Home » Jamie Lynch’s 10 Flat horses to follow in 2024: French stars and Irish contenders for the upcoming season

Jamie Lynch’s 10 Flat horses to follow in 2024: French stars and Irish contenders for the upcoming season

Our Senior Form Analyst Jamie Lynch reveals 10 runners to add to your tracker for the upcoming flat campaign.

CLASSIC BOYALCANTOR

It might be falling into the trap of overlooking the obvious but equally you’re not here for me to tell you that the horse to follow for this year, and maybe many a year, is City Of Troy, about whom Aidan O’Brien described as “very rare” and “could do anything” in his conversation with Kevin Blake, in an exclusive attheraces.com stable tour.

Instead, I’ll go further afield to France and a three-year-old who looks every inch the classic colt, namely Alcantor. It’s unusual that a horse is beaten not once but twice and still has some star quality but that’s the case with Alcantor who raced freely on bad ground when overhauled by Sunway in the Group 1 Criterium International, a snapshot 2f out (when he cruised upsides) a better reflection of his power than his paddling by the line.

Aidan will have to send a very good one across to beat Alcantor in the French Guineas.

CLASSIC GIRLAZADA

While most eyes were on British Champions Day at Ascot, on October 21, there were four 7f races at Leopardstown, including the Group 3 Killavullan Stakes, and the fastest time was from newcomer Azada. She therefore passed the time test as well as the eye test, as she looked a bit out of the ordinary with the way she motored down a pair who had an advantage in experience and position, even then hinting she had another gear to go to.

Dermot Weld has her entered in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and Oaks, hopes heightened by how she’s bred, being a half-sister by Siyouni to The Autumn Sun who won five Group 1s in Australia, from the family of Azamour. Azada has got all of the ingredients to mix a classic cocktail.

3-Y-O HANDICAPPER: SPRINTCOOL DIVIDEND

A sprinter who’s yet to sprint, but with every start last year – all over 7f – Cool Dividend increasingly seemed a speedball, the Profitable in him screaming to get out.

He has a mark of 81, which might have been 91 if you’d have stopped his races a furlong out, especially his debut against Hot Fuss, and he’ll surely get to use his speed and stride all the more in handicaps this year, also gelded in preparation. In Clive Cox, he has the perfect trainer for the horse he’s destined to be.

3-Y-O HANDICAPPER: MILEINVOLVEMENT

It wasn’t much like a Redcar restricted maiden that you’ve seen before, the one won by Involvement, with a Haggas favourite in second and a blue-blooded Balding newcomer in third, with growing gaps between them as Involvement really poured it on without pressure in the end.

It’s often the way that a dynamic debut leads to a subdued second run, and Involvement was overturned at 4-9 at Newcastle, but that too was an above-average novice, for which he was penalised, and by the end he was asking for a mile. A rating of 91 should be well within his means, and don’t be surprised if it’s one jump and into the Britannia at Royal Ascot.

3-Y-O HANDICAPPER: MIDDLE-DISTANCERAKKI

What you get when your half-siblings include the Leger winner Masked Marvel and the dam of Waldgeist is a swimming pool of potential to dive into once you get to longer trips as a three-year-old, and Rakki is bouncing on the board, about to jump in feet first.

Three runs at the end of last year were just a means to an end for him, yet he wasn’t beaten more than five lengths in any race despite his innocence and incompatibility with the All-Weather tests, and he projects to be way better than 75 once he’s playing the game he’s bred for.

GROUP GRADUATENAQEEB

First and foremost, he’s a half-brother to Baaeed and Hukum, which is reason in itself to expect him to make the jump from handicapper to pattern performer as a four-year-old, though his development in his first season (unraced at 2) almost seals the deal, taking a while to warm up – literally and figuratively – but an audible click accompanied his back-to-back wins.

His listed third on his final start wasn’t the anti-climax it might seem as he was probably a false favourite at Ascot against Middle Earth and Chesspiece who had both contested the St Leger, a temporary reality check, as well as a useful lesson ahead of his coming-of-age season when Naqeeb could easily become a ‘Cup’ horse, with those fine-wine genes at play.

COULD BE ANYTHING: COLT VALVANO

The mile maiden at Nottingham in mid-October had been won the previous two years by Eldar Eldarov and King Of Steel and, though the 2023 version bore little resemblance in make and shape, with just six runners, the wide-margin winner might well be in the same league.

It’s fair to say Valvano’s reputation preceded him, sent off 8-11, but he was everything he was heralded to be and then some, finishing with a spurt that was hard to do on that ground. He recorded the fastest closing splits by far of any horse on the card outside of the 5f race. He’ll be on trial for the Derby, for which he’s 50-1.

COULD BE ANYTHING: FILLYELMALKA

Though it was at Southwell it might as well have been Newmarket given the stables involved, a required runway in November for the later-maturing fillies, the standard high and the potential of Elmalka very high indeed given how she came from near-last to first – in a race not conducive to such tactics – to run down well-touted fillies from the yards of Haggas and the Gosdens, and her closing sectional was so fast it generated the flame symbol on attheraces.com.

She has a Guineas entry and no wonder, given the impression from Southwell and the Group 1 genes, a half-sister to Benbatl and out of Nahrain.

STABLE SWITCHERINFINITY BLUE

He was with a top trainer, Andrew Balding, but little went right in Infinity Blue’s first season, which makes him a profitable prospect for the excellent Julie Camacho, whose talents were seen to the sharpest effect last year with Shaquille.

His pedigree suggests there’s plenty to tap into, by Blue Point and from the family of Harry Angel, the reason he cost 250,000 guineas as a yearling, so you could say Camacho got him cheap at 37,000 guineas at the Horses In Training Sale, more so remembering his third to King’s Gamble at Newmarket. He has the makings of a transformer in 2024.

WILDCARDAMERICAN AFFAIR

For Jim Goldie, American Affair was a relatively early-riser, winning by the third race of his first season and continuing his happy habit of nudging up his rating every time he came to the track, culminating with a fine third in a big field at Ayr, signs of things to come.

From a late-maturing family that Goldie knows well, American Affair is all set for a bigger and better season as a four-year-old, a good bet to thrive on his racing and pick up a decent prize or two.