We may be in the middle of one of the strangest years for summer sport, but as the nights slowly but surely begin to draw in, we’ve got the official Jumps season creeping up on the horizon, making this the perfect time to have a long-range look at a few horses to follow.
Jumps Horses To Follow 2020
For many National Hunt enthusiasts their single mantra each season is “all roads lead to the Cheltenham Festival”, but I always feel that is a very short-sighted outlook myself, because in reality not all NH horses need to make it to Cheltenham to be successful and many are campaigned in very different ways.
There are plenty of top quality races with good prize money elsewhere on the calendar and there’s also that rather well known “non-Cheltenham” race to go for – the Grand National, as well as a whole host of others.
Here are ten horses we feel are worth following for the 20/21 season:
Thyme Hill failed to get the rub of the green in the Albert Bartlett this year, but is clearly a top class animal and should have plenty of scope next season after a summer in the field.
After finishing third in the 2019 Champion Bumper, the six-year-old gelding had a wonderful season just gone, taking the Persian War, The Hyde Novices’ and the Challow Hurdles and with some better luck could have made it a four timer at The Festival.
Asked about his 2020/21 plans for Thyme Hill, Hobbs said: "It's very likely he'll stay over hurdles with the Stayers' Hurdle in mind.
"He's schooled very well over fences but I think we'll delay chasing for 12 months.”
Thyme Hill is currently a 14/1 chance with us for the Stayers’ Hurdle.
Walk In The Mill
After the bitter disappointment of this year’s Grand National being cancelled, Aintree specialist Walk In The Mill (50/1) will follow the same road map as in previous seasons, with the 2021 renewal firmly pencilled and circled in on his calendar.
Fourth in 2019 National, Walk In The Mill's year was being entirely geared towards the another crack at the world’s greatest steeplechase, after he became the first horse to record back-to-back wins in the Becher Chase.
Returning to the National as an eleven-year-old won’t be easy but he certainly has the back class to be involved once more.
The Dan Skelton-trained Captain Chaos was a facile winner of the 888sport sponsored Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster last season and can be a big player once again in the staying chase division this term.
The nine-year-old showed that he was a force to be reckoned with in the Rehearsal and Classic Chases before demolishing the field at Doncaster.
With some careful race planning he can pick up some nice prizes this coming season
After coming back from injury and receiving a wind-op, Slate House was a revelation last season and connections will be hoping for much of the same this year.
The eight-year-old won a total of three races last season, including the Grade One Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton and ended his season running in the RSA Chase at The Festival.
Slate House looks like one to keep onside and he should make his presence felt in the big races at least once at Cheltenham this season.
Topofthegame won the RSA Chase at the 2019 Festival, but then missed an entire campaign due to a leg injury.
However Topofthegame is back to full fitness and is being readied for next season with the Ladbrokes Trophy and the Gold Cup on Nicholls’ wish list.
Carrying the same distinctive green and white colours as the great Denman, the similarities are obviously there and the eight-year-old can be a major player in National Hunt’s leading races.
Honeysuckle stretched her unbeaten run to eight victories when she got the better of Benie Des Dieux in an epic battle for the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle at The Festival, and we can surely expect more fireworks from the classy mare in 2020/21.
De Bromhead never gives much away when it comes to the races she will contest, but she is highly likely to follow a similar route to last season and will be plenty more wins in her.
Battleoverdoyen took to chasing like a duck to water when he was switched up to the bigger obstacles and he can continue to be a star player for the Elliott team this year.
The Gigginstown Stud-owned seven-year-old made a bright start to his novice campaign and will be a regular name in Ireland’s feature races we are sure.
Santini pushed winner Al Boum Photo all the way to the wire in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and will be targeted at the race again.
Officially rated 172 in the Anglo-Irish Jump Classifications, Henderson’s gelding will take some stopping this season and definitely has a live Gold Cup chance.
Kimberlite Candy is one of JP McManus’ best horses in training and he showed us all what he could do last season by finishing second in the Becher Chase, and then proceeded to jump his rivals into submission in the Classic Chase.
He should be on any Grand National shortlists for 2021.
It’s somewhat of a leftfield pick for the last slot but there is every chance that Alan King’s Tritonic could become a handy little hurdler this season.
The three-year-old narrowly missed out on landing the Golden Gates Handicap at Royal Ascot in testing going, then ran second in a Listed race at Hamilton.
His owners, the McNeill family, are better known for their National Hunt horses and we can see them and King switching Tritonic to hurdles later in the year.
It would come as no surprise to see Tritonic contesting the Triumph Hurdle (33/1) next March.
*Credit for the main photo belongs to Jon Super / AP Photo*
FIRST PUBLISHED: 20th July 2020