Keith Donoghue's Blog: Mid-Season Novice Chasers & Hurdlers Review

By Keith Donoghue
 |  4 mins
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Keith Donoghue's Blog: Mid-Season Novice Chasers & Hurdlers Review

I love this time of the year, but it is properly hectic! It's around now you know pretty much where you stand with most of the yard and we are now starting to target horses at the festivals in the spring, and the Dublin Racing Festival next week.

With that in mind I thought it was a good time for a mid-season review of our novice hurdlers and chasers!

Tiger Roll Coming Along Nicely

Firstly though I'm delighted to report that Tiger Roll is coming along perfectly. He's cantering away and he's looking great. As I said on a previous blog it's around this time of the year where he really starts coming into himself! He's bucking and kicking like he always does when he's coming into form!

The good news is that we're very hopeful that he'll make Navan and then go onto the festival. Last year we thought he'd really need the Boyne Hurdle, but won it at ease on the day. This year we really, really expect him to badly need it!

I'm just delighted to have him back, I can't put it properly into words how much this horse means to me and my career. Without him, I wouldn't still be a jockey.

Novice Hurdlers

Since the last blog, Andy Dufresne won the Moscow Flyer Hurdle. He won which was great obviously and he's a good horse, but I think he has suffered in the public by how he's been overrated really.

He's a nice horse, anyone would love to own him, but he's young and is learning his trade. When he won his bumper and novice hurdle you'd swear people had seen Kauto Star by the reaction, but neither race has really worked out that well at all after.

Andy Dufresne will be a very smart animal in time, but for now he's still a bit raw and is developing. Patience will be key and he has the right owner for that.

He is after all just one of several smart novices in the yard. Readers of this column will know how excited I am particularly by Abacadabras, Fury Road and most of all, Envoi Allen.

If there's ever going to be a year where Gordon will win a good few Grade One novice hurdles in the Spring festivals, it's this year!

Fury Road was in my 10 to follow and he's one I've rated very highly for a long time. I think he'll go very in the Albert Bartlett, but I would love to see him properly tested at the Dublin Racing Festival. He just didn't set the world alight like I thought he would over Christmas at Limerick, although his mistake in the end meant the horses behind finished closer to him than they should've really.

With another run he'll go into the festival with plenty of experience which is key in the Albert Bartlett. Monkfish won last weekend for Willie Mullins and he's one to take seriously - he was very impressive and is a big challenger.

Abacadbras has been brilliant really and is also entered up at the Dublin Racing Festival. I actually think he'll improve quite a bit for better spring ground and his jumping will come on for the better surface too.

The race kind of fell apart last time, but he won as he wanted and his jumping has really improved as time has gone on. I've no doubt that the quicker the ground, and the faster they go, the better he'll jump. I think he's readymade for the Supreme at the Cheltenham.

Of course, there's loads of challengers and I thought Shiskin was brilliant, but as us jockeys always say, I wouldn't swap our lad for anyone else in the race!

I'm not going to waste my time on the challengers in the Ballymore, as I'll repeat what I've been saying all year - Envoi Allen wins whatever he wants.

Last time he needed the run badly - as I said in a previous blog we left him well under for that race and he still won, beating a very good rival on the day. I'd say he had got a bit lazy too from his quiet spell at home and that run really woke him up.

His work has been brilliant since - he's the best I've ever sat on and I just can't have him beaten in March!

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These are the main three that excite me but there's a few more who could go well at the festival such as The Bosses Oscar, Festival D'ex (needs to bounce back from flopping last weekend) and Easywork, who has done very little wrong!

The Bosses Oscar got a UK mark of 136 and he should be very competitive off a mark like that should Gordon and the owners decide to go down this route. He's a very smart novice and won very well at Christmas - he wouldn't be out of place in a Ballymore at all either!

Novice Chasers

Last year on the #Racehour preview night I was very confident on Champagne Classic running a huge race in the National Hunt Chase, but he didn't make it on the day. This year he's had a dream preparation and I think he'll take a bit of stopping in the race.

Last time he performed brilliantly to get so close to Battleoverdoyen and should go very well in a few weeks time.

As I've said before, I don't understand people's negativity about Battleoverdoyen - he's done everything he's had to and he carries some very good form into the race.

He might not be the quickest, but I don't ever remember an RSA winner being fast and his jumping is so good that he should be a dream ride around Prestbury Park. Champ and Minella Indo are challengers, but again, I definitely wouldn't be swapping Battleoverdoyen!

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Keith Donoghue is one of the top National Hunt jockeys in the world, famed for his partnership with Tiger Roll winning two Cross Country Chases at the Cheltenham Festival. Keith also boasts a Grade 1 winner over fences, and is a great writer to boot. Keith covered the day to day of being a jockey in his weekly blog exclusive to Bookmakers.

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