As we close in on September it won’t be long before Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson and co have their open days and trackers start to be restocked thanks to essential reading like Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow and Mark Howard’s One Jump Ahead.
Therefore, I think I can just about get away with throwing some long range ante-post out there for next year’s Festival…
Stayers’ Hurdle – Emitom 33/1:
Paisley Park was a revelation in the staying hurdle division last season and rightfully sits on top of the ante-post markets for the three mile showpiece at Cheltenham next March. However, a new kid on the block may give him something to think about in the shape of Warren Greatrex’s Emitom. A winner of five of his six starts under rules, the five-year-old’s only defeat came at the hands of Ballymore second Champ in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle, finishing ahead of a very good yardstick in the third-placed Lisnagar Oscar.
Greatrex has been very patient with the son of Gold Well, opting to swerve last year’s Festival, and could be rewarded this term with bags of scope for improvement. He rates as a cracking each-way punt at 33/1, especially when you consider pending injury we know exactly where he will line up, added to the fact that many of the other current market principles most likely won’t be in opposition – Laurina (chasing), Benie Des Dieux (mares), Champ (chasing), Minella Indo (chasing).
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – Shishkin 33/1:
Just a day after Al Boum Photo claimed Gold Cup glory for Joe and Marie Donnelly the owners looked to have unleashed another star in the making at Kempton when Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin romped to an eight-length bumper success in their colours. Following the win, Henderson’s assistant trainer Toby Lawes said: “Nico was suitably impressed. He did everything right and we could have a smart horse on our hands.”
An eight-length winner of a point in November 2018 before being snapped up for £170,000 by Highflyer Bloodstock at the Cheltenham Tattersalls sale the following month, this son of Sholokhov looks like a high-class recruit on the evidence of his Kempton run and could well emerge as one of Henderson’s main darts at the Festival opener in March. It will be fascinating to see how he progresses and at 33/1 he presents himself as an attractive each-way punt for a race that Seven Barrows famously took with Altior in 2016.
JLT Novices’ Chase – Brewin’upastorm 33/1:
Despite a good novice hurdle season in which he was fourth in the Ballymore at Cheltenham and second in the Mersey Novices at Aintree, Brewin’upastorm’s best days were always going to be over fences. An eight-length winner of his only point in Ireland, the time has now come for Olly Murphy’s six-year-old to show what he can do over the bigger obstacles.
Born on the day after Bob’s Worth won the Gold Cup in 2013, whether this son of Milan can scale those heights remains to be seen, but I fully expect him to be a leading contender in the top two-and-a-half to three mile novice chases this term. Never tried over further than 2m 5f last season, there can be no doubt that three miles will be his trip in the end, but this season I can see him being kept to two-and-a-half with the JLT being the main target. At 33/1 he offers plenty of each-way appeal.
RSA Novices’ Chase – Bright Forecast 25/1:
One place ahead of Brewin’upastorm at Cheltenham was Bright Forecast, who promises to be another smart recruit over fences this season. Ben Pauling’s five-year-old was doing his best work at the finish in the Ballymore and certainly looks like one for the staying chases.
A horse that finished ahead of Sevarano and Dashel Drasher when winning his first bumper last season, he was then only beaten two-and-a-half lengths by Mister Fisher in the Grade 2 Rossington Main over what was probably an inadequate trip at Haydock in January.
Last season’s RSA was a red-hot edition with the first three all legitimate Gold Cup candidates this term and the class of 2020 look like a strong bunch too with Albert Bartlett hero Minella Indo and possibly a rejuvenated Samcro in the mix. There is no reason to believe that Bright Forecast can’t mix it with these however and how good would it be to see the famous Aldiniti colours back on top if he does.
National Hunt Chase – Dickie Diver 25/1:
Considering we only saw him under rules for the first time in January, Dickie Diver was a real eye-catcher at the back end of last season. Beaten only a head by the very useful Lisnagar Oscar on his first start for Nicky Henderson, he then followed up a facile win on his next start at Chepstow with a battling fourth in the Albert Bartlett at the Festival.
A 20 length winner of his only point in Ireland, the son of Gold Well with Flemensfirth in his bloodline fetched £210,000 at Goffs in January 2018. It was a year before we next saw him but on his performances when we did he promises to be yet another classy recruit to the chasing sphere this term. A horse that looks like he will stay all day, he appears to be a perfect candidate for the National Hunt Chase, going down the same route as OK Corral did for the same owner last season.