Doncaster hosted a welcome return to the Flat last weekend, but what often puzzles me is the lack of flat turf meetings in the days after the Lincoln meeting – how can it spark the season into life if there’s nothing coming after it!? The midweek National Hunt season has its due place though, and this dead & often soulless space between Cheltenham & Aintree Festivals gives us the time to get into “Tracker Mode”…a key term used (I just made it up) to describe the act of trawling the previous year’s form, figures & replays in order to find a bunch of horses to keep an eye on for the season ahead!
Below you’ll find 10 interesting horses I’ve added to my GG Alert list for the 2018 Flat Season:
EUGENIO – 4yo colt Richard Hannon
This Fastnet Rock colt has the experience of 9 races with 3 wins under his belt and was touted as a Cambridgeshire hope after a Doncaster win over 1m2f when last seen in Sept 17’. He is a slow developer though and likely to show even better track ability in his 4yo season. Indeed, connections saw fit to put him away after Doncaster instead of taking on the Cambridgeshire, hopefully that patience can pay off this season.
GROVEMAN – 3yo colt Charles Hills
Went for 250,000Gns at the 2016 Tattersalls sale and is a nice type. Promise in three starts last year, the latest back in August where he once again stayed on well late after not really handling Brighton particularly well. His dam won over 1m4f, he’s been off since but this likeable son of Holy Roman Emperor has the scope to progress in handicaps this year and a mark of 73 is a fair one.
LUBINKA – 3yo filly Peter Chapple-Hyam
A quality looking filly, Lubinka shaped immediately well in two decent 2yo races at Doncaster and Ascot last year, before running a blinder to finish 6/11 in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket on only her third career start. She went off at 150/1, but was beaten little over 6 lengths by Laurens & September on the day. She should develop and pick up her share of black type this season.
Lubinka might be best with some cut in the ground, while anything from 8f-12f will be her distance window.
CHAGATAI – 3yo gelding Clive Cox
Speedy son of Kodiac who provided Clive Cox with the yard’s first 2yo winner last season. He travels strongly and although he was a little unorganised next time out at Sandown in the National Stakes, his two runs in 2017 left the impression he is a sprinter with a decent career ahead. He’s been off with a minor leg injury since, but has been gelded which will hopefully settle him down and Chagatai is hopefully a name that will pop up in one or two races on fast ground over 5-6f this term.
GET KNOTTED – 6yo Michael Dods
This 6yo can go off the boil and he did that again toward the back end of last season, but York is very much the place to catch this fella right. He’s won there the past two seasons and his 2018 campaign is likely to be revolving around a successful return or two to the Knavesmire winner’s enclosure. A handicap mark of 94 means he can be very competitive under the right conditions and he gets on well with regular pilot Paul Mulrennan.
CANDIDATE – 3yo Hughie Morrison
Hughie Morrison is a man to follow when it comes to 3yo handicappers and this well related son of Camelot and an opening mark of 75 is interesting given this horse is highly likely to show much better form than he did in three quick starts as a juvenile. 4th in a decent Windsor maiden before disappointing behind the promising Brundtland when last seen, he will be seen to better effect this season and it’ll be interesting to see where he pops up for Morrison. 1m-1m2f will be his distance and hopefully the likeable Candidate proves profitable to follow.
EXPERT EYE – 3yo Sir Michael Stoute
We’ll finish off this little list of “10 to follow” with four big name drops, starting with this fella. Expert Eye fluffed his lines in the Dewhurst, which was disappointing. But the promise Sir Michael Stoute’s inmate displayed at Newbury on debut and in the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood suggests he is still very much a top class prospect. He could bounce back in the 2000 Guineas with a big run, but the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot could well turn out to be more his game in the first half of the season. Either way, he shouldn’t be underestimated this year for major Group 1 races.
SEPTEMBER – 3yo Aidan O’Brien
I am a September baby, so my attraction to this tremendous little filly started early and she did little in her juvenile career to sway my high hopes for her. I’ve backed her for the 1000 Guineas and the Epsom Oaks and can’t wait to see how she progresses this season. September isn’t the biggest in size, but she’s very well bred and put together, with the heart of a lion and I reckon she’ll make her present felt wherever she goes this year; though there are rather a lot of top young fillies about! Make no mistake though, she is one of them.
LE BRIVIDO – 4yo Andre Fabre
Top class colt in the making. The 2017 Jersey Stakes winner is set to make his long awaited return to action at Saint-Cloud next week, having not been out since his impressive, battling Royal Ascot victory. He will stay further this season, perhaps even 1m2f, but in the first instance a return to Ascot in June for something like the Queen Anne seems a logical port of call. Provided he stays healthy & active, all the big meetings through the year will be fair game for Andre Fabre’s exciting 4yo and he could end up at the Breeders’ Cup at the back end of the season. The 1m division is open to a new star and this French horse could well be it.
STRADIVARIUS – 4yo John Gosden
High class staying prospect for John Gosden, Stradivarius was a well backed and impressive winner of the Goodwood Cup last August, before finishing a solid 3rd in both the St Leger and the Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Champion Day; perhaps blunted somewhat on both occasions by softer ground. A real good moving son of Sea The Stars, Stradivarius is a better horse on faster ground and after the late-Winter and early-Spring we’ve had to endure, you’d have to be hopeful the Weather Gods bless us with a hot Summer. If that’s the case, watch out for this young John Gosden trained stayer making his mark in all the big 1m6f-2m4f Group races.
You can read more from Kevin O’Malley and find the latest form, racecards, free tips & news on GG.CO.UK.