There is no such thing as a certainty in racing and I know that too well… me cheering Enable in the Arc comes to mind… But if there are 10 good things for what will happen this Jumps season, here they are;
There’s a tonne of talent in Ireland but when you are first jockey for the Mullins yard and with the talent that yard has; barring injury its nigh on impossible that the likes of Davy Russell, Rachel Blackmore or Sean Flanagan to get more winners. Sure, they’ll ride a lot more but for the major meetings especially they won’t be on nearly as many good things.
Altior won’t win the Gold Cup, and he probably won’t run in it, why would he? It’s great for racing that he is stepping up in trip and yes, he could get 3 miles around Kempton but 3m 2f around Cheltenham when they go as fast as the do, I can’t see him staying that.
Nicky Henderson is nothing short of a genius and will surely conclude that a record equalling 3rd Queen Mother is there for the taking. If he does win the Gold Cup though, I’ll happily hold my hands up and say he’s a freak and one of the best of all time.
The 11/2 available for the King George looks like Each Way thievery. I can’t see how if he’s fit and well he doesn’t defend his title and compared to the others around him in the market (Altior and Cyrname untested at the trip, Lostintranslation stepping out of Novice company, Kemboy likely to have an interrupted prep) has absolutely no questions to answer.
He was brilliant in the race last year and is only 7 so should be even better this time round. He won’t be out the top 3 and personally I can’t see anything finishing ahead of him.
Paul Nicholls won it for the 11th time last season and he’ll be making that 12. Is there a better jumps trainer than Paul? right now I’m not too sure. People said that he lacked the fire power to match Nicky Henderson last year and may be at the very top level that is true but there is barely a Saturday that goes by where the Ditcheat maestro doesn’t pick up a big prize and that will be the same this time round.
You just need to go through some of the horses he has – Cyrname, Clan Des Obeaux, Politologue, Frodon, Dynamite Dollars to name just a few in the staying division, then he has Novice Chasers’ like Grand Sancy and Danny Whizzbang. Maybe he is lacking a hurdler to mix it at the top table but he’s not had one of these really for a fair few years so I don’t think the title will be won or lost because of that.
Thistlecrack will be a 12-year-old when Cheltenham comes around next year and realistically his best chance of tasting success again is in the Stayers’ Hurdle where he was so dominant in his youth.
Colin Tizzard has already said in his stable tour that he’ll start the season off over the smaller obstacles and with the likes of Native River and Lostintranslation representing the yard I wouldn’t be surprised if we never see Thistlecrack over fences again.
Jonjo O’Neil Jr to be Top Conditional Jockey
A Cheltenham Festival winner already in his short career, there is no doubting Jonjo Jr’s talents. He holds a slender lead in the Conditional Jockey’s title race but crucially gets more rides than his rivals. Already he has ridden for 23 different trainers this season and with rides plentiful from his father Jonjo, the title will be his long before the season ends.
We’ll see the last running of the Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
We all know that a yet to be named race will be axed after this year’s festival to make way for the Mares’ Chase and for me the one that should go is the Dawn Run Mares Novice.
You want to see the best take on the best and a race like this stops that. Laurina won in 2018 by 18 lengths before that Let’s Dance and Limini both won easily and all were good enough to run in the Supreme or Ballymore so in 4 running’s we’ve only really had 1 race, that being last season.
Truthfully you won’t find many who will miss this race.
Rachael Blackmore to ride more winners than any other female jockey in UK & IRE
Rachael Blackmore rode 90 winners last year with Lisa O’Neal the next best on 28. If she stays fit, there is no one in Ireland that will get close. In the UK, I’d be very surprised if any female jockey rides more winners that Bryony Frost but I can’t see how she’ll ride more than Rachel either.
Gypsy Island to remain unbeaten in Mares Hurdles
Gypsy Island is one of my 10 to follow this season and I don’t think there’s another Mare going Novice Hurdling who’s in the same league as her.
In her last run at the end of last season she beat Daylight Katie easily who then won last month by 26 lengths. I doubt we’ll see much if any of Gypsy Island in open company and on the ability we’ve seen so far, I can’t see her being beat by anything of her own sex.
The Racing Blogger to ride in a charity race
It’s a question I get asked a lot and maybe just maybe this will be the year I take the plunge and ride in a Charity race.
These initiatives have done so much good, have raised so much money for worthy causes and allowed racing enthusiasts to fulfil lifelong ambitions in riding in a race. Hopefully soon I’ll fulfil this ambition too!