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.

Golden Horn – A Golden Horse?

As Golden Horse strode majestically down the camber at Epsom, eating up the ground on the classy Jack Hobbs – those who were fortunate to have a space in the packed grandstand knew they were witnessing something special.

Doubts were diminishing, pressure was being eased and a date with destiny (part two) was answered as Frankie Dettori saluted the crowd with Golden Horn lengthening a few lengths clear underneath him.

This was the crowning glory of the animal who had crept under the radar since his sole two-year-old start and with the horse racing fraternity searching for a superstar among the ranks, Golden Horn has done nothing but answer graciously.

His only visit to the track as a two-year-old ensured he created a rather understated impression that looks more and more impressive the more you revisit it. He was slow away, looked set to be outpaced over three-furlongs out before making smooth headway under pressure, to pick it up and gallop relentlessly to the line.

He was always keeping Storm the Stars at bay and eventually crossed the line a head to the good, with seven lengths back to the third. It was the type of performance that brought a ‘wow’ reaction without too much thought being given to the actual strength of the race.

Still, it was enough to ensure he returned to the track as a warm favourite, as he took his place in the Listed Fielden Stakes (9f) at Newmarket. Again, he was held up before making smooth headway through the race under new rider, Frankie Dettori, taking the lead when edging left in the final furlong before going on to a clever length and a half success.

At this stage it was evident a mile may not be sufficient and a step up in trip was likely to bring out even more improvement from the colt.

So, with the long-term plan being the French Derby, he was sent to York to contest the Dante Stakes over 10f. It was a race that many thought would be a mini-Derby, with many of the leading candidates turning up on the Knavesmire.

However with connections feeling Golden Horn was a real 10f horse, there were very few Epsom murmurs, until William Buick manoeuvred the colt out to track the leaders, swooped upside Jack Hobbs and then kicked on to win a shade cosily.

The manner in which he galloped past rivals with a hint of ease suggested he may well get further and the commotion after the event surrounded future decisions. Would Mr Oppenheimer opt to swerve Cahntilly for a crack at the prestigious Epsom Derby?

Trainer John Gosden was certainly vocal with his feelings but he left it completely to the owner and it mustn’t have taken too long for a decision to be made, as he was swiftly chartering a different course, heading straight at Epsom.

The tracing fraternity finally had a horse to latch onto, an improving, unbeaten colt who had done no wrong. Golden Horn.

Another major pull was the renaissance of popular rider Frankie Dettori, as the Italian fought back from the brink of obsuciroty to secure himself the top rides with the in-form John Gosden. With William Buick’s Godolphin links it was highly likely he would be needed elsewhere and in a bizarre twist of fate, the jockey’s switched horses as Godolphin purchased Dante runner-up and Derby second-favourite, Jack Hobbs.

This meant Buick got on-board Jack Hobbs while Dettori gleefully took the reins on Golden Horn as he bid for his second date with destiny up the famous Epsom camber.

He was settled towards the rear as the leaders went hell-for-leather up front and as he swung around Tattenham Corner, Dettori began to ease the colt through the pack, while stablemate Jack Hobbs got first run and took up the running.

He took a few strides to really hit top gear, but Golden Horn was merely teasing backers, and the flat spot was no more as he picked up the bit and galloped after his big, stocky, stablemate. Then came the sense of inevitability.

The nervous expression of backers suddenly changed to confidence, with “Go on Frankie!” bellowed from all parts of the racecourse. The horse at this stage had just loomed upsides and then gone past Jack Hobbs, delivering a crushing blow as he sauntered across his barn buddy before running on strongly up the rail to coast home an impressive winner.

He then reappeared in the Eclipse, bidding to join the greats such as Sea The Stars and Nashwan in the elite group of animals to do the Derby/Eclipse double and it was here he cemented himself as a top-class horse.

After the field understandably cut up with many swerving the chance to face a red hot Derby winner, Golden Horn faced four rivals, including the consistent horse from the Kevin Ryan stable, The Grey Gatsby.

It was a new scenario with a distinct lack of pace likely, so it came as no surprise to see Dettori bounce out and ease his charge to the front, where he could dictate the tempo. He set steady early fractions and wound it up in the straight, but there was a real worry for Golden Horn backers as The Grey Gatbsy loomed up large under a patient Jamie Spencer ride, eye-balling the favourite for good measure.

Dettori was urging the colt for more up the rail and as the grey beast next to him was urged for more, it appeared John Gosden’s colt was in for a battle. However he did what champions do, and dug deep to find reserves many questioned were there as he picked up the tempo to forge on for strong pressure.

The crowd responded with cheers and urgings of their own and as he careered away down the Sandown straight, finding his balance with ease to come home a shade cosily in the end, with some distance back to the third, belief had grown.

Golden Horn could be a member of the elite.

After looking as though the 3yo ranks were set for a disappointing return, it is nice to see we have a number of potential top-class animals to pad out the remainder of the year. Golden Horn looks a genuine good ground horse who wouldn’t want it on the soft side, yet he should have the chance to add to his ever growing reputation over the course of the season.

A trip to the King George for which his owner has plenty of sentimental attachment seemed the likely port of call, before a potential crack at the Juddmonte International at York. However rain-softened ground put paid to the former, so the Irish Champion Stakes, the Arc and potentially even the Breeders Cup are all logical options at present and it will be interesting to see which way the colt goes.

At present he looks to have plenty of talent and a whole host of opportunities ahead of him. Hopefully the ground will come good on the Knavesmire and he can put in a big performance for racing fans to latch onto.

Can Golden Horn prove himself as the Golden horse?