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Angus McNae’s Five to Follow
Thursday 15th November
Nick Luck has, as ever, set the bar impossibly high with his five to follow for the Jumps season and I cannot hope to replicate the quality of his selections, but I will still chuck five into the mix. I have ranked them so that my number one selection is the horse I am most excited about and you know what that means for number five!
Daneking (Willie Mullins)
This classy flat stayer could emerge as a live Triumph Hurdle prospect. He won on the flat for John Gosden at Doncaster last time out and did so in a fast time. Actually he would have gone close in the November Handicap if he had run in it. Instead of contesting that race he was heading across the Irish Sea to Willie Mullins, who is certain to get the best out of this horse. He has the perfect profile to make into a decent hurdler in that he will stay two miles well and has a high cruising speed and a turn of foot. It may sound a little bit glib, but all he has to do is jump well to be a successful juvenile hurdler because he has a big engine and a good attitude already. This horse is a very exciting recruit and I cannot wait for him to run.
Dodging Bullets (Paul Nicholls)
Fourth in the Triumph Hurdle last year on the back of just one run over hurdles at Kempton, this horse is still unexposed. He won at Cheltenham on his first run this season where it was encouraging to see that he was prepared to settle better than he did last year. If he learns to relax more he could make up into a Champion Hurdle horse in a year when the Champion Hurdle is ripe for a young horse to burst onto the scene. He is currently 50/1 with Stan James for the Champion, and whilst he has some improvement to make to become a credible contender he looks overpriced. Even if he does not make it at the top level there are still good races to be won with this fellow. By way of a piece of trivia, I bet you cannot guess who bred him..... a man very much in the news, Lanfranco Dettori!
Boston Bob (Willie Mullins)
This horse is quite simply my idea of the RSA winner at the Festival. This 151-rated hurdler looked a ready-made chaser in terms of physical scope last year and his raw ability enabled him to finish second to the ill-fated Brindisi Breeze at the Festival in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle. If he can be as good over fences he will be a really good novice chaser, but there is promise that he will be better over the larger obstacles and it is interesting that it looks as if he will make his chase debut in a Grade 1 Chase at Fairyhouse on the 2nd of December. Yes he is starting off in a Grade One, but that is how much Willie Mullins thinks of him and we should take the hint and follow him through the season.
On His Own (Willie Mullins)
This horse would surely have gone very close in the 2012 Grand National, but for collapsing at Becher's Brook second time around. Before that mishap he was jumping for fun and travelling hard on the bridle. That he was going with so much zest coming to Becher's second time bodes well for a repeat bid and in 2013 it is likely that Ruby Walsh will be back on board (he could not ride him last time due to injury). The Grand National aside this horse has only had three runs for Willie Mullins, one was that fall in the National, another was when brought down at Leopardstown and the other was a 13-length win of the Thyestes Chase off a mark of 125 at Gowran Park. He's 20/1 with for the National, which is a fair price at this stage, but that race aside there are other good prizes to be won with this classy chaser. William Hill
Ardlui (Alan King)
In my opinion this horse has been running over too short a trip over hurdles and is one to look out for over two and a half to three miles. He recently won on the Flat at Newmarket over two miles, which suggests he wants further over hurdles. It also tells us he is in good shape as he ran in that race off a mark of 89. He has had four runs over hurdles, all at two miles, and whilst he won at that trip at Newbury in December, he is crying out for further. His handicap mark is in the mid 120s, which makes him well treated and if you add to that the potential improvement when stepped up in trip you have an interesting horse for a staying handicap or two this season.
2.20 Southwell - 5* Havin' A Good Time (10/11 bet365)
2.30 Ludlow - 1* Topthorn (15/8 Bet Victor)
* If I have a strong view about a selection I will always make that apparent and I scale the confidence I have in my selections. One is minimum faith and 10 is maximum bet stuff.