Five To Follow On The Flat – 2017

The flat season got underway at Doncaster last Saturday and as has become customary, we’re going to take a look at five horses to follow on the level.

There won’t be appearances from the obvious elite, such as Churchill or Caravaggio from the Aidan O’Brien camp, though hopefully we’ll still find a few winners.

SIR DANCEALOT (3yo colt – D R Elsworth)

Finishing ninth in an average Windsor maiden at 33/1 was a rather inauspicious start Sir Dancealot’s career.

However he has gone from strength to strength and developed into an animal of huge potential.

There was plenty of smart money for the colt on his second start and he duly obliged, showing a nice turn of foot to score impressively at Kempton.

He followed up in a Conditions race at the same venue comfortably seeing off four decent rivals despite being keen.

Questions were raised about whether or not he would be able to transfer that form onto the turf and those were in answered in some style, with a huge run at HQ.

This time he was held up towards the rear before making smooth headway under soon-to-be champion jockey, Jim Crowley. He didn’t show a turn of foot and flattened out into a very close third behind two very useful animals.

The fourth horse has subsequently won a Group Three in style, which franked the form well.

Sir Dancealot stayed on well to land a Listed race over 6f on his next start, handling the drop back in trip well, before finishing a one paced fifth in the Racing Post Trophy.

This day he moved nicely but couldn’t really sustain the effort, so it will interesting to see how he is campaigned.

A break will have seen him strengthen so he will be of interest stepped back up to a mile (his dam was a daughter of Danehill Dancer) but he has the potential to make his presence felt should he stick to 6f/7f.

CORONET (3yo filly – J Gosden)

This one may not have crept under the radar of many but she still ranks as one of the most exciting fillies’ in training.

Coronet was well supported on debut and still managed to land the spoils despite running very green.

She ran on strongly to pick it up before idling in front. It didn’t look overly impressive but it left the impression there was plenty more to come.

She was brought back for the Listed Zetland Stakes at Newmarket, where she maintained her unbeaten record, grinding past a race-hardened rival, who was rated 92.

This was a lot more eye-catching as she was steadied towards the start before making steady headway over two furlongs out. Despite being bumped, she picked up smartly to win by a neck.

It was a big effort considering it was just her second start and she is bred to appreciate a trip. She looks a nice filly for the Oaks and could be one to keep an eye one ahead of all the top 10f-12f fillies races this season.


A long term plot is something that gets plenty of punters excited and with this in mind, Master Blueyes makes the list.

Alan King’s grey made a rather inauspicious start to life on the level as a 2yo before seemingly strengthening up the following year.

He scored at York (this will come to be important) on his first start as a 3yo, staying on best of all over 12f, before following up by the narrowest of margins at Chester.

The rest of the season was spent hitting the crossbar in staying races around the country, including two more nice runs on the Knavesmire.

He finished fifth in the Melrose Stakes before he was punted off the boards when he returned to the track in October. He went off fav and was mighty close to landing the gamble, only just going down by a head from Calvinist.

This was off a mark of 84 and this was his last start on the flat. He was stuffed on his debut over hurdles (listed race at Wetherby), though a mistake at the first may have been enough to dent his confidence that day.

His next four runs seen him finish second to the highly rated Charli Parcs, a neck second to the very talented Divin Bere and two wide-margin wins, including a Grade 2 at Kempton.

He was slightly taken off his feet when going off well fancied for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, though he is much better than his tenth place finish.

Tiredness set in when a mistake at the last ended hopes of a better final position. Still, it was a superb run of efforts and best of all, his mark on the flat now looks very attractive.

He looks tailor-made for a crack at the Ebor and although he won’t be under the radar for long, it could be long enough to get a nice price for August at York, which could be the plan.

NAGGERS (6yo – P Midgely)

This is the first (and last) of the five runners that have already appeared this season, yet that run should give even more hope that he’s one to follow.

Midgely does very well with a select group of sprinters and it looks as though Naggers is progressing with age.

After almost a year off the track, he managed to claim three wins in just six starts last season, culminating in a battling victory at Ayr.

He snuck in off a nice mark of 84 in a competitive handicap at Doncaster on the second day of the Lincoln meeting, shaping very nicely indeed.

Positioned towards the rear by Paul Mulrennan, the 6yo sliced between runners with his rider motionless.

After meeting slight trouble in running, he picked up smartly when asked a question, running on well to finish a fairly unlucky fourth.

He has form on ground racing from good to soft, so there is no qualms with conditions. He looks as though he could have a nice prize in him and a return to Ayr later in the season wouldn’t be a massive surprise.

SOUTH SEAS (3yo A Balding)

Finally, we round off the five to follow with a very talented three-year-old.

The Colt left quite an impression when obliterating the field in a solid Windsor maiden before following up the victory at Haydock.

Despite a slow start, he landed the Group 3 Solario Stakes with the minimum of fuss, hitting the line hard to suggest a step up to a mile will benefit in time.

He looked to have every chance of causing a slight upset in the Dewhurst, travelling strongly into the race but he was taken slightly off his feet in the end, failing to see it out in such a competitive race.

His final assignment of the season seen him travel to Saint Cloud (a sign of the esteem in which he is held at home) where he ran very well on softer than ideal ground.

Thunder Snow was the only horse to get the better of him that day and he has subsequently gone on to land the UAE Derby.

South Seas looks to have plenty of potential to progress as a three year old and it would be no surprise to see him land more group success this season. He’s currently 40/1 for the 2000 Guineas, which seems fair.

Five To Follow – National Hunt 16/17

It’s that time of the season, when the horses to follow lists come out and horses are jotted into trackers and notebooks across the land.

The National Hunt sphere sees old favourite come back year on year, so my particular five to follow are fairly young (majority are novices’), so that there may be value in following them progress.

Hopefully the sextet can see us build up to the big days with plenty of profit already banked!

EDWULF (7-y-o gelding – Joseph O’Brien – JP McManus)

Another to keep an eye on as the season progresses is the potentially useful Edwulf. He’s in the capable hands of fledgling trainer Joseph O’Brien after moving from father Aidan’s yard after his switch from Ben Pauling.

He ran three times for Aidan last season and there was three promising, yet very frustrating runs. Despite being sent off a big price on his chasing debut, he looked to have the race in the bag as he powered clear before the last only to come to grief at the final obstacle.

A drop down to hurdles followed after being purchased by JP McManus and despite sketchy jumping as the tempo increased, he battled on well to hold the very useful Haymount at bay. A Grade 2 beckoned next and again, he was running a big race before coming down at the third last.

Of course, jumping is clearly an issue but having spent a summer schooling with Joseph and his team, he is sure to have learned a lot. It looks as though the plan is to return to Novices’ Chases and he could progress into a very useful horse, should his jumping hold up.


BATTLE OF SHILOH (7-y-o gelding – Tom George – Paul and Clare Rooney)

Tom George and Paddy Brennan have enjoyed a superb partnership over the years, so it was somewhat of a surprise to see the pair part ways, as Adrian Heskin arrives from Ireland to become retained rider for George.

They have started well and surprisingly and they look to have plenty of solid horses to go to war with this season, with one of the most interesting, the still unbeaten Battle Of Shiloh.

Having won twice in the P2P sphere, he scored gamely on both hurdles starts last season. He rallied strongly on both occasions and it appears he has tremendous courage to go with his eye-catching ability.

It looked as though his unbeaten run was going to come to an abrupt end after some shoddy jumping on his chasing debut earlier this season and after a mistake at the last seen him a fair few lengths behind Jimmy The Jetplane, it looked as though he was to succumb to defeat.

However after a couple of reminders he picked up smartly and in the end, went past Jimmy The Jetplane to win smartly going away in the shadows of the post.

He is sure to have learned plenty from that run and with many sure to take the run on its bare form, the manner of the win suggests he could be a fair few pounds ahead of the handicapper. He has improvement to come and he is one who could be worth keeping on side as the season progresses.

WESTEND STORY (5-y-o gelding – Phillip Hobbs – Mick Fitzgerald Racing Club)

Phillip Hobbs and Richard Johnson often team up with great success and one of their more likely types this season looks to be the exciting Westend Story.

He made a fairly innocuous start to racing life, falling twice in P2P’s, before a switch to bumpers – and the Phillip Hobbs stable – seemed to work some magic. He made his debut on Boxing Day at Huntingdon, in what looked a decent enough bumper, before being backed into odds-on, winning by a cosy six-lengths.

It was a very pleasing performance for connections and they wouldn’t have to wait too long before tasting success again, as he broke the heart of his rivals on Valentine’s Day (I’m sorry), winning a race at Exeter by 18l.

They didn’t turn out to be the strongest of races, which allowed him to be sent off at 20/1 in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival. He travelled nicely into the race before looking set to be outpaced over three furlongs out, as the tempo increased.

He was slightly tapped for toe but he responded well to his rider’s urgings, staying on well without ever having the pace to threaten the leaders. He picked up the pieces to finish fifth and over a longer trip this season, he could be a force to be reckoned with, if schooling at the Hobbs stable has worked.

Of course, that is a slight concern given his P2P efforts but Hobbs is often reliable at readying one for their novice hurdling campaign. He’s currently 33/1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and it will be interesting to see where he aimed.










MARRACUDJA (5-y-o gelding – Paul Nicholls – Ditcheat Racing Club Marracudja)

It wouldn’t be a five (or ten) to follow over the jumps without a Paul Nicholls runner and this year, that coveted nod goes towards Marracudja. He made a rather disappointing start to live over hurdles, flopping behind the very impressive Peace And Co.

He was put away for the rest of the season and when returning fresh, he won two novices’ hurdles at Wincanton in fine style, suggesting he had plenty of ability. He contested a really competitive race at Kempton on Boxing Day, where he ran a fine race to be third behind subsequent Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner, Altior.

He returned for a Grade 2 at Kempton at the end of February and he battled on well, only just failing to get the better of the well-regarded Winter Escape. He was a no-show in a Grade 1 at Aintree but he showed no ill-effects of that race, as he embarked on a chasing career earlier this month.

It always looked as though he would develop into a chaser and if he progresses from his hurdles form, he will be a force to be a reckoned with in the novice division. He could hardly have been more impressive on debut, defying a drift, jumping boldly out in front before moving readily clear of subsequent winner Ballyboley.

He ticked all the boxes as an impressive novice and given his trainer is already nominating targets at Aintree and Punchestown (likely to skip Cheltenham), it suggests he rates him highly. He could be a very nice horse.

CONSUL DE THAIX (4-y-o gelding – Nicky Henderson – JP McManus)

The final member of the five to follow comes from the Nicky Henderson yard, in Consul De Thaix. The JP McManus-owned gelding ran twice in Britain last season for Henderson and it was evident they rated him highly, as he was thrown in at the deep end with a Grade 2 engagement at Cheltenham.

He travelled with enthusiasm for Barry Geraghty and looked to have every chance coming over the last. He battled bravely but couldn’t find what was required to get past the highly-rated Protek De Flos and Clan Des Obeaux.

Subsequently, he was put away until being aimed at the Triumph Hurdle, for which he was sent off at 33/1. He was kept towards the rear of the field and was outpaced when push came to shove but he stayed on once beaten to run a nice enough race.

Considering it was only his second start under rules in this country, it was a fair effort and it would be no surprise to see him aimed at graded races or maybe a top end handicap later in the season.

He has plenty of scope to improve under the handling of Nicky Henderson and he rates as an exciting prospect that perhaps may slip under the radar.