Friday 19 January 2018

Five 'dark horses' to follow

Sam Adams

Paul Nolan

This one should fulfil its promise in the months ahead. Twice a winner over hurdles, the son of Presenting was placed three times in good company over the bigger obstacles last term, but always looked as though he needed to fill out more. After a summer at grass, Sam Adams caught the eye on his reappearance at Cork last weekend when a staying-on fourth in a Grade Three. Ought to be winning soon.

Sizing Mexico

Henry de Bromhead

A comfortable point-to-point winner on his debut at Dromahane a year ago before keeping that 100pc record in a Fairyhouse bumper the next month, Sizing Mexico made an encouraging hurdling debut when second in a novices' event at Fairyhouse on Wednesday.

Splitting two smart race-fit opponents, the five-year-old handled the testing ground well and galloped all the way to the line.

A maiden hurdle would seem a formality en route to bigger things.

Rivage D'Or

Dessie Hughes

Dessie Hughes' five-year-old has run 10 times since winning a French bumper in 2008, finishing in the first four on nine occasions but still to get his head back in front.

On his reappearance in a maiden hurdle at Punchestown last week, he threatened to do so, only to be run out of it by Sweet Shock. That one went on to win a handicap off 119 three days later, and things will fall into place for Rivage D'Or soon. Holds an entry at Naas on Wednesday.

Jessies Dream

Gordon Elliot

Looked to have really matured when successful in a decent beginners' chase at Galway recently, and is bound for Cheltenham next weekend. A promising sort for Willie Mullins during 2008/09, Jessies Dream shaped well without enjoying any luck in two chasing starts for Gordon Elliot last term.

On the basis of his comprehensive performance at Ballybrit, the tide may be after turning for him now, so it would be no surprise to see him progress up the ranks.

The Midnight Club

Willie Mullins

No spring chicken at nine, but The Midnight Club has been placed at the last two Cheltenham Festivals and is a model of consistency.

While he rounded off last season with a fine third in the champion novice chase at Punchestown, he may not have much scope to improve at that level, so handicaps, and in particular Nationals, could be his thing. As a dour stayer that loves the mud, Chepstow in December sounds about right.

Irish Independent

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