The new national hunt season is nearly upon us and a month from now we will be at the first major meeting of the season at Chepstow. The upcoming campaign is full of unanswered questions right now, just like at the start of most seasons which is why so many of us love the game. To get you in the mood here are a handful of intriguing questions that we are hoping will be answered at some point during the season.
The Gold Cup
For a couple of years we have been waiting to see a huge clash of the titans in the Gold Cup, will we finally get it this year? Thistlecrack is back, Native River will want to defend his crown and Might Bite will want to gain revenge for defeat last season. This is without mentioning any horse that may emerge during the season, Waiting Patiently for starters. Will we finally get the Gold Cup clash we have all been craving for the past couple of years? Let’s hope so.
The Grand National
Tiger Roll did the cross country and Grand National double last season, looking brilliant in both of those races. He will return to try and do the same again, and importantly for him, it is the spring when he really comes to life, something that should ensure he is spot on when the big races come around. A win in the cross country followed by a Grand National win for the second time would be a unique double-double for this special horse, and one that would put him into British racing history.
Undoubtedly the next big star of Irish racing looks to be Samcro. However, there is a question mark hanging over him as to whether he will remain over hurdles or go over fences. He looks to be a natural chaser and long-term his future certainly lies over the bigger obstacles, but this season a decision has not been made. Where ever Gordon Elliott sends him, be sure to watch because he looks destined for stardom.
Buveur D’Air and Altior
The Nicky Henderson trained due both appear to be well ahead of anything else in their division for the second year running, can they keep up their dominance? Buveur D’Air is going for a third straight Champion Hurdle victory and with little coming from the novice division that has the pace to run in the Champion Hurdle and be a threat. This could be another easy season for the star hurdler.
Altior is a strange horse because he is the best two-miler we have, yet it is almost certain that he is better over further. Despite that, I think he will stick to running in the weak two-mile division when it comes to the championship races, with the Champion Chase his aim again. He is a very special horse though, and seeing him up in trip throughout the season would not be a surprise.