Hammond: Racing's Darlan
Alex Hammond gave us her Ten To Follow last week one day at a time - check out the full list right here including her videos.
Oscars Well is trained by Jessica Harrington. The 7 year-old made the perfect start to his chasing career at Punchestown at the end of last month. He was a smart hurdler, winning two Grade 1 races as a novice, but didn't really sparkle last season running against the top two mile hurdlers. He seems rejuvinated by a switch to chasing and his next start will be in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse in December. He looks capable of challenging for top novice chase honours.
Sir Des Champs is antepost favourite for the Gold Cup after a magnificent last season which saw him unbeaten in five starts. He ended by winning at the Cheltenham festival and at the highest level at Punchestown. He is unbeaten in all 8 of his starts under rules and should contest some of the top staying chases both in the UK and Ireland.
Dermot Weld's Waaheb looked a horse to follow last season but a few niggling injuries kept him off the track. He had his first start since May 2011 in a 2 mile Hurdle at Fairyhouse last month and it was an impressive debut over obstacles. His trainer has described him as a talented horse with a lot of class and he is a leading contender for top novice hurdle honours and will no doubt be targetted at the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
A horse who should be able to get us off the mark quickly is David Pipe's Grands Crus who is favourite for Saturday's Paddy Power Gold Cup at Chetlenham. He was a top class novice chaser last season winning three of his four starts, with his one defeat coming in the RSA Chase. He finished fourth there when not running to his best form and can be forgiven his lacklustre effort. Saturday's Cheltenham contest looks like an ideal starting point for the grey who could run in many of the top two and a half to three mile chases this term.
Sanctuaire should contest the top two mile chases this season. Although Sprinter Sacre looks like a formidable opponent in that division this horse can exploit any chinks in his armour. He sometimes looked reluctant over hurdles after a few hard races but he was reformed by the switch to fences and is now three out of three. He looks likely to start in the Tingle Creek at Sandown at the beginning of December and he could be anything this season.
Dodging Bullets looks a novice hurdler to have on your lists too. He was a dual winner on the flat in Ireland before joining the team here at Manor Farm Stables. Last season he had three starts in graded company over hurdles for Paul Nicholls and ran some fair races in defeat. He has had a wind operation over the summer and has since got off the mark over hurdles at Cheltenham last month. He is entered in the Racing Post Hurdle this weekend
My Tent Or Yours has already got off the mark for the season with a win at Ascot a couple of weeks ago. That was his first start over hurdles and he showed a good attitude to win under AP McCoy. He was a classy performer in Bumpers winning one and finishing second in the Aintree Bumper in April. He is one of the nicest novice hurdlers around and can vie for some of the top prizes. He is sure to be well placed by Nicky who will once again be battling with Paul Nicholls in the trainers championship.
Simonsig looks set to make his mark in the top 2 mile novice chases this season, in fact he is already antepost favourite for the Arkle despite never running under rules over fences. He is the winner of two of his three starts in Irish point to points and has an almost perfect record over hurdles. His only defeat came at Sandown when he was beaten by another of our horses to follow, Fingal Bay.
Darlan is owned by JP McManus. The horse did well to come back from a crashing fall at Newbury in February and was 2nd in the Supreme before winning at Aintree. He looks like being one of the top 2 mile hurdlers this season.
One of the nicest Novice Chase prospects in Britain is the Philip Hobbs trained Fingal Bay. The six year-old started the new season with an impressive win on his chase debut at Chepstow. He won four of his five starts over hurdles with his only defeat coming at Aintree in a Grade 1 Novices' Hurdle at the National meeting. He idled a bit after the last, but has loads of class and now he has switched to chasing can win some decent prizes with the RSA Chase at the festival a likely target in the spring.