Winless Ones To Watch: Five exciting Jumps horses to follow

By Dan Overall@OverandClear
Tue 19 Sep 2023

In the third instalment of a four-part series, last year's Tipstar winner Dan Overall outlines another five horses, who did not win last season, that he expects to make their mark over obstacles in the coming months. As ever, make sure you add each one to your Racing TV Tracker!

Click here to view Dan Overall's previous 'Winless Ones To Watch' column.

The purpose of this column is to highlight horses that, as a result of not winning last season, may sneak under the radar over the coming months, and take their form to the next level plus find plenty of winning opportunities. Hopefully they’ll be a nice price, too.

Last season’s column provided plenty of winners, with Blenkinsop and Sonigino, who scored multiple times, being two of the flagbearers.

Last season's Winless Ones To Watch list made a level stakes profit (win only) but, as I stressed this time 12 months ago, this is not a list of horses to back blindly. I hope my guide for what I believe are each horse's ideal conditions will prove helpful but, as always, consider the opposition in each race.

I hope you find this column interesting, informative and rewarding. Each one will also include exclusive trainer comments.

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Fever Dream

Click here to add Fever Dream to your Racing TV Tracker.

Trainer: Christian Williams.

Ideal races: Handicap Chases over two-and-a-half miles plus.

Fever Dream finished fifth at Taunton on his final outing last season

Christian Williams has risen to prominence in recent seasons, primarily due to his extraordinary success in staying handicap chases.

One of his stars is Kitty’s Light – owned by Richard Bedford (and All Star Sports Racing) - wasn’t always the beloved top-level handicapper he is today. His first three starts over hurdles resulted in defeats of 29, 27 and 12 lengths respectively. All three runs over hurdles came in quick succession, and were primarily over two miles. He quickly left that form behind once sent over fences and stepped up in trip, though, and while it would be extremely premature to make comparisons, Fever Dream represents another Christian Williams-trained/Richard Bedford-owned horse that has taken a very similar path to Kitty’s Light thus far.

Second in a point-to-point to the exciting Down Memory Lane, Fever Dream made his hurdling debut at Sandown where he finished a distant third to the useful Authorised Speed. While never in contention, he did stay on well from off the pace. 13 days later, he finished sixth at Taunton before finishing fifth at the same venue ten days later. All three runs over hurdles came over two miles, but he is clearly crying out for further. By Sholokhov and closely related to a winner over two-and-a-half miles, there is plenty of stamina in his pedigree, so a step up in trip promises to bring out plenty of improvement.

An opening mark of 92 is open to interpretation but, given the yard's previous exploits, there is every chance for Fever Dream to progress well beyond that once sent over fences and stepped up in trip.

Christian Williams says: “He is a very light horse so didn’t come in looking big and strong like he had been on holiday, which is not always a bad thing. Last season’s runs were slightly disappointing, although he ran okay first time up. As with all point-to-point horses, you hope a fence will bring out improvements along with having the chance to acclimatise to the yard and a different style of training.”

Ittack Blue

Click here to add Ittack Blue to your Racing TV Tracker.

Trainer: Dan Skelton.

Ideal races: Novice/Handicap hurdles over two-miles (and further).

Better can be expected from Ittack Blue last season - he was last seen finishing fourth at Listed level

The 11th most expensive point-to-point recruit heading into last season (according to my figures), hopes were sky high for Ittack Blue following his emphatic 16-length success in his sole point start.

And yet, from the outset, Dan Skelton was quick to urge caution, and noted “I am not going to be overly hard on him this year as, physically, there is a lot of development to come from this horse”. It’s also worth bearing in mind that he won his point in mid-May, so didn’t go out into the field until much later than normal."

Despite this, he attracted support ahead of his debut which came at Newbury in a Maiden Hurdle won by the likes of Jonbon, My Drogo, Lostintranslation and Buveur D’Air in recent years.

This year’s renewal hasn’t, as of yet, produced a horse of comparable quality, with the winner (Jet Powered) disappointing on his only subsequent start. Ittack Blue finished eleven-lengths adrift in second, but shaped very encouragingly, and Harry Skelton did not give him a hard time once his winning chance had gone.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given Dan’s pre-season comments, Ittack Blue only had one more start last term, which came in a Listed race at Exeter which was the better part of three months after his first run. This was always going to be a tough task and, following a drift in the market, he finished a well-beaten fourth, 27 lengths behind Luccia. Again, before the race, Dan stressed that “I have both eyes on the future for this horse as he is maturing all the time”.

Allocated a mark of 118, the third and fourth, who he finished comfortably clear of at Newbury, are now rated 117 and 112 respectively, so his opening mark looks workable. However, he clearly has potential to improve significantly given natural development, and his trainer’s comments. Given he remains a maiden, he should have little problem in winning a race before his sights are raised.

Quantum Storm

Click here to add Quantum Storm to your Racing TV Tracker.

Trainer: Gordon Elliott.

Ideal races: Novice Hurdles over intermediate trips.

Quantum Storm has shaped with bundles of promise so far

A rare journey to Ireland for the next “winless one to watch”, which comes in the form of the Gordon Elliott-trained Quantum Storm.

Second in a point-to-point in November 2022, that race clearly created a good impression as Elloitt purchased both Quantum Storm (£165,000) and the third, Find A Fortune (£47,000). The winner, Giovinco, moved to Lucinda Russell and looks an exciting prospect in his own right; winning all three of his starts over hurdles thus far, including a Listed race, and ended the season on a rating of 143.

Quantum Storm actually led on the approach to the final fence, but a slight mistake handed the initiative to the smooth-travelling Giovinco, although Quantum Storm did rally gamely after being headed.

He made his rules debut at Punchestown in a bumper that looked strong on paper, and subsequent results have suggested that all of the front three are very useful. In opposition was Irish Panther, who looked smart when finishing second to Fact To File on his previous start, and Ballyburn, a point winner making his debut for Willie Mullins. Always prominent, Quantum Storm took up the running early while racing a tad keenly (although not as keen as Ballyburn), only to be headed in the final 150 yards by the aforementioned Willie Mullins-trained recruit.

Irish Panther finished third, with this trio finishing well clear of the remainder.

Quantum Storm did hold an entry at Cheltenham, but we would next see him at Punchestown where he took on Irish Panther again. Ballyburn won impressively the day before, so big efforts were expected from the pair, and Quantum Storm was given the difficult task of making all the running to eventually finish fourth, with Irish Panther in second. Champion Bumper fourth, Lecky Watson, finished fifth, while next time out winner Dr Eggman finished third.

By Fame and Glory, his dam won over an intermediate trip while she is a half-sister to some useful types that won over trips ranging from two-and-a-half miles, to three miles. That, in combination with his run style, suggests that Quantum Storm will relish a trip over hurdles. He should have little problem winning a maiden before stepping up to Graded company, although it wouldn’t surprise me if he emerges as more of a Martin Pipe type in time.


Click here to add Hymac to your Racing TV Tracker.

Trainer: Harry Fry.

Ideal races: Novice Hurdle or Novice/Handicap Chases over two-and-a-half miles.

Second to a couple of useful types (Git Maker & Gaelic Park) in point-to-points, Hymac was subsequently sold in December 2021 for £52,000. He made his debut for Harry Fry in a bumper a few months later, and was very well backed to make a winning rules debut, which he duly did in comfortable style.

Regarded as one of the yard’s more exciting prospects for novice hurdles last season, he failed to get his head in front but still showed plenty of promise; connections always appeared to have one eye on next season, with one of the quotes from a stable tour reading “he’ll be lightly raced this season as I can’t wait to see him over a fence next year”.

That likely explains why we only saw him twice last term, with the first of those coming at Ffos Las where he finished third. The form isn’t exceptional, but he impressed with the way he travelled and jumped, looking the most likely winner three out before reportedly taking a blow.

His final start of the season came at Chepstow, in a race he was desperately unlucky to lose. He and Saint Davy, who is held in high regard by the Jonjo O’Neill team, pulled 20 lengths clear of the rest, battling all the way to the line in a head-bobbing finish. Hymac looked to be winning the battle, but Saint Davy was game and had his head down at the right time to prevail by a nose.

While disappointing for connections, it leaves them with an abundance of options this season. He is still a maiden over hurdles, so could easily go down that route, and should have little problem finding a maiden/novice should they do so. However, there appears to have been a long-standing belief that we won’t see the best of Hymac until he goes over fences, so I suspect we will see him over the larger obstacles sooner rather than later. With a mark of 124, novice handicaps will be of interest, and Harry Fry has an impressive 21 per cent strike-rate with chase debutants in handicap company. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him line up at Uttoxeter in mid-October for a novice handicap over an extended two-miles-and-six-furlongs, as Harry Fry has won this race a couple of times in recent years with Sir Ivan & Just A Sting.

Harry Fry says: “Hymac ran much more to our expectations at Chepstow than on his reappearance at Ffos Las. Although he didn’t run again, we hope the patient approach will pay off as we utilise his hurdle rating in novice handicap chases.”


Click here to add Masaccio to your Racing TV Tracker.

Trainer: Alan King.

Ideal races: Novice Hurdles over two to two-and-a-half miles.

Watch how Masaccio fared at Aintree in April

Not many horses run in five bumpers, but Masaccio has, displaying a high level of form on all of his starts.

A winner on his racecourse debut, which came all the way back in November 2020, he went on to finish second to the useful Vina Ardanza in the bumper on Scottish National day, conceding four pounds to him.

The future looked bright for Masaccio, but he missed the entirety of the 2021/2022 season, making his belated reappearance in December 2022, 622-days after his run at Ayr; this prolonged absence was apparently due to a growing pain related injury.

With the long absence to overcome and as the season was already well under way, connections elected to run him in a bumper – and it looked like a strong one. Masaccio finished third, but the front three pulled well clear; the second, Katate Dori, looks a nice prospect for Sam Thomas and won his next start, while the winner, Bowenspark, was a previous winner and would cross paths with Masaccio again on his next two starts.

He went one place better on his next start, which came in a traditionally strong Listed bumper at Newbury, reversing the form with Bowenspark who finished fourth. The front four would all contest the Aintree bumper, while the fifth won next time out.

Speaking of the Aintree race, Masaccio endured a troubled passage throughout; initially on the outside, he switched to the inside but that meant he was penned in and facing a wall of horses in front of him. It wasn’t until approximately a furlong out that he had a clear path, and he stayed on admirably to finish a never-nearer seventh.

While he didn’t get his head in front last season, all three of his runs were very encouraging, and you can feasibly mark up each run for a variety of reasons. By Mastercraftsman, the majority of his siblings are flat based but Masaccio does shape like he’d appreciate a trip, although I suspect he will start over two miles. I can certainly envisage him running in Graded novice hurdles, and potentially some of the deeper handicaps later in the season.

Owner Ella McNeill says: “He has summered very well & really strengthened up over the last few months. He had a minor setback the season before last, hence why we kept running him in bumpers, so giving him the time he needed will hopefully pay dividends. He came back in around 6 weeks ago and Alan (King) is very happy with how he is progressing. He is a horse we are very excited about – we’d love to think he’s good enough for graded company but we will try and educate him for his first few runs over hurdles and go from there. We love taking horses to Ayr and Aintree, so I would suspect he would go to either or both of those meetings at the end of the season. I would suspect the better side of soft would be optimum, being out of a flat sire, Mastercraftsman”.

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