Combine Strong Suit with some wild cards

As the new Flat season gets under way, Chris McGrath nominates 10 horses to follow, from Dordogne to Montparnasse
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The Independent Online

Alben Star (trainer: Richard Fahey)

3-y-o Clodovil colt; form 116-

The only horse in their stable last season whose work compared to its unbeaten Group One winner, Wootton Bassett. Won a maiden and nursery on his first two starts, and easily pardoned first defeat as warm favourite at York next time. Quite apart from the much softer ground, he was hampered twice and found to have pulled muscles on his return home. His first target is a valuable sprint handicap back at York.

Circus Clown (Jim Goldie)

6-y-o Vettori gelding; 65495-6/

Almost looks too good to be true, but could prove a cashpoint on four legs in weak handicaps. Having shown little for his previous trainers, he has flourished over hurdles for his new yard this winter, beaten only once in three starts. He has soared up the weights, but can return to the Flat with a prehistoric rating that makes him eligible even for 0-50 handicaps.

Dordogne (Mark Johnston)

3-y-o Singspiel colt; 13-

First-time-out winners from this stable can be pretty exceptional, and this one smashed his way past a couple of decent types on his debut at Goodwood in September, opening up by four and a half lengths. Dropped to a mile for his only subsequent start, and just lacked the toe to go with two smart prospects. Could prove useful over longer distances.

Fulgur (Luca Cumani)

3-y-o High Chaparral colt; 231-

Laid solid foundations when still a raw physical specimen at two. Second on his debut, he remained too green next time but got it all together stepped up to a mile at Newbury. Guaranteed to prosper as he strengthens and his stamina is drawn out. Could be one for the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot.

Izzi Top (John Gosden)

3-y-o Pivotal filly; 2-

Has a top-class staying pedigree, out of a smart half-sister to Opera House and Kayf Tara, and showed huge promise in a Doncaster maiden last autumn, failing by only half a length to catch a better fancied stablemate, while spared a demanding ride on her debut. Could be fast-tracked to an Investec Oaks trial this spring.

Kepler's Law (Sir Mark Prescott)

3-y-o Galileo gelding; 0996-

Conforms to his stable's standard model, backward when hastily qualifying for a mark in maidens at two. Past experience guarantees a very different animal in middle-distance handicaps. His genes blend class with deep reserves of stamina and he starts off with a rating of just 57.

Montparnasse (Kevin Ryan)

4-y-o Montjeu gelding; 476115358-

Changed hands after a steady first campaign for Brian Meehan, winning two handicaps and subsequently suggesting more than once he had still more to offer. Has been gelded, and trainer has a good record with horses from other stables. One to watch in the big staying handicaps.

Recession Proof (John Quinn)

5-y-o Rock Of Gibraltar gelding; 215/500-

Has made tremendous improvement over hurdles, winning the Totesport Trophy and then fifth in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Festival. Will be well treated when he switches codes, after another start over timber first, at Aintree next week.

Strong Suit (Richard Hannon)

3-y-o Rahy colt; 1132-

At 25-1, a very fair each-way alternative to the red-hot Frankel in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas. Long considered best of his stable's prolific juvenile division last term, he impressed on his Newbury debut and then burst through traffic to get up in a photo at Royal Ascot. Failed to settle when worried out of a Group One at the Curragh, and easily forgiven Middle Park defeat in the testing conditions. A mile on fast ground could still confirm him to be top-class.

Yaseer (Marcus Tregoning)

3-y-o Dansili colt; 21-

Most only had eyes for Carlton House, runaway winner of a Newbury maiden last October, but the colt who crept into a distant second also has a future. From Sheikh Hamdan's very best family, he readily landed short odds in a Kempton maiden during the winter, a modest race on paper but one that has since produced four winners. A rating of 85 gives his trainer plenty of options.

Turf account


Prince Apollo (4.20 Musselburgh) Raised 6lb for narrow success at Lingfield on his debut for Gerard Butler, but had given the other principals a lavish start and this well-bred animal remains well treated on the form he showed in France in his youth.

Next best

Artic Night (4.0 Newcastle) Worth another chance, despite failing to convert promise in maidens into instant handicap success at Ayr last time, perhaps just failing to get home over three miles in demanding conditions.

One to watch

Yours (Kevin Ryan) Earned a low rating in maidens but promised to make it count when dropped in trip for her handicap debut at Catterick on Wednesday, no chance after rearing at the gate but flying into midfield late.

Where the money's going

Roderic O'Connor is 8-1 from 10-1 with Coral for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas.