Racing correspondent David Yates reveals his five horses to follow for 2021-22 jumps season, including Grand National heroine Rachael Blackmore’s comeback winner
The National Hunt season is stepping up a gear – and what a great one it promises to be.
From Cheltenham’s first big meeting later this month, right through to The Festival and Grand National next spring, there is plenty of action for jumps fans to savour.
David Yates’ five horses to follow include Grand National heroine Rachael Blackmore’s recent comeback winner from injury and an exciting Dan Skelton-trained novice chaser.
They are all expected to be excellent betting propositions in the weeks and months ahead.
Frustration would have won the battle with many a trainer after their stable star failed to make the cut in the Randox Grand National. Not Evan Williams.
“It is what it is,” said the Vale of Glamorgan handler, who perhaps was already thinking of the 2022 running of the world’s greatest steeplechase.
The statistics, after all, were stacked firmly against Secret Reprieve – the last seven-year-old to triumph at Aintree was Bogskar in 1940.
And the son of Flemensfirth, saved for the National after a comfortable success in the Welsh equivalent at Chepstow in January, should still have his best days ahead of him.
If Buzz doesn’t manage to get his head in front during the current National Hunt campaign, the £128,850 banked for his victory in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket should ease the pain for his owners, the Thurloe Thoroughbreds syndicate.
But the win, gained on his first attempt beyond a mile and three-quarters on the Flat, should open doors for the grey during the coming months.
Nicky Henderson will aim the seven-year-old, an unlucky second to Abacadabras in the Aintree Hurdle last April, at staying trips over hurdles – and a profitable campaign looks on the cards.
Eklat De Rire
Remember the horse who did his best to put hotpot Monkfish off at the final fence of Cheltenham’s Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase last March?
Eklat De Rire looks destined for better than the role of spoiler.
We didn’t get the chance to see what the Henry de Bromhead trainee was capable of – he parted company with Rachael Blackmore at the 12th obstacle.
But Eklat De Rire had shown promise in scoring over the larger obstacles at Punchestown and Naas in the lead-up to the Festival – and there is plenty more to come if his comeback success at Wexford is any guide.
His irreverent sense of humour makes Chris Gordon a tricky interviewee – but Ed Chamberlin & Co had better get used to it.
The Hampshire trainer’s stock rises season after season – and the same can be said of the six-year-old Annual Invictus.
After three wins in novice hurdles, Annual Invictus ran a fine fourth in the Betfair Hurdle before embarking on a chasing career this season.
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The son of Mahler followed a second at Uttoxeter with a three-length novice handicap chase score at Cheltenham’s Showcase fixture and it may be some time before the British Horseracing Authority assessor catches up.
He has come a long way in a short space of time – yet My Drogo’s journey is far from over.
After a bumper second at Cheltenham in October, the son of Milan went straight over hurdles and finished the campaign unbeaten over obstacles.
Julian Hamilton/Sunday Mirror)
Successful at Newbury in November, My Drogo followed up in Grade 2 events at Ascot and Kelso before landing the top-level Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in April.
A switch to the larger obstacles beckons this winter for a horse rated a future Cheltenham Gold Cup contender by Dan Skelton.
It’s hard to think of a more promising recruit to the chasing ranks.