Some standout northern lights to illuminate the jumps season
Although there were no northern-trained Cheltenham Festival winners for the third year in a row, the region received a much-needed morale boost when One For Arthur galloped to Grand National glory in April. While the Lucinda Russell-trained star's injury setback is a blow, there are reasons to believe the area can build on that famous success over the coming months. Here we pick out six horses capable of making a mark
Cloudy Dream 7yo
Form figures: 122221-
Racing Post Rating: 158
A model of consistency over fences last season, chasing home Altior in the Arkle and then travelling like the winner in the Manifesto at Aintree before going down by a length. Got his just reward when rounding off the campaign with a deserved victory in the Grade 2 Future Champion Novices' Chase at Ayr. Handles soft ground but better on a sounder surface and could be a tempting proposition for the BetVictor Gold Cup if connections opt to go that way.
Trainer says He has got stronger over the summer and now he's settling better, two and a half miles looks his ideal trip. He might even stay three miles in time.
I Just Know 7yo
In the mould of a typical staying chaser the stable for which the stable is renowned and improving at a rate of knots, having gone up 25lb since starting out over fences last season. His only blip as a novice came when he was pulled up after an error-strewn round of jumping at the Grand National meeting, but he ended the season with a promising third at Ayr. An excellent jumper in the main, he could have a decent prize in him over three miles at flat, galloping tracks like Doncaster and Wetherby. Declared to make his seasonal comeback at Carlisle on Thursday.
Trainer says He came back from his summer break looking really well and hopefully he can progress a bit more. He gets three miles and prefers better ground.
Project Bluebook 4yo
Life is invariably tough for high-ranking juveniles the following season and although JP McManus's dual-purpose performer falls into that category, he still looks worth following. An excellent fourth in the Fred Winter, he won a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse the following month before finishing sixth in the Galway Hurdle over the summer. A big field with a fast pace on a decent surface brings his speed into play – he has won over a mile and a half on the Flat – and while he will be campaigned sparingly in the depths of the winter, he is one to note for the spring festivals.
Trainer says He's a grand horse with a great attitude and with his rating he'll have to run at the better meetings. We'll give him a couple of runs before he has a break, and then we'll prepare him for the spring.
Ravenhill Road 6yo
There are high hopes this exciting six-year-old can follow the example of established stablemates Definitly Red and Forest Bihan, who have carried the colours of owner Phil Martin with such distinction. Bought for £100,000 after winning his only point-to-point, he caused quite a stir by winning his bumper debut at Market Rasen by 14 lengths before comfortably following up at Doncaster. A Champion Bumper challenge had to be aborted after he suffered a hock injury but this staying type can make up for lost time over hurdles this season.
Trainer says He's a very good horse. He's been working and schooling well and while he's not slow we'll probably start him off over two and a half miles. He'll probably have one run and then go for the French Furze at Newcastle.
Showed a good level of form during his novice hurdle campaign, including when finishing three lengths behind subsequent Grade 1 winner The Worlds End at Chepstow, but always regarded as a chaser in the making. McCain knows the family well having trained his brother Wymott and he expects the six-year-old to come into his own over staying trips on soft ground. The resurgent McCain has strength in the novice chase department with smart hurdlers Lastbutnotleast and Mr McGo also switching to fences.
Trainer says He should be ready to run in a couple of weeks and will be going straight over fences. He seems to have sharpened up so we might start him off over two and a half mile but I'd expect him to want three.
Waiting Patiently 6yo
This list could easily contain half a dozen horses just from the Jefferson stable, such is the talent at the trainer's disposal. Unbeaten in three starts as a novice chaser, Waiting Patiently was last seen in action winning a Grade 2 at Haydock after which he suffered a setback and was roughed off for the season. His trainer feels he is a two-miler but owner Richard Collins believes he wants further. Wherever he goes he should be followed, particularly on deep winter ground.
Trainer says He had a little chip in a joint and we had to take it out and although there was heat there, he was never lame. He's in great nick now and we'll find our way with regards to his trip.
If you enjoyed this, you may also like
Five Irish jumps stars to look out for