Paul Smith's 10 Jumpers to Follow
Paul Smith, who left the Club recently after 14 years, returns to give us his ten jumpers to follow for this season.
"The teaching is going really well and, as I finish at 3.00pm every day, there is plenty of time to catch up on the racing action! Here are some horses who have caught my eye in recent weeks, plus a few that I am really looking forward to seeing this season. I hope that they will be lucky for you..."
The phrase "anything he does over hurdles is a bonus" is often overused, but it could not be more appropriate for Urban Hymn. Malcolm Jefferson's 6-year-old won twice over hurdles last term, including in the Grade 2 River Don Novices' Hurdle at Doncaster. He made his reappearance in a novices' chase at Kelso where he lost out narrowly to Nicky Richards' high class Duke Of Navan. That was over 2 miles, a trip way short of his optimum and it was a fantastic effort. Expect him to take high rank in the staying novice chase division - he goes next for a 2m4f novices' chase at Cheltenham's Paddy Power meeting.
Saphir Du Rheu
Paul Nicholls told Andy Stewart that Saphir Du Rheu could be the best chaser he has ever owned (some claim when you consider the likes of Cenkos and Poquelin have donned the famous black, white and red silks). He will be one of the highest rated hurdlers going chasing this season and, built like a tank, you can expect him to be even better at this game. Has an entry for a novices' chase at Carlisle on Monday.
Miles To Memphis
Alan King's 5-year-old by Old Vic has an unbeaten record to protect. A winner of two bumpers, he made light work of the opposition on his hurdling debut at Fontwell in October. There is plenty of improvement to come, particularly in the jumping department and he should get better and better as the season progresses. Very highly regarded at Barbury Castle, he looks destined for something like the Neptune Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
With Cue Card, Holywell and Silviniaco Conti failing to set the world alight on their recent returns, Britain is crying out for a Gold Cup challenger. Smad Place could be the one. Unbeaten in completed chase starts approaching last year's Festival, he found only O'Faoilins Boy, under an inspired Barry Geraghty, too good in the RSA Chase. He lost nothing in defeat, however, and looks a chaser to follow this season. He is my idea of the Hennessy winner, which is where he heads next and, with top class form at Prestbury Park, he could the dark horse for this year's Gold Cup - quotes of around 25/1 look pretty tempting to me!
I love juvenile hurdlers who show a real aptitude for jumping. Katchit was one such horse - as soon as he jumped one hurdle he was looking for the next one and that was what set him apart from the rest, despite his diminutive stature. Philip Hobbs' 3-year-old is very much in that mould. When he won at Chepstow earlier this week he attacked his hurdles with relish and won as he pleased. Dickie Johnson loves him and thinks he could be a Triumph Hurdle horse - I agree!
Rock The Kasbah
Another Philip Hobbs inmate. He won easily on his hurdles debut at Fontwell today. His crafty trainer deliberately entered him for this conditional jockeys' contest as he knew the horse wouldn't carry a penalty next time. A shrewd move - he looks a shoe-in for another race of this type before going on to better things. The further he goes the better he'll be and I could see him ending up in the Albert Bartlett come March.
Philip Hobbs again (I'm a big fan!). A four-time winner over hurdles last season, he always had the look of a chaser and, if his recent debut over fences is anything to go by, he'll be even better at this game. He jumped like an experienced handicapper, looking like he'd been doing this all his life. I know that Philip Hobbs is dreaming of winning the RSA Chase with him.
I know that Corky Browne has already given you this horse to follow but I had to include him in my list. He was well-fancied for his debut in a hot Newbury bumper in March and didn't disappoint with a smooth success. The form is rock solid, with Nick Williams' subsequent two-time winner Tea For Two in second with the pair a mile clear. By Flat sire Medicean, he is from the same family as top class hurdler Bold Gait; he looks all class and I would expect him to be one of the top novice hurdlers over two miles.
Ma Du Fou
Warren Greatrex has been in blistering form recently and he looks to have a team of high class bumper horses and novice hurdlers. So the fact that he has nominated Ma Du Fou as his horse to follow for this season speaks volumes. He had clearly been burning up the gallops at home when he was sent off at 4/6 for his debut in a bumper at Wetherby in April. Favourite backers never had a moment's worry as he sauntered to a 10-length victory. He is a very exciting horse and will be difficult to beat next time, whether he stays in bumpers or goes over hurdles.
I couldn't resist including this old friend of the Racegoers Club. She won one race in our colours and seven for someone else (much to our frustration!). All her wins were marked by a tenacious will to win, a quality which will hold her in good stead for the jumping game. Nicky Henderson purchased her for £28,000 in 2013, but wisely gave her last season off to give her the chance to recover from a demanding Flat campaign. That clearly paid dividends as she jumped well and hacked up in a novice hurdle at Fakenham this week. There is a great programme of mares races now and she could be in for a lucrative season. Go Broxy!