Danny Mullins reveals his Ten to Follow for the National Hunt season ahead
I think it makes sense to start off with the Cheltenham Gold Cup horses and for me, Minella Indo is one for the early part of the season in the Tote Ten to Follow. He looked good at Wexford beating Milan Native by 25 lengths, we know he likes Cheltenham and he could have a good run between now and March. Obviously I’ll be looking closely at the Ten to Follow transfer window with a view to subbing in Al Boum Photo closer the time if needs be, but he’ll be having a much lighter campaign as we know.
Envoi Allen has to be in the mix
My second horse is Envoi Allen, who looks unbeatable at the moment and is one of the most exciting horses in training. You’d imagine Gordon (Elliott) will gear him toward the Marsh Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham and you can rack up good points in the competition by following a good novice chaser. Envoi Allen is likely to be one of, if not the best we have over here.
The third horse on my list is trained by Willie Mullins and that is Saldier. He was unlucky not to get a clean run at the top last season, but he’s back looking in good old shape and I think he could be right at the top of the Champion Hurdle picture. The Irish Champion Hurdle is one of the Bonus races and he’s entered in the Morgiana which he won last year. He doesn’t have too many miles on the clock and there could be much more to come from him this season.
Don’t forget Defi in two mile division
Philip Hobbs’ Defi Du Seuil didn’t fire in the Champion Chase but he did dominate the two mile chasing division up to that point and he makes my Ten to Follow list. The Tingle Creek is another very important Ten to Follow Bonus race at Sandown in early December and Defi Du Seuil did very well to beat Un De Sceaux in it last year. He was unbeaten on route to Cheltenham and can go down a similar path this season.
Champ has to put a few of his jumping errors behind him now he’s transitioning into the big league, but he is a horse I have a lot of respect for. He has very good form, a super engine and there could be more to come from him this season. Nicky Henderson will be keen to test him in top races and could easily step up to the mark to gain some valuable points.
One of the dark horses for the season in the novice chase division is Gowran Park maiden hurdle winner Energumene. This horse has a lot of ability. He didn’t make it to the spring festivals last season but he could develop into one of Willie’s leading novice chasers. He’s been impressive in low grade races so far, but there’s more to come from him. Another to note and one who also makes my list is Stattler, who won at Fairyhouse on debut and shaped with good promise in three bumper runs. He’s a very interesting youngster who could take high rank in the novice hurdling division.
Energumene to take high rank in novice chase division
Honeysuckle to continue her run in 2020-2021
She’s going to be pitching up in plenty of the good races this season and she’ll be hard to beat in all of them. There’s not a lot in it between Honeysuckle and Benie Des Dieux, but Benie may have a lighter campaign and score less in the Ten to Follow.
The other obvious in the top tier hurdling division is Epatante, who obviously runs in the UK for Nicky Henderson. She’s looks to be a good champion and will probably take in Grade 1s like the Fighting Fifth and the Christmas Hurdle on route to defending her crown in March. I can’t imagine she’ll have to meet horses like Saldier until then.
Finally, I’ll go with Easyland with the big marathon races for the season ahead. He was very impressive at Cheltenham and will go there again. He’s one that could rock up in the Grand National and be very hard to beat. He’s in for a very interesting season and I had to squeeze him into the list.
My Tote Ten to Follow list
Defi Du Seuil
Klassical Dream on the comeback trail
In other news, 2019 Supreme Novices Hurdle winner Klassical Dream seems to be in great shape in his pre-training at Willie Mullins yard. His season never really got going last season for whatever reason but whether he goes chasing now or stays hurdling, there could be a lot more to come from him. Saint Roi has been a bit of a buzz horse and he looked very good in Tipperary on his comeback run. It will be interesting to see what way they go with him now, as Mr McManus has a strong hand in the division. He looks a bit better than a handicapper and surely one of the Grade 1 hurdles coming up between now and the Christmas period will tell us more about him. There’s a big difference between winning the handicaps and winning a top Grade 1 so he still has to prove himself.
Mr McManus also has another exciting horse in Unexcepted. He was beaten by Easywork in Limerick last season and his form didn’t hold up last year. He was very impressive at Tipperary but does go well fresh as a free-going type and you can only hope he can build on that now and maintain his form better than he did before. It will be interesting to see what he does next time.
I’ve also seen Mares’ Novice Hurdle winner Concertista around Willie’s and I’m sure she’ll go down the Mares’ Hurdle route now. I’ve ridden her a couple of times and she was very good at Cheltenham. She looks great and it will be interesting to see how Willie, along with owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede look to campaign her this season.
Envoi Allen looks set to make a big splash
Princess Zoe Group 1 a dream come true for father Anthony
Princess Zoe is taking a month off now after her Group 1 win on Arc weekend, which was a dream come true for my father and a very special day for everyone. She’s in great form and enjoying a well-earned rest. Her owner Patrick Kehoe is very sporting and I believe my father is going to see how she schools over hurdles with a view to the Mares’ Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. She’ll be kept in training, we could have a lot more fun with her and she is a wonderful mare to have around.