Check out our exclusive list of dark horses who have run well in recent days and are worth looking out for in the coming weeks:
ARDLUI (2ND, Chester Sept 14)
Alan King’s big four-year-old son of Galileo never really fulfilled his potential as a hurdler last winter. But this performance suggests he’s being primed for either a decent staying contest on the Flat or a nice handicap hurdle in the opening weeks of the new Jumps campaign. He was beaten less than a length by the Triumph Hurdle winner, Countrywide Flame, who is among the favourites for the Cesarewitch, and yet over timber, he is officially 25lbs inferior to that rival.
CHIGUN (WON, Ascot Sept 8)
Some might say Sir Henry Cecil’s three-year-old filly very much got the run of the race up the stands rail. But the convincing manner in which she powered home suggests there is much more to come from a big, strong sort having only her sixth career run. Her dam is related to a King George winner, and it’s probably significant that, at home on the Newmarket gallops, she has been working with the yard’s exciting, new French recruit, Beauty Parlour, who was runner-up in the French Oaks.
FLYING OFFICER (WON, Sandown Sept 14)
Thoughts of next year’s Classics are sure to be on the mind of trainer John Gosden after this winning debut of a colt who is a brother to his 2007 St Leger hero Lucarno and this season’s Derby and Leger contender Thought Worthy. He defied a debilitating draw on the wide outside, plus signs of greenness to run out a commanding winner and afterwards, owner George Strawbridge hinted that the two-year-old could well turn out to be better than his siblings.
GLOBAL ICON (3RD, Newmarket Sept 22)
Backend nurseries await Richard Hannon’s two-year-old son of Green Desert, who has now qualified for a handicap mark after three promising performances over inadequate trips. If that mark is in the 70s or low 80s, he will unquestionably win once stepped up to 7f or 1m in keeping with his pedigree (the Sadler’s Wells dam won over 10f). Owned by Andrew Tinkler, he particularly caught my eye two runs back when keeping on strongly over 5f at Sandown.
JACK DEXTER (WON, Ayr Sept 22)
Cavalry-charge sprint handicaps are rarely won as convincingly as this. The Ayr Bronze Cup was turned into a procession by Jim Goldie’s rapidly-improving, lightly-raced three-year-old, who surely has many more big prizes waiting for him in the next two or three seasons. He’s inherited the speed of his tough sire, Orientor, whom Goldie also trained, but also boasts a touch of class, particularly when there is give in the ground. It would be no surprise to see him progress into something better than a handicapper.
JUST ONE KISS (4TH, Newmarket Sept 22)
Sir Henry Cecil landed this maiden with subsequent Oaks winner Light Shift in 2006 and subsequent multiple Group winner Midday in 2008. So it’s reasonable to assume he thinks plenty of this well-bred daughter of Cape Cross, whose second dam, Love Divine, also took the Epsom fillies’ Classic and whose dam is a half-sister to 2006 St Leger victor Sixties Icon. She didn’t win what was a richly competitive maiden but neither did she let down her trainer, who describes her as “a big, likeable filly”.
LIBER NAUTICUS (WON, Goodwood Sept 4)
It’s three years now since Sir Michael Stoute introduced a certain colt called Workforce to land a late-season maiden at Goodwood, to launch a Classic-winning career that, of course, was capped by success in the Arc. Suggestions of a similar path to glory were raised after the victorious debut of this filly, a daughter of 2005 King George hero, Azamour, and closely related to Stoute’s 2008 St Leger winner, Conduit. Visually, she wasn’t over-impressive but she’s sure to improve a lot for the experience, while the form of the race is already working out well.
MY PROPELLER (WON, Yarmouth Sept 19)
Peter Chapple-Hyam’s three-year-old filly, owned by footballer Joey Barton, had struggled since winning the Listed Roses Stakes at last year’s Ebor meeting at York. But the way in which she quickened readily here to register her first victory since suggests she’s very much back to her best and could win a decent sprint prize before the season is out. A step-up to 6f wouldn’t inconveniece her either. She was a blistering winner over that trip on her second juvenile start at Pontefract.
MOOHAJIM (WON, Newbury Sept 22)
It has not yet been a season for vintage two-year-olds. But I’d be reluctant to oppose Marco Botti’s son of Cape Cross wherever he goes next after the turn of foot he unleashed to win this competitive renewal of the Group Two Mill Reef Stakes. OK, he had to barge his way through but the change of gear was the mark of a colt going places. Even more encouragingly, Botti says he has “a lovely attitude” and is now aiming the colt at one of the big end-of-season Group One races for juveniles, the Dewhurst Stakes or the Middle Park Stakes.
NARGYS (2ND, Doncaster Sept 13)
Luca Cumani’s two-year-old daughter of 2007 French Derby winner Lawman has yet to prove she was worth the whopping 125,000 guineas paid for her. But she’s a progressive filly who has improved with each of her four runs so far and remains on a very workable handicap mark that ought to help her find another race or two in nurseries before the season is over. She probably wouldn’t want the ground too quick but she definitely boasts a turn of foot.
PENNY ROSE (WON, Newbury Sept 21)
When two-year-old fillies start to improve at this time of year, there’s no knowing where they’ll end up. But Mark Johnston knows exactly where his daughter of Danehill Dancer is heading -- the big £500,000 Sales race at Newmarket in October -- and on the evidence of this pleasing victory, she will go close. Johnston passed up a tempting nursery mark of just 80 to lower the colours of a highly-regarded odds-on favourite in a display that confirmed the positive impression she had made on me at Leicester ten days earlier.
RUSSIAN REALM (3RD, Sandown Sept 14)
Sir Michael Stoute can have few better bred two-year-olds in his yard than this son of Dansili and his 1,000 Guineas heroine Russian Rhythm, so he must have been excited by the colt’s promising debut. He never sniffed the impressive winner, Flying Officer (SEE ABOVE), but ran on strongly in the final furlong to finish never nearer, having spent most of the race covered up towards the rear. Entered in the Derby, he will improve considerably for the experience and is sure to win races.
RACE AND STATUS (WON, Newbury Sept 22)
Trainer Andrew Balding is becoming a dab-hand at sending out well-regarded juveniles to win first time out, so it was no surprise to see this expensive son of crack sire Raven’s Pass produce the goods. But the professional and polished manner in which he took apart a competitive maiden was a different matter altogether. He travelled and quickened like a Group colt in the making, so let’s hope he trains on better than his half-brother, Dunboyne Express, who was a big Classic hope a couple of seasons ago. The Tattersalls Millions race at Newmarket in October is reportedly his next target.
TAAYEL (3RD, Newbury Sept 22)
It was a big ask of John Gosden’s Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned colt to be pitched into the Group Two Mill Reef Stakes on the back of an albeit impressive winning debut in a minor contest at Yarmouth. But it was also indicative of the high regard in which the son of first-season sire Tamayuz is held. He duly acquitted himself well, despite taking a hefty bump just as he was mounting his challenge, and he looks guaranteed a bright future.
WHAT A NAME (WON, Longchamp Sept 9)
Those of you tempted to have a speculative bet on the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket next May would do far worse than to support this classy filly, trained in France by the wildly under-rated Mikel Delzangles. A fast-improving sort, she took on colts in this Group Three contest but mowed them down with a searing turn of foot and will now attempt to follow up at the same track in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on Arc day on October 7.
HORSES TO FOLLOW SUPPLIED BY SCOOP RACING (RICHARD SILVERWOOD).