Jumps Season Tips: Three Horses To Follow

Chantry House looks a horse to follow for the Nicky Henderson team.
Chantry House looks a horse to follow for the Nicky Henderson team.

Following the release of his new book, Jumpers To Follow 2019-20, Paul Ferguson provides us with a sneak peak, by highlighting three runners who it may be worth keeping on eye on this season...

This weekend’s two-day Chepstow fixture signifies the start of the National Hunt season ‘proper’, and with the likes of Lisnagar Oscar and Reserve Tank set to make their respective chasing debuts, we are sure to learn plenty, plus there will be plenty more familiar names on show.

For someone like myself – who is predominantly jumps-focused – it is an exciting time of year and given that the whole country seems to have received plenty of rain in the past couple of weeks, it will hopefully ensure that most yards are ready to roll from an early stage.

The 13th edition of Jumpers To Follow was published last month, and this is the time of year when everyone is chipping in with the horses who they are looking forward to seeing in the months ahead. Here are three of my 40 Leading Prospects from this year’s book:

CHANTRY HOUSE (Nicky Henderson)

5yo Yeats gelding 

A winner at the second time of asking in the Irish Point-to-Point sphere, Chantry House cost JP McManus £295,000 when going through the sales ring the following week, and he finally made his debut under Rules in a bumper at Warwick in mid-March. Having been declared for races at both Kempton and Newbury on successive weekends, he was pulled out on each occasion due to unsuitable ground. The fact that Nicky Henderson wasn’t prepared to unleash him until the ground was exactly to his liking suggests he is held in some regard, and he duly landed the odds with the minimum of fuss. Whilst he looks like he will appreciate an extra half-mile once sent hurdling, I would think he possesses the requisite pace to start off over the minimum trip and he is likely to be fairly high up the Henderson pecking order. If all goes well on debut, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him being aimed at Newbury’s Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle over Christmas.

ELDORADO ALLEN (Colin Tizzard)

5yo Khalkevi gelding

Off the track since early-December last year, Eldorado Allen is expected to return to action in the coming weeks, and from a mark of 145, I would expect the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham’s November meeting to be seriously considered.  Whilst he lacks a bit of experience, he looked a seriously exciting prospect when winning what turned out to be a strong maiden hurdle at Sandown on his British debut last November. Having travelled powerfully through the heavy ground, he comprehensively out-jumped the eventual runner-up at the penultimate flight, and his hurdling was particularly noteworthy when third on his sole start over hurdles in France. He got no further than the first flight at Aintree next time, when he was badly-hampered and forced Tom O’Brien out of the saddle. Having picked up an injury, he was forced to miss the remainder of the season, but recent reports have been positive, and although this athletic-looking grey will make a chaser in time, he seems certain to reappear in a valuable handicap hurdle. He remains potentially exciting and is open to any amount of improvement.

MINELLA BOBO (Rebecca Curtis)

6yo Oscar gelding

Rebecca Curtis confirmed the sad news earlier this week that last year’s smart novice chaser Drovers Lane had sadly died last weekend. The same owners (well four of the five) are also involved with the lightly-raced Minella Bobo, who looks a similar type, and is one I am hoping will take a big step forward now he is sent chasing. A maiden Point-to-Point winner for John Nallen, he beat the 132-rated Liosduin Bhearna, who won a brace of handicap hurdles for Fergal O’Brien towards the end of last season. The pair actually clashed again and finished close together in a maiden hurdle at Chepstow during January, when Minella Bobo travelled notably well (as he had done on his two earlier starts for the Curtis stable) before finishing fourth. He rounded off the season with a comprehensive win over 2m6f at Stratford and begins this campaign on an appealing handicap mark of 126. With plenty of improvement to come, I would be disappointed if he couldn’t win a couple of novice handicap chases before the assessor catches up with him.

Today's Racing Tips
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