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Tote Ten To Follow Competition: Harry Allwood selects his team

By Harry Allwood@harry_allwood
Fri 29 Oct 2021

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When it comes to winning the Tote Ten To Follow competition, you need to think tactically. The ten names below may all be obvious, but they are horses that are likely to score plenty of points this season, especially in the all-important bonus races.

For example, although Minella Indo defeated A Plus Tard in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last season, I think there will be more to come from the latter who is a year younger than his Cheltenham conqueror. Not only that, but Henry de Bromhead – who trains both horses – has said Minella Indo will not be kept as busy this season, so there is a good chance A Plus Tard will be a higher points scorer this season, even if Minella Indo beats him again in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The winners of Grade One races will score 25 points and, should that be a bonus race, they will score another 25 points on top of those, so it isn’t worthwhile including horses that are going to be contesting lower-grade contests throughout the season.

Eight of the ten below are Irish-trained horses, which can only be a positive when it comes to scoring points at the Cheltenham Festival following this year’s results! Between them, they will also be contesting various divisions which means the team will have the best possible chance of scoring as many points as possible.

Entries must be submitted by 11am on November 13, so make sure you get your entries in to provide an added interest during the 2021-22 jumps season, and for your chance to win a share of the minimum £100,000 up for grabs! Best of luck.


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A PLUS TARD

Trainer: Henry de Bromhead.

A Plus Tard ran a huge race to finish second in last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup

A Plus Tard has been a model of consistency and I expect he will score plenty of points in Grade One contests en route to Cheltenham.

Second in this year’s Gold Cup, the Betfair Chase is set to be his starting point before he bids to defend his crown in the Savills Chase, and a second tilt at jump racing’s blue riband contest is sure to be on the cards later in the season. The Irish Gold Cup in February is also among his options and all of those contests mentioned are bonus races.

You could argue a better option would be Minella Indo who defeated A Plus Tard in the Gold Cup. However, Henry de Bromhead has said that Minella Indo will not be kept as busy this season, so it is wise to think A Plus Tard will score more points this season.

He’s still only a seven-year-old and has reportedly done well over the summer, so expect further improvement from this high-class chaser this season.

APPRECIATE IT

Trainer: Willie Mullins.

Enjoy a full replay of Appreciate It's victory in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle

It may not have been a vintage Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Appreciate It won, but it was hard not to impressed with the manner of his victory, and he has the potential to develop into a high-class chaser this season.

Interestingly, Willie Mullins said afterwards that his seven-year-old may go down the Champion Hurdle route this season although, given his size and scope, I would be surprised if Appreciate It was not sent over the larger obstacles.

I also expect him to take a similar route that Energumene took last season, and it is not hard to imagine him winning the Irish Arkle at the Dublin Racing Festival before being sent off a red-hot favourite for the Arkle, which is a bonus race, at the Cheltenham Festival.

BOB OLINGER

Trainr: Henry de Bromhead.

Watch what Henry de Bromhead had to say after Bob Olinger's victory in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle

I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s Cheltenham Festival and I do not think I have seen a better looking national hunt horse than Bob Olinger.

He has always had a lofty reputation, and the way he quickened clear from two Grade One winners in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle was ultra-impressive.

He is set to go novice chasing this season, and the Grade One Drinmore Novices’ Chase at Fairyhouse is likely to be an early-season target plus he is already a best-priced 7-2 for the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

However, connections are still unsure what his optimum trip will be given his potent blend of speed and stamina, but he is one of the most exciting youngsters heading over fences this season.

I think it is almost impossible to leave him out of your Tote Ten To Follow squad as he is sure to prove hard to beat wherever he runs this season, and he has the potential to be a superstar.

CLAN DES OBEAUX

Trainer: Paul Nicholls.

Clan Des Obeaux was last seen defeating dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo in the Punchestown Gold Cup

Although he is unlikely to run at the Cheltenham Festival, Clan Des Obeaux is sure to pick up some valuable points throughout the season with at least two bonus races on his agenda.

He was not at his best when bidding for a third King George victory last year, but he had a hard race in the Betfair Chase the month before and Paul Nicholls said in a recent stable tour on racingtv.com that his star chaser will head to Kempton without a run this year.

I expect him to prove hard to beat in that contest, especially as he goes well fresh, and he produced two career-best efforts on his final two starts last year when wearing cheekpieces, which are sure to be kept on this season.

The nine-year-old will head to Newbury for the Denman Chase after his run in the King George before he seeks back-to-back victories in the Betway Bowl which he won impressively last season.

ENERGUMENE

Trainer: Willie Mullins.

Energumene demolished his opponents at the Punchestown Festival

Already a dual Grade One winner over fences with just seven starts under his belt, Energumene remains with a huge amount of potential this season.

It was a shame he missed a clash with Shishkin at Cheltenham last season as, judged by the way he won the Ryanair Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival, you would have to think he'd have given Nicky Henderson’s unbeaten chaser plenty to think about.

Providing he stays injury free this season, he will meet Shishkin, who is also among my Tote Ten To Follow list, in the Champion Chase next year, but he will surely be capable of winning one or two Grade Ones in Ireland ahead of Cheltenham.

He has room for improvement in the jumping department, otherwise it is hard to fault him, and he can only get better with experience.

ENVOI ALLEN

Trainer: Henry de Bromhead.

Envoi Allen looked a potential star over fences during the early part of last season

This time last year, Envoi Allen was on almost everyone’s Tote Ten To Follow list, but he may get overlooked this time given he fell at the Cheltenham Festival, and was pulled up at the Punchestown Festival.

He is still a seven-year-old, though, and prior to those two starts, his performances suggested he was a future star.

He had an excuse on his final start and impressed in the jumping department ahead of his mishap in the Marsh Novices’ Chase, so I am willing to give him another chance to build on his early promise, especially as he is held in such high regard by connections.

He is on course to return in a Grade Two Chase at Down Royal on October 30, and options remain open afterwards, with the Ryanair Chase or the Cheltenham Gold Cup potential targets at the Cheltenham Festival.

HONEYSUCKLE

Trainer: Henry de Bromhead.

Relive Honeysuckle's Champion Hurdle victory at the Cheltenham Festival

Similar to Bob Olinger, I think Honeysuckle is a must for your Tote Ten To Follow list given how many points she is likely to score in Grade One contests.

Henry de Bromhead has already said his unbeaten mare will follow a similar path to last season and return in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in November before contesting the Irish Champion Hurdle.


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Based upon her performance in the Leopardstown showpiece and the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham - which are both bonus races - last season, she is probably going to need to underperform to be defeated this term.

The only time she might prove vulnerable is on her seasonal debut where she is likely to improve for the run, or if one of the leading juveniles from last season progress through the ranks in open company, but they will need to raise their game considerably to lower the colours of Honeysuckle.

KILCRUIT

Trainer: Willie Mullins.

Watch a full replay of Kilcruit's victory at the Punchestown Festival

I thought Kilcruit was unlucky not to win the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival when second behind Sir Gerhard, who was given a brilliant, tactical ride by Rachael Blackmore, and it was good to see Willie Mullins’ youngster make amends with that rival in the Grade One bumper at the Punchestown Festival.

Connections have made it no secret how much they think of their six-year-old who is a best-priced 4-1 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle next season, and I think that will be his aim as he is sure to relish a step up in trip.

The Grade One Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle, which Bob Olinger won last year, is likely to be under consideration en route to Cheltenham, and he should manage to win a couple of other races over hurdles earlier in the season as he gains experience over obstacles.

SHISHKIN

Trainer: Nicky Henderson.

Shishkin oozed class in the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival

Is Shishkin the new Altior or Sprinter Sacre? The Arkle winner is five from five over fences and has matched the achievements of Nicky Henderson’s star two-mile chasers at this stage of his career.

After winning the Arkle in impressive fashion, Shishkin was then rather workmanlike at Aintree, but he had a hard race at Cheltenham, and he was probably feeling the effects of his exertions at Prestbury Park there.

The seven-year-old is on course to return in the Tingle Creek at Sandown on December 4, his first step towards a tilt at the Champion Chase, and is odds-on to run in either the Melling Chase or the Celebration Chase if he runs again after Cheltenham.

With all of those contests being bonus races, he has the potential to be one of the highest-earning point scorers in the Tote Ten To Follow competition.

Henderson has also said his rising star has “grown into a bigger and stronger model altogether” this year and any further progression will see him develop into the calibre of Altior and Sprinter Sacre.

THYME HILL

Trainer: Philip Hobbs.

Thyme Hill showed a good attitude to defeat Roksana in the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle at Aintree when last seen

While a trip to France is on the agenda for Thyme Hill’s first outing this year, two bonus races in Britain – at Cheltenham and Aintree - will be on his radar later in the season, as well as another tilt at the Long Walk Hurdle which he finished second in last year.

His Ascot conqueror, Paisley Park, is set to head over fences, and Flooring Porter and Klassical Dream will no doubt contest races in Ireland outside of Cheltenham, so Thyme Hill will have strong claims of scoring a high amount of points.

I thought Philip Hobbs' seven-year-old, who has only had ten starts, would prove hard to beat in the Stayers' Hurdle last season, but a setback ruled him out at the eleventh hour and, providing he has an injury-free season, I can see him winning at Cheltenham before defending his crown at Aintree.


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Key terms:

£5/€5.50 per stable in the paid game. Guaranteed min. total prize pool of £100,000 (or € equivalent) with prizes paid for first 500 places (see full terms for details). Maximum one entry per person in the free game for race course membership and ticket prizes. Entries close at 11am GMT 13th November 2021. UK and ROI only. Full Terms and Conditions apply. 18+ Begambleaware.org

Make sure you also enter the Racing TV Tote Ten To Follow league for your chance to win monthly prizes, a 50-inch TV, a 12-month Racing TV subscription plus much more!

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