Four novices to note as the Jumps season ramps up a gear

There are some interesting contests for novices in the early stages of the season, particularly in Ireland.
There are some interesting contests for novices in the early stages of the season, particularly in Ireland.

Nick Seddon picks out four novices who have shown plenty of promise in their new careers during the early stages of the 2020/21 Jumps season…

N’Golo (Willie Mullins)

Bearing in mind that he shares his name with one of the most stamina-laden footballers on the planet, you’d expect the omens to be good for N’Golo, and he’s made a good start to life over timber for the Willie Mullins team this term. A winner over a mile and three quarters on the level in France in 2018, the son of Galileo changed hands for €100,000 later that year, and now carries the familiar colours of Rich Ricci. 

Having missed the entirety of last season, N’Golo returned from a 714-day absence to make a winning start over hurdles at the Galway Festival in July, form which has been boosted since by two horses in-behind winning subsequently. He looked out of sorts when pulled-up at Kilbeggan the following month, but quickly bounced back by winning a strong-looking novice contest over two miles at Listowel’s Harvest Festival in September. Setting the pace from an early stage, N’Golo was headed by his two rivals at two from home, but he showed plenty of resolution to stick to his task and take two useful scalps in Wajaaha and the one-time 2019 Champion Bumper favourite Malone Road. This likeable five-year-old is proven on soft ground already, and there ought to be plenty more to come from him this season - with a step into Graded company likely to come sooner rather than later. 

Zarkareva (Henry de Bromhead)

While Zarkareva’s pedigree is more Flat-centric than Jumps, she is related to a winner over fences, and got off the mark on her second try over the bigger obstacles in emphatic style at Sligo in September - winning by 16 lengths. That form has been boosted by the runner-up winning on her next start, and Zarkareva took the step up to Grade 3 company in her stride when winning over two and a quarter miles at Punchestown last week.

The five-strong field contained some smart performers, particularly the Grade 1-winning hurdler A Wave Of The Sea and the Grade 3-winning chaser Polished Steel, and it was hard not to be impressed with the way that Zarkareva smoothly travelled into affairs, taking up the lead with a good jump at the final fence after being asked for her effort, and soon settling matters. It remains to be seen how well this form will work out, but Zarkareva looks more than at home at this sort of level, and there should be more to come from her over fences yet after just two starts. 

Coole Cody (Evan Williams)

The sole British-trained runner on the list is Coole Cody, who represents the Evan Williams team. A useful handicapper over hurdles, Coole Cody is quite old to be starting out as a novice chaser as a nine-year-old, but he’s composed himself very well in his new career so far, sealing an emphatic 10-length success on chasing debut at Newton Abbot in August. That form has a reasonably solid look to it for the level, and there was plenty to like about his effort to finish second on his most recent start at the same course last month, when trying three and a quarter miles for the first time. 

Largely looking comfortable with his jumping, Coole Cody handled the extra distance well, and looked unfortunate to bump into an in-form and more experienced rival in the form of the Paul Nicholls-trained Soldier Of Love, being beaten by just over two lengths at the finish. He’s been handed a chasing mark of 137 for that effort, and bearing in mind that there should be more to come from him yet, there’s every chance that he can enjoy a productive campaign in staying events for novices. 

Court Maid (Tom Mullins)

Court Maid was a useful performer as a hurdler, taking her chance in the 2019 renewal of the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but she’s quickly surpassed those achievements in two starts over the bigger obstacles, winning twice. 

Indeed, having sauntered to a 10-length success on chasing debut at Galway in July - form which has been boosted by the runner-up winning twice since - Court Maid followed up in similarly impressive style over 2m 5f Fairyhouse this month. That form has a solid look to it considering that four of her five rivals arrived with a success over fences under their belts, and it would be no surprise should there be more to come from her yet - with three miles well within her range. Tom Mullins has hinted that ‘winter heavy’ ground isn’t to her liking, and she could be aimed at some Graded contests up against her own sex early next year. 

2021 Cheltenham Festival
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