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For the large part, your Ten To Follow stable needs to be home to plenty of the big names that are going to be targeting some of the bonus races across the season.

However, it's often wise to have a few dark horses in your ranks, the sorts that are likely to improve a bit this season and could pick up some valuable points if your big guns fail to deliver when it matters.

Here are five names that could fulfil that theory...

For Pleasure

Trainer: Alex Hales

Improved beyond all recognition last season, rising from an opening mark of 109 to a peak of 144 after finishing 3rd in the Supreme Novices Hurdle. A bold front running type, he does need to go left-handed as he showed quite clearly that he isn’t suited the other way round when he was virtually unsteerable in a Listed Novice Hurdle at Kempton. His performance in the Supreme can be upgraded, as he set a strong pace in front and although he was no match for the eventual winner Appreciate It, he kept on to finish 3rd, a clear best of the British runners. He was well beaten on his final start at Aintree but given that was his 11th start of the season, he was clearly in need of a break and so it is best to put a line through that run. With the benefit of a summer break and a Novice chase campaign in the offing, he should continue to reward his connections and will be especially dangerous in small fields, where he is likely to get his own way out in front.

Latest Exhibition

Trainer: Paul Nolan

This 8yo has always been a picture of consistency, finishing 1st or 2nd in 11 of his 12 starts, be it in bumpers, hurdlers or over fences.

For a lot of his career, he's seen far too much of the back end of Monkfish, with three runner-up efforts behind the Willie Mullins stable star, including when beaten by a neck in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham in March 2020.

Despite embarking on a career as a chaser last season, when twice 2nd to Monkfish, his owners are plotting a campaign back over hurdles, where the Stayers' Hurdle will be on the agenda, with runs expected in the Hattons Grace at Fairyhouse and the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown before then. He'll be a big player in that division and could prove to be a shrewd pick for your stable come the end of the season.

Oscar Elite

Trainer: Colin Tizzard

A winner of his first 2 starts under rules at Chepstow in the autumn, he looks to be a very exciting prospect for Novice Chases this season. Having raced wide throughout, he did well to finish 2nd in the Albert Bartlett and confirmed that form when chasing home Ahoy Senor and Bravemansgame in the Sefton Novices Hurdle at Aintree. His trainer has already stated that he may well need some cut in the ground to be seen at his best, but on a mark of 139, he is very well treated and should make his mark in Novice Handicap chases, with the possibility that he may develop into a graded chaser by the end of the season.


Trainer: Paul Nicholls

Looked like he had the world at his feet when winning the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton in February 2020. The British handicapper certainly thought so, giving him a rating of 157 on the back of that run. Having struggled in the Triumph Hurdle on his following start, he was set an impossible task last season as a 4/5-year-old moving into open company with a completely unworkable mark and as a result he struggled to make his presence felt over hurdles. However, he has reportedly schooled well over fences and was only beaten a nose by Nassalam on his Novice chasing debut at Ascot, so he could find this season a much easier assignment and should return to the winner’s enclosure sometime soon.


Trainer: Philip Hobbs

Probably one of the unluckiest chasers in training, Zanza has shown a huge amount of potential even though he has been hampered, brought down or interfered with in almost every start over fences. The winner of a decent Handicap Chase at Newbury in November, he fell at the 3rd last on his next start at Cheltenham 2 weeks later when travelling like the winner. He encountered similar bad luck when badly hampered in the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival and was almost brought down at the last on his final start in the Red Rum at Aintree. All that misfortune has left Zanza well treated on a mark of 145 and he should gain compensation for his connections this year in Graded Handicap chases.


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