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.
MASTER BLUEYES (4yo – A King)
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.