We pick out ten horses who could be worth including in your Tote Ten To Follow permutation.
Ahead of the launch of the new Tote Ten To Follow competition, we tasked our team of contributors with putting together a stable for the 2019/20 National Hunt season...
The Tote Ten To Follow competition is back!
Racing's answer to Fantasy Football, the Ten To Follow competition tasks punters with picking out ten horses for the 2019/20 National Hunt season, who will then score points based on how they run during the campaign.
It costs £5 per stable to enter, with the competition running from Saturday 30th November 2019 until Saturday April 25th 2020. The winner of the competition will win 70% of the total pool - which will be a minimum of £175,000 - but prizes go all the way through to 100th place.
As you would expect, wins in Grade 1 races carry the most value, with 25 points on offer per success, while there are also extra points based around the horse's starting price, and how much a £1 each-way bet on the Tote would return. Meanwhile, you will earn 20 points for a Grade 2 victory, 15 points for a Grade 3 victory, 12 points for a listed success and 10 points for winning any other race.
It means that finding a prolific performer can prove just as valuable as a horse who plucks out a sole Grade 1 success, and a winning stable tends to be a varied one. The added presence of 15 bonus races throughout the season - which are worth an extra 25 points to the winner and 12 points to the runner-up - add extra spice to the season, and demand a mix of performers from different divisions in order to maximise return.
With that in mind, we've called upon our team of writers to suggest some potential inclusions for your permutations...
Grand National Candidate - Soupy Soups
Although it was the Sir Alex Ferguson-owned Give Me A Copper who came out on top on the day, the Neil Mulholland-trained eight-year-old Soupy Soups put in a truly eye-catching performance in the listed Badger Beers Handicap Chase at Wincanton earlier this month, when staying on from a long way back to finish a neck second.
Give Me A Copper has since been touted as a horse for Aintree, and given it looked as if another few furlongs would have resulted in an easy victory for Soupy Soups, he has to be seen as a true contender for the world's most popular steeplechase. Connections may decide to pick up some valuable prize money beforehand - and that could effect his mark - but if they play their cards right, there could be a real chance of Grand National glory. The current 100/1 on offer may not be around for long. Joe Tuffin
The best of the Triumph Hurdle contenders may still be learning the game in the comfort of their own home, but Allmankind has already thrown down a strong marker. He ran in some strong novice races on the Flat before his owners decided that he may be better suited to hurdling, and they have been proven right with what he's been able to show so far.
His debut effort saw him win by 37 lengths at Warwick earlier this month, but it was hard to gauge the quality of the opposition in behind. However, he answered that question with aplomb when putting in a remarkable performance at Cheltenham 10 days ago, suggesting he is a recruit from the top drawer. On soft ground, he over-raced early and established a clear lead, before getting a breather at the top of the hill and then kicking on again once the race developed. Better ground would surely see him in a better light, but even so, connections should hold no fears with him and he could well be a star in the making. Alex Stearn
Staying Novice Chaser to follow - Champagne Classic
Bought for just €12,000, Champagne Classic jumps for fun, and is now in-line for a £60,000 bonus if he wins a race at the Cheltenham Festival - after winning a novices’ handicap chase at Plumpton in good style earlier this month.
Prior to that victory, this six-year-old son of Court Cave had won a hot-looking novice handicap at Sandown eight days before, whilst giving weight away to boot, and he really seems to be building up a head of steam now at around two and a half miles.
One would imagine that he’ll stick to trips around 2m4f/2m5f for this season, but there’s no doubt he’ll go further in time. There’s plenty of stamina on the dam side of his pedigree - the Grand National winner Royal Athlete is a relative of his - and it looks worth keeping an eye on him this term. Cathryn Fry
Mares' Hurdle Candidate - Honeysuckle
The Willie Mullins operation has proven to be borderline unstoppable in the Mares' Hurdle so far, winning nine of the twelve renewals of the race to date, and although his mare Benie Des Dieux is the rightful favourite for next year's race at the time of writing, she could have a real challenge on her hooves this term from a graduating novice - the Henry de Bromhead-trained Honeysuckle.
The five-year-old has done very little wrong in her five starts to date, providing Rachael Blackmore with her first Irish-ridden Grade 1 triumph when sauntering to success in the Mares' Novice Hurdle Championships Finale at Fairyhouse back in April, and she was equally as flawless on her return at the same track earlier this month, when winning a mares-only contest by 11 lengths.
Of course, it's difficult to gauge just how good she is at this stage, but the fact that she's already the 9/2 second favourite for the David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle is a telling sign, and we won't have to wait too long to potentially get an answer - with Honeysuckle set to take her chance in Sunday's Grade 1 Hatton's Grace Hurdle over two and a half miles at Fairyhouse. The likes of Apple's Jade and Benie Des Dieux could well be waiting, and the ante-post markets for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival could look radically different come 3pm on Sunday afternoon. Nick Seddon
A spectacular 13-length winner of a Grade 2 Juvenile Hurdle on Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham back in January, Fakir D’Oudairies burst on to the scene in such a fashion that the all-powerful owner J.P. McManus was quick to get out his chequebook and buy the Joseph O’Brien-trained son of Kapgarde.
It was then a tale of near-misses, and having bypassed the Triumph Hurdle for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the four-year-old finished a creditable fourth, before finishing second in the Anniversary 4-Y-O Hurdle at Aintree, and as runner-up to Fusil Raffles in the Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.
However, it’s in the novice chasing division that O’Brien’s exciting youngster could blossom, and he showed a natural talent when beating Melon impressively in a beginners chase at Navan earlier this month.
The beginners' chase in question has proven to be a key pointer in the two-mile division of late, considering that it was won by a certain Footpad in 2017 (who went on to win the 2018 Arkle) and Us And Them in 2018 (who was second in the 2019 Arkle), and it would be no surprise should Fakir D’Oudairies become the next top talent to emerge from that race and sparkle in the Arkle. At 8/1 with Paddy Power, the O’Brien-trained star is fancied to progress into a top-notch two-mile novice chaser this season. Steve Chambers
Ryanair Chase Candidate - Cyrname
Now putting up the current favourite for the King George VI Chase at Kempton - which is over three miles - for the two and a half mile Ryanair Chase may seem like a strange choice - but bear with me, as this could well develop into a win-win situation.
In ending Altior's long unbeaten run at the weekend, Cyrname has already become one of the stars of the National Hunt season so far, and he confirmed once and for all that he is a bona fide top-class animal. Last weekend's 1965 Chase at Ascot was over two miles and five furlongs, and I have a lingering feeling that it is over this trip that he will prove to be at his best. However, if we're wrong and he wins at Kempton, we'll still be left with a key Cheltenham Gold Cup contender.
Although there are doubts about his ability to go left-handed, I think the Ryanair Chase will prove to be a good fit for this strong-travelling front-runner, and even if this doesn't prove to be the path he takes, I have no doubt that he is far from finished in terms of mopping up the top races this term - and I'll be shocked if he doesn't line up at his beloved Ascot to defend his crown in the Ascot Chase next February. It's perhaps cheating to sneak him into this bracket, but he looks a banker for picking up crucial Grade 1-winning points, and is well worth including in your stable. Nick Seddon
Champion Chase Candidate -Defi Du Seuil
After bounding up the hill at Cheltenham the other week in the Shloer Chase, Philip Hobbs earmarked the Tingle Creek as Defi Du Seuil’s next port of call, giving the impression that connections are keen to test his mettle in the two-mile division. He showed a good burst of speed to wrap up the Shloer Chase after jumping the last to see off the attentions of Politologue, and given that he would have appreciated a stronger pace and a larger field to give him a better tow into the race, you can upgrade his performance. With Altior still away from the division for the time being, it feels a somewhat open one, and given the troubles that Chacun Pour Soi has had with getting to the track for Willie Mullins, Defi Du Seuil could prove to be a very wise selection when looking for a consistent chaser in the two-mile ranks. Alex Stearn
A shock 80/1 third in last years Champion Hurdle, the striking grey proved that luck played no part in his career-best effort when running out an impressive eight-length winner in a competitive listed event at Kempton on reappearance last month, which featured a highly-regarded Grade 2 winner in Grand Sancy, who was well held before falling. Still only a six-year-old, there could be plenty more to come from the Evan Williams-trained Silver Streak, who holds an entry in the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday, so don't expect to see such lofty prices about him again any time soon. Joe Tuffin
Workmanlike on his reappearance, Santini will need to improve immeasurably from his recent success in a listed contest at Sandown if he is to become a genuine Cheltenham Gold Cup contender come March.
But, those writing off the Nicky Henderson-trained seven-year-old should be careful, as he shapes like a horse that will relish the test of stamina that is the Gold Cup.
He produced a career-best effort over fences when finishing second to Topofthegame in the RSA Chase at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, and in doing so he showed that the undulations of Prestbury Park allows his stamina-laden ability to come to the fore.
With Topofthegame sadly out for the season, Santini is arguably the most exciting staying novice chaser to make the step up to the top table, and while he may not be a flashy sort, he could be one to keep on the right side of when the 2020 Cheltenham Festival comes around in March. Steve Chambers
Stayers' Hurdle Candidate - If The Cap Fits
It feels like something of a cop-out to insert the reigning champion staying hurdler Paisley Park into this column, and it feels more sporting to instead recommend a horse who could prove a real threat to him this term, the Harry Fry-trained If The Cap Fits.
The seven-year-old is already a Grade 1-winning hurdler over three miles, winning the novice contest at Aintree last spring, and in doing so he showed a terrific attitude - fighting off the attentions of two talented mares in Roksana and Apple's Jade to come out on top in a pulsating finish.
He again showed plenty of heart in making a winning reappearance at the weekend - coming out on top in the Grade 2 Ascot Hurdle for the second year in succession - and he will be suited by the return to three miles next time out. There could be more to come from him yet, and it looks likely that he will head to next month's Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot next, where a certain Paisley Park could be waiting... Nick Seddon
The deadline for entries in the Tote Ten To Follow competition is at 12pm on Saturday 30th November 2019. Good luck if you're taking part!