Flat horses to follow 2020
An in-depth look at the flat season ahead and the most exciting 3-year-old racehorse prospects and flat horses to follow 2020.
Rather than just produce a list of flat horses to follow I wanted to give some context to how I’ve arrived at the flat horses to follow 2020 list and how I propose you could use this information as an aspect of your betting.
To give you the background to my thinking, there are 3 key pillars to my selection process.
- Past performances or a horse’s form
- Racehorse profile
- Horse pedigree
- 1- Past performances or a horse's form
- 2 - Racehorse profile
- 3 - Horse pedigree
- 4 - A horses chance versus price available
- Best 3-year-old racehorse prospects
- Al Suhail - Charlie Appleby
- Art Power - Tim Easterby
- Berkshire Rocco - Andrew Balding
- Breathalyze - Tom Dascombe
- Brentford Hope - Richard Hughes
- Cognac - Mark Johnston
- Cold Front - William Haggas
- Declaring Love - Saeed bin Suroor
- Highest Ground - Sir Michael Stoute
- Kingbrook - Mark Johnston
- Kuramata - John Gosden
- Letscrackon - Gary Moore
- Louganini - Roger Charlton
- Midnights Legacy - Alan King
- Military March - Saeed bin Suroor
- The New Marwan - Richard Fahey
- Quadrilateral - Roger Charlton
- Repartee - Kevin Ryan
- Sky Storm - Hughie Morrison
- Vardon Flyer - Michael Easterby
- Wild Hero - Andrew Balding
1- Past performances or a horse's form
Assessing the merit of a horse’s past performance on the racecourse is a relatively straightforward task.
Past performance is no guarantee of future performances. Many companies and individuals are measuring a horses ‘form’, some more advanced and using more sophisticated methods than others.
I’m sure you have your methods and favourite rating services, but however you arrive at a rating, it is not enough today to just back a horse based on that rating and expect to make money in the long term.
20 years ago, depending on the quality of that rating, I would say you could. Nowadays the quality of data analysis is such that it’s absorbed into the betting markets and reflected in the prices. Not to say there aren’t anomalies to this, just that they aren’t as common as once they were.
So, while I started the selection process for this flat horses to follow 2020 list by identifying a horse with a rating that I consider potentially underestimated either by the ‘general racing community’ or the official handicapper, I’ve then considered the following factors in an attempt to take a more predictive approach.
2 - Racehorse profile
There is some natural overlap in points 2 and 3. Using information gathered from a horse’s pedigree assists in building up its profile.
By profile, I mean the progression or lack of, in a horses racecourse performances. You can use past racecourse performances to plot progression, regression or a levelling off of a horse’s form and use a horses pedigree to identify any potential traits it may have inherited from its bloodlines.
What distance do sire and dam bloodlines indicate may prove to be its optimum on the racetrack?
Is there any history of a preference for a particular type of ground condition that has produced optimum performances in close relatives?
3 - Horse pedigree
Continuing from point 2, I use data from Pedigree Query.
This is a free website, which I’d highly recommend. You can view the 5 generation pedigrees for any racehorse in training, including Dosage Index profiles for each horse.
The Dosage Index is a methodology for assessing the likely optimum distance requirements on the racetrack for a horse. A pioneering piece of work by Dr Steven Romans, if you are interested in reading his book Dosage – Pedigree & Performance – you can download the free PDF by following this link.
There is a 4th component and of no less significance than any of those used in the horse selection process.
4 - A horses chance versus price available
At the time of writing the flat horses to follow 2020 list, I can’t advise on this.
Compiling a list of horses is of little use as a betting proposition without considering price v chance. Day of the race factors need to be considered, the effect of the going, the draw, the race distance, the ability of the opposition being some of the basics.
Simply having a list of horses to follow and backing them blindly whatever the price is not going to work. I’d encourage you to get in the habit of assessing a race and compiling your own tissue prices to identify value betting opportunities.
I’m hoping the insight I provide gives you a starting point.
“Sandown Park 100” flickr photo by Ronnie Macdonald https://flickr.com/photos/ronmacphotos/1163350881 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
FLAT HORSES TO FOLLOW 2020
Best 3-year-old racehorse prospects
Al Suhail - Charlie Appleby
3-y-o b c Dubawi - Shirocco Star
I’ve detailed my thoughts below on the value of the Autumn Stakes (see Military March) where Al Suhail finished 2nd. Not to detract from the winner Military March in any way but, Al Suhail is added to the flat horses to follow 2020 list as a very exciting prospect.
I’m of the view that the Autumn Stakes was a very thorough test and highlights Al Suhail as a high-class 2-year-old.
It was Al Suhail’s 4th run of the season and his best, he was progressive throughout 2019 and promises to be even better once allowed to race over further which will bring his inherited stamina into play.
He has the pedigree of a horse who will be suited by a test of stamina greater than the mile of the Autumn Stakes. Al Suhail has ‘solid’ and ‘professional’ points in his Dosage Profile which points to a horse who will be best suited by distances up to 12 furlongs.
Art Power - Tim Easterby
3-y-o g c Dark Angel - Evening Time
Art Power announced himself a flat horse to follow in 2020 with a very taking performance in a York novice event in October.
There had been little on his debut a month previously to hint at what was to come at York where he travelled strongly through the race before clearing right away in the final furlong.
Visually very impressive, but is there any substance to the form of the race? Time comparisons with the other races on the card speak favourably.
Ainsdale, a progressive and decent juvenile clocked an inferior time per furlong performance than Art Power carrying 8 lbs less weight. The decent 3-year-old sprinter Moss Gill clocked a time equivalent to less than 2 lengths quicker than Art Power carrying 4 lbs more.
The time performance achieved by Art Power backs up the visual impression that he is a high-class 3-year-old sprinter in the making.
Sprinting will be his game, I’d be harbouring no thoughts of stepping him up in distance judged on his pedigree.
His Dosage Profile is all speed, no solid or professional points in his pedigree. He may prove equally effective at 6-furlongs but judged on his York effort and Dosage Profile it would be no surprise to see him at his best at the minimum trip.
Horses like Art Power can have limited opportunities in a 3-year-old career. He could fall into the cavity that is ‘too highly rated to qualify for handicaps, not quite good enough for Pattern class’, we will see.
I’m hopeful, given his rate of progression as a 2-year-old and limited racecourse experience that he can progress enough to mix it in Group company. 3-year-olds who struggle to breach the gulf often have a barren 3-year-old season, and as a result, become well handicap for a 4-year-old campaign.
The ground was soft when Art Power won at York. Until he’s tested on faster ground we won’t know his effectiveness, for now I’d be interested in him should he show up in a race with give underfoot.
Berkshire Rocco - Andrew Balding
3-y-o ch c Sir Percy - Sunny Again
Berkshire Rocco is an exciting prospect for 2020.
He made his 2-year-old debut over 7 furlongs and followed that up with a decent 4th in one of the stronger maiden races of last season at Goodwood. A race I expect to produce a good few winners this season.
He finished the season with a personal best over 10 furlongs when 3rd in a Listed Newmarket contest.
Berkshire Rocco showed a decent level of form as a 2-year-old but is one who will be even better when stepped up in distance as a 3-year-old. That he could show such a level of form as a 2-year-old attests to his ability. His pedigree is that of a middle-distance performer and I expect to see the best of him when stepped up to 12 furlongs plus.
Berkshire Rocco has a wealth of stamina in his pedigree – DI 0.18 CD (0.80).
He may be one of those horses caught between top-level handicaps and Listed/Group races. With a current handicap mark of 104, he could be aimed at a race like the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot, a handicap for horses rated 0 – 105. It’s a race Andrew Balding often sends some of his better stayers to. Andrew Balding reports his early-season target will be the 12 furlongs Chester Vase, so maybe he skips the handicap route and heads down the pattern company route.
Whichever way he goes, Berkshire Rocco’s trainer does very well with maturing staying horses and that needs to be respected. Berkshire Rocco is a horse I expect to rate higher once he has an emphasis on a test of stamina in his races.
Breathalyze - Tom Dascombe
3-y-o b c Bated Breath - Laber Itdut
A straightforward decision to include Breathalyze in the flat horses to follow 2020 list on the basis that the official handicapper has allocated Breathalyze an official handicap mark of 88 from his racecourse appearances in 2019. I believe that underestimates what the horse has already achieved and even without showing any progression he is capable of winning a few handicaps.
Breathalyze raced 4 times as a 2-year-old, winning twice. Both of those victories came at Chester where Tom Dascombe has a decent record.
On the latter occasion, he won a tight 4-runner affair, in doing so showed he posted an improved effort. That was over 7 ½ furlongs, looking at Breathalyze’s pedigree I would think 1 mile will be the top end of his stamina range.
Having already shown a liking for the Chester track, he’d be of interest if he turned out in one of the better 3-year-old handicaps.
There is a decent 0 – 100 handicap over 7 ½ furlongs at the Chester May meeting won last year by Lincoln Park that would be a logical target. Or a race like the valuable Amix Silver Bowl Handicap later in the month a Haydock – a track where his trainer excels.
Brentford Hope - Richard Hughes
3-y-o b c Camelot - Miss Raven
The manner of Brentford Hope’s debut at Newmarket in October will have seen him added to just about every race-watchers notebook, such was his dominance.
I’m normally cautious when I see such an emphatic winner, firstly because they are often over bet on subsequent appearances, and then I question the substance of the race and the quality of the other competitors.
So while I’m cautious as to Brentford Hope offering any value in future runs, the time of the race compares well enough with other races on the card to suggest it was a good maiden. Comparisons with Convict who carried less weight in winning a nursery on the card, run over the same distance reads well. Convict was highly progressive last season, ultimately showing form that was bordering on pattern class.
So, if you’ve not seen the race it’s well worth a view.
ICYMI: Brentford Hope produced this impressive performance on debut at @NewmarketRace this week and @RHughesracing spoke to @Niallhannity about his youngster on #TheFridayClub. Watch the full interview here >>>https://t.co/utdpIhaOpS pic.twitter.com/EbONQfNxQV— Racing TV (@RacingTV) October 27, 2019
It’s impossible to put a measure on Brentford Hope’s superiority, needless to say, he could have won a lot further had his jockey Jamie Spencer pushed the buttons earlier. I also have it in the back of my mind that if there’s one jockey who can make a horse look better than it is then it’s Jamie Spencer!
The Newmarket race was over 10 furlong’s, as you’d expect from this Brentford Hope has plenty of stamina in his bloodlines.
Dosage Index 0.75 Centre Of Distribution (0.07).
12 furlongs and maybe further are going to be no problem for him.
His trainer is not one you’d normally associate with Group class performers, not as a trainer anyway, as a jockey he was on many a top-class horse. Brentford Hope has an Irish Derby entry at this stage, possibly he could be the horse to take Richard Hughes’s training career to the next level.
Cognac - Mark Johnston
3-y-o b c Invincible Spirit - Rose De France
Judged on performances on the racecourse last year, Mark Johnston has in Cognac one of the best-handicapped horses heading into the 2020 campaign.
Cognac is an impressive specimen of a racehorse and showed a likeable attitude to racing last season. He has an official handicap mark of 87 which underestimates what he has already shown.
Being trained by Mark Johnston you can expect to see plenty of him on the racecourse. While not everyone’s cup of tea, Mark Johnston is the most successful British trainer in terms of winners.
There is some total rubbish spouted by the British racing media, one of my favourites is ‘Mark Johnston trained horses are harder to pass when in front’! Absolute rubbish, no one has ever given any factual evidence of this, yet it seems to have caught on and be common thought!!
He’s had more winners than anyone else, he has more horses in training than most and more runners.
The stable runs with the strapline ‘Always Trying’, admirable and a few other stables could do well to take note. My observation is his horses are some of the most inconsistent and from a betting perspective most unpredictable. Possibly something to do with them running so often and the time between their races, I’ve no evidence to back this up, but I much prefer from a betting angle stables of the likes of Andrew Balding, John Gosden and William Haggas who I find more predictable with a less scattergun and more targeted approach to entries.
Anyhow, I’ve gone off at a tangent, back to Cognac.
Certainly capable of winning several times before his handicap mark catches up to his ability. In 3 runs last season he placed twice at Chester and won at Musselburgh, on all occasions making the running.
Given Mark Johnston’s liking for and success rate at Goodwood, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cognac turn up there. His front running style would be well suited to a track that favours prominent racing types.
From a pedigree angle, Cognac looks very much a miler. There’s a couple of valuable races at Goodwood that would suit and may be on his agenda.
Cold Front - William Haggas
3-y-o b c Lope De Vega - Cloud Line
William Haggas is one of my favourite trainers, he places his horses exceptionally well and his horses often follow a similar pattern of progression.
Cold Front, at this stage once raced, he looks a typical type capable of winning his maiden race before going onto handicaps. The stable does well with progressing pattern class horses through handicaps, picking up a few races on the way with a horse that will ultimately compete at a higher level.
Cold Front made his debut race over 6 ½ furlongs, finishing 2nd to With Respect. The race has a solid look for a Newbury maiden with several subsequent winners coming from those who were well beaten and a decent time figure recorded by those at the head of the race.
It’s worth watching the race replay as Cold Front travelled like the winner for most of the race, only surrendering to a burst from the winner close home.
Possibly the distance on the heavy ground found Cold Front out close home, maybe he was just beaten by a better horse?
Looking at Cold Front’s pedigree I’d say he was a sprinter in the making. There are no solid or professional dosage points in his profile, he’s all speed influences.
He should have no trouble winning a sprint maiden before moving on to some of the better 3-year-old sprint handicaps.
Declaring Love - Saeed bin Suroor
3-y-o c f Dubawi - Wedding March
It’s quite unusual for 2 future Group 2 fillies to meet on debut in a maiden race in May, but that’s what happened when Daahyeh defeated Raffle Prize at Newmarket on 18th May 2019.
Close up in 3rd, also on her debut and what turned out to be her only run in 2019 was the Godolphin filly Declaring Love.
Daahyeh went on to win a Group 3 over 6 furlongs and a Group 2 race over 7 furlongs. Raffle Prize won Group 2 races over 5 and 6 furlongs.
Daahyeh and Raffle Prize are 2 talented and very speedy fillies, this makes Declaring Love an interesting prospect. Even more so when examining her pedigree.
Declaring Love has solid and professional points in her Dosage Profile 1-13-4-12-2 suggesting she is going to be a filly with plenty of stamina.
A Dosage Index of 1.00 with a Centre Of Distribution (0.03) indicates a distance in the 12-furlong range may ultimately prove her optimum trip. That she could finish close up to 2 classy and speedy fillies highlights her talent and augurs well for her when given a sterner test of stamina.
As Declaring Love wasn’t seen subsequently we’ll need to put faith in her well being.
She is still entered in the English and Irish Guineas as well as the Irish Oaks. A maiden race is a formality for her, I think it’s likely she is a Group class filly in the making at distances up to 12 furlongs.
Highest Ground - Sir Michael Stoute
3-y-o b c Frankel - Celestial Lagoon
I’m guessing Highest Ground will be in a lot of people’s trackers and list of horses to follow for 2020, certainly anyone who’s seen his debut run at Leicester.
Highest Ground fell out the stalls and lost many lengths at the start. With experience, you’d expect that not to be a problem again and you can mark his performance up quite significantly here. He finished to great effect winning with some ease in the end.
It was a fairly good maiden by Leicester standards, the time was respectable and subsequent runners from the race have represented the form well.
Pedigree wise, Highest Ground has the Saddlers Wells/Galileo stamina influence in his male bloodline, you expect him to stay well.
He holds an Epsom Derby entry, and while I wouldn’t be suggesting getting involved ante-post before he runs again he is certainly a horse of interest once given a sterner test of stamina.
Kingbrook - Mark Johnston
3-y-o bg c Kingman - Warling
The Napoleons Casinos and Restaurants Nursery Handicap, the race run after the St Leger at Doncaster is usually a decent contest that provides clues to some middle-distance races for the following season.
Last season’s renewal, won by Lucander, looked well up to standard.
The one horse I take out of the race as a flat horse to follow 2020 is the Mark Johnston trained Kingbrook.
Kingbrook raced 4 times as a 2-year-old winning once and posted his best effort at Doncaster on his final start. While there were only 5 runners they went a decent pace throughout and the race produced a time performance bordering Listed class.
Mark Johnston has done well in recent seasons with more stoutly bred horses in their 3-year-old careers. He doesn’t shy from racing them as 2-year-olds, consequently over distances too short for them to show their peak form. Once stepped up in trip in their 3-year-old season they flourish. There are numerous examples where he places these horses to win handicaps on their way to fulfilling their pattern race potential.
Kingbrook looks very much in this mould. He was quite a big unfurnished 2-year-old who should fill out and strengthen with time. His pedigree is very much that of a horse who will appreciate trips up to 12-furlongs, being out of Kingman and a Monjeu mare.
The valuable London Gold Cup at Newbury in May would seem an obvious early season target. Over 10-furlongs it is a race Mark Johnston has targeted successfully before.
Kingbrook starts the season on an official handicap mark of 88, he can certainly win off that as he moves up in distance and it would come as no surprise if he was contesting Group races come the end of the season.
Kuramata - John Gosden
3-y-o b c Australia - Blue Kimono
On an initial watch, the 1 mile maiden at Kempton won by Hughie Morrison’s Starkat looked like it may have been a decent maiden race. The front 3, all making their debut pulled well clear with the field, albeit of very inexperienced types very well strung out behind.
Analysis of the race time backed this view up as well as the subsequent performances of the well-beaten Summit Reach, Prince Of Eagles and Lord P.
All the front 3 look horses of good potential, choosing 1 to take from the race and I side with the John Gosden trained Kuramata.
I particularly like horses from the John Gosden stable, they usually build up a progressive profile with racing and they are particularly well placed.
First off, a small point, you can mark the performance of Kuramata up a couple of lengths here as he slightly missed the break forfeiting a couple of lengths at the start. I think with this experience it would be unlikely to be an issue in the future.
Most appealing about Kuramata, aside from the ability he showed is his pedigree. His dam, Blue Kimono won her maiden on soft ground at 10 furlongs and his sire, the Derby winner Australia is an influence on stamina. Kuramata is a 12-furlong horse in the making. The Kempton race was over 1 mile, and as he steps up in trip we are very likely to see a better horse.
Whether the stable go slow with him through maidens and into handicaps or skip the handicap route in search of bigger targets we’ll see. Either way, Kuramata looks a decent prospect for 2020 over 12 furlongs.
Letscrackon - Gary Moore
3-y-o b f Camancho - Laetoli
Gary Moore has a nicely handicapped horse on his hands in the shape of Letscrackon.
Letscrackon has been allotted an official handicap mark of 75 after 3 runs as a 2-year-old. It is her 2nd run at Windsor that leads me to believe Letscrackon is attractively rated.
At Windsor she made all over 5 furlongs on heavy ground, comfortably winning by 5 lengths. Subsequent efforts by several runners behind her that day strongly suggest that off 75 Letcrackon is leniently treated.
Letscrackon had one more race at Chelmsford, where she disappointed a little. Beaten into 3rd behind newcomer Silver Machine and running below the Windsor form. You have to forgive her that run, but it’s probably the reason the handicapper has underestimated her ability too. The differing conditions from the Windsor race could be a clue, 6 furlongs on the all-weather may not be her thing. Equally, there could be another reason behind this below-par effort.
Pedigree wise, you can see why connections stepped her up to 6 furlongs at Chelmsford, there is every encouragement she should stay and a bit further. That said, watching her run style at both Windsor and Chelmsford, Letscrackon is not devoid of pace, she made the running at both venues.
Undoubtedly, she is on a decent handicap mark based on the Windsor running. I’ll be looking out for her on soft ground and ideally back at the minimum 5-furlong trip.
Louganini - Roger Charlton
3-y-o c g Zoffany - Princess Loulou
The Roger Charlton trained Louganini had 1 run last year making his debut in division 1 of a maiden over 7 furlongs in November.
The time of the race was significantly faster than the 2nd division of the maiden and shaped up like a better contest.
Louganini won nicely in the end, pulling clear from Naizagai and Celestran who’ve both run with credit since and held-up the form of the race.
Louganini looked like he would improve for the racecourse experience, being niggled along running into the Newmarket dip and then running off a straight line before finding a good stride coming up the hill to the line. He gave the impression that he had a fair bit more in the locker by the time he passed the winning line.
Looking at Louganini’s dosage profile for clues, there are no ‘solid’ or ‘professional’ points in his pedigree.
Dosage profile 1-9-10-0-0 DI 3.00 CD 0.55
This points to a horse that has inherited speed attributes rather than stamina. On the evidence of his sole racecourse appearance, you’d be inclined to think from the way he visually appeared to finish the race very strongly that a step up from 7 furlongs would suit.
I’d be inclined to be cautious, it could have been that he was just far superior to his rival in terms of natural ability. He saw the 7 furlongs out well but, given the speed emphasis in his pedigree, I’d be interested to see how he fared stepping back down to 6 furlongs? Time will tell.
There’s a risk attached to adding lightly raced horses like Louganini to any horses to follow list in that they haven’t as yet been assessed for an official handicap mark. If the official handicapper over assigns a mark, then that can be it for a while until they either race and get dropped in the ratings or, find the necessary improvement to be competitive.
With average improvement over the winter, this may not be an issue for Louganini who may find himself competing in pattern company, if not straight away then in the mid/ later part of the season.
On what he’s achieved in one run to date, an official mark in the low 80’s would seem reasonably workable.
Midnights Legacy - Alan King
3-y-o b c Midnight Legend - Giving
Alan King is better known for his successes as a National Hunt trainer, but he does well each year with a small but select team on the flat, particularly in staying races which are often a grounding for horses who go on to a jumping career.
He looks to have another example of this in Midnights Legacy. He has a stamina laden pedigree and no doubt hurdling will be the long-term goal but before then I think there are staying handicaps on the flat to be won.
MIdnights Legacy ran twice as a 2-year-old, on both occasions at Bath. On the second occasion winning a fair 10-furlong maiden that was run at a solid gallop from the start. While he looked an unlikely winner when ridden along 2 furlongs out, you could almost see his stamina kick-in and he stayed on very strongly to win by 2 ¼ lengths.
Quite clearly, Midnights Legacy is going to be better when facing an even greater test of stamina. While he doesn’t have an official handicap mark as yet, I’d be thinking 1-mile 6-furlong handicaps will see him at his best. Sandown stages a few decent 3-year-old handicaps at that distance, I can envisage him being very well suited by the uphill finish at the Esher venue.
Both his runs were on ground with some cut and given the depth of stamina in Midnight Legacy’s pedigree, I’d suspect the softer the better for him.
Going back to the Bath race he won it’s worth noting the 2nd Salamanca School followed in good style in a Nottingham maiden and gives the form a solid look. Salamanca School has been given an opening handicap mark of 79, I’d expect Midnight Legacy to be rated close to this. That seems a workable mark heading into handicaps, particularly when faced with a stern test of stamina.
Military March - Saeed bin Suroor
3-y-o New Approach - Punctilious
35 minutes before Pinatubo cemented his position as the Champion 2-year-old horse of 2019 we had the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket.
The Autumn Stakes won by Military March was a proper race in terms of pace, it was run at a decent gallop from the off. If you haven’t seen the race I’d encourage you to watch. The overall time stands up well against the other races on the card, contested by some decent animals, not least Pinatubo. I have it in the top 5 times recorded in a 2-year-old race throughout the entire season.
In the race, Military March and fellow Godolphin horse Al Suhail fought out a real battle in the final 2 furlongs and pulled well clear of the remainder. The form was subsequently verified by the 3rd placed Ropey Guest, beaten 7 ½ lengths, who went on to finish 2nd in the Group 3 Horris Hill, beaten just ½ a length. Persia 5th in the Autumn Stakes beaten 12 ½ lengths turned out again in the Group 3 Eyrefield Stakes, he finished 2nd beaten just ½ a length. Make no mistake, the performances of Military March and Al Suhail in the Autumn Stakes were of 2 high-class 2-year-olds.
Examining the profile of Military March gives further encouragement for the future. The Autumn Stakes was just his second run, it’s rare for a horse of his inexperience to record such a big number that early in a career.
His pedigree is that of a 10 – 12-furlong horse. This view is backed up by his run style, he raced at the head of the field throughout, looked to be coming off 2nd best to Al Suhail at the furlong marker before finding more and surging on in the closing stages.
Military March is going to improve for a step up to 10 furlongs, on breeding, there’s every chance he’ll be as effective at 12 furlongs. I see him as a strong Derby contender in the making who makes some appeal at the current 20/1.
Military March defeats Al Suhail in the Autumn Stakes
The New Marwan - Richard Fahey
3-y-o b g Dark Angel - Tiger Mist
On the basis of his 3rd to Breathalyze at Chester, The New Marwan has found himself on a very attractive mark and is certainly capable of winning a couple of handicaps from a rating of 78.
He ran 7 times as a juvenile, so has plenty of experience if not particularly unexposed. I’d expect to see him up in trip in his 3-year-old campaign, the furthest he’s raced to date is 1 mile on his final outing but his breeding suggests further will prove his optimum.
The New Marwan’s Dosage Profile points to at least a trip of 10 furlongs and 12 furlongs should be well within his range.
Dosage Index 0.92 Centre Of Distribution 0.08.
His best efforts came on good ground last season, he disappointed slightly on his final outing at York on soft going but that is too limited evidence to be saying he won’t be fully effective under those conditions.
5 of his 7 outings as a juvenile were at Chester and given his owners’ liking for having runners (and winners) at the venue I’d expect he will be targeted at 10-furlong plus handicaps at Chester in 2020.
Quadrilateral - Roger Charlton
3-y-o ch f Frankel - Nimble Thimble
Unbeaten in 3 runs as a 2-year-old, Quadrilateral is the current ante-post favourite for both the 1000 Guineas and The Oaks.
She has stamina points in her dosage profile that suggests she will be at her optimum when racing at a trip where the emphasis is on stamina over speed. DI 0.68 CD (0.28) is a profile associated with a 12-furlong horse.
Visually, in her races, she looks ready for a step up in distance. Quadrilateral ground it out on debut over 7 furlongs, but particularly on her final start in the Group 1 Bet365 Fillies Mile at Newmarket, she looked to be beaten before finishing strongly in the final furlong.
With this in mind, I’d be happy to pass her over in the 1000 Guineas with an eye on her prospects in the Oaks at Epsom in June.
A reservation I have about backing her for the Oaks is while she is already a Group 1 winner, she’s yet to record a Group 1 time performance. The Fillies Mile was not that strongly run a heat, I’d like her to have a big number on the board to be getting involved.
The current 10/1 doesn’t particularly appeal as any great value so far out from the race, but I like Quadrilateral as a filly who could make a top-class performer when stepped up in distance to 12 furlongs.
Repartee - Kevin Ryan
3-y-o br c Invincible Spirit - Pleasantry
Repartee ran 4 times as a juvenile ending up with a very decent performance when running 2nd to King’s Lynn at Doncaster. That marked him down as a decent sprinter in the making.
Repartee has an entry in the Irish 2000 Guineas, but an inspection of his pedigree strongly hints that he will prove best at sprint distances. This has been backed up visually by his run style, he’s a strong traveller in his races.
A dosage index of 5.00 and centre of distribution 0.89 highlights the absence of any stamina influences in his pedigree. Repartee raced exclusively at 6 furlongs last year, such is the propensity to speed influences in his pedigree and his strong travelling nature you could see him being equally potent back at the minimum 5-furlong trip.
A sprinter of some potential, I could see him making up into a serious Commonwealth Cup contender while winning a few races along the way.
Sky Storm - Hughie Morrison
3-y-o c f Night Of Thunder - Dinvar Diva
Sky Storm has had just one run to date, shaping very promisingly in a Newbury maiden in October.
The Newbury race was over 6 ½ furlongs on heavy ground, Sky Storm stayed on steadily in a big field to finish 3rd behind the promising winner and stablemate With Respect.
There is an element of the unknown in adding Sky Storm to the flat horses to follow 2020 list, mainly because she has had just one run to date and no official handicap mark.
The Newbury run on the clock was a decent maiden but Sky Storm is likely to be plying her trade in handicaps. Until she’s had 3 runs she won’t be allotted an official mark, so she’s at the mercy of the handicapper as to whether she gets a mark that she is capable of winning off.
Hughie Morrison is adept with horses like this and places them particularly well. You may see Sky Storm have another couple of runs at distances short of what will ultimately prove her best while she qualifies for that handicap mark.
Why is Sky Storm of interest then?
I’ve already said it looked like a decent maiden, the time performance was good and Sky Storm displayed a good level of ability. Sky Storm’s pedigree has strong stamina influences, she is going to be at her best at 12-furlongs or further. She is not the sort to be showing up so prominently in a 6 ½ furlong maiden, it points to her having a decent level of ability. Once she gets a chance to bring her stamina attributes into play we’ll see a better horse.
A horse for later in the season once she is handicapped, I’ll be watching with interest as Hughie Morrison plots the path.
Vardon Flyer - Michael Easterby
3-y-o b g Fountain Of Youth - Harryanna To
Vardon Flyer is on my radar for some sprint handicaps on the northern circuit. His trainer Michael Easterby is well versed in getting a horse nicely handicap and progressing them through the sprinting ranks.
Vardon Flyer ran 7 times in his 2-year-old season, you wouldn’t say he is a particularly unexposed type. His form as a 2-year-old was a bit in and out, he ran a couple of very good races but disappointed on other occasions. Subsequently, he is nicely handicapped with an official rating of 79 on the evidence of a couple of his efforts.
Looking to identify optimum conditions for Vardon Flyer. His 2 best runs of 2019 came over the straight track at York on ground with some cut. He raced over 6 furlongs and an extended 5 furlongs at York, on the latter run finishing 2nd in a competitive nursery handicap won by the highly progressive Ainsdale.
Ainsdale went on to win twice after his York run, on the later occasion off an official rating 14 lbs higher than York. 4 other horses who were well behind Vardon Flyer have subsequently run, with a couple holding up the value of the York race.
I’m pretty confident Vardon Flyer is on a winning mark that can be exploited. I’ll be looking out for him in straight track sprints on rain-softened ground. He’d be of particular interest if he shows up in one of the decent 3-year-old sprint handicaps hosted by York.
Wild Hero - Andrew Balding
3-y-o b g Zoffany - Thought Is Free
Wild Hero is on a very winnable official handicap mark of 72 and I’d expect him to be capable of winning a couple of handicaps as he progresses.
He contested a 4 runner race at Chester in September finishing 4th to Breathalyze. Finishing last beaten 4 ½ lengths may not seem the obvious marker for a well-handicapped horse but it’s a race that I think the official handicapper has underestimated and all the runners are on decent marks.
You can see how the race has been overlooked, just 4 runners with 4 ½ lengths covering the field. 3rd placed the New Marwan ran with credit in a good 1 mile York nursery afterwards, but he is going to need a greater test of stamina to show his best.
Wild Hero had one subsequent run after Chester at Windsor. He can be forgiven that performance as he stumbled exiting the stalls forfeiting ground on his rivals.
In Andrew Balding’s Spring 2020 Kingsclere magazine it’s reported WIld Hero may want soft ground. There are speed and no stamina points in his dosage profile DI 3.00 CD 0.71 suggesting he won’t want a distance that emphasizes stamina.
I’d be looking out for Wild Hero in handicaps up to 1 mile on ground that is good or softer.