Here I bring you another five promising candidates to add to your trackers. Among them is a horse that I think could win the Paddy Power Gold Cup and an unbeaten Bumper winner about to make his debut over fences.
Following on from my first five to follow article, Land Genie, who is half-brother to Constitution Hill, was placed second on his seasonal debut at Carlisle and Buddy One, my Irish raider, has clocked up a very decent win in a Handicap Hurdle at Galway, so the hidden gems are already starting to show their true colours. Get all ten of these promising horses in your trackers right now!
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Sire: Joshua Tree
Trainer: Tom Lacey
Owner: JP McManus
A horse that I’m very keen to follow in the coming season is Tom Lacey's nice four-year-old Montregard, who is a half-brother to Grade 1 winners Protektorat and Irish Point. Connections wasted no time with this gelding and sent him straight out Hurdling, without any Point-to-Point or Bumper experience. He was very eye-catching on debut at Doncaster, considering he hadn't even seen a racetrack before.
The fact that connections have sent him Hurdling straight away tells me they must see something special about this gelding and have some sort of plan on what they want to do with him going forward.
On his debut run at Doncaster Montregard showed a lot of inexperience and greenness. He stumbled at the first Hurdle, he had reminders before the fifth, raced wide, and was out the back for the majority of the race, so he definitely went the long way round. For all his errors, from three out to the line he made some nice headway and closed the gap on the two that finished in front of him, both of which had the benefit of previous course experience.
The fact that he still managed to end up a very eye-catching third indicated that he has a decent engine in him and on his second start, he confirmed some of this promise by beating some good horses at Warwick. This was actually a step up in trip to 2m 3f as well and considering how green he was on debut, I was concerned about his ability to handle the extra distance if he made things difficult for himself again, but he looked a much-improved type.
He was ridden more prominently this time, seeming generally more focused on the task at hand and was game at the finish to win by just under a length. These are the only two runs we have seen from Montregard to date and I can't help but feel that there is a huge amount of improvement still to come and when it does, he could turn out to be pretty smart.
Now as mentioned, connections must have some sort of plan for him to have sent him Hurdling with no previous experience and the fact that they were so keen to step him up in trip on just his second start confirms this to me. Perhaps Chasing is the goal, but I wouldn't be surprised if they gave him one more season over Hurdles as he is only a four-year-old. Either way, Montregard looks to be a nice horse with untapped potential, and I think he will do plenty of winning this season. Definitely an interesting prospect to track for the season ahead
Sire: Dream Well
Trainer: Gary Moore
Owner: John & Yvonne Stone
Nassalam is a horse that I've liked since he was a juvenile and I think he will come into his prime this season, with one big target in mind this side of Christmas. He is from a decent family and a half-brother to Klassical Dream, although they couldn't be any different in stature, as Nassalam looks every inch a Chaser.
He has an official rating of 142, but he won a Grade 2 over fences off a mark of 145 before having a few niggling injuries that kept him off track for the best part a year. Prior to that, his form figures over fences were 11221, so he was definitely on a roll at that point.
Nassalam came back into form at Cheltenham on New Years Day, when he ran a mighty race to finish just three lengths back off Midnight River from the Dan Skelton yard, who went on to win a Grade 3 Chase at Aintree. That was a huge step back in the right direction and it was good to see he still retained the ability he had shown previously.
His next two efforts were over three miles, which proved a step too far at this point, but I think the Gary Moore team will be more than happy with how his season turned, considering the issues he had previously. And don’t forget, he is still only six years old, so there is plenty more to come from him yet.
I think his target this side of Christmas will be the Paddy Power Gold Cup in November and he has all the right credentials to go very close in the race. He was travelling really well in that race last year, which was just his second start back, but was badly hampered by a faller when he was clearly in contention. He will probably have one run before then to blow away the cobwebs and then straight off to Cheltenham. He’ll also run off a lower mark this time around, so assuming any improvement whatsoever, Nassalam is the Paddy Power winner in waiting.
Sire: Doctor Dino
Trainer: Nicky Henderson
Owner: JP McManus
Doctor Dino is becoming a very popular sire and he has produced a smart-looking filly in the name of Under Control, who is trained by Nicky Henderson. She was purchased from France after winning her only start and has done well since joining Seven Barrows, going on to win three out of four races. In fairness, her only defeat came when she was chucked in at the deep end at the Cheltenham Festival, which was only her second start for connections.
She was impressive on her UK debut at Newbury and went straight from there to Cheltenham for a crack at the Mares Novice Hurdle, but as expected, found it all a bit too much at this early stage in her career. I think it was a case of 'why not' as Nicky would've been looking to get a run into her anyway.
The tactic evidently worked as she had improved plenty when next seen winning back at Cheltenham in April and again in the Final's Novices’ Handicap at Sandown a week later. She has done a fair bit of racing in a short space of time, but this should stand her in good stead for the upcoming season.
I’m fairly certain she will continue down the Hurdling route for this season and as Nicky likes to keep his youngsters confined to the flatter tracks whenever possible, she is likely to start out somewhere like Newbury again. If all goes smoothly, she could turn into a Graded filly, with the possibility of her going for the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. Even if Under Control doesn’t turn out to be a Graded horse, she is worth tracking this year and will undoubtedly pick up plenty more wins along the way.
Sire: Night Wish
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Owner: Johnny De La Hey
The five-year-old Ivaldi, is a lovely horse from the Paul Nicholls’ yard who grabbed my attention when he won his final race of the season at Ascot in seriously good style. Seemingly he had taken some time to get right, but his end of season performance was very eye-catching and put him in an entirely different light.
The fact it was at the end of the season could potentially indicate one of two things. He has either simply improved for the experience, or, he just takes a little time to get right, but being 5, I hope it is just genuine improvement and that would set him up for a solid campaign this year.
He isn't the biggest sort but he reminds me of another Nicholls runner called Solo, who has done rather well for a fence and I think IVALDI follows in his footsteps this season.
I think Ivaldi is likely to make his seasonal debut at Ascot or Newbury in October or November. Once he’s had his first run, it will be much easier to gauge his potential season targets. Whatever those turn out to be, I wouldn't be surprised to see him put in a couple of poor efforts along the way, but I’m convinced he will win a nice prize this season one way or another. He is a bit of a dark horse, but whatever transpires, we can definitely have some fun following him this season.
Dam: Graces Benefit
Trainer: Fergal O'Brien
Owner: The Good Stock Syndicate
My final horse to follow for the 2023/24 NH season is the stunning Fergal O'Brien mare Dysart Enos, who really is one of a kind. She is the only foal from her dam, Graces Benefit, and she had a very impressive season last year, remaining unbeaten in all three of her Bumper starts. Her breeder is a lady called Ms Grainne Dunne, who has only ever bred one horse in her life and that horse just happens to have the potential be a little bit special.
On debut at Ludlow she won by over 10 lengths and looked very impressive in the process, but at that time, we didn't really know how good that form was going to turn out. She did however justify the eye test by beating the high-profile Queens Gamble next time out, going away at the line and that was the performance that got me quite excited by her future.
Queens Gamble was already the impressive winner of two Bumpers coming into that race, but Dysart Enos never looked in trouble, she won with plenty in hand and this was on just her second start under Rules. Into the deep end she went at Aintree next time for the Grade 2 Mares and she put up an absolutely scintillating performance to win by 10 lengths eased down and beating a couple of decent Willie Mullins runners in the process.
She is a really impressive mare and if she takes to Hurdles, she is potentially something extra special. The fact that she is from the UK, the only horse produced by her Breeder and the only foal from her dam, makes her a bit of an enigma and certainly adds a bit of mystery to her profile too.
Although my horses to follow are definitely confined to those who have Cheltenham aspirations, Dysart Enos has to go in the notebook for the Mares’ Novice hurdle. Fergal O'Brien is local to me here in Cheltenham, so it will be great to track her progress this season and hopefully we’ll see the local boys get to Cheltenham in March with a genuine contender. There is a lot to do between now and then of course, but she will be great fun to track through the season.
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