Jumps Season - At The Races

Barry Geraghty

    The top jockey outlines ten horses he's looking forward to partnering in 2016/17.
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I love this time of year. The weather is getting colder and the nights are getting longer for sure, but the winter National Hunt season is just starting to kick into gear.

It’s all about potential these days. Young horses getting going, last season’s bumper horses going over hurdles, last season’s hurdlers going over fences, last season’s novices moving into open grade. Horses taking the next step. These are exciting times.

I have been out of action for a couple of months, since I had that fall at Market Rasen at the end of July and fractured my right humerus. It was obviously sore at the time, and it is always frustrating to be sitting on the sidelines, but I suppose if you are going to be on the sidelines, August and September are not bad months to miss.

I missed some of the summer festivals, but it’s not bad when you can come back at the start of October, just when the winter season is about to kick into action.

I had hoped to be back race-riding at Tipperary on Sunday 2nd October, but I decided to give it another few days. I thought it best to give it another week or so, just to allow my arm strengthen up a little more.

It’s good though. I have been having physio and I have been doing weights. I have been riding out for the last couple of weeks, and I have been schooling over hurdles and fences. But for race-riding, I just thought that it would be best to give it another few days. It’s a long season ahead, so another few days wasn’t going to make much difference.

This season is set to be an exciting one too. Here are 10 horses that I am looking forward to partnering in 2016/17.

Horse profiles

Buveur D'air (FR)

  • 6-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Crillon - History (Alesso)
  • Trained by: N J Henderson
  • Last Race: Aintree, 6 Apr 2017 15:25
  • Result: Won/6, tracked leading pair, went 2nd 7th until after 4 out, 2nd again after 3 out, led before last, shaken up to draw clear flat, eased close home
  • View full form

Buveur D’Air is a great addition to the team. He was a high-class novice hurdler last season, he finished third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and then won the Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.

I will be having a sit on him when I go to Nicky’s this week, and I am looking forward to that. He showed a great attitude last season, and he is only five, so he should progress again this season.

Coney Island

  • 6-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Flemensfirth - Millys Gesture (Milan)
  • Trained by: E P Harty
  • Last Race: Leopardstown, 29 Dec 2016 13:55
  • Result: 2/10, tracked leaders, progress 11th, 3rd 4 out, challenged approaching last and led run-in, kept on under pressure, no extra and headed close home
  • View full form

Coney Island progressed well throughout last season. He won his maiden at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival and, while he was beaten in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle in February, he bounced back to win a strong novices’ handicap hurdle over three miles at the Irish Grand National meeting at Fairyhouse in March.

He proved that he belonged among the top staying novice hurdlers last year when he ran Bellshill to a half a length in the Grade 1 three-mile novices’ hurdle at the Punchestown Festival. He stays well, and he is only five, so he has lots of potential. He is built to jump fences.

Video Form
29 Dec 2016:
4 Dec 2016:
19 Nov 2016:
27 Apr 2016:
29 Mar 2016:

Ivanovich Gorbatov (IRE)

He was very good in winning the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Joseph had him in great form that day.

Ivanovich Gorbatov got caught out on the soft ground at Aintree, as we feared he would. He hadn’t been at his best on soft ground either in the Grade 1 race at Leopardstown on Irish Gold Cup day, and we were afraid of him on the ground at Aintree. He is a different horse on nice ground.

It’s going to be difficult for him this year, it is always difficult for four-year-olds when they have to move into open company, but it will be interesting to see where he lands. He is a horse with a lot of ability.

Video Form
29 Jan 2017:
29 Dec 2016:
4 Dec 2016:
20 Nov 2016:
6 Nov 2016:

Jer's Girl (IRE)

She was a revelation last year, she is obviously a high class filly. She was brilliant in winning the Grade 1 mares’ novices’ hurdle at Fairyhouse at Easter, and she was even better at Punchestown, against the boys. Gavin is doing a seriously good job with her.

I have sat on her a few times in the last few weeks, and she has improved physically. She needs to improve now, a four-year-old taking on the older horses without the weight concession, but she has.

With Grade 1 penalties it’s going to be difficult for her this year, even in the mares’ races, but she is very talented and, fingers crossed, she can keep progressing as she did last year.

Video Form
29 Dec 2016:
20 Nov 2016:
29 Apr 2016:
27 Mar 2016:
6 Feb 2016:

Kotkikova (FR)

She is another exciting addition, from Jean-Paul Gallorini in France. She has won 11 of her 14 starts, including a Grade 1 race over fences at Auteuil, which she won by 12 lengths, and she is still only five.

Nicky says that she has everything, and that she has done really well to have achieved all that she has achieved already. I am looking forward to having a sit on her and to schooling her over British fences when I go to Nicky’s this week.

Video Form
28 Dec 2016:

More Of That (IRE)

We didn’t see the best of him at Cheltenham when he finished third in the RSA Chase. It just wasn’t him, it wasn’t his true running.

He was very good on his two previous runs over fences, and we know that he is a top-class horse. If he can get back to the form that he was in when he won the World Hurdle, or even back to the form that he was in over fences early last season, he could be a contender for a high-class chase.

More Of That is eight, but he has only had three runs over fences, and just nine runs in total in his life, so he still has plenty of scope for improvement over fences.

Video Form
12 Feb 2017:
28 Dec 2016:

Minella Rocco (IRE)

He got the hang of jumping fences last season, his jumping improved as the season went on, as he gained in experience. It took him a little while, but he put it all together in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March under a superb ride from Derek O’Connor.

Minella Rocco is a staying chaser to look forward to for the season, and it will be interesting to see how he progresses.

Video Form
12 Feb 2017:

My Tent Or Yours

  • 10-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Desert Prince - Spartan Girl (Ela-Mana-Mou)
  • Trained by: N J Henderson
  • Last Race: Punchestown, 28 Apr 2017 17:30
  • Result: 2/10, tracked leaders, moderate 4th 3 out, went moderate 2nd travelling well after 2 out, ridden approaching last, kept on well run-in, not reach winner
  • View full form

He did remarkably well last season to finish second in the Champion Hurdle, given that he hadn’t run in almost two years. It was an unbelievable effort by Nicky and his team to get him back there so well, to get him to go so close in a Champion Hurdle. It was also testament to the horse’s talent.

Hopefully he can have a cleaner run this season because, although he is nine years old, he hasn’t had that much racing. I think that he is well enough forward and I hope to have a sit on him when I go over to Nicky’s this week.

Video Form
28 Apr 2017:
29 Apr 2016:

Sutton Place

He progressed nicely as the season developed last term. He ran well on his racecourse debut in a maiden hurdle at Navan in December, then won his bumper at Fairyhouse in January before going to Naas in March and winning a listed novices’ hurdle. Then he stepped up on that when he went to Fairyhouse at Easter and won the Grade 2 novices’ hurdle.

Sutton Place was late on the scene last season, so he is a horse who should improve plenty for experience. He looks and feels like he has done well over the summer. He was a smart novice hurdler last season, and hopefully he will make up into a smart novice chaser this season.

Video Form
27 Apr 2017:
19 Feb 2017:
28 Jan 2017:
28 Mar 2016:
6 Mar 2016:

Yanworth

  • 7-y-o; chestnut gelding
  • Breeding: Norse Dancer - Yota (Galetto)
  • Trained by: A King
  • Last Race: Aintree, 8 Apr 2017 16:20
  • Result: Won/11, towards rear, headway from 6 out, led 2 out, ridden before last, held on towards finish, driven out
  • View full form

Yanworth continued to progress throughout last season, from winning his novices’ hurdle at Exeter in early November. He won four on the trot, and he put up his best performance at Cheltenham in January when he stepped up to two and a half miles.

He was just beaten by Yorkhill in the Neptune Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. That is high-class form, and he just didn’t have the run of the race that day.

I believe that he has done well over the summer. He stays two and a half miles well, and he could get three. If he did, that would give him lots of options.

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