We get our first look at Cheltenham this Saturday but I’m expecting a few of these to take top rank in the big races as we build to the 2017 Festival next March.
Thistlecrack (Colin Tizzard)
The reigning World Hurdle champ is top of my list to go straight to the top over fences this season. So good over hurdles last season, the Cheltenham Gold Cup next March is his aim but I am sure he will be aimed at some novice chases first to start with.
Douvan (W Mullins)
Exceptionally talented Last year’s Arkle winner and won the Supreme Novice the year before that. Will start off at two miles and is favourite for the Champion Chase, but the world is his oyster if they decide to step him up in trip.
Vroum Vroum Mag (W Mullins)
Willie could farm the mares’ hurdle with VVM again this season after she won it last year. She is not far off Annie Power in terms of raw ability and if she is kept to mares races it will be like a grown woman against little girls!
Altior (N Henderson)
He was one of my naps at last years Cheltenham Festival and delivered when beating Min by seven lengths in the Supreme Novices. He’s going novice chasing this season, has schooled well at Seven Barrows and is already among the market leaders for the Arkle Chase.
Christmas In April (N Henderson)
A seven-length winner at Market Rasen last May and although he didn’t beat much he is highly thought of by the yard and should be winning his fair share of races this season.
Rock The Kasbah (P Hobbs)
He really caught my eye at Chepstow last weekend when winning on his first run over fences against a decent field – despite looking in the parade ring that he needed the race. He was a 150-rated hurdler and looked a natural over fences.
Westend Story (P Hobbs)
Why this one? We own him is a good enough reason to start with. Well at least our our racing club does. He finished 5th after a troubled passage in the festival bumper behind Ballyandy but prior to that he had won his two bumpers easily. This is a good horse and the 2m 5f Albert Bartlett Hurdle next March is the ultimate aim for him.
Vautour (W Mullins)
One of my favourite horses in training who is sadly no longer with us.
Blow by Blow (G Elliot)
One of the horses Giginstown Stud moved from Willie Mullins’ year to Gordon Elliot’s and this looks a real loss for as he won at the Fairyhouse and Punchestown Festivals. He looks like a classy staying type and could be aimed at the Albert Bartlett Staying Hurdle.
Yanworth (A King)
He didn’t enjoy the easiest of passages in the Neptune Hurdle last year when beaten by Yorkhill. Before that he had been so impressive, running up a four-timer. It will be interesting to see which route they take with him but wherever he goes he’ll be worth following.
Coneygree (M Bradstock)
The 2015 Gold Cup winner is set to return after injury ruled him out last season. I can see the Bradstocks running him in the Hennessy Gold Cup in November at Newbury – even if it means he’ll carry top weight. That would be brilliant for the public as he has such a flamboyant style of racing from the front that you just want to see him win.