they'll both have a leg." Those who responded do not necessarily expect their chosen runners to win first time. With a long and difficult season ahead, however, they do offer 30 better-than-average chances to have fun and make a profit.


Last year's Gold Cup-Champion Hurdle double secured Bailey's status as the leader of a new generation of trainers, and his yard has plenty of rising stars to support Alderbrook and Master Oats. The trainer nominates Chiparus, a novice hurdler who should make his debut soon, and Going Around, winner of a listed hurdle last season and now ready to tackle the serious obstacles.


A man who trained a Grand National winner as long ago as the 1960s can still be relied upon to turn out several dozen winners each season, and in one instance he is already looking well into the future. "Campeche Bay was a most promising second at Cheltenham last week and could go chasing around the turn of the year if he's only got an ordinary future over hurdles. Romany Creek will also be well worth following, he got beaten at Stratford recently but I don't hold that against him. His target is the Scottish National and he's his trainer's tip for the Millenium Grand National."


With the enforced absence of Danoli, two of Ireland's biggest Cheltenham Festival hopes will be prepared by Dreaper. "We have two obvious ones, Merry Gale and Harcon," he says. "They're entitled to be considered for all the big races. We're struggling a bit with firmish ground but they should run at the end of the month."


Last season was the Wantage handler's best for several years, and he expects two of its major successes to continue their contribution this term. Dante's Cavalier, winner of the bumper at the Grand National meeting, has schooled well and now goes over hurdles, while Trying Again, a vastly improved hurdler who finished second to Alderbrook in the Kingwell Hurdle, is ready to run in novice chases as soon as the ground eases.


Already one of the North's top trainers, the former jump jockey chooses Wise Advice, a novice hurdler, and - perhaps significantly from a yard which can get runners fit first time - Lord Fortune, who will initially make his way in bumpers.


Old campaigner Remittance Man is back at Seven Barrows this season, but his trainer selects two horses from the other end of the age range. Sublime Fellow and Conquering Leader are two that are expected to pay their way in novice chases. "It's very early days, but they're in good shape and we've got some very nice young horses."


Very few trainers saddled more winners last year than Hobbs, whose 86 successes outstripped the combined totals of Nick Henderson and Jenny Pitman. He believes it will pay to follow Crack On - "he's run just once when he won a bumper at Uttoxeter last season, and he'll now go straight over hurdles" - and Certain Angle, the winner of a novices' handicap chase at Exeter on Tuesday. "He wouldn't be top class but he'll always win races."


The Middleham trainer has high hopes for Wee River, six times a winner last year and now making his way in handicap chases. "He's a progressive type and he looks the sort to win good races." Another horse following a similar path is Cool Luke. "He won his two novices last year and he should make a nice handicapper."


Richard Barber's point-to-point operation has been a rich source of winners for this yard in recent seasons, and Cherrynut, a winner of his first novice chase at Worcester 12 days ago, is the latest recruit. "He won six out of seven points for Richard and granted a little luck he could go a long way." Another novice chaser to follow is Ideal Partner. "This season he'll win his races and then make up into a nice handicap chaser. I like him a lot."


"I've got loads of horses worth following," Old says, before adding, typically, "it just depends on how badly I train them." Firm ground is currently frustrating his plans, but when the rain arrives, Supreme Genotin, a novice hurdler, and Killone Abbot, an impressive winner of three races over timber last term, should be particularly worthy of note.


The Grand National winner, Royal Athlete, was prepared for his Aintree success seven months ago by the Weathercock House team and his half-brother, Tennessee Twist, is one of two selections by Mark Pitman, the trainer's son and assistant. "Tennessee Twist is a lovely great big horse. He did well to be placed in two of his three bumpers last year, and he'll run on Friday or Saturday this week. Nahthen Lad won three novice hurdles last year and he'll run in a handicap hurdle on Saturday before he goes chasing. He's a very nice horse and should be the part."


Buckboard Bounce made a very impressive winning debut for the season in a valuable handicap chase at Newbury, and "should run in some nice races this year", according to the trainer's wife, Joan. A novice chaser to look out for is Early Morning Light.


Coulton finally began to realise his tremendous potential last season after a switch to Sherwood's yard and a spell of tuition from the jumping expert, Yogi Breisner. His trainer expects his improvement to continue, with the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day among the first of his major targets. Novice hurdlers are always a strong division at Rhonehurst Stables, and from another good intake the trainer chooses Father Sky. "He's won his two already this season, but he should go on to better things."


After a double at the Festival when his training career was in its infancy, the man who rode Desert Orchid to Gold Cup success endured a difficult time last season, saddling just eight winners. As a result, though, many of his horses have slipped down the weights, and the chaser Front Street is one whom the trainer feels is "on the right side of the handicap". Falmouth Bay, one of Sherwood's winners last term, now goes novice chase and should add to his account.


Linden's Lotto has already won four of six completed starts over fences this season - and also finished second to Paul Nicholls's choice, Cherrynut - and his run is expected to continue. That Old Feeling is one to watch for in juvenile hurdles. "He won a conditions race on the Flat for Richard Hannon and he jumps very well."