With the Cheltenham blues well and truly among us, it’s that time of year where the majority of experts and punters start to look forward to next year’s festival and pick out the eye-catchers from the festival just gone. Here I have picked out five horses to look forward to going forward into next season and hopefully ones that we will see line-up again at Prestbury Park in a year’s time.
The first and stand out for most is Ballymore Hurdle winner Envoi Allen for Gordon Elliott. A winner at the last two festivals, including the Champion Bumper in 2019, this big strapping horse will be on many people’s radar and he has plenty of options and will be worth a bet with asiabet888. The Champion Hurdle is the first if connections decide to keep him over hurdles, he’s got the right credentials to be a strong fancy, he stays and has plenty of pace. For me I’d be looking at getting him over fences in the early part of the season as he’s built to be a chaser. He’d be fine in the Arkle if taking well to jumping, though a better route might be the RSA Chase over 3m as he wasn’t stopping up the hill last week. He’s unbeaten in eight starts and is a horse to get really excited about, if you’re not already.
The most unfortunate horse of the whole week was Goshen, who came to grief at the last flight in the JCB Triumph Hurdle when in splendid isolation. The turn of foot this horse produced on the turn into the straight was electrifying, one that I’ve not seen in a long time. All season he’s been running away with his races and there was speculation over the quality of those but he showed that they were plenty strong enough and despite a tendency to jump right at times he was better last week and trainer Gary Moore has said ‘I think he’s a champion hurdle horse, and that’s how I’ll be training him’. Very much looking forward to seeing this talented young gelding next season.
After a neck defeat in the Albert Bartlett having lost a hind shoe, Latest Exhibition is a horse who looks to have a bright future once tackling fences. He’s already a grade one winner over hurdles and was a tad unlucky not to add to that on Friday but next season can see him go to another level. He’s a son of Oscar who should turn into a lovely staying-chaser with the RSA a target but he may well go even further than that and have a crack at the National Hunt Chase over a marathon trip for trainer Paul Nolan who almost won the race last year with Discorama.
Darver Star has come on leaps and bounds this season with four wins (one listed) before filling the places the last three times, all in grade one’s and the latest came in the Champion Hurdle when third behind the likeable mare Epatante. He jumped the last together with the winner before becoming outpaced but he stayed on well up the hill which was no surprise as he’s been winning over 2m4f/2m5f. Trainer Gavin Cromwell has said they’ll be going chasing with him next season and he’s one that I’m looking forward to seeing in this discipline. The two likely races they’ll target would be the Arkle (2m) or the Marsh Chase (2m4f) with the latter the better option in my opinion.
The final horse that I’m to take out of the week is the Gigginstown-owned Abracadabras who finished a close second to Shiskin in the opening race of the festival, the Supreme Novices Hurdle. He was well-backed on the day going off second favourite and was unlucky not to win the race having been slightly hampered two out by a faller. His hurdling was very slick wasting no time in the air and he travelled like a dream throughout the race and it’ll be a head-scratcher for connections as to whether they stay hurdling or decide to go chasing with him. It might be a case of trying both next season but I’d be inclined to leave him over timber and have a real go at the champion hurdle – both he and Shiskin look serious horses going forward.