Ten horses to follow for the 2017-18 National Hunt season

By Harry Allwood@H_Allwood1
Fri 27 Oct 2017

By Harry Allwood

The jumps season moves up a significant gear on Friday with action at Cheltenham resuming. Below are ten horses who can hopefully pay their way for punters over the months ahead.

Horse: Singlefarmpayment

Trainer: Tom George. Age: 7

Singlefarmpayment has not been seen since finishing a close second off a rating of 142 behind Un Temps Pour Tout in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He had previously caught the eye when he was brought down when still travelling well in a strong novices’ handicap chase at Cheltenham on Trials Day.

The gelding is a general 16-1 chance for the Ladbrokes Trophy (formerly the Hennessy) at Newbury on December 2 and will have a strong chance if heading there.

His jumping is a huge asset and he is versatile ground-wise. He has been raised 4lb since his last run and still looks well handicapped with the likelihood of further improvement this season.

Horse: Drumcliff

Trainer: Harry Fry. Age: 6

The JP McManus-owned gelding caught the eye when he finished an unlucky second in a 2m handicap hurdle at Kempton in December off a rating of 124.

The son of Presenting scoped dirty after he finished a disappointing fifth in the Scottish County Hurdle at Musselburgh in February on his next start. Things did not go to plan when he was brought down at the second in a 2m5f handicap hurdle on his final start last season.

He remains well handicapped and, although he is yet to win over hurdles, I would be surprised if he cannot win a valuable handicap this season with more to come from him. He kept on steadily without threatening the judge on his return in the Grade Three Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle at Chepstow (beaten nine lengths) but will be sharper next time and able to operate off a 2lb lower mark.

Horse: Debuchet

Trainer: Margaret Mullins. Age: 4

Debuchet has shown some smart form in four bumpers to date, most notably when second in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival. The son of Smadoun travelled like the best horse in that race before he was caught late on by the ill-fated Fayonagh.

Debuchet has the potential to progress into a smart novice hurdler this season and can develop into a leading player for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival next year which he is a general 16-1 chance for.

Horse: Movewiththetimes

Trainer: Paul Nicholls. Age: 6

Movewiththetimes ran a career best when second behind the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Ballyandy in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury in February. His lack of experience showed in that race as he ran green on the run in and was outbattled by a more experienced rival.

The son of Presenting has not been seen since and was forced to miss the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last season through injury. He seems versatile ground-wise and will go chasing this season.

The lightly-raced gelding, who has won three of his five starts, has the potential to go a long way over fences.

Horse: Shall We Go Now

Trainer: Harry Fry. Age: 4

I visited Harry Fry’s yard in March and he gave me two youngsters who he thought could be smart. One of them was Bullionaire, who won the valuable Goffs UK Spring Sales Bumper at Newbury on his racecourse debut in March, and the other was Shall We Go Now.

The Paul and Clare Rooney-owned gelding was declared multiple times in bumpers last season but did not race due to unsuitable ground. The son of Midnight Legend was also heavily backed on each occasion before being declared a non-runner.

He was a bit disappointing when only third at Worcester on Thursday but needs cut in the ground and is potentially another useful performer in Fry’s yard.

Horse: Amoola Gold

Trainer: Dan Skelton. Age: 4

Amoola Gold finished a promising second in a 2m bumper at Kempton in February on his racecourse debut. The form of that race is average but he travelled well for a long way and will have learnt plenty from that run. He also shaped as though he would stay further than two miles in time.

The son of Mamool may start off in a bumper this season before going novice hurdling and is held in high regard by connections.

Horse: Dream Berry

Trainer: Jonjo O’Neill. Age: 6

Dream Berry looked unlucky not to win at the Punchestown Festival when runner-up to the Willie Mullins-trained Open Eagle in a competitive 2m4½f handicap hurdle on his final start last season. That was off a rating of 139 and he had previously finished second in a 2m4f grade three handicap at Aintree off a rating of 133.

The gelding now has a rating of 143 but is lightly raced for his age so further improvement is likely and he is versatile ground-wise. He can remain competitive in valuable handicaps this season and the progressive son of Dream Well deserves to win a big prize.

Horse: Enniscoffey Oscar

Trainer: Emma Lavelle. Age: 5

Having fell on his only start in a point-to-point, the son of Oscar was successful on his bumper debut at Lingfield in February.

The gelding then finished second in a hot bumper at Aintree behind the Richard Woollacott-trained Lalor. That looked a strong contest and he shaped as though he would appreciate a step up in trip.

There should be further improvement to come from Enniscoffey Oscar who is well bred. He can make his mark in novice hurdles over 2m4f and beyond this season, with his comeback run at Exeter, when fourth, likely to have sharpened him up.

Horse: Shantou Village

Trainer: Neil Mulholland. Age: 7

Having shown useful form over hurdles, Shantou Village turned into a smart chaser last season winning four of his five starts.

He is a general 16-1 chance for the Bet Victor Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November which looks an ideal race for the son of Shantou, who has a rating of 148.

He has already won twice at the course and was a Grade Two winner over hurdles. Good ground suits him best and there should be more improvement to come from him.

Horse: The Storyteller

Trainer: Gordon Elliott. Age: 6

Another son of Shantou, who was heavily backed for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last season but was forced to miss the race after a setback.

On his final start, he won a 2m6½f Novice Hurdle at Thurles beating the Willie Mullins-trained Battleford who was placed in a Grade Three on his next start.

He has been given a rating of 142 so I would be surprised if Elliot does not aim The Storyteller at a valuable handicap over hurdles this season. He is versatile ground-wise and the gelding can turn into a Graded performer.

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