Trying to second guess whether any of the point to point recruits will go hurdling or stay in bumpers is no easy feat. With that in mind, the majority of novice hurdlers in this section ran in at least one bumper in the 2022/23 season. The road to Cheltenham is about to begin so let’s get stuck into some of these prospects:
I’d like to start with a mare and a mare that has a big reputation. BRIGHTERDAYSAHEAD is a top prospect for mares novice hurdles this campaign and she cost €310,000 as a three year old in June 2022. A half-sister to a number of nice types, including the late Mighty Potter and the talented FRENCH DYNAMITE, she is a leading contender in the division.
She won two bumpers in the second half of last season and reviews from Cullentra are very positive. Apparently working the house down on the gallops, she could blossom into one of the top novice mares this year and is one to keep very much on the right side of. Owned by Gigginstown, I’m excited to see just how high she can go.
Paul Nicholls often does well with his novice hurdlers and INTHEWATERSIDE could be one of the best prospects at Ditcheat this season. Unbeaten in two starts in bumpers, he finished six lengths clear of subsequent winner TEN LENGTHS TOM and 14 lengths clear of odds-on stablemate WRAPPEDUPINMAY at Sandown in February.
Kept away from the big spring Festivals, he is an exciting prospect and is one who could be aimed at the top novice hurdle races in Britain prior to the Festival. In terms of Cheltenham, who knows – he could be absolutely anything. The yard are excited to see just how good he may turn out to be…
A DREAM TO SHARE won the Champion Bumper at the 2023 Festival but he wouldn’t be for me – particularly at his current price. It would be great to see this son of Muhaarar excel over hurdles but his progeny have failed to impress thus far and, while I expect he’ll win his maiden hurdle, I’d be keen to take him on in Graded company.
Fellow Martinstown inmate MIRAZUR WEST would be my early Supreme pick. A full brother to Ferny Hollow, he was super impressive when winning on debut at Naas in March. He beat the well regarded MAHON'S WAY, who cost a hefty £360,000 at the Tattersalls Cheltenham November Sale, and he is another who should improve for both a hurdle and a trip.
TULLYHILL looks like another potential superstar for Cheveley Park Stud and he gave A Dream To Share plenty to think about in the Grade 1 Punchestown Bumper in April. I’m excited to see what he can do this year and I’m a big fan of Martaline as a sire. Here’s to hoping that Tullyhill can live up to the hype in the famous red, white and blue silks.
One who we shouldn’t give up on is BETWEEN WATERS. She made major waves across the point to point sphere when winning at Lisronagh in February 2022 and was given a quiet campaign, eventually running in a bumper over an inadequate trip and on ground that was much too quick for her. She showed promise but raced too freely and faded into sixth.
Nicky Henderson has done well with mares in recent times and I’m hoping Between Waters can thrive over a longer trip and over hurdles. It’s hard to plan a route for mares over the intermediate distance but I have no doubt that she can win a nice race against her own sex if conditions are in her favour.