Paul Jacobs with his horses to follow
Naps king offers some shrewd advice in the ante post market
1/ IF THE CAP FITS – HARRY FRY
The Champion Hurdle market looks in a state of flux at the moment and I particularly want to oppose current holder Buveur d’Air who ranks as just an above average champion hurdler and is there to be shot at despite having a wind operation.
He sneaked home from Melon and both are hurdlers to be taken on in the ante-post market. With Samcro set to go chasing and not good enough if my eyes over two miles even if he stays hurdling and Min and Laurina hardly enticing propositions on what they have shown so for, the ante-post prod was between Summerville Boy and, at a much bigger price, IF THE CAP FITS.
Now let’s get this clear from the getgo, this six-year-old has a bundle to find with last year’s leading protagonists on the book, but by the same token he may have that in his locker.
Last year this son of Milan showed more speed than breeding lines suggested he would by landing all of his three novice hurdles, with his outstanding performance coming in the 32Red Casino Novices Hurdle at Kempton when he slammed Diese Des Bieffes by five lengths, barely coming off the bridle and that despite a significant mistake at the second last.
By the time this column goes to print I am hoping he has won the Listed Matchbook VIP Hurdle at Kempton on October 21 and thus taken another step towards becoming a genuine Champion Hurdle candidate.
2/ SANTINI – NICKY HENDERSON
This unit of a staying novice hurdler is merely a shadow of the horse he is going to become. When I spoke to Nicky Henderson he told me: “He needed this summer on his back to mature and I am hoping he will develop into a really good staying novice.”
Despite not hurdling fluently on each of his three hurdling starts, SANTINI still attained a high level of form, all of which came on real winter ground.
There is a belief in the yard that a better surface will benefit this athlete of a novice chase and he could go right to the top and be a prime contender for the big staying chases this season.
I have already backed him to win the Gold Cup in 2020 such is the esteem I hold him in which makes his top quote of 8/1 for the RSA Chase well worth tampering with.
3/ PENHILL – WILLIE MULLINS
It is 7/1 bar Faugheen in the Stayers’ Hurdle market and with him no longer being the ultimate machine there is plenty of room to manoeuvre for an each-way call in this particular market place.
PENHILL may not have the best constitution, but boy is he a classy stayer and despite conditions being some way short of his optimum he also showed he has guts in abundance when landing the crown last year in a driving finish with Supasundae.
It is worth remembering that he is 7-11 over timber and he has only raced over three miles on four occasions.
The main obstacle to him defending his title could be that he is a rather delicate beast, but supremo Mullins know exactly how to plan out his campaign and it wouldn’t be the biggest shock in the world if the son of Mount Nelson makes his seasonal debut in the championship race next March.
4/ BALLYOISIN – ENDA BOLGER
A hard Gold Cup can bottom out horses, even the toughest gladiators like Native River. He may well bounce back from that immense effort, but don’t bank on it.
As for the enigmatic Mite Bite, whatever the state of the ground I feel a strongly run Gold Cup will always find him out in favour of a stronger stayer and who is to say that the 2018 renewal hasn’t left its mark both mentally and physically on him.
Value has always been the name of the game in horse racing particularly when it comes to ante-post betting, subjective as it is, hence my long range choice BALLYOISIN. His finest hour came at Punchestown in June when he slammed Woodland Opera by eight lengths jumping from the front.
WO has won his last three starts in equally commanding style, landing the Grade Two Champion Chase at Gowran Park in October to pay a huge compliment to his conqueror.
Ballyoisin could step back to two miles, but I think his future lies over three and what a spectacle he would be soaring over those obstacles from the front.