The Cheltenham Showcase meeting really kicks off the National Hunt season on Friday and bearing that in mind we have taken a look at the season ahead and made some prediction of what to expect from the exciting 2019/2020 season.
#10 Richard Johnson To Be Crowned Champion Jockey
Dickie won the champion conditional jockey title in the 1995/1996 season at the age of 18 but had to until 2016 to claim his first champion jockey title Prior to that, he had been runner-up to Tony McCoy on sixteen occasions and barring injury he looks set to ride another century of winner en-route to retaining his champion jockey crown.
#9 Paul Townend To Be Leading Jockey At The Cheltenham Festival
Ireland’s champion jockey has a decent record at the Cheltenham festival without ever being crowned as the leading rider. Townend’s has finished “20th, 2nd, 18th, 5th, 3rd, 3rd” at the last six festivals and with Wille Mullins backing the talented rider, I think he can finally land the top jockey title.
#8 Dermot Weld To Regain His Top Trainer Title At Galway
The “King of Ballybrit” landed his 30th leading trainer title back in 2015 but hasn’t added to his tally since. This is a fall from grace considering he trained a mammoth 17 winners in 2011. Dermot Weld has been making a resurgence of late and don’t be surprised if he regains his crown.
#7 Charles Byrnes To Land A Gamble Through The Season
When you think if “proper” racing gambles, three trainer names come to mind, Barney Curley, Tony Martin and Charles Byrnes. In Ireland, Byrnes is the most notable and has landed numerous gambles down through the years. The biggest of these came at Roscommon back in 2016 where he trained his first treble.
David Russell was aboard all three horses at overnight odds of 16/1,12/1 & 14/1 who eventually returned at odds of 6/1, 7/4 & 5/4. Byrnes is constantly plotting his next gamble and he’ll undoubtedly land another one soon.
#6 Oisin Murphy To Ride The Champion Bumper Winner
The newly-crowned champion flat jockey has had an incredibly busy season riding winners up and down the country. I know this may be a swerve ball but he could very easily land a Cheltenham winner next season. There has been a long list of elite flat jockeys that have ridden in the Champion bumper, most recently Donnacdh O’Brien last season.
It’s a dream for every jockey to ride a Cheltenham winner and I’m sure Oisin is no different and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise.
#5 Gigginstown To Make A U-Turn On Ownership Decision
Michael O’Leary announced last year that due to family commitments he was taking a step back from racing and wouldn’t be buying any new horses at the sales.
However, after years of being involved in the racing game, I know as well as anyone that once you’re bitten by the racing game it never goes away. I understand that Gigginstown will scale things back but can’t see them going cold turkey, especially with the likes of Tiger Roll flying the flag for O’Leary.
#4 Derek O’Connor or Jamie Codd To Ride A Winner At The 2020 Cheltenham Festival
Ireland’s leading amateur riders are always certs to ride winners at the Cheltenham Festival with Jamie Codd ridding the last two champion bumper winners and Derek and Jamie also ridding three of the last five winners of the National Hunt Chase.
They are always the “go-to” men when it comes any amateur race and look like safe bets to add to their Cheltenham tallies in 2020.
#3 Altior To Win The Cheltenham Gold Cup
Undoubtedly, Altior is currently the best National Hunt horse currently in training and Nicky Henderson, the Seven Barrow’s maestro has always been confident Altior has the ability to stay further than two miles.
I’m not saying Altior is certain stayer but the King George at Kempton is the perfect course for a horse like Altior to make the transition from two to three miles, it’s a track he loves – having won all four of outings there – and, most importantly, Henderson seems keen to take on the challenge. 2019 will be the year Altior is crowned king of Kempton Park
#2 Darren Yeats To Make More Big Money Purchases
Yeats paid £620,000 for the promising Interconnected who was second on debut in a novice hurdle at Newbury. The son of Network is yet to run for current connections and could be one to follow for the season ahead.
In a bid to win the Grand National Yeats paid £300,000 for Blaklion only for him to be ruled out through injury soon afterwards. Then on the eve of the race itself, he stumped up £170,000 for Don Poli and hopefully if he sees some success he may make further “big money” purchases.
#1 Tiger Roll To Win A 3rd Grand National
Gordon Elliott’s stable star has won the back to back Grand Nationals and bids to become the first horse to win three Grand National in a row. He’s won the Cheltenham cross country race for the past three seasons to boot and looks likely to try and emulate the feat again this season. He can be backed at 9/1 to repeat the dose.
Even if he doesn’t go the Cheltenham, I think he can make history and win a 3rd straight Grand National.