Time to wake up to Rip Van Winkle

Twelve to follow for the Flat. Racing Correspondent Chris McGrath selects horses to pay their way in the new season starting tomorrow
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ARIST0CRAT

3yo colt; Form figures: 53-

Trainer: Aidan O'Brien

The bewildering variety of top-class middle-distance pedigrees at Ballydoyle has allowed this colt to keep a low profile but do not be surprised if he edges up the pecking order before long. Mentally backward last season, he squeezed in a couple of educational starts late on. After shaping nicely first time out, he was turned out quickly in a listed race over nine furlongs and kept on steadily for third, still looking green. Will keep improving with time and distance.

FRANCIS WALSINGHAM

3yo colt; Form figures: 8-

Trainer: James Fanshawe

A pretty quiet season for his accomplished trainer was exacerbated by a timid start by his juveniles overall, indeed none scoring until December, but there were definite signs of life in this colt's debut at Doncaster at the backend. Not given a hard time as he gradually grasped his vocation, he was going on nicely in midfield at the finish and, while unlikely to be rushed, will surely win races.

HIGH OFFICE

3yo gelding; Form figures: 325-

Trainer: Richard Fahey

Has a classy middle-distance pedigree, but managed to lay promising foundations at two. Green and unfancied when third to a useful type on his Ayr debut, he failed only in a photo over seven furlongs at Redcar next time and was again unable to explore his stamina when meeting traffic on his only other start. Now eligible for handicaps, he has barely shown his hand, and his trainer can be relied upon to make that count as he steps up in trip.

JUST LIKE SILK

3yo colt; Form figures: 69-5

Trainer: Gerard Butler

For a trainer making a fresh start, entering a second season in Newmarket, this colt resembles the type that first made his name. After shaping well on his debut, he had no luck in running when fancied for an all-weather maiden next time. Given a break, he was caught out by a test of speed at Lingfield the other day, but is at least eligible for handicaps now. Related to a couple of top French performers in Divine Proportions and Whipper, he certainly has more to offer.

KING'S SONG

3yo colt; Form figures: 58-

Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute

Dipped his toe in the shallow end in a couple of maidens last autumn, looking green and by no means quick, but the way he rallied over a mile on the second occasion suggests that he will prove very competent over longer distances. His dam is from a rock- solid staying family, and he looks worth monitoring when he has the third run required for a handicap rating.

NISAAL

4yo gelding; Form figures: 862003-

Trainer: John Quinn

One with possibilities at a modest level, he showed little in four starts over middle distances for John Dunlop and was discarded in midsummer. But after needing the run on his resumption in the autumn, he showed distinct promise dropped to seven furlongs at Doncaster, cutting through a big field of handicappers for third. Clearly on a feasible mark, he is in astute hands and has been given an entry at Doncaster tomorrow.

REDWOOD

3yo colt; Form figures: 1-

Trainer: Barry Hills

This colt seemed to have little right to beat a big field of maidens the way he did at Newmarket first time out. Having dozed at the break, he no doubt reconciled his jockey offering him no more than a nice, educational ride. But he gradually worked through the gears, past several more experienced rivals, and won going away. His pedigree promises plenty of progress at three and, with a variety of options now, let's hope his trainer chooses wisely.

RIP VAN WINKLE

3yo colt; Form figures: 117-

Trainer: Aidan O'Brien

It is customary for hype to cause odds to be shortened unjustifiably, but somehow the reverse is happening here. Excitable interpretations of a perfectly manageable setback have caused the winter favourite to drift to 10-1 for the Stan James 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket on 2 May. Make no mistake, this colt has elite calibre. Ostensibly disappointing in the Dewhurst, he learned a great deal that day and the only real caveat is that he may not get a Derby trip.

SCENE TWO

3yo colt; Form figures: 81-

Trainer: Luca Cumani

Bred to stay well, he showed enough over hopelessly inadequate trips actually to win his second start in mediocre company during the winter. He can only be handicapped on that form, and could hardly be in better hands to go up the rungs as he steps up in distance. It is easy to imagine him ending up in valuable handicaps at places like Goodwood or York.

SHAMALI

4yo colt; Form figures: 631-

Trainer: William Haggas

One of the unexposed horses that will be profitably placed this season by their astute trainer, this colt has been exactly the type of slow burner suggested by his pedigree. But he found his feet last autumn, and at a sufficiently modest level that he should start life in handicaps off a mark that does scant justice to his potential and genes. Yet to be tried beyond a mile, he could well stay longer distances as he strengthens up.

SIREN'S GIFT

5yo mare; Form figures: 53389320-

Trainer: Andrew Balding

Drew a blank last season but repeatedly suggested herself to be maturing into a sprinter with the pace to win a good prize granted a pure test of speed. She seemed to have the Portland Handicap in the bag at one stage, for instance, only to be collared late on, so look out for her over a bare five furlongs on a sharp track – especially in races confined to her own sex. Perhaps she will resurface in the fillies' listed sprint at Bath in May.

WARRINGAH

4yo colt; Form figures: 24120-

Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute

A trainer who excels with maturing horses will be rubbing his hands over the likes of Conduit, Tartan Bearer and Patkai this season, but here is one with a lower profile who is also likely to flourish. True, the St Leger proved too much too soon, but Warringah remains capable of a lot better than he showed that day. Having needed every yard in two handicaps over a mile and a half, he is likely to improve considerably once his stamina is properly examined. A possible Ebor type.

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