We may not be quite there yet, but Listowel serves to remind us that the National Hunt season is just around the corner.
For many, it’s a time to start studying for the winter that lies ahead and I wanted to highlight a few publications that are not only a great read, but also a helpful tool for those hoping to make a few quid from their favourite pastime.
Social media may be seen as an annoying distraction by some, but too many, Twitter has become a huge source of information and gives the opportunity to share thoughts with others that share a common passion.
Someone who’s always worth following for his opinions on racing is Paul Ferguson. From the North-West, it’s unfortunate that he’s an Everton fan, but that in no way impairs on his ability as a judge of all things horses. He has once again produced a most enjoyable and informative publication, ‘Jumpers To Follow 2015-2016’ which highlights performers that should be kept onside during the coming season.
An in-depth section covers his 40 leading prospects, before he looks at the likely big hitters from across the Irish Sea. It’s interesting to read the views of several jockeys including Jamie Codd with his particular insight into horses from the Irish pointing scene.
Paul really does his homework, and the level of detail throughout the book is terrific. It's less than a tenner and a cracking purchase for any passionate Jumps fan.
To prove complete Geegeez impartiality I also ‘shelled out’ a similar amount for Mark Howard’s ‘One Jump Ahead’. Mark is known for his work on Racing UK, and has been producing his horses to follow books for over 20 years. It’s another great read, with an incredible amount of information supplied by leading names in the sport.
Rich Ricci runs through his vast array of talent and there’s the usual informative piece from Bloodstock Agent Anthony Bromley. The Irish Pointers are again covered in detail and a section called ‘Talking Trainers’ covers the leading hopefuls from several of the top yards including Messrs’ Nicholls, King and Hobbs.
I’d be lying if I said the books were completely different, yet their differences are sufficient for both to prove useful purchases. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading them, as I have in previous years. The guys know their stuff and present the information in a pleasing format.
Finally I’d like to give a shout to new kids on the block; Grant Copson and Lee Lewis. They introduce us to their Jumps guide ‘The Final Flight’. It’s written in a pleasing and personal style, again leading with a section on ‘Top Prospects’. They then consider well-handicapped horses that are worth following in the months ahead, before taking a look at the Point-to-Point scene.
The book also carries a number of photographs from the talented pair of Dan Heap and Michael Harris. I thoroughly enjoyed the read, and it’s great to support new talent as they take their first steps into new ventures.
Chepstow in October is where it all starts for me. We need to be ready.