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 2019.

  • Thursday 28 March
  • Blog
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ANTHONY VAN DYCK
(3-y-c, Aidan O’Brien)

Left the impression during quite an active juvenile campaign that he would be much better suited by longer distances as a three-year-old. Anthony Van Dyck marked himself down as an above-average recruit by winning impressively at Killarney and Leopardstown before scooping the Futurity Stakes at the Curragh.

He couldn’t quite quicken with classy National Stakes winner Quorto back at the Curragh over seven furlongs but the front pair pulled clear of the pursuing O’Brien trio Christmas, Mohawk and Land Force.

Although put firmly in his place by Too Darn Hot in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, Anthony Van Dyck showed speed to lead over a furlong out. With Quorto ruled out of the Guineas due to a soft tissue injury sustained while training in Dubai, connections may be tempted to run Anthony Van Dyck, if ready, at Newmarket on May 4 before an inevitable step up in distance, with the Investec Derby firmly in mind.

FAIRYLAND
(3-y-f, Aidan O’Brien)

The daughter of Kodiac won four of her five juvenile outings, her sole defeat coming in the Albany Stakes (third) at Royal Ascot when drawn slightly away from the main action. All Fairyland’s starts came over six furlongs but her trainer is quite confident she will stay a mile, hence a positive mention for the QIPCO 1000 Guineas in his recent attheraces.com stable tour.

Fairyland twice took the measure of The Mackem Bullet, latterly in the Group 1 Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket at the end of September, and she rates a knocking each-way bet at around 12-1 for the first fillies’ Classic.

HOLMESWOOD
(5-y-g, Michael Dods)

Rattled off a hat-trick of sprint victories in the late summer of 2017 but drew a blank last season. Holmeswood, wearing the familiar red silks of owner David Armstrong, was often well backed and produced probably his best run when third to in-form El Astronaute at York in August.

Arguably a shade unlucky not to score when a close second at Ascot in October, Holmeswood had earlier posted a solid fourth to stablemate Dakota Gold at Haydock and he starts the new campaign off a reasonable mark.

HUMANITARIAN
(3-y-c, John Gosden)

Made his debut (second) in a hot Newmarket maiden won by trailblazing stablemate Kick On at the end of September before mopping up a one-mile Lingfield novice stakes by five lengths in mid-November. Humanitarian doesn’t look top-drawer but holds an Investec Derby entry, so connections will probably pursue a career at slightly longer trips. He could prove a surprise package.

KEW GARDENS
(4-y-c, Aidan O’Brien)

Stradivarius did this column proud last season by ruling the roost in the staying division but he has a doughty rival snapping at his hooves this year in Kew Gardens. After routing his field in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot, Kew Gardens went on to master Lah Ti Dar in the William Hill St Leger and had more than four lengths to spare over third-placed Southern France, another talented Ballydoyle stayer.

The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe was something of an after-thought but Kew Gardens wasn’t disgraced (seventh) behind Enable. In all likelihood O’Brien will never train another Yeats, but Kew Gardens may develop into the next best thing. Of course, the ‘lads’ have another St Leger winner, Capri, in their armoury, so this year’s extended version of the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million promises to be a red-hot shootout.

KYNREN
(5-y-g, David Barron)

Recorded several highly respectable efforts in competitive handicaps around a mile last season and there is a nice prize to be won with this fellow. Kynren rattled off a hat-trick in the summer of 2017 before posting an excellent third in the Doncaster Spring Mile last March, doing clear best of the high-drawn horses.

He was a slightly unlucky second when sent off favourite for the Whitsun Cup at Sandown and his fifth in the valuable Balmoral Cup at Ascot was yet another sound effort. Kynren is a recognised soft-ground performer but is by no means a one-trick pony judged on his sixth to classy Wissahickon in the Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket or his third to Euchen Glen in the John Smith’s Cup at York, both run on good to firm.

MONSIEUR NOIR
(3-y-c, Roger Varian)

Remains a maiden after three starts but has twice finished runner-up, at Salisbury and Newbury, behind useful Thrilla In Manila and Senza Limiti, respectively. Monsieur Noir, a son of Shamardal, should have no trouble breaking his duck before developing into a smart handicapper.

NORTHWEST FRONTIER
(5-y-g, Richard Fahey)

Sir Robert Ogden’s gelding came to hand fairly early last season, scoring three times over two miles on quick ground. Northwest Frontier seems at his best on galloping tracks, his victories coming at York, Ripon and Nottingham, and looks the type to progress as he gets older. The handicapper may not have got to grips with him just yet.

PRIVATE SECRETARY
(3-y-c, John Gosden)

Ouch! Punters twice got their fingers burnt backing Private Secretary into 5-4 favourite at Yarmouth and Nottingham before finding one too good on both occasions. The son of Kingman may have run into a smart Charlie Appleby recruit, Space Blues, at Nottingham in November, the pair having the race between them from some way out. His peerless trainer can find Private Secretary an early confidence-booster before making a mark in handicaps.

RED IMPRESSION
(3-y-f, Roger Charlton)

She carried the famous Khalid Abdullah silks to victory on both starts last year, easily justifying favouritism at Kempton on debut in mid-October before landing the odds by six lengths at Lingfield the following month. Red Impression doesn’t hold any fancy entries and still has it to prove on turf, but the grey has certainly kicked off her career in quite eye-catching style.

RIPP ORF
(5-y-g, David Elsworth)

Hats off to one of the most durable and consistent handicappers in training. Ripp Orf ran no fewer than 16 times between January and October last year, always in competitive events, and notching four victories along the way. He goes particularly well at Ascot, landing the 27-runner Victoria Cup and the 20-runner Cunard Cup, both over seven furlongs, while also posting terrific placed efforts in the Gigaset International and then the Challenge Cup.

Newmarket is also a fertile hunting ground and Ripp Orf should continue to provide his legion of backers with lots of thrills in these mind-bending cavalry charges.

WITHOUT PAROLE
(4-y-c, John Gosden)

The son of Frankel made an explosive start to his three-year-old career, crushing subsequent Britannia Stakes winner Ostilio by six lengths at Yarmouth in April, conceding 7lb to the runner-up. Softer ground blunted his speed at Sandown but he still showed resolution to land the Listed Heron Stakes before bringing his ‘A’ game to Royal Ascot, scooping the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes. Thereafter, his form tapered off in a fairly truncated second half to the season but Without Parole will be a threat to all the elite milers if re-discovering his magic on slick tracks.

Alan Thomson's 12 Flat horses to follow
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