05 Oct 2006 Pre-2014 Releases

Paul Nicholls: “I think the Order of Merit has been very well received and we were delighted to win the £50,000 top chaser award with Azertyuiop in the first season. We have a number of candidates for this year with Kauto Star being the most likely winner at this stage as he will be targeting Order of Merit races including possibly the very first race at Aintree on 22 October 2006, the Old Roan Chase. Other Order of Merit horses to consider from my yard would be My Will, Napolitain, Desert Quest and Hoo La Baloo.”

Alan King: “Unfortunately Crystal d’Ainay is out for the season and My Way de Solzen is going to go novice chasing. However, Voy Por Ustedes will have three or four runs over the season and they will be in Order of Merit races. He is only a five-year-old so I would not want to over face him with too many races but the Queen Mother Champion Chase is the ultimate target if we are good enough.”

Howard Johnson: “We were obviously thrilled to win the first Order of Merit with Inglis Drever, it was a great effort by all of my team here and I was thrilled that they were rightly rewarded for all their hard work. This season our most likely candidate would be No Refuge and he will be aimed at it. He had a problem with his foot last season which we have now resolved and he always takes his races well. Inglis Drever will not be out until Christmas.”

Steve Gollings, trainer of Royal Shakespeare, commented: “It was such a thrill to have won the Order of Merit last season for all of our small team. For me the best attribute of the Order of Merit is the fact that it rewards everyone involved in the horse for all of their hard work over the season not least for our sponsors, Guardian Home Loans. He has had a really good break and he will go straight to the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton, he has already dropped my wife Jane twice so we know he is in great form!”

Jonjo O’Neill: “Black Jack Ketchum must be my most likely Order of Merit horse as he will be targeting the appropriate races. He has summered well and I am looking forward to running him. I think the Order of Merit is a great initiative as it rewards the owner but also the stable staff who work so tirelessly behind the scenes. All of the National Hunt fraternity should support it, if the right horse is in the yard.”

Nicky Henderson: “I am all in favour of the initiative but I just don’t think that I will have the right type of horse this season. Trabolgan just wouldn’t run enough to score enough points.”

Nick Gifford: “Straw Bear has summered very well and he is definitely a stronger horse. His first race target is either the Ascot Hurdle or the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle. He obviously has to improve out of novice company but the Champion Hurdle is the ultimate target provided he lives up to expectation.”

Nicky Richards: “Monet’s Garden has had a fantastic summer and he is in cracking form. The Stan James King George VI Chase is the main target pre New Year. I hope he has a chance of winning the Order of Merit but we will take one race at a time. I do think Faasel will be suited to the Order of Merit as he is tough, consistent and high class.”

Philip Hobbs commented: “I think my likely contenders are Lacdoudal who will be running in top three mile chases or Noble Request and Detroit City who will be running in the top two mile hurdles. I hope they can compete at the top of the Order of Merit leaderboard.”