Matt Chapman reflects on another National Hunt season as it draws to a close at Sandown today

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SILLY SEASON

The National Hunt season hasn’t lived up to its early promise with stars such as Faugheen and Annie Power not making it to the track and the sad losses of Vautour and Many Clouds

HEY, are you ready for this? Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?

Another one bites the dust, another one bites the dust, and another one gone and another one gone, another one bites the dust!

Yes, the National Hunt season draws to a close in a party-like atmosphere at Sandown, live on ITV.

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It’s been a strange one, largely because so many superstars have failed to turn up for the gig.

We’ve either failed to see, or had only a glimpse of, Sprinter Sacre, Vautour, Faugheen, Coneygree, Annie Power, Many Clouds, Douvan and Don Cossack.

Getty Images

Faugheen is one of the start we didn’t get to see this season

That’s left a real void in the season. You just can’t lose that many top-class horses without it being seriously detrimental to the excitement of the season.

But champions have still emerged, notably in the shape of Champion Hurdle hero Buveur D’Air and Gold Cup victor Sizing John, who followed up at Punchestown on Wednesday.

Noel Fehily and Buveur D'Air

Reuters

Buveur D’Air has been the star this season

Buveur D’Air started the season as a chaser and went on to not only score at Cheltenham but also land the big Aintree Hurdle. He’s decent, although whether he’s a worldy only time will tell.

As for Sizing John, the horse who for so long chased home Douvan in his younger days, he has been a sensation stepped up in trip, landing the Irish, Cheltenham and Punchestown Gold Cups.


His emergence has been matched by a golden patch for jockey Robbie Power. I wasn’t joking when I said on ITV one day Snap should rename their 1990 house hit “Robbie, I’ve got the Power!”

Sizing John

Sportsfile

Sizing John and Robbie Power have had an incredible season

Richard Johnson will be crowned champion jockey for the second time, and Henderson takes over as the best trainer in the business from defeated Paul Nicholls, who has put up a good fight without any superstar in his yard.

The Grand National success for Scotland with One For Arthur is a huge moment for Lucinda Russell and Peter Scudamore. If you want to know how they will have celebrated just read a few chapters of a Jilly Cooper novel!

One For Arthur wins the National

EPA

Derek Fox gave One For Arthur a brilliant ride in the National

Fair play to rider Derek Fox, too.

Horses I will look forward to next season include include Neon Wolf (so unlucky in the Neptune) and Defi Du Seuil, who was brilliant in the Triumph. There’s also a chance of a an Altior vs Douvan smash up, which would be box office stuff.

The 2/1 favourite Neon Wolf loomed large, but outside Willoughby Court held him off to bag the honours in the opener

Reuters

Neon Wolf (left) was unlucky in the Neptune

Now we focus on the Flat and it’s time for jockeys and the PJA to stand up for themselves over the ridiculous jockeys’ title they have accepted for a few quid.

The PJA has made a right cock-up and its members should be embarrassed.

Baker back home

WHAT better news than George Baker being fit enough to return home to his family after his horror fall on the frozen lake at St Moritz back in February.

There is no doubt the treatment he will have received in hospital and at the rehab centre he was transferred to ten days ago will have been second to none.

But being back home with his wife and daughter is sure to speed up his recovery no end.

We all wish you well, George.

Because there was a bit of cash chucked at them the jockeys agreed to go along with a jockeys’ championship that runs from Qipco 2,000 Guineas Day at Newmarket next week to Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot.

Test: Is a jockey fitter than a rugby player? Find out here!

I have not heard a single jockey say they are happy.

Have a vote this week. And stand up for what is right girls and boys. Come on PJA. Give us a bit of history back and make the championship worthwhile once again.



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