Paul Ferguson is excited about the prospects of Gordon Elliott’s novice chaser
Our top tipster with his latest selections for profit
Regular readers of both this column and Jumpers To Follow will know that I have long been a fan of DIAMOND KING, who looks capable of landing his first Grade 1 at Fairyhouse in early-December (4th).
Trainer Gordon Elliott has made a tremendous start to the new season and his Coral Cup winner looked a natural when winning a beginners’ chase at Galway by 14 lengths, despite pre-race fears that the run might be needed.
Going chasing at eight seems a little late, but he has been in the form of his life during 2016 and it would be fitting to conclude the calendar year with success in the Drinmore Novice Chase, after which he will probably be given a mid-winter break.
Of those with chase experience Disko who is another that is likely to be targeted at the Drinmore and he has long been held in the highest regard by trainer,Noel Meade.
The free-going grey also made the perfect start to life over the larger obstacles, when winning over this 2m4f trip at Punchestown and, again, this seems the obvious next target, especially given that Gigginstown House Stud have a fine record in the race.
Of the 27 other entrants, plenty have yet to race over fences (at the time of writing) but there are some pretty exciting names amongst them and there is time for at least one of them to land a beginners’ contest en route to having a crack at this. Bellshill, Coney Island, Our Duke, Woodland Opera andYorkhill are hugely exciting prospects for fences, although the latter also holds an entry in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle on the same card, with connections reportedly still undecided as to which route he will take.
Moving on to the Hatton’s Grace and it will be a huge shock if Willie Mullins isn’t responsible for saddling the winner. As well as the aforementioned Yorkhill, who could be more than capable of winning this if he is, indeed, kept over hurdles, but I think it is more likely that Annie Power or Faugheen will represent the all-conquering yard.
The former, of course, stepped in for the latter and landed the Champion Hurdle in March, after which she absolutely bolted up at Aintree.As mad as it may sound when talking about a Champion Hurdle winner, and a course-record holder at that, I believe this to be the mares’ optimum trip and she will be incredibly difficult to beat here.
If Faugheen represents connections instead,he will have a little more to prove, having been off the track since January, but it is worth remembering that his last performance was arguably up there with his best. If returning to anywhere near that best, he is another that would also appear the most obvious selection.
The other Grade 1 on this card is the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle, in which Mullins is responsible for seven of the 26 entries. He has already nominated this race for the smart ex-Flat performer Penhill and, having been kept on throughout the summer, the five-year-old is likely to be primed for this. His hurdling has improved and, though there are likely to be several better prospects in the stable for the bigger races later on in the season,if this horse to win a big one,this is
Diamond King jumping ahead in the Coral Cup