Karl Hedley points us in the right direction with his horses to follow
Cork back in August. He has proved he is more than capable of winning on his seasonal reappearance and all ground comes as one to him having run well on a range of surfaces. Handicaps are likely to be on his radar once again this season so he is one to note.
Lucky Vega – Mrs J Harrington
This talented son of Lope De Vega was good enough to win on debut at Naas last season for Jessica Harrington when beating Lipizzaner by half a length. He progressed from there to finish second in the Railway Stakes before going on to win the Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh by three lengths from Aloha Star. His jockey Shane Foley immediately suggested the Middle Park at Newmarket would be a viable option for his mount and the pair were only narrowly denied by the Clive Cox trained Supremacy. The duo confirmed their superiority over the likes of Lipizzaner and The Lir Jet in that race, but ultimately found just one too good. Lucky Vega is bound to have strengthened up over the winter and he looks sure to have another exciting season ahead of him.
Could Be King – Kevin Condon
This five-year-old had a fantastic season in Ireland last season, so it was no wonder that connections opted to send him out to Dubai over the winter. Despite running three times in tough company he generally acquitted himself well and will have learned plenty for the experience. A return home may well unlock the undoubted further potential that he has. He was good enough to win big field handicaps at Naas and Leopardstown last season and when the ground gets fast, he will prove a force to be reckoned with once again. He is bordering between listed and Group class, but no surprise if he makes the jump to the latter company without any problems at all this year. He has run well twice at The Curragh placing on both occasions and it will be of little surprise to see him return to that venue to land some invaluable black type this season.
Lady Wannabe – Fozzy Stack
Lady Wannabe caused something of an upset when landing a Group Three at Newmarket on rain softened ground at the tail end of last season where she got the better of Dream Castle and Epic Hero. That result came on the back of a listed win at Listowel. She has won on a range of surfaces but probably prefers it when there is an extra bit of cut in the ground. She is bred for middle distances and is perfectly at home at trips of up to a mile and a quarter. She will probably stick to this level for now but has won on her seasonal reappearance before. She is certainly one for the tracker for the next couple of months.
Current Option – Adrian McGuinness
Current Option has won four races since leaving William Haggas to join Adrian McGuinness. The seven-furlong specialist recorded three of those wins last year amassing nearly €100,000 in prize money for connections. The son of Camelot often needs his first run of the season so with his reappearance at Dundalk a few weeks ago well and truly behind him, he will have likely blown away any cobwebs and can soon resume winning ways. He is another versatile sort who goes on all types of ground from fast to sticky. As long as there is a ferocious pace to attack, he will burst onto the scene in the closing stages in the blink of an eye. He may well be kept to Group Three company now, but there is every chance of further improvement from him and he remains one to stay on the right side of.
Champers Elysees – Johnny Murtagh
This exciting daughter of Elzaam improved beyond all expectations last year winning four races at distances from seven furlongs to a mile. This accumulated in a Group One win at Leopardstown in September where she got the better of the Tabor and Magnier duo of Peaceful and Fancy Blue. It is of little surprise to see her entered for the Lockinge at Newbury and she has to rate as a live danger to all in that. She doesn’t take much getting fit and having proven herself at tracks such as The Curragh, Galway, Gowran Park and Leopardstown she will pay her way this season.
Queenship – Joseph O’Brien
Queenship placed on debut for Joseph O’Brien on her debut last season at Dundalk. She clearly learned plenty for the experience as she shed her maiden despite a dour battle at the same track next time out. She was then put away for the remainder of the year and made her seasonal reappearance at Gowran Park just a few weeks ago. She received weight from all her rivals that day and duly made the most of it. She looks to have matured a lot over the winter and again she will have learned plenty for what was her turf debut. She showed a likeable attitude and recorded a five length win over some smart looking types in behind including Elizabethan and Fearless Girl.
Masen – Ger Lyons
A son of Kingman who looks sure to improve this year. He won on debut at Leopardstown last year beating Charterhouse by a head over seven furlongs with Colin Keane in the saddle. He was then stepped up in grade to contest a Group Three over the same course and distance he was unlucky at a crucial stage in his run. He had to settle for third place behind Military Style on that occasion but he was an unlucky loser. He was upped in grade yet again to Group One level when contesting the National Stakes at the Curragh the following month. He got himself into all sorts of bother in the stalls and ultimately failed to give his true running. He has been off the track ever since, but he is more than capable of fulfilling that promise he showed last season. There are many better days ahead for him.
St Mark’s Basilica – AP O’Brien
Has always been held in high regard but had to wait until his third run of last year to finally get off the mark. He landed his maiden in fine style when beating seventeen rivals over six furlongs at The Curragh. Good ground seemed to go against him on his next start at the same track where he found himself slightly inconvenienced. He more than made up for that though went sent over to Newmarket to contest the Dewhurst Stakes. He was well supported on the day and was backed from around 14/1 into 10’s. He was held up in the early stages, but back on soft ground he really came into his own. He took over at the quarter mile point and despite being pushed all the way by stablemate Wembley, this son of Siyouni stayed on well for Frankie Dettori. He will stay further in time and if the ground comes up in his favour, he will prove a tough nut to crack.