Wednesday 23 September 2015

Horses to follow

First, let me just preface this list by saying that I haven’t entered a ’10 to follow’ competition or such like since I grew up.

I did cough up three quid to do some sort of tipping thing at Cheltenham this year, but then forgot about it until a couple of weeks later. It's not my thing.

Compiling a list seemed like a bit of fun when I was too young to bet; I remember calling in my selections at break time from the public phone at school having entered the Leicester Mercury’s daily naps contest as a young teen.

I finished down the field then and subsequently felt that sort of lark wasn’t for me. I find horses you want to follow at the start of the season are usually injured or dead by Christmas.

So I apologise to connections of the following horses if your beloved stable pet doesn’t make it to see in the New Year. It is my fault.

I should also say that I haven’t been in touch with any stables concerned so I’ve no idea if these horses are being readied for a winter campaign as I publish this. Let’s hope so.

Finally, the horses in this list are not generally expected to run up sequences. They are well-handicapped and ready to go in when ideal conditions are met.


I would love to have seen the look on Sue’s face when Harvey returned from the sales having forked out a colossal £22k for this beast!

I make it that the Smiths have at least 10 horses going chasing this season all being well and with strong jockeys Danny Cook and Sean Quinlan currently in favour this could be an exciting campaign for followers of the yard.

This rangy Royal Anthem gelding hasn’t set the world alight over timber but guess what, he’ll really come into his own over fences. Add to the equation a combination of 3m+ and soft ground and we’ll have a serious betting proposition.

They managed to get six educational runs into him either side of a mid-winter break where his runs at Wetherby in November and Newcastle in March stood out.

He’s chucked in off a mark of 100 and I expect him to be rated at least 20lbs higher by the spring having picked up at least a couple of chase wins along the way.


Really looking forward to seeing this son of Flemensfirth returning to action this winter.

I saw him twice last term, at Wetherby and Carlisle, and was really taken by his quality. After racking up a hat-trick you’d think the handicapper might have his measure. Think on.

As winning margins of two lengths or under suggest, he only seems to do enough whether down to greenness or a tendency to idle, I don’t know. What it does mean is that after another summer at grass he’ll be capable of defying much higher marks.

If you watch his win at Uttoxeter you’ll have figured out that a stamina test is what he’ll be wanting this season; he has yet to race beyond 2m 4f – and very soft ground. Also expect him to stay over timber for now.

Probably the one downside is that he has been bought by ‘The Lads’, which means he’ll have a higher profile than you would like.

But he’s just lovely and is a must for any list.


If I could add some caveats to the list then they would mostly stack up next to this grand chasing type, who I first took a liking to in November 2013.

This horse had more than a year off prior to a couple of spins last winter, and I don’t like backing horses that have had a major problem.

I don’t particularly care for the Russell yard either, not least because of the stable jockey. Personally, I think they should do better than strike at between 12-15 percent with chasers considering their firepower.

All that said I simply can’t overlook this lovely son of Revoque, who was highly tried on his belated return against long odds-on shot Wakanda over three miles at Newcastle in February.

However, after going with zest and measuring his fences well was allowed to run into the bottom of the 14th and that was that.

The fact that his lesser fancied stablemate overturned the favourite was galling I can tell you!

Ten weeks later he was back for his only other try over fences, where again he went freely but was disorganised at several obstacles, largely due to the ineptitude of the rider.

But the two outings confirmed that if he is kept right, a potentially spectacular season is in store. Starting from a paltry 113, he has the potential to run up a sequence. Jockey permitting.


Fans of 007 will no doubt be aware of the name ‘Honey Ryder’, as depicted by Ursula Andress in Dr No way back in ’62. The name was shortened from the original in the novel. So there you go.

Coincidentally, this could be a plot of which the boy Fleming would be proud. In six outings ‘Honey’ has not managed to better an RPR of 56. And that’s over timber.

But if I’m right about this massive filly, she could go in at a colossal price somewhere down the line.

She’s a half-sister to six winners, all of whom stayed well, by Black Sam Bellamy. She’ll need 3m but at just four has never been faced with a stamina test. In truth she may need more time, but I suspect she is forward enough to land a gamble this term.

She’s very big, and very strong, and showed a scintilla (really? - Ed) of promise at Hexham in March that suggested to me she was worth keeping an eye on.

I was surprised the shrewd Sayer yard gave the filly an outing in the middle of summer when you’d have thought she would be on a break – perhaps it was just a spin to get the mark down.

If so, it worked as she is now rated 80, and with another couple of runs over too short a trip, that may come down further.

I could be completely wrong about Miss Ryder, but I wouldn’t be shaken or stirred if she delivered the goods at some point.


Donald McCain is not a trainer I’m a fan of right now – backed by a couple of very wealthy owners many of his horses look over-trained and are over-bet.

Not so the syndicate-owned Whiskey Chaser. It is hardly surprising that the son of Flemensfirth has been brought along steadily by his handler, being an extremely strong, thick set horse.

As such, again it is of no surprise that he showed very little over timber, meaning he started life over the larger obstacles on a workable mark.

Looking likely to win his third race over fences before unshipping his young rider, the seven-year-old was a winner without a penalty when turning up at Carlisle in March where I sighted him for the first time.

He was a good bet that day (in hindsight) and was duly raised 12lb for his pains – not that such a measure should stop his progress this season.

He was sent off a much shorter price on his return to Cumbria five weeks later but I was worried the drying ground would be against him and so it proved, looking very one-paced behind a much-improved winner.

So don’t be fooled into thinking he has finished improving. Yet to race over 3m, he is quite an interesting project and if we get a wet winter he is the type to improve out of all recognition.

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