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2019/20 National Hunt racing tips - Twelve top performers to track next season

Jonathan Vine 8 May 2019
Jamie Codd screams in delight as Envoi Allen wins the Champion Bumper.

Our expert looks back on a fantastic jumps racing campaign and highlights twelve horses who caught his eye and he feels are worth tracking during the 2019/20 campaign.

Another eventful jumps racing season was drawn to a close last week and all of the major players in the National Hunt racing world will be looking forward to a well-deserved summer holiday. Kemboy’s exploits at Aintree and Punchestown, along with Tiger Rolls heroics in the Grand National will make them there two stars of the season for many punters, but there were plenty of other horses who caught the eye during the course of the season.

Here are 12 horses who our expert feels have plenty of room left for improvement and are certainly worth tracking during the 2019/20 National Hunt racing campaign.

Chacun Pour Soi



A fitting place to start, considering Chacun Pour Soi stole the headlines the day after Ruby Walsh retired at Punchestown. Willie Mullins’ charge entered the Grade One Ryanair Novice Chase with a solitary outing on Irish soil under his belt. Robbie Power took the ride as Chacun Pour Soi was pitched in with two heroes from the Cheltenham Festival - Arkle winner Duc Des Genievres and JLT champion, Defi Du Seuil.

I was keen to take Duc Des Genievres on, as I felt he was the fortunate winner of a very messy Arkle, so I wasn’t surprised to see Paul Townend’s mount fail to land a blow. As Defi Du Seuil took aim at Chacun Pour Soi, who had made a couple of errors before hitting the front three from home, I expected Philip Hobbs’ charge to pounce, like he had done to win his two previous Grade Ones. 

Yet, the British raider was unable to lay a glove on Chacun Pour Soi, who cruised to a comfortable Grade One victory at the first time of asking. The world is his oyster looking ahead to 2019/20. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mullins step his French recruit up in trip as the season progresses, but the Champion Chase could well be his primary objective.

Destrier


Dan Skelton may have fallen short on his quest to break Martin Pipe’s record of seasonal winners, but it’s clear his stable will only continue to strengthen and he can look forward to some good days on the track with Destrier over the coming years.

Following a couple of hard-fought victories in novice chases, Skelton threw Destrier into the Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree. Harry Skelton’s mount travelled so sweetly throughout the race and was pulled off the rail to attack Ornua coming down the home straight. Destrier eventually fell short, finishing a couple of lengths behind the winner in third, but it was a hugely promising display on his Grade One debut and I’m sure team Skelton will be able to target a huge handicap prize with this improving chaser next term.

Fakir D’Oudairies


Defeats at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown may have taken the gloss off Fakir D’Oudairies’ campaign. However, I was extremely impressed with the attitude Joseph O’Brien’s juvenile showed during a high-profile campaign and he’s a horse I will certainly be keeping onside.

Fakir D’Oudairies looked beaten a long way from home as he tackled his elders in the Supreme, only for Mark Walsh’s mount to rally and finish a staying-on fourth. O’Brien’s front-runner was picked off by Pentland Hills at Aintree and the impressive Fusil Raffles at Punchestown, but runner-up finishes in two prestigious Grade Ones are results not to be sniffed at. 

Juveniles can often struggle during their five-year-old campaign, but I think O’Brien’s charge has the experience and composure to prosper. Whether he’s sent over fences, or stepped up in trip over hurdles, I will be keen to side with Fakir D’Oudairies when the new season arrives.

Getaway Trump


A campaign which started with so much promise threatened to tail off at the start of the New Year. Getaway Trump, who had topped the betting for the Betfair Hurdle, had to settle for fourth in the rescheduled race at Ascot and Paul Nicholls will have been dismayed with the showing his charge put in at Kelso a couple of weeks later, where Getaway Trump was comprehensively beaten as the odds-on favourite in the Grade Two Novices’ Hurdle.

No-one wanted to side with Nicholls’ charge as he squared off with Gordon Elliott’s Galvin at Ayr. Yet, Getaway Trump returned to top form with an excellent six-length victory, a performance he built on at Sandown two weeks later, carrying top-weight to victory in the Novices’ Championship Finale. Getaway Trump ends his novice hurdling campaign rated 155 and I’d be surprised if he didn’t progress beyond that mark when he sets out as a novice chaser.

Klassical Dream



For me, Klassical Dream’s victory in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle was one of the stand-out performances of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. Ruby Walsh’s mount looked keen throughout, carrying his head low in fairly awkward fashion. As rivals stacked up behind the leader coming down the hill, Ruby asked his mount to go and go he certainly did. Klassical Dream pulled effortlessly away from some decent rivals and a superb leap at the last allowed Willie Mullins’ charge to saunter over the line virtually unopposed.

Klassical Dream backed up that showing at Punchestown, claiming the Herald Champion Novices’ Hurdle crown with the minimum of fuss. Mullins has the option of going over fences with this classy five-year-old next term. The Champion Hurdle, however, seems to be there for the taking in 2019/20 and Klassical Dream should return to Cheltenham as prime contender in Tuesday’s Championship race.

Emitom


Despite being one of my most successful tracker horses last season, I wasn’t that convinced by Emitom’s narrow victory at Newbury at the beginning of March and thought he would struggle in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree. On the contrary, Warren Greatrex’s charge rose to the occasion and was eating into Champ’s lead with every stride before the winning post arrived to save the favourite.

Again, novice chasing will be discussed by Greatrex and his team, looking ahead to next season. I get the feeling, however, that the team may look to keep this laid-back five-year-old over hurdles for the time-being and we could see a Paisley Park-like progression from Emitom as he matures and develops.

Envoi Allen



Despite winning a couple of good bumpers during the first half of the season, Envoi Allen remained in the betting for both the Supreme and the Ballymore, with Gordon Elliott intimating on a number of occasions that his five-year-old could tackle jumps before the season ended. As it was, Envoi Allen took his spot in the Champion Bumper and Jamie Codd’s mount looked every inch a star in the making when holding off dangerous challenger, Blue Sari.

Elliott was quoted in saying Envoi Allen could be a Gold Cup horse in the future. Only time will tell whether those thoughts turn out to be a little far-fetched, but there’s no doubting Envoi Allen has the scope and talent to make a top-level chaser in the near future. First though, a novice hurdling campaign awaits and the Ballymore could be the ideal target for this exciting sort.

Janika


Nicky Henderson forced Janika to carry top-weight in four hugely competitive handicap after arriving at Seven Barrows from France. Yet, Janika acquitted himself wonderfully in all four of his outings and he will surely be stepped up into Grade One company during the 2019/20 campaign.

Only weight stopped Janika beating Siruh Du Lac on Trials Day at Cheltenham and Henderson’s charge had to settle for second behind that same rival in the Brown Advisory Plate at the Festival. Daryl Jacob’s mount then handled the National fences perfectly well in the Becher, only to find himself a little too far back as Cadmium set sail in the closing stages.

I’m adamant Janika wouldn’t have looked out of place had he taken part in the Ryanair at Cheltenham. I see no reason why Henderson’s chaser will not stay three miles when he’s eventually stepped up and, at the age of just six, it’s safe to say there’s plenty of progression left in Janika’s tank. He could even be a Gold Cup horse.

Mister Malarky



I’d be the first to admit that Mister Malarky may be a little short of the standard many in this list are likely to reach. Colin Tizzard’s charge managed to get the better of Now McGinty in the Rendlesham at Ascot, before coming up short in the RSA and losing out to Kildisart in handicap company at Aintree.

Despite my prior admission, I’m always taken by a horse who looks like they are really enjoying their racing and this enthusiastic chaser will be a hardy handicapper to fear over the coming seasons. In fact, given Tizzard’s recent run in the race and Mister Malarky’s previous form at Newbury, the 2019 Ladbrokes Trophy could be high on this six-year-old agenda.

Precious Cargo


A couple of bloodless victories in novice races forced Nicky Henderson’s hand in the spring and the Seven Barrow’s maestro threw Precious Cargo into the Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree. That proved to be a step too far for this son of Yeats, who never looked comfortable on his Grade One debut, eventually finishing with just one of his six rivals behind him.

Before the race, Precious Cargo turned plenty of heads as he trotted around the paddock. Once he fully fills his immensely powerful frame, chasing will undoubtedly be the plan for this impressive young horse and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Precious Cargo bully his way to some valuable prizes over the larger obstacles. 

Samcro


The unbeatable aura which once surrounded Gordon Elliott’s star was well and truly shattered last season. In hindsight, Elliott and Gigginstown Stud will deeply regret their decision to keep Samcro over hurdles. The former Cheltenham Festival winner looked sluggish and cumbersome outside novice company, falling to three resounding defeats before an internal injury ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign.

Many punters who have already backed Samcro to win the Gold Cup in the future may feel like tearing up their betting slips after last season’s debacle. Yet, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic. Samcro won’t have lost his ability overnight, he was simply racing in the wrong discipline last season. Once he returns to full strength and he’s pointed at a fence for the first time, I have no doubts that the real Samcro will return. You better be ready to cash in.

Thomas Darby


Olly Murphy will be a trainer to follow during the 2019/20 campaign. Gordon Elliott’s former right-hand man has gone from strength-to-strength since going it alone and Thomas Darby has the ability to be the flagship horse for Murphy’s growing operation.

After kicking off life over hurdles with an impressive defeat of Elixir De Nutz at Cheltenham, Thomas Darby ran well in defeat in strong Class Two’s at Ascot and Kempton. Murphy feared the softening ground had gone against both Thomas Darby and Itchy Feet ahead of the Surpreme. So, he will have been as surprised as anyone to see both of his contenders find their way into the places and, of the two, Thomas Darby is the one to follow as he takes his first tentative steps over fences during the new season.

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2019/20 National Hunt racing tips - Twelve top performers to track next season

Our expert looks back on a fantastic jumps racing campaign and highlights twelve horses who caught his eye and he feels are worth tracking during the 2019/20 campaign.

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