Your guide to the jumps guides: part 2 – the 2019/20 racing annuals
In this second part of a two-part feature on guides to the new jumps season, Mike Deasy looks at the 2019/20 jump racing annuals.
In part one, Doug Campbell reviews a book on point-to-pointers who could make their mark on the NH scene http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-2LR
Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers to Follow 2019-2020
Paul Ferguson probably has more to say, in more detail, about more horses than the other 2019/20 jump racing guides, pinpointing horses from a variety of angles.
There are his forty leading prospects, with a nice touch of highlighting the optimum distance and going for each one.
Then Ferguson makes his pick of the main contenders from over 50 British yards, flagging over 150 horses of interest. A further dozen horses are highlighted from Irish yards.
And you can add to that recruits from point-to-pointing.
Eight jockeys give their thoughts on eighty horses they’re looking forward to riding, albeit a degree of duplication starts to creep in across the leading prospects and the stables picks.
Rounding everything off, in this the 13th edition of Ferguson’s guide, is a new feature providing detailed trends analysis of a dozen big races. It’s a worthwhile addition and the only criticism would be that more races at the expense of some of the commentary would be even more useful.
Nevertheless, you’ve some 300 horses coming under the microscope, with thoughtful assessment of each that’s going to be of considerable help in finding winners this winter.
Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers to Follow 2019-2020, Weatherbys, £11.95
Racing & Football Outlook Jump Racing Guide 2019-202
There’s an emphasis on data and stats in the RFO guide, including trainer and jockey records and trends, racecourse facts and times, and big race trends.
When it comes to pinpointing horses to consider for the new season, there’s Nick Watts’ 30 horses to follow, including his top 10, plus the thoughts of correspondents in the various British training centres and in Ireland, each noting dozens of potential winners in their respective jurisdictions, and putting up their best prospects.
There are also ante-post thoughts on five of the season’s principal races, and tipsters Richard Birch and Tom Collins identify 15 horses between them who have caught the eye.
In between all of the selected horses and the stacks of data is a race-by-race review of over 60 of last season’s big races, and nearly 50 novice races.
To say the RTO guide is packed with information is almost an understatement, although some of it, like fixtures and big-race dates, feels like padding.
But the stats enthusiast is going to find this the ideal guide, with the added benefit of a comprehensive round-up of horses worthy of an interest.
Racing & Football Outlook Jump Racing Guide 2019-202, Raceform, £10.99
Racing Post Guide to the Jumps 2019-2020
No less than 500 horses make it into the Racing Post’s list of key runners for the new season. To fit them all in, there are 50-word summaries and form summaries for each.
A lot of information is squeezed into the pithy style and words or are not wasted. But there are places in the book where the design has got in the way of legibility. Black text printed over the dark background of photographs is difficult to read and white text on a background of white clouds is impossible to read.
Intermingled in the key horse entries are Five to Watch from the Post’s team of tipsters.
Five of the Post’s experts get space to expand on their 2019/20 thoughts, with Nick Watts looking at some ante-post markets, Paul Kealy with early views on the Cheltenham Festival, Richard Birch on four jockeys to have on side, and a dozen to follow from Dave Orton. Brian Sheerin provides the Irish angle.
The guide is big on trainers, with extensive features on 10 of the top jump handlers. As well as identifying the stable stars, there are detailed stats on each trainer’s performance, detailing types of races, distance, when horses run, and last season’s overall record.
Given that, between them, the ten trainers dominate the sport, there’s much valuable information to be had in these pages.
Racing Post Guide to the Jumps 2019-2020, Racing Post, £12.99
Timeform Horses to Follow 2019/20 Jumps Season
Timeform’s team of experts have put together a list of 50 horses to follow, with 10 singled out for anyone who wants to keep tabs on a shorter list. Needless to say, the Timeform rating is provided for each horse and, as well as a write-up for each horse, entries end with a helpful conclusion about the horse’s prospects. The same treatment is given to eight Irish-trained horses.
Ten trainers nominate a stable star, handicapper and a dark horse, and, still looking ahead, there’s an ante-post look at five of the biggest jump races.
Moving to the second half of the guide, and there’s a detailed race-by-race review of last season’s Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals, and the pick of last season’s top performers.
Given that the collection of horses to follow is presented on an easily accessible horse-by-horse basis, the 2018/19 review adopts a lengthy narrative format, and the occasional paragraph break wouldn’t go amiss. It’s valuable reading, but not so convenient when you want to read-up about a specific runner.
Here the index should help, but some horses get four or five index entries and when you turn to the referenced page, it might be that the horse is only mentioned in passing.
There’s a list of Timeform’s Top 100 in rating order (maybe alphabetical order would be better), and the stats also list, by trainer, horses thought to be capable of much better form. Nicky Henderson is one of 40 handlers included, and his yard contains over 30 horses considered likely to improve.
Where the Timeform guide scores is in the quality of its horse-by-horse assessment – for me, the rest of the book doesn’t work quite so well.
Timeform Horses to Follow 2019/20 Jumps Season, Timeform, £10.95