Thursday 14 December 2023

Owen Johnson's Ten to follow for the season 2023

A chance to look back on Owen's Ten to follow. 

Really pleased to have Owen back again this season after some nice winners last year with his 10 to follow.

Native Trail ran a few crackers last season including winning the Craven Stakes and the Irish 2000 Guineas also finishing second in the English 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

Eldar Eldarov won three times including the Queen's Vase and the St Leger at Donny. 

Brayden Star and Nobel both won.

Thesis was a 14/1 winner in a valuable Handicap at Ascot in June.

Westover is another success which includes winning the Classic Trial and the Irish Derby.

Without further ado let's look at Owen's ten this year.

For the full list please DM Owen via his Twitter account, below.

Visit his Twitter profile: @owenJohnson4 or Instagram: owenjhull10

Comments Owen Johnson 

1: Liberty Lane -Trainer: Karl Burke  Owner: Sheikh Mohammed Obaid

Nottingham maidens, especially at the back end often throw up a nice  newcomer, and this son of Teofilo certainly fitted into that category. After always being prominent throughout Liberty Lane's jockey Clifford Lee wasted no time in asking what his horse had underneath him, and he responded by  surging clear in the style of a pattern performer. The form you could argue was let down when the second Mr Buster was third at Kempton on his next start. But that looked like a warm race at the Sunbury track. And afterwards it was revealed by Liberty Lane's trainer Karl Burke that the Dante stakes could come under consideration this year which is as good a hint as any that Liberty Lane is destined for great things this season.

2: Coppice - Trainer: John & Thady Gosden  Owner: Juddmonte

Anyone who read my list last year will know that I think Kempton is a great breeding ground for inexperienced two year olds. But of all of all the two year olds that raced just the once last year she alongside Liberty Lane stood out to me. Despite being green which is natural, especially for a Gosden newcomer she easily was in control at the end of the contest when not fully extended to beat next-time out winner Whispering Dream by a length and three quarters. Coppice herself is a sister to the brilliant 2018 Coventry Stakes winner Calyx, and having already proven herself over seven furlongs she looks an exciting prospect for this season with the likelihood of a 1000 Guineas trial on the cards in which I also backed her personally for the filles classic at 33/1 after her debut.

3: Glenfinnan - Trainer: Andrew Balding  Owner: Mick & Jane Mariscotti

This colt by Harry Angel came to my attention before he even ran as a two year old. As I saw him as a yearling at the prestigious tattersalls book 1 sale in Newmarket, in which I actually wanted a friend of mine to buy him as I loved his pedigree and him as a model. I then took particular interest in his debut in which he finished fourth in a Newbury maiden, in which he wasn't knocked about and to my mind was on the wrong part of the track so was worth upgrading. It was interesting then therefore, that his trainer felt he was good enough to run in the prestigious convivial maiden. Before the race I bumped into Andrew Balding (his trainer) and asked him his opinion on his two runners and his words were: ' I'm surprised to see Glenfinnan at 40/1 as he works better than our other horse (Lahab)'. Indeed Balding was proved right as Glenfinnan only found Desert Order too good by half a length. After missing an engagement at Doncaster Glenfinnan then made all in a small field at Yarmouth under Ryan Moore and looked like he could get further than a mile, but I'd imagine connections will start off over that distance before plotting his path in 2023.

4: Imperial Emperor - Trainer: Charlie Appleby  Owner: Godolphin

This Dubawi colt beat only five rivals when making a winning debut at Newmarket in early october but he created a big impression. After travelling strongly he made takingly smooth progress throughout the mid-part of the race, but found himself in front over two out still going easily. Some two year olds can lose a race at Newmarket by being too green and encountering the infamous dip at the rowley mile. And despite being green he ran out an easy winner, and was only really getting going towards the end of the race. The second home Attaj was third at Wolves on his next run and was gelded after that so you could argue what did he beat? But I'd wager that longer trips will bring about more improvement, as both Imperial Emperor's sire and dam won at Group 1 level and his dam being a sister to Ghaiyyath (also by Dubawi). All I can say is he looks another exciting prospect amongst many for his trainer and a derby trial looks the obvious starting point in the spring 

5: Royal Rhyme - Trainer: Karl Burke  Owner: Sheikh Mohammed Obaid

It was always going to be difficult for me to leave this Lope De Vega colt out. One Lope De Vega is my favourite stallion and two he's out of a sister to Dubawi and looks every inch a three year old based on appearances as well as pedigree, as I was fortunate to see him make his winning debut at Thirsk. Backed just before the off Royal Rhyme was pushed along early, but up the straight kept responding to pressure from Clifford Lee and just grabbed the front runner In These Shoes who won at Redcar on his next start. Afterwards his trainer Karl Burke revealed: 'It's his first time he's galloped on grass to be honest but he's a very exciting horse for next year'. Given that Royal Rhyme started over seven furlongs and needed every yard of it. You'd imagine a mile would be his starting point rip wise this season as it will be fascinating to see how Karl campaigns him this season.

6: Trust The Stars -  Trainer: Ralph Beckett Owner: Valmont

Many of you will know that Ralph Beckett is a nap hand with fillies and I believe this gorgeous daughter of Sea The Stars is exactly the horse he can do well with this season. Bought for 140,000 Euros from the Arqana yearling sales in 2021. Trust The Stars made her debut in mid-September at Newmarket and was backed as if a good run was expected, and despite being slowly away she was always doing enough in the closing stages. Therefore she could look a shrewd buy by bloodstock agent Alex Elliot, who personally nominated Trust The Stars as a horse to follow when saying: ' Hopefully she could be an Oaks type. That's the three-year-old profile me and Ralph are looking for and hopefully she can develop into a classic type'. Put it this way, given connections I wouldn't bet against Trust The Stars doing just that and I'm looking forward to seeing her reappear in an Oaks trail in the spring.

7: Sisyphus Strength - Trainer: Andrew Balding Owner: Victorious Racing

Once again we go back to that Kempton Novice which Luckin Brew won as Sisyphus Strength ran a promising fourth in that race on debut. She was slowly under Hollie Doyle and made good headway from two furlongs out, furthermore it was a positive sign that there was some late money for this Sea The Stars filly as Andrew Balding's newcomers tend to need their first run. Sisyphus Strength made no mistake on her next outing at Nottingham in which David Egan took over in the saddle and when he moved her out to get a run she answered his calling by drawing away to win by a length and three quarters. Connections then decided to go for some black-type in the Montrose Stakes at Newmarket, however she was a touch slowly away like she was on debut but was coming with a run two out and was denied a clear run, and the racing post noted that she 'did well in the circumstances'. A big imposing filly it's no surprise she made 575,000 euros as a yearling and I'm looking forward to seeing what she can do as a three-year-old especially if she's grown into her frame.

8: Greek Order - Trainer: Harry & Roger Charlton Owner: Juddmonte

I was lucky enough to go round the Charlton stable during my weekend at Newbury in mid-September and this guy was nominated by a couple of people within the yard as their best two-year-old. Greek Order made his debut a couple of weeks later at Salisbury in which he was a heavily backed favourite after yours truly got 5/1 the night before, Greek Order went off 6/4, but couldn't justify the market support. He too was slowly away and niggled along to make progress three out, however it looked like he was going to make a winning move but he only kept on without really unleashing a turn of foot and had to settle for third spot. Then as aforementioned Greek Order finished second to Regal Honour, he was a touch keen that day and when he was left in front possibly a shade early he edged right and had he kept straight he may well have won such are the fine margins in racing. However, not all is lost and it wouldn't surprise me if he was given a run for more experience before possibly being aimed at the London Gold Handicap on Lockinge day at Newbury a race in which Roger Charlton in particular has a phenomenal record in.

9: Irregular Warfare - Trainer: Roger Varian  Owner: H H SH Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa

This imposing son of Saxon Warrior made his debut at Yarmouth in late September under David Egan who could have ridden Knight as he's retained jockey to KHK Racing. Therefore he would have been a bit miffed that Knight won with Irregular Warfare back in second who picked up well after Knight quickened clear first the pair were under four lengths clear of market leader Rajasthan so it looked like a good race. Knight then gave the form an almighty boost by taking the Group Three Horris Hill Stakes comfortably on his next outing. Irregular Warfare was then understandably a short price favourite for a Wolverhampton maiden in which he won easily by over five lengths and what was good about that is that the second has since finished second and then won on his third run. Therefore Irregular Warfare is one to keep on side and looks a colt of immense potential.

10: Salt Bay - Trainer: Ralph Beckett  Owner: Valmont

I also saw this son of Farhh in Book 1 and at the time I thought he had fetched too much (350,000 Guineas) however he may be worth it and here's why. He made his debut in late September at Haydock and like Balding's newcomers I like the fact there was some late money for him. During most of the race Salt Bay was travelling well within himself before just over a furlong out he jumped in the air  which any Triumph Hurdle prospect would have been proud of, this was due to the path which he clearly took a disliking too. This would put paid to most horses' chances let alone a newcomer but Salt Bay soon recovered and ended up running out an easy winner by two lengths . Then Beckett felt him worthy a big step up in grade which was the Group One Criterium International at Saint-Cloud, as per usual the race was run on heavy ground and Salt Bay was unable to match the pace of first and second who both had had more experience than Salt Bay, so for me he emerged with plenty of credit. I'd imagine it will be a Derby Trail for him in the spring which maybe at Sandown given that's the race Westover won to kick off his campaign last year.

Thanks Owen.

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