Racing pundit Tony McCormick from www.irishbigracetrends.com beforetheoff.com and racing radio station racingfm.com presents his weekly column and continues his horses to follow.
Nick Lightfoot is a Channel 4 racing producer and presenter and was responsible for the excellent four kings tribute to Master Minded, Big Buck, Denman and Kauto Star at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
I caught up with Nick recently and asked him for a couple to follow in the national hunt season.
MATCHAWAY – Six-year-old gelding by Milan. Formerly trained in Ireland by Thomas Mullins, this six-year-old could soon be the apple of Kerry Lee’s eye, if performances on the track reward the excitement and optimism the Herefordshire-based trainer has in her new recruit.
Lee purchased Matchaway at Tattersalls in Ireland back in August, after the twice-raced son of Milan (a stallion responsible for producing one of the Lee yard’s Welsh National winners, Mountainous) had shown a decent amount of ability in bumpers.
The form of his debut second at Punchestown in June is working out well with three subsequent winners, and he was far from disgraced when third behind Aidan O’Brien’s Kalopsia at the Galway festival.
Racegoers in the UK should expect to see Matchable taking to hurdles in November, with chasing the long-term ambition. One to watch from the yard of an extremely ambitious operator.
BALLYALTON – Eight-year-old gelding by Pierre, trained by Ian Williams. Absolutely no prizes for originality. However, if this horse can replicate some of his high-class performances over hurdles two seasons ago when switched to the bigger obstacles this campaign then he’s worth keeping the right side of from the beginning.
Ballyalton was an absentee throughout the whole of the 2014-15 National Hunt season, having picked up an injury when chasing home the unbeaten Faugheen in the Neptune novices’ hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The plan was to go chasing last year, and although it’s come a year later than planned, his hurdles rating of 146 is firm indication enough that the eight-year-old is a serious proposition when novice chasing this season.
Trainer Williams has placed the horse perfectly in a lightly-raced career so far and has the horse entered in a two-mile novice chase at Cheltenham on Friday, but to my mind at least, he has the stamina, high-cruising speed and of course the class to meet the challenges of novice events run over two-and-a-half miles and potentially further.
Presumably, if Ballyalton does retain his ability and takes to steeplechasing then he’ll be campaigned with a tilt at the JLT at Cheltenham in March on the radar – with races such as the ‘Dipper’ at the aforementioned course on New Year’s Day and the Reynoldstown at Ascot in February contested en route.”
From the trainers I picked to follow in October, Jonjo O’Neill had a disappointing month with only three winners from 16 qualifiers, while Richard Newland returned a 33% strike rate.
Our Nigel Twiston-Davies angle produced five winners from 15 qualifiers and a 138.80 point profit to a £10 stake.
Star of the month was undoubtedly Neil Mulholland with a massive 66% strike rate returning a 188.30 point profit to a £10 stake when following the criteria reported at the beginning of the month. Barton Antix (11/2), Ashcott Boy (100/30), What’s Left (4/1) and Pure Poteen (8/1) were the four winners from six qualifiers in the month.
A couple of trainers to follow in November, Venetia Williams has a 27% strike rate since 2011 with her Handicap Chasers and Handicap Novice Chasers, with a starting price up to 16/1, though her runners at Cheltenham’s upcoming Open Meeting are best avoided.
Paul Nicholls usually starts hitting top form in November, especially with his chasers. Chasers, Beginners Chasers, Novice Chasers and Handicap Chasers can be followed with confidence aged between four and eight, with a starting price no bigger than 10/1.
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