My Stable: Jack Nicol
Jack Nicol selects 10 horses to follow in your My Stable tracker for the 2014 Flat season.
Cafe Society (David Simcock) - Admittedly, this gelding proved quite expensive to follow last season having only managed to win one race in six outings but he is definitely one to keep on side this term. He was unlucky on a couple of occasions last season and trainer David Simcock has always said that anything he achieved as a three-year-old would be a bonus. With another winter on his back Cafe Society could be a different animal this year and could easily make a mockery of his current mark of 90 and it’d be no surprise to see him contesting Pattern races come the season’s end.
Integral (Sir Michael Stoute) - Integral went from winning her maiden on May 31st last season to a Group 1 second by the end of September, notching three wins in only five starts. This Dalakhani filly is likely to head to the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket before going on to Royal Ascot where she will likely contest the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes, a race Sir Michael has won on three occasions since it was formed back in 2004. Already rated 115, Integral is clearly top-class and it is only a matter of time before she gets a Group 1 victory next to her name.
Kingston Hill (Roger Varian) - My idea of the Derby winner. Unbeaten in three starts, I loved the way he galloped all the way to the line last time out in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster and it is actually a race which has provided five subsequent Derby winners including Motivator, Authorized and most recently Camelot. Don’t rule him out of the 2,000 Guineas, though, as I feel he could go close in that race too. Roger Varian has posted some positive updates over Kingston Hill’s preparations over the winter and the fact he already has course form at Newmarket should also hold him in good stead. He’s an exciting prospect for this season.
Our Obsession (William Haggas) - It was hard for me to leave to out The Fugue in this list, but the three-time Group 1 winner would be too obvious to recommend as horse to follow this season and, if I’m being honest, Our Obsession is the horse I’m most looking forward to watching this season. She was regarded as an Oaks filly at the start of last season by connections but suffered a setback which ruled her out of the first half of the season; she made a winning return in late July in good style and duly followed that up less than a month later when winning the Listed Galtres Stakes beating the 110-rated Say in the process. Maureen Haggas, wife of William, who rides the filly every day, interestingly pointed that out that she felt Our Obsession was never at her best following the setback last season and that can only be seen as a positive if she returns to her very best this season.
Pearl Secret (David Barron) -The sprinting division is up for grabs this season and I’m more than happy to put up Pearl Secret who has a little bit to prove but has already shown top-class form in only seven career starts to date. The five-year-old made a hugely encouraging reappearance last season when staying-on for third in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot; he then unfortunately fractured a splint bone the following month and was subsequently ruled out for the season. Thankfully, he has made a full recovery and couldn’t have made a better return to racing when readily winning at Nottingham just last month; he is one to follow in all the top sprints this season and is ideally suited by cut in the ground.
Satellite (William Haggas) - In training with the late Sir Henry Cecil last season, this three-year-old was held in high regard and even held some fancy entries at one point but failed to make it to the racecourse following a setback. He's since been switched into William Haggas’s care and is now back to full fitness, the Danehill Dancer colt made his first start in a Ripon maiden last month and was extremely impressive when winning by five lengths; it’s hard to know what he beat at this stage but has been handed an initial handicap mark of 86 and I’d be surprised if he isn’t a good deal better than that. Satellite’s pedigree is laden with stamina – his dam was placed in the Group 2 Park Hill Stakes – and this colt is also from the same family as Brian Boru; Pattern-class races could be on the agenda but if he isn’t up to that standard, don’t be surprised to see him aimed at something like the Melrose handicap at York, which just so happens to fall on Haggas’s birthday this year.
Sea The Skies (Mark Johnston) - Having followed the likes of Sennockian Star last season and Sir Graham Wade the year before that, I think it’s safe to say I have a soft spot for Mark Johnston handicappers and I’ve already identified Sea The Skies as a possible type who could easily rattle up a sequence in handicaps this term. The Sea The Stars colt, who was formerly in the care of Gerard Butler but has since been transferred to Johnston following Butler’s drug ban last year, is a half-brother to the classy Regal Parade as well as the useful pair of Hot Prospect and Entifaadha and a handicap mark of 78 could seriously underestimate his potential ability. Campaigned exclusively to seven furlongs in his three starts to date, don’t be surprised to see Johnston step this fellow up in trip.
Tested (Dermot Weld) - Tested was very impressive when winning on debut in a Curragh maiden last September and immediately went into my notebook in the process; even more significant was that Dermot Weld came straight out of the race and remarked that she was definitely a Stakes filly and early entries in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes would suggest that she could even be top-class. On reflection, the form of her maiden couldn’t be any stronger with five subsequent winners already coming from the race including the 96-rated Sparrow and 85-rated Dance With Another. Make sure you take note of the name - Tested.
Toronado (Richard Hannon Jnr) - I’ll keep this one simple, Toronado, in my opinion, is the best miler in training and will take all the beating in the top mile races this season. He may have flopped in the 2,000 Guineas and the Juddmonte International last season but the colt was a very unlucky second behind Dawn Approach in the St James’s Palace Stakes when encountering significant interference at a crucial stage. He gained revenge on that rival on his next start and it was that performance in the Qipco Sussex Stakes that really makes him stand out; he travelled like a dream that day and the margin of victory flattered his rivals in the end. To my mind, it was one of the best performances of the season, especially when you consider Declaration Of War was over two lengths back in third and Toronado should be a force to be reckoned with this term.
Volume (Luca Cumani) - This half-sister to the useful pair of Velox and Validus progressed with each run last season and began this term in much the same style, albeit finishing third to the useful Cloudscape last time out. Officially rated 88, she is likely to be campaigned in handicaps for the time being but there is no doubt that this filly could be up to Pattern class at some point and entries in both Oaks as well as the Ribblesdale would back that up. Volume has only been tried as far as 10 furlongs in her short career so far but is fully expected to see out 12 furlongs in time and she remains an exciting prospect to follow this season.
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