With the Flat season about to get underway we’ve asked Alan Thomson to handpick ten horses it will pay dividends to keep onside during the 2016 season.
Alan has covered a range of horses in terms of trip, from sprinters through to middle-distance horses and stayers.
On the age scale he’s pinpointed unraced youngsters with plenty of potential through to older horses who are still on the upgrade.
He does, however, signpost horses of all abilities from either side of the Irish Sea who are primed to strike given the right conditions, including handicappers off a useful mark.
There may even be a future Classic winner on the shortlist.
Alcatraz started off his racing life in Ireland for Johnny Levins before switching yards.
The Baker operation isn’t short of shrewdies and the money was down big style on Alcatraz’s first UK run, at Chepstow (soft) in May 2015, when he easily justified 11-8 favouritism.
This son of Camacho will always want a bit of juice in the ground and he didn’t look entirely at home on a fairly quick surface at Windsor the following month, running third to Laidback Romeo.
Explaining his decision to pull stumps so early in the season, Baker said: “We felt he would benefit from a long summer at grass and I think we got it right.
“He’s a very good-looking horse who really excites me. He’ll be ready to roll quite soon, probably over a mile. Alcatraz is out of a Sadler’s Wells mare and I see no reason why he won’t get further.”
Only two runs as a juvenile, down the field on his debut at York’s Ebor fixture but landing the odds at Ayr the following month under a positive ride from Paul Hanagan (made all).
The bare form is nothing to get over-excited about but this son of Danehill Dancer, owned by Sir Robert Ogden, received a favourable mention from his trainer.
“He is a big, scopey sort who could progress through the ranks this term. He has always shown us plenty at home.”
Constantino won’t be short of galloping companions at Musley Bank, so Fahey will have a good idea of where his colt stands in the pecking order. An opening mark of 80 seems perfectly workable.
Highclere Thoroughbred Racing could have another lovely middle-distance performer on their hands with this unraced Sea The Stars colt.
He was never going to be a precocious juvenile and connections have bided their time.
It remains to be seen how far forward he is this spring, but an entry at next month’s Craven meeting, in the 200,000 Tattersalls Millions 3-y-o Trophy over 1m 2f, offers encouragement that he is ready to roll quite soon.
Was one of his trainer’s ‘early birds’ last season, scoring on his debut at Doncaster in April and running on into fourth from an unpromising position the following month in the Brian Yeardley Continental Conditions Stakes at Beverley.
Gallipoli hasn’t been seen since but there was nothing untoward in his absence, as Fahey was quick to explain: ‘He has always been a big horse and we’ve given him time to fill into his frame. Gallipoli is a work in progress but he has done very well over the winter.’
Sounds like a horse worth following in sprint handicaps up north.
A product of the Meon Valley Stud, running in the Helena Springfield colours made popular by the likes of Colorspin, Milligram, One So Wonderful and Zee Zee Top.
Last Tango Inparis showed promise in both her juvenile starts, running on stoutly into third over 1m 1f at Goodwood in October before stepping up to the plate at Newbury 13 days later, drawing clear from two out in a one-mile fillies’ maiden.
The yard enjoyed a most fruitful 2015 campaign, recording 48 Flat winners, and Morrison believes the use on a permanent basis of the excellent Compton Down grass gallops this season will be a ‘major asset’.
Last Tango Inparis seemed right at home on an easy surface on both her starts, so she is unlikely to be risked on quick ground.
Perhaps influenced by her debut victory over seven furlongs at Newmarket on her sole start as a juvenile, connections kicked off Mehronissa’s three-year-old campaign over that trip and a mile.
She failed to distinguish herself but the decision to drop her to six furlongs, plus the re-application of a hood, saw Mehronissa in a different light.
Despite running keenly at Windsor in late July, she showed a good attitude to take Heartsong’s measure.
There was some ease in the ground but the track was slicker when Mehronissa ran over course and distance 13 days later when just denied off a 7lb higher mark.
She ended the season on a high by beating 11 rivals in a Class 4 handicap at HQ in September, again under regular rider Freddie Tylicki, and further success for Mehronissa would see her promoted as quite a valuable broodmare, being a half-sister to Grade 3 USA winner Three Degrees.
Thundered straight to the top of the Qipco 1000 Guineas and Investec Oaks ante-post markets with a scintillating victory in the Dubai Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket last October.
Ryan Moore is rarely effusive but he was gushing in his brief post-race analysis, saying: “She’s a truly exceptional filly; the race was over in seconds.”
O’Brien has another string to his bow in the first female classic with Ballydoyle and he will almost certainly split the pair, Minding going to Newmarket and Ballydoyle heading for France or perhaps the Curragh to contest the Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas three weeks after Newmarket.
We are in for a rare treat at HQ as the O'Brien representative of choice will find the likes of Lumiere, Illuminate and Besharah probably lying in wait.
O’Brien has another smart filly in Alice Springs to fit into his classic jigsaw, so what price a fantastic clean sweep?
Maturing into a decent staying handicapper on the back of a very successful 2015 season.
Steve Rogers was on the go early, scoring at Wolverhampton in January off a lowly 62 rating. He followed up on the Tapeta in February and notched his hat-trick at Nottingham in April (73).
The son of Montjeu Steve Rogers added another victory to his roll of honour, this time at Sandown in June, and posted a fifth success for good measure at Chester in September (83).
Steve Rogers signed off a long campaign by running a creditable ninth in the Cesarewitch and he should remain competitive off his current BHA rating of 88.
Hasn’t quite delivered what he promised a couple of seasons ago but Goldie is a master trainer of these older sprinters.
Although not in the same league as stablemates Jack Dexter and Hawkeyethenoo in his prime, Tiger Jim usually pops up with a win at Ayr, his local track.
Tiger Jim is particularly effective in big fields, weaving his way through the pack, and was only denied by Go Far in last season’s William Hill Bronze Cup.
He is probably best caught fresh and ran two corkers when placed at Haydock and Doncaster last May before scoring at Ayr the following month.
Goldie has never risked him on quick ground, so underfoot conditions seem quite important when assessing his prospects, and Tiger Jim is entered up at Doncaster on Lincoln weekend.
A strapping Sea The Stars offspring from the Aga Khan’s stud, Tirmizi caught the eye when landing a Leopardstown maiden on his debut last October.
Third horse, Jim Bolger’s Stellar Moss, had a rating of 104, so this was a solid starting off point for Tirmizi and it was no surprise to hear his trainer’s post-race thoughts turning to the Classic trials.
Weld enthused: “He’s a very big colt and that was pleasing. Pat (Smullen) said he won with raw ability.
“Tirmizi has come forward in the past few weeks and he has got potential. He’ll start off in one of the classic trials.”
The Ballysax Stakes or Derrinstown Stud Stakes, both at Leopardstown, are the usual Weld stepping stones and the venerable trainer may favour the Derrinstown, a race he has won eight times.