The ‘curtain-raising’ Charlie Hall Chase is just two-and-a-half weeks away, Cheltenham’s Open meeting three weeks after that, the King George Chase coming up at Xmas – the jumps are coming!
As is traditional, we’ve come up with 10 horses to follow going into the National Hunt campaign. Read on for where to find, and when to back, the first five. The second five can be seen here.
The son of Old Vic followed up a narrow victory in the 2015 Cheltenham Festival’s Martin Pipe Handicap with three more wins before the end of the year, including a Grade 1 Novice Hurdle against Thistlecrack, who hasn’t lost in five outings since.
Killultagh Vic missed the business end of the last campaign after a slip during his second win over the bigger obstacles in January, when jockey Ruby Walsh performed miracles to keep his mount on four legs.
Long thought a top chaser in the making, Mullins has Killultagh Vic among the early entries for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, although the Ryanair Chase – for which he’s currently 16/1 – looks a more realistic target.
When he’ll re-emerge isn’t clear just yet, so keep an eye out.
This Kayf Tara gelding has won the first two races of each of his two campaigns under rules, rewarding punters with odds from 7/4 to 25/1.
De Bromhead’s charge has proved classy as well as quick off the mark, finishing runner-up twice in Grade 1 company last season to the likes of Nichols Canyon and Vroum Vroum Mag.
Get on early, and maybe stick with the Gigginstown charge until Cheltenham. He’s a top price 16/1 to win the JLT Novices’ Chase.
Pipe was full of praise for Moon Racer after the former Cheltenham Champion Bumper winner’s impressive victory over Ballyandy at Perth in his first start over obstacles at the end of last season.
With injury disrupting his progress during 2015/16, Moon Racer would be the oldest horse since Captain Cee Bee in 2008 to take the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle should he manage as much in March, but that’s exactly where Pipe says he’s headed.
You can have 12/1 on such an outcome, leaving the gelding behind only Mullins’ 10/1 favourite Senewalk in the betting for the Festival’s first race, but he’ll have to get out a few times beforehand – the past three Supreme Novices ran and won at least twice previously during the campaign.
Stablemate Sprinter Sacre didn’t win any of his first three runs back after returning from more than a year out in January 2015, then totted up four on the bounce last season including a second Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Simonsig has raced just three times since 2013, yet got to within 3¼ lengths of God’s Own and Vautour in the Irish Champion Chase at Punchestown last April, before finding 2m5f over hurdles a stretch in France a month later.
If he stays clear of injury, the former Neptune Hurdle and Arkle winner could yet be a player in the 2m chase division for a trainer who knows all about it.
After 10 and 11-year-old’s scooped up the Grand National from Don’t Push It in 2010 to Pineau De Re in 2014, the last two years have seen eight and nine-year-old’s Many Clouds and Rule the World land steeplechasing’s top prize.
Fry’s animal capped a largely disappointing novice chasing campaign with a decent victory in a Punchestown handicap six months ago, but a repeat of that muddling form would ensure a nice low weight at Aintree – last year’s winner Rule the World had lost his previous 14 races.
From a pin-pricking standpoint, with no horse available at less than 16/1 anywhere, Fletchers Flyer could be one to watch on the road to Merseyside.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing