(Henry de Bromhead)
The colours of Brian Acheson (Robcour) are becoming increasingly familiar on tracks in Ireland these days and he looks to have an exciting bunch of youngsters to unleash this winter. Possibly the pick of the bunch is this five-year-old by Sholokhov (sire of Don Cossack and Shishkin) who won his Point-to-Point by 15 lengths, before winning the Point-to-Point bumper at Gowran, by an impressive 10 lengths. That contest has gone the way of First Lieutenant, Yorkhill and Minella Melody in recent years, and Bob Olinger could well develop into a high-class novice over hurdles. Develop your knowledge of sports markets on both sides of the Atlantic with Twinspires West Virginia odds on the UK and USA.
Shishkin would be the obvious selection when asked for a novice chaser to follow from the Nicky Henderson stable, but Chantry House – who finished 11 lengths behind his stable-mate in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham – is another very exciting recruit. A former Irish Points winner, the six-year-old beat the smart Edwardstone in his sole start in the bumper division the season before last, and won both starts over hurdles prior to the festival. His form stacks up well, whilst he gave the distinct impression that he would improve for going up in distance last term, and I suspect that he would have headed to Aintree for the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle had the Grand National meeting not been cancelled. The son of Yeats has the physique to improve for fences, and it will be disappointing if he can’t make his mark at the highest level this season, perhaps over an intermediate trip.
Like Chantry House, this six-year-old carries the silks of JP McManus, and he shed his maiden tag in late-February, when appreciating the step up in distance on his handicap debut. Up 7lbs for that Newbury success (which came on the back of a 13-month lay-off), Flight Deck remains potentially well-handicapped and there are lots of options open to him. Still a novice over hurdles until the end of November (due to an extension to the rule, which is in place this season) he also has the option of switching to fences, and there should be more races to be won with him this winter.
GARS DE SCEAUX
The winner of his sole start in the Irish Points sphere last season (when trained by Denis Murphy), Gars de Sceaux is a good-looking grey who scored by six lengths at Borris House. Ridden by Jamie Codd, the imposing son of Saddler Maker travelled well to join issue, only to make a fairly serious error two out. The four-year-old was, therefore, value for a fair bit more than the official winning margin and the second (Magic Tricks) was also purchased by JP McManus and sent to Gordon Elliott. From the family of Bristol de Mai, he is a lovely long-term prospect, but he should be more than capable of making an impact in the bumper division this season.
The winner of a slowly-run Kempton bumper, Hoi Polloi is a five-year-old by Shantou, who could develop into a nice novice hurdler for Emma Lavelle this season. The fact that there was no sort of pace on ensured that there were plenty in with chances as the field turned for home, but he showed the best turn of foot, despite not getting a clear run. The way he picked up in the closing stages suggests that he will be capable of starting over the minimum trip, and although it was only a summer bumper which he won, the runner-up did advertise the form when scoring at Uttoxeter during August. I also expect the third and fourth (Es Perfecto and Seymour Promise) from Kempton to do well over hurdles this season, too, and it could be a race to follow closely.
Owner Trevor Hemmings announced recently that he was cutting down his string to just 25 horses, and his dispersal sale took place in mid-September. One horse that he did keep is Marown and the six-year-old remains a really bright prospect in the North. Unbeaten in three career starts (a bumper and twice over hurdles), it is likely that the son of Milan will head down the novice chase route this season, although from a mark of 130, he would certainly be of huge interest in a handicap hurdle on soft ground. To date, he has yet to race beyond an extended 2m4f, but he gives the distinct impression that he will improve again once stepped up even further, and he remains open to considerable improvement.
A winner on his sole start in France when trained by Francois Nicolle, Monmiral has since joined the stable of Paul Nicholls (as has the horse he beat, Hell Red) and he looks a lovely long-term prospect. Only three, he will contest juvenile hurdles this season, but I suspect that this is a horse who could develop into a chaser of the future, so it won’t all be about this season, and he really caught my eye during a visit to Ditcheat during the summer. Part-owned by Lisa and John Hales, Ged Mason, and Sir Alex Ferguson, the son of Saints des Saints is one that I am particularly looking forward to seeing in action in the coming months (and beyond).
Mossy Fen is probably the pick of the novice chase team at Nigel Twiston-Davies’ stable, but Muckamore is another who I am looking forward to. A winner at the second time of asking in Irish Points (following more than a year off), the son of Sholokhov ran well against the potentially smart Imperial Alcazar on his Rules debut, before seemingly being outstayed at Ludlow. He duly got off the mark when dropped in distance on his final start, and he will begin the campaign on what looks to be a fair mark (125), from which he can win a couple of novice handicap chases. A big individual, he could be at his best when allowed to dominate over an intermediate trip, and he handles deep ground well.
It is unusual for me to include one juvenile hurdler to follow, but for good measure this is another exciting recruit from France. Paros won on his sole start at Dieppe in May (when trained by Gabriel Leenders) where he showed a smart turn of foot to win with something to spare. The third (Hacker des Places) won nicely last time and has since joined Paul Nicholls, whilst Paros was snapped up by Middleham Park and is now in the care of Nicky Henderson. We know that Henderson has a fine record with juvenile hurdlers and the hope is that the son of Masterstroke develops into a Triumph contender.
THE BIG BREAKAWAY
Only fourth in the Ballymore on his final start, The Big Breakaway arrived at the festival on the back of a short break (met with a small setback which forced him to miss his prep-race), yet still finished best of the British. Having earlier created a deep impression with smooth wins at Chepstow and Newbury, the five-year-old chestnut is a very exciting prospect for staying novice chases, and could easily develop into a leading contender for the RSA Chase. Only rated 144, there is the option of starting in a handicap hurdle (the Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle at Haydock would be one viable option), but he is another former winning Irish Pointer who has the scope to take a big step forward over fences, so I suspect that is the route which he will take.