Shishkin’s victory in the Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster on Saturday secured a £10,000 windfall for one Tote Ten To Follow player; only they had no idea they were in the running.
Paul Hearty from Dunstable, became our second monthly winner of the season with Nicky Henderson’s superstar the fifth success for his stable ‘Fantastico Lobos 3’ in the first month of 2021.
However, Paul, who has played the Ten To Follow every year it has been in operation since the mid-1990s, was caught unawares when informed of his success.
“It was a total surprise, it completely knocked me for ten. I was just totally shocked!” he told us.
“The news not only made my day, but it’s made my year.”
The first two months of the season had been solid, if unspectacular, for Paul’s third stable, racking up around 170 points before the year was out.
With no early challenge on the leaderboard, the Bedfordshire man started to forget about his competition entries.
“The Ten To Follow is very similar to the Fantasy Football competitions; you start the season with the highest hopes, and nine times out of ten they’re dashed very early in the season.”
“And if you start badly, after the first couple months the anticipation and enthusiasm wanes.”
But this victory will have been a shot in the arm for Paul’s Ten To Follow campaign, with his stables still in with a shot of the overall prize.
Lady luck firmly with Fantastico Lobos
Things might have been a bit different though. Had Aye Right landed the Sky Bet Chase on Saturday, or had Flinteur Sacre not disappointed favourite backers at Newbury on Friday, the prize would have been headed elsewhere and not to Paul’s Fantastico Lobos 3.
Luck played a part in his stable coming together, with the presence of Henry De Bromhead’s Bob Olinger contributing 28.7 points in January.
“I had read about him early in the year, with someone picking him out as a potential Albert Bartlett horse, so he became my staying novice hurdler pick.
“He’s worked out much the best of my novice hurdle selections. It’s just been pure luck really, as at the beginning of the season you’re just basing it on potential for the novices, any of them could have been anything really!”
Eyes on a Pertemps prize next
The Transfer Window prior to Cheltenham will have many scrambling around to bolster their stables, but Paul is yet to nail down his swaps.
“Once the Dublin Racing Festival is out of the way, I’ll probably sit down with my son and we’ll be discussing our horses for Cheltenham.”
“One horse I did like was Royal Pagaille. I thought that he looked like he could be one of the best staying chasers we’ve seen in a long while, but then the form went out the window at Doncaster with Cap Du Nord getting beat.”
Another horse on Paul’s radar, though not for the Ten To Follow, is Paul Nolan’s Mrs Milner. In the frame on four outings over timber this season, a crack at the Festival might be on the cards.
“She’s a horse I’ve followed this season, who could potentially go for the Pertermps but probably isn’t high enough in the weights yet.
“I’ve followed her for a while, after catching one of her early races on TV when I was off work one day, so I’ve been keeping an eye on her since.”
Plans up in the air for £10k
As news of his success was completely out of the blue, what Paul will be spending his £10,000 prize on remains up in the air, but he intends to give his son a shock when he next sees him.
“I dare say that my daughter will have some ideas as to what to use it for!
“I will ask my son to log on to the website to check how we got on in January - no doubt he’ll be astonished when he sees we won!”
Paul becomes the second player to pick up our monthly £10,000 prize, with two more opportunities in February and March to win the same sum.
There’s also the small matter of the £104,832 overall prize that remains wide open, with 19 bonus races yet to be run, starting with the Irish Champion Hurdle and Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Sunday.
Paul’s stable and January points
Shishkin - 21.1
Next Destination - 21.4
Envoi Allen - 17.32
Bob Olinger - 28.7
Allaho - 22.62
Chacun Pour Soi - 0
Altior - 0
Ballyadam - 0
Benie Des Dieux - 0
Goshen - 0
Total - 111.14pts