Five horses who could make a big impression on the Flat this season 

Lingfield Park Racecourse

Parallels have been drawn between the coronavirus pandemic and a war. Rather than taking to the bunkers, we have been asked to stay at home and, when this war ends, which all wars do, what better way to emerge from our sitting rooms than with an arsenal of unexposed horses who could be ready to explode into life.

Here is a list of five horses who could make a big impression on the Flat season, whenever we get back to normality.


Jessica Harrington

This filly might be as well off skipping the 1,000 Guineas and keeping to what suits her best, which is sprinting.

A good winner of the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes, after which Jessica Harrington voiced concerns over the trip for the Guineas, Millisle would look better suited to something like a Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot over six furlongs.

Blessed with speed, all Millisle did as a two-year-old was improve after winning her maiden at lowly Bellewstown over the minimum trip.

Given the season is likely going to be condensed, added to the fact that Harrington has a number of more obvious Classic contenders, especially in the fillies’ division, there is  a big chance Millisle could make hay in the top sprints this term.


Aidan O’Brien

Placed in an Epsom Derby, winner of two Group 1 races, including the Juddmonte International at York where he beat some stellar opposition, Japan is clearly a high-class colt, but the best has yet to come.

It was well-documented that Japan faced a race against time in order to be fit enough to run in the Derby, making his fast-finishing third in the race all the more impressive a performance.

Japan enjoyed a fruitful second half of last season, ending the campaign with a creditable fourth in the Arc, but you get the sense that Aidan O’Brien has long been dreaming about a four-year-old campaign for the colt.

Make no mistake, Japan has all of the right attributes to develop into a top-notch middle-distance horse this season. He rates as one of the most exciting horses Ballydoyle has to go to war with this term.

Gustavus Weston

Joe Murphy

He may not be a household name, but there are few shrewder operators in Ireland than Joe Murphy, and the Tipperary handler has an exciting sprinter on his hands in Gustavus Weston.

After cutting his teeth in handicaps, Gustavus Weston ran out a big-priced winner of a Group 3 over 6f at the Curragh last term on ground that came up on the softer side of good, which may well be the key to him being by Equiano, whose progeny tend to act on soft.

As a four-year-old with relatively little mileage on the clock, Gustavus Weston has the scope to improve and, when he gets his desired conditions, he can find more improvement this season.

Silk Forest

Paddy Twomey

This filly rewarded the patience of Paddy Twomey last season and could be in for quite a profitable four-year-old campaign.

Twomey has rightly earned plaudits in recent years and is clearly a handler going places fast and his management of Silk Forest was nothing short of top notch.

Placed in a couple of maidens early in the season, Silk Forest was reported to have suffered a minor setback in the middle of the campaign but, allowed plenty of time to come to herself, she bolted up in a Leopardstown maiden before landing a Listed race at Naas.

There is a strong chance Twomey has only scratched the surface with Silk Forest who may prove herself a Group-class operator this year.

Fancy Blue

Donnacha O’Brien

This could be a massive year for champion jockey turned trainer Donnacha O’Brien, who clearly has the pedigree to make the career change a roaring success and chances are Fancy Blue will give him a helping hand in doing so.

A winner of a maiden and Listed race at the Curragh over 7f and a mile respectively when officially trained by Donnacha’s father Aidan O’Brien, Fancy Blue will race under the rookie handler’s name this season.

The 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket would look an obvious starting point for Fancy Blue at this stage but, for a filly who won over a mile at two, she should get further as a three-year-old and has the option to step out in trip. She’s exciting.

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