The 2016/17 National Hunt horse racing season is about to get underway and horse racing lovers will doubtless be looking forward to the inevitable drama that’s coming their way. On this site, we have already used statistical analysis to try and help you find the best jockeys and trainers over Jumps. In this article, I will look at 5 horses to watch during the upcoming National Hunt season. There are of course dozens of interesting horses and I invite readers to post their own selections and reasoning in the comments section.
1 – Blow by Blow
This 5yo Gelding is trained by Willie Mullins and has won 3 of his 4 career starts. He was beaten by a neck by Tamlough Boy on his debut over 2 miles at Punchestown in December 2015 but has won the following 3 races. Indeed, Blow by Blow won his last race at Punchestown in April 2016 at an SP of 14/1 where he led for pretty much the entire race and held off the challenge of 2015 Champion Hurdle winner Moon Racer.
The horse has been ridden by both Patrick Mullins and Katie Walsh and both jockeys have commented on the toughness of the horse. While Blow by Blow is definitely a chaser to watch in the future, he could give punters joy this season as he is expected to perform extremely well in Novice Hurdles. Although Blow by Blow has only raced over 2 miles to date, he could stay at least an extra 4 furlongs according to pundits.
Incidentally, had you backed Blow by Blow in all his races so far with a £10 level stake, you would be sitting on £150.40 profit! Obviously, this is boosted significantly due to his win at long odds last time out.
2 – Le Breuil
This 4yo Gelding is trained by Ben Pauling and has won his only career start. A lot is expected of Le Breuil and this expectation was only heightened by the manner of his easy 10 length win over 2 miles at Warwick in May 2016. Le Breuil was a 3/1 shot that day and was ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson. He travelled well during the race and found something extra to blow away his rivals in the final couple of furlongs.
According to trainer Ben Pauling, this horse is an excellent hurdler and is extremely accurate with his jumping. Last season was slightly marred by the fact Le Breuil had a dust allergy so that issue held him back a bit. Assuming that he doesn’t have any more issues and continues to show exciting potential, Pauling believes that Le Breuil could race in a Champion Bumper. Although there is no official announcement yet, Pauling has mentioned that he is looking to race this talented hurdler in October.
3 – Midnight Maestro
This 4yo Gelding is trained by Alan King and showed enough promise on his debut to persuade JP McManus to stump up £100,000 to purchase him. His 4 ½ length win at Doncaster in March 2016 over 2 miles is his only run to date. On that day, Midnight Maestro travelled strongly and was held up in the back of the 5 horse race. He made his move around 2 furlongs out and was a comfortable winner at odds of 6/4.
He is the full brother of the promising William H. Bonney and is expected to make waves over 2 mile Novice Hurdle events in 2016/17. Certainly, with McManus as his owner, Midnight Maestro is definitely one to watch.
4 – Silvergrove
This 8yo Gelding is the second Ben Pauling horse on the list and his trainer believes Silvergrove has what it takes to win the Grand National. He has won 3 out of 17 starts but crucially, he has won 2 of his last 3. It could have been 3 in a row but for a mishap in his last race where jockey Tom David’s tack broke in the final stages of the race. He looked good in that 3 mile 2-furlong race at Cheltenham where he finished third behind Cause of Causes.
Pauling has only trained Silvergrove for his last 4 races and has overseen a dramatic improvement. When the horse ran his first race under Pauling, his BHA ranking was 116; it was 138 by the time he ran at Cheltenham.
His trainer categorically says that Silvergrove is the best jumper he has ever worked with and plans to enter him in the Becher Chase in December. If everything goes well, Pauling wants to ensure Silvergrove has at least 3 races under his belt before tackling the National. He was travelling well over the 3m 2f trip so it will be interesting to see if he has the extra stamina required to compete in one of the world’s most gruelling horse races.
5 – Smart Talk
This 6yo mare is trained by Brian Ellison and has won 4 of her 8 starts including two class 1 victories. She didn’t fare too well in her last outing in March at the Cheltenham festival where she finished in 13th place way behind Limini as she weakened on the run-in. However, the stable wasn’t in particularly good form at that stage of the season and she had won her previous 2 races.
Smart Talk ran off a BHA rating of 149 for her last race; a significant leap from her previous highest rating of 134. It will be interesting to see the rating she receives for her next race in 2016/17. Her trainer says she did well over the summer and he is looking to enter her over 2m 4f events during the winter.
The fun of the National Hunt season is about to start and it’s time for punters to do their research in order to get ahead of the bookies. Are there any hidden gems you’re interested in? If so, drop us a line and let us know!