Form is the backbone of everything we do as racing bettors, and that shouldn’t be any different when it comes to the Tote Ten To Follow.
Looking back on last season’s best performers can be a great way to plan out a stable in terms of the types of races they will be targeting and the volume of points horses will pick up.
But of the five top scorers last season, who’s a stable banker and who can be passed over for this year’s shortlist.
We go through the big winners of 2019/20.
2019/20 points: 158
The winner of the penultimate bonus race of last season, Rebecca Curtis’ shock Stayers Hurdle winner racked up all his points with a fantastic display at the Festival. There’s a chance he’s still got some improving to do as, after all, he is just seven years-old. However, any horse that picks up a big haul in one race, and nothing anywhere else is worth erring on the side of caution with. He was no better than 'fine' on return at Wetherby - whether he needed the run or that's how good he is remains to be seen.
Paisley Park had a rare off day at the Festival last year, while there are some nice staying hurdlers coming through such as McFabulous and Thyme Hill. Throw in that he’s unlikely to be the price in March as he was last season, and he’s probably one who many will choose to pass over.
2019/20 points: 109.4
The queen of Irish hurdlers last season, Henry De Bromhead’s mare racked up a hat-trick of Grade 1 wins during the competition, grabbing a Bonus Race in the process. She beat both the girls and the boys in the process, displaying fantastic tenacity wherever she lined up.
This season provides a bit of a poser for Ten To Follow players. On one hand, she could do exactly what she did last season and go unbeaten, possibly even taking in the Champion Hurdle and potential bonus points in the process. Alternatively, one look at the mares division says that things are getting stronger. Novices last year Concertista and Marie’s Rock look likely to be big players, while the ever present Benie Des Dieux and French star L’Autonomie also pose threats to her crown. Not an easy decision for players to make.
2019/20 points - 100.5
If Honeysuckle was the Irish queen of the jumps season, then there was only one option on the other side of the Irish Sea. The Champion Hurdler improved dramatically from run to run last season, first landing a Listed event at Newbury before a bloodless Winter Hurdler triumph prior to taking the spoils at Prestbury Park in March.
She looks as if she’s not quite done improving yet, something which says the chasing pack have a lot to do to dethrone her. The likes of Goshen, Abacadabras and Saint Roi all remain exciting prospects but they’ve got a task on their hands. One would imagine the Christmas Hurdle would be one of her early season targets prior to Cheltenham, while she could even go onto Aintree for a crack at the Aintree Hurdle, another bonus race later on. The JP McManus-owned mare looks a must have for Ten To Follow players.
2019/20 points - 94
Another, like Lisnagar Oscar, that secured his bumper points haul in one race. The Betfair Hurdle winner has always been a horse that those at Ditcheat have spoken highly about, so it was refreshing him start to fulfil that potential in February at Newbury. Talk of a late Champion Hurdle bid came to nothing but it highlighted the regard in which he is held.
He made an inauspicious start to life over fences at Market Rasen in October, but remains a hugely exciting horse. Paul Nicholls has been quoted that he needs to “learn to respect his fences” so it might be frustrating along the way, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see this five-year-old pop up with a big win over fences this year.
2019/20 points - 82.8
A horse of immense talent, that has often either bumped into something particularly special or pulled away his chances - Willie Mullins’ chaser seemed to click last term. Victory in the John Durkan preceded a second at the Dublin Racing Festival, before he got his Festival monkey off his back, securing his first Cheltenham win at the fourth time of asking in the Ryanair Chase.
The talk from Closutton is that this season is likely to follow a similar path, with the possibility of another Bonus Race attempt in between with a nod towards a potential King George tilt. Post Cheltenham, there’s even the Melling Chase, a race he’s won before as another option for those 25 Bonus Points. He looks like a solid selection for anyone’s stable.