Pause for thought
Nic Doggett with five horses to follow for the National Hunt season ahead - including the giant chaser Mad Max!
Last Updated: 25/10/10 10:02am
1. Pause And Clause
Dual Cheltenham winner over hurdles and this scopey gelding ran a fine race on his second chasing start at Market Rasen behind Billie Magern. A winner off 137 over hurdles at the festival, Emma Lavelle is likely to get this fellow nicely handicapped for a tilt at the Jewson Novices' Handicap next March. His Market Rasen conqueror is rated 128 so the handicapper cannot take too dim a view, however don't panic if he wins next time and gets a mark around 140, as the bottom weight in last-year's renewal of the Jewson's had a rating of 137.
2. Glenwood Knight
Dual Exeter winner despite occasionally jumping out to his left. Anything he did over hurdles was a bonus and he goes chasing this year with his sights on a decent prize. Three miles is easily within range and given that he has schooled well he could a force to reckon with in the North in early season novice/beginners' chases, much like his stablemate Will Be Done in 2008/9. Assuming all goes to plan races such as the Altcar at Haydock and the Towton at Wetherby, both in January, could be on the agenda.
French recruit who made a mockery of his mark of 127 when trotting up in the Fred Winter. Then failed to settle when beaten into third in an Aintree Grade One but the feeling is that a lack of pace and a refusal to relax cost him. Likely to fare best when returned to testing tracks in big fields, that would have to cast a doubt over any Champion Hurdle bid, however his trainer rates him very highly and there is a space at the yard to fill now Celestial Halo has gone chasing. Said to have strengthened up massively by his trainer and his history with French recruits means that we may have another superstar in our midst.
4. Mad Max
Behemoth of a horse who ran away with a Grade One at the Aintree festival when allowed an easy lead. Was still there in the Arkle when a bad mistake halted his progress but ran on like a lion to take fourth so we know he's got the class to compete at the top level. The Paddy Power Gold Cup looks an obvious stepping stone to the big races this year, and it's not a complete fantasy that he may end up playing a hand in 'the big one' come March. Good ground suits and hopefully if he is kept to a sound surface then it may prevent any of his breathing problems resurfacing.
5. Alfie Spinner
Fourth in a Grade Three at Sandown in March, Nick Williams' gelding seems to relish testing ground and he looks one to follow in the winter months when the going gets tough. Beat Swincombe Rock comfortably in a novice hurdle last December and that fellow has since franked the form by winning two out of two in early season novice chase events. Likely to be better than his half-brother Cousin Nicky, fences should bring out the best of him in time and his trainer showed last season with Reve De Sivola and Diamond Harry that he can mix it with the big boys.