As the seasons turn from summer to autumn, with it comes the whiff of optimism, hope and ante-post punts for National Hunt racing fans around the globe.
The jumps season is almost upon us with Chepstow’s season opener starting on the 11th October, and a whole host of horse racing tips are set to be available for the action across the campaign.
However, that means that plenty of people are gathering their ideas on who’ll be climbing the Cheltenham hill to glory in races like the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup in March.
Luke Parkinson has taken a look at some of the potential stars that could emerge in the hurdling ranks this campaign with his ten hurdlers to follow for the 2019/20 Jumps season.
We are more used to seeing Gordon Elliott training horses for Gigginstown than JP McManus, but this season the pairing could have a nice one to go to war with over hurdles.
Andy Dufresne was a £335,000 purchase for McManus and has lived up to his hefty fee so far by winning a bumper at Down Royal in fine style.
Gordon Elliott said he was one to look forward to after that day, and although he missed the Champion Bumper in March, it would be a huge surprise to not see him line up at Cheltenham in 2020.
Plenty of these names may well have their better days ahead of them and that certainly appears to be the case for Olly Murphy’s Blazer’s Mill.
He was only seen once last season when winning a bumper at Fontwell and was wisely put away with a novice hurdle campaign in mind this season.
Prior to that, he was second to the highly-rated Birchdale by a length in a point-to-point at Tyrella and given the fact that he was sent off at 6/1 for the Albert Bartlett this year, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Blazer’s Mill emerge as a Festival fancy as well.
Quickly sold after a promising run in a bumper at Fairyhouse in April, Chuvelo is now in the hands of Donald McCain after a winning bid of £100,000 at the Tattersalls Cheltenham Horses In Training Sales.
Sired by Milan, winner of the 2001 St Leger, he has the chance to possess plenty of quality with the likes of Santini and One For Arthur just two of the National Hunt stars who shared the same father.
It’s likely he’ll start out in bumpers for McCain, but a run over hurdles is likely to follow soon after and winning shouldn’t be too far behind.
There was plenty of hype around Envoi Allen last season and he just about delivered when winning the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham by three-quarters-of-a-length from the talented Blue Sari.
As an expensive £400k purchase from the point-to-point sphere by Cheveley Park Stud, he was featured on At The Races back in February 2018 and has been in many people’s trackers ever since.
Under the watchful eye of Gordon Elliott, he has since gone four races unbeaten under rules and looks a very exciting prospect over hurdles this term. His point-to-point experience suggests that the two-mile, five furlongs of the Ballymore could well be the destination come March.
This Joseph O’Brien-trained gelding was a real eyecatcher when he romped to victory in the Triumph Hurdle trial at Cheltenham in January, and was quickly snapped up by JP McManus with the aim of taking a big race at the Festival.
That didn’t quite go to the plan with Fakir D’Oudairies finishing an eleven length fourth to Klassical Dream in the Supreme, but he did prove that the class was still there when second by a neck to the Triumph Hurdle winning Pentland Hills at Aintree’s Grand National meeting in April.
As a four-year-old, age is well on his side and he’s sure to come strongly again this season.
Now unbeaten in three bumpers, Get In The Queue is likely to feature in many people’s horses to follow this season.
His most recent success was perhaps the most prominent to date, stepping up to class two-level to take a decent prize pot in a bumper at Newbury, when four-and-a-half lengths in front of second place.
If that kind of progress can continue over hurdles then he can be expected to win some big races this season and should excel over two miles.
Olly Murphy continues to get stronger as a trainer and Itchy Feet is a name that could figure prominently for his yard this season.
He ended the last campaign with a mark of 150 over hurdles, winning two of his five starts and being placed in the Supreme Novices Hurdle. He was found to have broken a blood vessel that day, despite finishing third, and although he jumping wasn’t the smartest at Aintree last time, he still has bags of promise going forward.
His trainer has outlined a plan to go for the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las and then let results dictate what the future holds from that point forward.
Considering that Gigginstown announced last season that they were going to be slowly exiting the sport as owners, the fact they bought Sixshooter in April suggests they think he’s classy and could mean he is a purchase well worth following this campaign.
He won a Punchestown bumper getting weight in May but there were some big names involved that day and that is a race that looks as though it could work out well in the future. He wouldn’t be the biggest of horses, but given that his trainer Noel Meade has both of his full sisters, he should know what it takes to develop this horse over hurdles.
Paul Nicholls secured Skatman for £170,000 at the Goffs UK Spring Horses in Training and Point-to-Point Sale in May, and it’s easy to see why he attracted the interest after winning the Four Year Old Maiden at Dromahane in fine style.
That saw him added to plenty of trackers after that run and punters will be hoping he repays the research this season in the hands of the Champion trainer.
Bumpers are likely to be his starting point but hurdles are a realistic possibility this season over trips up to two-mile, four furlongs, and he should be an exciting chaser in time.
We couldn’t compile a list of hurdlers to follow without a shout for a filly, and that comes here in the shape of Vision Du Puy, who is the first horse to be trained by Dan Skelton for JP McManus.
She was purchased privately after her win by fifteen lengths at Auteuil in October 2018 and he only been seen once for Skelton, albeit a winning appearance when taking a Mares Novices Hurdle at Perth.
She clearly possesses plenty of ability and with Dan Skelton certainly not scared to run his horses more often than most trainers, they’ll surely be plenty of winning opportunities for her this season.