Robbie Wilders of the Racing Post Previews the upcoming National Hunt season

It is almost time for the Flat protagonists to pass the baton on to their jumping counterparts as a galaxy of stars are back in work with connections dreaming of National Hunt riches next season. 

Officially rated 177, the Willie Mullins-trained Kemboy elevated his form to a different stratosphere last campaign. He scooped three major staying chase crowns with a Savills Chase romp at Leopardstown preceding equally impressive victories in the Betway Bowl at Aintree and the Punchestown Gold Cup under the retiring Ruby Walsh. 

The seven-year-old thwarted his Gold Cup-winning stablemate Al Boum Photo by two lengths that day and the pair could feasibly establish a rivalry which evokes memories of Denman and Kauto Star in the coming years. 

Klassical Dream, another of Mullins’ stable stars, could also be destined for stardom. He dispatched all before him in the two-mile novice hurdle division last season and is considered a serious Champion Hurdle prospect by Ireland’s champion trainer. The five-year-old registered three consecutive top-level victories at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown and could dominate in open company next season.

Paisley Park was the leading staying hurdler in 2018-19 but perhaps the Harry Fry-trained If The Cap Fits can serve it up to Emma Lavelle’s stable star. He denied Mares’ Hurdle heroine Roksana and the prolific Apple’s Jade in an absorbing finish to the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle at Aintree on his first attempt at three miles and, if continuing his improvement for the trip, the seven-year-old could take high ranking in a division which can sometimes lack star quality. 

Another horse who looks destined to scale great heights over hurdles is the unbeaten Gordon Elliott-trained Envoi Allen, whose season culminated in a Weatherbys Champion Bumper victory at the Cheltenham Festival from the gifted Blue Sari.

A high-class stayer in the making, Envoi Allen is arguably the most intriguing bumper prospect entering the novice hurdling ranks and looks set to make hay over two and a half miles and beyond. 

Henry de Bromhead’s runners usually improve for a fence and dual Grade 1 scorer Minella Indo undoubtedly has a bright future as a novice chaser. Sent off 50-1 to win the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, the six-year-old defied a massive price to account for the smart Commander Of Fleet and Allaho in smooth fashion. Minella Indo then upheld form with those opponents to secure a second top-level success in the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle at Punchestown, and will be among the most likely candidates for staying novice chase laurels next year. 

Lostintranslation took his form to another level at Aintree last season when upped to 3m1f in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase, storming home by six lengths to defeat RSA winner Topofthegame. The seven-year-old previously showed high-class form in defeat twice behind old foe Defi Du Seuil in successive Grade 1 races over two and a half miles and looks a leading Gold Cup contender for the Colin Tizzard team. With more progression to come, the Flemensfirth gelding holds fine credentials in emulating the yard’s former Gold Cup champion Native River in March next year. 

by The Racing Post's Robbie Wilders at Rewards4Racing

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