Alan Thomson's 12 Flat horses to follow

With the Flat season set to get underway at Doncaster on Saturday, form expert Alan Thomson has shortlisted 12 horses it'll pay to keep onside in 2018.

  • Thursday 22 March
  • Blog
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Eleven of last year’s 12 To Follow scored at least once and winners included Churchill, Stradivarius, Atty Persse, Talaayeb, Prince Of Arran, New Caledonia, Sir John Lavery, Mojito and Hibou.

(3-y-o colt, Ed Dunlop)

After making a very pleasing debut at Newmarket in August, Alternative Fact crushed the opposition with a powerful front-running performance under Kieran Shoemark at Salisbury the following month.

She had six lengths to spare over Godolphin’s Deyaarna, a subsequent dual all-weather winner, and was duly elevated to Listed company, running second at Deauville.

Alternative Fact came quite a long way in a short space of time last season and should be destined for better things.

(3-y-o colt, James Fanshawe)

Kept under wraps until September when running a fine third to well-touted Ghaiyyath at Newmarket.

Bombyx was turned out 19 days later at Leicester and duly mopped up a novice stakes.

That victory came over a mile and this son of Sir Percy is bred to be even better when asked to go a good bit further.

(4-y-o colt, Mark Johnston)

Made a belated racecourse debut at Newcastle in June but soon made up for lost time by bagging two races at Pontefract and Ripon, both over 1m 4f.

Cape Coast had his sights raised next time at Ascot, running useful Bin Battuta to a head, and he is the type to pop up in one of those big summer middle-distance handicaps this season.

(3-y-o colt, Aidan O’Brien)

Made a winning debut at Leopardstown in July before reappearing in a Group 3 at Leopardstown in September.

Delano Roosevelt was sent off 11-10 favourite but was put in his place by two other Ballydoyle juveniles, Nelson and Kew Gardens.

Delano Roosevelt ended the season with a fine second to Saxon Warrior in the Beresford Stakes at Naas.

All three runs came over a mile and he was staying on well at the finish every time, so there’s every chance we’ll see him in an even better light when tackling longer trips.

(3-y-o filly, Charlie Appleby)

Won two of her three starts last season, stepping up on her comfortable maiden victory at Nottingham in October to land a Listed mile at Newmarket.

Hadith looked in trouble when headed by Joseph O’Brien’s Irish raider Baroness but fought back gamely when hitting the rising ground.

Hadith was strong at the finish and this daughter of New Approach could improve again with a step up in distance.

(3-y-o colt, William Haggas)

Running in the Queen’s famous colours, Humbolt Current caught the eye on his one run at Yarmouth in the autumn, staying on into second spot behind stablemate Willie John.

William Buick gave his mount plenty of time to recover from a sloppy exit, forfeiting ground by sliding across from his wide draw, before taking the minor berth.

Haggas is a master at placing his horses and Humbolt Current has scope for plenty of improvement.

(4-y-o gelding, William Haggas)

Paid the penalty for a wide-margin victory over Aventinus at Chelmsford City in August with a 10lb rise and failed off his new mark behind impressive Lahore at Doncaster.

However, the ground was riding deep that day and Important Mission, also a winner at Newcastle, looked to be floundering when pressure was applied.

He has been to the racetrack only five times, so there is scope for him making up into an improving handicapper around seven furlongs/mile.

(5-y-o colt, Andrew Balding)

Came to hand early last season with a couple of placed efforts April/May before scoring at Kempton.

Spread-eagled his field to win by six lengths at Ascot in July and despite a hike in his official mark Real Dominion acquitted himself well subsequently at Class 2 level.

Andrew Balding can find him a valuable middle-distance prize, probably on the decent surface he seems to prefer.

(3-y-o colt, Aidan O’Brien)

Ballydoyle have their usual galaxy of stars to send into orbit and Saxon Warrior is at the top of their pecking order after repelling Roaring Lion in a thrilling finish to the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.

Saxon Warrior, the son of Japanese sensation Deep Impact, was promoted to winter favourite for the 2000 Guineas on the back of that performance and he takes his unbeaten record into the new season with high expectations.

(4-y-o colt, John Gosden)

Made remarkable strides last season, winning three times from humble beginnings, the pick of them coming in the Qatar Goodwood Cup when taking the notable scalp of Big Orange.

Significantly, that success came on a sound surface and he produced another fine performance in the William Hill St Leger when a close third to Capri (good to soft).

A muddy Ascot in October was all against Stradivarius when he lined up in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup but the son of Sea The Stars ran a very creditable third to Order Of St George.

Granted a sound surface, he will be a threat to all in the Cup contests this year.

(3-y-o filly, Aidan O’Brien)

Arguably unlucky not to land the Group 1 bet365 Fillies’ Mile at HQ in October, finding herself short of room at a vital stage before running on strongly when switched inside the final furlong.

September had a rear view of stablemates Happily and Magical in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh but that defeat came on very soft ground.

It is worth recalling her scintillating victory in the 2017 Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot on good to firm.

(4-y-o filly, Richard Fahey)

Came with a late rattle to land a competitive Class 2 sprint at Newmarket in July (good to soft) but was seen only once more last season when down the field at Ascot.

The Feathered Nest reappeared at Wolverhampton just before Christmas and wasn’t disgraced from her wide draw.

Her limited appearances suggest something may have been slightly amiss but she looks well handicapped if rediscovering the sparkle of that Newmarket success.

Alan Thomson's 12 Flat horses to follow
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