It has caused more bickering than the Coleen Rooney v Rebekah Vardy spat, but the Traders have finally whittled down their 10 horses to follow for the National Hunt season and are all friends again.
Envoi Allen (Gordon Elliott)
Unbeaten to date, that shouldn’t change this season as he looks a horse with immense potential given he’s won all his bumpers over two miles. Going up in trip this season over hurdles should bring out more improvement.
If all goes well throughout the winter, he could easily be the Irish banker at the Cheltenham Festival meeting next March. He seems versatile ground wise too so that should aid his cause of following up last season’s Champion Bumper win.
Beakstown (Dan Skelton)
Although he ended up running in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham, timber never fully suited this son of Stowaway. He’s a well-built horse that won a point-to-point on debut, before Dan Skelton bought him. He ran a really encouraging race in a Kempton bumper (Getaway Trump behind) over an inadequate two miles and went on to win two hurdle races last season. He ended up with a mark of 140 and he should be a stone better over fences given his physical make up.
Although trainer Dan Skelton did mention that Aintree might be the long-term plan over Cheltenham, he’s one with a bright future this season and beyond.
Lostintranslation (Colin Tizzard)
He was steadily progressive last season. Second to Defi Du Seuil at the Cheltenham Festival, he improved on that form when upped to three miles for the first time at Aintree, winning the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices Chase easily by six lengths from the RSA Chase winner Topofthegame.
His jumping is his key asset, and he must rate as one of the best jumpers of a fence in training. He’ll be targeted at the Cheltenham Gold Cup and seems to have all the attributes to compete in that division this year.
Getaway Trump (Paul Nicholls)
Getaway Trump finished out his season very strongly with a brilliant performance off top weight in a competitive handicap hurdle at Sandown. He started out in point-to-points, so seems very likely to improve when switched to fences. He’s also trained by one of the best trainers of chasers around and seems to have all the attributes required to go straight to the top in the novice chase division.
The Arkle Chase at Cheltenham is a likely target.
Gypsy Island (Peter Fahey)
She was a bit of a slow starter last season when beaten in a maiden hurdle at Navan but got better and better as the season progressed culminating in a very impressive win in a Grade 3 mares’ bumper at the Punchestown Festival. She would look an ideal type for the Mares Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham next March.
Chacun Pour Soi (Willie Mullins)
A real ‘talking horse’ prior to making his eagerly-awaited debut last March at Naas and he didn’t disappoint when bolting up in a Beginners Chase. He then ran in the Grade 1 Novice Chase at Punchestown over two miles on only his second start in this country – beat the Cheltenham JLT winner Defi Du Seuil. That marked him out as something special and with Altior likely to step up in distance, there is a void in the 2m Champion Chase division.
He looks primed to step into it.
Faustinovick (Colin Tizzard)
Bought from a Borris House point-to-point after a very respectable second to Andy Dufresne in March 2018. Given time by his new connections, he made his British debut in a strong-looking bumper at Newbury in March 2019, where he was given an educational ride by Robbie Power to finish a staying-on second behind subsequent Aintree Bumper winner, McFabulous.
This imposing individual should have little difficulty making a mark in the staying novice hurdle division this season.
Russian Diamond (Emmet Mullins)
After a disappointing debut at Leopardstown last Christmas, this son of Morozov produced a smart performance in winning a traditionally strong bumper on day one of the Galway Festival. He showed plenty of gears under a well-judged ride from Derek O’ Connor to see off the well-fancied Risk Factor. The similarities with his stablemate Zero Ten are obvious and it would be no surprise if he has a productive season in the lucrative, novice auction hurdle series, in Ireland.
Mr Everest (Tony Martin)
Very decent on the Flat, who managed to land a bit of a punt for trainer Tony Martin & Co. when he won the November handicap at Naas last season in great style off a mark of 82.
That race looks really hot now, with subsequent winners like Wonder Laish, Eddystone Rock, Newcross, David’s Charm, Master of Reality, Brazos and Stratum all behind.
He finds himself only 4lbs higher and suggests that he can make his mark in a big, staying, Flat handicap before the season is out and holds entries in the English and Irish Cesarewitch’s this weekend.
Given his ability on the Flat his hurdles mark of 127 would appear extremely attractive and there is every chance of him being rated 140+ before the jumps season is over. He looks sure to be targeted at big handicaps like the Greatwood Hurdle at the November meeting and the valuable handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse on Drinmore weekend, the Coral Hurdle and County Hurdle.
I’d be surprised if he doesn’t pick up one of these contests as long as he stays sound.
Looks Like Murt (Lucinda Russell)
One from left field here, but Looks Like Murt is a very-lightly raced six-year-old gelding by Well Chosen, who is the sire of decent National Hunt horses like Jury Duty, Chosen Mate and Carefully Selected.
Second in his point to point behind the now 131 rated Highland Hunter, he was a relatively cheap purchase at £20,000 for Lucinda Russell to train. Placed on his only bumper start and on both hurdles starts, connections have wasted no time by sending him over fences this season.