Here are our NATIONAL HUNT HORSES TO FOLLOW for the 2017-2018 season
Although the National Hunt Season has drawn to a close, National Hunt racing doesn’t really stop and there are some good prizes over jumps during the summer, although I’m not sure if any of these will be aiming for such prizes. Hopefully we have highlighted horses in this blog post that will be well worth following next season in some of the feature handicaps.
Trained by Nicky Henderson and Owned by Mr J P McManus
Charli Parcs is a great starting point as he will split opinions. After winning a Juvenile Hurdle in France he was purchased by J P McManus and sent to Nicky Henderson. Before he had even made his British Debut he was being talked of very highly by his trainer who was suggesting he was a superstar in the making. On British Hurdles debut he travelled around Kempton really well before effortlessly pulling clear from Master Blueyes giving that horse weight and it looked like Nicky Henderson was right and he a well above average horse on his hands.
On his next run in the Adonis Hurdle however things didn’t go to plan. He was never really travelling and despite rallying before the 2nd last, he still didn’t look like he was going to win when falling. Master Blueyes went on to win the race exacted his revenge
After this effort Charli’s participation in the Triumph Hurdle was in doubt however just over 3 weeks later he turned up the Triumph and ran a credible race for 6th. This was a good effort off the back of a fall which must have affected his confidence and despite this, Nicky Henderson still insisted he was in a different league to his other leading Juvenile Divin Bere. This has to be noted as Divin Bere won on his British Debut beating Master Blueyes and giving him weight, then finished a neck 2nd in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival before finishing a good 2nd in the 4 Old Grade 1 Hurdle at Aintree behind the imperious Defi Du Seuil.
If Charli Parcs really is in a different league to Divin Bere then the handicap mark of 145 for Charli Parcs might turn out to be very lenient. In comparison Divin Bere has a mark of 148.
Looking at the early season handicaps next season there is a standout for this horse. The Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle. Last year JP McManus had 4 running for him including the 4 year old Consul De Thaix who ran a great race for 2nd. On all suggestions, Charli Parcs is much better than he was and this could be the target for Charli Parcs before potentially looking at another big handicap on route back to Cheltenham.
Trained by Neil Mulholland and Owned by Mrs Jane Gerard-Pearse
Shantou Village is a horse I’ve liked for a long time and he has some really smart form to his name including when 2nd to Yanworth (on ground he hated at Cheltenham in January 2016). After pulling up at the Festival in 2016 when he injured himself he was sent chasing and started off winning an easy race at Fontwell.
A subsequent win at Cheltenham followed before he fell late on at Wincanton when trying to give 9lb to the now 152 rated Frodon. At the time this may have looked a disappointing run however with Frodon going on to win further races and climb the handicap this effort can now be marked up and he was probably running to a mark of around 155-158 in my opinion.
He was given time to recover from this and was not seen until early April when he returned to Fontwell for what was again a schooling session before heading to Sandown for a competitive novices handicap chase. Apart from one very bad mistake about 4 out he jumped well however this mistake came at a time when it could have really affected the horse. Despite this error he quickly recovered and outbattled his rivals up the hill after the last when probably only doing just enough.
The handicapper has raised him 2lb for this and this looks lenient and is surprising. With only 2lb extra the obvious target is the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham over 2m5f. The course and distance clearly suit and I believe he is a Graded horse running in handicaps and with a clear run I would expect a very big performance.
With Neil Mulholland carefully campaigning this horse last season he should be able to give a good account of himself next season and I can see him running 2 or 3 very big races in lucrative handicaps before stepping up to Graded company.
Trained by Paul Nicholls and Owned by Mr J P McManus
Le Prezien is a horse that I feel is very well handicapped off his current mark of 144. His early season form last season was very good including a 2nd to Charbel on Novice Chase debut with the talented Top Notch just behind. Subsequent wins over Hammersly Lake and L’Ami Serge (both of whom have won since) proved he had taken to fences well before a good 3rd at Sandown behind Top Notch and Baron Alco in a Grade 1 when not handling the railway fences very well. He was dropped back to handicap company for the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival and was sent off just 7/2. He raced wide for most of the race and looked to be travelling best of all turning into the straight but didn’t really pick up. After this he was sent over to Punchestown to run in a similar race but didn’t run any race at all.
Looking through his form, most of it has come with a bit of cut in the ground including when 2nd on heavy going over hurdles and he may just be better in the winter months before the ground starts drying up.
I feel he will be a force to be reckoned with in the early season handicaps in the likes of the BetVictor Gold Cup and/or the December Gold Cup both at Cheltenham where he has run well and there is likely to be some cut in the ground. He may even try and follow in the footsteps of As De Mee and be entered in the Grand Sefton at Aintree in early December. He may be kept apart from Romain De Senam (coming later) in these races and should go well in whatever he turns up in.
Trained by Paul Nicholls and Owned by Mr Dan McDonald & Mr Chris Giles
Romain De Senam is a horse that I’ve had on my radar for a little while now. Having finished a fast finishing 2nd at Cheltenham in the Fred Winter in 2016 he has always looked like a horse that needs further than the 2 mile trip which his trainer has agreed with on multiple occasions. Despite this comment from the trainer he has been campaigned over fences over the 2m trip for 6 of his 7 runs with his only step up coming at Kempton which is a very easy 2 ½ mile and he never travelled here as I feel he was taken off his feet. At both Aintree and Ayr he’s looked outpaced early on before running on well and finished a good 2nd on his final start at Ayr.
Having been aimed at the Novices Handicap Chase at Cheltenham but failing to make the cut he has since dropped 4lb and with their being plenty of 2m4 races at Cheltenham before Christmas, I would not be surprised to see him running in some of these. The likes of the BetVictor Gold Cup and December Gold Cup at Cheltenham would suit him down to the ground and he’s one to keep an eye out in these races.
Trained by David Dennis and Owned by Corbett Stud
Final Nudge caught my eye when falling 4 out in the Midlands National when still travelling really well (arguably best of all). This was his first step up to this sort of distance and on only his 6th start over fences it was a good effort despite the fall.
He was then dropped back in distance at Ayr, back to 3m and ran a good race but maybe lacked the turn of foot even over this distance. Turning into the straight he was still travelling well and looked like he was going to play a big part in the finish however he didn’t pick up as well as his rivals and merely continued at the same pace for a still respectable 6th place.
With this extra run under his belt and with another summer to improve and hone his jumping technique, it would be no surprise to see this horse back for some of the feature long distance chases. Kayf Tara progeny have a very healthy 18.3% strike rate at Ayr and the Scottish National could well be the target especially as they know he handles the course after his run here.
Wherever he turns up, he should run a big race if aimed at one of these long distance chases.
Trained and Owned by Pam Sly
Actinpieces is interesting as despite being only 6 years old she has already won a 3m1f chase on soft ground and should as she gets older be able to stay even further. Having won over 3m1f it looked like connections had the Mares Series Final at Haydock in mind but felt they needed to get another run into her and so dropped her back in distance to 2m3f at Huntingdon. Despite this distance looking on the short side she still ran well to finish 3rd.
Returning to 2m6f on her final start which was likely to suit she fell early on but was ok. With age on her side, I feel she could be very progressive next season and can certainly stay further. The 3m trip looks to suit her (2/3 over 3m+ with her only defeat coming in the Rowland Meyrick as a 5 year old).
With the Mares Series now getting plenty of support, I expect Actinpieces to be a big contender in many of these races and hope she is campaigned more over 3m+ next season.
She’s certainly one to stick in your RTR NagMe and follow her through next season.
Trained by Neil Mulholland and Owned by Mrs Angela Yeoman
Southfield Royale was my Charity bet when I sat on the panel at a Cheltenham Festival Preview this year. Unfortunately he fell fairly early and we didn’t get a run for our money. He was then stepped up in distance and ran in the Scottish National and after racing prominently he got tired turning into the straight and faded. The 4m trip was on the radar after he finished a fine 4th in the 4m race at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival in a race with the likes of Native River, Minella Rocco, Vicente, Definitely Red and Vieux Lion Rouge who had all franked the form.
Having failed to see out the 4m it’s likely he be dropped back in distance next season and if he can return to his 2016 Cheltenham Festival Form then he is surely very well handicapped. The race that springs to mind for early on in the season is the Badger Ale’s Trophy at Wincanton next. Neil Mulholland has had 3 runners in this race in the last 3 years with Fingerontheswitch finishing 3rd, Carole’s Destrier finishing 5th and The Young Master winning but being disqualified for not actually qualifying for the race!
This therefore looks like a race that Neil targets and this talented and well handicapped horse could well be his challenger next season!
Trained by Dan Skelton and Owned by Mrs June Watts
Mohaayed ran behind some decent novice hurdlers early on in the season before running 2 good races in handicaps at Cheltenham and Ayr. The Cheltenham race has worked out well with Arctic Fire, L’Ami Serge, Wait For Me and Renneti all winning since and having lacked the experience of many of his rivals he ran well for 7th place.
He followed this up with a good 3rd at Ayr behind Chesterfield and Zubayr when he got too far back before finishing really well. That form has been well franked as well with L’Ami Serge winning since and with a better run through for Mohaayed would have surely seen him go much closer.
He looks the perfect type to return to Cheltenham for the Greatwood Hurdle, a race that Dan Skelton has targeted for the last few years. He won the race in 2016 with North Hill Harvey and finished a narrow 2nd in 2015 with Superb Story and had 4th in 2014 with Blue Heron.
Mohaayed recently skipped the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock and instead ran in a Novice event to gain more experience. Sent off at 1/33 he simply had a schooling session over the hurdles and the handicapper couldn’t touch his handicap rating. If he’s fit, I would be very surprised if we didn’t see this one at Cheltenham in November in the Greatwood Hurdle and I would be very confident of a big run!