my TOP 10 FOR THE FLAT
Paul Ferguson with the horses he’s watching for this season
ALKHAWANEEJ BOY (KEVIN RYAN)
Fourth on debut at Thirsk during September, Alkhawaneej Boy bolted up in heavy ground at Leicester just 16 days later and looks a nice prospect for trainer Kevin Ryan.
There wasn’t too much depth to that novice contest, but the runner-up did finish second in a nursery off 79 next time, and it was a case of visual impression over substance. Clearly at home on testing ground, he has been handed an entry in the 2,000 Guineas and, whilst that level might be beyond him, there are sure to be races to be won with him in a lower grade.
AMEDEO MODIGLIANI (A P O’BRIEN)
Third on debut behind stable-mate and subsequent Superlative Stakes winner Gustav Klimt (recently won the 2,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown on his reappearance), Amedeo Modigliani was a facile winner of a Galway maiden and looks a high-class prospect.
By Galileo and out of a Danehill Dancer mare, he looked as though he could develop into a leading contender for the Epsom Derby, but he was sadly ruled out of that contest recently. I was, therefore, tempted to leave him out, but such was the impression he created at Galway, I decided to leave him in as one to follow in the second half of the season. As ever, Aiden O’Brien looks to possess a plethora of very smart threeyear-old colts, and I think Amedeo Modigliani could be fairly high up in the pecking order.
CONTINGENT (D K WELD)
The first of two fillies to appear among this year’s Ten to Follow, Dermot Weld’s daughter of Frankel created a good impression when winning a back-end Leopardstown maiden and should develop into a very smart three-yearold.
Having moved well throughout, the result looked rather inevitable once Pat Smullen angled her out halfway up the home straight, and she ran on strongly to beat Alghabrah, who won a Dundalk maiden on her recent reappearance.
Contingent boasts a high-class pedigree, with her dam Proportional the winner of the Prix Marcel Boussac back in 2008 and, while she has been mentioned as a likely Oaks contender, she ought to have the pace to be competitive at the top level over shorter. I would expect her to start off in a trial for the 1,000 Guineas.
EXPERT EYE (SIR MICHAEL STOUTE)
Impressive in winning a novice event at Newbury on debut last June, Expert Eye looked a star of the future when landing Goodwood’s Group 2 Vintage Stakes in even more emphatic fashion. The form of that success has subsequently worked out really well, with Zaman (2nd) winning at Listed level at
Meydan recently; Mildenberger (3rd) was a Listed winner at Salisbury on his next outing; James Garfield (4th) won Newbury’s Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes in September; and Seahenge (5th) won the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on his next start. This looks a rock-solid piece of form.
The Acclamation colt was sent off odds-on to land the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes on his final start at two, but was unable to justify favouritism, blotting his copybook by finishing last of nine. He didn’t take the preliminaries very well that day, so I would be prepared to put a line through that run and give him another chance on his return at three, such was the impression he created earlier in the campaign. He could still have a big say in the opening Classic of the season, for which he is currently priced at 10-1.
EXTRA ELUSIVE (ROGER CHARLTON)
A winner on debut at Newbury in lateOctober, Extra Elusive impressed with the way he went through the race and he strode away in taking fashion in the closing stages, to score by 2 ¾ lengths. The form isn’t easy to assess, with four of the front six debutants, but it was impressive on the eye and he is a halfbrother to Gimcrack winner Ajaya. Having won over a mile on soft ground, he clearly possesses more stamina than that sibling and the Mastercraftsman colt looks as though he should get further.
Entered in the Dante at York and the Derby, he is likely to reappear in a conditions event before being stepped up into group company. He looks a bright prospect for trainer Roger Charlton.
HUMBOLT CURRENT (WILLIAM HAGGAS)
A Fastnet Rock colt, bred and owner by The Queen, Humbolt Current ran a race full of promise on his racecourse debut – and his sole start to date – in a Yarmouth novice event during October.
He was slowly away and, therefore, had no choice other than to be held up in last place (15-runner race) for the majority of the race. Switched stands side, he followed the eventual winner through and picked off horses in the closing stages to finish a hugely encouraging second. He holds an entry in the 2,000 Guineas and he looks a sure-fire maiden winner in the early part of the season.
JAMES COOK (A P O’BRIEN)
A full brother to the high-class Found, James Cook is another Aiden O’Brientrained three-year-old colt that I am looking forward to. Like Amedeo Modigliani, the Galileo colt was a maiden winner on his second outing, when given an uncomplicated ride to land the odds at Leopardstown.
The runner-up was beaten on his recent reappearance, which was slightly disappointing to see, but both him and the third look sure-fire maiden winners (stable-mate Gardens Of Babylon was an eye-catcher back in third) and James Cook is a possible Derby contender – currently priced at 40-1.
He holds an entry at the Craven meeting (Feilden Stakes) whilst this month’s magazine goes to print and is also in the Dante Stakes. He seems sure to head down the Derby Trial route and looks another exciting prospect for his leading connections to go to war with.
STEPHENSONS ROCKET (ED WALKER)
Runner-up to Crossed Baton (already reappeared and won at Kempton during March) on his debut at Sandown,
Stephensons Rocket got off the mark with the minimum of fuss at Redcar the following month.
Sent off at 2-5, the Teofilo colt never looked in danger and, despite having raced a shade keenly, he eased to the front and readily drew clear to score with plenty in hand. The form probably isn’t anything to get excited about, but he looks yet another lightly-raced and promising three-year-old to feature here. He holds plenty of big race entries – as well as also featuring among the entries for the Listed Feilden Stakes – and he certainly appeals as the type to get 10 furlongs or more.
VERACIOUS (SIR MICHAEL STOUTE)
Another who holds an entry at the Craven meeting whilst this feature goes to print – in the Nell Gwyn Stakes – Sir Michael Stoute’s Frankel filly was a really taking maiden winner at HQ during October and she could easily develop into a live candidate for the 1,000 Guineas.
Bred to get a shade further, this halfsister to Mutakayyef might be best at around a mile for the time being. She finished full of running when getting off the mark at the expense of Winter Lightning, who has since won twice at Meydan.
WILLIE JOHN (ROGER VARIAN)
Defeated his then-stable-mate Humbolt Current on debut at Yarmouth, the Dansili colt changed hands in February for a staggering 1.9 million Guineas. Purchased by Roger Varian on behalf of leading owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum and he will sport his yellow and black spotted silks when he returns. Entered in the 2,000 Guineas, I would think he might head down the Derby Trial route instead and wherever he turns up, Willie John will be of huge interest.
He really impressed with the way he quickened up at Yarmouth, putting his stamp on the race in taking fashion. Despite the fact that a couple from in behind have failed to advertise the form already this season, he remains a hugely exciting prospect.
Expert Eye (pink)