Pricewise ace Tom Segal reveals his picks for the Ten To Follow
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Since the news came out that the Tote Ten to Follow competition was returning you will have read any number of strategies about how to win it. The truth is there is no one best way and, as with anything, luck will be the deciding factor.
Of course, it's not possible to take fortune out of the equation but you can give yourself the best chance to land the jackpot, and the first piece of advice is not to limit yourself to one list.
Let's make one thing clear, this is an eminently winnable competition. I knew three winners personally and considering I have about that many friends it was a pretty high percentage!
What they did was to have at least 20 cracks at it and what they didn't do was try to pre-empt the winners of races that are really hard to crack on the day.
There is a good chance the winners of the end-of-season handicap chases are not even in the 500-horse list, so don't try to find them, at least not until the substitution period comes in before Cheltenham.
Talking of substitutions, you must not give up on the competition even if things start badly. Don't forget, there is £10K for the highest scorer each month, so come March lots of participants won't update their lists and a couple of smart changes can transform everything.
Also, look at the scoring system. There are 25 bonus points for winning a bonus race and 25 points for winning a Grade 1. This Saturday Buveur D'Air is 1-3 to win the Fighting Fifth and it's 6-1 the field in the Ladbrokes Trophy.
Yes, finding the winner of that Newbury race would be great, but that might be it for that horse for the rest of the season, while Buveur D'Air has all those other Grade 1 and bonus races to go for.
I don't think the winning list will have the winners of the handicap chases in them and I think the races to focus on might well be the Grade 1 hurdles.
There are fewer hurdles than chase bonus races but the 2m division is so weak, and there are loads of Grade 1s in which horses such as Buveur D'Air and Klassical Dream won't have to beat many different horses to rack up loads of points.
Saldier is another good option but I marginally prefer the mare Honeysuckle for competition purposes as she has the versatility of going for the easy to mop up mares' races too. You pays your money, you makes your choice.
The King George is a good race to target, too, as the winner there will be a leading fancy for the Gold Cup and I certainly would not put anyone off Lostintranslation.
However, he's going to be very popular and if he's ridden as he was at Haydock last time he's going to find winning better races in bigger fields at Kempton and Cheltenham much more difficult.
Last year's winner Clan Des Obeaux, for example, has lost a bit of his lustre and might not be as popular in this competition as he should be, so he might represent better Ten to Follow value. He's still only seven, after all.
There are lots of Grade 1s for novices and on Sunday Envoi Allen is odds-on to win the Royal Bond. He is unlikely to run in anything but Grade 1s and it's not hard to see his winning three before Cheltenham. If every horse you have scores 75 points you will win the competition and he might win five.
The one horse I would want to avoid is the mighty Altior. He's the best 2m chaser I've been privileged to see, but last year he wasn't as good as he had been and his air of invincibility went at Ascot.
In Defi Du Seuil he would face a top-notch younger horse if he drops to 2m.
Similarly, I don't think I want Kemboy, Al Boum Photo or Chacun Pour Soi for this competition, given how fleetingly we will see them this winter. They are all prime substitution candidates in the spring.
Finally, I think you need a couple of game-changers. Horses who might be top-class but will not be in many lists. I've gone for Coeur Sublime, who looked a totally different horse at Down Royal last time and Diablo De Rouhet, who has the choice of fences and hurdles and is improving fast.
Tom Segal's Ten To Follow
Clan Des Obeaux
Defi Du Seuil
Diablo De Rouhet
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