The Tote Ten to Follow competition closes for entries at 11 am this coming Saturday 14th. Last week certainly brought to light some things to keep in mind when selecting your stable this season.
Is the 2m division as weak as they say?
Since Altior has grown up and become a little less reliable than he used to be - despite only missing out once last season for the first time in 19 appearances - punters have been looking for the horse to take the place on the mantle.
Could it be Defi Du Seuil? We all thought so until the Queen Mother Champion Chase when he blew out and Politologue took the race by the scruff of the neck. So perhaps not. However, that is not to say there is some real talent waiting in the wings.
Paul Nicholls’ Greaneteen was brilliant in the way he closed out the Haldon Gold Cup. He was a couple of lengths down on Moonlighter approaching the last and got up smartly to win by half a length. He received an RPR of 158 for that performance. No doubt he will need more to compete at Cheltenham in March but with four months, there is plenty of time.
With the likes of Rouge Vif and Put The Kettle On expected to make their reappearances this week, we might be proved wrong.
Greaneteen showed he can compete in the Queen Mother Champion Chase division
Andrew Brooks on the charge
It was Simply The Betts who came back with the goods last year at Cheltenham but this year, Andrew Brooks has a string to be feared. The aforementioned Rouge Vif will head the way of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Itchy Feet made a positive reappearance at Aintree two weeks ago and will be trying to take on the two and a half mile division. Saint Calvados will be bidding to show he can take on the big boys of the same distance.
However, it is also his new recruits which are showing some very positive results. Qualismart won his maiden hurdle brilliantly at Market Rasen on Thursday. Anemoi showed just why he is Harry Whittington’s Ten to Follow selection after winning the Novices’ Chase at Chepstow on Monday and Amalzhar Garde put himself into the reckons with a win at Kelso on Saturday.
Envoi Allen and Shishkin aside, there are some smart Novice chasers
If these two are not shoo-ins for your Ten to Follow stable then what is? However, if you cast your mind further afield, there are some very smart novice chasers that can be considered for selection.
Allmankind put in one of the most perfect chase debuts you are likely to see. He won by a good 13 lengths and after a disappointing hurdling, return looks to have found his calling. He shot up the Arkle ante-post betting and there would be no question marks raised about his inclusion into your stable.
Another young novice chaser who has come from nowhere Ga Law trained by Jamie Snowden. He is also only four-years-old and has beaten the likes of Getaway Trump and jumped Grand Sancy into submission at Wincanton in the Rising Stars. There are question marks about his favoured distance but you can be sure that with his four-year-old allowance they will be looking at Grade 2s, 1s and then the Arkle, Marsh or RSA.
Allmankind's debut over the larger obstacles could not have been more straightforward
Chasing to Hurdling proving profitable for Summerville Boy and Sceau Royal
Both gave the larger obstacles a go and both have returned to hurdling. However, neither of them have looked back since. Sceau Royal won the Elite Hurdle on the weekend with a faultless performance and should they decide to keep him over the hurdles, the Champion Hurdle has to be an option come March, he was that good.
Summerville Boy was swapped after falling in the Henry VIII last year and has since won the Relkeel, beating Roksana, second in the Cleeve behind Paisley Park, a respectable fifth in the Stayers and has returned with a brilliant staying performance at Aintree. He could definitely be one to challenge for bonus points later down the line.
Summerville Boy showing why he can dominate the staying hurdlers division this season