» Watch your ‘Kauto’s

Watch your ‘Kauto’s

By Rory King

By the time you read this, you will have got your Ten To Follow entries in. I have decided to give the competition a go this year for the first time. It used to scare me, I have to admit, and of course the cost was always a turn-off, but this year I feel it warrants a go.

So where to start? Well to have any chance of winning any of the prizes then you have to have horses in your entries that are going to contest the bonus races. That is obvious. An extra 25 points for the winner of the bonus races and 12 for the runner-up, you are going to need at least four or five bonus race winners to have any chance in the overall competition. There is little point then in including horses that are not likely to contest any bonus race. A horse would really need to win two non-bonus races worth £25k or more to justify its inclusion over a horse that has one or more of the bonus races as its aim. The percentage call is to fill your entries with bonus race-contenders.

That makes it a little easier, but there are still 15 bonus races, obviously more than the ten horses per entry. Due to the proximity to the entry date of the Paddy Power Gold Cup and the Hennessy Gold Cup, and what winners of those two races can often go on to achieve, it is certainly worth targeting those two races. Some of the other bonus races, the Totesport Trophy (has now lost its alliterative title with Betfred having taken over the sponsorship), the Racing Post Chase, and even the Grand National are far too difficult to even consider targeting. For example, in every year since the Ten To Follow began in 1993, the horse to win the Grand National has not come from the four horses which were heading the ante post market in November. And as the Grand National is simply not won as an afterthought these days, it is won by horses who have been aimed at it for the whole season (if not longer), then contenders will pick up very few points through the season, if any at all.

It is best to structure your entries around the two early handicaps and the Grade 1 bonus races then. Of course horses can run in more than one of the bonus races, and it is these horses that should form a large part of your lines. The Paddy Power winner often ends up competing in one of the Championship events come March and picking up more points through the season (ref. Our Vic, Exotic Dancer and Imperial Commander), and so it is important to try to get the winner of that first bonus race. If you don’t have the Paddy Power winner, and it comes from one of the first few in the market, then you can be right up against it from a very early stage. This year there are two horses in the Paddy Power who really do fit firmly into the ‘could be anything’ category – Mon Parrain and Wishfull Thinking (it would have been three had Paul Nolan done the decent thing and run Noble Prince), so you can be sure that one of these two features in a high proportion of entries. Obviously the Hennessy winner can go on and prove high class too (it is invariably a second-season chaser that wins the Hennessy), so again not having the winner, if it is a fancied horse, can put you right behind the 8-ball after just a couple of weeks of the competition.

The rest of your line is obviously structured around the other bonus races. One or two champion hurdle types (possibly one of them Irish-trained to take in the Irish Champion Hurdle en route to Cheltenham and one English); one or two Champion Chase contenders; a World Hurdle horse; two or three staying chasers (again possibly an Irish-trained beast to compete in the Irish Hennessy and the other two to run in one or each of the King George and the Gold Cup); and then an Arkle horse and an RSA horse if you can fit either into your ten (Thirteen To Follow doesn’t quite have the same ring to it).

Oh and for those of you who were as impressed as I was with Kauto Stone at Down Royal on Saturday, go back and check you haven’t entered his half-brother by mistake. Surely he won’t be winning any more points.

By Rory King