Two bonus race victories, plus three other Grade 1 successes were all it took for Eric Walters to claim the first Tote Ten To Follow monthly prize of the season.
Eric, from Surrey, picked up a cool £10,000 as his stable ‘Waldos Wonders 22’ took top-spot largely thanks to Frodon’s success in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.
But while he knew he was doing well, the win was a bit of a surprise for Eric;
“Not until I saw the £10,000 in my account did I know that I had won!” he told the Tote.
“It’s the best start to the year I’ve had in a long time, especially considering the year we have all just had.”
Alongside his Christmas bonus points haul, Eric’s stable also landed Tingle Creek victory with Politologue, a Long Walk Hurdle with Paisley Park and a pair of post-Christmas victories in the Ricci colours thanks to Chacun Pour Soi and Sharjah.
While some players will target the monthly prizes, this win was a bit out of the blue for our monthly winner who had, and still has, his eyes on the big one.
“All of my stables were put together with the overall prize, and specifically with Cheltenham in mind.
I’ve got six selections that are fixed in all of my stables, and then four others that are a mix and match between the rest of my lists.”
Eric’s winning list actually had three runners in the King George, with Santini and Lostintranslation also joining Frodon in stable number 22.
“I had quite a few runners in the King George around my various lists, and Lostintranslation was one of my bigger picks, but he’s was obviously very disappointing. The Gold Cup last year must have taken a lot out of him.
“I’m a fan of Frodon, especially now, so I was never going to leave him out! He’s only in a few of my lists though, so I was just lucky that I’ve managed to get him in one with a few other big winners.”
The £10,000 victory wasn’t confirmed for Eric’s stable until two days later when Sharjah put up a dominant performance to land the Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown and bag 33.1 points.
Picked by 859, he wasn’t even in the top 70 most popular horses in the competition, something that shocked our monthly winner when we told him;
“How can you ignore a horse that has finished second in a Champion Hurdle?” Eric questioned.
“He isn’t in a lot of my lists, but I couldn’t leave him out. He finished like a train behind the runaway winner [Epatante] last year, coming from virtually nowhere to finish second.”
Looking forward to the transfer window and the Cheltenham Festival, Eric, whose stable currently sits 20th in the overall ranking has started thinking about his changes.
“I’ve started thinking about the transfers I’ll make. I’ve pencilled in five or six and I’ll see what’s what nearer the time.”
One horse that looks likely to make it into more of Eric’s lists than he already does is Al Boum Photo who returned to the track with a smooth victory at Tramore on New Year’s Day.
“Having won it twice, he’s obviously a bit like Best Mate who thrives on coming back to Cheltenham again and again.”
As for his winning prize, Eric is more than happy to sit back and wait to start spending his £10,000.
“I haven’t got any particular plans with the money. It’ll go into my account and I’ll have to have a think about what I want to do with it - it’s just nice to win something like this.”
Eric's winning stable and December points:
Remember, there are three more monthly Ten To Follow prizes up for grabs as well as the overall £104,832 pot to be won yet. Make sure you start thinking about your transfers for the pre-Cheltenham window.