Follow these for a profit
Tony Keenan made a handsome return on last year’s 10 to follow – here is this season’s selection
Last year’s 10 to follow won 14 of 44 starts for a strike-rate of nearly 32% and returned a level-stakes profit of 7.89 points to starting price. Betfair Starting Price tends to be a better indicator of these things than the larcenous over-rounds provided by the on-course Irish layers and betting them to BSP returned a level-stakes profit of 14.62 points.
It took until Punchestown until the 10 really took off with wins for Anibale Fly, Avant Tout and Zabana at the season ender though Fethard Player did run a cracker when second in the County Hurdle at a BSP of 55.
This year’s list is heavy on representation from the Elliott yard which is a little concern as I don’t expect him to hit the heights of Willie Mullins with his recently acquired Gigginstown horses but with the balance of power tilting away from the champion it makes sense to include four of his runners.
APPLE’S JADE (4YO, G ELLIOTT)
Willie Mullins said Apple’s Jade was the best juvenile hurdler he’s trained and she was certainly the best of the four-year-old hurdlers last season; she may have got beaten in the Triumph but that was off an interrupted preparation and her win at Aintree was a truly obscene demolition job with her rivals upwards of 41 lengths in arrears.
Now in the hands of Gordon Elliott, it seems likely she will prove the antiQuevega in that she will be campaigned aggressively and as a potential Champion Hurdle mare; neither Elliott nor Giggin- stown are averse to competition with the latter especially having shown a willingness to have their better horses compete against one another.
She will get an allowance that many believe to be overly generous and rates a major player in Grade 1 hurdles though the suspicion remains that she could prove even better over two and a half miles with the Aintree Hurdle next spring an obvious long-term target. She has had just five starts and no Flat career there should be more to come.
ARTICULUM (6YO, T O’BRIEN)
Irish National Hunt racing has a rich tradition of good horses being handled by smaller trainers but sadly it’s one that is dying out with the concentration of talent in the hands of so few;one need only look at the owners’ championship of last season where the sextet of Gigginstown, McManus, Ricci, Connell, Potts and Wylie dominated proceedings. Even so, I’ve found a couple for inclusion in this year’s horses to follow list with Articulum the first.
A dual bumper winner last season, he was unlucky not to beat Champion Bumper fancy New To This Town first time up when his jockey was a bit slow about asking for his effort. Upped in trip for his next two starts, he won well at Naas and Limerick before a disappointing effort down the field at Punchestown.
He shouldn’t be judged harshly on that effort however as he had a cut in the run-up to the race which led to a rushed preparation and he remains an interesting prospect for staying novice hurdles.
BLOW BY BLOW (5YO, G ELLIOTT)
There’s a realistic fear that Blow By Blow regresses from the move to Elliott from Mullins – not only is the former a lower strikerate trainer but horses leaving the latter tend to disappoint – but even so the Punchestown Champion Bumper winner is one to follow.
That looked a really strong race with Blow By Blow and Moon Racer clear of the rest, notably some of the main protagonists from the Cheltenham equivalent,and should prove the pick of such events last season.
Some will argue that the form is untrustworthy as it is end-of-season stuff but that’s often more perception than reality as Punchestown is a big target meeting and they beat the Cheltenham horses well.
Furthermore, he looks the pick of a deep Gigginstown bumper team who tend to swerve Cheltenham.His previous defeat of Death Duty,another of my horses to follow, is more good form and he’s the sort of idle horse that will keep finding for pressure and rack up a sequence in graded novice hurdles this season.
DAMUT (8YO, J DULLEA)
Another horse to follow from a smaller yard,Damut improved out of all proportion in the early part of the 2015/16 campaign, rising 41lb in the weights,his best effort a facile 12ls beating of the decent chaser Federici at Cork giving that one 5lb.
Upped into graded company next time, he disappointed behind Gangster at Fairyhouse with the three-mile trip seeming to stretch his stamina.
In any case,he’d had plenty of racing at