Horse Racing tips: Frank Hickey’s 10 to follow for the 2020/21 jumps season

Get your Trackers ready.


My 10 to follow for the new National Hunt season steers clear from the obvious as best as I can. Nobody needs to be told Altior and Al Boum Photo are good horses.

The Bosses Oscar (G Elliott)

The Bosses Oscar is very lightly raced and I will be surprised if a handicap mark of 137 isn’t considerably underestimating his ability. We’ll soon find out as he runs at Thurles this afternoon.

He managed to win his bumper on debt and came very close to turning over hot favourite, Blue Sari, on his hurdles debut the following month.

He got off the mark over hurdles at Leopardstown before being beaten under a penalty when 2nd to French Dynamite at Thurles. You always got the feeling that The Bosses Oscar was being trained to peak at the Cheltenham festival when going handicapping for the first time and he was prominent in the market for the Martin Pipe.

The race didn’t go to plan at all as half way down the back straight The Bosses Oscar was last and being scrubbed along. What he did from the top of the hill to the line was quite remarkable though, as he was eating up the ground up the hill when badly hampered by the fall of Column Of Fire at the last hurdle.

Despite everything that went wrong, he still managed to get going again and was making up ground hand over fist and was only beaten under 4 lengths in the finish. The way he ran there suggests to me that he could improve plenty for the step up to 3 miles and considering that his trainer Gordon Elliot has trained the winner of the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival the last three years (and also trained the second in 2020 & 2018) it would be no surprise if his whole season was based around peaking for that race.

Red Rookie (Emma Lavelle)

Another set to make his seasonal bow is Red Rookie at Lingfield. Costing £50,000 after finishing 3rd in his point in April last year and it might have been a useful race as the winner sold for £110,000 and the second went for £100,000. Red Rookie made his debut in an Exeter bumper in January this year and I really liked the way he went through the race.

He went towards the front of the field in effortless fashion and only needed to be kept up to his work to win by 12 lengths. The 2nd won a novice hurdle on his next start to give the form some substance.

Red Rookie defined a penalty on his next start in a 3 runner race at Uttoxeter, again winning very easily. He looks to have the ability to make up into a nice novice hurdler this season and he could be underestimated due to the fact he isn’t trained by one of the “big” trainers.

Le Musigny (H de Bromhead)

Le Musigny made a really taking debut under rules when winning a two-mile maiden hurdle at Punchestown, where he benefited from Blackbow and Port Stanley getting racing a bit too far out.

Le Musigny was well off those two at the second last hurdle and picked them up really nicely. The way he stayed on there suggested he might improve plenty for stepping up in trip and his breeding would back that up. He is a half brother to Grand Crus and Gevrey Chambertain who were three milers but he is also a half brother to Le Richebourg.

Le Musigny found Listed level too much for him on just his second start, where its likely that he wasn’t capable of mixing it at that level over 2 miles. He wasn’t seen again last season and made his reappearance in a beginners chase at Punchestown when he finished second to Darver Star over 2m 1f.

Again the trip looked far too short for him and he was fourth jumping two out, but ran on strongly to finish second beaten 12 lengths. He will improve plenty for that experience and he is definitely one to bear in mind for a nice handicap later in the season at 2m 4f plus.

Gypsy Island (P Fahey)

Gypsy Island missed last season due to injury but she was one of the most exciting bumper horses in 2019 and, provided she retains her ability after the injury, she should make a splash in the top mares novice hurdles this season. Her only defeat in five starts was her only start over hurdles at Navan when she was beaten a length by Put The Kettle On, who won the Arkle Chase last March.

That doesn’t tell the full story, as Gypsy Island gave the winner a 15 length head start and only just failed to run her down. She bolted up in a listed bumper at Fairyhouse and then won a Group 3 bumper at Punchestown when she won in tremendous fashion.

That form looks extremely strong, as the second Daylight Kaite won both her hurdles starts last season, including a Grade 3, while the third, Minella Melody, won her first three hurdles starts, including a Grade 3 before disappointing when 11/4 favourite for the Mares Novice hurdle at the Cheltenham festival.

The fact Gypsy Island could beat these horse almost on the bridle is testament to how much ability she has and hopefully she will get the opportunity to enhance her reputation this season.

Get In The Queue (H Fry)

Another top-class bumper performer from the 2018-2019 season, who missed last season due to a set-back, Get In The Queue is one that could make an impression in decent novice hurdles in the UK this season. He was a very impressive winner on debut at Uttoxeter but usurped that performance when defying a penalty on his next start at Exeter in the fog.

We couldn’t see much of the race but when they came into view in the straight, Get In The Queue was 16 lengths clear of the second Seeshoon Sonny. That horse is now rated 117 over hurdles, the third Eritage is now rated 133, and the fourth Arrivederci is now rated 128.

The fact that Get In The Queue could concede a stone or more to those bar Eritage, suggested he was a top class bumper performer. Unfortunately, he skipped the Cheltenham Festival, as I was really keen on him for the Champion Bumper, but he did sign off by giving Noel Fehily a win on his last ever ride.

Again he was conceding weight all round at Newbury in the valuable sales bumper shaping there like he would improve again for stepping up in trip over hurdles. Again, we hope that his ability remains intact but if it is, Get In The Queue could be among the leading British novice hurdlers this season.

Exeter Races

King Roland (H Fry)

King Roland was a wide margin winner of a point to point who then won his two bumpers, conceding a penalty to Stick With Bill at Ffos Las on his second win and with that horse how being rated 132 over hurdles, it highlights the ability that King Roland possesses. He was a close 2nd over 2 miles on his hurdles debut at Newbury but that was a decent effort has he was conceding fitness advantage to the useful winner Son Of Camas that day.

He got off the mark over hurdles in facile fashion at Exeter, winning by 17 lengths from the 122 rated Thunderstruck. He was then stepped up in grade for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle on trials day at Cheltenham but after travelling into the lead like the winner, he didn’t quite finish the race out as you would have expected.

It later transpired that he suffered a stress fracture of his pelvis in that race, so it was a fair effort in the circumstances. He has been off the track since that run last January but he is set to go novice chasing this season and considering he is a point winner, he could improve plenty for chasing and he could easily develop into one of the best British novice chasers this season.

Delvino (D McLoughlin)

The bumper ran at Navan on the 16th of February was all about the debut under rules of the highly regarded Ballyadam but the horse that really caught the eye that day was Delvino. Related to useful bumper horse, Avellino, she cruised into the lead turning into the straight and looking all over the winner two furlongs out but perhaps she needed the experience a touch and Julies Stowaway ran her down in the final furlong, with Delvino finishing 2nd with Ballyadam only back in 3rd.

Julies Stowaway finished an excellent 7th in the Champion Bumper on his start, while Ballyadam was a very easy winner on his next start. Even the 5th won on his next start, so that looks very solid form. Delvino then got off the mark in facile fashion at Down Royal in March and will go novice hurdling this season. She looks to be well above average and could do very well in the mares novice hurdle division this season.

The Big Getaway (W Mullins)

The Big Getaway cost £230,000 after winning his point to point by a wide margin and bumpers over two miles were never really going to see him in the best light. That said he was 2nd in two bumpers to Fiddlerontheroof and Sixshooter who are both very useful, before he got off the mark at the 3rd time of asking at Punchestown in a weak looking bumper. He looked all over the winner on hurdles debut when making an awful mess of the final hurdle which cost him victory.

That looked a really decent maiden hurdle, with the three in front on him, Cobblers Way, Sempo and Francin all well above average. He got off the mark at Naas on his second hurdles start and ran a cracker in the Ballymore novices hurdle when third behind Envoi Allen and Easywork.

Just for a moment jumping two out and swinging into the straight it looked like he might even win the race but I do think that Envoi Allen was able to find another gear, while The Big Getaway was only keeping on at one pace. I believe fences and three mile are going to be the making of this horse and while there is plenty of water to go under the bridge just yet, Joe Donnelly might have another Gold Cup horse on his hands here. The Nevills Hotels Novice Chase at the Leopardstown Christmas festival and the RSA chase would look the obvious races for The Big Getaway for the season ahead.

Nico de Boinville on Shishkin

Aquila Sky (Sam Allwood)

This is my sneaky one to land a touch in a handicap hurdle this season. Aquila Sky didn’t show much ability on his first two starts when trained by Harry Fry, despite being related to useful winners Potters Venture and Ocean Venture. He showed huge improvement on his 3rd start when making his debut for Sam Allwood.

That day at Doncaster he finished 4th, beaten just over five lengths, despite not being given too hard a time and that was a massive effort considering he was a 150/1 shot that day. He made his reappearance at Hereford a couple of weeks ago and didn’t show too much again but can now go handicapping off a mark of 115 and I’d be pretty sure that he is capable of landing a handicap off that mark, though he may take a couple of more runs to be fully tuned up.

L’Air Du Vent (C Tizzard)

L’Air Du Vent was running a massive race in his only point to point when he tipped up 3 out. Whether he would have won, we will never know but had he stood up, I believe he would definitely have put it up to the winner that day. The winner that day was none other than Shishkin, who was an impressive winner of the Supreme Novices Hurdle in March.

L’Air Du Vent won his bumper at Bangor very easily but he never really fulfilled his potential in 3 starts over hurdles. First time out he was a very fair 3rd at Cheltenham, beaten just over two lengths by Champagne Well, despite being very keen through the race.

He found a Grade 2 too much for him, before finishing 5th at Newbury behind Chantry House on his final start. He has a rating of 131 over hurdles now but he is going chasing this season and I think he will improve plenty for a fence. He could be one to win a nice handicap this season.

Frank Hickey’s 10 to follow this Jumps season

Le Musigny
Gypsy Island
Get In The Queue
The Bosses Oscar
King Roland
The Big Getaway
Red Rookie
Aquila Sky
L’Air Du Vent

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