When building a Tote Ten To Follow stable, a horse who has won his last seven races by an aggregate of 27 lengths, including a runaway Cheltenham Festival success, might be seen as a no-brainer.
However, Easysland is a horse that will pose players a real conundrum ahead of the competition launch on November 14th.
David Cottin’s gelding developed such a reputation that JP McManus sought to add him to his string of equine talent ahead of his victory in the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham.
The six-year-old’s talents are clear to see, but talent alone shouldn’t automatically book a horse’s spot in a Tote Ten To Follow stable, there are a plethora of other things to consider.
Double bubble or Bonus blow-out?
Bonus races are key to any Ten To Follow challenge - last year’s overall winner had six horses land such races - with an extra 25 points on offer for a horse that lands one of the big ones.
Twice a winner over the idiosyncratic cross-country fences at Prestbury Park, as well as success over the banks in France, it’s easy to see why Easysland is being talked about as a potential Grand National horse.
Jumping the varied obstacles in such races, including the Aintree fence at Cheltenham, will help punters make a judgement on whether horses will take to the birch behemoths on Merseyside.
Secondly, stamina is clearly no issue for Cottin’s charge. After 3m6f of twists and turns at Cheltenham, he still had enough energy to bound 17 lengths clear of dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll - leaving the racing public salivating over the prospect of a rematch at Aintree.
The Grand National remains one of, if not the most competitive races around, but there’s in excess of 40 points to the winner up for grabs, and even now, Easysland looks like he would be one of the favourites to do so.
Before that though comes the small matter of Cheltenham. The Cross Country Chase looks the most obvious route, however there have been some whispers that a crack at the Gold Cup could be considered.
David Cottin has been quoted as saying “it would be a dream to run in the Gold Cup” with his smart chaser. Although nothing has been set in stone, this looks likely to be secondary to the Cross Country events, however.
Location against the French gelding
The big negative for Easysland’s inclusion in Ten To Follow stables is the fact he’s trained in France.
Contests across the Channel will not count for point-scoring in the competition, with only UK and Irish events adding to a stable’s points tally.
It’s likely that we’ll only see Easysland on these shores, twice, maybe three times during the game period, making it ultra-important for supporters that he does the business on his overseas raids.
Frank Berry, racing manager to JP McManus, has suggested that a similar campaign to 2019/20 is Plan A at the moment.
If that is the case, it’s likely he’ll come over for Cheltenham’s December meeting, before having a Festival warm up at home in Pau before returning back to Prestbury Park in March.
Even with his stunning victories in his races last year, he would have only picked up 30 points in the previous running of the competition - hardly a game-winning return.
Waiting tactics may be best policy
The smart move for Ten To Follow players in regards to Cottin’s charge might be to sit back and wait.
The Transfer Window before the Festival will allow players to swap two horses in their stable, and that might be the time to consider him.
Should connections suggest in the meantime that a crack at the Gold Cup and ultimately the Grand National are on the agenda - a switch in March might be wise.
The number of horses running in two Bonus Races from March onward is relatively small, so doubling up the opportunity for big points is smart.
Leaving out Easysland initially is likely to mean missing out on a maximum of 15 points at worst, should he travel across the Channel to land the December cross country event.
Focus is probably best given elsewhere in the early part of the competition, but should he head down the Gold Cup route, this exciting six-year-old might be top of the transfer list in March.
The Tote Ten To Follow opens on Monday 2nd November, with points scoring starting on Saturday 14th.