Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow – Online Updates
Hello, and welcome to this free-to-view edition of my Jumpers To Follow Online Updates service, an extension to my Jumpers To Follow book. For those unfamiliar to the online service, it allows me to provide more in-depth and up-to-date analysis of my Jumpers To Follow. As you can appreciate, a lot can change once the book is sent to print in August so the online version allows me to reassess my Jumpers To Follow, as well as adding fresh talent which has caught my eye.
It also gives me the opportunity to provide betting advice along the way, as and when I spot an attractive betting opportunity. Last year the tips produced a 19% Return On Investment, with Rather Be (12/1) a particular highlight.
To give you a flavour of what you can expect, I have put together a sample of content form my first update of the season. This gives you my latest analysis on a handful of my Leading Prospects which have already run this season, plus my thoughts on Friday’s card at Cheltenham.
I hope you find it informative and enjoyable to read, and should you wish to gain full access to my first update, which includes my analysis on my other Leading Prospects to have run, as well as previewing the weekend’s racing, plus my thoughts for the rest of the National Hunt season – click here to subscribe for just £100.
To begin, I want to touch upon some of my Leading Prospects that have already been in action in the early weeks of the season………
He’s been out twice already and, though he has yet to get his head in front, there has been promise in each run. He travelled strongly before appearing to blow up on his reappearance at Worcester – on ground that would have been quick enough – before beating all bar another well handicapped horse at Aintree last weekend. He pulled 7 lengths clear of the third, but the frustrating thing is that he has been upped a further 6lbs for finishing runner-up. He shows enough speed in his races to be fully effective should he be dropped to 2m4f-2m5f so something like the Lanzarote Hurdle might come into consideration in the New Year. Hopefully he can get off the mark for the season before too long and he is very much one to look forward to over fences in time.
The Irish Champion Hurdle winner was an impressive winner on his chase debut at Punchestown last month, jumping really well in the main and beating a race-fit rival with ease. It was a debut that was hard to fault, so it was even more frustrating that he subsequently picked up an injury and has been ruled out until the New Year. Hopefully, he will be back for the Irish Arkle in February, but he will be heading to Cheltenham limited on experience.
Runner-up (again) at Cheltenham on his reappearance, where he did little wrong. He travelled like the best horse for most of the race, only for the front-running Cogry to pull away up the home straight. At the time, Tom George hadn’t really got going and this horse did need his first run of last season. The form of his festival second was franked by Go Conquer (5th) who won a valuable Ascot handicap recently and it would appear all systems go for the Ladbrokes Trophy for Singlefarmpayment. Up just 1lb for his reappearance second, a big run looks on the cards provided he settles early on (settled much better last time than he did at times last year). He has been well supported in recent weeks and is a best price 9-1 now, so it is probably worth waiting until the day at this stage.
Moving onto the Bumper Graduate – Leading Prospects………
Maintained her unbeaten record when making an impressive winning debut over hurdles at Newbury last week – hopefully some of you watched my video with Fergal O’Brien when he pinpointed this race as a starting point. That looked a strong mares’ event on paper and she was very good after the last, crossing the line full of running. With that in mind, she can go up in trip and O’Brien will probably look at Haydock just before Christmas, assuming all goes well back at Newbury next month. She remains very exciting.
An easy winner at Hexham, she was ridden a shade aggressively when third behind Cap Soleil at Newbury last week and she, too, is being considered for a step up in trip. Richard Hobson’s filly jumps really well and there are sure to be more races to be won with her as the season unfolds.
If The Cap Fits
Made it two from two over timber at Bangor on Wednesday, with an impressive display. Despite his slightly awkward looking head carriage, the imposing son of Milan travelled strongly and was in control when taking up the running leaving the back. He quickened up again once pressed after the last and, having also impressed on debut at Exeter, he now deserves a step up in class. He looks smart and will also stay further on decent ground.
A really impressive winner on his hurdles debut at Wetherby on Charlie Hall Chase day, Kalashnikov showed a fine turn of foot and is another that deserves a rise in class. I had originally expected to see him over 2m4f or thereabouts, but he showed a fine turn of foot here, so would expect to remain over the minimum trip again next time. A trip to Doncaster has been mentioned for his next target.
Vision des Flos
Third on his hurdles debut in the Persian War, he moved well throughout and it was a pleasing introduction, with Bryan Cooper not looking overly hard on him. It was a run that promised plenty for the future and, again, we should learn a lot more on Friday. Looking back at his Goffs Land Rover Bumper form, both Early Doors (3rd) and Rapid Escape (5th) have given that a solid look in the early part of the season.
Preview – Friday, 17 Novmber
Moving on to day one of the November Meeting from Cheltenham, where two of my Leading Prospects are in action.
First up is Finian’s Oscar who takes his chance in the four-runner Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase, for which he is sure to be sent off a warm order. He will need to sharpen up his jumping here as he takes on two smart horses and a decent one in Coo Star Sivola, who has a bit to find with the other trio on hurdles form.
2m4f on relatively decent ground should be just about ideal for Finian’s Oscar, so there ought to be no excuse on that score and, if he does jump as he did up the home straight at Chepstow, he is very much the one to beat. Personally, I wouldn’t be taking odds on about him here, however, as he has to give 8lbs to all three rivals and neither of the other two should be taken lightly.
Movewiththetimes was expected to need the run when fourth to North Hill Harvey here last month. He moved well for a long way and jumped well in the main – dragged his hind legs through a couple – so should he step forward in fitness terms, he would warrant respect.
Possibly the biggest danger, however, will be William Henry who is right at home over this sort of trip on decent ground and he won with plenty in hand here when last sighted in April. Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old wouldn’t be the biggest, but he looks to possess the requisite scope to make it as a chaser and, under optimum conditions, he looks a major player, despite lacking the experience.
Taking all this into account, I don’t think Finian’s Oscar should be an odds-on shot, although it is very much hoped that he defies my reservations and continues his upward ascendancy.
Later on the card, stable-mate Vision des Flos takes his chance in the concluding Grade 2 novices’ hurdle. As stated above, I would expect him to step forward from an encouraging start to his hurdling career at Chepstow, but he does have 6¼ lengths to find with the winner Poetic Rhythm, who also boasts some decent course form from last season (was 5 lengths behind William Henry here on trials day in January). Vision des Flos has a 5lbs pull at the weights on Friday and I would expect him to go very close to turning the tables, with that experience under his belt.
Of the others On The Blind Side was quite impressive in the closing stages at Aintree, shaping as though the longer trip here would suit (Aye Aye Charlie back in 3rd that day) – both horses would appreciate a more truly run race. Calett Mad was an impressive winner here at the last meeting, while the strong travelling Momella deserves this step up in class after bolting up at Fakenham. Her defeat of Brillare Momento (winner here last month) reads well, although quite whether she will be able to dictate from the front is another matter in this field – all four rivals mentioned would appear to prefer to race prominently, so the make-up of the race might actually suit Vision des Flos, who ought to get a lead into the race. I am expecting a bold show, although again his current odds would seem tight enough.
Elsewhere on the opening day, one horse I will be looking to back is Counter Shy in the novices’ handicap hurdle.
He featured in the Around The Yards section of Jumpers To Follow and duly won on his hurdling debut, at the rewarding odds of 14-1, defeating one of today’s rivals Banditry who won next time. Jonjo O’Neill’s four-year-old had shaped with plenty of promise on his racecourse debut in a Market Rasen bumper last term – the winner Who’s My Jockey was a recent hurdles winner at Uttoxeter – and he himself ran well at Uttoxeter last time, when runner-up under a 6lb penalty.
He looked tapped for speed a little as the pace increased up the home straight, but stayed on strongly – plenty of stamina in his pedigree – and ran a rock-solid race in the end. I thought that race looked pretty strong at the time (Cause Toujours finished 4th) and, though the form has been let down a little, I still expect there to be several winners to come out of it. An opening mark of 124 looks fair for Counter Shy, who might appreciate the big field and the likely strong pace. Barry Geraghty takes over in the saddle on Friday and with the ground likely to be suitable I’m expecting a big run. I will be monitoring the opening markets closely from 4pm onwards on Thursday, as I would like to back this horse each-way if possible, but suspect he will be the subject of market support.
These races are always very competitive at Cheltenham and there are plenty of possible dangers. Or De Vassy won well at Sedgefield last time and represents the Skelton’s who have been in tremendous form throughout the autumn, but possibly the pair I respect most are Coeur Blimey and Oxwich Bay, the latter looking a shade unlucky at Warwick last Friday. He certainly remains on a winnable mark and represents an in-form Evan Williams yard, while Coeur Blimey was a smart bumper horse (beat Ballyandy in a Listed bumper at Ascot before finishing 11th in the 2016 Champion Bumper) and he bumped into Air Horse One (finished 4th in this race last year before that win, then he went on to win twice more and finish 4th in the County Hurdle. He was 4th behind Elgin off 141 at Ascot recently and is now rated 142) at Exeter. Given those exploits of the winner, Sue Gardner’s six-year-old remains potentially well treated off a mark of 121.
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