Alan Thomson's 12 Flat horses to follow

With the Flat season about to get underway, form expert Alan Thomson has shortlisted twelve horses it'll pay to keep onside in 2017.

  • Thursday 30 March
  • Blog
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ATTY PERSSE ATR Tracker
(3-y-o colt, Roger Charlton)

Sheikh Mohammed clearly liked what he saw when this son of Frankel made a successful debut at Sandown in September. A deal was done with owner Bjorn Nielsen, who named Atty Persse after the legendary Lambourn trainer of yesteryear who had operated out of Nielsen’s Kingsdown stables, and the colt remains in the care of Roger Charlton (his first for Godolphin).

The runner-up at Sandown, Godolphin’s Hamada, landed the odds at Pontefract next time out and a Derby entry for Atty Persse points to an early campaign in excess of a mile.

AZAM ATR Tracker
(3-y-o colt, John Gosden)

Didn’t look anything out of the ordinary when appearing in the autumn, finishing fourth at both Newmarket and Nottingham, but Azam fairly routed a field of maidens at Kempton in late November when stepped up to 10 furlongs.

The fitting of cheekpieces also appeared to help concentrate his mind and an official rating of 87 should make him competitive in middle-distance handicaps.

CHURCHILL ATR Tracker
(3-y-o colt, Aidan O’Brien)

Tops most Guineas/Derby lists following a fairly busy and highly productive juvenile campaign. Third on his debut at the Curragh in May, Churchill then reeled off five straight wins which included a pair of late-season Group 1 scalps, in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh and the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.

Voted Europe’s Champion Two-Year-Old colt on the back of these successes, Churchill could well win his own Battle Of Britain on Epsom Downs in June, although his pedigree has plenty of speed on the dam’s side, raising stamina issues.

Churchill’s mother was Meow, runner-up in the 2010 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot, and herself the daughter of quicksilver Airwave.

We’ll learn more when Churchill strips for action in the Qipco 2000 Guineas and/or the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas, and with his flashy three white socks and white star, the son of Galileo could become a real favourite with the public this season.

HIBOU ATR Tracker
(4-y-o gelding, Iain Jardine)

Now firmly ensconced in the former training yard of Lenny Lungo overlooking the Solway near Dumfries, Iain Jardine has quickly made a name for himself. Nakeeta did him proud in top staying handicaps last season and Hibou is expected to step up on last year’s promising campaign.

A product of the Darley breeding operation, Hibou won a Lingfield maiden for Charlie Appleby before a racecourse absence of almost a full year curtailed his career.

Hibou reappeared at Ayr last July, by now in Jardine’s care, and made steady progress, highlighted by an easy victory over 10 furlongs at Redcar in October. Pulled out seven days later at York, Hibou ran a splendid race in third off a 10lb higher mark and he should remain competitive off his 90 rating.

MOJITO ATR Tracker
(3-y-o colt, William Haggas)

Third in a seven-furlong York maiden on his debut last September, Mojito landed the odds at Newcastle three weeks later. His BHA rating of 83 doesn’t appear burdensome and the way he finished that mile maiden at Gosforth Park points to even more improvement over longer trips.

NEW CALEDONIA ATR Tracker
(4-y-o colt, Mark Johnston)

Very consistent middle-distance handicapper and this son of Cape Cross is just the type to thrive in 2017. New Caledonia seems best on a sound surface, scoring from Danehill Kodiac at Ascot in September before making Scarlet Dragon, one of the most improved handicappers of last season, pull out the stops in a 16-runner contest at HQ in October.

POINTEL ATR Tracker
(4-y-o colt, James Fanshawe)

No world-beater but showed a liking last season for Nottingham, scoring twice up to 1m 6f. His trainer hasn’t over-faced Pointel and the colt’s second to Athlon at Kempton in August offers all-weather options. Pointel, an honest sort without possessing an instant turn of foot, has scope for improvement off his 86 rating.

PRINCE OF ARRAN ATR Tracker
(4-y-o gelding, Charlie Fellowes)

This three-time Kempton winner was raised 9lb for his latest success in early November. Prince Of Arran reappeared three weeks later in a Listed contest to finish an excellent fourth behind useful Crimean Tatar but as a consequence his all-weather mark has rocketed to 102.

By contrast, his turf rating of 90 looks enticing and Prince Of Arran ran a fine race (sixth) in the red-hot Newbury handicap won by Imperial Aviator last May, signposting the fact he is clearly no back-number on grass.

SIR JOHN LAVERY ATR Tracker
(3-y-o colt, Aidan O’Brien)

Not seen until the autumn when Aidan O’Brien squeezed two runs into the son of Galileo inside eight days. His debut effort in a Curragh maiden in October was a typical Ballydoyle introduction, with Sir John Lavery not knocked about in third.

The colt benefited from that experience at Gowran Park the following week, stretching clear to thump Haripour, trained for the Aga Khan by Dermot Weld, by seven lengths.

A strong, imposing type, Sir John Lavery was settled in sixth place by Seamie Heffernan before sweeping past his rivals when switched wide on the soft ground. Holds a Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas entry but will stay a good bit further.

STORM AHEAD ATR Tracker
(4-y-o gelding, Marcus Tregoning)

Was spotted only four times on the racecourse last year, scoring with some authority on soft ground at Salisbury in June. Storm Ahead was given a long break before reappearing at Newmarket in September when chasing home God Willing and ended the season with a solid fourth to Weekend Offender in a competitive Class 2 handicap at York in October.

The assessor has kept him on a mark of 92 and, hopefully, we’ll see more of Storm Ahead in 2017.

STRADIVARIUS ATR Tracker
(3-y-o colt, John Gosden)

Runs in the well-known black/yellow cap colours of owner-breeder Bjorn Nielsen and this son of Sea The Stars can surely exploit a BHA rating of 78 when asked to cover 10 furlongs or longer.

Stradivarius wasn’t tuned up fully for his Nottingham debut in October, finishing fifth to useful Contrapposto from a wide draw, and there was only slight improvement a fortnight later when fourth behind stablemate Cracksman at Newmarket.

Gosden then despatched him to Newcastle in search of his maiden victory and Stradivarius duly rewarded favourite backers, but only just in a desperate scramble for the line. Hence Stradivarius’s eyecatching lowly rating which opens up plenty of opportunities.

TALAAYEB ATR Tracker
(3-y-o filly, Owen Burrows)

Hamdan Al Maktoum’s beautifully bred filly was sent off a generous 10-1 shot on her racecourse debut at Newmarket in September and overcame some scrimmaging to win going away under Paul Mulrennan.

Talaayeb is being spoken of as a potential Oaks filly and either the British or Irish 1000 Guineas will probably be her first Classic port of call. She is out of Epsom Oaks third Rumoush, which will give her trainer plenty of hope for a successful season ahead.

Alan Thomson's 12 Flat horses to follow
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