1. A PLUS TARD
(H De Bromhead)
Our opening salvo for this Horses to Follow list is the only charge I would put under the banner as ‘already a star’ following his Cheltenham novice success in the Close Brothers in 2019 and his defeat of Chacun Pour Soi in a Grade One at Leopardstown last season. Based on that win he went off the 7/4 favourite to land the Ryanair Chase, but his jumping was slightly tardy and he didn’t find as much up the final climb as seemed likely.
His novice success at the Festival suggested two and a half miles would be his optimum trip, but I am hoping he will be aimed at the Champion Chase this season. Yes, he had a fitness advantage over CPS when readily beating him, but in my book his fluency over his obstacle fences and high cruising speed makes him a natural for the Champion Chase.
The only obstacle to such a campaign is that his yard have other potential players in the two mile division.
2. CASTLE RUSHEN
(N Richards) I will be hugely surprised if the Penrith handler hasn’t got this well related youngster near the top of his ‘promising tree’ for this his second season in training. A typically big, raw boned individual that the yard trades in, he ran all over the place when out of his own front when landing his bumper at Ayr.
From very early on in the race, his follow up under a penalty at the West of Scotland track was a forlorn hope as they went no gallop and he was predictably outpaced down the home stretch. I suspect two and a half miles will be a bare minimum for him over hurdles and chasing will ultimately be his game
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