The Top 40 Prospects in Ahead On The Flat unearthed a couple of potentially top-class three year olds at the end of last week. Crystal Ocean is bred to be smart being a half-brother to Crystal Capella and Hillstar and he confirmed the promise he showed on his sole outing as a juvenile at Nottingham on Saturday evening. Contesting a ten furlongs maiden at Colwick Park, the son of Sea The Stars quickened away inside the final furlong and won hard held by two lengths under Ted Durcan. Sir Michael Stoute's charge still has a long way to go but the 40/1 (Bet365 & William Hill) on offer for the Epsom Derby is tempting. His next race will tell us a lot more but he looks a very good colt in the making and one with genuine Classic aspirations.
Shutter Speed was a two and a half lengths winner of the ten furlongs conditions event at Newbury on Friday and she is now prominent in the ante-post market for the Oaks at Epsom. The Danili filly had won despite slow ground on her debut last year at Yarmouth and she had reportedly been working extremely well during the spring. John Gosden used the same event at the Berkshire track for his subsequent French Oaks winner Star of Seville and one couldn't help but be impressed as she bounded clear last week. Given a confident ride by Frankie Dettori, she readily beat last year's Racing Post Trophy fourth Raheen House. The Musidora Stakes at York (17th May) will be her next target with Gosden seeking his sixth win in the event. She looks every inch an Oaks filly.
UAE Prince provided the Top 40 with another winner at Ripon last Thursday. Roger Varian's four year old has always been held in the highest regard and, while he made rather heavy weather of scoring at the North Yorkshire venue, he is expected to improve as the season goes on. If kept to a mile and a quarter, one wonders whether his connections will steer him towards the Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar (29th May). The stable sent out Central Square to finish second in the race last year. Indeed, Roger had a terrific day on Thursday training four winners.
There was plenty of promise from the other horses featured in the Top 40 over the weekend. It won't be long before the beautifully bred Mori enters the winners' enclosure. Less than eight lengths fifth in the ten furlongs fillies' maiden at Newbury on Friday, the daughter of Frankel stayed on nicely and the experience won't have been lost on her. A step up to twelve furlongs will be beneficial and the stable's runners invariably improve from their initial outings. She will be a different proposition next time.
All in all, Ahead On The Flat has made a tremendous start to the season - it is all about producing future stars and I think we may have seen a couple, at least, last week. Tomyris and Venice Beach were impressive winners for the Maidens In Waiting section and Call To Mind was highlighted in the Unraced Three Year Old section. There are still copies available - please head to the Publications section to purchase one.
Switching codes, I was working at Ayr's Scottish National meeting last Friday and Saturday. It was a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days and I was delighted to see Cloudy Dream win the Future Champions Novice Chase. I am the first to admit I had reservations about Malcolm Jefferson's grey after his Aintree defeat but there was no doubting his resolution at the weekend. He produced a good jump at the last before reeling in Theinval on the run-in. His connections are hoping he could develop into a Ryanair Chase contender next spring. In the meantime, the Old Roan Chase at Aintree in October would appear an obvious starting point - mind you, the Autumn seems a long time away at the moment.
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