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Novice Watch: We cast our eye over five intriguing hurdle recruits

| 05.11.2014

With plenty of the big names in the jumping world making their season reappearance recently, the younger brigade can sometimes be forgotten about.

Ireland claimed a clean sweep of the novice and juvenile races at the Cheltenham Festival this year, but will find it tougher this season.

Nevertheless, they have a strong hand this time round, as we take a look at some interesting candidates making their debut over timber in the coming months.

Timiyan – Dermot Weld – 16/1 for the Triumph Hurdle

Few trainers excel over both codes of racing as much as Dermot Weld; in the past 12 months he has landed a Group 2 on Champions Day at Ascot and a Grade 1 at the Festival.

He could have another exciting raider in Timiyan. His three-year-old made no bones of a 16lb rise in the weights to land a handicap at Gowran Park recently, with Grade 2 hurdle winner Stockton’s Wing 5l back in third.

With his being rated 93 on the flat, his hurdling bow is well anticipated, especially when you consider that the 2012 and 2013 winners of the Triumph Hurdle, Countrywide Flame and Our Conor, were rated 72 and 85 on the level.

Could this be the first Graded winner over obstacles for the Aga Khan in two years?

Bonito du Berlais – Arnaud Chaille-Chaille – 16/1 for the Triumph Hurdle

The French haven’t claimed the Triumph Hurdle since 2000, but before this colt came along trainer Chaille-Chaille hadn’t won a Group 1 in seven years – oh how times change.

His only defeat coming on debut back in April, the son of Trempolino has gone unbeaten since and sits atop the market for Cheltenham’s premier juvenile event.

Three Listed wins, as well as a Grade 2 and a 12l Grade 1 victory in the bag and France could make a big impact at the March showpiece.

The way he quickened to land his biggest win to date was impressive…

Joshua Lane – Edward Harty – 25/1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

With his stable star Captain Cee Bee bowing out this year at the grand old age of 13, Edward Harty has a space available as his top charge.

Joshua Lane was third in the Champion Bumper this year, a race that has thrown up numerous winners since, so the form looks strong.

He is still a maiden, but has run well to finish in the places on all three runs to date and could thrive with an obstacle in front of him.

Here he is plugging on for second on just his second run in a Listed contest at Ascot (pink silks)

Long Dog – Willie Mullins – 33/1 for the Supreme Novices’ and Neptune Novices’ Hurdle

The Irish Champion trainer has a ridiculous arsenal to go to war with but this one may have crept under the radar.

He missed the 2013-14 season, after running out the strong winner of a 10f contest at Sligo, but is primed to make a start over timber at some point over the winter.

His sole start on the flat reads strongly, with this season’s Galway Plate winner Thomas Edison well held 8l back in second that day. If he can jump, he could be interesting.

Sempre Medici – Willie Mullins – 20/1 for the Neptune Novice’ Hurdle

A recruit from France (as were Vautour and Un De Sceaux – so not a bad background), he never quite reached the top on the flat.

He was, however, very useful, finishing 3l behind Group 1 winner Spiritjim and Group 1 runner-up Vancouverite during his time with Myriam Bollack-Badel.

If anyone can convert him for the National Hunt game, it’s Mullins.

All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.