The Return of the Flat – 10 to Follow for 2015

The flat season is fast-approaching, and to celebrate I take a look at ten horses who could provide punters with plenty of success throughout the season.


3-y-o bay colt

Oasis Dream (UK) – Splashdown (UK) (Falbrav (IRE))

Current Trainer: Hugo Palmer

Current Owner: V Araci

Hugo Palmer looks to have a real classy sort in the shape of Aktabantay, with all six visits to the track showing his tremendous amount of promise. He initially caught the eye on debut, when finishing strongly after dwelling in the rear, eventually going down a short-head to the well-thought-of Elite Gardens.

He was turned over at 1/4 on his next start when looking a tad one paced over six furlongs, but he made simple work of a decent field over the same distance next time out, despite hanging left. He chased the classy Estidhkaar home in the Superlative Stakes before showing a game nature when battling to success in the Solario Stakes, getting up in the final strides under a powerful Ryan Moore ride.

It was then he was sent to Paris, and this is where I realised how good a horse he has the potential to be. He travelled well towards the rear on the inside, but as the field turned for home he found himself behind a wall of horses. He had to come five horses wide, losing plenty of momentum in the process, but he finished extremely well to finish a never-nearer sixth, only a couple of lengths behind the well-backed 2000 Guineas favourite, Gleneagles.

He is sure to have been closer with a smoother run, and the step-up to a mile is seemingly set to bring the best out of the son of Oasis Dream. He has been found out over shorter trips when getting going too late, but he can use his mix of speed and stamina to go close in plenty of big prizes this year.

After picking up an injury when looking to have a real chance at the Breeders’ Cup, he has been nursed back to full health by Palmer, who clearly thinks the world of him. He is worth following at silly prices for the top races, but when he is dropped down to lesser echelons, he is sure to find success in plenty of Pattern races throughout the season.

Agnes Stewart

3-y-o grey filly

Lawman (FR) – Anice Stellato (IRE) (Dalakhani (IRE))

Current Trainer: E Lynam

Current Owner: Clipper Logistics Group Ltd

Another one for the shortlist also came with the help from a little trip across the Irish Sea, with Agnes Stewart looking a filly of the highest calibre. She was sent off fairly unfancied on debut as she strolled to a comfortable success at odds of 22/1, but the manner of the success suggested it was more than a fluke and her form since has proved that.

She stuck on gamely in a Group 2 over 7f at Leopardstown, passing rivals late on to snatch second spot behind the classy Jack Naylor. Then the real test came as she lined-up against top-class fillies in May Hill Stakes, but she passed with flying colours, landing a mini-gamble when coming home a shade cosily by one-and-a-quarter lengths.

She also made the most of another trip across to England, when finishing half-a-length behind the highly-rated Together Forever in the Fillies Mile. She looks open to bags of improvement and it would be no surprise to see her enjoy a big season, starting with a big run in the 1000 Guineas for which she still looks an attractive price.

There is no doubt she will appreciate the step up to 10f in time, but there are still plenty of prizes in her over a mile as she gets her three-year-old campaign underway at Newmarket.

Belle D’or

4-y-o bay filly

Medaglia d’Oro (USA) – Glatisant (UK) (Rainbow Quest (USA))

Current Trainer: J H M Gosden

Current Owner: Mr A E Oppenheimer

John Gosden makes his only appearance on the list with the classy Belle D’or, who looks set to finally fulfil her potential as a four-year-old. She has endured a rather stop-start career thus far, as after having never seen a racecourse as a two-year-old, she has only been sighted four times in her racing career. However there is no doubting the amount of potential she has to be a top-class filly, and all things are pointing to a big year, this year.

She went down by a neck when well-backed on debut before living up to the glowing gallop reports, as she comfortably ran away with a decent looking maiden at Salisbury. Her work at home ensured she was given a crack at a Listed feature, and she showed she had great battling qualities to go with her class, as she ground down Wee Jean to get up by the shortest of margins in the shadow of the post.

Her seasonal finale ensured she warranted a place on the list, as she confirmed promise by running on gamely yet again despite being keen early on, finishing a clear second, closing on the winner all the way to the line. An extended trip make bring out further improvement, but she has the scope to grow and strengthen up which should make her a major player in lower grade Pattern races this year.

Big Orange

4-y-o bay gelding

Duke Of Marmalade (IRE) – Miss Brown To You (IRE) (Fasliyev (USA))

Current Trainer: M L W Bell

Current Owner: W J and T C O Gredley

After a rather underwhelming start to his racing career, Big Orange has improved leaps and bounds, suggesting he could certainly be a horse to follow this season. He finished second behind subsequent St Leger runner-up, Romsdal, in a maiden before going on to land an eye-catching pillar-to-post success at Lingfield.

He was clearly doing something well at home as he was given a difficult assignment in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot, where he wasn’t disgraced when finishing a decent fourth. His upward curve continued as he made all in a competitive Listed Handicap at Chester, before running out a game winner in a Listed race at Ascot.

The Qipco Long Distance Cup was his final port of call for the year, and he ran well for a long way, finishing fifth behind the brilliant Forgotten Rules. The Gelding has calmed down a lot, and is less inclined to race keenly which is a real bonus and although he may fall short at the highest level, he should come into his own in staying handicaps and lower-grade Pattern races.

Island Remede

4-y-o bay filly

Medicean (UK) – Island Odyssey (UK) (Dansili (UK))

Current Trainer: E A L Dunlop

Current Owner: Mrs Janice Quy

After being sent off at 66/1, 50/1 and 40/1 on her first three visits to the track, it is safe to say there wasn’t too much market confidence behind Island Remede. Hwever during her fourteen-race career, she has shown enough promise to suggest she may be capable of surprising many and running into money at decent prices as a four-year-old.

She has only one once, but that came in a decent Nursery, where she finished seven-lengths ahead of her nearest pursuer, which happened to be subsequent Triumph Hurdle fourth, Devilment. After rounding off her two-year-old campaign with a decent effort in a Listed race, she was sent-off fairly fancied for the Lingfield Oaks trial, where a poor draw played havoc with her chances.

Following a number of racecourse gallops, she was given her chance in the Oaks, and she wasn’t disgraced but had to settle for eleventh after hanging badly left. A couple of decent efforts in Listed affairs suggested there was still more to come, and this was proven as she chased home the highly-rated Sky Hunter, with third placed Battalion coming out and winning subsequently.

Before signing off for the season, she was given an assignment at Saint-Cloud, where she travelled well for a long way before the heavy ground nullified her finishing kick, ensuring she had to settle for fourth – which was still a fair performance. On soft ground she looks worth following and given there is still room for improvement for Ed Dunlop’s filly, she may be underestimated during the early stages of the season.


3-y-o grey colt

Galileo (IRE) – Dialafara (FR) (Anabaa (USA))

Current Trainer: A P O’Brien

Current Owner: Mrs John Magnier, Mr M Tabor & Mr D Smith

I know Ballydoyle have plenty of firepower and they’re particularly fond of their three-year-olds, but I’ve resisted the opportunity to throw in Gleneages (ship has sailed) and Ol’ Man River (big-priced bagged before debut) and side with the likely improver, Jamaica, who seems to be sailing under many people’s radars.

He finished a staying-on third (only a nose off second) behind stablemate Gleneagles on debut, before making easy work of a decent field at Galway. He was given the nod to represent his powerful stable in the Acomb Stakes, but he failed to land a major blow after being slow away before using up energy to make up the distance, which meant he was one-paced in the final furlong. A step up in trip is sure to suit and the rangey colt looks an ideal Derby candidate, for which there is still 25/1 around.

It is likely he will be stepped up from the off, but he could still be underestimated if he is to line-up against some of his more fancied stablemates. Jamaica could be worth a follow throughout the early season while there is still plenty of value about him, but it would be no surprise to see him trimmed after his early efforts with value so hard to find among the Balllydoyle stars.

Master Carpenter

4-y-o chestnut colt

Mastercraftsman (IRE) – Fringe (UK) (In The Wings (UK))

Current Trainer: B R Millman

Current Owner: Links Partnership/Cheveley Park Stud

Master Carpenter has had a busy career so far, with fifteen start during his first two years on the track. He has been kept busy by connections, and to good effect with four wins, two seconds and five thirds out of his visits to the track.

He is extremely versatile when it comes to ground conditions and he has ran respectably in plenty of top-class races. He was sent-off well-fancied for the Chesham, where he disappointed slightly, but he showed he wasn’t out of his depth, as he finished a solid third to the imperious Kingman in the Greenham Stakes, before twice ending up in the same position behind the classy Western Hymn.

Following a mini-break from July, he slightly disappointed when finishing last in his final two starts, but he was entitled to it, after a long season of running against top opponents. The last two runs are easy to put a line through but they should ensure he goes off a bigger price than he should for his first few starts this season – and he could easily reward followers with a big year.


5-y-o bay gelding

Invincible Spirit (IRE) – Fairy Of The Night (IRE) (Danehill (USA))

Current Trainer: W J Haggas

Current Owner: Mr Hamdan Al Maktoum

After taking a while to really warm up to the racing game, Muthmir shone in the latter part of the season to suggest he has the makings of a top-class sprinter. He has visited the track eight times, and has been sent off favourite on six of those occasions, and second-favourite in the other true – often being subject to decent gambles.

He only just went down on his seasonal reappearance at Newcastle, which ensured he was well-punted into 4/1 for the Dash up at York, where he was caught short of room at the start before making smooth headway and eventually pulling clear in impressive fashion. He was backed as if defeat was out of the question in the Stewards Cup, but he could only manage fifth after looking set to steal the show when travelling strongly two furlongs out.

He came in for further support as he lined up in the Portland and punters got their money back, as he broke the track record despite stumbling early on. He travelled menacingly before putting the race to bed in fine style as he burst to the front before staying on all the way to the line. He oozed class that day and was even installed as a short-price for the Prix l’Abbaye, before William Haggas decided to put him away for a break instead. He looks set to be a top-class animal and he can announce himself as a big star this season.

Wheat Sheaf

3-y-o bay colt

Iffraaj (UK) – Harvest Queen (IRE) (Spinning World (USA))

Current Trainer: R Charlton

Current Owner: Lady Rothschild

The only maiden in the ten to follow this year, is the exciting Wheat Sheaf, who went extremely close on his only racecourse visit. He was given the nod to start off his career in an above-average maiden at HQ, where he travelled eye-catchingly well under George Baker. He is a lovely looking colt, and he showed he had plenty of ability when moving stylishly into the lead up the stands rail.

He breezed to the front before pulling clear alongside Rare Rhythm, and although he was defeated in a battle, he lost little in defeat. The benefit of race experience clearly aided the classy Godolphin colt, but Wheat Sheaf looks set to improve massively for the run and it would be no surprise to see him aimed at some of the big ten-furlong races this season, with plenty of options lying in store for Roger Charlton’s three-year-old.

He is sure to come out and get some confidence in lesser events, so it could be worth following him on his journey to bigger and better things, keeping an eye on the prices as he progresses.


3-y-o bay filly

Dansili (UK) – Moonstone (UK) (Dalakhani (IRE))

Current Trainer: A P O’Brien

Current Owner: Mr D Smith, Mrs J Magnier, Mr M Tabor

Sometimes actions speak louder than words, but there was a magnificent mixture of both as Words ran out a ready winner on her only start to date at the Curragh last June. Aidan O’Brien sorts often need a run or two to really be seen at their best, so it was a pleasant surprise to see a well-thought-of mare show tremendous promise, after dwelling towards the rear before making swift headway to pull well clear, despite Joseph O’Brien putting up overweight.

She has a really interesting pedigree, and looks set to have plenty of options with speed and stamina aplenty. It would be no surprise to see her turn up in the Classic races open to her, and she is already strongly fancied for the Oaks. She is a likeable type, and the form of her only start has worked out tremendously well, which suggests there may be something special about the Ballydoyle mare. There is plenty of scope about the daughter of Dansili and it would be no surprise to see her make a real name for herself in her three-year-old season.