Marco Botti – OR 117
3yo – Cape Cross (IRE) – Thiella (USA)
Without doubt the horse I am most looking forward to seeing this season. He impressed me massively last season, firstly when winning a good looking Ascot maiden on debut. Despite being only fifth in a Group 1 after that in France, experience got the better of him and he showed a great attitude next time when winning the Mill Reef at Newbury when not getting a clear run but bounding away from a decent yardstick in Master Of War. The ground was a little too soft than ideal on his final start in the Middle Park where he came ever so close to beating Reckless Abandon, with Gale Force Ten back in third. That is very good form seeing as the winner did go unbeaten all season. He should relish the step up to a mile being by Cape Cross out of a mare that has plenty of stamina in her pedigree and I think he is an ideal Guineas type. Reports are he’s not the biggest but he’s only going to be a miler and nothing more and the standard he is already is enough to play a big hand in the opening classic of the season. I think he will improve though, especially for the trip and the 25/1 available for the Guineas is absolutely huge, considering too that he is likely to go for the Greenham and that would see him shorten a lot if he won.
Mark Johnston – OR -
3yo – Halling (USA) – Cercle D’Amour (USA)
I absolutely love a Mark Johnston horse to follow as regular subscribers of the blog will know and he, along with another below, get the vote this season. Two years back Fox Hunt as on here and though last year was less successful with Switzerland, I’m sure we can get back to winning ways this time. Dorfman has only been seen once but that was a debut victory at Southwell. The maiden he won looked okay on paper and though the runner-up has lost since, he’s still a decent yardstick. He didn’t win by a street but the amount he had in hand was marked as he was very green and hated being out in front. His handicap mark is unbelievably good and I fully expect him to climb right up to the top of the handicapping tree this season, just like so many from this yard do.
Ismail Mohammed – OR 88
4yo – Echo Of Light – Pasithea (IRE)
No way was I going to leave this list without him. I have been a big fan since I saw him on heavy ground at Newmarket around July and he hung all around the shop. He was poor again after that but gelding him has ironically made a man of him and he turned the corner big time with wins over a mile at Sandown and then impressively over 10f at York. The former would have been over a trip too short than ideal and the latter on ground less than ideal but he still won both with a good bit in hand, particularly at York when he got a great ride by Jamie Spencer. There is plenty more to come for me off 88 and I am very excited about him, especially when getting his conditions
John Gosden – OR 104
4yo – Galileo (IRE) – All’s Forgotten (USA)
A horse that was on this exact list last year and though he didn’t cover himself totally in glory, I’m totally convinced he is one that will be better this season. He started the year when just beaten by a very smart Model Pupil and then when again behind Main Sequence in a Derby Trial, both time travelling beautifully but not seeing it out. Saying that he did win the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy on ground he would have hated on his first try at a longer trip, and he showed his dislike for soft when only 1/8 at the same course and only just scraping home in breaking his maiden. He has to be given another chance on better as I’m convinced he’s better than the 104 rating he’s got. Also he is a scopey type who simply screams out at being better with that year on his back and I think he can turn out to be a top pattern performer.
Mark Johnston – OR – 75
3yo – Giant’s Causeway (USA) – Navajo Moon (IRE)
He’s my other Johnston type and I stuck him on my horse to follow list after a nice debut run at Leicester at the back end of last season. After hearing good reports from home, he was always going to go close to getting on this list and he fully cemented his place when a highly impressive winner at Lingfield a month ago, a race that did look pretty decent for that sort of race at the time. He had a load in hand and won as he liked and I think he could be very good come the end of the season. Again he’s a progressive middle distance type that will thrive with racing with this yard just do so well with.
Edward Lynam – OR 109
4yo – Dutch Art – Girl Power (Ire)
I really like Edward Lynam as a trainer, especially of sprinters and the job he has done with Sole Power has been superb, thus I expect likewise with Slade Power. He really caught my eye when beating Es Que Love at Haydock in June, grinding him down late on. He backed that up when winning again at Fairyhouse, albeit in workmanlike style but that showed he has a lot of grit about him as well as class, though it was always going to be a big ask coming off a big break to win on Champion’s Day, especially in softer ground. He still ran a huge race, travelling well and looking likely to come with a very strong challenger before fading into a close 8th. I’ll be really disappointed if he doesn’t turn into a crack sprinter this season, especially on better ground and I’m very excited about his chances.
Richard Hannon – OR 104
3yo – Ramonti (FR) – Elegent Ridge (IRE)
It could be a big year for Richard Hannon who for me has his best crop of three-year-olds ever. Olympic Glory was one of the best all season and looks likely to be winning races this year too. Toronado and Van Der Neer are two others who will be challenging for top honours along with Wentworth and Havana Gold, but the vote goes to Montiridge. He instantly caught my eye on debut when winning in torrid conditions but beating a strong yardstick in One Word more, rated 99. He then had a couple of problems but came back to scrape home against a stablemate at Sandown when clearly not fully fit but that one has franked the form since and is himself rated 97. After that he finished a close second in the Autumn Stakes to Trading Leather when simply outstayed due to him being far too keen early on and having the lack of a rail like the winner did. There is plenty more to come from him now with a year on his back and Ramonti is a sire I’m keeping a very close eye on as I think his progeny could very much be underrated.
Aidan O’Brien – OR -
3yo – Oasis Dream – Kassiopeia (IRE)
Well bred colt who has only been seen once but that was in poor ground and though he was second choice on bookings to a stablemate who won that race. He could only finish sixth but was green and also didn’t enjoy the ground while he screams out as one that will be a totally different proposition this season. He’s by Oasis Dream with a dam that is bred for stamina but all his relations are milers and sprinters, notably the decent Arabian Star who improved a lot for Racing and I think he will do similar.
Andrew Balding – OR -
3yo – Firebreak – Dayville (USA)
Not been seen since making a strong debut at Goodwood in a decent looking maiden but he’s bred to be speedy. That first run, where he was 5th, was over 6f but he looks to have enough to challenge at the minimum as well. His pedigree is full of winners, all who got to a pretty good level and I expect him to very much do similar. It was disappointing to not see him after that run in July but I’m sure he will be out early this year and there are plenty of opportunities for 3yo handicapping sprinters like he can turn out to be.
Sir Michael Stoute – OR – 86
Sir Michael Stoute hasn’t had the best couple of years but this filly could be the one to take him right up to the top again. She made a nice debut at Goodwood when off the bridle early due to inexperience but she very much got the hang of things late on to win very cosily in the end. On breeding she is the part, she also looks stunning and the Oaks is the clear aim for her. I wouldn’t want to dismiss her lightly at all this year as I think she has the ability to be out of the top drawer.