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Winter is here, and so are the northern horses

Northern - Waiting Patiently

Racing broadcaster BOBBY BEEVERS assembles a list of five northern horses who he feels are primed for a big campaign in the second half of the season.

Waiting Patiently (8yo, Ruth Jefferson)

Well there’s no surprise this one makes the list. Waiting Patiently is one of my favourites in the North and has been a delight to watch over the years. I was at Haydock when he won his first Graded race, that being a Grade 2 Novices’ Chase, when he beat Politologue. And who can forget his win in the Ascot Chase back in 2018? I think that was his best performance yet. He’s had just the one run so far this season, which was in the Tingle Creek. I did wonder about the drop back to two miles, but he ran an absolute cracker. At one point, I thought he was going to win, and there were so much to like about the performance in defeat. At the time of writing, he has an entry in a Grade 1 over in Ireland, which is over a trip of two miles and one furlong. He’s never run at The Cheltenham Festival, in fact he’s never run at Cheltenham full stop. But should he turn up in March, I think the Champion Chase  would be ideal for him and with Altior heading elsewhere (possibly) I think he would cement himself as a leading contender. 

Sam Spinner (7yo, Jedd O’Keeffe)

It’s great for Jedd and his wife Andrea to have a such a talent in their yard over the National Hunt season. Both have been brilliant with me over the years and are the nicest people you could wish to meet. Where shall we start with this lad then? I suppose the journey really began to take shape when he won the Stayers race at Haydock and then went on to win the Long Walk at Ascot. He was no match for Penhill in that season’s Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, nor for Paisley Park in the same race this year, but boy did he run his heart out to finish runner-up.

On to the chasing and what a dream start it has been for him, making it the perfect three from three including last time in the Grade 2 December Novices’ Chase at Doncaster.  Bravo to Joe Colliver, who was catapulted out of the saddle but fortunately managed to hold tight and get back in position. It looks like all roads lead to the RSA for him, but before then he could head back to Wetherby for the Towton. 

Minella Trump – (5yo, Donald McCain) 

Three runs, three wins – one in a point-to-point and the other two under rules at Sedgefield – make this novice hurdler a very exciting northern prospect to follow this season. I can’t wait to see where he goes next and what his future targets are with him. You would have to say that the Ballymore at the Festival would be firmly on the radar, especially with the success both the trainer and owner had in this with a certain Peddlers Cross back in 2010. 

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Ribble Valley – (6yo, Nicky Richards) 

Five runs, four wins for this gelding and it’s worth reinforcing the point, that, just like Minella Trump, he is undefeated over hurdles. A key factor for him is his versatility when it comes to the ground. He’s won in a variety of conditions, which include good, good to soft, soft and heavy. With the way it’s unfolding you would think that the Supreme is where he’s heading come March. I’m hoping he continues to impress as I think we need another northern winner of the Festival opener. Cinders and Ashes was the last back in 2012, then Arcalis in 2005 the time before that.

Definitly Red (10yo, Brian Ellison) 

They have had some great days out at the races with this familiar northern chaser, a dual winner of the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree, alongside singles wins in the Cotswold Chase and the Charlie Hall to name a few alongside his bold runs in Gold Cups. This season it would seem the target is to go back for the Grand National in April. He was so unlucky in the race a couple of years ago, jumping the fences for fun and loving life, when I think it was the Young Master who fell and hampered him at Becher’s, which caused the saddle to slip. Danny Cook, with he feet out of the irons, couldn’t pull him up and he jumped a few more fences. His Becher Chase fourth earlier this month spoke volumes, demonstrating that he clearly still enjoys the fences and retains bags of enthusiasm for the National course. Too early I know, but I’m very excited at the prospect of him running in the big one again and he will be a leading contender.

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