Ten to Follow – Novice Hurdlers

Art Of Logistics

I’m very much still learning in this game and so may be wrong here, but I’m not sure I’ve heard Dessie Hughes ever really talk-up a horse of his in bold terms. He did with this well-bred son of Exit To Nowhere however, when the four-year-old won his bumper at the small track of Roscommon. Hughes’ post-race comments went something like this “This fella is a proper, proper horse. He has a great pedigree and was bought fairly cheaply out of the Derby Sale. He has always shown us plenty at home and he ran a hell of a race in that Punchestown bumper. He was a big baby last year but he’s come back in this year much more forward. He’ll go straight over hurdles now and he has already schooled very well”. Dessie wasn’t lying about Art Of Logistics’ schooling as he made a highly satisfactory start to his hurdles career at Down Royal, winning a low level maiden. That wasn’t a great race, but he was giving lumps of weight away to all his rivals. He jumped nicely, but showed ability to quicken and displayed a lovely attitude once challenged. Now, I can’t see this lad winning major races, but if campaigned to a certain level I think he’ll pick-up plenty and maybe develop into a graded horse. A step-up to two and a half miles should suit this well related type – coming from the same family as top class middle distance mare, Sarafina. Young Bryan Cooper is a jockey everyone should keep an eye on and hopefully the pair will continue their winning relationship.

Blood Cotil

Within the novice hurdlers to follow I’m going to give you a juvenile to keep an eye on. This discipline can often be a minefield for punters as these young horses can be unpredictable and can sometimes struggle to hold their form. High class recruits from the flat can prove to be jumping flops while lesser types can thrive when seeing a hurdle. It’s not an exact science, but finding a French recruit with a good trainer can prove fruitful. It certainly has over the last number of years. One I liked when winning last time out was a horse of Willie Mullins’ called Blood Cotil. Two flat runs and two hurdle events in his native French didn’t produce a win, but he managed to get his head in front on debut in Ireland when scoring with ease at Fairyhouse. I’m not sure the race was any good, but after running fresh and keen early he still managed to win easily giving the second plenty weight. More importantly he jumped well and looked a natural. There are jumping genes in his pedigree which is predominately flat based. His sire some will be familiar to, Enrique, the sire of Binocular. Given his overall pedigree profile better ground may suit. Mullins describes him as ‘hardy’ which means we may see him a number of times this year with the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham being the ultimate goal.

Champagne Fever

A horse I’m really taking a kind shine to. Willie Mullins’ charge is now a point to point winner, a three time bumper victor (two Grade Ones) and has scored over timber this season. He’s just a really likable, tough and reliable sort. I know connections half have an eye on a Cheltenham Gold Cup and while that’s quite a bit away it wouldn’t surprise me to see him make his mark over fences, when called to do so. A novice chase campaign has since been put on hold and the son of Stowaway will remain over hurdles. The correct call that, in my opinion, as he’s yet to turn six. In the meantime there are plenty of prizes to be won jumping the smaller obstacles and already I like his profile for the Neptune Novice Hurdle at Cheltenhamin March. This year he has managed to show a high level of form over an inadequate two miles when he was overhauled late on by the speedier Jezki in the Grade One Royal Bond. Champagne Fever gave the winner three pounds so in terms of raw ability they’re on a par. A step-up in trip however will guarantee further progression in form. I can see him just grinding his rivals in to submission from the front and showing no mercy. He’s a classy, tough, versatile horse who can hopefully go on to better things this season. One small worry would be his style of racing. He’s only flesh and blood so hopefully his exuberant ways don’t burn him out.

Clondaw Kaempfer

Very much one of the early hyped horses after winning the big Fairyhouse sales bumper, back in April. Some smart types have taken that same race on the road to better fortunes – Simonsig the best recent example. New connections paid £130,000 to pry the son of Oscar away from Colin Bowe’s and in two winning starts this season he’s gone some way to repaying the large sum Tim Leslie forked out. Novice wins at Aintree, on debut, and Haydock, next time up; mark him down as a serious horse. He has been very impressive in winning showing great amounts of raw potential and speed. Both starts have come in soft ground, but given nicer terrain he should be able to show his speed that bit better. The second of his wins looks rock solid in terms of form already and he’s probably value for more given I felt he idled badly. Donald McCain seems to be getting quite excited by the four-year-old and it looks as if he’ll have options in terms of trip. Natural pace is there, but coming from the Irish point to point scene and being a bumper winner, as well as a hurdles winner over 20 furlongs, he may prove better over two and half where his speed may be most stinging. There is stamina on his distaff side of his pedigree too. He should be up to winning more races this year especially in the north of Britain. He’s in good hands with Donald McCain so keep an eye out for this exciting prospect.

Don Cossack

Gigginstown owned and in the hands of Gordon Elliot this son of Sadler’s Wells influence, Sholokov, very much comes under the banner of ‘could be anything’. Very cliché I know, but already his form is starting to stack-up. The five-year-old was beaten in a bumper on debut, but since has gone unbeaten in three bumpers and now, one hurdle event. Given his size, scope and power jumping is very much going to suit and hopefully bring about some improvement. Chasing will be his long term goal and already his trainer has top level aspirations. In winter ground in Ireland he’ll continue to make hay and will prove difficult to beat given soft terrain. He looks a real machine and the sky’s the limit. One thing I will say, however, is, I really feel soft/heavy ground is what he needs to be at his best. His action suggests this along with his soft ground laden pedigree. As already alluded to the sire of his genetic make-up hints at soft ground, but his distaff side even more so. Him dam was a soft ground winner in her native Germany while Don Cossack’s half-brother, Dubai King’s, two wins have come on soft. Furthermore, his dam is by a German sire called Konigsstuhl who has bred Monsun, Lavirco and Laveron – all strong soft ground influence sires. We won’t know if Don Cossack will handle good ground until he tries it, but it’s just something to note. Follow him over the highest cliffs this year on soft ground though – he looks smart.

Easter Day

Not a horse that was on my radar till winning at Ascot in November. That came in very poor ground, but the Paul Nicholls runner handled it supremely well to run out a ready scorer from a solid yardstick. He travelled well throughout and jumped really nicely – plenty quick enough for a novice. It was a taking performance in bad ground, but Daryl Jacob, the winning rider, felt he’d be better on nicer terrain. If this is the case it will hopefully point to him having a profitable spring. He has form on good to soft and good ground – the latter coming in a Chepstow Bumper which is working out. The winner, Melodic Rendezvous, went on to finish second in a Grade One bumper at Punchestown on his next start. While his bumper form looks solid and his now hurdling career looks progressive there should be more to come jumping obstacles looking at his pedigree. By a German bred sire in Malinas, who looks to be an improving addition to the national hunt game, the dam, French-bred, managed to win over fences and has produced numerous types that have scored over hurdles and fences. These are encouraging signs and Easter Day already looks a natural in the jumping department. I hope he continues to progress and Paul Nicholls gives me the vibe that this four-year-old could be a real dark horse. Soft ground is obviously no problem and stamina is assured. If handling better ground, with his endurance, he may be an Albert Bartlett type. Hopefully he continues to thrive.

My Tent Or Yours

A big strapping son of flat sire Desert Prince chasing may prove to be his niche, but he certainly has the raw talent to achieve great success over hurdles. Like Cinders And Ashes this horse has a classy flat pedigree coming from the family of Conduit, a four time Group One winner on the flat. Like Donald McCain said if you can translate that potential ability to jumps and get them to enjoy the game you may have a serious horse on your hands. And in the care of Nicky Henderson there is no better man to help him reach his potential. The master of Seven Barrows will need to start working his magic soon though as My Tent Or Yours is a massively keen horse and it’s this characteristic that may prove to be his downfall. While holding any amount of talent he simply won’t get away with pulling hard in better races, as he found out at Aintree last season when runner-up in their good bumper. It will be a real shame if he doesn’t progress because of this because his form is starting to look rock solid. He made a highly satisfactory start to his hurdles career at Ascot posting a decent time in the circumstances. If he learns to channel his energy in the right way he’ll be a big player wherever he goes this year especially on good ground. Is now J.P McManus owned and so, is to be ridden by Tony McCoy instead of Barry Geraghty. This is a small negative for me as Geraghty’s style would probably suit the horse that bit better. Hopefully he has a big year as I’m already on for the Supreme Novice Hurdle.

New Year’s Eve

With last season’s Champion Bumper form looking solid I was torn between a number of horses who ran in it or had collateral form. I’ve given you a two mile novice in Ireland to follow and New Year’s Eve gets the nod in the British department along with My Tent Or Yours. Second in last year’s Cheltenham Bumper he looked all over the winner turning for home. He travelled supremely well, as you would expect given his classy flat pedigree, but just couldn’t pick Champagne Fever up. He got up the hill well, but just couldn’t get to the classy winner. I’m hoping this little kink in stamina means he’ll stay down the two mile route. Now, we haven’t seen New Year’s Eve jump a hurdle in public this season, but throughout 2012 John Ferguson stated his stable star had schooled ‘well’ at home. This goes back as far as February so I’m expecting this son of Motivator to be a natural over the smaller obstacles. His pedigree raises hope in the jumping department too given he’s a half-brother to useful chaser West In The Wind and Willie Mullins’ Midnight Game. He’s a horse I’m looking forward to seeing and his expected jockey, Denis O’Regan, should suit him perfectly.


In terms of winning a Supreme Novice Hurdle often those that ran well, or down the field, in the previous year’s Cheltenham Bumper run a much better race in the opening race of the festival. This was the case with Cinders And Ashes last season and we may well see a similar story unfold with the improving Jezki. A solid eight in the 2012 Champion Bumper it looks as if his summer break has done him the world of good. His hurdling career started in taking style when beating a subsequent winner in Alley Cascade. Here Jezki quickened smartly after the last to win by a cosy half-length. Since that victory he has made the jump from maiden company to win a Grade One, taking a Grade Three on route. Winning the Royal Bond from last season’s Cheltenham Bumper hero, Champagne Fever, gives the form a solid look while again showcasing his improvement. He turned that eight length Cheltenham defeat into a length and a half victory on worse terms. Clearly a smart type the only negative would be his less than fluent hurdling. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt – he is a novice after all and I’m hoping it will improve on better ground which is sure to make him and even better horse. Faster ground will leave him utilize his speed to the maximum. I also have a slight suspicion he may be better going left-handed too. He’s a good horse and the 14-1 currently available with Ladbrokes for the Supreme is a nice price. I get the feeling Barry Geraghty likes this lad and so is one to follow for the remainder of the season.

The New One

It’s been a little while since Nigel Twiston-Davies had a top class equine to go to war with, but in The New One he may just have, well, a new one. From day one the trainer has always liked this son of King’s Theater. After winning his opening two junior bumpers, one of which came at Cheltenham, he was talked of as a ‘serious horse’. Connections backed up there talk by letting the four-year-old take his place in the Cheltenham Champion Bumper where he managed to finish an unlucky and staying on sixth. Early indications are that form is strong with the winner, the third, the eight and ninth all winning races with one already a Grade One winner over hurdles. The New One has already scored over the smaller obstacles this campaign, his trainer choosing to get him started early. An easy win at Newton Abbot was followed with a convincing success, with a penalty, at Cheltenham beating a useful horse of Philip Hobbs’. His jumping could be more fluent, it’s something I hope the trainer can work on as the engine is certainly there. He’s by a good jumps sire in King’s Theatre and from a French family of jumpers so there is hope in the jumping department. He hasn’t been out since mid October which is a little worrying as Nigel Twiston-Davies skipped the Cheltenham Paddy Power meeting – a three day festival where he loves having winners. I’m hoping it’s just a case of him minding a potential star.



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