Will the English Flat Season of 2014 bring a better crop of 3 year olds than 2013?
By UK Hot Tips
The English flat season on turf is fast approaching and although we have had flat on AW tracks throughout this miserable English Winter there is nothing like watching the thoroughbred horses in a Group One race take part in a 1m 4f race on turf at Newmarket or Newbury.
For me last season didn’t produce any real stars. The much hyped Dawn Approach who won the first classic of the year, the 2,000 Guineas, was well and truly beaten at Epsom in the Derby and from then on he had a season full of Group 1 loses.
Despite that his duel with rival horse Toronado was one of the most exciting match ups of the year. They met three times overall, with the last Duel on the Downs going to Toronado after an excellent ride by champion jockey Richard Hughes who stole the race in an exciting and close fashion and made up for his previous 2 loses to the 2,000 Guineas winner.
In his 3 years of racing Dawn Approach managed 8 wins out of 12 races with all the loses coming in his 3rd year of racing. No doubt the decision to retire hin at the end of the season was to prevent anymore damage to his stud price. Coming last in the Derby and following an unbeaten career as a 2-year-old with just 2 out of 6 wins as a 3 year old dashed the high hopes of the Goldophin team and racing fans in general who probably believed the hype that there could be a heir to Frankel.
However Dawn Approach finished his short career at the age of 3 with a poor performance in the Group One Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot coming 4th behind winner Olympic Glory and just in front of Elusive Kate.
The 3 year olds were pretty disappointing overall but coming so soon after the unbeaten Frankel and Black Caviar I have no doubt that punters and fans alike had very high expectations of the new crop of runners.
One horse I was very impressed with was Magician the Irish 2,000 Guineas winner (10/3) who started off his 3 year old career with a win in the Group 3 BetVictor.com Dee Stakes at Chester before winning by 3 1/2 lengths at The Curragh to claim the Irish Guineas in impressive form. He not only beat Gale Force Ten but Trading Leather and George Vancouver.
He was entered into both the English Derby and the St James Palace Stakes at Ascot and I was looking forward to watching him compete in the Derby which was won by Ruler of The World, another horse with a mixed record as a 3 year old, but it was not to be.
Instead the St James’s Palace Stakes was his next target in what was a very lightly raced season. With 2nd favouritism being granted to him at 5/2 behind Dawn Approach at 5/4 and Toronado at 5/1 it was going to be a mouth-watering contest.
However the race was messy to say the least. The horses bumped and knocked into each other so much it looked to me as if Magician was put of his stride as he went to make his run and the knock put him right off and he ended up last. It was a shame as I was sure that if he had a clean run then the finishing positions would have included him in the place positions at least with Toronado and Dawn Approach if not more.
Therefore it was a shame to not see him race again until the Breeders Cup in Santa anita in Novemeber and he competed in the Breeders Cup Turf over 1m 4f. I was always sure that if he got a clean run he could win the race and it was to be his night as he stormed from almost last place to first beating the John Gosden trained, The Fugue, in the home straight in a brilliant racing performance which you can watch here.
One of the other stars of the small list of 3 year olds that performed last year was the lightly raced and yet unbeaten Treve who won the Qatar Prix de’l Arc de Triomphe in great style in October.
The Filly was near the back of the pack when Al Kazeem the old warrior who had a great career, abliet at an older age, knocked into her. Unlike Magician who was put off totally by this bump n tussle at Ascot, Treve seemed to get spurred on by the knock and sprant her way to the front of the pack and on to win, beating the Japanese Star into 2nd place for the 2nd year running.
It seems the Japanese don’t have much luck in the race they label the winner at the Champion of Europe and with another Japancese star Kizuna coming 4th behind Intello, and Al Kazeem coming 6th just in front of Derby winner Ruler of The World it was a great Finnish to European Group 1 racing.
However despite a 3 year old winning the Arc, the other horses of that generation didn’t exactly sparkle as they should and it was left to older horses such as Al Kazeem to take their place.
Al Kazeem won 4 races in 2013 and beat the previous years top 3 year old and the last horse to attempt the Trple Crown, Camelot twice. He also beat the well placed Breeders Cup runner up Declaration Of War in the Coral Eclipse at Sandown and Mukhadram, The Fugue, Camelot and Side Glance in the Group 1 Prince of Wales Stakes at Ascot in the summer
He also won the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh in May and beat the warhorse Thomas Chippendale and Ektihamm in the Group 3 BET365 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown in April.
However it is always a shame, in my eyes at least, that some of our best 3 year olds retire so early (3 or 4 unless gelded) and it doesn’t lead to much of a fan base as in National Hunt racing where fans can get behind horses like Big Buck’s , Hurricane Fly, Annie Power, Cue Card and many more.
Therefore if you want to see flat horses race past 3 you might be better watching US horse racing and horse’s like Wise Dan who is now 7 years old. He has won 18 out of 25 races and has won three Eclipse Awards in consecutive years, having been named American Horse of the Year, Champion Older Male and Champion Male Turf Horse in 2012 and 2013. Winning 6 races in 2013 including the Breeders Cup Mile (Turf) for the second year in a row he is truly a great horse.
The first time he won the Breeders Cup in 2012 he beat the 11/8 favourite, Excelebration, who was the permanent runner up to Frankel as well as Animal Kingdom the Dubai World Cup winner (2013) and Kentucky Derby Winner (2011).
The second time he won in 2013 he was the 4/5 favourite and he beat Obviously again and Olympic Glory in a close nail-biting finish which showed what a class horse he really is. You can watch the Breeders’ Cup Classic races including Magician and Mucho Macho Man winning here.
Therefore with Black Caviar and Frankel both retiring and no contender to their crowns on the horizon as of yet my fingers are crossed for a good bunch of 3 year old flat runners to prove themselves this year. Lets hope they can!
By UK Hot Tips