Ruby Walsh and Mick Fitzgerald have identified a number of promising horses to follow over the Jumps this season.
The jockeys-turned-pundits joined Paddy Power and presenter Tom Nugent on the latest episode of the twice-weekly From The Horse’s Mouth podcast to give their top tips on which runners could enjoy a breakthrough campaign.
Ruby picked out two novice chasers from Willie Mullins’ yard who could make strides over the winter while he also came to the defence of the Henry De Bromhead-trained Captain Guinness after he failed to finish at Tipperary last weekend.
“CAPTAIN GUINNESS pulled up with a heart fibrillation, which was the official reason for his recent display,” explained Ruby. “Horses can overcome that, absolutely no problem, and I was almost happy to see there was an actual excuse for it and not some unexplained bad run.
What a finish!
Andy Dufresne just edges out Captain Guinness to land the Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle in thrilling style for @gelliott_racing
— Punchestown (@punchestownrace) January 12, 2020
“I think Captain Guinness is a very good horse, and he was very good at Punchestown last year against Andy Dufresne. I think fences will bring out even more improvement in him but he has to overcome that physical hiccup.”
Ruby added: “I’ve got other two horses to watch in the novice chase department, and I know people will go ‘oh give us something we haven’t heard of’ but unfortunately when COVID-19 kicked in in March a lot of what would have been this year’s bumper horses and maiden hurdlers went out to grass. You never really got to turn the screw on them and see who could be the best ones for the upcoming season.
RTV Tracker links:
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) March 10, 2020
“We don’t know, and it would have been much the same for Willie Mullins, Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson because March would have been when you were finding out what you have for this year. No-one got to do that, so we don’t have any dark horses to follow.
“But I do have two novice hurdlers who both ran at Cheltenham – neither of them won but both could have been improved to take on the horses that beat them this year. They are ELIXIR D’AINAY to go up against Shishkin and THE BIG GETAWAY who was third to Envoi Allen in the Novice Hurdle. They are two horses that were hurdling last year for Willie Mullins that will make really good novice chasers this year.”
Mick, a veteran of over 1,300 winners before forging a successful media career, also selected three horses to make a note of this term.
“I watched the filly of Dan Skelton, ELLE EST BELLE, win at Aintree and the trouble is you don’t know how deep that race was,” he said. “A lot of horses finish very tired at Aintree and you can get carried away so in the back of my mind I would treat that with a little bit of caution.
How about this for a debut?!
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) October 25, 2020
“This is the time when everyone thinks they have a superstar and there are quite a few bubbles burst at this time of year. There is a quite nice horse of Nicky Henderson’s called PIPESMOKER who is still a maiden. He ran in a few novices’ hurdles last year and finished second behind Sporting John in February, which is quite good form. He looks a lot stronger this year and I would be keeping an eye out for him. I saw him the other morning schooling and he very much caught my eye.
“But I saw SHISHKIN, who won that Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, schooling over fences and he has the wow factor. He had it before over hurdles but watching him over fences, he looked the real deal.”
Our main main Paddy also got in on the act, pointing out a pair of horses owned by Cheveley Park Stud.
“I’ve got two that aren’t exactly dark horses but if you’d have said at the end of Cheltenham last year ‘you can stick one horse in your trailer and take it home’ it would have been ENVOI ALLEN,” Paddy said. “He is certainly one to follow for the year, while the other is ALLAHO. Third in the RSA Chase and a young horse who will improve with age and maturity.”
And not to feel left out, Tom also named his two to follow and earned a seal of approval from Ruby.
“POLITESSE for Lorna Fowler could go to Down Royal this weekend – she was a very good bumper filly last year,” said Tom. “And JANIDIL is back in training for Willie Mullins.”
— Horse Racing Ireland (@HRIRacing) November 2, 2019
“Janidil looks well,” agreed Ruby. “He schooled over fences the other morning and looks to be in great form.
“Also, CARRIGEEN LOTUS won well in Galway on Sunday, battling to beat one of Paul Nolan’s horses. I think Carrigeen Lotus is a really good filly and could be a decent shout from a small yard.”
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