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Ten to Follow

'He looks a terrific chasing prospect' - the 50 key horses in the £100,000 Tote Ten to Follow competition

Galopin Des Champs (near side) battles it out with Bravemansgame in the Gold Cup and the two are sure to be pitted against each other in the top staying chases this season
Galopin Des Champs (near side) battles it out with Bravemansgame in the Gold Cup and the two are sure to be pitted against each other in the top staying chases this seasonCredit: John Grossick

For many, the joy of identifying horses to follow for the jumps season lies in finding that horse few others will have spotted; that budding superstar who will come from under the radar to become a household name by the spring.

That’s why many names in the list of more than 500 horses from which you can choose your Ten To Follow stable are real dark horses who might have been given a good mention in a stable tour, cost a great deal of money at the sales or shown promise in bumpers last season.

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However, the most essential piece of advice for this competition is to resist all that temptation, which is why this list of 50 key horses includes only two novice hurdlers in strong Cheltenham favourites A Dream To Share and Ballyburn, who still wouldn’t be on my mind when it comes to choosing a final ten.

That’s because, of the 21 bonus races in the competition, there isn’t a single novice hurdle among them. There are just two novice chases – the Arkle and the Brown Advisory at Cheltenham – which also means you should pause before committing a novice chaser to your list, although Jonbon and El Fabiolo did squeeze into the top ten horses last season, showing there are enough points on the table for novice chasers if you can be confident your pick can collect some soft Grade 1 races along the way to the festival. 

It’s surely hard to be as confident about novice hurdlers before they’ve ever had a serious test over obstacles, or in some cases even run over them.

Instead, the March transfer window is the time to consider adding novice hurdlers to your list if you have a strong fancy for Cheltenham.

The same goes for Grand National contenders – you don’t want horses who might not even see a fence until the National weights publication taking up valuable space on your list through the winter months. Look at the bonus races – virtually all Grade 1 races for established stars – and go from there.

A Dream To Share
Trainer: John Kiely
Last season’s outstanding bumper performer, winning all five races including a Grade 1 double; coped well with soft ground given his Flat pedigree when scoring at Cheltenham and stepped up on that form when grinding out victory over Tullyhill at Punchestown; top-class hurdles prospect and likely Supreme type.

Willie Mullins
Missed last season through injury but had looked the best chaser around prior to his layoff; wide-margin winner of the Ryanair Chase for the second year in a row in 2022 before a similar demolition job over 3m at Punchestown (first run over the trip since 2020); will again be very hard to beat if unaffected by layoff.

Willie Mullins
Looked an exciting prospect in bumpers despite being kept to ordinary company; won twice to add to a point-to-point success, powering home by six lengths on final run at Punchestown having raced keenly; looks a potential novice hurdles star and is Ballymore favourite.

Joseph O’Brien
Won a 2m4f Grade 1 novice chase at Aintree to crown a fine first season over fences; sole disappointment on soft ground in the Drinmore and avoided similar conditions at Cheltenham; lacked speed to live with El Fabiolo over 2m and could even want 3m in time; potential dark horse in top staying chases.

Blazing Khal
Charles Byrnes
Exciting, lightly raced stayer who returned from a 14-month layoff with an impressive win in last season’s Boyne Hurdle but then lost unbeaten record when sixth in the Stayers’ Hurdle; had won all three novice hurdles in 2021, including twice at Cheltenham.

Paul Nicholls
Top-class staying chaser who won last season’s King George (left clear at the last but was getting the better of L’Homme Presse); fine second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup behind Galopin Des Champs but failed to cash in on that one’s below-par display at Punchestown; solid reappearance when second in the Charlie Hall and should again be a big force in top staying chases.

Captain Guinness
Henry de Bromhead
High-class two-mile chaser who has won all three races below Grade 1 level in the last two seasons and has been getting closer in the top grade; best of the rest behind Energumene in last season’s Champion Chase and also second to Jonbon in the Celebration Chase.

Constitution Hill: sold at Tattersalls Ireland in 2017 for €16,500
Constitution Hill: the Champion Hurdle winner is likely to be the cornerstone of most Ten to Follow lists

Constitution Hill
Nicky Henderson
Outstanding hurdler of his generation and perhaps all time who has swept to a string of wide-margin victories; landed the 2022 Supreme by 22 lengths and easily won all four starts at long odds-on last season, including a nine-length stroll in the Champion Hurdle; set for another prolific season.

Corach Rambler
Lucinda Russell
Brilliant winner of last season’s Grand National, bolstering a remarkable record in big staying handicaps having landed the last two runnings of the Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival; beat subsequent Grade 1 winner Fastorslow in that race last term and 13lb higher mark fully merited; below-par on reappearance but generally progressive and could still have another big year.

Corbetts Cross
Emmet Mullins
Exciting and progressive hurdler who was seeking a four-timer when running out at the last in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham last season; had already won a 3m handicap at Fairyhouse but produced best performance when running away with a 2m Grade 2 novice at Naas; could be a top-class novice chaser.

Dysart Dynamo
Willie Mullins
Headstrong front-runner who has won all five runs below Grade 1 level by wide margins; came unstuck every time in the top grade, though was up against a real star in El Fabiolo and ran a solid race when second behind that rival at Punchestown; type to boss small fields if avoiding El Fabiolo this time.

Echoes In Rain
Willie Mullins
Classy mare who has been very highly tried since her novice days and finally returned to the Grade 1 winner’s circle in the Mares’ Hurdle at Punchestown last season; had made the frame in five Grade 1 races since previous top-flight win, four times in open company.

Editeur Du Gite
Gary Moore
Progressive chaser over the last two seasons and graduated from handicap to Grade 1 company last term; beat Edwardstone by a head in the Clarence House Chase to follow up wide-margin win in the Desert Orchid; below par at Cheltenham and Sandown in the spring and on his return at Exeter but could bounce back in top 2m chases.

Alan King
Won the Arkle in 2022 and added a brilliant victory in last season’s Tingle Creek in first chase outside novice company; didn’t quite build on that, just losing out to Editeur Du Gite in the Clarence House (travelled best) before a disappointing fifth in the Champion Chase.

El Fabiolo
Willie Mullins
Last season’s highest-rated novice chaser after a fabulous unbeaten campaign, winning four times over fences, three at Grade 1 level; had suffered sole defeat over hurdles behind Jonbon at Aintree but put that right with a comprehensive victory in the Arkle at Cheltenham; rising star on 2m scene and worthy Champion Chase favourite.

Envoi Allen
Henry de Bromhead
Has not quite lived up to early hype but enjoyed another fine campaign last season and took Grade 1 tally to eight when beating Shishkin in the Ryanair Chase; also proved himself at 3m at Down Royal but disappointed in the Punchestown Gold Cup and again first time out this season.

Facile Vega
Willie Mullins
Champion Bumper winner in 2022 who was a high-class novice hurdler last season without quite living up to sky-high expectations; bounced back from Leopardstown blip when second in the Supreme and added a fourth Grade 1 win in total at Punchestown; terrific chasing prospect and could be a top-class novice.

Fact To File
Willie Mullins
High-class bumper performer last season who twice finished second behind A Dream To Share; sent off favourite to reverse Leopardstown form at Cheltenham (favoured by stiffer track and softer ground) and ran a fine race to get closer; likely to go straight over fences and should develop into a smart staying novice.

Fakir D’Oudairies
Joseph O’Brien
Classy and dependable Grade 1 performer over many seasons, winning four times and finishing second eight times at the top level; not quite at his best last term, with sole win coming on rare drop in grade, but young enough to bounce back; second to Pic D’Orhy when going for Marsh Chase hat-trick.

Martin Brassil
Very highly tried last season and justified bold campaigning by pulling off a huge upset to beat Galopin Des Champs and Bravemansgame at Punchestown; had been narrowly denied for the second successive Cheltenham Festival in the Ultima after two distant fifths in Grade 1s.

Flooring Porter
Gavin Cromwell
Dual winner of the Stayers’ Hurdle in 2021 and 2022 but came fourth in pursuit of the hat-trick last season during a winless campaign; had been held up by a setback but then managed only third at Aintree before disappointing in France; novice chasing this season and made a fine start when winning at Cheltenham last month.

Gaelic Warrior
Willie Mullins
Won four out of five races last season, with sole defeat when second behind Impaire Et Passe in the Ballymore at Cheltenham; had done well at 2m prior to that, including a valuable handicap win, but looked a proper stayer when easily winning a 3m Grade 1 at Punchestown on final run; likely to go novice chasing and could go right to the top.

Galopin Des Champs
Willie Mullins
Brilliant winner of last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, beating Bravemansgame by seven lengths to make amends for a famous final-fence fall at the meeting in 2022; below-par second at Punchestown but has won all six other completed chases, including the Irish Gold Cup; sets a very high standard and a worthy Gold Cup favourite.

Mouse Morris
Missed nearly all last season through injury but is making up for losing time, beating Bravemansgame in the Charlie Hall Chase this month; smart staying hurdler prior to that (dual Grade 1 runner-up) and open to further improvement in top-level chases after just three runs over fences.

Gerri Colombe
Gordon Elliott
Exciting young chaser who has won eight out of nine races under rules, with sole defeat when failing by a nose to reel in The Real Whacker in last season’s Brown Advisory at Cheltenham; landed three Grade 1 novice chases either side of that and won brilliantly at Aintree on final run; should develop into a leading Gold Cup contender.

Impaire Et Passe
Willie Mullins
Last season’s highest-rated novice hurdler on the strength of a hugely impressive win in the Ballymore at Cheltenham; twice won well over shorter trips at Punchestown either side of that; has the look of a chaser but connections have opted to stay over hurdles; should be a force in top races in Ireland.

Henry de Bromhead
Smart novice hurdler last season and took advantage of a more straightforward Grade 1 opportunity at Aintree after twice running well in defeat at that level; had finished fourth in the Supreme at Cheltenham; has won from 2m-2m4f and should get further; fine prospect for novice chases.

Irish Point
Gordon Elliott
Smart novice hurdler last season who ran mainly at Grade 1 level and finally struck at Aintree, returning to the form that brought a head second to Marine Nationale in the Royal Bond; slightly disappointing in between but helped by confidence-boosting Grade 3 win at Navan; won on his return at Down Royal and should continue to progress.

Jonbon rounded off his season in the bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown Park
Jonbon rounded off last season in style in the Celebration Chase at SandownCredit: Alan Crowhurst

Nicky Henderson
Top-class novice chaser last season and proved himself in Grade 1 open company when beating Champion Chase runner-up Captain Guinness in the Celebration Chase at Sandown; suffered sole defeat behind El Fabiolo in the Arkle, with five wins coming at 8-13 or shorter; should be a major player at Grade 1 level.

L’Homme Presse
Venetia Williams
Missed the second half of last season through injury but had already graduated from novice ranks to the top tier; won the Brown Advisory in 2022 and built on that by defying a big weight in the Rehearsal Chase; would have been a clear second in the King George but for final-fence exit and should be a big player in top staying chases.

Willie Mullins
Last season’s dominant juvenile hurdler, winning four out of five including the Triumph Hurdle; unlucky in running when suffering sole defeat at Leopardstown but bounced back when a warm favourite at Cheltenham and followed up at Punchestown; capable of dominating mares’ hurdle division.

Love Envoi
Harry Fry
High-class mare who nearly ruined Honeysuckle’s farewell party when second in the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival; had won the mares’ novice at that meeting in 2022 before twice winning well at Sandown last term; fractured a cannon bone when sixth in a Punchestown Grade 1 but back in training and can win more good races if unaffected by her injury.

Marie’s Rock
Nicky Henderson
Top-class mare who landed a Grade 1 double at Cheltenham and Punchestown in 2022 and was a force against the boys last term; seventh in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham but won the Relkeel Hurdle well and was second behind Sire Du Berlais at Aintree on first try at 3m; could be a big player in top staying hurdles.

Marine Nationale: unbeaten in four starts for Barry Connell
Marine Nationale: the Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner can make a top novice chaserCredit: Patrick McCann

Marine Nationale
Barry Connell
Brilliant unbeaten gelding who won two bumpers and three novice hurdles last season, including the Supreme at Cheltenham; put away for the winter after winning the Royal Bond by a head and looked much improved when comfortably beating Facile Vega; terrific chasing prospect and could be a top-class novice.

Mister Policeman
Willie Mullins
Exciting French recruit who won over hurdles at Fontainebleau in March 2022 and made a successful Irish debut at Fairyhouse’s Easter festival last season; raced over 2m that day but should reportedly get further; could be a top-class novice chaser, although does have a Morgiana entry.

Monbeg Genius
Jonjo O’Neill
Very useful, progressive novice chaser last season; won three times at around 3m, the last two in novice handicaps at Chepstow; sent off favourite for the Ultima at Cheltenham and ran a fine race in third to subsequent Grand National and Grade 1 winners; unseated rider first time out this month but remains a strong Coral Gold Cup favourite.

Pic D’Orhy
Paul Nicholls
Smart chaser who rewarded pragmatic campaigning by winning four out of five races last season; skipped Cheltenham to wait for easier Grade 1 opening at Aintree and beat Fakir D’Oudairies; had won twice at Grade 2 level before being outclassed by Shishkin at Ascot; has thrived physically according to his trainer.

Dan Skelton
High-class staying chaser who has finished third and fifth in the last two runnings of the Cheltenham Gold Cup; tends to be very lightly raced through the winter and not fully wound up when a beaten favourite in last season’s Cotswold Chase after winning a weak Betfair Chase; favourite to win that race again.

Royale Pagaille
Venetia Williams
High-class chaser who has twice won the Peter Marsh Chase under big weights; has come up short in top company (656 in the last three Cheltenham Gold Cups) but dropped in the handicap last season and was among favourites for the Irish Grand National when falling at halfway; has options in Grade 1s or handicaps.

Paul Nicholls
Prolific, progressive novice hurdler last season, winning four times; bounced back from disappointment in the Betfair Hurdle to land a soft Grade 2 at Kempton; stepped up on that form when making all for a decisive win in the Scottish Champion Hurdle; open to further progress in a thin 2m hurdle division in Britain.

Shishkin: winner of the Aintree Bowl
Shishkin: could have a good season now he moves up in distanceCredit: Alan Crowhurst

Nicky Henderson
Has lost his aura of invincibility since landing his first 11 races under rules but still won two Grade 1 chases when stepped up in trip last season; most impressive in the Ascot Chase and finished strongly on first run at 3m to add the Aintree Bowl from Ahoy Senor; will now be campaigned in top staying chases.

Sir Gerhard
Willie Mullins
Dual Cheltenham Festival winner whose bubble burst when ninth in the Brown Advisory after a condensed season (just one prior run over fences); at least did better when a close second to Flame Bearer at Fairyhouse and then struck into at Punchestown; could go for a big handicap chase but trainer expects him to end up back over hurdles.

Sire Du Berlais
Gordon Elliott
Remarkable 33-1 winner of last season’s Stayers’ Hurdle, taking his form to new heights at the age of 11; rarely at his best through the winter but tends to come good in the spring, boasting a terrific Cheltenham Festival record and has also won at Aintree for the last two seasons.

Stage Star
Paul Nicholls
Won the Turners Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last season under a fine front-running ride; had also landed the Challow Hurdle in 2021 before progressing at a lower level over fences, winning a novice handicap at Cheltenham on his previous run; favourite for the Paddy Power Gold Cup and could then step up in grade.

State Man
Willie Mullins
Dominated the 2m hurdling scene in Ireland last season, winning four times at Grade 1 level; put in his place by Constitution Hill in the Champion Hurdle but finished best of the rest and got back to winning ways with a clearcut win over Vauban at Punchestown; should again be hard to beat in top Irish hurdles.

Willie Mullins
Won the National Hunt Chase in 2022 and did well in a light campaign last season despite not winning; ran Minella Indo to a neck over an inadequate trip at Thurles and chased home Galopin Des Champs in the Irish Gold Cup; never travelling in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Stay Away Fay
Paul Nicholls
Strong stayer who gamely won what might prove a moderate running of the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham, benefiting from a more positive ride than when second at Doncaster; beaten again when a close fourth in the Sefton at Aintree; terrific prospect for staying novice chases and scored at Exeter in that sphere on his return.

Gordon Elliott
Top staying hurdler who landed a first Grade 1 in last season’s Hatton’s Grace Hurdle and was just as effective over 3m; hacked up in the Boyne Hurdle and was second in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham (demoted to third); best on soft ground; should be a major player in top staying hurdles.

The Real Whacker
Patrick Neville
Enjoyed a fairytale campaign for his small yard last season and made it three out of three over fences, all at Cheltenham, when winning the Brown Advisory from a top-class rival in Gerri Colombe; outstanding jumper and trainer convinced he’s a Gold Cup horse.

Now read:

The 14 Cheltenham Festival Grade 1 winners: when will they reappear and what are their targets?

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Dylan HillPremium editor

Published on 10 November 2023inTen to Follow

Last updated 19:54, 10 November 2023