The 2018 flat season is underway now and there is so much to look forward to across the racecourses in the UK this year, in particular in the spring and summer with the Guineas, Derby and Royal Ascot the standout meetings on the calendar.
Here is a look at five horses who you can keep an eye on in 2018 as they could be set for great campaigns ahead of their respective divisions.
Last year’s leading three-year-old sprinter Battaash had a fantastic campaign in 2017, winning three of his four racecourse starts. Charles Hills’ runner proved his class to prevail in the Group Two King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood where he beat Profitable, Marsha and Washington DC. The year got even better for the young sprinter as he finished his season in perfect style at Chantilly with victory in the Prix de l’Abbaye.
Battaash is now four years old and therefore he will be featuring in open-age company this season. The key targets will be the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, while connections will be thinking about a return to France for the Prix de l’Abbaye, which is taking place at Longchamp in October.
Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien broke the world record for the most Group One victories in a single calendar year in 2017 and he could be set for many more wins at the top level this season, one of which may come in the 1000 Guineas where he has the ante-post favourite in Clemmie who impressed in her two-year-old campaign.
Clemmie is a daughter of Galileo who has had so much success with his offspring. The filly has won her last three starts including the Group One Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket. It will be interesting to see if O’Brien chooses to keep his horse at 1m if she does score in the opening Classic of the season for fillies or he opts to step up in trip to 1m2f or 1m4f. She looks to have a lot of pace and there is every chance she will return in 2018 even stronger than she was last year.
Enable was the star attraction of the British Flat Season in 2017 as she won six races from May to October, five of which were Group One contests. The filly went into the Oaks at Epsom at 6/1 in the betting but she made a mockery of those odds to score by five lengths in a dominant display. Victories followed in the Irish Oaks, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Yorkshire Oaks before she sealed the biggest prize of her career in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Connections are likely to target all the major middle-distance races in Europe in 2018, where she is sure to take on the opposite sex. There could also be a mouth-watering clash with her stablemate Cracksman, which will give jockey Frankie Dettori a dilemma over which horse he will ride.
One of the stars of 2018 so far has been Mendelssohn who produced a dominant display to take the UAE Derby by 18 lengths at the Dubai World Cup meeting last month. The next task for the three-year-old is likely to be the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Down in Louisville where he is the ante-post favourite. That contest, along with the Grand National, is one of the biggest international races over the next couple of months. You can find out more about the runners and tips at Timeform for the Grand National and Kentucky Derby.
If he does manage to score in the USA, he will return to the UK to take on the leading horses in his age group on turf.
Saxon Warrior was unbeaten last year as a two-year-old, winning all three of his races. The colt is expected to be O’Brien’s leading chance in the 2000 Guineas where the Irishman is chasing his 9th win in the 1m Classic.
The bookmakers also make Saxon Warrior the favourite to land the Derby at Epsom, where he is an even shorter price as he is expected to appreciate a step up in trip, given his breeding line. With so much optimism around the horse, he could be the latest superstar from the conveyor belt at Ballydoyle.
Let’s hope the 2018 flat season produces many new superstars in the sport.