15 horses to follow for the 2020 Flat racing season: Part 1
From top Group races to low-grade handicaps, Chad Yeomans reveals his list of horses to keep a very close eye on once the Flat season gets under way.
In part one of three, Chad Yeomans reveals his first five horses – in alphabetical order – to jot down in your notebook for when the Flat season begins...
Bell Rock (4YO) – Andrew Balding
I was hugely disappointed with Bell Rock last season and I imagine the same goes for his connections.
He went off at 33/1 in his racecourse debut at Newmarket in October 2018, but bolted up in the style of a horse with a serious engine.
He was only beaten by five lengths in his first start as a three-year-old in the Listed Heron Stakes at Sandown Park, which also featured names such as King Of Comedy, Sangarius and Lord North – all of whom went on to enjoy big-race success later that season.
His lack of experience then showed in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, finishing 10th, before his season ended at Newmarket’s July Festival after finishing last of six in the Sir Henry Cecil Stakes when something didn’t appear right.
He has since been gelded and is on a mark of 98. I’m sure he’s way better than that and will be able to win a handicap off it before going on to better things as a four-year-old.
Brunch (3YO) – Michael Dods
Brunch went into my notebook after a win at Newcastle in November of last year. He was very impressive that day and had obviously improved hugely from his first run to his second.
Despite being held up, he showed a potent turn of foot to put the race to bed in a matter of strides, and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t winning plenty more races this season.
His debut run was also full of promise, but the Harbour Watch colt was very green and showed obvious signs of inexperience in heavy ground at Doncaster, though you could see the penny was starting to drop.
He was always going to make a better three-year-old and, in a recent interview, jockey Callum Rodriguez was very complimentary about his prospects.
Eightsome Reel (4YO) – Michael Bell
It’s not often that Her Majesty The Queen will have 50-1 winners at Wolverhampton, but that’s exactly what Eightsome Reel gave her on debut in November 2018.
He then had a three-year-old campaign that lasted just four months, spanning from April to June, but showed huge amounts of promise in those four runs.
He backed up a good third at Newmarket on his reappearance with a success at Ripon before running on strongly in the Betway Fairway Stakes back at Newmarket four weeks later. His season then culminated in a very good fourth at Royal Ascot behind Sangarius in the Hampton Court Stakes.
The fact we didn’t see him until November of his two-year-old season suggests that he’s a big backward type who was always going to get better with age.
Heaven Forfend (3YO) – Sir Michael Stoute
There’s always an expectation that Sir Michael Stoute’s horses will get better with age, and Heaven Forfend is one I think we’re yet to see the best of.
He had three starts as a two-year-old, including a good second on debut at Newbury in May. He went off a 7/2 favourite that day, suggesting his homework had impressed some of Newmarket’s early-morning gallop watchers.
Uncharacteristically for his trainer, he was then pitched into Listed company on just his second start in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, where he finished a gallant sixth behind Pinatubo, who went on to finish as the highest-rated two-year-old with a rating of 128.
Heaven Forfend then had a midsummer break before returning to action at Sandown Park in September, when he ran in a good novice race behind Via De Vega, setting the early pace before being passed by horses with a better turn of foot.
I don’t think we’ll see him at his best until he goes up in trip to 1m2f, but there’s plenty of races to be won with him and the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot could already be on his trainers’ mind.
Into Faith (3YO) – David Menuisier
Into Faith is another horse I’m looking forward to seeing this year.
He ran in two maidens over 7f at Doncaster and Sandown Park in July and August respectively and caught the eye on both occasions with his work late on. He was clearly taking time to learn his trade and learning how to race.
His next start came in October in a £124k race at Longchamp that he actually won in pretty convincing fashion.
I think this horse is pretty smart and will be Group class at the very least.
He showed a desire for soft ground that day in France, so don’t be put off backing him if conditions turn out to be wet by the time we next see him.