Katie Walsh: My horses to watch this National Hunt season
The Betway ambassador picks out the horses she fancies to do well this season, starting with this weekend at Cheltenham.
It’s hard to believe the National Hunt season is upon is again – the time really does fly!
It’s an exciting time of year as it’s really all about the unknown. There are plenty of young stars who are coming through the ranks on both sides of the Irish Sea, as well as a lot of fan favourites who we’re all excited to see back on in action.
Starting this weekend, there is a great card at Cheltenham with plenty of prize money on offer.
The first race of the day is an ultra-competitive handicap where it would be no surprise to see the Nigel Twiston-Davies horse Cogry go close.
He absolutely loves the place and, if he could talk, he’d tell you this is his race. He won it two years ago and was narrowly touched off last year. You can bet this has been the target for a yard in flying form. The Twiston-Davies horses are very forward and will surely be ready to go.
In the Masterson Holdings Hurdle, I really like the look of Soviet Pimpernel . He was very good at Gowran at the beginning of October and this has long been the plan. Peter Fahey is a trainer going places and he loves winners at Cheltenham as much as the rest of us. I do think this could be a plan well-executed.
In the feature race on the card, I think it’s worth siding with Barry Geraghty on Brelan D’as .
I can imagine Knocknanuss and Saint Calvados going off fast up front and, in slow ground, it will set the race up for those in behind. We’ve seen it plenty of times before with Barry sitting quiet when coming down the hill, ready to pounce.
Brelan D’as finished a good third in the Grand Annual at this year’s Festival and, if he is fit and ready to do himself justice, I think he’ll go very close.
The Pertemps Handicap Hurdle is wide-open, and you can make a case for almost all the field, including top weight Tobefair , who always runs his race and gives his enthusiastic owners a great day out.
Dan Skelton is a master of getting horses ready for big handicaps and, whilst this is only a qualifier, I can see him having Two Taffs ready early.
He hasn’t been seen since finishing second in a novice chase here two years ago but was good enough to be placed in the Close Brothers in 2017, and followed that with a ready success up at Ayr in a competitive handicap chase. He’s certainly got a touch of class about him and he could certainly run a big race.
On this side of the Irish Sea, we run two nice horses this weekend, starting with Favori Logique in the bumper at Galway. He was a very good third at Ballinrobe on his debut and will absolutely love the ground. Patrick Mullins rode him that day and liked him, and gladly takes the ride again. He should be bang there.
We also run Ciara’s Treasure in the Fillies’ Flat Race on Sunday. She’s a lovely Fame And Glory filly whose half-sister, Rio Treasure, managed to win on debut. We think she’ll be much better for the run and we’d be more than confident in what is a hot-looking contest.
This is the most exciting time of year for all of those connected with National Hunt racing, including the fans.
We had such a dry winter last year that it became difficult to train, and lots of youngsters never really got their season going. We’ve had plenty of rain in Ireland of late and it looks like we’re in for a proper Irish winter, which will be a massive plus for racing.
There are plenty of horses I’m looking forward to seeing including Klassical Dream, who could easily become a Champion Hurdle contender. He's currently priced at .
There are plenty who love him at Willie Mullins’, and he kept improving with each start last season, winning both the Supreme Novice at Cheltenham and the Champion Novice at Punchestown.
I don’t think the bumper horses from last year were as good as they could have been. Gordon Elliot’s Envoi Allen looked a machine, though. He’ll be winning races all season and looks destined for the top.
Gordon will have plenty more success this season and Delta Work could be his flagbearer. He looks like a Gold Cup horse and is currently .
Another who will develop into a strong Gold Cup contender is the Colin Tizzard-trained Lostintranslation , who was phenomenal at Aintree when stepped up to 3m for the first time in the Betway Mildmay Novices Chase.
He’s got speed, stamina and a touch of class, and will be a force to be reckoned with in all those top staying races.
Over shorter trips, I think everyone is excited to see Chacun Pour Soi, who made proven Grade 1 horses look average at Punchestown last season. He has always been well thought of at Willie’s and it’ll be exciting to see how far he can go.
I was asked to name an unraced horse who I think has the potential to go very far and there is a young horse at Willie’s yard called Five O Clock, who has been purchased from France.
He’s a lovely stamp of a horse and they’ll have some fun with him when they go novice hurdling with him this season.
In the meantime, be lucky and enjoy the racing this weekend.
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