Top jock Ruby Walsh skipped through the novice chase division for PP News yesterday but we were in danger of running out of internet so we kept the novice hurdlers until now.
Annamix: He’s in great form and he’s cantering away. He obviously had a setback last year but we think he’s a good horse and hopefully he retains all of his ability. It will be nice to get him back and run him in a maiden hurdle. He did do some nice bits of work 12-14 months ago but we haven’t done anything serious with him so far this season. He was a nice horse then and he was showing the right signs. Hopefully, he still can.
Quick Grabim: He’s had two great wins already this season and he improved from Listowel to absolutely bolt up at Tipperary. I’d imagine he’ll be heading the Royal Bind direction and whether he has another run before then, I’m not sure. He’s an improving horse with plenty of experience and he’d definitely be in the top bracket of our better novice hurdlers.
Carefully Selected; He’s obviously a point-to-point winner and he’s a fine bug staying horse, who could get any trip. He surprised us in his bumpers because he’s not the most flamboyant at home so we can’t wait to go jumping with him. He ran a blinder at both Cheltenham and Punchestown last season and he was always going to be a better jumper than he was a bumper horse.
He’s got a huge season ahead of him.
Tornado Flyer; He improved hugely from his debut to finish third in the Champion Bumper and then he improved again to win at the Punchestown festival. He’s a fine big strong horse and he should have a good year over hurdles.
Blackbow: He was a big lean individual last year but he looks a stronger horse this year. He’s got a lot of natural ability, he’s a great jumper and he was one of many very good bumper horses we had last season.
Like Carefully Selected and Tornado Flyer, his connections are entitled to look forward to the year ahead. The three all look Ballymore or Albert Bartlett type horses. Although, I didn’t think Champagne Fever would be a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle horse but he won it, so who knows?
Those three are the ones I’m most looking forward to riding on the novice hurdle front. Hopefully, there’s a superstar among them.
Relegate: You’d imagine that she’ll head down the mares’ novice hurdle route as she qualifies for those races. She showed a liking for Cheltenham last year and while she was ultimately disappointing at Punchestown, she had a really good year. She’s a highly-talented filly and before she won at Cheltenham, she beat Colreavy at Leopardstown at the Dublin Racing Festival. She’s an exciting horse to go jumping with and anybody would be delighted to go jumping with the Cheltenham Bumper winner.
Sancta Simona put behind her a poor effort at Listowel with an impressive win at Galway, where she really improved with the better ground while Pakora is one to stick with despite her Bellewstown blip in August. She was very impressive in Galway and she’s a filly we think an awful lot of. I’d be willing to forgive her that Bellewstown run, which was too bad to be true.
The unbeaten My Sister Sarah is another female going down the mares novice hurdle route after she bolted up at Punchestown while the second season novice Salsaretta is also worth following.
Salsaretta: She won her maiden hurdle in Sligo and she’s a second season novice a bit like Let’s Dance a couple of seasons ago. Whether she’s up to that level or not, I don’t know. That experience is invaluable against novices and she is a filly we do think has a fair bit of ability too. She looks in great order.
Galway winner Calie Du Mesnil will have to improve a bit if she is to take her place at the top level while a dark horse for the staying novice hurdles could be Stay Humble.
Stay Humble: He’s started to mature and now looks a good bit stronger. He came with a big reputation and while he didn’t quite live up to it last season, he’s starting to show us what he was supposed to have at home lately. He’s a galloper and he stays really well. He might be an Albert Bartlett-type horse.
Willie Mullins had the 1-2-3 in last season’s Cheltenham Bumper and already, Mt Leinster appears to be on his way to Prestbury Park for the next season’s renewal.
Mt Leinster: Of the bumper horses we ran during the summer, he’s probably the horse which sticks out the most. He’s put his name as first on the team-sheet as a Cheltenham Bumper horse but looking through the yard, we’ll have plenty to challenge him for that position come March.
We seem to have plenty of new stock and plenty of nice bumper horses. You need bumper horses to have novice hurdlers and you need plenty of novice hurdlers to have novice chasers.
Ruby Walsh: My A-Z of Willie Mullins’ stable stars
Ruby Walsh: Next Destination is my big hope this season.