At last. Here is the list that bookmakers have been waiting for – my ten horses to follow for the Winter. Once published, the bookmakers can virtually guarantee that none of these horses will win again and lay them with confidence between now and April.
For the first time in many years, probably two decades or more, there is no Racing Post Ten-To-Follow competition. If, like many other racing enthusiasts, you are missing the opportunity to flaunt your optimism, please send your lists to me at the racecourse’s general e-mail address: email@example.com . The best list at the end of the Winter season will win a prize – a good one, can’t think what yet… perhaps a bottle of Champagne or a trip to Cartmel races next Summer.
To give you some more time to formulate your list, we’ll start on Saturday 29th November – Hennessy Gold Cup Day. And to keep it simple we’ll award ten points for every win, five extra points if the winning SP is 5/1 or greater, 10 bonus points if the winning SP is 10/1 or greater and 20 bonus points if the SP is 20/1 or greater. Every Cheltenham Festival winner will also attract an additional 10 bonus points. We’ll end on Grand National Day and we’ll offer another 20 bonus points for the winner of the Grand National - just to ensure that the excitement goes down to the wire.
The Willie Mullins quartet, Un De Sceaux, Vautour, Annie Power and Faugheen, are all prominent in the betting for the Champion Hurdle. However, nice though it will be to see them at Cheltenham, most of them will run in entirely different races – which I find a bit boring. So none of them have made it into my top ten. Instead, the first horse for your list is The New One. If there is any justice in the Universe (which the Rosetta space probe may confirm soon) Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge has to win the Champion Hurdle next March and lots of other good races on the way.
Easter Meteor could keep up the good record of the Pipe stable in the big race at Cheltenham on Saturday. In the meantime, I expect Garde La Victoire (also this week’s selection) to keep up Philip Hobbs’ excellent record in the Greatwood Hurdle on Sunday.
In the juvenile division it usually pays to keep one of Alan King’s horses on your side. We had a bit of luck selecting Karezak recently and he looks as though he could go on to better things. I’d also suggest that you make a note of Vosne Romanee, who won the same race at Cartmel as Countrywide Flame – before that one went on to claim the Triumph Hurdle. Trained by Dr Richard Newland (last season’s Grand National winning trainer) Vosne Romanee has won again since, before narrowly failing to give weight to two other highly rated juveniles: useful form.
I was too embarrassed to tip Wishfull Thinking when he won at Aintree three weeks ago. I thought everyone would think I was crazy. But this horse is now rated 169 by the BHA and I still believe he would be better over 3 miles – I hope he finally gets an opportunity to prove himself in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day. If he doesn’t, have a saver on Eduard. Like most northern challengers, he will be underrated and over-priced – but make no mistake, this is a nice horse.
Also flying the flag for the north this Winter is Blakemount, trained by Sue Smith, who is a genuine challenger for the top staying novice chases. Last year’s top novice was O’Faolains Boy and I’d be disappointed if he didn’t progress into a live contender for the Gold Cup in March.
The final name for the list is Sprinter Sacre. He has handsome looks, a flashy racing style and top class form – everything it takes to claim legendary status except longevity. After missing the majority of last season, we will finally find out if Sprinter Sacre is the legend that I and thousands of others would like to believe he is - except of course the bookmakers, who will now be laying him with confidence for as much money as you’d like to have on.