This article relates to the 2007/2008 season. You might want to look at the current Totesport Ten To Follow Tips advice here.
This time of year, punters’ attentions are turned towards the Totesport / Racing Post Ten to Follow competition and, with £1 million guaranteed in the prize-money pool, the £10 entry fee could well turn out to be the best tenner you’ve ever spent. The rules and list of 500 horses to choose from can be found elsewhere, but here are a few pointers to help you get rich, hopefully.
Firstly, I'd be wary of filling your list with last season’s top points scorers if past season’s are anything to go by. Kauto Star and Exotic Dancer were last season’s aces, but can they do it again? The stats say it‘s very doubtful. Of the 120 horses to make the top 20 in the last six seasons, just eight managed to improve on their score 12 months later, while a staggering 71 failed to score a single point, so think twice before pinning your hopes on the stars of last season.
One of the mantras in the past has been not to include novices in your ten, but it’s all change this year. The Arkle and Royal & SunAlliance Chases at the Festival have been awarded bonus race status, so it’s worth trying to work out which newcomers to the 2m and 3m chase division are likely to do well, as well as finding the likely winners of the other bonus races, which include the Ryanair Chase for the first time. There are still no bonus races for novice hurdlers, so don’t include them. As for trying to pick the winner of the Grand National, forget it. At this stage, it’s a job finding horses likely to run, let alone win!
Finally, avoid horses coming back from injury. How many ever capture their previous form? Call Equiname came back to win the Champion Chase, but I can’t think of many other examples. That effectively rules out the likes of Trabolgan and Star de Mohaison, both prominent in the betting for next year’s Gold Cup.
Also, forget about horses who are not due to return to the track until the new year - Well Chief and Celestial Gold are two high-profile examples. If they do return, they can always be substituted in the January transfer window.
Now all we have to do is pick ten horses. Here’s my list of ten, good luck with yours!
Taranis - My idea of the King George winner and, if he won there, the sky’s the limit. As he tends to idle in front, there’s no knowing how good he is, so he’s no forlorn hope at 33/1 (bet365) for the Gold Cup. Move over Kauto Star!
Osana - The apple of trainer David Pipe’s eye. Set to go novice chasing and would be an obvious candidate for the Arkle (20/1 Stan James). If thing's don't work out, he can always go back over hurdles - gave Blythe Knight a race at Aintree last season, and that one could be Champion Hurdle class.
Kasbah Bliss - Ran well as a five-year-old behind Inglis Drever in the World Hurdle. That race may have come a year too soon and two impressive wins in France this autumn suggest we have yet to see the best of him over here. Considering he was sent off at 12/1 in March, his current best odds of 20/1 (Coral) look generous.
Twist Magic - Could boss the 2m division. His trainer Paul Nicholls has never hidden how highly he regards him, and he should know a thing or two about training Champion Chase winners. Snap up Coral’s 6/1.
Katchit - Showed his well-being with a typically gritty display at Aintree recently and can do well in the various Champion Hurdle trials (picking up plenty of points along the way) before a crack at the real thing in March (11/2 betdirect).
Abragante - Disputing favouritism for the Paddy Power Gold Cup, the first bonus race of the competition. Not certain to get a run (needs a few to drop out), but you can bank on his connections placing him to win a
big one, the Hennessy perhaps (7/1 William Hill)?
Aces Four - Improved in leaps and bounds over fences, winning easily at Aintree on his last start. Likely to be campaigned towards the Gold Cup (25/1 Stan James) and his liking for decent ground will be a plus there. Bags of potential.
Blythe Knight - Improved flat performer who is an interesting contender for a wide-open Champion Hurdle - now a 14/1 shot with bet365 (from 33/1). His ultra shrewd trainer John Quinn is excited about him, and so am I.
Bible Lord - In much the same way as Exotic Dancer, this lightly-raced former point-to-pointer has the potential to accumulate a stack of points, with the Hennessy an early target (14/1 Coral).
Tidal Bay - Looks very inch a chaser and has already shown his well-being when winning at Aintree over 2m4f. Could either go for the Arkle or the Royal &
SunAlliance (12/1 Blue Square) - very classy!