Hands up for Hannon
Ian Ogg looks at the betting for the Flat trainers' championship in 2013 and picks Richard Hannon to win it for a fourth time.
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The Flat turf season gets under way on Friday and with it the Jockeys and Trainers' Championships for the 2013 season.
Last season saw John Gosden get the better of a ding-dong battle with Aidan O'Brien, but the dust had barely settled on the trophy before the Newmarket maestro was writing off his chances of retaining the title.
Gosden's stable of owners include many traditional owner/breeders and the fates just so happened to combine to deliver several top-class performers in the same season, but a number of his bigger earners have moved on and he will not have the same firepower for this campaign.
In stark contrast, O'Brien has a conveyor belt of blue-blooded thoroughbreds at his disposal and their quest is finding the next superstar rather than just a star.
This is reflected in the way that the market is priced up with O'Brien heading the betting ahead of Richard Hannon and it's hard to see any trainer outside that pair getting a look-in.
Sir Michael Stoute has endured a couple of relatively lean seasons and is relying on a Telescope to help him shoot for the stars again, the Godolphin resources are split between Mahmood Al Zarooni and Saeed bin Suroor, while Sir Henry Cecil no longer has Frankel to call upon.
It's a two-horse race and O'Brien sits in a strong position with the reportedly out-of-this-world Mars and Kingsbarns ('impressive data') to the fore of the Epsom Derby market, and Camelot heading an impressive list of older horses.
So is it all over? Possibly not.
Hannon has a host of promising three-year-olds to run with Toronado, Olympic Glory, Sky Lantern and Van Der Neer chief among them with the first-named a rare live Epsom contender for the yard.
He has a huge total of 264 horses in training for 2013 and has received a larger allocation of horses from Hamdan Al Maktoum as well as some juveniles from a new owner to the yard, Sheikh Juma.
The quality of horse at his disposal is improving while he has long proved a dab hand at picking up the increasingly valuable juvenile sales races which can have a huge impact on the title race.
There may not be too much between the pair in which case Hannon has to get the tip at 9/4, but at around 1/4 to cover both runners in a two-horse race doesn't seem like all that bad a price either.