Flat Horses To Follow 2023: Older Handicappers

Second part of a series that tries to pick out intriguing horses to follow for the new 2023 flat season.

The main focus is going to be on handicappers that may fly under the radar or offer significant upside, judged on their current BHA Official Rating.

Age Of Sail
4-yo gelding / Garry Moore / Frankel – Concordia

Caught the eye on all his last three starts on the flat in 2022. Doesn’t do things in a rush but has been knocking on the door over 10-12 furlongs last season.

Perhaps would benefit from cut in the ground. Deep ground over 10 furlongs interesting, but can see him move all the way up to 2 miles as well. Plenty of stamina and soft ground form in the pedigree.

Tried hurdling with varying degree of success over the winter. If he returns to the flat now as a 4-year-old he could be ready to exploit his 76 OR in the right races.

Al Husn
4-yo filly / Roger Varian / Dubawi – Hadaatha

Unbeaten in three starts in 2022. Last two strong performances in Newmarket Handicaps. Impressive when last seen, travelling well, before becoming a bit disorganised in a rough finish from 3f out before finishing really strongly to win.

Still quite lightly raced and open to improvement. Deserves a chance in listed race but also must have a chance to stay beyond 10f given she settles better now and has the pedigree.

5-yo mare / Steph Hollinshead /Al Kazeem – Magic Destiny

Only three career runs, now eligible for Handicaps, should be ready to exploit opening mark. Caught the eye the last two runs, although didn’t seem to get home over 7 furlongs.

Full-sister to two winners over 6- to 7 furlongs, generally on better to fast ground. She showed good early speed in her July race and was keen the last two times to suggest she may follow more closely the route of Al Simmo who is a 88 rated multiple winner over 6 furlongs.

Blue Daisy
4-yo filly / George Boughey / Teofilo – Balsamine

Showed glimmers of ability toward the end of last season. Especially encouraging the way she stayed on in her final run in 2022 when not getting the best of runs from the back of the field.

Seems a temperamental filly as the headgear combination suggests as well. Off a 60 OR she appeals if she moves up in trip, though. Especially with cut in the ground on turf would be an intriguing runner.

Caph Star
4-yo Colt / Roger Varian / Siyouni – Caskelena

Promising on debut when 3rd in a hot race, running to 71 speed rating. Seriously impressive at Kempton subsequently, producing a rapid acceleration.

Not seen since then. Cost £200k as a yearling. Has the pedigree to improve this year, especially if he moves up in trip. Obvious question mark over long absence, though.

Desert Glory
4-yo gelding / James Tate / Churchill – Polygon

Green and raw on both starts last year. Badly outpaced when last seen. Looks to hit the ground hard.

Was gelded in January. Cost £55k as a yearling. Family does well on softer ground and All-Weather. He looks one sure to appreciate a step up in trip as well. Looks likely to improve as a 4yo – if he returns.

Floral Splendour
4-yo filly / Ian Jardine / Farhh – Red Tulip

Lightly raced filly. Not disgraced in heavy ground in final start in 2022. Eyecatching on her penultimate start at Musselburgh, when heavily bumped early and a clear run denied in the home straight.

Looks open to progress, especially if she moves up to a mile, possibly beyond, on decent ground then.

5-yo gelding / Deborah Faulkner / Kingman – Sense Of Joy

Promising performance in October at Kempton when he stayed on well. Badly outpaced in the home straight the next two times. Although, showed good early speed from the gate and travelled well.

Still lightly raced in interesting off 53 mark if he returns and moves up in distance, seems to be crying out for a trip. Full-sister won over 9 furlongs a Leopardstown maiden.

Invisible Friend
4-yo filly / Kevin Ryan / Sea The Stars – Stealth Missile

Lightly raced full-sister to smart handicapper Irish Legend. Fetched €160k as a foal. Won well on only second career outing despite showing serious signs of greenness, as she did on debut as well. Hasn’t been seen since August, though.

The form doesn’t amount to much as she only had three rivals to beat and the runner-up is rated 52. The fact she kicking clear nicely at a track seemingly she doesn’t enjoy, over a trip probably sharp enough, is encouraging.

The full-sister needed time as well and progressed nicely as a 4-year-old, stayed 10 furlongs+, and was potent on the All-Weather.

Majestic Fighter
4-yo gelding / H&R Charlton / Teofilo – Majestic Manner

Ran a huge race when last seen at Kempton after going wide all the way finishing very strongly. Ran a number of strong efforts in handicaps throughout the year.

Could have more to offer as a 4yo as he moves up in trip. Gives the impression he can get further than a mile, and has a chance on pedigree. Ran to an 80 speed rating, which means any improvement will see him become suddenly quite well-handicapped, potentially.

4-yo filly / Roger Varian / The Gurkha – Khor Sheed

Showed her inexperience in all three starts. Won well at Kempton at the second time of asking, though. Form isn’t worth much but she showed she doesn’t lack a change of gear. Travelled strongly dropped to a mile but not good enough on the day when last seen.

Looks open to plenty of progress if moving up to 10 furlongs. Family stays well. Opening mark of 78 looks potentially lenient.

4-yo gelding / TG McCourt / New Bay – Hall Hee

Improved dramatically for his first Handicap start in July at Thirsk over a mile. Arguably unlucky to be beaten by tiny margin and the way the race panned out.

Was sold for £1,000 subsequently, after another encouraging run at Newcastle as he was up there for long time and possibly needed the run then. Also may find a mile too sharp.

Moved to Ireland in the meantime and travelled really well for a long time in a Handicap last week. Should have more to offer up in trip, especially of a potentially lenient mark. Dam’s offspring tends to improve over 10f, and runs well on the All-Weather.

5-yo mare / M&D Easterby / Sea The Stars – Ameliorate

Very lightly raced for her age. She created a good impression on her first two starts before winning in emphatic fashion at Pontefract in autumn, when upped to 12 furlongs.

She travelled strongly on Handicap debut subsequently, but faded badly over the shorter 10 furlongs; perhaps she paid for having three runs in rather quick succession.

The mare looks all stamina and should have more to offer off 74 going up in trip again, possibly with cut in the ground.

4-yo filly / Andrew Balding / Frankel – Aricia

Lightly raced filly who improved nicely last year. Stepped up to middle distance without a problem at Chester after giving impression she would enjoy a trip. She won really well when last seen the way she travelled and kicked on.

The Chester form is strong and ties in well with the improve she showed from the previously quite eyecatching Sandown performance.

Every chance she can improve as a 4-year-old over middle-distance. Family tends to stay well, therefore even 12 furlongs not out of question. A mark off 82 could underestimate her early in the season – if she’s still in training, as she wasn’t seen since last June.

4-yo gelding / Charles Hills / Le Havre – Waldnah

Was a super progressive three-year-old in 2022. Impressive the way he won when last seen at Haydock. Did it easily after pulling early on. Tends to be quite keen, but should stay 10 furlongs on pedigree if he can settle.

Every chance for further improvement as a 4-year-old and gelding. Revised handicap mark gives him plenty of options in hot handicaps or potentially moving up to lower graded level in the early parts of the season.

The Lincoln run last month can be excused given the ground was way too soft for him. But the run may help him to be a backable price next time.

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