With 2011 confined to the history books now is as good a time as any to look forward to what 2012 will offer for horse racing fans. Frankel, Pour Moi, Hurricane Fly, Big Buck’s, Kauto Star and others made 2011 a year to remember.
Here at SportsnewsIreland we have picked five horses that should make 2012 equally as memorable.
Frankel to race as a 4 year old.
The news that Frankel was to stay in training as a four year old was like an early Christmas present. Having landed the 2000 Guineas in spellbinding fashion, Frankel went onto beat Canford Cliffs in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood and win on Champions Day at Ascot.
A brilliant two year old, and even better three year old, the hope that Frankel could be even better with another winter on his back is mouthwatering. He improved immeasurably during his three year old season and if he can carry that improvement on who can beat him?
His first intended race is the Lockinge at Newbury before he steps up in distance for the Coral Eclipse in July. A showdown with So You Think? Roll on the summer.
Hurricane Fly and the Champion Hurdle.
He is brilliant but oh so fragile. When Hurricane Fly landed the Champion Hurdle last March at Cheltenham many people thought we had witnessed the heir to Istabraq’s crown. However since he romped away at Punchestown in May we haven’t seen the son of Montjeu.
He has missed two engagements thus far this season with his trainer, Willie Mullins, citing that he wasn’t happy that Hurricane Fly was forward enough to do himself justice.
Should he make it to Cheltenham he will prove a very tough nut to crack. He has oodles of class, travels and jumps for fun and has an electric turn of foot. The 5-2 currently on offer for back to back Champion Hurdles could look very generous come March. Are you tempted?
What is in a name? If Camelot is anything to go by then the handsome son of Montjeu has a lot to live up to. Always highly regarded at home by connections, Camelot made a winning debut at Leopardstown at odds of 1-3.
He wasn’t seen again until the Racing Post Trophy where he revealed just what a deeply talented horse he is. Settled at the back of a small field by Joseph O’Brien, Camelot travelled with the upmost of ease and only had to be gently shaken with the reigns and he cruised past Zip Top to win as he liked.
That performance marked him down as a serious Classic prospect and if he bypasses the 2000 Guineas and goes down the traditional Derby route then Ballydoyle can end their 10 year wait for a Derby winner.
Big Buck’s and four in a row.
He is a bit quirky, can keep a bit for himself, but he is wonderfully talented and no winner will be cheered home as loudly, should Big Buck’s keep his unbeaten record in tack and land a fourth World Hurdle in a row at Cheltenham.
Since he unshipped Sam Thomas in the Hennessy a few years ago, Big Buck’s has transformed himself into perhaps the best staying hurdler of our generation and aside from Thousand Stars and Oscar Whiskey, there looks few credible challengers to his crown.
The current 4/7, non runner no bet, with the sponsors Ladbrokes could be the steal of the season come the Thursday of Cheltenham. It will take a good ‘un to take down Big Buck’s.
Can Galileo get even better?
Galileo had his best ever season in 2011 since he retired to Coolmore Stud. Led by Frankel, the handsome son of the legendary Sadler’s Wells, Galileo sired 11 individual Group 1 winners in 2011. Along with Frankel, he sired champion two year old filly Maybe and multiple Group 1 winner Cape Blanco.
While Cape Blanco has retired, both Maybe and Frankel stay in training for 2012 and they should be flagbears in what could be an even better season for their superstar daddy.
With any amount of untapped potential in his two year old crop it is safe to say that Galileo will be making more headlines in 2012 as his sons and daughters continue to deepen his legacy and impact on the breed.