Tote Ten To Follow tips – Brian Healy reveals his ten-horse stable
Ahead of the return of this top season-long event, Brian Healy picks out his own Ten To Follow stable, as the Tote relaunches this fantastic competition on Wednesday 20th November.
Returning due to popular demand, the Tote Ten To Follow competition gives horse racing fans the opportunity to win big money by selecting a stable of ten horses to keep faith win throughout the duration of the 2019/20 season, and a guaranteed prize pot of £250,000 is up for grabs as well as the chance to win tickets to the Cheltenham Festival.
The return of the fantastic season-long competition is the first initiative of the UK Tote Group since it took over control of Tote earlier in the year, and the new incarnation of the competition is sure to be just as popular as it was previously.
Supported by the Racing Post newspaper, registration for the competition kicks off on Wednesday 20 November, with the first day of scoring taking place on Saturday 30 November, and points will be up for grabs daily until the current jumps season ends on Bet365 Gold Cup day at Sandown on April 25 2020.
Here are the ten horses I’ve selected to be a part of my Tote Ten To Follow stable in 2019/20.
BRIAN HEALY’S TOTE TEN TO FOLLOW STABLE
The Doyen gelding has created a big impression since joining Gordon Elliott, easily winning in a point-to-point at Borris House and then romping to a ten lengths’ success in a Down Royal bumper.
Fancied for the big spring festivals, he suffered a set-back and missed the remainder of the season; but onlookers couldn’t have failed to have been impressed by a bloodless debut outing over hurdles at Navan and he looks a top-class prospect.
Gordon Elliott has an embarassment of riches in the novice hurdler category this term, but he ought to take high order this campaign with perhaps either the Ballymore or the Albert Bartlett Hurdles his big target.
Tony Martin’s chaser has finished fourth and fifth in the last two renewals of the Aintree Grand National, and the Assessor gelding is likely to have the world’s greatest steeplechase as his big target again this season.
He hasn’t won since December 2017, but he remains lightly-raced for one of his years and he enjoyed a good campaign last term despite being able to add to his win tally. Second to Monalee in the Red Mills Chase, he found only Al Boum Photo too good in the Cheltenham Gold Cup prior to his latest Aintree fifth to Tiger Roll where he had to carry top-weight.
Likely to be campaigned with another crack at the Aintree marathon in mind, he is very capable of adding further wins to his record this term.
Things didn’t go to plan last term for Tom George’s star who failed to add to his tally in five starts, and his chase career got off to a stuttering start where he was well-beaten in outings at Exeter and Cheltenham, although those defeats did come behind Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation respectively.
The Grade One-winning hurdler had been the only one to get close to the then-imperious Samcro in the 2018 Ballymore Hurdle, before beating Lostintranslation in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle; but he was unable to recapture that level last term having been returned to the smaller obstacles for the second half of the season.
He looked a much more accomplished jumper of fences when beating Mr Antolini by a wide margin at Stratford on his reappearance and return to chasing, and he could build on that this term where he can develop into the chaser connections had hoped last term with the JLT Novices’ Chase a possible target having appeared last term as if three miles stretched him.
Nicky Henderson’s rising star raced just three times last term having been bought by JP McManus out of the point-to-point sphere, and following an encouraging hurdles debut at Chepstow where he was denied only by Lisnagar Oscar, the Gold Well gelding couldn’t have been more impressive when romping to an easy win over Kingsplace back at the Welsh track in February.
That run was followed by a very creditable fourth to Minella Indo in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle where he endured plenty of trouble in running, including being badly hampered at the second-last and losing momentum before staying on strongly up the hill although he was well-held in the end.
It will be interesting to see whether trainer Nicky Henderson keeps him to hurdles this term or goes chasing, but he could build on a very promising first campaign to become a classy performer this term.
GOOD BOY BOBBY
Progressive over hurdles, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge looks every inch a chaser, and the Flemensfirth gelding has already made an impression this campaign with a win at Wetherby following a very solid chase introduction behind Brewin’upastorm at Carlisle in October.
He made all the running to score at the Yorkshire track, jumping well and finding plenty when challenged, and he is likely to have plenty more to offer this term where he can progress into a potential Arkle Chase candidate.
A winner of three of four bumper starts, he boasted a similar record over hurdles which included an inpressive defeat of Quoi De Neuf at Ffos Las in April; but he could well surpass his hurdles exploits this term, and he looks to have a real engine so could well take high rank this season amongst the two-mile novice chasers judging on his impressive Wetherby success.
A winner of a point-to-point, the September Storm gelding won all four starts in bumpers for Dan Skelton prior to a wind-operation and a campaign over hurdles where he quickly racked up a hat-trick of wins which culminated in a bloodless success over Manor Park at Ffos Las back in June.
Stepped up markedly in grade to contest the Listed Summer Hurdle at Market Rasen – a venue where he had won twice previously – he shaped as if possibly amiss, and he hasn’t been seen out again since having beaten only four horses home in that contest.
He is surely better than he was able to show on that occasion, and having already looked a useful recruit to the hurdling game he could resume his progress following a break, and a race like the County Hurdle – which Skelton has won in each of the past two years – could be a possibility.
A talented but lightly-raced hurdler, finishing runner-up in the 2018 Albert Bartlett Hurdle, Nicky Henderson’s Mahler gelding made a solid start to his chase career with a pair of wins at Plumpton and Warwick respectively prior to tackling the National Hunt Chase where he failed to complete the course in an attritional renewal of that contest although he wasn’t helped by being badly hampered and almost falling in that race.
He can be forgiven that run where many failed to deliver their true form in a race where only four finished the course, and the contest drew plenty of criticism in the aftermath. He is better judged on his earlier progressive wins, and he could yet make into a very smart staying chaser this campaign.
The Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Newbury could be a possible target, and he could be one to keep onside with the potential for plenty of improvement after just three chase starts.
With a relative dearth of staying hurdlers over the past couple of seasons, it could be left again to Emma Lavelle’s charge to dominate the division for a second successive year.
The Stayers’ Hurdle champion was out with the washing in the 2018 Albert Bartlett Hurdle, but the Oscar gelding progressed last term into a top-class performer, winning all five of his starts which included Festival success when readily beating off Sam Spinner to the Stayers’ Hurdle crown.
He had looked cooked turning in, under pressure to close up on the leader; but faced with the climb to the line he sprouted wings and fairly rattled home, surviving a last-hurdle mistake to power up the hill to the line for a ready success.
It remains to be seen this term if anything will emerge from last season’s novices to offer a serious challenge to the reigning champion, and still only a seven-year old himself he could have plenty of improvement to come in his own right which may make him a tough nut to crack in this division for some time to come.
A smart performer on the flat in France, Willie Mullins’ charge made a perfect introduction to hurdling when impressively scoring on his debut at Gowran Park, after which he was pitched into Graded company where he acquitted himself well in a trio of runs which culminated in success at Punchestown when taking the 2018 AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle.
Last season was a disappointing one for the Soldier Hollow gelding who wasn’t seen for the remainder of the campaign following a fall behind subsequent Champion Hurdle winner Espoir D’Allen in the Fishery Lane Hurdle at Naas where he likely would have beaten Gavin Cromwell’s rival.
He has already shown his class this term to down Petit Mouchoir and Klassical Dream in the recent Morgiana Hurdle, and likely to continue to progress he can take high order in the two mile division this term with the Champion Hurdle a likely target.
Olly Murphy’s charge showed some solid form over hurdles last term, winning twice and finding only Klassical Dream too strong in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle; but although beaten on his recent chase debut at Warwick it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see the Beneficial gelding continue to progress over fences where he could develop into a very smart sort.
Only beaten one length in that debut behind one who had the benefit of a prior run, he warmed to his task as the race unfolded and the experience won’t have been lost on him having made a couple of jumping errors early. The front two had pulled well clear, and the winner looked a useful sort in his own right.
But he could have plenty of scope to improve for that first experience of chasing and if following a similar progressive path as he did hurdling then he looks one who ought to make his mark this term over fences for his very shrewd yard.
BRIAN HEALY’S FULL STABLE
GOOD BOY BOBBY