Jumps Season - At The Races

Dark Horses

    Chris Sleep selects 12 winners-in-waiting for the coming jumps campaign.
  • Horses to Follow

Here we're looking at a select band of horses that have the potential to win races of any grade this season.

Some of the 12 horses outlined below certainly have the scope to become high-profile horses, whereas others are chosen with a view to their trainers being able to exploit their current handicap marks.

The dozen horses all hail from a range of yards in Great Britain, some well-known but others less so, and look set to reward their followers with plenty of success in 2016/17.

Horse profiles

Bigmartre (FR)

Bigmartre is a dual novices' hurdle winner in testing ground who has since then performed with great credit in a couple of competitive handicap hurdles this spring.

The pick of his efforts coming on Grand National Day at Aintree when third to an impressive winner in Ivan Grozny.

Bigmartre progressed through the season last year and now he has learnt to settle better in his races there is scope for further improvement which could make his rating of 133 a workable one in handicaps.

He also possesses the size to become a chaser so he has plenty of options for what looks to be a profitable season for Harry Whittington's charge.

Video Form
19 Mar 2016:
25 Nov 2015:
21 Oct 2015:

Bise D'estruval (FR)

  • 6-y-o; bay mare
  • Breeding: Kingsalsa - Option D'estruval (Epervier Bleu)
  • Trained by: D Skelton
  • Last Race: Southwell, 20 Aug 2017 16:50
  • Result: 2/8, mid-division on inside, tracked leaders 5th, went 2nd before 2 out, ridden between last 2, kept on same pace, no chance with winner
  • View full form

Bise D'Estruval is a half-sister to Aurore D'Estruval and this five-year-old mare is still a novice over hurdles after six runs. She has been placed three times in her native France including at Fontainebleau last time out.

The form of that race is fair and this former Guillaume Macaire-trained mare is sure to be well placed by Nigel Twiston-Davies in mares’ novices' hurdles. She should be capable of winning races in this country.

Video Form
20 Aug 2017:
1 Aug 2017:
20 Mar 2017:
21 Dec 2016:

Born Survivor (IRE)

Born Survivor was a big money purchase for the Dan Skelton yard and he scored in a Warwick maiden hurdle with ease on his debut for the yard when beating two subsequent winners with a degree of ease.

He returned to the track and was not disgraced in Grade 2 company on his next start before he hacked up in a low grade novices' hurdle in February.

Born Survivor has been given a nice long break since then and that would have allowed the big gelding to mature through the summer and his handicap mark of 139 could turn out to be a workable one.

Given his size and the fact he is a Point winner he has the option of fences too, whichever route is chosen I expect him to win races this season.

Dawson City

Dawson City hails from a stout staying family and he has already won a couple of hurdles two seasons ago.

He has been placed on all of his completed starts over fences and last year he was a superb second in the Somerset National at Wincanton despite making several jumping errors at the end of the race.

His jumping has improved on his three starts since then where he found a bare three miles on the sharp side for him but he has now jumped round Warwick and Sandown which are two of the tougher tracks to jump around in this country.

Soft ground and an extreme test if stamina seem to be key to Dawson City but he has more than enough ability to win races off this mark and might be the sort of horse to support in another one of the numerous regional Nationals that are run now.

Video Form
7 Feb 2017:
2 Jan 2017:
5 Dec 2015:
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11 Dec 2014:

Holly Bush Henry (IRE)

Holly Bush Henry was a highly progressive horse last season winning a novices' hurdle before scoring in two handicaps off marks of 120 and 134.

Following those three impressive wins he found the leap to Grade 1 company beyond him in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle however, he was by no means disgraced there.

It's best to ignore his final run of the season when he may not have stayed and it was his last outing of a long season.

Now rated 142 Holly Bush Henry is likely to take high rank among this season's novice chasers, good ground is key to him but he is certainly a horse to keep on side.

Video Form
22 Aug 2017:
2 Jul 2017:
8 Apr 2017:
21 Jan 2017:
12 Dec 2015:

Informationisking (IRE)

  • 6-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Flemensfirth - Leading Lady (Fraam)
  • Trained by: A King
  • Last Race: Towcester, 4 Feb 2016 16:25
  • Result: Won/11, mid-division on outside, closed 11f out, challenged over 2f out, led over 1f out, son edged right, stayed on well
  • View full form

Informationisking is an imposing gelding who needed the run on his debut but he made a big leap forward to score in impressive style at Towcester in February.

That was a strong bumper and the form is working out well with the runner up scoring in a novices' hurdle since then and the third horse scoring impressively in a bumper.

This tall horse was given an easy campaign last season and that would have allowed him time to mature and this season he ought to be well above average when sent over hurdles. He is definitely one to keep on side with his ability to handle soft ground a positive.

Video Form
4 Feb 2016:

Litterale Ci (FR)

  • 4-y-o; bay filly
  • Breeding: Soldier of Fortune - Cigalia (Red Ransom)
  • Trained by: Harry Fry
  • Last Race: Bangor, 23 Jan 2017 15:50
  • Result: 2/4, held up in 3rd place, 2nd before 2 out, every chance when stumbled 2 out, held when went left last, weakened run-in
  • View full form

Litterale Ci is an Ex French-trained Filly; this 3yo was trained by Mikel Delzangles and she showed she stays very well when scoring on her second start at Saint Cloud over 1m6f on soft ground.

She has since joined Harry Fry with a view to running in Juvenile Hurdles and she ought to have no problem staying the trip and handling deep winter ground ought to pose no barriers to her.

Litterale Ci gets a handy fillies allowance and she could be one to follow during this upcoming season.

Maxanisi (IRE)

Maxanisi is a bumper winner who also got off the mark on his hurdles debut at Chepstow in November. He has performed well in defeat on his two subsequent starts where he chased home some very useful types.

Maxanisi is a big tall horse who has had his races well spaced out by Evan Williams but he is sure to improved physically over the summer and his handicap Mark of 127 could turn out to be a workable one.

Given his physique he could also make an above average chaser should he be steered down that route. An exciting horse who should reward followers this season.

Video Form
16 Apr 2017:
1 Mar 2017:
7 Feb 2017:
20 Jan 2017:
28 Mar 2016:

Reivers Lad

  • 6-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Alflora - Reivers Moon (Midnight Legend)
  • Trained by: N G Richards
  • Last Race: Aintree, 8 Apr 2017 14:25
  • Result: PU/13, chased leaders, lost place 5th, ridden and struggling after 4 out, well beaten 3 out, pulled up before last
  • View full form

Reivers Lad has been placed twice in bumpers with those placed efforts coming either side of a win at Carlisle.

He travelled well at Carlisle at stayed on powerfully in testing ground up the hill to win well and that form was improved upon last time out when he was a solid third in a traditionally strong Ayr bumper on Scottish Grand National Day.

Reivers Lad handled the good ground well there and Nicky Richards has a promising young horse to look forward to over hurdles this season.

I'd be surprised if he didn't win novices' hurdles and given natural improvement he could be a force in the North of England this season. His dam stayed well so there are plenty of options for this versatile horse.

Video Form
18 Mar 2017:


  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Milan - Crevamoy (Shardari)
  • Trained by: T R George
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 14 Mar 2017 14:50
  • Result: 2/23, mid-division, close up 11th, challenged 2 out, led narrowly approaching last, soon ridden, kept on under pressure flat, headed narrowly closing stages
  • View full form

Singlefarmpayment relished the step up in trip to score over three miles in a testing ground novices' hurdle in December where he gained reward for a string of consistent placed efforts.

He then stepped up on that effort to score in testing ground in a Cheltenham Handicap Hurdle off a mark of 125 on New Year’s Day where he impressed with his attitude that day.

A poor run at Huntingdon in February wasn't a great way to sign off for the season but he can be forgiven that run and this winning Pointer is reportedly heading over fences now and I expect him to be competitive in that sphere.

He has been placed on good ground in the past and he is more than capable of winning over fences for his new trainer, Tom George.

Video Form
19 Oct 2016:
1 Dec 2015:
7 May 2015:
6 Dec 2014:
10 Nov 2014:

Whin Park

  • 4-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Great Pretender - Pocahontas

Whin Park is an unraced 4-y-o who is in training with Ben Pauling. Whin Park is by Great Pretender and is a three-parts brother to former Champion Chaser Azertyuiop.

Reportedly too weak and backward to run in a Point To Point last season this tall, good looking horse has matured well over the summer and is likely to make his debut in a bumper this season.

Given his breeding and good looks it wouldn't be a surprise were Whin Park to quickly make a name for himself and he could potentially be top-class.

Zipple Back (IRE)

Zipple Back is a twice raced gelding who displayed plenty of inexperience before and during the race on his debut at Huntingdon over 1m5f. Despite this he ran with credit to finish third in what turned out to be a useful bumper and he went into the notebook as a horse to follow.

His final start last season was in the Grade 1 bumper at Aintree at the end of the season and he shaped far better than the bare result as he met with trouble in running and was not knocked about once any chance he had was gone.

Physically he looked the type who would improve for a summer off and I am sure he can make an impact over hurdles this coming season.

Video Form
20 May 2017:
8 May 2017:
9 Jan 2017:
20 Dec 2016:

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