Top 20 3-Year-Old Colts Set To Rock UK Racing In 2016

With the 2016 flat season just a few tantalising weeks from getting underway, we look at the 3-year-old colts expected to dominate British racing.

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#1 Air Force Blue

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 air force blue

Regarded by Aidan O’Brien as the best juvenile he’s ever worked with, Air Force Blue is set to fly high in 2016.

Beaten by Buratino, in the Coventry Stakes, the War Front-sired bay colt recovered to win the Phoenix Stakes (Curragh) and the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes.

Then came his electrifying performance in the Dewhurst Stakes, where a top-class field was left trailing in his wake. He’s spent the winter as the shortest-priced 2000 Guineas favourite since the mighty Frankel.

“It’s a joy when these horses come along. Every year you’re looking for good horses and he is a special one.”, said O’Brien.

#2 Shalaa

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 shalaa

Last of 8 runners, on debut at Newbury, John Gosden’s charge finished the season as one of the best 2-year-olds in the world.

Victories in the July Stakes, the Richmond Stakes preceded a comfortable win in the Darley Prix Morny.

The Invincible Spirit-sired colt then appeared to have something in hand, when beating Buratino by half a length in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.

Regarded as both a Guineas and Commonwealth Cup prospect, expect to be hearing a great deal more from this superb horse.

#3 Massaat

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 massaat

He looked anything but a top-class thoroughbred, when falling out of the gate on debut at Sandown, but Barry Hills’ runner rallied to finish runner-up and looked by far the best horse in the race.

After then effortlessly shedding his maiden tag, at Leicester, he was sent to Newmarket for the Dewhurst Stakes. Air Force Blue was sensational, on the day, yet Massaat’s gutsy 2nd place was arguably even more remarkable given his lack of experience.

The Hamdan Al Maktoum colt looked to be the fastest-improving juvenile of 2015 and could well be the biggest threat to Air Force Blue’s Guineas ambitions. Massaat versus Air Force Blue is a rematch that everyone in racing will want to see.

#4 Foundation

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 foundation
top 20 colts uk racing 2016 foundation

It was all going swimmingly for John Gosden’s chestnut colt, before he finished 4 lengths (3rd) behind Peter Chapple-Hyam’s unfancied Marcel in the Racing Post Trophy.

A winner on debut, the Zoffany colt returned to Haydock and won in Listed company. Champagne City and Manaafidh were dispatched without too much fuss. He was also too good for Deauville, in the Royal Lodge Stakes, at Newmarket.

He’s the weak Derby favourite, so punters clearly feel the last outing was just a blip. Foundation certainly lacked a bit of luck at Doncaster and Frankie Dettori took plenty of criticism for the ride.

#5 Emotionless

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 emotionless

The reputation of Emotionless took even more of a battering, in the Shamardal-sired runner’s 3rd and final juvenile outing. Emotionless trailed-in last of 7, in the Dewhurst. Charlie Appleby put the humiliation down to a knee injury.

In his previous 2 encounters, the colt won readily on debut and impressed when beating Ibn Malik (by 3.5 lengths) in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster. Appleby remains upbeat.

“He’s been cantering for three or four weeks and hopefully he’ll progress towards a trial and we’ll see where we stand.”

He’ll be another strong Guineas contender, if his trainer’s optimism proves justified.

#6 Buratino

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 buratino

One of the most consistent of the more-heavily raced 2-year-olds, Buratino is the only horse to have claimed the scalp of Air Force Blue.

However, following that Coventry Stakes victory, Buratino found Aidan O’Brien’s star 2.5 lengths too good in the Phoenix Stakes.

Buratino then finished just half a length behind Shalaa, in the Middle Park Stakes. Mark Johnston will have high-hopes for his Classic campaign.

This Exceed And Excel-sired colt might cause a shock, in either the Guineas or the Commonwealth Cup, if handed fast ground.

#7 Midterm

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 midterm

You’ll do well to find a better-bred prospect for the 2016 campaign and Midterm might be the horse that gives Sir Michael Stoute his first Derby win, since Workforce in 2010.

Out of Midday, who won the Nassau, the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, the Yorkshire Oaks, the Prix Vermeille and the Middleton Stakes, he’s sired by Galileo.

This horse has only raced once, winning a maiden by just a length at Newbury in October.

This one has DNA that simply cannot be ignored though and he’s already amongst the favourites for the Epsom Classic.

#8 Blue De Vega

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 blue de vega

Many UK punters won’t have heard of Blue De Vega, but Michael O’Callaghan’s German inmate put together a short yet very impressive juvenile campaign over in Ireland.

He won on his 2nd outing, moving through the gears in style after Emmet McNamara pushed the button at Naas. This led to Qatar Racing, Sheikh Khalifa, Sheikh Suhaim and Mohammed Al Kuba buying the Lope De Vega colt.

He rewarded them by outclassing Tribal Beat and Black Sea, in the Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown. O’Callaghan is aiming him at the Guineas.

#9 Wajeez

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 wajeez

Bookmakers heard echoes of Golden Horn, when the hooves of John Gosden’s latest star hit the turf at Nottingham, in November.

It was at this racecourse that the Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner first thrust himself into the limelight.

Wajeez’s 7 length defeat of Twobeelucky saw him immediately installed amongst the favourites, for the Epsom Derby.

Like Blue De Vega, he’s a Lope De Vega-sired colt. Gosden believes that Wajeez prefers a lot more cut in the ground, than Golden Horn. If clouds burst, this one might reign in 2016.

#10 Marcel

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 marcel

It is said that winners make their own luck and Peter Chapple-Hyam’s bay colt certainly took full advantage of Foundation’s ill-fortune, in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster last Autumn.

Marcel showed impressive speed though and even if Foundation was hard done by, Aidan O’Brien’s trio of Johannes Vermeer, Port Douglas and Deauville had no real excuses.

Both the Guineas and the Derby remain realistic targets and it will be fascinating to see how the Lawman colt performs as a 3-year-old.

Prior to Doncaster, Marcel finished 5th on debut at Ascot before beating Heir To A Throne comfortably at Newcastle.

#11 Ultra

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 ultra

Andre Fabre’s inmate remains unbeaten and narrowly won the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp.

With Mickael Barzalona on-board, Ultra hit the front in the home-straight and held off a strong challenge from John Gosden’s Cymric.

It remains to be seen just how many trips across the Channel Fabre has in mind for this classy thoroughbred, but Ultra is already installed amongst the favourites for the Epsom Derby.

Owned by Godolphin, Ultra was sired by Manduro and is out of an Irish dam called Epitome.

#12 Washington DC

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 washington dc

Certainly not disgraced, when finishing just a couple of lengths behind Air Force Blue (and half a length ahead of Buratino) in the Phoenix Stakes, Washington DC will be looking to capitalise in 2016.

The Zoffany-sired colt is trained by Aidan O’Brien and lost his maiden tag in a 4-runner race at Tipperary.

Runner-up to Round Two, in the Marble Hill Stakes, he stayed on well to beat Areen (by a head) in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Ascot.

Connections feel he can get 6f, so the Commonwealth Cup looks an obvious target.

#13 Herald The Dawn

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 herald the dawn

Herald The Dawn (New Approach) should have Jim Bolger whistling on his way to work, following some cracking performances as a 2-year-old.

Victorious on his 2nd outing at Naas, he made light of stepping-up in class and beat Now Or Never by just over a length in the Futurity Stakes (recent winners include Gleneagles and War Command).

He finished ahead of Birchwood, when runner-up to Air Force Blue, in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes.

Herald The Dawn didn’t really get the rub of the green, when failing to place in the Prix Jean-luc Lagardere and he’s likely to win some big races as a 3-year-old.

#14 Cymric

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 cymric

John Gosden’s decision to introduce Cymric at the Chesham Stakes had a few observers scratching their heads, following a very green display and a 10th place finish.

Cymric held off the challenge of Massaat, when grabbing his first victory at Sandown. It’s unlikely he could repeat that feat, given how rapidly Massaat has improved, but the Godolphin-owned runner still showed bags of ability as a juvenile.

3rd in the Tattersalls Acomb Stakes, he followed up a comfortable Sandown win with 2nd place in the Prix Jean-luc Lagardere.

He produced a tired-looking display, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, but is still one to watch when the 2016 flat season gets underway.

#15 Johannes Vermeer

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 johannes vermeer

This Galileo-sired colt saved his best until last, winning the Criterium International Stakes by a head from Stormy Atlantic at Saint-Cloud in early November.

Aidan O’Brien’s horse had previously won the Willis Champions Juvenile Stakes, finished 4th in the Prix Jean-luc Lagardere and runner-up in the Racing Post Trophy.

While it’s unlikely he’ll win an English Classic, he certainly impressed Ryan Moore (his jockey at Longchamp and Saint-Cloud).

“He is a very fit, hard horse who knew his job. He has a good attitude and hopefully he can keep on progressing.”

#16 Guitaifan

Outpaced and then eased off, in the Prix De l’Abbaye, Richard Hannon’s grey colt had already done plenty of good work in 2015.

The Dark Angel-sired thoroughbred won at the 2nd time of asking and took the spoils in the Robert Papin and Flying Childers Stakes.

Sandwiched between that pair of Group successes was a 2nd place in the Darley Prix Morny, behind Shalaa.

Richard Hannon looks likely to target the Commonwealth Cup, with this smart-looking sprinter.

#17 Deauville

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 deauville

Some feel that the limitations of Aidan O’Brien’s Galileo-sired colt were exposed in the Autumn, but he could still be a major player when returning fresh from the Winter break.

A comfortable winner, on debut at Listowel, he showed genuine grit when holding off a strong challenge from Sanus Per Aquam in the Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown.

There was little to find fault with, when he finished within a length of Foundation in the Royal Lodge Stakes. However, his performance in the Racing Post Trophy (5th) suggested other juveniles were progressing faster.

Has attracted some ante-post support for both the Guineas and the Derby, although lesser Group races look more within his reach.

#18 Hit It A Bomb

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 hit it a bomb

Another excellent prospect for Aidan O’Brien and he would be higher up this list, if we knew the trainer saw Great Britain as the best hunting-ground for him as a 3-year-old.

A narrow victory, on debut at the Curragh, was followed with an emphatic win in the Star Appeal Stakes (Dundalk).

Hit It A Bomb won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, a contest in which European trainers have enjoyed considerable success recently.

However, Juvenile Turf champions have often disappointed, when running as 3-year-olds in the UK. This colt will still attract plenty of interest though, if his hooves land on British soil in 2016.

#19 Painted Cliffs

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 painted cliffs

This Canford Cliffs-sired colt shed his maiden tag at the 2nd time of asking, with a June victory at Leopardstown.

His best performance came in the Railway Stakes, beating Rockaway Valley and Log Out Island comfortably.

He never looked a threat, when 4th in the Phoenix Stakes and was last of 5 runners in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes.

He ran 5 times in 2015, under 5 different jockeys. That can’t have helped, but Painted Cliffs simply may not be good enough to win a Group 1 race. It will be interesting to see how Aidan O’Brien uses him, as a 3-year-old. Group 2 & Group 3 successes still look within reach.

#20 Moonlight Magic

top 20 colts uk racing 2016 moonlight magic

Jim Bolger looks to have uncovered another nugget. This Cape Cross-sired thoroughbred  won by a neck, on debut at Cork, before winning the Eyrefield Stakes at Leopardstown in October.

Both Landofhopeandglory and Ebediyin were put in the shade and Bolger will view Moonlight Magic as one of his top big-race prospects of 2016.

“He’s a good horse. He was a little bit backward and just made it this year,” said Bolger.

“I’d say he’ll improve a lot over the winter and hopefully he’ll be back here for the Derrinstown Derby Trial. He did it very well the first day but when he hit the front he idled.”

Bolger won the 2008 Epsom Derby with New Approach. He’ll have been waving the wand over Moonlight Magic, this Winter, and dreaming of another Classic triumph.


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