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Ten Horses to Follow for the 2018/19 Season
6 b g Saddler Maker (IRE) - Sience Fiction (FR) (Dom Alco (FR))
Trainer: Venetia Williams
Having raced only nine times over the two seasons he's been in Britain, chances are Cepage has another handicap chase-win in him. After shaping as though he could use a longer trip when staying on well late to get within half a length of the ill-fated Sir Valentino at Ascot over an extended two miles in November, Cepage was kept at the minimum trip for his next two runs and didn't build on that promising reappearance. Going over two and a half made the world of difference when Cepage lined up for the Silver Bowl Handicap Chase, the consolation event for horses balloted out of such races at the Cheltenham Festival, at Kempton on the Saturday of Festival-week. Closing on those ahead from the third last, he was gaining on Cobra De Mai when getting the better jump at the last and leading early on the run-in. posting a decisive success in the end. Cepage was last seen in the Silver Trophy at Cheltenham in April and left the impression he should have done a bit better, moving into a prominent position by the third last but unable to go with the leaders from the home turn, allowed to take the second last in his own time, pushed along and hitting the last before passing beaten ones to go fourth to Traffic Fluide up the hill. There's more to come from Cepage, who could well run a big one in either of the big handicap chases at Cheltenham in November/December.
5 b g Kayf Tara - Follow My Leader (IRE) (Supreme Leader)
Trainer: Philip Hobbs
Placed in three bumpers, Larkbarrow Lad looks a likely sort for novice hurdling this season. He started off with a third to Two For Gold at Southwell in December, then showed improvement when finishing third behind Danny Kirwan and Pym in a stronger bumper at Kempton in February. Made a lot of use of, then sent for home on the home turn, he hung markedly left off the bend and wandered when ridden, before keeping on nicely in the last 150 yards. He ran second to Ebony Gale at Wincanton in April on his final start last term. Larkbarrow Lad surely won't be so green this season as he was at Kempton, and has a long-term future. There's a bit of knee lift in his action, suggesting that softer ground might suit him. Physically he's a well-made chasing type in appearance already, and is sure to stay further than two miles on pedigree.
5 b m Midnight Legend - Forget The Ref (IRE) (Dr Massini (IRE))
Trainer: Alan King
This one ticks a lot of boxes - she's a promising type, she's sure to stay further than two miles and, in the present political climate she's got a great name, with the idea of a second EU membership-referendum in Britain getting a mention in every news broadcast at the time of writing. But let's get back to Midnightreferendum the racehorse. After a promising third at Towcester on her debut National Hunt Flat race, she won at Warwick in February, beating Lady Of The Night a length. Midnightreferendum took her chance in the Grade 2 Goffs Nickel Coin Mares' bumper at the Aintree Grand National meeting and outran her 25/1 starting price, well placed entering the straight, initially outpaced when ridden then staying on well in the last furlong and a half, going away from the third close home but unable to reach Getaway Katie Mai. Her dam won eight point-to-points and this stoutly-bred mare is sure to be competitive in novice hurdles this season, particularly over two and a half miles or further.
7 b g Milan - Tempest Belle (IRE) (Glacial Storm (USA))
Trainer: Henry De Bromhead
There's a good chance that at least one Grade 1-success is heading Monalee's way this season. Having run second to Penhill in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham in his novice hurdle-campaign, his attentions were turned to fences in 2017/18 and he got off the mark immediately with a win in a beginners' chase at Punchestown. After falling in the Grade 1 novice over three miles at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting, he got his second win over the larger obstacles in the Grade 1 Flogas Novice at Leopardstown in February, appearing suited by the two miles five furlongs as he made all, jumped well and found the necessary under pressure in the last 150 yards to beat Al Boum Photo. He was back up in trip in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and was outstayed by Presenting Percy as much as anything, making a mistake two out as he was headed and beaten seven lengths. Staying at the longer trip, he held every chance when falling two out in the Growise Champion Novice at the Punchestown Festival. On more than one occasion Monalee, who'll start the new term having only been beaten once when completing over fences, has shaped very much as though around two and a half miles will be his best trip, and the John Durkan Memorial would be a suitable target in the first half of the season.
Not Many Left (IRE)
5 b g Oscar (IRE) - Lasado (IRE) (Jurado (USA))
Trainer: Jessica Harrington
Having shown over 20 lbs of improvement on his last start last season, Not Many Left looked a work in progress. He confirmed promise shown behind Flawless Escape in a Leopardstown maiden over Christmas when winning at Navan in January, but next time he was beaten 21 lengths behind subsequent Martin Pipe-winner Blow By Blow in the Grade 3 Michael Purcell Novice at Thurles. He not only bounced back, but left previous form well behind when running second to Pravalaguna in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle at Punchestown, up with the pace, shaken up and leading on the home turn before headed approaching the last and keeping on. Starting the new season with an official Turf Club mark of 135, Not Many Left looks a likely sort for a good handicap hurdle.
Robin Waters (FR)
5 b g Irish Wells (FR) - Skandia (FR) (Robin Des Champs (FR))
Trainer: Dan Skelton
Even though Robin Waters hails from a 'fashionable' yard - that's where Dan Skelton has got to in what seems a short space of time (but come now, was that really a surprise considering his background?) - he still makes it into the Ten To Follow. He joined Skelton from Jack Barber after winning his only point-to-point, at Stafford Cross in April 2017 as a four year-old, and showed promise in a novice hurdle at Newbury and a maiden at Ascot before landing odds of 4/9 in a novice hurdle at Wetherby in February. Robin Waters took his chance in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival and took the eye in the paddock. He ran well for much of the way, prominent with three to jump - a long way out on the New Course - and chased clear leader Fabulous Saga on the home turn, then faded and made a mistake at the last when weakening. A tall, unfurnished gelding, Robin Waters is likely to have strengthened over the Summer and should make a cracking three-mile novice chaser.
4 b g Black Sam Bellamy (IRE) - Lucylou (IRE) (Bob Back (USA))
Trainer: Mouse Morris
Not all young Irish point-to-point winners who are sold for hefty price tags end up with Mullins and Elliott, and if money talks then Mouse Morris could well have a four year-old that could compete with those powerhouse stables. The youngster in question is Sams Profile, an £80,000-purchase from the Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham Sale, held during Festival-week. He won his point at Cragmore in February, reportedly making all the running to beat the Gigginstown-owned Diol Ker, a subsequent winner between the flags. His first run for current connections, and debut under Rules, came at the Punchestown Festival in April, in a bumper restricted to four year-olds, and he shaped with plenty of promise. Keen early, he moved upsides the leader early enough - with around five furlongs to run - and was shaken up turning for home, but couldn't find more in the last furlong and faded into third, beaten just over five lengths, behind Kalum River. It was a good start, and this stoutly-bred gelding could be in for a good season, indeed a good couple of seasons.
5 b g Stowaway (GB) - Andreas Benefit (IRE) (Beneficial)
Trainer: Tom George
As ever the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival was chock-full of promising types, and that everything priced 12/1 or shorter finished in the first ten home, suggests that the 2018 running was a strong renewal. One that ran better than his finishing position of 12th suggests was Seddon, who'd made a winning debut when taking a National Hunt Flat race at Musselburgh in February. Going off 33/1 at Cheltenham, he took a keen hold and ended up widest of all after the first mile, at which point he was still taking a hold and had no cover. He made ground approximately five furlongs out and was prominent in the last half mile, tracked the leaders going better than some (including eventual winner Relegate) on the home turn and, once shaken up, didn't start to fade until around 300 yards out, well held coming up the hill and not knocked about. There's plenty of stamina in Seddon's pedigree, but he probably doesn't want two and a half miles yet, and could do with learning to settle; however one or two novice hurdles should still go his way this season.
Shoal Bay (IRE)
5 b g Gold Well - Ring Hill (Bering)
Trainer: Colin Tizzard
Novice chase-prospect Shoal Bay should do better this season than he did last, having arguably underachieved in his novice hurdle-campaign. It started well enough with a win over two miles three furlongs at Taunton, then he shaped well in a strong National Hunt-novice at Cheltenham's December meeting, a reluctant leader in a race run at a crawl and only headed approaching the last once the pace cranked up, running fourth to Western Ryder in the end. Poor efforts in the Dovecote at Kempton and the Supreme Novices' followed, but his last start saw a return to form when he finished second to Diamond Guy at Wincanton. His paddock appearance at Kempton suggested that he had a bit of strengthening to do - he's already tall and leggy, but was light bodied when viewed in the paddock at Kempton and will be physically a better type this season, when he's likely to go over fences.
7 ch g Tobougg (IRE) - Got Tune (FR) (Green Tune (USA))
Trainer: Jennie Candlish
Tanarpino's second attempt at novice chasing proved more successful than his first. A year and two months after he last ran over fences, he ran a fine third to Winter Lion in a novices' handicap chase over an extended three miles one furlong at warm, sunny Cheltenham in April, making some of the running and still going comfortably with three to jump, headed at the second last and sticking to his task under a ride up the hill. Two starts later he got his first win over fences, at Hexham in early June, making most and travelling best, staying on well and clear of Mighty Leader at the last. The runner-up reversed the form at Perth on June 23rd when last seen, but having not finished out of the first three since returning to chasing, Tanarpino - who's never failed to finish a race at the time of writing - looks sure to win more races over fences. He stays three miles well and has won on heavy ground over hurdles.
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