Paul Ferguson: 3 Horses To Follow For The New National Hunt Season

Paul Ferguson picks an exciting juvenile from the Paul Nicholls yard to keep an eye on this season.
Paul Ferguson picks an exciting juvenile from the Paul Nicholls yard to keep an eye on this season.

Paul Ferguson, author of Jumpers To Follow, looks forward to the imminent National Hunt season, and has picked out three horses to follow for the 2021/2022 campaign...

GO DANTE - Olly Murphy

A well-bred five-year-old – by Kayf Tara out of the Listed winner Whoops A Daisy – he made an impressive winning debut in a bumper at Wincanton in March. An expensive purchase as a store, he travelled really well and quickly put the race to bed with a sharp turn of foot early in the home straight. Whilst it wasn’t a particularly strong contest, the third did win a four-runner race by 12 lengths next time, and the fact that Go Dante was declared for the Grade 2 at Aintree suggests that he is held in high-regard.

A good-looking individual with plenty of presence about him, he looks to be the pick of a strong team of novice hurdlers at Olly Murphy’s Warren Chase stables and might well develop into a Graded-class performer this season. Expected to start off over the minimum trip, he might want an extra half-mile as the season goes on.

KYNTARA - Kim Bailey

Another trainer who looks to have a strong team of youngster is Kim Bailey and this five-year-old created a deep impression when winning a heavy-ground bumper at Warwick by 17 lengths. Having already impressed when winning his sole Point-to-Point for trainer Mel Rowley, the five-year-old made all and really poured it on from the home bend. Asked to pick up, he galloped the opposition into the ground and the form was later advertised when Our Surprise (3rd) and Goudhurst Star (6th) won over hurdles in the spring.

The fourth home, Sherborne, had also shaped with considerable promise on debut, so there is reason to believe that it was a strong event. Whilst he shaped as though he would have little trouble in going up in distance, Kyntara could reappear over the minimum trip and given his liking for a testing surface, he might develop into a contender for Graded honours mid-season. Likely to start off fairly low-key (usually the way of Bailey), it will be surprising if he doesn’t develop into a very smart performer.

MATTERHORN - Paul Nicholls

Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls has been busy over the summer, building what appears to be an enviable team for the season ahead. Plenty of horses have arrived in Ditcheat from France, including the three-year-old Matterhorn, who ran once for Gabriel Leenders at Auteuil in late-April. Making his debut in the Listed Prix Wild Monarch, Matterhorn finished third, but the bare result doesn’t tell the whole story. Seemingly travelling as well as the winner on the run to the last, he made a serious mistake, losing his hind legs and costing him any winning chance.

To his credit, he rallied well to take third and the winner Paradiso franked the form in some style, by subsequently winning another Listed race and the Grade 3 Prix Aguado. The son of Martaline guessed at a couple of hurdles down the far side, so his jumping will need to improve, but he is sure to be intensively schooled ahead of his British debut, when he ought to take a lot of beating. If he comes out and wins well in the early weeks of the season, he might be one for the Grade 1 at Chepstow over Christmas, whilst the hope is that he develops into a leading contender for juvenile honours in the spring, and could be a possible Triumph Hurdle candidate at the Cheltenham Festival.

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