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Marcus Armytage’s 2022/23 jumps season ones to observe

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  • Carlisle’s jumps meeting on Sunday (30 October) produced a winner and a runner-up who caught the eye of H&H’s racing correspondent Marcus Armytage. Here is why he considers the duo, plus a potential Champion Hurdle contender, as horses to follow during the 2022/23 National Hunt season.

    Iron Bridge

    “This lightly raced six-year-old, owned by the late Trevor Hemmings and trained by Jonjo O’Neill, kept his unbeaten record and looked a chaser of great potential when winning the Gordon Richards Novices’ Chase at Carlisle on Sunday [30 October],” says Marcus of the son of Milan, who was bred by Sean Murphy and was sent out favourite for Sunday’s 2m4f race.

    With Jonjo O’Neill Jr in the saddle, Iron Bridge made headway from three out and took the lead at the last fence to romp home by more than eight lengths at odds of 7/2.

    Harper’s Brook

    Finishing second to Iron Bridge in Carlisle’s novice chase was another eye-catching runner.

    “Do not write off the horse in second, Ben Pauling’s Harper’s Brook,” says Marcus Armytage of the second of his horses to follow. “He led going very easily at the second last and jumped immaculately, but a combination of being in front for a while and tiredness in the mud meant he just faded from the last. Both horses can go far over fences this winter.”

    Horses to follow: Pied Piper is “one to look forward to”

    From Cheltenham’s Showcase meeting the previous week, Marcus was impressed by the winner of the Masterson Holdings Hurdle, Pied Piper.

    “With no pace, it turned into a sprint from the foot of the hill and Pied Piper, who was bred by The Queen and sold to Gordon Elliott’s big patron Caldwell Construction for £225,000 a year ago, beat his adversary by 2¾ lengths and was probably value for a bit more because Jack Kennedy merely pushed him out,” says Marcus.

    That performance puts the gelding in the mix for the Champion Hurdle and paid a very handsome compliment to the Willie Mullins-trained Vauban who beat him in the Triumph and went on to look very impressive at Punchestown. However with dual Champion hurdler Honeysuckle and last year’s star novice Constitution Hill at the fore of the two-mile hurdle division, he looks set to meet some imposing rivals.

    “We’re going to dream for another while, but it’s a hot division and he’s going to have to keep on improving,” said trainer Gordon Elliott. “If you look at the way he jumps his hurdles, he’s going to be a chaser down the road, so he’s one to look forward to.”

    The four-year-old son of New Approach’s next engagement is set to be in the Grade Two WKD Hurdle at Down Royal on Friday (4 November).

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