Jack Nicol: My Stable
Jack Nicol continues our ten jumpers to follow series for the 2013-2014 National Hunt season.
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Sir Des Champs - Ireland's best staying chaser is set for another crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup with trainer Willie Mullins reporting the seven-year-old to be stronger following his summer break. The Robin Des Champs gelding improved with each run last season and a similar programme is to be followed this year with the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown his likeliest first port-of-call. His record at Cheltenham reads 112 and if the ground comes up 'Good' I expect him to take Bobs Worth's crown in March.
My Tent Or Yours - My favourite jumps horse. Destroyed the Betfair Hurdle field at Newbury before posting a creditable second behind Champagne Fever in a very good renewal of the Supreme Novices' at Cheltenham. Jezki and Un Atout (third and fourth in the Supreme) both went on to record Grade 1 successes following that race whilst My Tent Or Yours made amends for that second when taking a Grade 2 at Aintree by 16 lengths. The Supreme compared favourably to the running of the Champion Hurdle on the same card in March and I expect the Desert Prince gelding to be a serious contender for the latter this season. Connections suffered a blow when they tragically lost the highly-talented Darlan in a fall at Doncaster but they seem to have found the perfect replacement in the form of My Tent Or Yours.
Clondaw Kaempfer - An impressive winner of his two starts over hurdles, including a Listed contest at Haydock, he then went to the Challow Hurdle in December where he was injured when over-jumping the third last whilst still well in contention. Connections took the option to put him away for the season as he is too good to risk and a mark of 136 looks very fair, I'm sure trainer Donald McCain will aiming him at the big Saturday handicaps and there is definitely one to be won before the possibility of going chasing later in the season.
Gone Too Far - A runner-up on his bumper debut behind Oscar Rock with the pair 14 lengths clear of the useful O'Faolains Boy last November, he made no mistake next time out when comfortably winning a Kempton bumper following a break and is an exciting prospect in novice hurdles this season. Already off the mark at Wetherby, this classy individual is likely to stay at two miles for the time being but is sure to get further in time.
Rocky Creek - My idea of the Hennessy winner. Paul Nicholls has long held this fellow in high regard and the Newbury showpiece has always been the target for this Dr Massini gelding. If Tidal Bay lines up in the race then Rocky Creek is set to carry a very nice weight of 10-6 and that should see him go close considering he is better going left-handed and is suited by cut in the ground, conditions that he is likely to encounter at Newbury. His Reynoldstown Chase victory at Ascot is also strong form and the fact that he skipped Cheltenham last season should also be beneficial in the long-term. Interestingly, the seven-year-old is now housed in Kauto Star's old box at Ditcheat and will be contesting the leading staying chases this season.
Discovery Bay - Brian Ellison has consecutively increased his total of winners over jumps for the last four years and he has assembled a strong team for this season, with the likes of Ultimate, Totalize and Viva Colonia all looking useful horses for the Norton handler. It is Discovery Bay who is probably his most exciting prospect, though, and this five-year-old can definitely make his mark in handicap hurdles this season when encountering good ground. He was consistent last term when winning twice at Wetherby before placing second at both Ayr and Cartmel, the soft ground was to blame for those defeats and with a proper summer break under his belt I can see him taking a nice prize off his current handicap mark. Ran well in second at Musselburgh on his seasonal reappearance and he can improve on that placing this season.
Carraig Mor - Carraig Mor was an impressive winner of his sole point-to-point last season and was subsequently purchased for 50,000 euros at the Tattersalls Derby Sale where he will now race in the same colours as Balder Succes and Two Rockers for Masterson Holdings Limited. The Old Vic gelding made the most impressive start to his hurdling career this season when bolting up on Soft ground at Uttoxeter, he is held in the highest regard by trainer Alan King and he must destined for the Albert Bartlett in March.
The Liquidator - The Champion Bumper at Cheltenham is always a good place to look when looking for future high-class novice hurdlers and The Liquidator could be the best of those to come from the 2013 running. The Overbury gelding went on to win the Champion Bumper at Punchestown at the end of last season and has already got off the mark over hurdles having posted an emphatic victory at Carlisle in October on debut. Admittedly, the opposition was nothing to shout about that day but he couldn't have done it any easier and trainer David Pipe could have a leading contender for the Neptune Novices' Hurdle on his hands.
Cloudy Copper - Cloudy Copper won both his races over hurdles last term and had been set to contest the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham before being withdrawn on raceday, he loves soft ground and is definitely one to follow this season now that his attention has been switched to the larger obstacles. The Cloudings gelding is bred to be a chaser and whatever he achieved over hurdles was always going to be a bonus, stiff tracks and deep ground are likely to see him excel in staying novice chase division and this winning pointer could be one for the RSA chase.
Tistory - Lightly raced six-year-old who has had his problems but was impressive when winning on hurdle debut at Towcester in May. That victory purposely came at the start of this season so he will therefore retain his novice status into 2014 and that is a bonus for the half-brother to Punchestowns who can gain that extra bit of experience in novice company. The Epalo gelding is certainly better than his current mark of 123 and is certainly an exciting prospect to follow this season.
My Stable 'how to' guide:
• To search for a horse, trainer or jockey, type their name in the search bar and click on the magnifying glass.
• To add a horse, trainer or jockey to your stable, do the above and then click on 'add to my stable'.
• To view your stable, go to 'your selections' located towards the top right when you are logged in.
• To receive email alerts from your stable, you must tick the box located under the tab 'E-Mail'.
• To stop receiving alerts, untick the box. To delete your selection from your stable, select the red cross.
• To change your email details, go to Sky Bet and log-in with your My Stable username and password. Go to your name in the top left and 'click here for all account options'. Go to 'My Details' and then scroll down to your email address. Change it in the box provided.