Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers to Follow – ONLINE UPDATES
Welcome to the very first Jumpers To Follow online update, providing you with the latest news and views in relation to the horses that feature in this year’s publication. Given we have had a month-and-a-half since the publication date, there is plenty to cover, so I will crack straight on.
Starting with the Leading Prospects that have run so far; six horses have recorded three victories from seven starts between them, most recently Definite Outcome who defied a drift in the market to score impressively at Chepstow last Sunday. Rebecca Curtis’ imposing seven-year-old looked an absolute natural, travelling and jumping well throughout this chase debut.
He looked to have the race sewn up after a fine leap at the first fence in the home straight and, while people might pick holes in the form (Vieux Lille didn’t seem to go a yard and it might be that Arpege D’Alene simply isn’t as good a chaser as he was a hurdler), there was a lot to like about the runs of the front three. And, I think Definite Outcome won with more in hand than the official margin would suggest.
The winner is expected to head to Aintree next, for a novice chase on 5th November, while the third home Potters Corner is another to keep tabs on (a Leading Prospect in last year’s book). Rated 134 over hurdles, if he is handed a similar mark, he would be of interest once entering handicap company, and certainly has races in him over fences.
A day earlier Our Kaempfer finished runner-up in what appeared another hot novices’ chase. As he always does, he looked a picture in the parade ring beforehand and this was a promising start. Beaten a couple of lengths in the end by Rock The Kasbah, Charlie Longsdon’s seven-year-old moved well out the back (his usual style of racing) and might well have gone closer, but for a couple of untimely errors up the home straight.
It is worth remembering that Blaklion and Native River were both beaten in this race 12 months ago and Our Kaempfer will probably step up in trip now. Given how he rolls along, a flat track might well suit him better and, should he get off the mark next time, I would consider the Feltham for him on Boxing Day.
Sticking with the Leading Prospects, I was fortunate enough to see Yanworth in action on the gallops at Alan King’s stable last Saturday and he seems to have summered very well. Barry Geraghty was in to sit on him and the plan, again as suggested in the book, is to start the season in the Coral Ascot Hurdle next month. I am hugely excited by his prospects for the season and really hope they give him a chance over a little further as the season goes on, as the World Hurdle looks distinctly winnable.
The market is headed by Faugheen, who is by no means certain to go up in trip, and Thistlecrack, who will only line up here is things go wrong over fences, and the next three in the betting are all Willie Mullins-trained, so it is highly unlikely that all three will turn up. The 16-1 has all gone, but 14-1 is still pretty tempting, given the shape of the market – I’m pretty sure at some stage he will be given the opportunity to prove his stamina. If you like an early season ante-post punt, you could do much worse, though his price shouldn’t really move for a few weeks.
His work partner Midnight Maestro is another name for the notebook (featured in the sales section of the book), as he appeared to move nicely, also. A Doncaster bumper winner in March, he too is now owned by JP McManus and should make his mark as a novice hurdler this season.
Around The Yards & Co.
Away from the main 40, Snow Leopardess was one that impressed from elsewhere in the book (featured in Around The Yards and also given a favourable mention in Charlie Longsdon’s Foreword) when winning a Listed bumper at Gowran Park a fortnight ago. Those who follow me on Twitter will have been aware that this was confirmed as her target at the stable’s owners’ day and, despite it appearing a competitive contest on paper, the grey won stylishly under Jamie Codd.
Her Aintree fifth is working out well (Shattered Love won over in Ireland and Copper Kay runs at Ffos Las tomorrow) and Rather Be, who she beat on debut at Doncaster, has already won over hurdles. The Martaline filly will presumably now head over hurdles and looks to have a very bright future – she appeared to have grown considerably over the summer, when seeing her last month.
Another filly that caught my eye, both at home and on her debut under Rules, recently was Whatduhavtoget who won a Uttoxeter maiden hurdle by 13 lengths, on her first start for Dan Skelton and Highclere Thoroughbred. The imposing Presenting filly had won a four-year-old maiden Point-to-Point in Ireland in February and she looked a picture when visiting the Skelton yard during September. Well-supported beforehand, she bolted up and, though she might not have beaten much, she was visually very impressive, indeed. She reportedly heads to Newbury next month.
Finally, looking back, Valhalla is another who should be monitored closely, following a hugely encouraging return to action at Newton Abbot last Friday, in the splendidly named Weatherbys & Paul Ferguson Jumpers To Follow Handicap Hurdle. Colin Tizzard’s six-year-old arrived in the UK with a fairly tall reputation, having won his Point-to-Point by 8 lengths, and he came good once stepping up in trip and entering handicap company towards the end of last season. Up 10lbs for an impressive Exeter success, the Scorpion gelding moved sweetly throughout here (ridden on the wide outside) and looked the likely winner for a long way. The run might just have been needed and he probably did a little too much in the early part of the race, but I would expect him to be capable of landing a handicap off his current mark. He did hold entries over fences last week, too, but if connections persevere over hurdles, something like the 2m5f intermediate handicap hurdle at Cheltenham’s Open meeting might be a race worth considering, as I don’t think the slightly shorter trip will be an inconvenience.
Addition to the Jumpers to Follow portfolio – Around The Yards
At this stage, I think we can, effectively, add both Whatduhavtoget and Valhalla in to the Around The Yards section of their respective stables, as horses worth following. Based on their respective reappearance runs, both have plenty to offer going forward.
The weekend ahead & forthcoming entries
Looking ahead at next week’s entries, the exciting Death Duty (has missed engagements already over hurdles) is in at Roscommon on Monday and, while he is unlikely to be a betting proposition, he is very much one to watch closely with the future in mind. In the same Gigginstown House Stud silks, stable-mate Monbeg Worldwide would be another to note, if taking up his engagement in the concluding bumper. This horse impressed when winning his four-year-old maiden at Lismore back in March.
Domestically, Wednesday looks like a potentially exciting day, with Leading Prospect Western Cape entered at both Fontwell and Worcester. As explained in the book, I believe Seamus Mullins’ five-year-old to be well treated on a mark of 128 and his return to action is eagerly anticipated. The Paul Nicholls-trained Movewiththetimes (another Leading Prospect) is also entered at Fontwell, in the opening novices’ hurdle, while there is a strong bunch of entries for the concluding 2m4f maiden hurdle at Worcester, with several horses featured in various sections of the book engaged.
The intention is to conclude each weekly update with a look at one or two of the big races over the weekend but, in all honesty, the National Hunt cards have cut up a little disappointingly this weekend. The Welsh Champion Hurdle was the one race I intended on previewing here, but there are now only seven horses going to post – not ideal for a supposed competitive handicap hurdle.
One of last year’s Leading Prospects, the Dan Skelton-trained Welsh Shadow heads the betting and reappears on what would look a fair mark (140). His two hurdles victories came in small fields, so that should be too much of a concern for him, but there is a distinct lack of pace on here and it could well become a tactical affair. With that in mind, the returning Garde La Victoire is very much a potential player, especially if Richard Johnson takes the race by the scruff of the neck, as he did when winning the Greatwood Hurdle a couple of years ago. His record first time out reads 1131, so a big run could be on the cards from the top-weight.
Elsewhere, Hoke Colburn is one to note on hurdling debut at Market Rasen, where Brian Ellison saddles a couple of interesting recruits in the two divisions of the bumper. Firstly, Instant Replay makes his Rules debut in division one, under Megan Carberry, having travelled well when runner-up to Calino D’Airy (joined Willie Mullins for £150,000) in a maiden Point-to-Point at Broughshane in May. This could be a decent race, with Boreham Bill evidently well-regarded at Ben Pauling’s yard, catching the eye during the parade of horses at the stable’s owners’ day.
In division two Ravenhill Road is very much one to note, as he created a big impression when winning his Point-to-Point by 15 lengths. As always, evaluating the form isn’t easy (and the fourth hasn’t done anything to advertise the form under Rules), but he was visually very impressive. Again, there are a couple in here with form in the book already, notably the Mick Channon horse, who chased home a smart sort on debut, but Ravenhill Road is one of the horse’s I am most looking forward to seeing in action this weekend. Be sure to pay close attention to both races as, on paper, they look informative affairs.
I’ll be back next week, unless there is anything worth highlighting in the meantime (I will add shorter updates at times, if I believe they are required, ahead of a certain runner). Until next time, good luck and enjoy your weekend.
LIKE WHAT YOU SEE? CLICK HERE TO ORDER PAUL’S BRAND NEW ONLINE SERVICE FOR JUST £100 FOR THE SEASON.