Doug Campbell’s 50 Jump Horses To Follow 2021/22 – breeding, performance and prospects
Ask Me Early 7yo gelding
trained by Harry Fry
Looked progressive over fences last season, winning three times in Novice Handicap company over trips within the region of three miles.
Ask Me Early met with defeat when made favourite on his only venture outside of Novices Class – at Sandown in February, when clearly underperforming (reportedly never travelling well) and eventually being pulled up after losing touch.
He bounced back following that run to win at Uttoxeter the following month, showing no signs of the Sandown exertions. A lightly raced sort for a horse of his age – with just the six outings under rules, and looks best served by some give in the going.
He will hopefully continue on an upwards curve and will start the new season from a mark of 140, with handicaps over three miles or slightly further the immediate plan.
Becky The Boo 5yo mare
Collected a bumper at Newcastle on the middle of three starts, after showing some ability when finishing fourth on her debut at Newbury in November.
Was a little disappointing on her final outing, finishing seventh behind Moonamacaroona at Chepstow, hanging left in the home straight after taking a keen hold in the early stages.
She may not be a star in the making, but I think she is better than the Chepstow run, and is likely to appreciate further than the minimum trip when sent over hurdles.
Becky The Boo should be placed to good effect in the right grade, and will hopefully give her group of owners some fun during the months ahead.
Black Sam Melody 5yo mare
I feel that trainer Rebecca Curtis is a better handler than her figures of recent seasons do her justice. Last season she sent out just the ten winners from her Pembrokeshire base, but she is more than capable of a better total given the right material to work with.
In her time she has trained five Cheltenham Festival winners in the shape of Teaforthree, At Fishers Cross, O’Faolain’s Boy, Irish Cavalier and, most recently, the Stayers Hurdle winner of 2020 Lisnagar Oscar.
She also sent out the winner of the 2018 Scottish National – Joe Farrell. Black Sam Melody is unlikely to prove anywhere near as good as those mentioned, however she showed signs of some ability on her only start to date – despite running a little green – when eleven lengths fourth in a Chepstow Bumper in the final week of March.
With a little more experience behind her, and possibly hurdles to jump Black Sam Melody can be placed to shed her Maiden tag in ordinary company.
Boothill 6yo gelding
Runner up in a brace of Point to Points in the Autumn of 2019, Boothill wasted no time in getting off the mark under rules, by taking a Kempton Bumper in February 2020.
His only other start came ten months later, when impressively collecting a Taunton Novices Hurdle by almost ten lengths.
Four of those that finished behind him that day have won since (in the region of marks in the mid-120s) so the opening rating of Boothill at 137 may not be an over burden, given the ease at which he won.
Looks sure to progress, and maybe a very smart horse in the making. A fair buy at £125k in today’s economic climate.
Champagne Rhythm 6yo gelding
A consistent level of form in Maiden Hurdles last term, finishing in the frame four times at Ffos Las and Chepstow, before getting off the mark at the fifth time of asking at the latter named track – by three lengths from the Jonjo O’Neill trained Gulliver Collonges.
Champagne Rhythm acts well on a testing surface, and stays at least two-and-a-half miles (worth a try at three miles at some stage) and will hopefully continue to pay his way if not aimed too highly when sent handicapping.
Should also jump a fence one day.
Code Named Lise 5yo mare
Code Named Lise didn’t make her racecourse debut until January of this year, after officially turning five years of age, one can only assume that she is somewhat of a late developer.
However, she immediately showed signs of ability – running four and a half lengths second at Warwick in a newcomers’ race to a useful prospect of Paul Nicholls.
She followed that up with a success in an Ascot Bumper around five weeks later under the now retired former champion Richard Johnson, this despite still racing with signs of greenness.
Her final start of the campaign saw Code Named Lise raised in class at Sandown in a Listed bumper, and although she ran with credit to finish just over ten lengths back in seventh place in a field of 16 – it was probably just a step too far at that stage of her career.
She looks the type to benefit from a switch to hurdles, and I’ll be surprised if her trainer cannot find winning opportunities over the winter months.
Wadham does fairly well with her hurdlers over time, and during the last five seasons has had 52 winners from 295 runs (with a further 73 placed runners) with 25 individual winners from 43 runners sent from her Newmarket base.
It’s far too early to suggest she is ground dependent, but Code Named Lise has already proved that she acts well on a soft surface.
Come On Gruff 5yo gelding
A fairly modest purchase at just £18k from the Goffs UK Stores sale in the Spring of 2019, and immediately went a small way to repaying connections faith when taking a Lingfield Bumper on his racecourse debut back in February.
It may not have been the strongest of contests, but he showed battling qualities to stay on well for a head success from Dragoon Springs after racing a little green around a furlong from home. His only other run saw him raised in grade for a stronger looking Bumper at Newbury the following month.
This was won by the record breaking £570k buy Jonbon, now in the care of Nicky Henderson. Although Come On Gruff finished fourth – around twelve and three quarter lengths behind the winner, it was probably a step forward on his debut win, staying on in the latter stages after looking a little outpaced with around half a mile to run.
Hurdles to jump and a step up in trip will hopefully bring about some more improvement, and Come On Griff can find his way to the winners enclosure as he gains experience.
Crossrail 6yo mare
Looks a bit of a late developer, but did well nonetheless to win a Mares only Bumper at Worcester in the Spring on her only appearance to date, despite looking and racing as if the outing would do her plenty of good.
She stayed on well that day to beat the Martin Keighley trained Kazontherazz (winner of a Maiden Hurdle over the summer) by three-quarters-of-a-length, but probably had more in hand than the winning margin suggested.
Crossrail can only improve with a summer behind her, and whilst she may not prove to be a world beater – she should be up to winning in Novice company when sent over timber.
By Arc winner Rail Link out of an unraced Alderbrook mare, I imagine trips of 2m to 2m4f will serve her best for the time being.
Does He Know 6yo gelding
A useful and improving Novice Hurdler last season, winning three times over 2m 5f at Cheltenham (twice) and Ludlow – rising from an opening mark of 127 to a peak of 143.
His best win can when taking a Grade 2 event in November, beating the Dan Skelton trained Wild Romance with probably more in hand than the three lengths winning margin suggested.
Highly tried after that success, Does He Know ran out in the Challow Hurdle won by Bravemansgame, looked ill at ease on heavy ground when well beaten in a Pertemps qualifier, and appeared outclassed when a well beaten fifth behind Bob Ollinger in the Ballymore at the Cheltenham Festival.
That said he remains a horse of interest, and I imagine the plan is to send him over fences this term. Does He Know should make up into a nice Novice Chaser, and can add to his winning tally over the course of the season.
Best served by good or good-to-soft going – he is also worth a try at three miles.
Elle Est Belle 5yo mare
Proved to be a smart Mare in Bumpers last season, winning her first two outings at Aintree in late October, and Dead Heating with Ishkhara Lady at Cheltenham in mid-November.
Her next appearance – some four months later – came in the Champion Bumper at the festival where she performed with lots of credit to finish seven lengths third behind the top-class Willie Mullins trained pair of Sir Gerhard and Kilcruit.
Elle Est Belle should make up into a nice Novice over hurdles, and maybe the type to run up a sequence before being raised in class.
I’m sure connections will be hoping she proves good enough for a return visit to Prestbury Park in the Spring, and given that she appears to have every chance of staying further than the minimum trip her talented trainer may well have more than one option to aim for.
Enqarde 7yo gelding
Dr Richard Newland
Has done fairly well since arriving from France, winning a Novice Hurdle on his second start for current connections at Newcastle back in December, and also a Handicap Chase at Ascot in January.
Enqarde has proved already that he stays three miles, and is likely to stay a bit further – although on his two outings at further to date he was beaten 15 lengths at Haydock when fifth behind Lord Du Mesnil in February, and was pulled up in the Scottish National in the Spring where he was letdown by his jumping.
Enqarde will start the new season from a mark of 130 over fences which looks fair, and he should be found opportunities to add further to his tally.
He is best served by soft ground, and one to keep an eye on when conditions are in his favour.
Enrilo 7yo gelding
French bred gelding by Buck’s Boum, who is the sire responsible for the two-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo.
Enrilo proved a more than useful Novice over fences last season winning at Exeter and Newbury, and on his final start was first past the post in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown, but was disqualified after causing interference when hanging left on the run in.
That was only his fifth start over fences, and one would hope there would be more to come as he gains further experience. Enrilo has won on soft over Hurdles, but is possibly better suited to a lesser demanding surface (was withdrawn from an intended run on Heavy in the past), he jumps well in the main and is a strong traveller.
He would be an interesting contender for the Ladbrokes Trophy during the first half of the season, and looks a staying handicap chaser to follow with interest.
Firestep 5yo gelding
Unbeaten in two bumpers last season – at Southwell in November beating the Jamie Snowden trained Midnight Centurion by a shade under three lengths (with a couple of future winners back in fourth and fifth), and at Chepstow in March beating Tom George’s Buck’s Boggle by a length – which probably didn’t do justice to the superiority he looked to have.
Firestep is a strong traveller, and should be found winning opportunities when sent over timber under suitable conditions. Both his successes came on good to soft, and I feel that he may even be more well suited to slightly quicker going, it must be noted that he was twice withdrawn when the going was forecast to be soft and heavy – citing “Unsuitable Ground” as the reason on both occasions.
Two-miles/two-and-a-half-miles should prove his optimum trips this season, and I will be surprised if he cannot reward his followers with a win or two.
Fontaine Collonges 6yo mare
Not overly-raced for a horse of her age, with just the seven career starts so far, with just four of those coming since arriving from France in January 2020.
Fontaine Collonges is clearly well suited to when the mud is flying, winning a Bumper under soft conditions on her debut for Venetia, and taking a novices’ hurdle on heavy going when last seen in January of this year.
The form of that race maybe only useful at best, but the mare looks to have been allocated a reasonable opening handicap mark of 116. Further success should be forthcoming on proper winter ground, and I don’t think she will be found shirking matters when others have cried enough.
May well be a bit better than her current mark.
Franco D’Aunou 6yo gelding
Winner of one of his six outings so far over hurdles, with two seconds and two third places also. Franco D’Aunou is another from the yard that appears to appreciate a testing surface, and should be able to add to his tally under suitable conditions.
He’s a half-brother to three winners, he stays at least 2m4f and looks on a reasonable mark of 120 to start the new campaign.
I’m fairly confident that his trainer can find success in a none too demanding handicap over hurdles, before possibly turning his attention to the larger obstacles, for which one of his half siblings – the Jonjo O’Neill trained Demon D’Anou – is already twice a winner.
Will hopefully prove a worthy inclusion, and keep the list ticking over.
Gold Bullion 5yo gelding
Did well to win a Warwick Bumper in readily fashion in mid-January, despite looking as if the outing would do him plenty of good. The runner up that day was another of the fifty in the shape of the Lucy Wadham trained Code Name Lise, who would go on to win on her next start at Ascot, so all in all it was probably an above average contest.
Gold Bullion should improve with time and experience, given that he was a late foal (5 June 2016). There shouldn’t be a problem placing him to win in Novice company when sent over timber, and he gave me the impression that he will comfortably stay two and a half miles this term.
He coped well with heavy ground at Warwick and I guess he may always prove better with some give in the going.
Good Risk At All 5yo gelding
Former jockey Sam Thomas, who had over 500 winners in the saddle – topped when taking the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup aboard Denman, is now plying his trade as a trainer and in the last five seasons (at the time of writing) has sent out the winners of 43 races from 294 contested.
Hardly headline statistics, but a respectable strike rate of almost 15%. Of those winners, 22 have come from 147 races over hurdles with a P/L of +£22.52 to a £1 level stake.
Thomas must be looking forward to the season ahead with Good Risk At All, a horse with plenty of potential and one that may showcase Sam’s talents when working with a better class of animal.
Good Risk At All proved himself to be a more than decent bumper performer last season, winning twice in Listed company at Cheltenham and Newbury following a promising debut when running second at Newton Abbot behind Onemorefortheroad – twice a winner over hurdles since.
Good Risk At All should make up into a nice Novice over hurdles and could be the type to run up a sequence, it wouldn’t be the biggest of surprises if he ended up a candidate for one of the Festival race next March. I await his return with great interest.
Green Book 4yo gelding
A hardy and useful handicapper on the Flat, who probably should have won more than just the one race from a total of seventeen both here and in France – where he was trained during 2020 until the Spring of this year, having spent his two-year-old days under the care of Brian Ellison.
His only start over Hurdles came in Maiden company back in February at Hereford, finishing a three and a half lengths runner up to the Oliver Greenhall trained Herbiers – twice a winner since, and now rated 130, which now looks a pretty decent effort considering it appeared over an inadequate looking trip.
Green Book clearly needs a rain softened surface to be seen at his best, and it is unlikely that he would be risked unless soft appeared somewhere in the going description. Success in maiden/novice company looks almost assured over distances of around 2m 4f under suitable conditions, and he may even get to the same level as his Hereford conqueror.
One to keep an eye on for sure.
Guard Your Dreams 5yo gelding
Useful form and steady improvement over Hurdles last season, winning three times and rising from an opening handicap mark of 128 to end the campaign rated some twelve pounds higher.
He probably stays two and a half miles, despite being beaten on both his runs in advance of the minimum trip, finishing 13 lengths seventh in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham, and 10-lengths third in the 2m4f Novices Hurdle at the Aintree Grand National meeting behind My Drogo
I imagine he will be switched to the larger obstacles for the new season, and he should prove up to adding to those three successes. His wins came on going 1ranging from good to soft – to heavy. Worthy of his place in the 50.
Hamilton Dici 4yo gelding
Narrow winner of a Maiden Hurdle for Jane Williams at Warwick on his second racecourse appearance back in December, following a run at Compiegne around six weeks earlier where he failed to get competitive.
Joined current connections for £75k 1at the Goffs UK Mixed Sales the week after his Warwick success, and made just the one start for Bailey during the last week of February, running 12 and a half lengths third of six behind Brave Seasca at Huntindon.
He didn’t jump with the greatest of fluency that day, and I’m sure that he can improve from his opening mark of 116 with a bit more experience under his belt. Untried on anything better than soft, and maybe worth a try at further at some stage this term.
Hermes Boy 4yo gelding
French-bred gelding by Diamond Boy – a Listed class winning stayer on the flat, and son of the successful NH sire Mansonnien. Hermes Boy made the 300+ miles trip from Devon to Bangor for his only outing to date, running third of twelve behind Iontach Cheval and Parisencore – beaten a shade over four lengths in total.
He clearly needed the run, and a Summer behind him can only do him good. A relatively modest buy in today’s climate at £22k at the Goffs Summer Sale, he should soon be paying back some of that purchase cost.
I imagine that he will take in another Bumper before embarking on a Novice Hurdles campaign, when a stiffer test of stamina may well eek out some improvement.
One of the more ‘Dark Horses’ included in the list, but one that will hopefully pay his way.
Hob House 4yo gelding
Took a keen hold when collecting a Southwell Bumper at the end of March on his only run so far, by a length and a quarter from the Martin Keighley trained Brorson. It probably wasn’t much of a race (fourth placed that day Ocean Heights has since got off the mark at Stratford) but he looks open to progress and should pick up a race or two in Novice company when sent over Hurdles.
He’s by the much sought-after NH sire Walk In The Park, out of a two times winner over timber (and bumper winner) for Alan King. Two miles is likely to prove his trip for the time being, but with some more experience behind him Hob House is certainly worth a try at around two and a half.
His Southwell success came on good going, and his dam seemed best served by Good / Good to Soft ground so he may well be one to treat with some caution on a testing surface.
Lounge Lizard 4yo gelding
Runner up in a three runner Bumper at Haydock in the Spring on his sole outing, to a useful prospect (Mr Glass) of champion trainer Paul Nicholls.
Despite looking in need of the experience, racing somewhat freely and hanging to the left in the latter stages Lounge Lizard stuck to his task well.
He should prove up to taking a Bumper himself, before a switch to hurdling, where he should be placed to win a race or two over a trip in the region of two miles, and his action suggests that he will be best served to underfoot conditions when soft appears in the going description.
Can only improve with a Summer behind him.
Major Dundee 6yo gelding
A bumper winner back in 2019, and winner of one of his seven starts over hurdles last season, that success coming during the last week of March at Chepstow by eight-and-a-half lengths from Johnny B.
The Chepstow win came sandwiched between a brace of disappointing runs at Kempton and Ayr, he apparently lost a shoe at Kempton which would go some way to explaining that display – but he raced a little flat at Ayr and nothing came to light, finishing a tailed off tenth of the twelve runners.
That said, he remains a horse of interest to me for the new campaign, and I imagine his future lies over fences. Major Dundee is a typical chasing type that his owner Trevor Hemmings likes, and I will be surprised if he can’t be placed to win a race or two. He was rated in the mid 120s over hurdles and will hopefully be capable of better.
Major Dundee stays three miles, and doesn’t appear ground dependent which is always a bonus.
Malinello 6yo gelding
Useful form already after just three runs over hurdles, winning a Novices event at Market Rasen over an extended two-and-a half-miles in early December, following a promising debut a month earlier at Kempton when finishing runner up to Switch Hitter – beaten just three quarters of a length.
Malinello appeared a little disappointing on his only other start, when second to Flash Collonges at Wincanton, but from all accounts hated the tacky ground that day.
Rested since January, and a summer behind him – he will hopefully come back a fresh horse. He’s at that age when a switch to fences must be being considered, and he should make up into a nice novice chaser.
A likeable sort that stays two and a half miles well, but given that his half-brother is the smart staying handicap chaser Cogry then it is a safe bet that he will be tested over further at some stage.
Martello Sky 5yo mare
Winner of two bumpers from four, and already a winner of three from four starts over hurdles. Martello Sky progressed with experience last term, winning a Maiden at Fakenham in December, and ending her campaign with a success in a five runner Listed Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham in April, beating the useful Sandymount Rose by two-and-three-quarter lengths.
There’s no reason to think that she cannot continue on an upwards curve this season, and will hopefully be able to add to her tally. She stays two and a half miles, and I don’t see the need to test her at further just yet.
Martello Sky has won on both Good going and Soft underfoot conditions, while it is also noted that she was withdrawn at Market Rasen in January when going conditions were forecast to be heavy, citing “unsuitable ground” as the reason.
Masaccio 4yo gelding
Masaccio is definitely one that I am looking forward to over the course of the new season. He is a nicely bred gelding from the breeding operation of Bjorn Nielsen, who didn’t manage to get him to the track himself.
Now in the ownership of the McNeill family and Niall Farrell, Masaccio wasted little time in getting off the mark, winning a junior Bumper at Doncaster in November on his first outing for his new connections.
He was then off the track until April for his only other start to date, running a close second to Vina Ardanza at Ayr before being rested for the Summer.
Masaccio is by Mastercraftsman – who was sadly lost to the industry in August, and is the ninth winning offspring of the Alleged mare Ange Bleu, whose best foal to date was the two times Grade 1 winning American mare Angara (by Alzao), so probably wouldn’t look out of place running on the flat himself.
That said, he should be up to winning in novice company over hurdles – probably at around two miles, although may not want the going too testing to be seen at his best.
Metier 5yo gelding
Metier went into the 2020 Cheltenham Festival unbeaten in three starts over hurdles, including an impressive 12 lengths success in the Tolworth at Sandown during the first week of January.
That win elevated him towards the forefront of the betting for the traditional curtain raiser at Cheltenham – the Supreme Novices Hurdle, for which he eventually went off a solid 11/2 chance.
For whatever reason Metier appeared to underperform, finishing last of seven finishers (would have been last of eight, had it not been for the fall of Blue Lord at the last flight) behind Appreciate It.
He took a keen hold that day, and failed to jump with great fluency – hopefully it will just be a race that connections can put a line through. Metier acts very well on testing ground, and remains a horse of interest for the future.
He would need to improve considerably to become a genuine Champion Hurdle contender for which he is a top price of 100/1 at the time of writing, with a switch to the larger obstacles a distinct possibility.
Should it be decided to send Metier over fences, it shouldn’t be too long before he gets off the mark, and whilst the 2021 Cheltenham Festival is still a long way off connections must be hoping that he may develop into contender for one of the Novice contests.
The Arkle would seem the more likely target, and even at the stage it has the prospects of a potentially very hot race. That said the top quote of 66/1 in an isolated place looks a little on the generous side.
Meadowsweet 5yo mare
Collected a mares-only bumper at Ludlow in the first week of December on her only racecourse appearance, staying on well in the latter stages after appearing a little tapped for toe turning for home, coming home a shade over two lengths in front of Jaunty Freyja with a further length and three quarters back to Booley Beach in third.
The form of the race doesn’t amount to a great deal, but she did it well despite looking as if the experience would do her no end of good.
I imagine that she may take in another Bumper before being sent over hurdles, and she should find a race or two in the coming months if not aimed too highly. Can only improve with more races under her belt.
Midnight Centurion 5yo gelding
Unlikely to be found competing at any of the major festivals, but should be found suitable opportunities in ordinary company on the back of two runner up spots from as many starts last term.
Midnight Centurion outran his 25/1 price tag on his debut at Southwell in November, when beaten two- and three-quarter lengths by the Nicky Henderson trained Firestep, and two months later appeared not to be suited to the drop back to 1m 6f when beaten a shade under five lengths in a four runner Bumper at Ludlow.
He is the first foal of the lightly raced maiden Centoria (by Generous) and was bred by his owners, so it would be nice if he could reward them by getting his head in front at some stage over hurdles.
Two miles should prove a good starting point, and he is definitely worth a try at further at some stage and he appears to cope well with a rain softened surface.
Mighty Thunder 8yo gelding
Mighty Thunder was a much-improved Novice Chaser last season, rising from an opening mark of 130 to end the season rated 151 following four successes and a runner up spot over the larger obstacles from just the six outings.
Highlight of the campaign was his win in the Scottish National at Ayr in April under a great ride by Tom Scudamore, having already won the ‘Edinburgh National’ at Musselburgh under Blair Campbell a couple months earlier.
Russell does appear to love a good staying chaser, and has her name in the Aintree history books courtesy of One For Arthur’s win in the big one back in 2017.
In Mighty Thunder she looks to have an ideal candidate to etch her name in the record books again. He jumps well in the main, he is a thorough stayer, he has won on both soft ground and good, and importantly is already rated high enough to be assured of a place in the lineup – what’s not to like about him?
There’s no need to even run him over fences until the weights are announced in order to protect the mark, a light campaign over hurdles and then maybe one run over fences after the announcement of the weights may well turn out to be the plan.
The top long-range price for Aintree at the time of writing is 33/1 with a number of firms, and although April is a long way off, I do consider that price to be a very fair assessment of his chance indeed.
Monmiral 4yo gelding
Monmiral is unbeaten in five career starts to date, a 3yo conditions hurdle in France when trained by Francois Nicolle and four Juvenile contests since joining Nicholls at Ditcheat. Now owned by Messrs Ferguson, Mason and Hales, it is safe to say he wasn’t cheap to acquire.
The manner of Monmiral’s success at Aintree in the Spring in the Grade 1 Doom Bar Juvenile – beating the Triumph Hurdle runner up Adagio by seven and a half lengths – marked him down as a serious Champion Hurdle candidate for this term, should he be kept over timber.
However, it has already been stated that the horse’s long-term future lies over fences and it could even be sooner rather than later.
“Monmiral is a proper Grade 1 horse and the best juvenile I’ve sat on. I’d rather see him jump a fence (next season). He travels well and jumps great. He’s probably beaten the best English juvenile; he’s top class” was jockey Harry Cobden’s comments after his Aintree win, high praise indeed.
You may not get rich backing him race for race in the lead up to the big meetings but whatever is decided by connections he looks a horse of great ability, and his progress should be followed with tremendous interest.
Mr Glass 5yo gelding
Owner John Dance will be forever linked to his wonderfully talented, six times Group 1 winning filly Laurens who was expertly handled on the level by Karl Burke a few seasons back.
John and his wife Jess have also become enthusiastic owners of a few National Hunt performers, Jeremy Pass has already won over hurdles for them, and Mr Glass looks a nice prospect for the season ahead.
Mr Glass has won two of his three Bumpers following a promising debut when third at Newbury in November. At Wetherby towards the end of December he hacked up by an easy looking eleven lengths from the Charlie Longsdon trained Parramount (who comfortably took a Stratford Bumper next time out), and at Haydock in March took a three-runner affair in workmanlike fashion by a length and a quarter from another of the fifty in the shape of the Henry Daly trained Lounge Lizard.
Mr Glass should have little difficulty getting off the mark over hurdles, and could well be open to more improvement when stepped up to 2m4f, he clearly acts well with give in the ground.
Nells Son 6yo gelding
Looks the type to keep on the right side of in Novice Hurdles up North. Nicky Richards charge is a little unfortunate not to be unbeaten in three Bumpers, being beaten on the nod by a nose on his racecourse debut at Doncaster (February 2020) by Brian Ellison’s Kearney Hill (a winner of his previous outing) he then went on to win his two starts last season at Ayr. All three runs came on Heavy going, and the typical going during the depths of winter will hold no fears.
He could be the sort to run up a sequence, before possibly being raised in grade and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t prove above average over timber, and he Looks sure to be suited to two-and-a half-miles in time.
Osprey Call 6yo gelding
Starts the new season from a mark of 122, one that still looks workable. Osprey Call is lightly raced with just the five career starts to date, winning one of a brace of bumpers, and was successful in one of three Novice Hurdles last season – that came at Doncaster in February when beating Across The Line (twice a winner over hurdles already) by almost four lengths.
His final start of the campaign came when finishing a seven lengths runner up to Lord Baddesley at Newbury, which was probably a little disappointing after he had run a little too freely.
Given his inexperience I imagine that he is capable of better than we have seen from him so far, and he should be up to winning in handicap company at some stage, and he appears to be suited to a good to soft surface.
Petrossian 5yo gelding
Took a Newbury Bumper in eye-catching fashion on his racecourse debut back in November, by seven and a half lengths from the Nigel Twiston – Davies trained Highland Parc.
It wasn’t the strongest of races, and at the time of writing none of the nine that finished behind him that day have managed to win a race. However, he can only beat what he is up against and there certainly looked as if there would be more to come in the future.
His only other run, some four and a half months later (over the same course and distance) saw him finish 17-lengths sixth of nine behind the record breaking £570k purchase Jonbon.
His chance was spoilt by racing freely, and he never looked like being competitive when it mattered most. It was a stronger race than his debut, and I think when we look back, we may well find a few future winners coming out of the race.
Petrossian should be up to winning over hurdles, and he should in time prove much better than that second effort looked.
Sage Advice 4yo gelding
Dr Richard Newland
Created a good impression when winning a Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton in early January on his jumping debut, getting the better of the Olly Murphy trained Tinnahalla by six lengths.
That was his only success in four starts last term, but he ran with credit on a couple of other occasions, finishing a length and a half runner up to Cabot Cliffs at Warwick (who would go on to win again next time out over the same course and distance by 17 lengths), and he also ran a fair sixth in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap at the Festival in March behind Jeff Kidder.
A ten furlongs winner on the flat when trained in Ireland, he maybe best at around two miles for the time being and Sage Advice appears to act on most types of going.
He will start the new season on an official rating of 127 which looks fair and will hopefully pick up a handicap at some stage.
Samarrive 4yo gelding
Another talented looking French import for Nicholls. Samarrive took a Maiden Hurdle for three-year-olds at Angers in December on his only start in his native land, before being sold privately to continue his career at Ditcheat. It is not known how much he cost, but one thing is certain is that it will be an awful lot more than the 18k euro that he was sold for as a foal.
Samarrive made his debut for his new connections in April, and wasted no time in creating a good impression – winning in very easy fashion by thirteen lengths at Kempton from Seinesational, with a further twelve lengths back to the third home – the Nicky Henderson trained Chives (who would go on to win his next two starts).
Samarrive travelled strongly at Kempton and jumped quickly, and is clearly a smart prospect. He was given an official rating of 132 for that success, but simply could be “anything2. His French win was on Heavy, while at Kempton the going was Good which bodes well for the future.
An exciting prospect for the season ahead.
Sauce Of Life 6yo gelding
Looks a fair prospect for novice hurdles in the North on the back of his two bumper wins last season. He only made his racecourse debut at Musselburgh eleven days before officially turning six, and despite looking as if the experience would do him plenty of good proved four lengths and upwards too good for his rivals.
Largy Gift who finished runner up that day has not shown much in three outings since, but Moonlight Beam over eight lengths back in third has progressed nicely and has won twice over Hurdles and is now rated 123 – so the form of that bumper doesn’t look too bad.
A narrow success on his only other start 104 days later at Market Rasen showed grit and determination to hold off the strong challenge of the rated Olly Murphy newcomer Tigerbythetail (a £105k purchase) by a short head. Sauce Of Life himself cost a reasonable looking €35k back in 2018, and that looks money well spent.
Untried on anything worse that good-to-soft at present, he should have little difficulty winning in maiden and novice company and should stay further in time.
Secret Reprieve 7yo gelding
An improving staying chaser who has not been rushed, with just the nine career starts to date, with six of those coming over the larger obstacles. His debut over fences came less than two years ago, and although running with some credit it was clear that he needed trips in excess of three miles before we would see improvement.
Reported to have sore shins, he also missed almost a year from December of 2019 until returning to action in November of last season. Looking back the enforced absence may not have been a bad thing, and although he fell on his first run back there were signs that he should prove up to winning races.
That proved correct when on his next start during the first week of December he sluiced up by twelve lengths in the Welsh National Trial.
He was immediately placed towards the front of the betting for the Welsh National itself, eventually starting a very heavily supported 5/2 favourite for the rescheduled (9 January) contest.
The only anxious moment his supporters had came when his girth became loose, but Secret Reprieve got home a comfortable winner in the end by three lengths from The Two Amigos – who had also finished runner up to him in the trial.
Secret Reprieve looked a well handicapped horse that day, and an eight pounds rise looked fair. Thoughts of Aintree in the Spring came to mind, but unfortunately, he missed the cut by two after looking likely to be one of the more fancied contenders.
It was pretty obvious that he would now struggle to get his ground for the rest of the season, and he was put away. He starts the new season on a mark of 142, a rating as proven does not guarantee a place in the National line up these days and that may well prove to be his aim.
A repeat of his Chepstow win is likely to be his target during the first half of the season, and a good performance in that should see the few pounds rise that he may require for Aintree. Secret Reprieve is a thorough stayer, an economical jumper of a fence and a very likeable sort, but one that may always need a testing surface to be seen at his best.
Along with Mighty Thunder, he would be at the top of the list of my long-range fancies for the Grand National at this stage for which he is currently a top price of 33/1.
Skatman 6yo gelding
A £170k purchase at the Goffs UK Spring Sale of 2019 following his win in an Irish Point to Point for four-year-olds. Skatman made his debut for Nicholls in the November, finishing down the field in a what has proven to have been a pretty decent Bumper – with the first three home that day now rated 140+ over hurdles.
Skatman himself got off the mark at first time of asking over timber, when taking a two and a half miles maiden at Musselburgh in March of this year, it was a nice introduction following eighteen months off the track and undergoing wind surgery.
There should be more to come as he gains experience, while his future is likely to be over fences. Skatman should stay three miles, and he is potentially very useful.
Super Six 4yo gelding
Won his first two bumpers at Hereford and Chepstow before being raised in grade to contest the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival. At Cheltenham he ran a very respectable fifth of the 14 runners, some 13-lengths behind the Cheveley Park owned winner Sir Gerhard, somewhat belying dismissive odds of 80/1.
On his final run of the season at Aintree a few weeks later he disappointed, when finishing tailed off behind Knappers Hill, possibly still feeling the effects of his Cheltenham effort.
Super Six remains a horse of interest for a Novice Hurdles campaign, and should be suited to a step up in trip – particularly if he can settle better (can sometimes take a keen hold). He acts well on proper winter going, and it will be disappointing if he can’t be found a race or two.
A good buy at £26k for the flourishing bloodstock business of the trainer’s son Willy.
Tamar Bridge 6yo gelding
In a light career to date of just three outings Tamar Bridge already looks ground dependent on a testing surface to be seen at his best. He won a bumper on heavy going at Haydock in December, and a two-runner Novice Hurdle at Ayr on similar ground in March. Sandwiched in between he ran third at Wetherby on soft but looked a little one paced over two miles three and a half furlongs.
Further progress should come over two and a half miles under suitable conditions, and three miles is unlikely to pose any problems with another race or two under his belt. It was noted that he was withdrawn on forecast good ground, and I doubt that he will compete unless at least soft appears somewhere in the going description.
Should be found more winning opportunities over the winter months.
Threeunderthrufive 6yo gelding
Already boasts a decent level of form, albeit a little way short of the absolute best of the staying novices over hurdles from last season. Threeunderthrufive won four of his five starts, with his only defeat coming when finishing 16 and a half lengths sixth of 16 in the Albert Bartlett at the festival – won by the Gavin Cromell trained Vanillier.
Wins at Lingfield, Ludlow and Musselburgh earned him a crack at Cheltenham, and he was far from disgraced – just not quite good enough. He bounced back from that defeat to win at Ayr the following month, in comfortable style by almost ten lengths from the Nicky Richards trained Castle Rushen, conceding that rival three pounds.
I imagine that Threeunderthrufive will be schooled over fences and he gives me the impression that he is a staying chaser in the making Threeunderthrufive acts on just about going conditions
He should prove at least equally as good over the larger obstacles, and with a little improvement it would be nice to think that he can develop into a candidate for the Brown Advisory Novices Chase back at the Festival.
Tinnahalla 4yo gelding
Progressed nicely in five outings over hurdles as a juvenile, winning at both Catterick and Ludlow, along with a runner up spot at Kempton. Likes to front run, and can sometimes be a bit keen, but appears thoroughly genuine and acts on any going which is always a bonus.
Win or lose his opponents will know they have been in a race. He’s likely to prove best at distances close to two miles, at least for the time being and will hopefully prove capable of picking up a handicap from his current mark of 126.
He’s a half-brother to the former Tony Martin trained Thomas Edison – the Galway Hurdle winner of 2014.
Tulin 4yo gelding
Won a conditions race on the level over 1m4f when trained in France in 2020, before being purchased on behalf of Elite Racing to join Paul Nicholls. Made his British debut in the Spring, taking a Taunton Maiden Hurdle in fair style by five and a half lengths from Iron Mike, and readily took a novices’ hurdle back at the track around three-and-a-half-weeks after that UK debut, on both occasions jumping well and seeing out the trip in solid fashion.
His third and final run for Nicholls was somewhat of a disappointment, finishing a well beaten fourth of ten runners at Newton Abbot behind Trailboss. However, his jumping lacked fluency that day following an early mistake and it is just possible that he was feeling the effects of three races in the space of around seven weeks. A Summer behind him should do him plenty of good and I imagine he will be back on the winning trail before too long.
Tulin should stay further than the minimum trip, he acts on both Good going and Soft underfoot conditions, and will hopefully prove one to follow in handicap company.
Washington 5yo gelding
Unbeaten in two bumpers last season, a newcomers’ race at Fakenham in November, and four months later a six-runner affair at Huntingdon. They didn’t look the strongest of races, but the runner up at Huntingdon (Marble Sands) had won at Ascot back in October and the last of six that day (Our Colossus) has since gone on to win twice over hurdles and frank the form.
Washington was a £37k purchase at the Goffs UK Stores Sale back in the spring of 2019 and that looks money fairly well spent. He’s by Westerner, out of an unraced mare by Presenting so should prove up to winning a Novice Hurdle or two this season.
His bumper wins came on good ground and soft, while I would expect him to stay two-and-a-half-miles as he gains experience.
Well Educated 5yo gelding
Yet to get off the mark in four career starts to date, but definite signs there that he can be found winning opportunities in the right grade. Three Bumpers resulted in form figures of 4-2-3, with Well Educated still showing some signs of greenness on the final start of the three, while one run over hurdles saw him run a respectable fourth at Kelso behind Charcor, Trailboss and My Macho Man beaten just two and a half lengths in total.
In fact, he’s not finished further than four lengths off the winner in any of the four runs. With a little more experience, and possibly a stiffer test of stamina it shouldn’t be too long before he can shed his maiden tag.
He’s not a ‘Saturday‘ horse or a Festival contender in the making, but that’s not to say he can’t prove his worth around the Northern tracks in the coming months.
Wiseguy 5yo gelding
Showed battling qualities to take a Doncaster bumper on his only racecourse appearance in the second week of January, by the minimum margin from the Henry Daly trained Hillcrest. Both he and the runner up looked in need of the experience, with Hillcrest racing particularly green. Hillcrest was to come out and win his only other start a couple of months later at Wetherby, while Wiseguy would not run again last season.
It wasn’t the biggest of surprises as Henderson is not known for rushing his young horses. I’d be surprised if Wiseguy didn’t prove a fair bit better than the bare form of that Doncaster win and he may well make up into a useful Novice over hurdles this term.
He’s by Fame And Glory and should stay further than two miles in time.
Wonderwall 5yo gelding
Took an Ascot Bumper in gritty fashion on his racecourse debut in November from the Royal owned Hamilton’s Fantasy by half a length, the fourth and sixth home that day Kandoo Kid and Storm Dennis would frank the form later in the season when also shedding their Maiden tags in Bumpers.
Wonderwall ran a fair third next time out to the unbeaten useful prospect Knappers Hill trained by Paul Nicholls, and would end his season running midfield in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham when starting an unconsidered 50/1 chance.
He should prove up to winning in Novice company when sent over timber, and like a number of the fifty may well improve for a step up in trip.
He acts well on rain softened conditions and will hopefully reward his connections and followers over the winter months.
Doug Campbell picks out some long-term prospects for an ante-post portfolio for the big races of the 2021-22 jumps season
The Ladbrokes Trophy (formerly the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup) – Newbury
One of the big highlights of the first half of the jumps season, this year’s renewal will take place on Saturday 27 November, and at the time of writing just the online firm Unibet appear to be offering odds.
The Paul Nicholls trained Enrilo looks an ideal candidate to me for this race. An improving Novice last season, and unfortunately for connections to be disqualified after being first past the post in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April.
He stays the 3m2f distance comfortably, he acts well on both a sound surface and a soft one, and with a rating of 147 is assured of a place in the line-up if he is aimed for it – last year’s winner Cloth Cap was successful from a mark of 136. Unibet currently offer 14/1 which looks reasonably without being overly generous.
He may well be worth tucking away a point each-way at those odds.
Enrilo 1 point each @14/1
Brown Advisory Novices Chase (formerly the RSA Novices Chase) – Cheltenham
The Novice Chase division looks potential very hot as we enter the new season. One useful hurdler from last term that I imagine will be sent over fences this winter is another Paul Nicholls inmate – namely Threeunderthrufive. In fairness he was a bit short of the absolute best in the staying division over hurdles, but promises to be a better horse over the larger obstacles.
He is unquoted in most lists for the race currently up to 40 and 50/1, but if able to obtain prices in that region would be worthy of a speculative each-way interest.
Threeunderthrufive 1 point each-way @40/1
Grand National – Aintree
Given that we are almost eight months away from the Aintree spectacular, it is hardly wise to go in all guns blazing with any long-range interest. That said it can sometimes prove profitable to build up a portfolio of bets on the lead up to the big race.
Most importantly is to try and have runners on your side that are likely to gain a place in the starting 40, and ones which appear to have been generously priced. Two that appeal to me at this early stage are Mighty Thunder and Secret Reprieve.
Winners of the Scottish and Welsh versions last season there shouldn’t be any concerns with a lack of stamina. Mighty Thunder is certain of being highly rated enough from a mark of 151 and, whilst last season Secret Reprieve missed out by two on a starting place at Aintree, I am fairly confident he can continue on an upwards curve, and edge up just a few pounds to assure himself of a place next Spring. Currently rated at 142 would probably find him on the borderline again.
Mighty Thunder 1 point win @33/1
Betfred, Betway, Ladbrokes, Coral
Secret Reprieve 1 point win @33/1
Sky Bet, Unibet, Betfred
© Doug Campbell and The Racing Hub 2021