Hello everyone, and thanks for reading!

When I initially started putting thoughts together for this week’s column, I was all set to talk about yet more MP’s raking it in on the side. And perhaps in the future, that will be the case too.

However, I don’t think I can do a better job than some of the incredible, real-life headlines that we’ve seen in recent days – and this week’s Polling Station episode has covered that in plenty of detail.

So anyhow, I thought I’d turn my hands to the big sporting event of the weekend – which for the majority of people reading this, will be Cheltenham’s November meeting! For many, this is the start of the jumps season proper – and it’s also the beginning of the Ten To Follow!

Seeing as the entries close tomorrow – and I’ll once again be giving the competition a shot or two – I thought I’d set my stall out for this year’ Ten To Follow, which hopefully will be a useful guide to those of you – like me – who are yet to put teams together.

The key to any successful Ten To Follow teams will be filled with horses who win bonus races. There are 21 this year, listed below:

  • Betfair Chase (Haydock)
  • Ladbrokes Trophy (Newbury)
  • Tingle Creek Chase (Sandown)
  • King George VI Chase (Kempton)
  • Welsh Grand National (Chepstow)
  • Savills Chase (Leopardstown)
  • Irish Champion Hurdle (Leopardstown)
  • Irish Gold Cup (Leopardstown)
  • Betfair Hurdle (Newbury)
  • Arkle Chase (Cheltenham)
  • Champion Hurdle (Cheltenham)
  • Queen Mother Champion Chase (Cheltenham)
  • Festival Chase (formerly the RSA Chase) (Cheltenham)
  • Stayers’ Hurdle (Cheltenham)
  • Ryanair Chase (Cheltenham)
  • Gold Cup (Cheltenham)
  • Betway Bowl (Aintree)
  • Aintree Hurdle (Aintree)
  • Melling Chase (Aintree)
  • Liverpool Stayers’ Hurdle (Aintree)
  • Grand National (Aintree)

The first thing to note are the four graded bonus races for 3 mile chasers (Betfair Chase, King George Chase, Savills, Irish Gold Cup and Gold Cup). Having contenders for all of those contests would appear to be vital to a winning effort, and the obvious places to start are Henry De Bromhead’s Gold Cup 1-2 of Minella Indo and A Plus Tard.

Minella Indo shaped well on his return in the Down Royal Champion Chase and is apparently headed to the King George, where he ought to take the beating. A Plus Tard has been pointed at the Betfair Chase, and whilst he will face a hard task against Clan Des Obeaux and Bristol De Mai, he’d have to go there as the horse to beat if ready.

They set a high standard for the second season chasers – sadly shorn of Monkfish – to aim at, and if staying fit and well, have the potential to take more than one bonus race each.

Honeysuckle, flawless last season, could well take the same route again, would give her a chance for double bonus points in the Irish Champion and Champion Hurdles.

Bob Olinger is set to make his chasing debut over fences tomorrow at Punchestown and if taking to the larger obstacles, would be a natural for the Marsh. Even if the Drinmore comes too soon for him, the Flogas Novice Chase could be on the agenda and so could Limerick’s Grade 1 at Christmas time.

Appreciate It was monstrous in the Supreme last year and on that evidence, has the 2 mile novice division at his mercy. Galopin Des Champs, winner of the Martin Pipe and then sensational at Punchestown, has the potential to do the same.

Vanillier was a long way behind Galopin Des Champs at Punchestown but it’s unlikely that was his best form and there was nothing wrong with his chasing debut at Down Royal, when he was dropped back over have a mile in trip and was only out sped by the much improved Lifetime Ambition and Beacon Edge there. He retains a lot of potential going back up in trip and it would be foolish to rule him out of any big staying novice chase.

The move of Vanilier to fences (along with Galopin des Champs) means that the 3m division could be dominated by the established contenders. Thyme Hill disappointed at Auteuil, but he was tenacious in the Liverpool Stayers’ Hurdle and should take the beating if back to his best in the Long Walk. A full season could give him two bonus race opportunities and a competitive division could mean points on top in the form of decent SP’s.

He just gets the vote over Flooring Porter – who ought to be seriously respected this season and was travelling smoothly when falling in the Lismullen Hurdle – given the likelihood he could go for both Cheltenham and Aintree. Klassical Dream was hugely impressive at Punchestown, but others do have more proven form here and one wonders if he’ll have a busy season.

A top two miler is probably needed, and whilst you will get no prizes for originality here, Shishkin is headed towards the Tingle Creek on the basis of Nicky Henderson’s comments and one would expect him to be favourite, even against one of Chacun Pour Soi or Energumeme, one of whom would look likely to challenge him in what could hopefully be a brilliant race.

Last but not least, Kilcruit is taken as the 2 mile novice hurdling option. Some will argue he should have won the Cheltenham and Punchestown bumpers and he can go up in trip from 2 miles on all evidence.

The more value minded amongst you will notice that these are made of very obvious contenders, meaning there’s also a loss when it comes to the SP’s of contenders (assuming they win races at short prices) which is correct. However, the transfer window in March gives the chance for two wildcards, and a shot at the Grand National if one has a long term fancy.

There wasn’t space for Allaho (so impressive in Ryanair, but appeared to hit best form in spring and disappointed in John Durkan and arguably Savils Chase last year), Envoi Allen (hugely talented, but potential clash with Allaho, less obvious pick than last year) , nor Clan des Obeaux (harder to leave out but could see best of him late season, as was the case in previous campaign).

It was extremely hard to leave out Energumene, more so than Chacun Pour Soi despite the nature of the latter’s impressive wins last season. For now, there are no up and coming handicappers in an attempt to snatch early season points, as the Paddy Power Gold Cup isn’t a bonus race anymore, whilst I don’t yet have a fancy strong enough for the Ladbroke Trophy. Good luck all!

My Ten To Follow:

  • Minella Indo
  • A Plus Tard
  • Honeysuckle
  • Bob Olinger
  • Appreciate It
  • Galopin Des Champs
  • Vanillier
  • Thyme Hill
  • Shishkin
  • Kilcruit


Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.