1) Alfa Mix, Trained by Gavin Cromwell
Rated 133 over fences, he’s potentially very well handicapped over the bigger obstacles, considering he ran off 142 over hurdles in the 2020 Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
He made the running that day and travelled really well, just fading on the run to the line having jumped the last upsides the winner, 2nd and 3rd, in what is always a top class competitive handicap hurdle.
Three runs in novice chases last season “for experience”, he showed plenty of promise on the last of those 3 runs, where he jumped nicely up with the pace but was out paced when they turned for home, without really ever being asked to get serious. Those 3 runs over fences were both over 2 miles, where he’d shown a preference for a slightly longer trip over hurdles. It’ll be very interesting to see where he’s aimed at this season, with his shrewd connections sure to take advantage of a lenient looking mark.
2) Allaho, Trained by Willie Mullins
Advised as an Ante Post Bet at 5/1 to defend his Ryanair Chase victory from 2021 where he demolished a decent field and an incredible front running performance. He’s been tried over 2 miles and an extended 3 miles and it seems clear he’s best suited by 2m4f with that performance at Cheltenham the standout run of his career. He’s shown a liking for Cheltenham and the Festival, perhaps appreciating the better ground than he’s tended to get when racing in Ireland. This will surely be his season target again and a repeat of the performance last season would make him very hard to beat.
3) Appreciate It, Trained by Willie Mullins
A brilliant winner of the Supreme Novices Hurdle last season, when romping home by 24 lengths. The manner in which he breezed away from the field approaching the home turn was incredibly impressive, and whilst the final flight fall of Blue Lord perhaps slightly exaggerated the winner margin, he was pulling further clear with every stride up the Cheltenham hill for a comprehensive beating of his rivals. That ended a season of 4 wins from 4 over hurdles, with the win at Cheltenham earning him a Racing Post Rating of 165, higher than that achieved by the likes of Shishkin and Vautour, and just 1lb lower than Altior. He’ll be an 8yo come Cheltenham 2022, which may be just a little late to be for a chasing career, so we feel he may well stay over hurdles and if so, will surely be a major contender for the top 2 mile races with the Champion Hurdle hopefully the end goal, having advised him Ante Post for that race shortly after the 2021 Festival.
4) Es Perfecto, Trained by Alan King
Relatively lightly raced so far having run just 6 times over rules and making nice progress from race to race. He’d caught the eye when travelling strongly in handicap hurdle at Newbury, where he perhaps didn’t get home over the 3 mile trip, before winning nicely next time at Chepstow over 2 ½ miles. He’s a strong traveller and being a point to point winner, he looks sure to be suited by fences, where we expect to see him over this season, where he can hopefully prove better than his mark of 134.
5) Galopin De Champs, Trained by Willie Mullins
Very well placed by connections last season, he proved to be a well handicapped horse at Cheltenham, when winning the Martin Pipe Hurdle off a mark of 142, where himself and the runner up pulled a long way clear of the field. He then stepped into Grade 1 company at Punchestown whilst also stepping up in trip to 3 miles for the first time and put in an awesome display to dispatch most of the top staying novices with consummate ease, despite making a mess of the final hurdle. The suggestion at the start of the season was that he was always going to make a chaser, so the fact he produced what he did over hurdles as a 5yo, augurs well for what could be an exciting chaser career.
6) Hubrisko, Trained by Willie Mullins
A complete dark horse, having not raced under rules yet, but the fact that connections kept him off the track last season, to give him time to acclimatise having come over from France and also strengthen up, suggests he’s one they feel could be very good. It’s a well tried tradition from team Mullins and Ricci, and it’ll hopefully pay dividends for Hubrisko. An impressive winner in France as a 3yo, he’s already being quoted at 33/1 for the Supreme Novices Hurdle at the Festival, and we’ve had a small interest at that price.
7) Monmiral , Trained by Paul Nicholls
Could perhaps be considered the top 4yo hurdler from last season, having put the useful Nassalam in his place at Haydock, before bolting up at Aintree where he comprehensively beat the Triumph Hurdle runner up Adagio. He’s very much considered a future chaser and it’s possible connections will send him over hurdles this season, with the 5yo weight allowance. Although he may be kept over hurdles to gain more experience and give him more time to strengthen up before being sent over the larger obstacles. Whatever the discipline, he’ll be an exciting horse to follow for the coming season and seasons ahead.
8) Saint Sam, Trained by Willie Mullins
One who we feel wasn’t quite seen to best effect last season, having been asked to race in a number of small field conditions events, where at times he made the running, which didn’t seem to suit. His best run was when an excellent 2nd in the Boodles Hurdle at The Cheltenham Festival, a race that saw him ridden with patience in the middle of the pack and finish his race off really strongly into 2nd place. He was giving the winner and 3rd a stone, and the fact the winner then went on to win a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse and then a Grade 1 at Punchestown, shows Saint Sam faced an impossible task giving the Cheltenham winner a stone. He’s bred to jump a fence, has the size and scope for fences and is a horse we’re looking forward to seeing again, over hurdles or fences.
9) Thyme White, Trained by Paul Nicholls
A winner on his reappearance last season at Chepstow, he really impressed that day with the way he travelled and then quickened away from his field. He unseated his rider next time at Newbury when looking sure to be a big player and then faced some pretty tough tests in the Betfair Hurdle, County Hurdle and Scottish Champion Hurdle. As a result his handicap mark dropped 6lbs on his final three runs to 135. He has the look of a chaser and he’ll hopefully be sent over fences this season, where he can hopefully take advantage of might prove to be a workable handicap mark.
10) Yggdrasil, Trained by Nick Williams
Could be a bit of a dark horse this season, off a pretty low mark of 117 following just 3 runs over hurdles as a 4yo. He showed a fair degree of promise first time out at Sandown behind Elham Valley who subsequently ran 3rd in the Boodles at Cheltenham, and Hudson De Grugy who won his next 2 races. Yggdrasil was well beaten on his 2 subsequent starts, but the first of those was behind the classy Adagio at Grade 1 level and his final run was in really heavy ground at Exeter. Yggdrasil is a half brother to Siruh Du lac who improved leaps and bounds when sent over fences, so it’ll be interesting to see how he’s campaigned this coming season, but he’s an interesting horse off a pretty low rating.