Super six can delight over the jumps
Paul Jacobs selects his National Hunt hotshots
It is at this time of the year that most punting thoughts turn towards the forthcoming National Hunt season so here are my six to follow through till May 2017, a list I will amend and update as we hit the depths of winter.
1.Un Temps Pour Tout – trained by David Pipe
It is worth noting that down through the years of the Cheltenham Gold Cup it is not always the best horse that wins this Blue Riband chasing event, but the horse that can be brought to the boil in the third week in March and, a factor rather understated, acts well around Prestbury Park.
David Pipe’s charge undoubtedly fits the bill in both categories and although it was a handicap he won there last year,the youngster couldn’t have been any more impressive. That day he travelled with great purpose, jumped superbly and stayed on strongly.
A former French Champion Hurdle winner, we know the latent talent is there for this gelding to make his mark at the highest level and, like many second season chasers, he could take in the Hennessy Gold Cup on his way to the festival.
2. Capitaine – Paul Nicholls
To my eyes this French import is one of the most exciting novice hurdlers in the land.
I was at Wincanton in April when he won his bumper in facile style and he has the looks and the engine to take high rank in the novice hurdling arena.
The son of Montmatre has reportedly schooled brilliantly at home and his timber topping debut is eagerly awaited. I have already taken a slice of the 33/1 about him for the Supreme Novices and Neptune Hurdles at the Festival.
3. Old Guard – Paul Nicholls
He may have made a mess of his opening run over fences, but I am prepared to give this Cheltenham specialist another chance to show his class.
A cracking and progressive hurdler on good ground last year, Old Guard has the scope and athleticism to make up into a genuine Arkle contender. Of course it would be shrewd to see him put that chase debut debacle behind him before entering an ante-post contract, but hopefully that run will be safely consigned to the dust bin.
4. One Track Mind –Warren Greatrex
This boy is built and bred for fences so anything he achieved over hurdles was a massive plus. That came in the form of the Grade One Champion Stayers Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival when he secured a 10/1 shock.
However, there was no fluke to that success and it will be interesting to see if his astute trainer keeps him over timber for the World Hurdle or aims him at the RSA Chase.
5.Westend Story – Phillip Hobbs
Everything about this five-year-old suggests he should be making his mark at the top end of the staying novice hurdle tree this season.
Winner of his first two bumpers at Huntingdon and Exeter, the latter by a full 18 lengths, he then ran a career best in the festival bumper at Cheltenham behind much speedier sorts.
Locked away in midfield by Richard Johnson, the son of Westerner had a horrendous mid race passage before fairly flying up the hill to finish a closing three and a quarter lengths fifth of 23 behind Ballyandy.
He has the scope and physical makeup to jump a fence in time, but the Albert Bartlett Hurdle will surely be his end aim this term.