An Al Duncan musing

16th November 2011 : Anticipation

Mid October into early November is a marvellous time of year for Jumps enthusiasts.

The initial flurry of excitement as Grade 1 tracks such as Aintree and Newcastle hold their opening meetings of the season, and closer at hand Kelso, Musselburgh, Carlisle & Hexham kick off their own fixture list.
The weather is pleasant, the going is on the soft side of good - well, not quite everywhere as Musselburghgoodtofirm is now an official addition to the Oxford English Dictionary.
We are truly spoilt by a plethora of booklets of 2011-12 jumping prospects, Timeform's Chasers & Hurdlers, TV Trainer profiles and Racing Post's own Stable Pull Outs.

But this season just feels a bit special.

It may appear that Long Run should hoover up the big three chases - Betfair Chase (November), King Gearge VI Gold Cup (December), and the Gold Cup itself (March) - but Kauto Star may not quite be a spent force just yet. Anyway, it will be fascinating to see how much young players such as Weird Al, Time for Rupert, Diamond Harry and Quito de la Roque can progress.
But the real difference to me this year is the number of high class hurdlers who are now turning their attention to chasing.
As Tess might say, in no particular order - Grand Crus, Peddlars Cross, Menorah, First Lieutenant, Al Ferof, Sprinter Sacre, Cue Card, Silviniacco Conti.
Challenging Master Minded, Big Zeb & Sizing Europe for the 2m+ chases will be Finian's Rainbow, Captain Chris and Wishful Thinking.
Phew, Rock and Roll! And I haven't even touched on the hurdlers!!

At this stage, I like Spirit Son (Champion Hurdle), Peddlars Cross (Arkle) and Grand Crus (Gold Cup) for the Cheltenham Festival, but, before then, I know the next 3-4 months have many exciting races to behold.

These are the good old days!!

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