The Top Ten 3-Year-Old Flat Racing Horses To Follow In 2017 (Colts)

Dewhurst Stakes 2016

While the column inches of the racing press are currently dominated with news of Cheltenham, preparations for the forthcoming Flat Season are already underway. Which are the 3-year-old colts to look out for, in 2017?

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#1 Churchill

Aidan O’Brien’s star actually disappointed on debut and was a well-beaten 3rd, who could have few complaints, at the Curragh. That was the last time he would take part in a race that didn’t offer black type and the last time he was bested.

The 2016 Cartier Champion Two-Year-Old won the Chesham Stakes, the Tyros Stakes, the Futurity Stakes and the National Stakes, before being sent to Headquarters for the Dewhurst. Stablemate Lancaster Bomber was beaten by just over a length. The 2015 Dewhurst form wasn’t up to much (Remember Air Force Blue?), but Churchill will still begin the new campaign in the box-seat. Turf Club handicapper Mark Bird looked back on Churchill’s magnificent campaign and opined:

“A final rating of 122 sits just marginally below this century’s par rating for a European Champion two-year-old of 123. However, the progressive nature of his form allied to his obvious physical scope and impressive pedigree give rise to hope that his early career may be just the launch pad to greater success as a 3-year-old.

“As his namesake once stated, ‘the price of greatness is responsibility’, so we hope and expect that Churchill will live up to his reputation in 2017”.


#2 Caravaggio

Named after the Italian painter, this Scat Daddy-sired colt went-off as a 1/3 favourite on debut at Dundalk and did not disappoint (stablemate Lundy was beaten without a great deal of fuss). Mister Trader, Roly Poly and Ready To Roc were all put to the sword, in the Listed Marble Hill Stakes and he was then sent across the Irish Sea.

His performance in the Coventry Stakes was extraordinary and only Mehmas could get close to Aidan O’Brien’s grey. Caravaggio returned to Ireland, for his final outing in the campaign. He didn’t have a great deal to beat, in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes, but he looks like being a major player in 2017 and a horse that punters should brush-up on fast.

Throughout the year, Caravaggio gave the impression that there was always a little more throttle available if the jockey needed it.

“It’s about speed and class and he’s not short of either. There was plenty left today. He always showed a lot and he’s never disappointed.”, said rider Seamie Heffernan after his Phoenix Stakes triumph.

National Defense

#3 National Defense

A French colt, sired by Invincible Spirit and out of a dam called Angel Falls. He was only raced on 3 occasions and made his debut at Deauville – beating odds-on favourite Sajjad, among others. National Defense was then lobbed into a very-competitive renewal of the Chenes and he found both Akihiro and High Alpha just a little too quick. That run suggested a tilt at the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere was somewhat optimistic, but he was outstanding on his return to Chantilly. National Defense put 4.5 lengths between himself and Salouen, but the fact that both Whitecliffsofdover and Kontrastat were even further adrift made it even more impressive.

“He is not a difficult horse but he has a lot of energy. The other day he didn’t settle in behind and so I told Pierre-Charles to let him go on like he did on debut at Deauville. He is a very good horse. I have had a terrible year and that is my third winner.”, said a relieved Criquette Head-Maarek later.

Andre Fabre

#4 Waldgeist

Andre Fabre certainly played his cards close to his chest, with this Galileo-sired colt. Waldgeist didn’t make his debut until September, beating Called To The Bar by a couple of lengths in the De Fontenoy Stakes. Just 6 weeks later he was going into the stalls at St Cloud, to contest the G1 Criterium. Aidan O’Brien’s Capri was the well-backed favourite, but that horse had to settle for 3rd behind Best Solution and it was Waldgeist that landed the spoils. Has the pedigree for a mile-and-a-half, which is why punters are already nibbling at him for the Epsom Derby. Pierre-Charles Boudot was on-board and later said:

“He is still quite tender and has plenty to learn so we wanted to give him a good lesson last time. He still lacks a little strength but has a lot of quality and will make a good three-year-old. It is great to win the race for my boss and he is certainly a horse to watch out for next year.”

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War Decree

#5 War Decree

He’s another of Aidan O’Brien’s platoon and pundits have been going over the top about him since he won like an old pro on debut at Leopardstown. Edging left possibly cost him victory in the Superlative Stakes, although winner Boynton also failed to tread a straight path.

Any creases appeared to have been ironed out of him, by the time he showed-up at Goodwood for the Vintage Stakes. The form with Boynton was reversed and the scalp of Thunder Snow was also significant. War Decree is promising, although still not tested against the very best. Ryan Moore got the Vintage Stakes ride and was clearly encouraged:

“I think that there’s more to come. I had a smooth run but he’s green and inexperienced, and still learning on the job. He looks like a colt for the future.”


#6 Rivet

Bolted-up to score in a rich Class 2 contest at York, following a debut outing at Ascot where he finished runner-up. Rivet then got the better of Thunder Snow, in a terrific battle at Doncaster in the Champagne Stakes. He was only 5th, in the Dewhurst, but the field was hardly strung-out and it could be some time before we quite know what to make of the 2016 renewal.

William Haggas’ charge saved his best until last, winning the Racing Post Trophy. Favourite Yucatan could have no complaints, so this Fastnet-Rock colt is very-much of interest. Jockey, Andrea Atzeni, said afterwards:

“The further he went the better he was and he hit the line strong. He’s definitely going the right way and will be a stronger horse next year. It is my lucky track and I’ve ridden a lot of nice horses here. I’ve been very lucky, I ride some good horses for good trainers.”


#7 Al Wukair

Andre Fabre’s horse only raced once, during his 2-year-old campaign, in the Listed Prix Isonomy at Deauville. It was an extremely taking performance, however, as Al Wukair dwelt and was then held-up before being unleashed at the 2f pole.

A single application of the persuader saw him rocket past his competitors and he looks well-capable of justifying the 200,000 guineas paid for him, as a yearling. Breeding expert John O’Connor is already a fan and said:

“He’s a two-year-old owned by Al Shaqab and trained by Andre Fabre. He’s unbeaten and has won a Listed race at Deauville and I think he might emerge as a really good horse next year. He’s a son of Dream Ahead out of one of our mares called Macheera.”.

Sir John Lavery

#8 Sir John Lavery

There’s a massive amount of hype around this Aidan O’Brien colt, who has yet to even take part in a black type race. Sir John Lavery has only raced twice, going-off as a 16/1 shot on debut and finishing 3rd (October 10th). Just 8 days later, he went into the stalls at Gowran Park as the 8/13f. The Galileo-sired bay dwelt, as the contest got underway, but  accelerated effortlessly past his rivals at the business-end of proceedings and won by 7 lengths.

“He’d a lovely run the last day, and he didn’t mind the ground. He gave me a nice feel, and it’s what you would want him to be doing on his second run.”, said jockey Seamus Heffernan after the race.

Thunder Snow

#9 Thunder Snow

Out of a dam named Eastern Joy (her other offspring are First Victory and Always Smile) and sired by Helmet, this Godolphin-owned colt won on debut at Leicester before being sent to Ascot for the Coventry Stakes. 6th place in that encounter was followed by a brace of runners-up spots in G2 contests and 4th place in the Dewhurst. His last race of the campaign was at Saint-Cloud, where he won the Criterium International.

“He bounced back nicely from his run in the Dewhurst and this is a lovely result,” said Godolphin’s Hugh Anderson.

“There has been a virus in the stable so it has been a difficult season and this is great for Saeed (bin Suroor) and the team. I don’t yet know if he’ll spend the winter in Newmarket or Dubai, but he ought to stay a mile next year and the Guineas is an obvious early-season target.”

#10 Harry Angel

Clive Cox looks to have a potential Commonwealth Cup winner on his hands, in the shape of this Dark Angel-sired colt who is owned by Peter Ridgers. He lost out by just a nose, on debut at Ascot, but justified status as favourite in the Mill Reef Stakes and won by 2.5 lengths. Cox was, understandably, delighted:

“He had a blip at Goodwood, he came back bruised and it’s taken a while to get him right again. He’s very talented and I’m just glad everyone got the opportunity to see what we have had the privilege of seeing at home for a while. That will be it I would think, he’ll keep us warm this winter.”

Now Read About The Top Ten 3-Year-Old Flat Racing Horses To Follow In 2017 (Fillies)

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The Top Ten 3-Year-Old Flat Racing Horses To Follow In 2017 (Colts)
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