Five National Hunt trainers to watch out for this season

1. DAN SKELTON

Dan Skelton - well known to racing fans for being the son of Nick Skelton, and forming a formidable partnership with his brother Harry. The two have dominated the off-season and have already notched up 100 winners in the quickest time - beating the record last week at Cheltenham set by the great Martin Pipe.

The Skelton's have some great juveniles and novices as they usually do, such as Peppay Le Pugh, One for Billy - who sadly ran out at Cheltenham last week when holding a strong chance of winning and Hatcher. Virgillio won a valuable handicap in the summer, and will surely be campaigned for another crack at the National in April.

The Skelton's are planning for big success at the Cheltenham Festival too in March. Too Many Diamonds could be another to watchout for.

2. OLLY MURPHY

Olly Murphy - previously with Gordon Elliott, has started his career off brightly since acquiring a license for the sport. He kicked off the new jumps season with a winner at Cheltenham at the Showcase meeting last week, when Thomas Darby - one of a number of smart looking novices at Murphy's yard scored at Prestbury Park.

Over the summer, he has run through cards with ease at the likes of Fakenham and Warwick, but will know better than anyone, that elusive first Cheltenham Festival winner will be the big aim of the season. Murphy has been assisted by the services of Richard Johnson, who has rode a number of winners for him during the hot season.

Compatriot, Avocet and Knight Commander are all names that hold strong claims for the forthcoming season.

3. TOM LACEY

Tom Lacey - having been a jockey himself, has several leading hopefuls with the season ahead as he looks to raise awareness on his growing trainer profile. He has increased his total of winners from each season since taking out a licence in the season 2013/14, recording 39 winners last term and operating at a 25% strike rate. Backing all of his runners blind would have even produced a profit of more than £80 from a £1 stake.

This time around, his stable is headed by the exciting chaser Thomas Patrick - who along with Jester Jet, recorded wins at the Grand National meeting in April - both in Grade 3 handicaps. Thomas Patrick made scintillating progress when switched to fences last season, winning three of his four starts, and he will likely develop into a National horse himself in time. The Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, looks to be his first port of call.

4. RUTH JEFFERSON

Less than a fortnight after the death of her father - Malcolm, daughter Ruth Jefferson saddled her first winner since inheriting his licence when Cyrus Darius bolted up in Kelso’s Morebattle Hurdle earlier in the year. Ruth inherited the yard and it's horses and finished last season with a real flurry after such a difficult and emotional season.

This time around, she will definitely be a trainer to follow and she has a Gold Cup hopeful in the shape of Waiting Patiently. He beat Cue Card in an outstanding finish to the Ascot Chase in February who did then opted to skip the festival, but there will be no hiding this time around.

5. CHRISTIAN WILLIAMS

Christian Williams - another name familiar to most National Hunt fans through his exploits as a jockey, having ridden over 300 winners in an injury-hit career. One of his best chances of success this season comes through Limited Reserve, who improved notably to win back-to-back handicaps at Haydock on his final two starts last season, both on which was on heavy ground. He will likely be campaigned with some of the better handicaps in mind this season, and should have even more to offer, particularly when the ground is testing.

Court Frontier is one of the older horses in the yard, and he is back down to a winnable mark and is one to follow. Williams - who has recently moved into a new yard, is another name to remember for the season.

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