1. Ask For Glory

Seen as a future gold cup horse, I can see Nicholls wasting no time getting this lad over fences this season. He was impressive in bumpers and also ran a nice debut race at Newbury over hurdles before running out a wide margin short priced winner on his next start. I think everything has been geared up for life over fences and I think he may go in slightly under the radar having had only two runs over hurdles and being lightly raced thus far overall.

2. Good Boy Bobby

He’s been a frustrating horse to follow throughout his career for me personally. He’s not quite made the top grade over fences but I feel he’s on a workable mark considering his potential. Connections think a hell of a lot about this horse and I think he could land a big handicap before returning to the top table over fences.

3. Brinkley

I’m intrigued to see how Brinkley gets on this season having found himself with new connections at the end of last season. He finished 3rd in a maiden hurdle at 50/1, a length in behind Blue Sari and half a length behind The Bosses Oscar. The former lost his way last season but I liked the form at the time. He was very impressive on debut for David Pipe and I get the impression 3 miles will see the best of him. He’s still a 4 year old so I’ll expect he will have at least one more season over hurdles.

4. Five O’Clock

Willie talks about this horse as an out an out stayer and ultimately a staying chaser for the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if this lad goes chasing this season and a horse that may under the radar for an end of season target for a race such as the RSA. He’s probably my dark horse to follow for the season. Much will depend on Monkfish as he probably has a very similar target. Anything can happen during the course of the season and an improvement for fences for Five O’Clock may see him overtake a horse such as Monkfish. Ultimately, I feel his best trip will be beyond 2 and a half miles and I think he’s got heaps of improvement in him for a step up in trip and jumping over the larger obstacles.

5. Finawn Bawn

He’s a big staying chaser who will still be a novice this season provided he’s fit and healthy. He had a solo start over fences and ran a respectable third in behind some more experienced staying types. He’s a lightly raced horse who may fair better this year taking on younger horses and long distance staying chases. I see a long term target being the National Hunt chase.

6. Highway One O Two

Impressive winner of the dovecote at Kempton in February. He’s a dangerous horse once he’s in a rhythm jumping out in front on his own. I believe he goes chasing this year and if his jumping is anything like his hurdling, front running tracks where jumping is at a premium could see Highway One O Two at his best. Sandown over 2 miles could be fun to watch.

7. Grand Roi

A horse formerly with Nicky Henderson, has been bought for big money and moved to Gordon Elliott. He looked good as a juvenile and keen to see what more he has to offer in open company.

8. French Crusader

I have French Crusader earmarked for a big handicap 2 mile hurdle. More specifically I can easily see him running well in something like a Greatwood hurdle at Cheltenham where the ground may not be as soft as the mid season big 2 mile handicaps contested at Ascot and Newbury. He has one bit of stand out form, second to Epatante at Newbury. Ground is crucial for him and will only be carrying my money if good is in the description.

9. The Bosses Oscar

I am not sure whether he goes chasing or remains over hurdles. I had this horse in the back of my mind all season and thought he would be there or there abouts in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham. He finished a creditable fifth in the end but was never in contention throughout, which was really disappointing. I’m expecting better things this season and he might even make good use of his current handicap mark.

10. Easywork

Another horse that I’m not sure whether he goes over fences or not, but Gigginstown usually buy horses to go chasing. Their record recently when keeping horses over hurdles isn’t particularly good bar Apples Jade, so i’d imagine this lad goes chasing this season. I’d imagine Easywork will relish trips from intermediate trips and staying chases over 3 miles. He will enjoy the winter ground and providing he stays fit and healthy, could be a big player in the RSA come the end of the season.

11. Fakir D’oudairies

I’ve not seen a better novice chaser for as long as I’ve been following racing. I still can’t quite believe he couldn’t pass Put The Kettle On running up that hill in the Arkle. His mistake 2 out really hindered any chances he had of winning and it remains to be seen what the outcome would have been had he jumped that fence cleanly. I personally feel he will be a player come the big races over 2 and 2 and a half miles. I think he will be a big player in the Queen Mother or the Ryanair, which ever race connections go for. A lot will depend on what Defi Du Seuil is up to next season. I think 14/1 about Fakir for any race is a huge bet at the moment.

12. Rayapour

A horse Willie mentioned was bought to win the triumph hurdle last season. A horse that could be forgotten in novice hurdles over the minimum trip. I’m really looking forward to seeing Rayapour on the track.

13. Captain Kangaroo

I like the look of the bumper which he won impressively at Clonmel. Kilcruit was well fancied and the mount of Patrick Mullins on that occasion, which he favoured over Willies horse, so you’d imagine he’s held in extremely high regard. He’s since moved to Willies from his uncles yard. The third has won two hurdle races since. The fourth and the fifth ran some really respectable races in some hot bumpers last season. I think the form has potential and Captain Kangaroo could fly under the radar when you consider the talent that Willie has elsewhere.

14. Marie’s Rock

Dare I say it, she could be an outside contender for a champion hurdle. Early days yet, and very lightly raced but she was very impressive on her two starts over hurdles. She’s with the right trainer in terms of being trained for the championship races at the minimum trip such as champion hurdles and champion chases, which Nicky excels at. I’m NOT saying she’s a champion chase horse for the future, but I can definitely see her turning up in a champion hurdle with good claims.

15. Escaria Ten

I can see Escaria Ten coming into his own over a fence and at 3 miles. He’s unbeaten when taking on 3 miles and on two occasions that was on soft/heavy ground. He’s definitely one on the shortlist for the National Hunt chase at this stage.

16. Fiston Des Issards

The form of his point to point is working out really well. Boothill and Smurphy Enki made winning debuts for new connections and were really impressive in those performances. He’s definitely one I’ll be interested in for all the big novice hurdle races.

17. Elimay

If Benie Des Dieux doesn’t go chasing, which I have a feeling she will do. I think Elimay will have a cracking chance at the mares chase at Cheltenham. I think she will be tailor made for that race and I’ve already had a nibble at 10s for the new race at Cheltenham, which I expect Willie to dominate. I think she’s Willies best mare over fences bar Benie. She’s unbeaten over fences and she was about to dispatch of the well thought of Sinoria, before her unfortunate fatal fall. She’s definitely one I’ll have on side this season.

18. Thyme Hill

An obvious choice as a horse to follow in the 3 mile hurdle division. Unsurprisingly, a horse that’s on a lot of people’s radar for this division and seems to be everyone’s stayers hurdle horse. I can definitely see why and the more I look at that division, I keep returning to Thyme Hill.

19. Jerrysback

A horse that will definitely win a big handicap over around 3 miles at some stage this season. Notoriously always throws in a stinker but is always well fancied in the betting. He’s an older horse now, but still very lightly raced considering his age. A bit of soft ground over 3 miles, I think he’ll have a big chance on a big Saturday handicap chase.

20. Farouk D’alene

Farouk D’alene just looked to have a great attitude when battling to win his latest bumper. I seem to remember Jamie Codd raving about this horse after winning a bumper and I had an antepost bet for the Cheltenham bumper in which he didn’t turn up. He will no doubt improve for jumping obstacles and I fancy he will either be a Ballymore or Albert Bartlett horse in time. He’s unbeaten thus far and I expect him to contend all the top novice hurdles.