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National Hunt Eyecatchers For January

With trainers possibly handing their stable stars their last prep run before the Cheltenham Festival, January is sure to throw up some potential eyecatchers, who are likely to go on to be lively contenders at the four-day Festival come March.

Melodic Rendezvous (Tolworth Hurdle)

Jeremy Scott's Melodic Rendezvous produced a lightning turn of pace to pulle clear of a decent field in the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown Park and he could well now head to the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, where he will be a leading challenger.

In a race that oozed potential, Nick Scholfield put his raider into the race in the home straight and he duly kicked clear of his adversaries after the last flight and that speed will hold him in good stead for Prestbury Park in March.

Swnymor (Finale Juvenile Hurdle)

Tim Vaughan's Swnymor may have been a last flight casualty in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow, but he could well be a leading Triumph Hurdle contender if he can produce a clear round at the Cheltenham Festival.

He had the race at this mercy coming to the last hurdle, but having stepped at it he sent Richard Johnson out the side door and he will need to bounce back from it.  However, he shaped with real promise during the race and has to be respected in what is a wide open Triumph.

The New One (Leamington Novices' Hurdle)

Having been backed into a 1/2 favourite, The New One was fully expected to win the Leamington Novices' Hurdle with ease and the Nigel Twiston-Davies raider duly did as he won by 16 lengths and was instantly sent to the head of the pile in the 2013 Neptune betting.

He travelled smoothly throughout and jumped a lot better than his previous outings and with such a high crusing speed could well be a major player for the 2m 5f contest at the Festival.

Oscara Dara (Lanzarote Hurdle)

Nicky Henderson's Oscara Dara was much the best in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton Park and the progressive Seven Barrows inamte could well be one to watch in the handicap hurdle markets for the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Even a last flight blunder couldn't stop him from winning with a lot in hand and he could well be another leading light for a strong Henderson team at the Prestbury Park extravaganza that takes place between March 12 and March 15.

Sprinter Sacre (Victor Chandler Chase)

It's an obvious addition to the list for January, but you couldn't help but be enthralled by the finest talent in jump racing at the moment, as Sprinter Sacre trounced his rivals yet again in the re-routed Victor Chandler Chase.

Cementing his place at the head of the Queen Mother Champion Chase betting, Henderson's star looks unbeatable at the Cheltenham Festival and it's tough to see anyone even getting him off the bridle if he can reproduce his best form in March.

Our Mick (Murphy Group Chase)

All eyes may have been on Katenko as he stormed up the Cheltenham hill to win the Murphy Group Chase on Festivals Trial Day, but Donald McCain's Our Mick could be one to take out of the race and he could be a leading handicap chase runner come the Cheltenham Festival.

Travelling well on his seasonal reappearance, he fell at the top of the hill when jumping to his left and he would certainly have at least finish runner-up to the winner.  A Grade Two-winning novice, he shaped with real promise and if that fall doesn't leave a mark then he could well be a major player in March.


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