Three Top Trainers
Welcome to Betfair's 2018-19 National Hunt preview
Ahead of the upcoming jumps season we bring you a wealth of exclusive insight and opinion from three of the most exciting yards in the sport.
We're marking your cards for the season to come with in-depth content from Gordon Elliott, eight race winner at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival and the current holder of Grand Nationals on both sides of the Irish Sea; the legendary Paul Nicholls, 10-time Champion Trainer Britain, and hugely talented Olly Murphy, who racked up just shy of 50 winners in his first year as a trainer.
Each man brings you exclusive news from his yard including sections on the stable stars to follow and dark horses worth watching as well as a full tour of the yard's leading prospects.
And our friends at Timeform have looked at each stable and picked out their five to follow.
We hope you enjoy reading the guide and don't forget that you can read from all three trainers at all the big meetings and ahead of every weekend on the Betfair blog.
Gordon Elliott - Down Royal can be the launchpad for another stellar season
The last few seasons have been unbelievable for us and we're hoping that we will be able to keep up that momentum in the months to come.
Between winning top trainer honours at the Cheltenham Festival, Tiger Roll winning the Grand National and training more than 200 winners in Ireland last season we have a hard act to follow. However, this is an exciting time of year with all the big winter horses back in and coming along nicely at this stage and we're in the extremely fortunate position to have a lot of nice horses to aim at a lot of good races.
As everyone knows by this stage the horses weren't quite right earlier in the summer so we've been a little slower to get going that would normally be the case but the horses have been in excellent form again since early July and August was a very positive month for the yard so we're heading into an important time of year in good shape.
Established names like Samcro, Apple's Jade, Shattered Love, Farclas and Tiger Roll will be among our big hopes for the season while we're hoping that Labaik will make it back to the track as well so hopefully we will have plenty of options for many of the big races throughout the season.
We'll also have plenty of nice types for many of the big handicap chases and there's a lovely team of young horses coming along so all in all I'm excited about the coming months and hopefully we can match the exploits of the last few years.
As is usually the case the big meeting at Down Royal in November is a major target for the yard and we often start out plenty of our good horses there. Quality racing comes thick and fast after that and before you know it we will back at Cheltenham where we are hoping to be as lucky as we have been for the last few years.
Five Stable Stars to Follow...
He's an exciting horse and I just hope that he can keep doing what he was doing throughout last season. As I've said in the stable tour I've to speak with Michael and Eddie about what route we take with him this season but whether it's hurdles or fences I'd hope he will go to the top.
Column Of Fire
He only had one run last season when he chased home Commander Of Fleet in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper. He was a very raw four-year-old and was only just ready to start off so I was thrilled with how he ran. He's done really well and strengthened up over the summer and I believe that there's a lot to look forward to with him.
He's a lovely horse owned by a great supporter of the yard in Tim O'Driscoll. For a raw, chasing type he did plenty last season and his third to Total Recall in a good three mile handicap hurdle at Leopardstown in February was an excellent run. We didn't see the best of him when he was unplaced in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham but had been asked plenty of questions by that stage and the fairest thing for the horse was to let him off as we have always had a chasing career in mind for him. He's come back a stronger horse after the summer and he's got the size and scope to do well over fences. He's still only five so there's no rush with him but he's one that we are looking forward to.
She is one of those horses that has improved dramatically for the switch to fences and you couldn't have asked for any more from her last season. She's beaten the geldings twice at Grade 1 level so that gives me hope that she will hold her own in top open company this season. She's a mot uncomplicated, straight horse to do anything with and hopefully we have more big days to look forward to with her.
Master Of Tara
It was a bit of a shock to the system when he was well beaten on his debut but he showed that run to be all wrong when winning at Navan next time. He's a horse that should stay well but he's got plenty of class too and has always worked like a good horse. He's one of our better prospects for some of the better novice hurdles.
Three Dark Horses for 2018-19...
Unfortunately we didn't get to run him last season. He was late coming back and then picked up a minor setback at the wrong time of the season which meant that we weren't able to run him. He won a Paddy Power Chase two seasons ago and was also placed at the Cheltenham Festival and he should again be a force in top staying handicaps. We'll see how he gets on through the winter but I'd hope that he will emerge as a contender for the either the English or Irish Grand Nationals in the spring.
On his day he is a very smart horse and after winning his maiden hurdle a couple of seasons ago he ran a number of good races at Grade 1 level. He started off over fences with a couple of good runs against high class novices but I don't think he enjoyed chasing on deep, winter ground and he seemed happier when he went back over hurdles. He ran quite well in the County Hurdle and the Scottish Champion Hurdle last season and I do believe that there is a big pot to be won with him over hurdles.
He looked a nice horse when he won his point-to-point and I was delighted with his first run for us when he won a bumper at Navan last November. The plan was to give him one more bumper run last season and I was disappointed with his effort against Carefully Selected at Naas in February. He is definitely better than he got to show there and I'm hopeful that a switching to hurdling and stepping up to two and a half miles or further will bring out the best in him.
He won a mile maiden for Ger Lyons on very heavy ground at Navan in April and Gigginstown bought him shortly afterwards. The fact that he handled testing ground so well would bode well for his prospects over hurdles this winter and hopefully he'll make up into a very smart juvenile hurdler. It may not be that long before he starts out and he's schooled well so we're looking forward to getting him out.
He cost a lot of money at the sales during the summer but I'm hoping he will be worth it. He was bought as a dual purpose prospect and the hope is that he will make up into a quality juvenile hurdler before we revert to the flat for some big handicaps. He showed some very smart form as a two-year-old for Ger Lyons and he also showed up well in a couple of good races this year - finishing fifth in the Derrinstown Derby Trial and fourth in a Newmarket Listed race. His profile suggests that he should make up into a quality hurdler.
He's another horse that made plenty at the sales after winning impressively on his only point-to-point outing in February. He came well recommended by Colin Bowe who has previously had Samcro through his hands and there's a lot to like about him. We made a decision after buying him that we would give him time and not run him for the rest of the season and he's one to look out for in bumpers when he starts out in the autumn.
He won a ten furlong maiden for Peter Fahey at Navan in late April and Chris Jones, who is such a great supporter of the yard, bought him at a sale in Punchestown in a few days later. He's a lovely horse with the size and scope to be a good jumper and he's one that we are looking forward to. At the time it looked a decent maiden in Navan and the race has produced a number of subsequent winners including Southern France who was won a Listed race and been placed at Group 2 level.
He came to us from Mouse Morris and if we could do half as well with him as Mouse did I will be happy. He won a Kerry National and an Irish National for Mouse and those types of races will be on his agenda again. On his first run for us he was just touched off in the Midlands National at Kilbeggan and that run suggested that he might have another good handicap in him at some stage.
Verdict:She's been an absolute star for us with five Grade 1 wins. She started off last season in great style by winning her first three races and her defeat of Supasundae at Leopardstown over Christmas was possibly a career best effort. She was then beaten at Cheltenham and Punchestown and, while she ran creditably, I'm not convinced that she ran up to her best on either occasion. She's come back in from grass looking superb and will follow a similar route to last season with the Hatton's Grace Hurdle her big target before Christmas and then we'll be aiming for the Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Verdict:I'll speak to his owner Chris Jones about what direction we take with him this season but I would imagine he will be going chasing and I think there will be some good prizes to be won with him as a chaser. He ran quite well in a couple of big handicap hurdles last season but I'm not convinced that we saw the very best of him on his last few runs in the spring. He may not have the same profile as some of the others that we are sending chasing but he's still a horse of potential.
Verdict:I was really taken with how this mare progressed last spring and I'm hoping that she will develop into a contender for the good mares novice hurdles throughout the season. She won on her second start at Cork in March but did even better when finishing second in the Tattersalls Ireland Sales Bumper at Fairyhouse over Easter and when taking second in a Grade 3 mares bumper at Punchestown. For a four-year-old filly she was asked plenty of questions and I really like the way she progressed with every run. She's bred to make up into a very smart hurdler and I'd expect that we should have a good season with her.
Verdict:A remarkable horse who is going to turn 14 in a few month's time. He's finished second in two Irish Grand Nationals, been placed at three Cheltenham Festivals and he ran a huge race to finish third in the Grand National at Aintree in April. His owners would love to go back to Liverpool so that's the route we will look to take with him. We won't ask too much of him during the winter and he might stick to the cross country chases at Cheltenham before Aintree.
Verdict:Before he came to us he was a top-class bumper horse for Willie (Mullins) and it just took him a while to deliver on that promise last season. However, he came good in the spring to win a Grade 3 at Thurles and then the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham. He wasn't at his best on his final two runs last season but he had been busy enough to that point and he had probably had enough by the time Punchestown came around. When he puts it altogether he is a talented horse and he has the ability to make up into a very smart novice chaser from two-and-a-half miles and upwards. He looks as well as he's ever done so hopefully there's more to come from him this season.
Verdict:He looks an exciting sort for novice hurdles this season. Pat Doyle did a great job with him as he had him for most of last season and won a point-to-point in March. He then came to us for the Goffs Land Rover Bumper where he produced a very impressive display to win by eight-and-a-half lengths. Time will tell how good a race the Land Rover was but he couldn't have done any more at Punchestown and we're hoping he has a big future as a novice hurdler. He could well start out over two miles but I'd expect that he will eventually come into his own over longer trips. We might start him off in late October or early November if all goes well with him over the coming weeks.
Verdict:From the moment he came into the yard he looked like a horse that would excel as a chaser and he's one that I am particularly looking forward to sending over fences. He ended up having a relatively light campaign last season as he picked up an injury just before Cheltenham which ruled him out of action for the rest of the season. It's a pity he didn't get to run in the Albert Bartlett as I thought that his second to Next Destination in a Naas Grade 1 last January was a very good effort and his run that day suggested that he would do ever better when he moved back up to three miles. He is looking fantastic and a summer out on grass has done him the world of good. Hopefully he will start back around November time and I hope that he will be competitive in all those good novice chases from December onwards.
Verdict:Unfortunately he had to miss last season with some leg trouble but he is back in good shape and we are readying him to go novice chasing. He is a very likeable and tough horse who thrived on his racing in the 2016/17 season which ended with victories in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham and a three mile Grade 1 at Punchestown. When he won at Punchestown he beat Penhill and that form looks especially good now so if we can keep this horse right he should be able to hold his own in good company as a chaser. He seems to handle any ground and is effective from two-and-a-half miles upwards so we have plenty of options with him. He's another that should be starting out around November time.
Verdict:He's a lightly raced five-year-old by the same sire as Apple's Jade and it was never the plan to do too much with him last season. He won a Navan bumper in good style last December and then to give some experience over hurdles he ran in a Grade 2 at Naas in February when he finished at the rear of the field. However, I was actually quite pleased with how he ran as he had nothing like the same experience as the horses he was taking on and he will have learned so much from that run. I'd expect to see him holding his own in graded company this winter.
Verdict:After winning his maiden hurdle very early last season he was thrown in at the deep end in some quality novice hurdles. He ran creditably throughout the winter before improving when he got the chance to tackle better ground in the spring. He was very good when he edged out another of our horses, Glenloe, in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham and he probably did better again when he was beaten just a neck by Next Destination in a three mile Grade 1 at Punchestown in April.
Everything about him says that he will come into his own as a three mile chaser and hopefully he's going to make up into a classy staying novice. He takes his racing well so we'll keep him on the go throughout the winter but his form would suggest that he will really come into his own when he gets on some decent ground at the spring festivals.
Verdict:He only came to us last season and I was delighted with how he progressed. He won a decent handicap hurdle at Navan in December and then held his own at graded level by winning the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle at Navan in February. He enjoys soft ground so he will really come into own when we get into the winter and I probably wouldn't like to risk him on anything quicker than yielding to soft ground. I've spoken to his owners about what we will do with him as he has the option of going chasing but I'm more inclined to keep him over hurdles as I think he could do have another good season in graded races.
Verdict:He's an interesting horse who should make up into a useful staying novice hurdler. He's a typical Gigginstown horse who looks as though he will thrive when he goes chasing and I was anxious not to do too much with him last season as he was still big and raw. He was quite green when he got beaten on his debut at Limerick over Christmas and then he won nicely at Navan in January. On his two runs so far he has coped well with heavy ground which bodes well for him during the depths of the winter and I'm hoping to see him progress into a smart staying novice.
Verdict:For a horse that cost just £10,000 he did exceptionally well last season to win a €100,000 handicap and a Grade 3 chase and he also showed up well at Grade 2 level on a couple of occasions. He has progressed into a quality two mile chaser and we will look to campaign him in those good two miles conditions chases throughout the winter. Possibly he might start back in something like the Fortria Chase at Navan in December. He was also running very well in a two-and-a-half mile Grade 2 at Fairyhouse over Easter so that trip is also an option for him throughout the season. The two mile division in Ireland could be a little more competitive than it has been for the last couple of seasons but I'd be hopeful he might pick up a decent prize or two over the course of the season.
Verdict:He's an interesting novice chaser for the coming months. He came from France with a good reputation and he shaped up very well in the early part of the New Year before things went a little awry with him at Leopardstown in February and at Cheltenham. However, he came right back to his best to run out a ten length winner of a two-and-a-half mile Grade 1 at the Punchestown Festival. He was bought to be a nice staying chaser and I hope that he is what he is going to make up into this season. Anything from two-and-a-half miles to three will suit him well and his Punchestown effort would suggest that there are plenty of good races to be won over fences.
Verdict:A horse with a big engine and he could be very exciting when he gets to go chasing. Last season he won his first two bumpers so we put him away for Cheltenham and he ran very well to finish sixth to Relegate having probably done a bit too much through the race. He was again a bit too keen at Punchestown on his final start last season but I'm hoping that a set of hurdles in front of him will help him relax and we'll do plenty at home with him in that regard as well. He should be a good two mile novice hurdler.
Verdict:We campaigned him in good company as a juvenile hurdler with the intention that he could have a second novice season over hurdles if he didn't win. As it happened he won the Triumph so he's going to have to step into the deep end this season. His one below par run last season came at Punchestown in April but I'd be happy to draw a line through that as some of our horses just weren't firing at the time. It's not easy for a four-year-old stepping into the Champion Hurdle division so we will look to bring him along steadily and try and keep him to a four-year-old only races through the first part of the season and if all goes well he could step into the big league at Christmas time. He's a quality horse who will improve further on what he has done so far and he will certainly get further than two miles in time.
Verdict:He's a lovely horse owned by a great supporter of the yard in Tim O'Driscoll. For a raw, chasing type he did plenty last season and his third to Total Recall in a good three mile handicap hurdle at Leopardstown in February was an excellent run. We didn't see the best of him when he was unplaced in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham but had been asked plenty of questions by that stage and the fairest thing for the horse was to let him off as we have always had a chasing career in mind for him. He's come back a stronger horse after the summer and he's got the size and scope to do well over fences. He's still only five so there's no rush with him but he's one that we are looking forward to.
Verdict:Not the biggest of horses but he's got a huge heart and he relishes testing going and an extreme stamina test. He was unlucky in the Irish Grand National last season when he was promoted to fourth and that would be the long term aim once again. He also showed up well in good handicap hurdles at Navan and Sandown last season so I think there could yet be a good prize in him over hurdles. He'll mix it between hurdles and fences over the winter and he's one that won't be starting back until the ground softens up considerably.
Verdict:He ended his novice chasing season with a good fifth in the Irish National and I thought that he was going to be a major force in all those good staying handicaps last season. He then seemed to lose his way a little last winter and he lined up in the Irish Grand National more in hope than expectation but he produced by far the best effort of his career to edge a blanket finish. He will be campaigned in the good staying handicaps this season and in the spring we will make a decision on whether he will head back to Fairyhouse or goes to Liverpool. It is very early days but maybe we might look at bringing him to Aintree in December for the Becher Chase to see how he takes to the National fences.
Verdict:A lovely horse who was must unlucky not to win the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham. JP McManus has been really patient with him and that has paid dividends as he developed into a classy handicapper last season. He deserves to win a good prize and hopefully one will come his way this season. In terms of plans it has yet to be decided if he sticks to hurdles or goes chasing and I'll speak to JP and Frank Berry to see what direction he will head in this winter.
Verdict:He's a good, tough horse who did very well as a novice hurdler. He wasn't quite up to Grade 1 level but he did win a Grade 2 and he took his racing very well during what was a busy season for him. On his first couple of runs over hurdles he suffered a couple of falls but he is actually a very good jumper and I'm looking forward to him going chasing. Two miles is a good trip for him and there's no reason why he won't be at least as good over fences as he was over hurdles so I'd be expecting to have another good season with him. He should be ready to start off some time in October.
Verdict:He has already started the season brightly by finishing a good third in the Galway Plate which was his first handicap chase outing. He could easily go down the route of all the major handicap chases but he won at Grade 2 level as a novice chaser and was also placed in a Grade 1 so it's quite possible that he might take in a few of those graded races from two-and-a-half to three miles over the next few months. In time he could be an Irish National horse but in the short term the Grade 2 for second season chasers at Down Royal in November would look a nice target for him.
Verdict:I'm pleased to report that he is back cantering away and coming along nicely. He's been off the track since April 2017 when he suffered a serious leg injury in finishing fourth to Wicklow Brave in the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown. He was only beaten two-and-a-half lengths that day and for him to do that having picked up an injury shows how much ability he has. Since he's come back in we've taken things gently with him and that will remain the case for the time being but hopefully when he's back in work we'll see his old sparkle. His win over Melon in the Supreme Novices Hurdle looks like very strong form now and the hope is that he might yet make up into a Champion Hurdle horse but he still has plenty to do to get back to the track and hopefully we'll be able to iron out his issues at the start which have seen him leave a few races behind him in the past.
Verdict:She's a lovely mare who we we've always felt would come into her own as a chaser. Last season she made steady progress and improved with every run to eventually end up winning a Grade 3 hurdle at Limerick before chasing home Laurina in a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse. She has pace enough to win over two miles but anything from two-and-a-half upwards will be good for her. There is a great program of mares chases throughout the season and we would hope that she will be able to pick up some decent pots over the course of the season. I do think the switch to fences will see her improve on her hurdles form.
Verdict:He gave us a great day in Navan last November when he won the Troytown and I would imagine that he will have some big staying handicaps on his agenda once more. He will start off the season higher in the weights that he was last season but he is a classy horse when everything falls into place and he showed in the Troytown that he was well able to carry weight. We just need to mind him a little in terms of the ground as he wants it soft at the very least and the ground will play its part in deciding where we go over the course of the season.
Verdict:He's a typical Gigginstown horse - a big, good looking type who looks as though he will come into his own as a chaser. I fancied him for a bumper at Leopardstown last Christmas and I couldn't believe that he was a well beaten sixth but I just don't think that was his true form. He then went to Navan in the middle of February and produced a nice effort to beat a smart horse of Oliver McKiernan's with the two of them finishing miles clear of the others. He's a horse with a good future and he should do well as a novice hurdler. He might start out over a trip short of two-and-a-half miles but I'd expect him to progress as he goes up in trip.
Verdict:He's one that I'm looking forward to going chasing with. He's a fine, big horse who looks as though he will relish fences and I'd hope that he will be able to make up into a high-class novice chaser at around two miles. He didn't win again after the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse in early December but I felt that he ran right up to his best when he was third in the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham. That sort of form would suggest that he has prospects of being a force at Grade 1 level over fences so we'll start him off with the intention of going down the Arkle route. He's strengthened up again since last season.
Verdict:He's a horse that surprised us a little last season as he took his form to a whole new level. When he won the Ryanair Hurdle at Leoparstown over Christmas it was hard to know what he achieved as the race did fall apart somewhat with Faugheen not running his race. We did wonder how he would fare in a top class Grade 1 like the Champion Hurdle but he ran a huge race at Cheltenham to be beaten just over three lengths into third. We will probably look to go down the Champion Hurdle route again provided all goes well with him. He is going to be coming back to us a little later than some of the others so we will probably be looking at starting him off around Christmas time. For a relatively cheap horse he has done really well.
Verdict:He's a tough and reliable horse who took his racing very well during a busy campaign last season when he won four times. He was a couple of notches below the best juvenile hurdlers but he is a very solid sort and I wouldn't mind a few more like him. I've to discuss plans with Eddie and Michael but he's a horse we might go chasing with. The four-year-olds do get a very substantial weight allowance over fences and Clarcam utilised it to great effect a few seasons ago when he won twice at Grade 1 level. This horse was probably a very similar sort to Clarcam as a juvenile hurdler and let's hope that he can emulate his achievements in his first season over fences.
Verdict:He is an out-and-out stayer who will be right at home over three miles or even further on proper winter ground. Every now and again he can throw in an indifferent run but he is good when he puts his best foot forward as he showed when winning the Thyestes earlier this year. I was also delighted with his last run of the season at Punchestown where he finished well from way off the pace to chase home The Storyteller. The Thyestes and Punchestown's National Trial could be his sort of races and he'd be an interesting horse for the Grand National if we got some cut in the ground next April.
Verdict:Over the last couple of seasons he's been a star for us with wins in the Lexus Chase and the JNwine.com Champion Chase. He's not getting any younger and is now ten-years-old so things might be tougher for him in those top-class conditions chases this season but he seems to adore Leopardstown and we will try to build his campaign around the two big chases there. Before then he will probably head back to Down Royal to see if he can win the big race there again. He doesn't seem to act around Cheltenham so I don't think we need to go back there with him.
Verdict:He has only been with us for the last year but he's already a firm favourite in the yard having won at Royal Ascot as well as picking up a Grade 2 over hurdles at Fairyhouse over Easter. He probably isn't in love with very deep ground so we won't ask him to do too much over winter and he'll probably be in action on the flat again this year before he goes back jumping. It's a long way off and he will have to improve but I wouldn't be shocked if he made it to Cheltenham next March to line up in something like the Stayers Hurdle. There's definitely more to come from him over hurdles and, even at this stage of his career, I wouldn't be surprised if he goes on to hold his own at Grade 1 level.
Verdict:He ended last season with that fall at Punchestown when he looked be going nicely and prior that he had been brilliant in his novice hurdles. He did everything that was asked of him and more and his win at Cheltenham was definitely one of the highlights of last season. From very early on his career there has been a lot of expectation surrounding this horse and I really couldn't have asked for any more from him. It's a pleasure to have him around and you'd have to be excited about him.
Once he stays healthy and well I would hope that he will have a another good season. He's come back in after the summer in excellent shape and all is going well with him at the moment. Over the next few weeks I'll sit down with Michael and Eddie (O'Leary) and we'll have a discussion about what route he will go this season. He was bought to be a chaser so he could easily go down the novice chasing route but we do also have the option of staying over hurdles and seeing if he is Champion Hurdle class. Either way I hope it's going to be an exciting season with him.
Verdict:From early in her career she has been a quality mare but fences really brought out the best in her last season. She twice beat the geldings at Grade 1 level and easily her best performance was when she won the JLT Novices Chase at Cheltenham. She's won at graded level over two miles but anything from two-and-a-half to three miles is probably her best trip. This season is going to be tougher for her as she will be stepping into open company against hardened top-class chasers but I'd expect that she will again be able to hold her own in top company. We'll be looking at all those good chases between two-and-a-half and three miles and she'll probably start off at Down Royal in either the JNwine.com Champion Chase or the Grade 2 for second season novices on the same card.
Verdict:He came a long way in a relatively short space of time over fences last season and I thought that he did exceptionally well to win his handicap at Cheltenham on what was only his fourth run over fences. He then ended the season with a very fortunate Grade 1 win at Punchestown although I think he would have been a very respectable third had the two in front of him remained in the race. He might be one to start off in the Grade 2 for second season chasers at Down Royal in early November and then we'll see whether he goes down the graded chase route or instead moves into valuable handicaps. For a long time I've thought he might be a horse that would be ideal for an Irish Grand National.
Verdict:He's been an amazing horse to go from winning a Triumph Hurdle to then giving us a second Grand National winner at Aintree last April. I suppose with any National winner the main aim is to get back to Liverpool the following year and that is what we will look to do. He doesn't want really deep winter ground so he probably won't run too many times before Aintree. We'll try to follow a route similar to last season and build towards the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival before striking on for Liverpool. He's an amazing little horse with an incredible attitude and he's a horse that we are especially fond of.
Verdict:She's another nice mare to go novice hurdling with. We had to bring her along steadily last season but she progressed very well with racing and she beat a decent mare of Willie's to win a Listed bumper at Fairyhouse last Easter before finishing third in a Grade 3 at Punchestown in which Black Tears was second. I think she will stay further than two miles and she is another who should be up to holding her in some of the better mares novice hurdles over the next few months.
The Timeform view on Gordon Elliott's 2018-19 Stable
Gordon Elliott has been agonisingly close to winning the Irish Trainers' Championship for the last few years, shaping not like a non-stayer but merely up against a rival with too much ammunition. However, with continued backing from Gigginstown House Stud, Elliott has his best chance yet.
Big future awaits chaser-in-making
Well-backed when third on debut (sent off 2/1 favourite, jockey picked up a three-day ban for using whip with excessive frequency) but unlucky to bump into a couple of promising sorts. Made no mistake three weeks later at Navan, showing a good turn of foot in the process, and expected to do well in staying events over hurdles this season before making a big impression over fences further down the line.
Grade 1 winner set for big things
Struggled with a wind problem in testing conditions, and a small operation to rectify that prior to his Grade 1 win at Punchestown - 'We'll give him a bigger one now,' said Eddie O'Leary of owners Gigginstown Stud in the aftermath - may have been a big reason (along with the drop back in trip) for the much improved display. Chasing could be the making of him this season; should stay 3m.
Rested hurdler can impress
Dam barely stayed 2¾m so it was a slight surprise that Flawless Escape was campaigned over as far as 3m last term, however it resulted in his best performance, shaping very well in a competitive handicap hurdle at Leopardstown after just four runs over hurdles. Unplaced in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham on his final start, but should reap the benefits of being put away directly after, possessing the physique to do well over fences this season.
Fine season of novice chasing awaits
Lackaneen Leader only came up against Laurina once last term, when beaten eight lengths by her in a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse in April, but that provided a glimpse of what she can expect should she continue to bang her head against that particular brick wall. Has the ingredients of a high-achieving novice chaser this season (winning pointer) with her attentions switched to fences.
Master of Tara
Progression looks assured for classy chaser-to-be
Got off the mark at the second attempt in points and repeated the trick in bumpers last season, still green but suited by the emphasis on stamina when winning at Navan. Very much a future chaser on looks, but sure to progress further in the meantime, with the step back up in trip expected to see him in the best light (from the family of the high-class French staying chaser Matinee Lover).
Paul Nicholls - Young team can take me into the '3,000 Club'!
My first goal this season is to reach the landmark figure of 3,000 winners over jumps. It has been on my radar for a while and I am hopeful we will get there sometime in the Spring. I'd already trained 2,901 winners before the start of this campaign, and have since added a further eight so the target is most definitely in my sights. Only two men have ever trained 3,000 winners. Martin Pipe was the first and Nicky Henderson passed the same milestone earlier this year.
I tip my hat to Nicky who I am sure will not mind me pointing out that he has held a licence for 13 years longer than me!
I remember it took me a while after I started training here at Ditcheat in October 1991, before Olveston, part-owned by my dad Brian, gave me my first success at Hereford just before Christmas.
I ended that first season with ten winners which was not a bad return given that I arrived with only eight horses.
Since then we have had a century of winners 18 times and last season, for the 16th successive time, our horses earned in excess of £2 million in prize money.
There have been ten Trainers' Championships, too, and I've also been runner-up ten times, but the rhythms of sport are always changing and one of the reasons we have had a relatively quiet summer this time is that we only had a few to run.
In June we also had a bug around which affected some of the horses. So things have been calmer at Ditcheat over the last couple of summers which is how it used to be in the past.
Realistically, I believe I have no chance of being champion this season. Everyone says I don't mean it but I do.
As usual I will be trying to get the best out of my team and train as many winners as possible. But each football season it's the Premier League club with the strongest squad that invariably finishes top of the pile.
And at the moment Nicky Henderson has the best squad of jumps horses. His is an awesome team, no question. He has been champion for the past two years and if all of them perform to their potential then the rest of us will struggle to beat him.
I also think Colin Tizzard is a player, too, with the depth of quality horses in his yard.
But, as usual, I prefer to concentrate on my own team. Every one of the 125 boxes in our two yards in the village is full with others in three pre-training yards.
I am not a great one for running many horses over the summer. That means we have a lovely team of mostly young horses ready to go from mid-October which is how I like doing things.
We also have a lot of nice three-year-olds bought over the summer that may need a bit of time to come to hand. Last season we ran only two of our 15 youngsters. This time those that didn't get an outing are a year older and ready to take a step forward.
The truth is that you can no longer buy top horses like Kauto Star and Master Minded. Or you can only do it after they have run just once. That makes it much harder to purchase a really smart one unless you are dealing with huge numbers.
So we have changed tactics and are trying to make them in the belief that if you do it right another star will come through the system.
At the end of each season we turn over quite a few horses. Favourites including Saphir Du Rheu, Irving and Zarkandar have been retired, others have been sold and we have replaced them with plenty of youngsters, some unraced, others with decent form in bumpers, point-to-points and on the flat.
We also have an exciting bunch who did well last winter and should progress again. They include Topofthegame, Master Tommy Tucker, Danny Kirwan, and Mont Des Avaloirs.
There is so much to anticipate in the months ahead.
And a word from Harry Derham...
This time of year for us working in the yard is always an exciting part of the season - none of the winter horses have run yet, they all look fantastic and everyone's hopes and dreams are very much still alive and well. The start of September marks a time in the season when the horses' work is increasing and with their first half-speeds now taking place mornings on the gallops are at their most informative.
As with every new season here at Ditcheat Paul is always adding to his string of horses, whether that be from the various store sales or horses bought privately in Ireland or France. Here at the yard we spend a lot of the summer getting to know the new arrivals and making sure they settle into their new surroundings as well as making sure our more seasoned campaigners are happy and summering well.
I absolutely love getting new horses, from researching their form where ever they may have come from or watching replays from the various French tracks or Irish pointing fields, I always make time to research them properly so I have an idea of what we are dealing with straight off the bat.
In terms of the season ahead for all my enthusiasm and love for what I do I always try to remain realistic and professional in my approach to the year and in all honesty I believe that once again we are set up for another successful campaign. Down to Paul's huge and continued success over the years of his training career I believe that there is always an element of pressure but to my eye Paul takes that in his stride focusing on his job of getting the best out of his group of individual horses. And, for me, that is the key: achieving all he can with each horse whatever level their ability may be.
Of course, the big races can define a season between good and great and like any other year I am hoping for our top horses to come to the fore again and compete in the highest class races. Politologue, who was our brightest star last year, heads up that group but there are plenty snapping at his heels all with the opportunity to be top-class should they take the step forward Politologue did last season. Black Corton, Diego Du Charmil, Cyrname, Clan Des Obeaux and Modus are all high-class chasers that could well earn their seat at the top table.
At Paul's yard though the real excitement lies in the shape of the novices, chasing and hurdling alike where on paper we look to have some nice prospects. I could be here for days talking about all the smart young horses we are lucky enough to have in our care but a few who would be at the top of my lists are types like My Way, Danny Kirwan, Posh Trish and Easyrun De Vassy over hurdles, while Topofthegame, Master Tommytucker, Captain Cattistock and Mont Des Avaloirs catch the eye among the chasing group.
However, as a member of team Ditcheat I know that the time where we get to see the results on the racecourse is still a little way off and there is a huge amount of hard work to be done at home, so when the middle of October does arrive we are prepared as well as we can possibly be. People often ask me did I enjoy my summer and how I spent it and in all truth I spend most of it dreaming - dreaming of the big days through the winter months where all our efforts and work come together and hopefully pay off.
Like many of my colleagues I am incredibly proud to be part of a team with as good a record as Paul possesses and all of us here are focused, primed and ready to continue that bandwagon of success.
Bring it on.
Paul Nicholls Five To Follow
I think the world of this horse who arrived with a big reputation from Ireland, and won handsomely on his debut for us at Kempton before I made the mistake of running him again at Aintree when he should have been out in a field. Tall and rangy he looks just the type to make a chaser and won his only point-to-point in Eire easily.
He jumps very well and is a high-class prospect for novice hurdles this season.
Did us proud last season, winning the Haldon Gold Cup, the Grade 1 Tingle Creek and the Desert Orchid Chase, all over two miles before ending up landing the Grade 1 Melling Chase at Aintree over half a mile further. The step up in trip there really suited Politologue who is now more settled so I am tempted to be brave and aim him at the Betfair Chase over three miles at Haydock.
Clan Des Obeaux
Has already achieved a huge amount for a six year old, showing a high level of form capped by his commanding victory in a £50,000 graduation Chase at Haydock in November. His season was then interrupted by an issue with a splint after his excellent second in the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham. So I was thrilled to see him finish third in the Betfair Bowl at Aintree after a rushed preparation. He could start off in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby where he escapes any penalties.
The tallest horse I've ever trained and has the talent to go with his size, though I've taken my time with him. The plan was to go chasing with him last winter until he was held up for a month after he was unlucky to come down at the tricky cross fence at Newbury. He then bounced back in style by winning a valuable Handicap Hurdle at Sandown before running a massive race to be second in the Coral Cup at the Festival. I can't wait to see this high-class giant of a horse back over fences again.
Master Tommy Tucker
Surprised us when he won first time on a racecourse in February at Exeter. Although he wasn't at all wound up that day he breezed through the race before moving stylishly past the hot favourite to win with something to spare. He was then even more impressive on his return to the same track two months later, romping clear in the manner of a decent horse, earning a BHA mark of 143. He has done well over the summer and will soon go chasing. First, though, I might run him in the Tote Silver Trophy at Chepstow in October.
A really exciting recruit from Guillaume Macaire in France where he has already won twice over hurdles and fences at Auteuil from six starts. He was sent to us six weeks ago by John Cotton, is clearly smart, and will be going chasing and can run in handicaps or graduation races. Magic Saint stays well, handles soft ground and we will be looking to make use of his four year old allowance until the New Year.
A really exciting recruit who joined us from France after running with much promise five times at Auteuil. He was placed twice in graded company, most notably when beaten only five lengths by the superstar mare Whetstone giving her 9lbs. My Way is a novice over hurdles and fences, has been schooling well at home since arriving here and should soon be winning.
Birds of Prey
Had decent flat form in Ireland last year for John Oxx. Our plan was to have a crack at juvenile hurdles with him but one or two little issues prevented us getting him to the racecourse over winter. Birds of Prey has thrived since then, running well three times on the flat and is now back in training after we cauterised his palate. He jumps soundly and will have one run on the flat in October before switching to hurdles. He looks an interesting novice.
Verdict:A chaser for tomorrow who joined us after winning his four-year-old maiden point-to-point at Bartlemy in Ireland by ten lengths, showing a good blend of speed and stamina. We've given him plenty of time to develop and strengthen and while he has done very well we will not be in a rush with this newcomer as he is very much a chaser for the future.
Verdict:Beat Might Bite no less in his first Chase but has proved frustrating to train since joining us just over a year ago. We gave him plenty of time before sending him to Chepstow where he ran very well after a long lay off. Unfortunately he picked up another small injury there which put him back on the easy list again. While Binge Drinker clearly still retains his enthusiasm we are taking it one step at a time with him.
Verdict:Has run just once, winning his point-to-point in Ireland, and this newcomer has the look of a staying chaser and does everything nicely at home. We will start him off in a novice hurdle this autumn.
Verdict:Has had surgery for a back problem which prevented him showing his best form after a bright start over fences. I am hopeful he can bounce back. He made a sparkling start over fences at Market Rasen but rather lost his confidence when coming down at the second last at Sandown when still in contention in the Henry VIII Chase. Capitaine had surgery for a kissing spine 11 weeks ago and we are hopeful he can bounce back and show his true form.
Verdict:Won three times over hurdles last season, jumps soundly, looks really progressive and is a horse I am looking forward to running over fences. Captain Cattistock won his only point-to-point for Jack Barber in April, 2017, jumping soundly before joining us a year ago. He is a big horse by Black Sam Bellamy and definitely benefited from a season over hurdles last winter.
Verdict:Has been nothing but heartbreak for his connections so far, twice suffering the same tendon injury and having to sit out the last two seasons. He has been back in training since July 1, is fine at the moment so we are hoping to have a clear run with him. Casko D'Airy's form in France was highly promising. He won his bumper well before finishing second in a decent four-year-old hurdle on his only start at Auteuil.
Verdict:Had just the one run last season, finishing second to the classy mare Briery Queen at Exeter before little issues caused by his immaturity curtailed his campaign prematurely. He seems a different animal this autumn and I'm hopeful our patience can now start to pay off. Chameron's future lies over fences and gives every sign that he will want a trip to show his best.
Verdict:Impressed when winning her sole point-to-point before finishing second to the subsequent Cheltenham winner Relegate in a bumper at Punchestown. Dream Idol is an exciting prospect and joins a list of smart Mares for Highclere Thoroughbreds at Ditcheat. She could be one to follow.
Verdict:Bought by the Million in Mind syndicate after creating a good impression in winning on his debut in a bumper at Carlisle for Stuart Crawford. He stayed well that day for a hard-fought victory having travelled well throughout. He will go novice hurdling this season.
Verdict:An athletic type who won two point-to-points in Ireland before we bought him at Cheltenham's April sale. A good moving sort who showed a really solid attitude in his races, he will start his career with us over hurdles.
Verdict:Has smart form on the flat in Germany where he was unloaded in their Derby on second start. He joined us early in September and looks a classy recruit to the yard.
Verdict:Made a glittering start to his chasing career in May 2016, jumping exuberantly at Warwick, then picked up a minor injury pre-season last year. He has since been given the necessary time and remains an interesting prospect over fences. I am considering aiming him at a graduation and then the Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton in November.
Verdict:A lovely prospect who won over hurdles by a wide margin at Compiegne in France and was also placed twice over fences. A good looking gelding, he was a touch keen when he arrived, but has done very well since joining us.
Verdict:Finished strongly when winning on his only start at Pornichet in France in July, pulling away from his field in powerful fashion in the last quarter mile. He has had a little break to freshen him up since arriving here and and now goes novice hurdling.
Verdict:Already decent but was unable to run again after suffering a minor injury in winning his novice chase at Kempton in October. He was brilliant round there which was not a surprise as he had already won a bumper and point-to-point in Ireland before winning twice for us over hurdles. He is a model chaser and is another who should soon be making up for lost time. Give Me A Copper is a top staying prospect who could start off in a graduation Chase before a possible tilt at the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.
Verdict:A smart mare who showed a decent level on the flat in France before switching to hurdles there in the spring of 2017, winning two of her three starts. She then enjoyed a successful juvenile season for us despite being a bit keener than ideal at times. Malaya has a high cruising speed, is more relaxed with experience as she showed with a stylish success under top weight at Ascot in March. She should make up into a well above average novice chaser and is pencilled in for a novice chase at Newton Abbot where her four-year-old allowance will be a bonus.
Verdict:A big, powerful, imposing horse who is a half-brother to Le Prezien. He has always shaped like a chaser and should be a force to be reckoned with over fences now that he is a bit more settled. I have always liked everything about him and am so pleased he has now reached the point where he can fulfil his undoubted potential. Twice a winner over hurdles last winter he relished soft ground and demonstrated excellent battling qualities on a number of occasions. Novice Chaser
Verdict:A talented horse who has yet to win over fences after contesting some hot novice chases last season. I am hoping he can make up for lost time now as there is no doubting his ability. Movewiththetimes was really smart over hurdles, winning at Fontwell and Wincanton in fine style before finding only Ballyandy too good for him in the 2017 Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. The experience of a good first season over fences should help his confidence this winter.
Verdict:A powerful horse who ran with great promise when a close third to Court Minstrel in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow, form that proved to be gilt edged. But a small injury then ruled him out for the rest of the season. Although he was bred for the flat he has the make and shape of a steeplechaser and that encourages me to believe his future lies over fences.
Verdict:I cannot wait to see this imposing mare jump hurdles this season as she has scope, power and plenty of ability. A runaway point-to-point winner in Ireland she dug deep to won on her debut for us in a bumper at Aintree, then landed a Listed bumper at Cheltenham impressively. Posh Trish has summered fantastically well, has always schooled enthusiastically, just wants to please and looks sure to give her owners, Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, plenty more fun.
Verdict:Won well on his fourth start over hurdles at Auteuil, staying on stoutly at the four night. He has summered well and given his experience he looks a nice juvenile for this season.
Verdict:Won an Irish point-to-point on soft ground in May when a fast jump three out out her seal on the race before she pulled clear in eye-catching style. She has done very well since joining us, showing plenty of promise and should win her novice hurdle this autumn with the minimum of fuss.
Verdict:Made a promising start for us when travelling and jumping nicely at Worcester before being outgunned over two miles. He then ran well to be fifth in a hot race at Cheltenham. Some Man missed the rest of the season with a little injury so we have have given him time. He has done very well done well and while tends to be a bit keen he should progress this winter.
Verdict:Another likeable recruit from France, he won on his debut at Angers in April, quickening nicely from the last when asked for his effort. He jumps well, shows a professional attitude, and is an interesting contender for juvenile hurdles.
Verdict:I was really starting to think I was beginning to get to the bottom of this horse and he was starting to go the right way when a setback at Christmas in a race at Kempton forced us to draw stumps for the season. There is more to come from him over fences as he steps up in trip. Touch Kick was a bit headstrong over hurdles but he is more mature now and chasing could be the making of him.
Verdict:Created a good impression in winning on his debut in an Irish point-to-point for Colin Bowe. It was notable that he was the only newcomer to win in all four maiden races that day. While we will start him off in a novice hurdle his long-term future will be over fences.
Verdict:A winner already of a point-to-point and a bumper he was sent to us this summer by Gordon and Su Hall after his first success over hurdles at Southwell in May, so remains a novice for this season. I liked the way he stayed on strongly at Southwell, he jumps well and will probably make his debut for us in a two-and-a-half mile novice hurdle in October.
Paul Nicholls has the most exciting bunch of novices he's had for some time, led by potential superstar Danny Kirwan. In a season that sees Nicholls chasing his 3,000th winner, it's apt that Danny Kirwan is named not after the Fleetwood Mac guitarist, but after a man from the town of Kilmacthomas, County Waterford, who celebrated his own milestone - a 100th birthday - in 2016.
Judge this potential superstar on Kempton debut
Runaway point winner who was described by Pat Doyle - who has moved on the likes of First Lieutenant, Shattered Love, Death Duty and Bacardys - as "potentially the best horse I've ever trained in this age group". Flopped at Aintree but is much better judged on his debut at Kempton where he created a huge impression. Good ground looks to be key to his chances.
A speedy chaser with lots of class
A more imposing sort than his Grand Annual-winning sibling Le Prezien, Mont des Avaloirs made the frame in both the Tolworth at Sandown and Dovecote at Kempton last season, before running creditably under top-weight in a novices' handicap on his final start. The type to do well over fences this term, especially when the emphasis is on speed.
String of wins possible for 'imposing' mare
Won bumpers at Aintree and Cheltenham and ran well in defeat under a penalty at Sandown in March. An imposing type for a mare - 'as much a chaser as a hurdler on looks' according to the Timeform report following her Cheltenham win - she looks the type to run up a sequence over hurdles/fences this season, especially against her own sex.
Longer trip could be key for well-bred hurdler
A half-brother to the smart hurdler Polly Peachum, out of a sister to Denman, Some Man is very much bred for the job. He won an Irish point on debut and ran to a useful level on his first two starts under Rules, just undone by greenness at the business end of his races, including when fifth to Western Ryder at Cheltenham. Remains with potential, especially when stepped up in trip.
Chaser may be top-class
Topofthegame's best performance of last season came on his final start, when beaten just a neck from a BHA mark of 150 in the Coral Cup. That effort was not far off Stayers' Hurdle standard, but it's what he could do as a chaser this season that is most exciting (still a novice after falling on his sole outing over fences).
Olly Murphy - Hungry team looking to improve on great debut year
Last season was a great start for us here in Warren Chase and with 47 National Hunt winners in my 'rookie' season I like to think we proved that we could be competitive.
You can't underestimate the value of good staff and we are incredibly lucky to have an excellent young team headed by my two assistants, Ed Telfer, whom I have been friends with for many years and former jockey, Gerard Tumelty. Both are invaluable sounding boards and outstanding horsemen.
Richard Johnson rides when available and it's great to have our conditional, Fergus Gregory, back after sustaining an injury in May. Lewis Stones will continue to get rides and Alex Ferguson will ride as our stable amateur. We are very fortunate to have so many talented riders.
We are all hungry to kick-on to the next level and I have some very promising prospects under my care. There are also several new owners in the yard this season and I'm very lucky to have horses for people like Paul and Clare Rooney, Jared Sullivan and Terry Warner among others. They have very kindly sent me some lovely young horses so, as you would expect, the excitement and sense of anticipation around the yard is incredible.
We have just finished an additional 30 boxes in the main yard meaning we now have 100 boxes in total. At the moment, we have 75 horses riding out. Approximately half are young novices, the remainder would be made up equally of handicappers and young store horses. Hopefully they can all stay sound and show what I think they are capable of.
In terms of goals, we are a work in progress and Rome wasn't built in a day but the immediate target would be to train more winners than last season and try to be as competitive as possible on Saturdays. I think we have shown everyone that we can train winners mid-week and win with moderate horses so this term - with the nice team of horses I now have - I hope some of them can make us competitive on weekends and at the festival fixtures.
Good luck to everyone for the season ahead!
Five Stable Stars to Follow...
He won a bumper for us first time out at Hereford in January, very impressively, winning by nine lengths. The runner-up that day, Portrush Ted, really advertised the form when winning a G2 bumper in Aintree and went on to open his account in a 3m novice hurdle at Perth. Our fellow went off favourite for the listed bumper on 'Betfair Super Saturday' in Newbury where he finished fourth. I think it took him all his energy just to get there that day, the ground was very soft after a lot of rain and Dickie (Richard Johnson) wasn't hard on him once his chance had gone. He has schooled really well and I'm looking forward to starting him off in a decent novice hurdle over 2m.
We bought this son of Scorpion out of Ben De Haan's yard in May and his new owner, Terry Warner of Rooster Booster fame, was almost immediately rewarded with a seven length front-running victory in Huntington that same month. I will give him one more run in a novice hurdle before stepping him up in class, probably in something during the 'Open' meeting at Cheltenham in November. I rate him a very exciting prospect.
An eight length winner of a bumper in Chepstow on his only appearance. It's hard to know what the form of that races mounts up to because we haven't seen any of the placed horses run yet but I was very taken with his manner of victory that day and I'll be looking to start him off in a 2m4f maiden hurdle. Again, at a good galloping track like Chepstow or somewhere similar. As he showed when winning on his debut, soft ground suits, so I'll wait until there is a bit of ease before running him.
A €160,000 purchase, he opened his account at first time of asking in Huntingdon last spring. He showed a good resolution that day and the form of the race is working out well with the runner-up, Black Kalanisi, having won a bumper and a maiden hurdle since and the fourth placed horse has also subsequently won. What I really like about him is his attitude and I'll be starting him out in a 2m maiden hurdle in the coming weeks.
He travelled really well before idling close home when winning under Jamie Codd at Doncaster on his first run for the yard last December. We then took him to Lingfield in February where, under a penalty, he was a fast finishing second. He was probably a little unlucky as the winner got first run on us that day. Unfortunately, he missed the remainder of the season after giving himself a bang but he's back in training and I'll start him off in maiden hurdle this autumn. He is a horse who shows me an awful lot at home but wouldn't want the ground too deep. I really like him.
Four Dark Horses for 2018-19...
Is rated 132 over hurdles and looks a proper chaser in the making. He was a big raw baby last year and still managed to win twice for us so I am really looking forward to him this season. I think one of the big handicap hurdles will be a within his scope.
A horse I have done a horrendously bad job of training since he's been in my care! I think he wants a Chepstow type track on soft ground but I managed to run him on tracks that, on reflection, were way too sharp, Aintree and Cheltenham and on good ground. As a result, he could be well handicapped. He will start off in a novice handicap hurdle in late autumn. Certainly one to keep on the right side of.
We thought he would win on his debut in a bumper at Bangor last April so we were bitterly disappointed when he only managed to beat one horse home. It subsequently transpired that he was a sick horse so you can put a line through that piece of form. He shows us plenty at home and I'm looking forward to seeing him in novice hurdles this season.
Gerard Tamelty (Assistant Trainer)
He won a maiden hurdle last season and ran second on three other occasions so is now rated 130 over hurdles. We have given him a wind-op and the plan is to send him novice chasing. He a horse I really like and one to keep on the right side of.
Edward Telfer (Assistant Trainer)
Olly Murphy - Stable Tour 2018/19
Verdict:Being a daughter of Whoops A Daisy means she is very well-bred. She has won three times now since joining me, most recently in a novice hurdle at Southwell in early September. She had that race sewn up early in the straight before just idling a little when she got lonely out in front. I was happy with her performance in Southwell next time out (finished second in early October) and she will continue to pay her way. Ultimately we will be aimed her at the G2 Mares' National Hunt Novices Hurdle Finale in Newbury next spring.
Verdict:Is a remarkably consistent horse who unfortunately picked-up a knock at the back end of last season so he won't be seen until after Christmas. He was a progressive horse last year and with a rating of 129 he is well capable of winning a nice handicap hurdle this year.
Verdict:£160,000 purchase at the Goffs Aintree sale after he finished second in a point-to-point in Tyrella. He looks a tough horse and will start off in a bumper before going jumping hurdles.
Verdict:Won a point-to-point first time out at Lingstown - in Ireland - by 8L and he is a proper staying chaser in the making. Big and athletic, I'll start him off in a novice hurdle in the autumn. He'll want soft ground to be seen at his best.
Verdict:He has won four of his five hurdle races since joining me from Tommy Cooper's yard in Ireland and in the process short up the handicap by a combined total of 33lbs. I plan to go novice chasing with him this term and will look at a beginner chase in the coming weeks. Absolutely loves heavy ground and should win plenty of races.
Verdict:Was trained by Denis Murphy when second in his only point-to-point start in Ireland and the winner that day, a horse of Edward O'Grady's called At The Acorn, was subsequently sold for €150,000. He is a real likeable sort who I am looking forward to starting off in a bumper over the coming months before going novice hurdling later in the year.
Verdict:Won his first start over fences when beating Alexander The Grey in Stratford but was subsequently pulled-up when favourite for a handicap chase in Bangor. You can forgive that run as he got a fright that day so I got him home and we have given him a few weeks off with a view to preparing him for a winter campaign. He is more than capable of winning races this term.
Verdict:This is my first horse for Jared Sullivan of Sullivan Bloodstock. A fine son of Saddler Maker he was second in a three-runner hurdle race in Vichy last September and then bought privately. He looks a very exciting prospect and I'll start him off in a maiden hurdle in the autumn. Obviously, Jared's team has a very decent record buying these horses so hopefully this guy will prove money well spent.
Verdict:She beat a horse of Philip Hobbs called Chapel Rock by four lengths when she won her bumper first time out at Newton Abbot, which was very pleasing. I then ran her under a penalty in a mare's bumper in Fontwell where she finished third. I wasn't too despondent with that as it is sometimes difficult for a mare to carry their penalty in bumpers. I'll give her a little break now and bring her back for a novice hurdle campaign.
Verdict:This five-year-old son of Robin Des Champs won a bumper in Ayr by eight lengths on good ground back in May. I'm not sure as to the strength of the form but he did it very well that day and does everything quite easy at home. He is bred to stay further - a real staying type - and has schooled very well. Another who will start back in a novice hurdle over 2m4f.
Verdict:Has been given a wind-op since he came back into training. I thought he was very unlucky not to win a race last year and as a result I think he is probably well handicapped over hurdles with a rating of 108. We will start him over hurdles before going novice handicap chasing.
Verdict:Looked an exciting prospect when winning his bumper at first time of asking in Ffos Las last July. I am going to aim him at a bumper at Cheltenham in October and take it from there. He wouldn't want the ground too soft.
Verdict:He gave us our biggest win to date when landing the prestigious 'Racing Welfare' handicap (formerly known as the Ladbroke) in Ascot last December. Unfortunately, he picked up an injury which subsequently ruled him out of his spring targets at Cheltenham and Aintree. He is in really good form at present and, as I think he is still on a decent mark, I'll be aiming him at the Greatwood Hurdle in Cheltenham on the Sunday of their Open meeting.
Verdict:Is another recent addition to the yard owned by Mr and Mrs Rooney. Undefeated in two bumpers when trained by Jonjo O'Neill he is a horse I'm really looking forward to starting off in novice hurdles.
Verdict:Is a likeable six-year-old son of Mahler. He was very unfortunate not to win a bumper last year having been just caught on the line when looking a winner at Bangor in April. I'll be starting him off in a novice hurdle this autumn and think he will win plenty of races.
Verdict:He comes from a good French family and I was delighted with his introduction at Fontwell as he was quite green that day before finishing well in second. I elected to give him another run in a bumper, which he won impressively by 14 lengths in Stratford. I was delighted with the way he went about his business there. He then won a novice hurdle in Southwell where he jumped adequately. He is a very sharp four-year-old who has loads of gears. Definitely more to come from him and I'll look to step him up in company next time.
Verdict:She got off the mark at the third attempt in a Sedgefield bumper when beating Dollys Destination, who has since gone on to win a bumper in Hexham since. Owned and breed by my father Aiden and his good friend Alan Peterson I'll start her out in a mares' novice hurdle. There is a really good programme for these mares now - that wasn't always the case - so we are keen to support the races when possible.
Verdict:Is an ex-Sue Smith inmate who has recently joined us here at Warren Chase. He is a half-brother to Diamond King and currently has a rating of 122 over hurdles and 118 over fences. On what he shows me at home he could be very well handicapped in both spheres. We will probably start off in a novice handicap chase in the coming weeks.
Verdict:Is another horse owned by Barbara Hester. He won a good handicap chase in Musselburgh on New Year's Day but is not an easy horse to place with his handicap mark. Having said that, he is a game type and has the ability to win a decent handicap chase this season.
Verdict:Won a beginners' chase on his final start last season and we will start this season off in a novice chase under a penalty. He is somewhat ground dependent and wouldn't want it too soft.
Verdict:She won a mare's maiden point-to-point in Ballinaboola and was subsequently sold to Jared O'Sullivan for £110,000 at the Tattersalls Cheltenham festival sale. A fine, big, strong mare, she will start off in a bumper this autumn. A very exciting prospect who will win races.
Verdict:He is a horse which I quietly fancied for the Fred Winter at the Festival last year. Unfortunately, he got brought to a virtual standstill at the first flight down the back straight and that seemed to dent his confidence. I have given him a wind-op and a mark of 123 seems fair to me. I'll look to start him off in a handicap hurdle in the autumn.
Verdict:Ran well for us in a bumper on his only racecourse appearance in May. He has summered really well and I'm looking forward to starting him off in a maiden hurdle in the coming weeks. He has had a wind-op and is certainly a horse to keep on the right side of.
Verdict:We bought him at the Goffs Horses in Training sale in the spring - relatively cheaply at £12,000 - and he immediately rewarded connections when winning on his first start for me in Market Rasen. I didn't think the Newton Abott track suited him so I wasn't disappointed with his third-place finish that day. He is still only a seven-year-old and on a decent mark so I'll look for a nice handicap on a big galloping track for him. Should be up to winning more races with a bit of give underfoot.
Verdict:It was a bit of a shock when Piri Massini beat his better fancied stablemate, Rio Quinto, first time up in Fakenham last January and he finished the season by running second to a nice horse of Lucinda Russell's in Newcastle. He will go novice chasing this term and a staying trip on soft ground is what he wants. Ideally, if he's up to it, I'll be aiming him at something like the 4 mile race at the Cheltenham Festival.
Verdict:Another who has joined me from Dan Skelton and it is well documented that he's been hard to train since picking up an injury for his former connections. On his last start, he fell in the Grade 1 'Challow Hurdle' at Newbury when going well so he's obviously a very smart horse. Certainly not an easy horse to train though but we'll look at starting him off in a hurdle race in late autumn. If I'm able to get him back on the track then he has the world at his feet.
Verdict:Formerly a very good horse for Philip Hobbs, he has had to have a year off due to a tendon injury. He seems in good order now so we'll send him hunter chasing with his ultimate goal being a tilt at the Foxhunters in Cheltenham.
Verdict:He was a £100,000 purchase at the Tattersalls sales in Cheltenham after finishing second in a point-to-point at Belharbour. The winner that day, Dlauro, went on to fetch £410,000 at the same sale. He is pleasing me at home and I'll look to get him going in a bumper over the coming weeks.
Verdict:Joined us recently from Dan Skelton's yard. He finished fourth on his only start in a Warwick bumper last year, the form of which could prove to be above average. I'm aiming to start him off in a maiden hurdle in the coming weeks.
Verdict:He was just touched off in a Fakenham bumper when beaten a nose on his only start back in April. I feel he didn't act on the track and was maybe a bit unlucky there. He is a four-year-old and we have given him plenty of time to come to hand, which he has done. I'm really looking forward to starting him off in a 2m4f novice hurdle. Like all my bumper horse from last year we had loads of schooling done with them and this guy jumps really well.
Verdict:This seven year old is a recent addition to the yard from Charlie Mann's yard. He hasn't run for me yet but looking through his form he could be well handicapped on some old bits. He is still a maiden over fences so if we can recapture some of the old sparkle then the owners are in for a fun season.
Verdict:We bought him at the Tattersalls 'Horses in training sales' having been in Ed Vaughan's. He had three runs for us and although he didn't manage to win his form in defeat reads well. Since he came back into work we have given him a wind-op, which should help, and as he is still a novice I'm looking to start him off in a maiden hurdle in the coming weeks. I like him a lot and will be disappointed if he doesn't win plenty of races.
Verdict:Is a gorgeous big horse who was placed in three maidens when trained by Sir Michael Stoute on the flat. Ultimately, he was bought to go jumping with but I think, with a rating of 83 on the flat, a maiden or a handicap may be within his scope. We'll probably try that before starting him over obstacles in the autumn.
Verdict:We took him to the all-weather track at Newcastle for his first run in April and I quite fancied him to win but he finished fourth. I wasn't to disappointed considering he was crowded out as the race began in earnest and I wasn't best pleased with my instructions to Aidan Coleman that day either. I plan to give him one more run in a bumper before embarking on a novice hurdle campaign. He wouldn't want the ground too soft.
Verdict:Is a recent addition to the yard and my first horse for Paul and Clare Rooney. He was formerly trained by Kim Bailey for whom he finished third in a Huntington bumper on his only racecourse appearance. He is a smashing big horse who I'll look to start off in a maiden hurdle this autumn.
Verdict:Finished midfield in a Market Rasen bumper in April, which I thought was a nice first run. He has summered really well and is a lovely big athletic horse who has schooled really well at home. I may just give him one more run in a bumper to before going novice hurdling.
Verdict:Won a nice bumper in first time up at Uttoxeter in July and we really fancied him to go in again under a penalty in Worcester. Four-year-olds often struggle under a penalty in bumpers at this time of year and he was no exception. He's a really nice young horse who has a very big future. We will start him off in a maiden hurdle in the coming weeks.
Verdict:Won a maiden and novice hurdles for us last season but unfortunately will miss the first half of this season due to picking up a knock. We hope to go novice chasing with him in due course and he could turn into a operaor in that sphere.
Verdict:Has won four of his five starts over hurdles since joining us, going up a total of 19lbs in the process, so it's fair to say he has improved for jumping a hurdle. I will aim him at the Persian War in Chepstow in October, if not, he will go to a Cheltenham for a novice hurdle a couple of weeks later.
The Timeform view on Olly Murphy's 2018-19 Stable
Few trainers made as big an impact as Olly Murphy did in 2017/18, and he certainly made a better fist of his first domestic campaign than long-time mentor Gordon Elliott, who recorded his first winner at Perth in June 2006 but had still to record a winner in his native Ireland when Silver Birch won the Grand National the following year! And it hasn't turned out too badly for him...
Big handicap win a possibility
Yet to run at a major festival, but don't be misled, as he's been sent off at no bigger than 7/2 on all six of his starts under Rules. Won't be out early due to an injury but there's no reason why he can't progress again this spring if he learns to settle better, with well-contested, big-field handicaps likely to bring out the best in him.
Classy hurdler could be headed to the top
Fetched £250,000 four days after winning between the flags in Ireland, and made the perfect start to his career under Rules when impressively winning a bumper at Hereford in January from subsequent Aintree Grade 2 bumper winner Portrush Ted. Paid the price for a big move into contention in a listed bumper at Newbury the following month, but could go all the way to the top over hurdles.
Current mark offers room for major improvement
New recruit who found plenty for pressure when winning novices' hurdles at Carlisle and Market Rasen in 2016/17, but didn't go on as hoped over fences last term. Shapes like a staying chaser and should have plenty of leeway from current mark if putting it all together when stepped back up in trip (half-brother to Coral Cup winner Diamond King).
Headgear and soft ground the ingredients for success
No superstar on the Flat for Sir Mark Prescott, but has shown flashes of fairly useful form since going hurdling, and looks capable of improving again once stepped up further in trip (stayed 2¼m on the level). Won in a first-time-visor for Prescott, so no surprise to see an improved effort if that headgear is reapplied on soft ground this winter.
Pedigree points to wins over hurdles
Originally purchased by the trainer's dad Aiden, Vamanos is by Fame And Glory, who was making a good fist of his new career at stud before passing away in 2017. Vamanos didn't show too much on his debut at Market Rasen, but his dam is from a successful jumping family, and he's expected to make an impact once stepping up in trip over hurdles this season.
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