Here I look at five horses worth adding to your trackers for the new National Hunt season. I’ve tried to include horses that may not be known by some and provide value in following them. We’ve all seen how impressive Bob Olinger was at Cheltenham and how special Jonbon looked when winning his bumper but these horses will be odds on for the majority of their runs this season.
These are a mixture of horses who will either be going hurdling or chasing this season but should provide readers with interest in following them over the coming months as I’m sure they’ll be winning their fair share of races. A few have the potential to be Cheltenham Festival quality whilst others may be worth following for other specific races throughout the year.
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Top 5 National Hunt Young Horses To Follow
- Parents: Crillon x La Pelodette
- 4yo bay gelding
- Trainer; Gordon Elliot
- Owner; Noel & Valerie Moran
- Form; 1-
The Moran’s have been bulking up their National Hunt team over the last few seasons with The Bosses Oscar, Zanahiyr and Petit Mouchoir amongst others and it doesn’t look like they’ve stopped spending yet. They went to £220,000 to secure this bumper winner from Dennis Murphy, a figure that topped the sales that day. He’s a strapping 4yo who would have most likely ran in a point-to-point however, with the point season cut short, these horses still needed a shop window so these bumpers presented brilliant opportunists for them to showcase their abilities.
Jamie Codd never really had to get serious on Au Fleuron at Tipperary and after taking up the running on the turn for home, he simply pushed him out to the line whilst pulling clear of the rest of the field. There was clearly a lot of hype after the race (mainly due to the big “for sale” sign above his head) but it was clear to see what Murphy thought about this gelding. Au Fleuron repaid that belief with a strong performance and I genuinely believe this horse could be Graded class at any trip between 2m-2m5f before he faces fences in the future.
“He is very nice and his work was savage at home, it was unreal and if that lad got beaten we were going to be in bother!
"We wouldn't be training them fast enough and train them differently and he was green, and he is savage to jump." - Dennis Murphy after the debut win of Au Fleuron.
He has a very similar profile to The Bosses Oscar, he was a 4yo purchase from the Dennis Murphy yard in the same mould as Au Fleuron and I think he could be campaigned the same way. The Martin Pipe is a race Elliot loves to target and the 2m5f trip there is perfect for a novice horse with point experience. His pedigree is interesting too as Crillon wouldn’t be the most well known sire, however, his progeny have a fantastic 23% strike rate over jumps. The flag has been flown by Buvuer D’air over the last few seasons but his progeny also included G1 winner Alex de Larredya and G2 winner Diamond Cauchois, also trained by Gordon Elliot.
- Parents: High Chaparral x Lindeman
- 7yo bay gelding
- Trainer; Philip Hobbs
- Owner; Mr & Mrs R Kelvin-Hughes
- Form; 14/6131/215-
There’s no doubt the Hobbs yard has been in poor form over the last 12 months, last season he recorded 54 winners which was the yards lowest total since 1992, and half of what they achieved in 2019 with 106 winners. However, in the last 7 days they’ve really turned a corner with form 121F331215911P1, 7 winners from their last 15 runners and the yard seemed to have turned a corner.
St Barts was a slow learner over hurdles, a big raw horse who was learning with every run and was always a chaser in the making. He proved himself at his best when encountering extremely testing conditions and was 2/2 on heavy ground during his first year hurdling, concluding in a very impressive win over 3m at Ascot.
He looked a complete stayer that day and one for all the gruelling staying chases in the future. Last year he only ran three times over fences but he was an extremely impressive winner at Newbury, again over 3m and soft ground. He disappointed as favourite in the spring at Uttoxeter but the yard weren’t firing then and he can be forgiven that.
St Barts looks a perfect Welsh National candidate. He’s unbeaten on heavy ground, something he’s likely to get at Chepstow and he should relish any marathon trip. Hobbs has pin pointed out the race already for the 7yo and it does look the ideal race. Second season chasers have a great record in the race recently with Native River, Elegant Escape and Secret Reprieve all winning in their second year of chasing. He’ll likely have a prep run over hurdles somewhere before being aimed at Chepstow and with the yard finally back in decent form he could be one of the well handicapped horses in the yard.
Rae Des Champs
- Parents: Robin Des Champs x Dani Salamanca
- 4yo chestnut filly
- Trainer; Rose Dobbin
- Owner; Mr & Mrs Duncan Davidson
- Form; 1-
Rae Des Champs was another impressive 4yo p2p winner in the spring with a lovely debut appearance at Lisronagh. Having started the race in midfield, as the field started to dwindle down, Liam Gilligan took the opportunity to take up the running down the back of the final circuit and she just galloped them into the ground. Herself and Motown Maggie pulled well clear of the rest of the field and Motown Maggie had previously shown very good form to chase the talented Call Her Now on her previous run. The pair were head and head as they pulled clear of the field but Rae Des Champs easily swept her aside from two out to the line only under gentle urges from Gilligan.
Rose Dobbin went to £90,000 for Rae Des Champs for current owners the Davidson’s and they’ve had plenty of success from the point sphere with Dobbin over the years. Last season was their best yet with 10 winners including Wild Polly, Some Reign, Rath An Iuir and Fete Champetre as well as some of their older stars such as Bigironship and Do Not Disturb. Dobbin’s yard had a fantastic year with 21 winners, their second best ever tally but a huge step forward given the previous two years combined only yielded 17 winners due to a bug in the yard.
Despite the majority of those horse being staying chasers, they actually have a good record in bumpers and novice hurdles with Rose Dobbin able to find winnable races at the Northern tracks for them. Fete Champetre won on bumper debut last year and found a winnable novice and Wild Polly won on her first run last season as well so she’s well able to get them ready early despite their long term future being over further. Rae Des Champs looked a real out and out galloper in her point so somewhere like Carlisle would be perfect with a stiff test to bring out the best in her.
Gris Gris Top
- Parents: Gris de Gris x Tiptop Hugaux
- 5yo grey gelding
- Trainer; Michael Scudamore
- Owner; Mrs Lynne Maclennan
- Form; U22-
Scudamore has a few nice prospects this season and is a yard who’s vastly improving with better quality horses. Last season Do Your Job and Nada To Prada were smart prospects in novice hurdlers and this year he’s got a few more to look forward to. Gris Gris Top unseated when colliding with the rail on debut at Boulta but second time out he ran a huge race from the front. That day he was heavily beaten by My Mate Mozzie but for a long way he was going well from the front and had the rest of the field at it. My Mate Mozzie moved to Gavin Cromwell and won a Punchestown Festival bumper on debut by 8 lengths, so he’s clearly a very smart prospect himself and there was no disgrace in getting beat by him.
With the normal point season postponed, Gris Gris Top then ran in a p2p bumper at Wexford, he travelled extremely well at the front end of the field. He ended up getting beat a length, with the front three coming clear of the rest of the field.
Lynne Maclennan has had loads of successful with Michael Scudamore. Mysteree, Court Master, Nada To Prada and others winning for connections and Gris Gris Top looks another exciting young horse for the team. The owner has a very respectable 5/19 26% strike rate and has a good record with them first time out as well so I would imagine the first aim for this horse will be to get off the mark in a bumper early doors.
“Great big horse who looks a real staying chaser for the future. We look forward to getting him over fences but he’s a nice prospect for hurdles this season to look forward to.” - Michael Scudamore
Pay the Pilot
- Parents: Telescope x Becky B
- 4yo bay gelding
- Trainer; Kim Bailey
- Owner; Julie & David Martin & Dan Hall
- Form; 2-
Pay The Pilot has joined the ever growing Kim Bailey stable and joins in the famous Julie & David Martin colours worn by stablemates Charbel and Ajero. Since teaming up with fellow owner Dan Hall they’ve racked up an impressive 7/18 strike rate over hurdles, with Ajero winning 4 of his first 5 hurdle runs and rated 139. Peaked Too Soon won his first two over hurdles and is rated 122. Charbel also won on his hurdles debut before going into Graded company. The combination of Bailey and jockey David Bass have progressed so much the last few seasons, with the novices usually knowing their job very early and jumping well due to the assistance of Bass in the saddle.
Pay The Pilot was a pricey £130,000 at the sales at Cheltenham but he looks like he could be worth that figure given how well he ran on his bumper debut and his pedigree too. He’s a half brother to bumper and hurdle winner Unwin VC who’s currently rated 127 and he is a promising horse himself. On his bumper debut at Punchestown, he ran a huge race, travelled immensely well but probably got beat by a better ride on the day. He travelled so well that he hit the front turning in and kicked 3 lengths clear but over the 2m4f trip, due to being a p2p bumper, he was just reeled in late by one of Colin Bowe’s that was given a more efficient ride. They finished clear of the field though and he still showed plenty of ability given the way he travelled through the race and the speed he showed.
He’ll have no issue getting off the mark in novice hurdles this season over 2m-2m4f and if he’s up to the mark you could definitely see him running in some of those good novices at the start of the year. Bailey has often sent his decent novices to the Sidney Banks, a Listed race at Huntingdon or he could end up in something like the Grade 1 Challow if he really starts to progress.
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