12 Horses To Follow for the Flat Season 2016

The Flat Season officially runs from the day of the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster (April 2) until the day of the November Handicap on the same course (November 5).

As is customary at this time of year, we’ve put together a list of ten horses that we believe are worth following this season, which we’ve arranged in purely alphabetical order.

It should come as no surprise that, with one exception, all the horses in the list are unexposed three-year-olds, and we hope that, from time to time, we’ll be able to put one over on the bookmakers and, who knows, maybe even make a level stakes profit into the bargain!

Carntop

3-y-o b c Dansili – Milford Sound (Barathea)

Bred and owned by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, Ralph Beckett’s colt made his debut, as an unfancied 25/1 chance, in a mile maiden at Doncaster last September. Although no match for the first two on that occasion, he kept on in pleasing style to finish third, beaten 8¼ lengths, behind easy winner Very Talented.

He showed the benefit of that experience when staying on well to beat odds-on favourite Schubert and subsequent winner Bluebeard by 2¾ lengths and 5 lengths in a similar race on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket the following month. He doesn’t have any fancy entries but, in keeping with the progeny of Dansili, he can be expected to progress extremely well from two to three and looks a smart prospect.

Chief Whip

3-y-o ch c Giant’s Causeway – Canterbury Lace (Danehill)

A son of the ‘Iron Horse’ himself, Giant’s Causeway, Chief Whip ran just once as a juvenile, when coming with a sustained run to readily beat the more experienced Cartago by half a length in a 7-furlong maiden at Sandown last July. The runner-up picked up a couple of run-of-the-mill handicaps at Windsor and Yarmouth later in the season, before finishing fifth of 10, beaten 4 lengths, in the Zetland Stakes at Newmarket in October to end the season with an official rating of 91.

Despite entries in the Two-Year-Old Trophy at Redcar, the Dewhurst Stakes and the Racing Post Trophy, Chief Whip didn’t run again last season. He holds an entry in the Irish 2,000 Guineas on May 21, but falls into the ‘could be anything category’ and looks worth following wherever his influential

Gershwin

3-y-o b c Shamardal – Gradara (Montjeu)

David Lanigan’s colt has plenty of stamina in the bottom half of his pedigree, so can reasonably be expected to improve on his three efforts over 7 furlongs and a mile once he tackles middle distances.

Although no threat to the leaders, he kept on to finish sixth of 16, beaten just 3¾ lengths, behind subsequent Horris Hill Stakes winner Crazy Horse in a maiden over 7 furlongs at Newmarket in September and opened his account when comfortably beating subsequent winner Baydar in another maiden, over a mile, at Haydock in October.

He’s entered in the Derby at Epsom, for which he’s quoted at 66/1. and the Irish equivalent at the Curragh, but starts his three-year-old campaign on an official handicap mark of just 83, so could be one for connections to look forward to.

In The City

3-y-o ch c Exceed And Excel – Soft Morning (Pivotal)

William Haggas’ colt raced just once as a juvenile, finishing fourth, beaten 4¾ lengths, behind Emotionless in what proved to be an above-average maiden, over 7 furlongs, on the July Course at Newmarket last August.

The winner followed up in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster the following month and the third, Tidal Wave, and the fifth, Venturous, won their maidens next time so, even if taken at face value, the form looks solid enough.

However, In The City displayed obvious signs of inexperience, failing to quicken on the descent into the dip, but staying on well up the final hill. On that performance, a mile is well within his compass – indeed, he holds an entry in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh on May 21 – and he remains open to any amount of improvement.

Jack Hobbs

4-y-o br c Halling – Swain’s Gold (Swain)

Jack Hobbs ran just once as a two-year-old, but quickly made up into a leading middle-distance performer as a three-year-old. He emerged from the shadow of his illustrious, and now retired, stable companion Golden Horn to win the Irish Derby by 5 lengths and ended the season with a Timeform rating of 129, the third-highest of his generation in Europe.

The son of Halling may ultimately prove best at 1½ miles but, provided he stays sound, he looks a contender for all the major middle-distance contests for which he’s eligible, from the Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom on Derby Day to the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot on QIPCO British Champions Day.

Apparently, the latest plan is to start Jack Hobbs back in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket on April 30, which trainer John Gosden believes will serve as a preparatory race for the Coronation Cup.

Lumiere

3-y-o gr f Shamardal – Screen Star (Tobougg)

Mark Johnston’s filly made an immediate impact on her racecourse debut at Newmarket last July, making all to beat subsequent winner Sharja Queen by an impressive 6 lengths in a maiden over 6 furlongs.

She took a keen hold when going down by 2¼ lengths to Besharah in the Lowther Stakes at York, but reversed the form with that rival in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket in September on her final start as a juvenile. She has bona fide Classic aspirations for the Middleham Moor trainer.

Indeed, she’s 6/1 second favourite for the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 1 and Mark Johnston has compared her favourably to Attraction, who won the first fillies’ Classic in 2004.

Mustajeer

3-y-o b c Medicean – Qelaan (Dynaformer)

Formerly trained by Barry Hills and now in the care of Owen Burrows, former assistant to Sir Michael Stoute, Mustajeer made a promising debut in the same Doncaster maiden as Carntop (see above), staying on at the finish to take fourth on the post.

He opened his account in a Newmarket maiden two weeks later, drawing clear with the runner-up at Doncaster, Linguistic, with a furlong or so to run and showing a likeable attitude to assert in the closing stages and win by 2 lengths. Interviewed at the time, Barry Hills said that he was one of the best juveniles in the yard, although not as good as Massaat (14/1 third-favourite for the 2,000 Guineas and hinted, albeit slightly tongue-in-cheek, that the Chester Vase might be a possible future target.

Certainly, the further Mustajeer went at Newmarket the better he looked so, while a 40/1 quote for the Derby makes only limited appeal, staying appears to be his game.

Out And About

3-y-o b g Fastnet Rock – Starship (Galileo)

Made his debut in a decent-looking maiden, over 7 furlongs, at Newbury last August, starting slowly but making steady headway throughout the final quarter of a mile to finish fourth of 11, beaten 6¾ lengths, behind Justice Law.

The second, Tashweeq, and third, Nice Future, from that race won next time and Out And About showed the benefit of that experience when driven out to beat subsequent winner Colour Me Happy by 1¼ lengths in a lower grade maiden, again over 7 furlongs, at Redcar in October. He’s by Australian champion sprinter Fastnet Rock, but has plenty of stamina in the bottom of his pedigree, so will probably need a mile, or further, to be seen to best effect.

Trainer William Haggas has a 20% strike rate in three-year-old handicaps over the last five seasons and Out And About has the potential to take high rank in that sphere from an opening mark of 84. Already a gelding, he should have his mind on the job right from the word go.

September Stars

3-y-o ch f Sea The Stars – Altesse Imperiale (Rock Of Gibraltar)

This beautifully bred filly has joined Ralph Beckett since making a highly promising debut for Brian Meehan in a fillies’ maiden, over a mile, at Doncaster last October.

Held up in a steadily-run affair, she made headway from the rear with two furlongs to run and stayed on well to take third, beaten just three-quarters of a length and a neck by the more experienced pair Zest and Very Dashing. Exactly how much that form is worth is difficult to judge, but she ran well as well as could be expected, granted the way the race unfolded and, on that showing, should have no problem staying a mile-and-a-quarter.

She has no notable entries, but she’s bred to be smart and may well be capable of leaving her juvenile form far behind in due course.

Timeless Art

3-y-o b c Medicean – Bellona (Bering)

A late April foal, Karl Burke’s nicely bred colt was made favourite for a maiden, over 6 furlongs, on his racecourse debut at Ascot last September, but weakened inside the final furlong to finish seventh of 16, beaten 5¼ lengths, behind Taurean Star.

He subsequently finished third of 10, beaten 1¼ lengths, behind Garcia in a maiden over 7 furlongs at York the following month, despite an interrupted passage, and can be rated slightly better than the bare form. Essentially, for a horse with a middle distance pedigree, anything he achieved as a juvenile was a bonus and he can reasonably be expected to improve significantly when stepped up to a mile, and beyond, this season.

Timeless Art is due to reappear on the Flat early in 2016 and should be capable of winning in handicap company.

Midterm

3-y-o b c Galileo – Midday

We don’t know much about Midday, as Midterm is the first foal out of her, but she did win six races at Group 1 level, and Midterm made the perfect start by winning a 1m maiden at Newbury in October.

And that was the first and last time we saw Midterm – so Derby favouritism or thereabouts is taken on that performance as well as his Dad’s pedigree, of course. Sir Michael Stoute is the perfect trainer to have for a colt who finished very strongly, beating more experienced rivals.

Definitely bred for the middle-distance races, you can bet that Midterm’s early season preparation is going to be built around prepping for the Derby.

So Mi Dar

3-y-o b f Dubawi – Dar Re Mi

So Mi Dar is an eye-catching filly out of Dubawi and Dar Re Mi, but is also half-sister to De Treville, a French winner, and let’s not forget Dar Re Mi whose credentials are well-known, with three Group 1 wins to her credit.

So the breeding is good, and the form reads well – just the one race, but a convincing ride resulting in a win by a neck over Golden Stunner. That was in October in a fillies maiden, where you would usually expect her to have tried to find her feet.

John Gosden knows what she’s capable of and she holds an early entry into the Irish Oaks on the 16th July. Before then, you would have thought that So Di Mar will be in the English Oaks, at the very least.

Follow these horses this summer

Try out our ratings

Want to follow these horses and see how they progress? Our ratings are 100% proprietary and we cross-reference with systems, trends and statistics with a living, breathing algorithm.

Try them out for 14 days, completely free of charge.