In his final 2018/2019 National Hunt preview piece, Seymour Biz takes a look at the chasers. Can one of these fantastic horses land the Gold Cup at Cheltenham? Get ready for the new campaign by checking out his novices and hurdlers to follow. Cheltenham is just a few short months away and you will find tips for all races, right here at Everytip! We’ve got you covered for the world’s biggest and most-prestigious jumps festival!
This badly named gelding ran up a fine hat-trick of wins last season for trainer Harry Fry. The first win was on good ground at Market Rasen then he made all to win at Leicester. The final leg of the treble came at Ascot in January,9 when he came with a rattle at the end of a 2 mile 5 furlongs handicap. He was then stepped up to 3 miles in a big field handicap at Kempton in February but disappointed, finishing out with the washing. Fry’s stable was out of form for some reason at the beginning of the year and the horse did not run again during that campaign. But the stable is back in form now and Fry’s comments “We’ve always thought that he’d make a three mile chaser”, bode well for his chances in the coming season.
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This 7-year-old gelding started last season as a novice hurdler running fourth first time out at Newbury in December over what proved to be an inadequate 2 miles. He came out next time at Doncaster over a further four furlongs and romped home winning by a massive 17 lengths. He then went to Cheltenham for the Classic Novices Hurdle and was only beaten by that fine Henderson horse Santini who caught him close to home. He then went back to Cheltenham in March for the Ballymore and unfortunately ran into Samcro who beat him by 2 3/4 lengths. Trainer Tom George was not undaunted by these setbacks and went to Aintree for the Mersey Novices Hurdle. This time he was not opposed by those two rivals and just got hom despite some poor jumping. He has summered well and is an exciting prospect for novice chases this season.
No list is complete without a a Paul Nicholls horse but with the wealth of talent he has in his stable it’s a difficult choice finding one to pick. But I have no reservations in siding with this rangey gelding. Although he failed to win over hurdles in his first season he has really taken to the bigger obstacles as he showed when taking them on at Huntingdon last November, where he won by 14 lengths. He then ran second at Newbury before winning the Wayward Lad Chase at Kempton’s Christmas meeting. Nicholls then moved him up in distance to 2 1/2 miles and he ran a good second at Sandown. It was then back to Kempton for the Pendil Chase in February where he hacked up. His final race of the season came at Aintree where he pulled too hard and could only finish fourth. His trainer thinks he is a good prospect for the Peterborough at Huntingdon.
Trainer, Alan King, considers he had a good season last year with two wins firstly at Newbury in December then at Doncaster in February. But he had not shown that form earlier in the year when only finishing fourth at Huntingdon then falling at Exeter. His previous hurdling experience when he was a triple winner came to the fore after those setbacks enabling him to produce those two victories. He then had a ten week break before turning out at Ayr in April and running arguably his best race of the year coming a close second to Crosshue Boy. King says of his charge “I hope he’ll do well again. I view him going to the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury. Long term, he could go back to Ayr for the Scottish National. He doesn’t want the ground too deep and is better going left- handed.”
I make no excuse for putting Nicky Henderson’s superstar in this list after his exertions last season. His form has been exemplary since he burst on the chasing scene as a novice in 2016/2017. That season he had six runs and won four of them including the RSA at Cheltenham and the Mildmay at Aintree. Last season he started out by winning the Future Stars Chase at Sandown in November before going to Kempton on Boxing Day and winning the King George with his head in his chest. And so Cheltenham and the Gold Cup loomed large for him. After a titanic battle with Native River he led briefly over the last but was beaten by the ground going up the hill and went down by four lengths with the rest of the field nowhere. He gained some compensation by going to Aintree in April and easily winning the Bowl over the Mildmay fences. I expect him to be aimed at the Gold Cup again and if he gets the ground he requires he should prevail.
Phillip Hobbs had a poor season last year by his standards due to a virus in the yard but there are signs this time around that things are getting back to normal. One of his horses who can show great improvement this season is No Comment who had his first race over fences only last February. He ran in the Scilly Isles Chases at Sandown and was beaten into third by two top class Novices. He seemed to want further than the 2 1/2 miles that day but I am not sure that sending him to Cheltenham for the 4 mile Champion Chase was the right idea. The soft ground was against him that day and he had difficulty adjusting to the pace of the race coming home sixth. After his summer break Hobbs and owner J.P. McManus will be looking to place him in some high class novice chases this winter.
Mark Bradstock may have one of the country’s smaller stables but he has trained a Grand National winner in Coneygree. This 8-year-old gelding is a possibility to follow in the footsteps of that fine chaser and his connections are really excited about him. He started his novice season last February at Chepstow but ran into an in-form Thomas Patrick so had to settle for second. He then had an outing at Sandown finishing third before tasting victory at Fakenham. He was then stepped up in distance to 3mile 5furlongs for the biggest challenge of his career, the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.He jumped brilliantly that day and romped home by 13 lengths from Rock The Kasbah showing that a step up to graded company should not be a problem, but the National is his ultimate objective.
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This very well made grey is in the charge of Henry Daly at Downton Stables in Ludlow. He has been racing since 2015 and had only been able to win once but has been a revelation this year. Still only a 7-year-old, he began last season in October at Huntingdon and could finish only third but the following month he tasted victory at his home course of Ludlow. He went on from that to win at Warwick in January prior to his greatest run to date. That was the Surrey National at Lingfield Park where he jumped really well to take the contest. In his final race of last year, the Midlands National at Uttoxeter in March, he went off a well fancied favourite. But the ground which was described as heavy was absolutely bog-like that day and he was pulled up. Look for him on good to soft ground in long distance handicaps.
Hard to believe this horse from Tom Lacey’s yard is only a 6-year-old as he has been such a busy horse he seems to have been around for quite a while. He had his first run over hurdles at Southwell last October but it wasn’t until his third outing that he was able to get his head in front after being stepped up in trip. That win was at Exeter and he went on to have two more runs over hurdles both at Haydock, managing one second, before finding his forte on his switch to chasing. He thrashed Step Back on his debut at Chepstow before running over 3m 7f in the Devon National at Exeter. That proved a step too far and he ran down the field. He was dropped back to just over three miles in his last two races at Newbury and Aintree and duly obliged. The Aintree victory was on Grand National day where he beat On Tour in the Betway Handicap and he is being touted for the big race itself. But as only a 6-year-old I think those hopes are further in the future. His fine jumping ability could put him in good stead for the Ladbrokes Trophy or even the Welsh National.
Patrick Kelly has one of the most exciting chasers in Ireland and is sure to send this raider over the water to plunder some major prizes. His chasing debut was at Galway last October where he travelled strongly to beat De Potting Shed. He then ran third at Punchestown before winning at Fairyhouse in December. Kelly then switched the gelding back to hurdles for a fine victory at Gowran Park before returning to chasing at the same track. He ran second that day to Our Duke over a shorter distance than was suitable but was to set him up for his next challenge. That was to be the RSA Chase at Cheltenham where he put in a flawless display of jumping and ran out a 7 lengths winner from Monalee. He looks sure to improve this season and looks like he could return to Cheltenham in March as a top contender for the Gold Cup.