The Charlie Hall Chase is two-and-a-half weeks away, the Open Meeting at Cheltenham three weeks after that, and even the King George Chase is little over two months away – the jumps are coming!
And for that reason, we are looking forward to the National Hunt fare with our 10 to follow for the jumps season.
We could take the easy option and just list 10 of Willie Mullins’ battalion of superstars, but we are looking for a few dark horses amongst our list.
Here’s the first half of our jumpers to keep on side through the winter and into the spring.
Defy Logic – 8-years-old – Paul Nolan
Before his run in the Irish Arkle back in January last year, JP McManus’ gelding had yet to finish out of the first two. His speed from the front was telling and his jumping stood up very well.
Sent off as 11/8 favourite for the big novice chase at Leopardstown he finished well back, with it later transpiring he had burst a blood vessel.
He took the Grade 1 Racing Post Novices’ Chase in 2013, after finding only Felix Yonger too good in the Craddockstown Novices’ Chase.
He missed the whole of last season with a number of niggling injuries, but now back in training could be one for the top two-mile chasers in Ireland.
Irish Cavalier – 6-years-old – Rebecca Curtis
This gelding enjoyed a progressive first season over the larger obstacles, winning the Listed Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, before being pitched in at the top level on his next two starts.
He was a faller when beaten at Aintree before being far from disgraced four lengths behind Valseur Lido in the Growise Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown.
A runner-up spot in a valuable handicap at the same track three days later showed he was a durable sort when the ground comes up right for him.
He returned with a facile success at Newton Abbot in a hot looking contest. There could be plenty more progression to come and could be an ideal type for the Ryanair Chase.
Aux Ptits Soins – 5-years-old – Paul Nicholls
During his stable tour over the summer Paul Nicholls was unable to hide the high regard in which he held this horse describing him as “a really exciting chasing prospect”.
Having arrived at Ditcheat from France in the winter he was put to the test first time out in the Coral Cup, winning in impressive style, going away up the hill.
The yard reported that he has been delighting at home and while he is likely to have one run over the smaller obstacles, a career over fences is what he is set for.
A 12/1 shot for the RSA Chase he could be one that could improve as the season goes on, and with Cheltenham form already to his name, looks a live candidate for the big novices’ staying contest.
Thistlecrack – 7-years-old – Colin Tizzard
Another that could be a good prospect over fences at the longer trips is Colin Tizzard’s gelding.
He improved markedly for a step up from two to three miles when taking the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.
Only Killultagh Vic stopped him claiming a Grade 1 double at Punchestown, when he got boxed round the bend in but finished off extremely strongly, and would have surely gone closer if given the run of the race.
He shapes as if fences will suit, but with a pathway not yet announced he remains a 16/1 shot for the RSA Chase and a 20/1 shot for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
Coneygree – 8-years-old – Mark Bradstock
OK, including the Gold Cup winner in this list after talking about finding ‘under the radar’ types may seem strange, but it appears he is still being underestimated.
Written off as a novice winning the biggest prize in jumps racing, Mark Bradstock’s eight-year-old delivered a jumping masterclass to have even the most experienced of chasers in trouble.
His guts and determination paid off as Nico de Boinville galvanised him up the hill. There is sure to be plenty more to come after having just four starts over the larger obstacles.
He’s unbeaten over fences, with two Grade 1s to his name, yet finds himself second favourite for all of his season’s targets. The 6/1 on offer for a Gold Cup repeat looks far too big.
Check back on Ladbrokes News tomorrow for the other five horses we are keeping on side as the days begin to get shorter.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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