Horse Racing Trackers: Five Horses To Watch Include Some Potential Cheltenham Festival Contenders

Check out Dan Overall's Eye-catchers from the last seven days!
Check out Dan Overall's Eye-catchers from the last seven days!

In the 8th November edition of this column, I flagged Red Rookie who finished second in a competitive novices’ handicap; and while he is yet to run, I thought it would be worth noting that the form of that race has been boosted significantly with the third and fourth both winning since. Furthermore, Witness Protection, who beat Red Rookie that day, has had the form of his previous run franked too; he only faced three rivals when finishing second at Newton Abbot, but all three have won since. These two are certainly worth keeping onside when next seen.

Others from previous columns have endured mixed levels of success over the previous week; Fil D’or won the Grade 3 at Fairyhouse a shade cosily, cementing his place at the head of the Triumph Hurdle market. My Mate Mozzie was narrowly denied in a slowly run renewal of the Royal Bond while Eklat De Rire was bitterly disappointing in the Ladbrokes Trophy.

Tuesday 23rd November – 2:30 Hexham – Life In The Park (3rd)

A tad fresh and novicey, Life In The Park ran with plenty of credit to finish third in what looked to be a decent maiden hurdle. 

He did lose his position on the approach to two out, but he stuck admirably to the task in the style of a thorough stayer. Quite big over his obstacles on a few occasions, I was left with the impression that he would improve significantly for the run.

Sent off a fancied 9/4 chance, he was in the process of bolting up in his sole point-to-point when coming to grief at the last, while the eventual winner who was fifteen lengths adrift of Life In The Park when he came down has since won a bumper. 

He’s also a half-brother to Lifetime Ambition and given his trainer/owner, you would imagine that Life In The Park will make a lovely staying chaser in time.

But for now, he’s certainly capable of making his mark over hurdles and he may emerge as a contender for some of the top novice hurdles over three miles. He is currently priced at 50/1 for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle and while doesn’t make immediate appeal, I can certainly envisage a scenario in which he wins a maiden hurdle next time out and moves on to graded company. Henry De Bromhead and Barry Maloney have teamed up with the likes of Monalee and Minella Indo in recent years and for all Life In The Park has a long way to go to match those quality performers, I believe he has the potential to be very smart in his own right.

Friday 26th November – 1:15 Newbury – Boombawn (3rd)

All eyes were understandably on Jonbon as he catapulted himself into favouritism for the Supreme following a very impressive win at Newbury on Friday.

And while Boombawn doesn’t carry the same level of hype, he did travel with a great deal of promise on route to a very respectable third place finish. 

Initially held up, he quickly found himself towards the front as the classier horses left their rivals behind with Harry Skelton seemingly content to track Jonbon and Good Risk At All. He made some progress once nudged along, and while he never had a hope of catching the winner, he was only three lengths behind Good Risk At All who improved from his first start over hurdles.

This was Boombawn’s second encouraging run over hurdles, with the previous one also coming in a competitive Newbury novice. The four-year-old is still a work in progress, but I expect that he’s up to winning in novice company before going into handicaps. Dan Skelton noted in a stable tour that “he could be winning something decent in the spring” and we know that there are few better yards at executing a plan.

Saturday 27th November – 1:01 Fairyhouse – Ash Tree Meadow (3rd)

This race saw two highly touted prospects in Gringo D’aubrelle (1st) and Adamantly Chosen (2nd) do battle in an exciting contest, with Gordon Elliott’s first string emerging under Davy Russell.

Both of the aforementioned look like exciting types but it was the run of Elliott’s supposed second-string, Ash Tree Meadow, which really caught my eye.

Very keen in the early stages, he jumped the first very slowly which didn’t bode well for his chances. And while his keenness remained an issue, his jumping did improve, for all that there is still work to be done on that front.

Despite those issues, he travelled well into the race and while never on terms with the front pair, he kept on well under hands and heels in the manner of a horse with a fair chunk of ability. 

The time of the race compares favourably with Grangee’s success in the subsequent maiden hurdle and Ash Tree Meadow is bred to be smart; he’s out of a half-sister to dual Cheltenham Festival hero, Pacha Du Polder and he’s a half brother to the useful Darcy Ward. 

He looks a very useful prospect for Gordon Elliott and given his appreciation for a sound surface, it would not surprise me at all if we were discussing this horse in depth with a view to the spring festivals in due course. 

Forest Pump, who finished sixth, is also worthy of a mention after shaping with promise on his racecourse debut. Keen throughout, he showed up well for a long way despite some indifferent jumping before fading towards the finish. There is plenty of stamina in his pedigree and he could be a decent long-term prospect for Matthew Smith and the D L L Syndicate.

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Satuday 27th November – 3:35 Newbury – King D’Argent (9th)

On the surface, King D’Argent’s sixty-three length defeat on Saturday was the furthest thing from eye-catching but I recommend adding him to your trackers with a view to the spring.

Rapidly progressive last term when switched to chasing, he quickly rose up the ranks and recorded a trio of impressive wins which saw his mark increase from 114 to 144 in the span of five months.

A headstrong individual, his performances were encapsulated by bold jumping from the front which often proved too much for his rivals. 

And yet at Newbury, King D’Argent was anchored in rear under David England and seemingly never had a chance of being involved. 

It is my view that he is in the handicapper’s grip at present and I believe the Skelton’s know this; but as we know, they are shrewd operators and I can see King D’Argent turning up in some of the competitive two-mile handicaps in the spring following some uninspiring runs over the winter months. The likes of Cheltenham (he was fourth in the Fred Winter back in 2018), Aintree and Ayr are all possible targets, particularly the latter seeing as he was second in the listed handicap on Scottish National Day from a mark of 144. He will be below that mark following his poor run at Newbury, so bare that in mind. 

Sunday 28th November – 1:05 Fairyhouse – Mighty Potter (3rd)

Mighty Potter came into this race as something of an unknown quantity having recorded two facile successes against inferior opposition in a bumper and a maiden hurdle. 

And while he didn’t emerge as a Grade 1 winner, he certainly confirmed that he is an exciting prospect and his reputation, if anything, was enhanced by this effort. 

Very keen for the first half mile, the pedestrian pace certainly didn’t aid his chances and Bryan Cooper was forced widest of all as the race began to develop into a sprint. Initially caught out for a bit of toe, he then switched back to the inside on the run to the second last where he really started to find his stride, finishing just over a length behind the winner having initially looked as if would fade completely out of contention. 

He would certainly have been helped by a stronger pace and more cut in the ground; to finish as close as he did, accounting for his early keenness, was impressive and I would not be at all surprised if he emerged as the best horse from that race in the long term.

Given his strong finishing effort, perhaps it isn’t surprising to see his price cut from 33/1 to 16/1 for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, but I would not be ruling out the Supreme, which he is still 25/1 for.

Today's Racing Naps
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