Final part of a series that tries to pick out intriguing horses to follow for the new 2023 flat season.
The main focus for this third piece is going to be on potential Group performers that offer significant upside based on what they have shown as juveniles.
3-yo colt / Aiden O’Brien / Justify – Together Forever
Finished a long way clear of the main bulk of the field for a good second place on debut, while he didn’t enjoy quite a clear run. Fine 74 speed rating confirmed the promise.
No doubt, he clearly needs further than a mile, as was also evident on his second and final juvenile start when he battled hard to land a Dundalk maiden, despite the jockey reporting afterwards that the colt got struck into behind.
Was also reportedly weak and had a lot of growing to do last year, which puts this two performances into even better perspective. Apparently he had been working nicely since being back in training before hitting a slight setback suffering from a stone bruise.
He’s one who may need time anyways, and to follow beyond the spring races.
3-yo filly / J&T Gosden / Kingman – Helleborine
Was slow out of the gate on debut but quickly recovered, settling in midfield. Travelled strongly, and it was impressive to see her accelerating twice in the closing stages.
She obviously has a lot of speed and a potent turn of foot but also hit the line full of running, suggesting a mile isn’t out of question, which would be in line with her pedigree.
She is, however, a full-sister to classy sprinter Calyx; the jury is out whether she stays a mile run at a strong pace, given this debut performance ended in a sprint finish.
Nonetheless, she ran to a solid 72 speed rating on debut. The form was boosted by the runner-up who was an easy winner next time out.
There is clearly more to come, she has a Guineas entry, and is one I wouldn’t lose faith in too quickly if early signs are that she doesn’t turn out to be a filly for the Newmarket Classic.
3- yo Colt / Aiden O’Brien
Intriguing pedigree: by Japanese sire Heart’s Cry – who was a winner of the Sheema Classic in 2006 – out of Fluff, which was down to pure chance because the mare was supposed to be covered by Deep Impact, who sadly passed away right before she arrived in Japan.
Continues is the only son of Heart’s Cry actively racing in the UK and Ireland (possibly Europe) right now. His sire is well known for stamina in Japan, having sired Japan Cup winners and other multiple international top-class horses over middle-distance top-class .
Won well at the Curragh over 7 furlongs when he made all on debut, although was pestered by a stable mate. Kicked on over 2 furlongs out and won well in the end. Ran to an 80 speed rating.
Went on to win a Group 3 at Saint-Cloud over a mile. Gutsy performance in a slowly run race that didn’t suit him. Showed lovely attitude in those first two career runs.
A mile should be the absolute minimum but I expect Continuous to really come alive once he steps up in trip. Soft ground won’t bother him, either. He looks a good Derby prospect at this time, possibly even one for the St. Leger.
3-yo filly / Harry Eustace / Zoustar – Arabda
Impressive Haydock maiden winner on debut, clocking a 78 speed rating even as things didn’t go smoothly on the day. She showed adversity and may prefer better ground as well.
Pedigree suggests a mile is going to be a stretch but she goes to the Fred Darling so we’ll find out sooner rather than later. The way she finished on debut, hitting the line strongly as the only filly finninsh over 100% suggests she could enjoy the step up to 7 furlongs, though.
The sire was a Grade 1 winner over 7 furlongs and the dam was able to stretch out to a mile, though, both did their best work on better ground.
3-yo colt / Richard Hannon / Dubawi – Date With Destiny
Possibly had excuses when last seen in October in a good Conditions race as he was keen and held up on his first try over a mile.
Better judged on three efforts prior. Strong fourth on debut in a hot maiden race at Newbury, ran to 80 speed rating there. Quite green when a neck beaten runner-up next time.
Created a huge impression when winning a Novice Stakes at Newmarket over 7furlongs in soft conditions in his third career run. He was still quite keen throughout, yet it was impressive how he kicked easily from the front and finishing strongly up the stiff finish.
His pedigree suggests a mile won’t be a problem, even 10 furlongs seem realistic. Obviously he has to settle better. Hopefully with age and experience he can relax better. No doubt there is a serious engine under the hood.
3-yo colt/ Charlie Appleby / Dubawi –
Duchess Of Berry
Third and second places in first two starts behind smart winners who went on to subsequent Group 1 placings. He won his next two runs over 7 furlongs before the end of the season.
He won a competitive maiden contest at York before showing tremendous attitude to win on handicap debut when he struggled for a clear passage until late off a mark of 92, suggesting there is much more to come.
Uncomplicated sort, he should really enjoy a step up in trip, which can bring out more improvement. A mile won’t be an issue, an there is enough stamina in his pedigree to believe 10 furlongs won’t pose too much trouble, either.
Highly likely to improve as a 3-year-old and looks a Group winner in the making.
3-yo colt / Roger Varian / Lope De Vega – Tesoro
You just had to love his debut performance, visually, and also on the clock a good 75 Speed Rating, on ground possibly not what he really wants.
Especially as he didn’t appear totally happy at the track in a hot field. he appeared flat footed halfway through the race but ran on in superb style to land a race that looks pretty strong form.
He looks sure to appreciate a step up to a mile; beyond that is a question mark. The dam was a sprinter, although is by Galileo. The Full-sister won over 8.5 furlongs but never tried beyond that.
He hasn’t got any fancy entries at this stage. So question marks on how he has wintered. Also racing in a hood on a debut is something to note. Nonetheless, he looks ready to step into pattern class this season, if all is well.
3-yo colt / Kevin Ryan / Kodiac – Majestic Roi
Made a hugely impressive debut in a hot York maiden when third behind Desert Order. Showed tremendous change of gear from the back of the field in the last three furlongs.
Mad no mistake when much more prominently ridden at Ayr next time, as he stepped up to a mile without any issue to win cosily.
He’s a big colt, reportedly has wintered well and is expected to come into his own once he steps up to ten furlongs. However, he’s likely to go for a Guineas trial first.
He could be somewhat of a “dark horse” for the Guineas perhaps, given the solid speed he showed in his first two career starts over 7f and a mile. Clearly he’s seriously talented, which is no surprise given his sublime pedigree.
3-yo colt / J&T Gosden / Dark Angel – Handassa
Quickened nicely on debut from a prominent racing position after overcoming a wide draw easily. Was going away nicely, although speed rating on the lower end for what I’d like to see for top-class prospects.
You can only beat what’s put in front of you and he’s excepted to improve as a 3-year-old; the dam’s offspring often improves with age and experience.
He’s got a Guineas entry. Not sure whether his stamina lasts beyond a mile. A strongly run mile may be the ideal scenario.
3-yo colt / J&T Gosden / Night Of Thunder – Free Verse
An obvious one: made huge impression on Kempton Park debut last November when he overcame greenness to produce a fine change of gear and win in visually arresting style. Good 76 speed rating for this debut performance too.
By 2000 Guineas winner Night Of Thunder, he clearly has a lot of speed but the way he finished over so strongly over a mile as a juvenile gives ample hope that he can extend to 10 furlongs.
Derby hopes are misplaced, most likely. He starts of at Kempton on 10/03 and has Guineas and Dante Stakes entries as well. It’ll be hugely exciting to follow his journey.
3-yo filly / J&T Gosden / Frankel – Dream Peace
Showed superb attitude and staying qualities on her debut at Doncaster in deep ground as she stayed on strongly to get up in the dying strides in a head-to-head battle.
She possesses a lot of stamina and will have no issues stepping to 10 furlongs, and likely beyond. Her full-siblings have been pretty smart in their own right, often done their best work with cut in the ground.
3-yo filly / Ralph Beckett / Kingman – Regardez
Looked quite raw and clueless on her first day at school in September. Even more so impressive how she ran home strongly in the final furlong . It was also a good debut performance on speed ratings (79).
Should easily get further and is expected to improve once she steps up to a mile and beyond. The dam won over 1m 2f and stayed a bit further too.
As a daughter of Kingman you would hope this combination makes for a fine middle-distance prospect. She may go to some of the trials and we’ll then find out more about her trajectory.