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Galopin Des Champs & Bravemansgame
  1. Horse Racing

Who will be the stars of the Jumps Season?

The National Hunt season is awakening from its summer slumber and the first meeting of the new season at Cheltenham lies just around the corner.

Things are about to ratchet up through the gears for fans of jumps racing and, soon, dreams of big-race wins in the spring will begin to form.

There are, of course, plenty major prizes to play for along the way to the likes of Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown and here we pick out some likely stars of the jumps season ahead with a reminder that every race from UK and Ireland can be watched via the bet365 Sports Live Sports Streaming platform. 

Galopin Des Champs 

King George VI Chase 7/1
Cheltenham Gold Cup 2/1

The 'King of the Castle' after his emphatic Cheltenham Gold Cup success back in March, the Willie Mullins-trained Galopin Des Champs enters this season as the one they all have to take aim at.

He swept before him last season, winning the John Durkan at Punchestown in December and Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival en route to the Cotswolds, where he repelled Britain's best in Bravemansgame despite a race where Paul Townend admitted that 'Plan A' was out the window almost from flagfall.

Both the Gold Cup first and second were stunned by Fastorslow at Punchestown in April but that won't dampen expectations.

Galopin Des Champs may have the John Durkan in early December as his initial target, or could Mullins be eyeing the King George on Boxing Day? In the end, all roads lead to Cheltenham on Friday 15th March for the defence of the Blue Riband.

Constitution Hill 

Champion Hurdle  4/9

The most electrifying horse in jumps racing right now.

Constitution Hill enters his third season with a flawless record of seven wins from seven starts, culminating in his wide-margin Champion Hurdle score at Cheltenham in March when he put the Irish champion State Man away by nine-lengths - in truth it could have been twice as much! 

Nicky Henderson and owner Michael Buckley have resisted any temptation to go over fences with their superstar, instead preferring to stay and hurdling and why not. 

Constitution Hill, still just six, could completely re-write the history books based on what we have seen to this point. He won his Aintree in April Grade 1 over two-and-a-half-miles in the spring and looks so good in everything he does - it is hard to know where the ceiling lies with him.

The Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and the Christmas Hurdle will be uppermost on his early-season plans, while a second Champion Hurdle on Tuesday 12th March is the top target. 

With Cheltenham and Aintree a week closer together in 2024, Henderson has already raised the idea that Constitution Hill might head for Punchestown in the spring, what a delight that might be.

El Fabiolo

Queen Mother Champion Chase7/4 
Ryanair Chase5/1

One of the stars to emerge from last season was El Fabiolo for the Willie Mullins juggernaut. He'd looked good if not quite spectacular as a novice hurdler in early 2022, but was to prove a revelation once he went chasing.

He put together a four-race winning sequence, including Arkle wins at the Dublin Racing Festival and at Cheltenham, before he signed off with a facile Grade 1 score at Punchestown in the spring.

The closest any rival has got to him was Jonbon's five-and-a-half-length defeat in the Cotswolds in March.

He surely has the two-mile chasing division at his mercy now, with the likes of two-time Champion Chaser Energumene and Edwardstone having shown both class and frailty at various stages last time around. 

Marine Nationale

Arkle 5/2
Turners Novices' Chase10/1 

While the powerhouses of jumps racing continue to thrive and routinely produce the superstars of the game, it's great also to see a high-class performer emerge from a perceived 'smaller stable' and that was certainly the case with Marine Nationale last term for trainer Barry Connell.

The shrewd handler was never backwards in coming forwards with how good he felt Marine Nationale could be, and his opinion was fully justified when his Royal Bond winner scampered up the Cheltenham hill to win the Supreme Novices' Hurdle from favourite Facile Vega in March.

Both the runner-up and fourth home, Inthepocket, would pay tribute to that effort with their own Grade 1 scores at Punchestown and Aintree respectively afterwards, and it is clear that Marine Nationale is a rare talent.

His trainer has been open about the future and it lies in novice chasing, no doubt with the long shadow of Constitution Hill in the two-mile hurdling division given due consideration.

It should be an exciting few months ahead for Connell and fans of Marine Nationale as he embarks on the next phase of his career and he's the ante-post favourite for the Arkle back in Cheltenham on Tuesday 12th March.

 He will look to emulate the likes of Douvan, Altior and Shishkin as recent Supreme winners to come back and land the two-mile novice chasing championship a year later.


King George VI Chase16/1
Queen Mother Champion Chase7/1
Ryanair Chase5/1
Cheltenham Gold Cup20/1

It says plenty about Jonbon that he has more ante-post quotes than any other horse on this list.

The Nicky Henderson-trained inmate has won ten of his 12 career starts, the only setbacks being a pair of silver medals from the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in 2022 and the Arkle in 2023 when he ran into freakish stablemate Constitution Hill and then the aforementioned El Fabiolo in his two Cheltenham Festival starts.

He had, of course, repelled El Fabiolo in their Grade 1 novice hurdle clash at Aintree in the spring of 2022, but it was a different outcome in the Arkle.

Jonbon is a high-class horse who possibly splits opinion. He has a myriad of options come the spring but, ahead of that, it is hugely likely the JP McManus-owned Seven Barrows inmate will run up a sequence of winter wins. 

It remains far too soon to be writing Jonbon off and, in fact, as a second-season chaser with plenty experience and two Grade 1 wins - including in open company via the bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown in April - he is one to look forward to. 

The Ryanair over the intermediate trip come Cheltenham in March looks a likely target but who knows, he could still present himself as a major Champion Chase contender and especially so should El Fabiolo lose his way. 

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