How the 2019/20 Fifteen To Follow got on…

With ample opportunity to do so thanks to the cessation of British and Irish horse racing due to the coronavirus pandemic, here’s where I take stock of how things went for the Horses To Follow that I put up for the 2019/20 season.

It’s not something I’ve done before, but last season was the first in which I put 15 in the list – in previous seasons it had been just ten. And in general, they did good. It suggests I haven’t lost it, whatever ‘it’ is.

So then, in alphabetical order (meaning that I’ll get to Indefatigable just before halfway down)…

Atlanta Ablaze was only seen three times, but made her presence felt on her seasonal debut at Market Rasen in November, when she slogged it out in the mud to beat Annie Angel in the Listed Bud Booth Mares’ Chase, making up two lengths from the last to get up close home at 3/1. That was her only success, the effort she put in there in bad ground probably ruining the rest of her season.
Runs 3, Wins 1. Profit or loss to a £1 stake: +£1.00 (+33.3%)

Hopes were justifiably high for Brewin’upastorm over fences last season and he didn’t disappoint followers. He made a successful chasing debut at Carlisle in October in a typically strong beginners’ for the track, held up in last and given a bit to do and getting up on the post from Good Boy Bobby – that runner-up, third Midnight Shadow, and fourth Global Citizen all won chases subsequently, the latter in the Grade 2 Wayward Lad at Kempton. As for Brewin’upastorm, he followed up at Taunton at odds-on before unseating at the tenth in the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival, yet to be put in the race at the time. There’ll hopefully be more to come, as he starts 2020/21 unbeaten when completing over fences.
Runs 3, Wins 2. Profit or loss to a £1 stake: +£1.78 (+59.3%)

Cheltenham was also the only track Clondaw Castle visited where he didn’t run to form, but he didn’t make it to the Festival. He looked a likely sort for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup after he was presented with a chance of pulling off one of the most fortunate wins ever seen, thanks to Diego Du Charmil’s trying to get out of winning the Byrne Group Chase at Ascot – taking Capeland with him as he went through the wing of the last and enabling Clondaw Castle to make up the 12 lengths he was adrift by. After traipsing round Cheltenham, well held after the third last, he won a good two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase at Warwick in February at 11/2 on what was his last start.
Runs 3, Wins 1. Profit or loss to a £1 stake: +£3.50 (+116.7%)

On a visit to Fairyhouse on 1st December 2018 I saw Desir Du Large beat Valdieu in the closing bumper and I liked his run enough to put him in the 15, but unfortunately he didn’t make the track, while Valdieu went over fences and won a mid-grade handicap at Naas.
Did not run

Just because you’ve got a certain horse in a to-follow list, it doesn’t mean you’ll be on the right side when they win, and I certainly regretted it when Honest Vic won at an SP of 10/1 at Kempton on Boxing Day, having decided on other races for bets. That was this handicap hurdler’s second victory of the campaign – he made up in spades for a couple of unlucky reverses in 2018/19, going in first up at Market Rasen in October, then running okay behind Bold Plan in a good handicap at Haydock on the Betfair Chase undercard on his run before Kempton. Those each-way players who took first five about him in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival were also rewarded with a bit of place money as he got fifth to Dame De Compagnie, having turned for home with every chance.
Runs 4, Wins 2. Profit or loss to a £1 stake: +£12.00 (+300.0%)

Okay, here we are. Well I’ve talked about Indefatigable‘s Martin Pipe-win elsewhere, here on this website and also on Twitter, so let me start by saying that it wasn’t what I had in mind when I put her in the list – it was because I thought she’d be good for a couple of Listed or Graded mares’ hurdles. Two runner-up finishes – including when giving Lady Buttons a race at Wetherby in November – and a win at Warwick in February in such races, meant that she paid her way for connections, and backers got some return, before she went to Cheltenham; however at 40/1 (and at her 25/1 SP too), she was overpriced for the Martin Pipe.
Runs 6, Wins 2. Profit or loss to a £1 stake: +£24.50 (+408.3%)

Johanos was a chancy one at the start of the season, as his best run of 2018/19 was when falling in the National Hunt Chase at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, doing all right at the time. For much of the beginners’ chase at Chepstow in October in which he debuted for the season, he made me seem like I knew what I was doing by including him – always in the first two, he showed a great attitude when coming under a ride from the second last, and didn’t flinch once headed at the last, beaten half a length. And the winner? Truckers Lodge, runner-up in the Welsh Grand National, winner of the Midlands version, and who at the time of writing is between 33/1 and 50/1 for the 2021 Grand National. It was a decent beginners’, but Johanos left his season behind there, beaten pointless at Ffos Las and pulling up at Wincanton on his two subsequent starts.
Runs 3, Wins 0. Profit or loss to a £1 stake: -£3.00 (-100.0%)

Larry seemed a more solid inclusion at the start of the season, having done well in his novice chase campaign, but two midfield finishes from two starts was disappointing.
Runs 2, Wins 0. Profit or loss to a £1 stake: -£2.00 (-100.0%)

Sams Profile was another on the list who wasn’t seen out last season, connections finally giving up on a plan to run in the Stayers’ Hurdle in January. The pandemic put paid to any ideas of running him at Fairyhouse and/or Punchestown in the Spring.
Did not run

Thyme Hill hit the ground running in novice hurdles, as anticipated. He had to, because he went straight into Graded company, taking the Grade 2 Persian War at Chepstow and another Grade 2 at Cheltenham in November, before landing the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury. Some think he was unlucky when fourth to Monkfish in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival, having his ground taken before and after the last.
Runs 4, Wins 3. Profit or loss to a £1 stake: +£3.29 (+82.2%)

Mixing and matching hurdles and fences, Tout Est Permis was third twice and runner-up once, but got no wins, strongly fancied a few times and providing each-way backers with a place-return when third to Sire Du Berlais in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham.
Runs 7, Wins 0. Profit or loss to a £1 stake: -£7.00 (-100.0%)

Luck was really lacking with the Irish-trained horses that I put in the list. Walk Away was placed twice from three starts in beginners’ chases but, to be fair, all of them were tough asks – on his chasing debut in November at Punchestown he gave best to the resurgent Faugheen, and at Leopardstown over Christmas and Fairyhouse in January he was a long way behind Allaho, a close third in the RSA Chase (himself runner-up to Easy Game, a faller in the RSA, in the Leopardstown race).
Runs 3, Wins 0. Profit or loss to a £1 stake: -£3.00 (-100.0%)

What occurred on What’s Occurring‘s only run of the season was a chase debut-win in a novices’ limited handicap at Ludlow in October.
Runs 1, Wins 1. Profit or loss to a £1 stake: +£5.00 (+500.0%)

Whisperinthebreeze made it a clean sheet of zeroes for the Irish-based horses in the 15. Not counting his runner-up finish in a charity race on the Flat, his third in a rated novice chase at Punchestown in November was as good as it got, in that race sent clear on the home turn but giving best to Salsaretta and Galvin, who was placed in the novices’ handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival, from the second last.
Runs 3, Wins 0. Profit or loss to a £1 stake: -£3.00 (-100.0%)

Yalltari was another disappointment, particularly as he got the mud that he acts best on both times he made it to the racecourse, last seen when beaten officially 92 lengths behind Captain Chaos in the Grimthorpe at Doncaster on February 29th.
Runs 2, Wins 0. Profit or loss to a £1 stake: -£2.00 (-100.0%)

2019/20 Fifteen To Follow Stat-wrap
Of the 15 horses in last season’s list, seven won races, which is pretty average when you leave it at that. However two of them didn’t run at all and, from a punting perspective, for those who place importance on profit or loss, there was a healthy return to a level stake.

Runs: 45
Wins: 12
Strike rate: 26.7%

Profit to a £1 level stake at Starting Price: £30.08

There’s no question that Indefatigable’s 25/1 SP in the Martin Pipe rather inflates the figure, but if she hadn’t won that, the 15 would still have returned a just-under £6-profit.

But I’m pleased either way. In 2020/21, we go again. This piece might not look so good in a year’s time, if there’s a bit less luck and a full fixture list to the end of April 2021, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

It bears repeating that the 2019/20 National Hunt season in Britain and Ireland has been the strangest ever, with no Aintree, no Punchestown, and three of the big Nationals wiped out because of the coronavirus pandemic. There’s a positive flip side as far as my wallet is concerned, but I’d rather have had the Grand National, the Irish festivals and the informative racing that would have taken place, even if it would have damaged the above statistics.

You can still see the original 2019/20 list, first published in September 2019, by clicking here.