Kennet Valley and Hot To Trot: Five To Follow

Sam Hoskins is racing manager for both Kennet Valley and Hot to Trot, two leading syndicates in the UK. With Royal Ascot looking he’s spoked exclusively to Hit The Front about who he should follow.

Magical Memory – A highly regarded four-year-old whose won the Steward’s Cup, Abernant Stakes and Duke Of York stakes. Yet to win at the top level, but went close in the Diamond Jubilee last year. Ran a great race on seasonal bow when second on unfavourable ground, set to go to Royal Ascot with a strong chance again.

“He ran a great race in the Diamond Jubilee last year when he was fourth, and he broke a bit slowly and the ground being a bit soft. He made a lot of ground up so quickly which was so impressive, and we’re hoping he could run really well this time around. Last year he went to Ascot after two runs, this year he’s had a prep run where he ran a great race on ground that was a bit too soft really. If he built on that hopefully he can give Tasleet a run for his money, so hopefully he can be very competitive. He’s a gelding too, so a bit like our old boy Tullius he can carry on going for a few more years. It’s very exciting.”

You can read his thoughts on the Diamond Jubilee Stakes here.

Heartache – A winner on debut at Bath, defeating the field in very good style by six lengths. From a good family, and set to go to the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot.

“It’s all very exciting, to have a filly like this. It’s only the start, but she has got plenty of scope and I really think she could be go. The Elite racing club had Soviet Song, hopefully Heartache can be Hot to Trot’s! She’s always been showing up nicely and always had. We saw her as a yearling, and she was always a lovely filly.  She’s bred to be good, and she’s been working well in the spring. Her homework has been very good, and apparently worked very well last week. We are really excited to take her to Royal Ascot now!”

You can read his thoughts on the Queen Mary here.

Golden Salute – Unraced two-year-old filly. Out of decently bred dam, who went close to breaking a maiden in four attempts. A full sister to Commonwealth Cup entry Victory Angel half-sister to listed placed Lordoftheshadows. Trained by Andrew Balding and set for a debut soon.

“She’s an unraced two-year-old with Andrew Balding for Hot To Trot. She’s been showing up nicely, and shouldn’t be too far away from her debut. She’s going well at home, and we’re looking forward to seeing her start soon.

Gorham’s Cave – A beautifully bred unraced three-year-old trained by Roger Varian. Sired by Rock Of Gibratar, and his dam’s a Group Two winner as a two-year-old in France. Siblings include listed winning Indignant.

“He’s an unraced three-year-old with Roger Varian, who has had an issue over the spring. But he has shown plenty of ability beforehand, and he will be interesting when he runs. It’ll be good to see him make his debut for the Kennet Valley team.

Cuban Heel – Unraced two-year-old trained by Clive Cox, and declared for a maiden at Newbury tomorrow. Dam won once as a two-year-old.

“We’re hoping he can make his debut tomorrow at Newbury for Kennet Valley. He’s been going well too, and he’s with Clive Cox whose very good with horses like these. He’s been working well, and doing everything nicely at home. Whatever happens he should improve for the run, but he should still run a nice race. The trainer’s two-year-old’s have been going well too.”

Richard Hannon: My Royal Ascot Runners

Richard Hannon has enjoyed multiple Royal Ascot successes over the years, with the likes of Toronado, Illuminate and Baitha Alga all recent winners for the Wiltshire trainer. Team Hannon look to have their strongest team in recent years to give them Royal glory.


Oh This Is Us (Queen Anne) – Won listed Spring Trophy before finishing third in the Diomed Stakes at Epsom.

Kool Kompany (Queen Anne) – Fourth in the Diomed, but won listed Doncaster Mile earlier in the season.

“They both had traffic problems at Epsom but both ran very well. The plan is to head to Ascot and off a strong pace they should both be right there. Neil Werrett is coming over from Australia with a load of the guys and this is a very exciting time for them.”

De Bruyne Horse (Coventry Stakes) – Followed up a maiden win by battling out success in Epsom’s Woodcote Stakes on Derby Day.

“He is a progressive sort and won well at Epsom in spite of the track. He has come out of the Woodcote in great form and continues to take everything in his stride. He is a horse that is still learning his trade and should improve again next time.”

Denaar (Coventry Stakes) – Won a Chelmsford maiden, before adding further success in a competitive conditions race at Newbury.

“He showed he was very tough at Newbury and that run will have brought him on a lot mentally. I would expect him to improve and run a big race.”

Barney Roy (St James’ Palace Stakes) – Winner of the Greenham Stakes before finishing second to Churchill in the 2000 Guineas. He was short of room that day, and hopes to turn the form.

“Barney Roy has come out really well from that run and with a stronger pace he would have finished much closer. The mile at Ascot is right up his street and I can see him putting it up to Churchill in a big way.”

Richard Hannon didn’t saddle a winner at Royal Ascot last year


Out Of The Flames (Queen Mary) – After a good maiden effort, she won her maiden at Windsor without being asked too much.

“This filly came on markedly, improving plenty from her debut at Ascot. She has plenty of pace and has been working very well since her last start. She should be right there at the finish.”

George William (Royal Hunt Cup) – Won a Nottingham handicap before running well in Newbury’s Spring Cup. Short of room when close second in the Victoria Cup, raised 3lb but looks progressive.

“He has strengthened up nicely this year and has been in great form. He was unlucky not to finish closer in the Victoria Cup last time and back at a track he likes over a mile he should run a big race.”


Son Of The Stars (Britannia Stakes) – Won two races over a mile, before finishing a close second at Newmarket last time out.

The Grape Escape (Britannia Stakes) – Won on debut, but well beaten in a Group Three as a two-year-old. Gone close in two handicaps over a mile this season.

“They are unexposed colts who should be very strong on the line. They have been working well and I am very happy with the hand I have to play.”

Photo 2014-10-18 15.07.17
Natural is regarded very highly by Richard Hannon


Natural (Albany Stakes) – A visually very impressive winner at Doncaster in June, didn’t need much to defeat the field and looks very promising.

“She is a filly with plenty of speed and the six furlongs should suit her well. She won impressively on debut and I think she is a filly with a lot of ability. She should run a very big race.”

Tajaanus (Albany) – Well bred filly who tip-toed through traffic to fly home and enjoy a narrow win at Newmarket on only start.

“She has come on plenty for that run and will be much better back on top of the ground. She did everything wrong at HQ and still managed to win.”


Elysium Dream (Chesham) – Finished fourth at Lingfield on debut, before winning next time out at Windsor in a photo finish over 6f. Expected to do better over a longer trip.

“She did well to win last time at Windsor having just gotten her head in front on the line. The further she goes the better she goes and I think she would have a real chance over the stiff seven furlongs.”

Tupi (Diamond Jubilee or Wokingham) – Impressive four length winner of Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster, before midfield in Duke Of York, rated 109.

“He could either head for the Wokingham or to the Golden Jubilee. I will decide closer to the time but he is in some form and I would expect him to run well wherever we run.”


Hugo Palmer – My Five To Follow

Hugo Palmer has become one of Newmarket’s leading trainers, despite only gaining his licence in 2011. He’s most famous for classic winning Covert Love and the brilliant Galileo Gold. Whilst the likes of Home Of The Brave, Hawksmoor and Gifted Master have all given Palmer a brilliant introduction to training.

Gifted Master – Six time winning four-year-old, won the G3 Autumn Stakes as a two-year-old, G3 Pavillon Stakes as a three-year-old. Ran well in multiple pattern events, but was last seen finishing well-behind in the Godolphin Mile at Meydan.

“He’s about to come back into training this week, having had a good spell in Dubai. I thought he showed great speed over there in first time blinkers. I think we’ll leave them on him and probably start running him back to six furlongs with him. We might have him ready for something like the Hackwood at Newbury. He’s a high class performer to follow.”

Crimean Tatar – Lightly raced four-year-old who won both starts last season. He finished third in a 1m4f Group Three at Newbury, before seventh in the Yorkshire Cup. Expected to progress over longer trips.

“We definitely didn’t see the best of him in the Yorkshire cup, and there’s more to come from him. Back on better ground, he could be a really exciting stayer to follow. I’m not sure whether we would go to the Gold Cup with him, as we’ve got To Be Wild in there. But he wouldn’t want faster ground than good. The Gold Cup is still an option for Crimean Tatar. There’s not many options, but then we would like to go and run in those big cup races throughout the season.”

Best Of Days – Raced three times winning twice, a maiden at Sandown and the Group Two Royal Lodge at Newmarket. Only other start was second in the Acomb at York. Yet to start this year.

“He’s the one I’m most looking forward to running again. He won the Royal Lodge last year, and we just ran out of time to get him ready for the Derby because he had a bit of a setback in the spring. We are well on target to have him ready for the King Edward VII (Ascot Derby) at Royal Ascot, and that’s where he will start his season. He’s got a whole load of smart entries, whether that’s the Irish Derby, Great Voltigeur or St Leger we are really excited by him.

Fibonacci – Three race maiden rated 85. Finished fifth at Newbury, third at Chelmsford before losing out by a neck at Yarmouth. Declared for Queens Vase and King Edward VII at Royal Ascot.

“I think he’s a good horse to follow this season, he hasn’t won his maiden yet but he’s rated 85 and he’s a very big horse and beautifully bred. I think he could be an exciting stayer both this year and in particular next year. He looks a very exciting horse.

Arbalet – An unraced two-year-old out of Moyglare winner Miss Beatrix. Half-brother to multiple French winner Jelly.

“He’s a Dark Angel colt that I think will run fairly soon. He’s a son of Miss Beatrix, who won the Moyglare. He’s ticking a lot of boxes at the moment, and he should run in about two or three weeks’ time. We are looking forward to getting him to the racecourse.”

Andrew Balding – ‘My Five To Follow’

Andrew Balding is one of the leading flat trainers in the UK. The likes of Phoenix Reach, Casual Look and Elm Park has propelled him into a top trainer and he looks to further establish his CV with plenty of big race candidates this season.

Duretto – Won a 1m4f Group Three prize at Newbury in October, and was less than a length off when third in a competitively run Ormonde Stakes at Chester.

“He finished a good third in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester last time out carrying a 3lb penalty. He’s a high-class horse, due to go to Ascot for the Hardwicke Stakes for his next target. I’m hoping he can run well there, and progress into a Melbourne Cup prospect later in the year. He’s very high-class, and probably reaching the peak of his ability now. I’m hoping to have a very good season with him.”

Brorocco – Won a decent handicap at Epsom on his penultimate start before finishing second at Chester. The four-year-old is rated 90, and targeting middle-distance handicaps.

“He won the City & Surburban stakes at Epsom, and then was second at Chester last week to the very progressive horse of Sir Michael Stoute’s. He’s a Shirocco, and he’s just developed very well physically, like most of his sires prodigy do with age. I’m actually hoping he could go on and be more than a handicapper, but he’s still only rated 90 so I think we may go to Epsom for the handicap on Oaks day. Then further ahead maybe the John Smith Cup horse at York later in the summer.

Dancing Star – Won the Steward’s Cup at Goodwood last year, and finished second in a listed contest at Windsor earlier this week.

“She was the Steward’s Cup winner last year, and has been very progressive for us. She just found the five furlongs in the Palace House a little too sharp, but she ran on well with credit. She got better with each run last year, and I’m very much hoping that she could develop into one of our leading sprinters this year. It certainly wasn’t a bad run at Newbury considering the circumstances. She’s got a couple of listed options, and then the main aim would be then the July Cup. She’d need to run well in her next start to justify that.

Count Octave – A Wolverhampton maiden winner, before finishing fifth in the Chester Vase last month

“He stayed on to finish fifth in the Chester Vase, and we were really pleased with that. He was a little bit uncomfortable on the track until the closing stages. He stayed on really well, I’d like to think he could progress to be a St Leger candidate. He’ll probably go to the Queens Vase at Royal Ascot next.

Horseplay – An impressive winner of the Pretty Polly stakes at Newmarket after a 13 length maiden success.

“She won the Pretty Polly and we were delighted by that. That’s served well as an Oaks trial in recent years. She’ll go to the Oaks next, and we’d be very hopeful she can run well there. We’re looking forward to running her there.”

Kevin Ryan: My Five To Follow

Kevin Ryan is one of the leading flat trainers in Yorkshire. The Hambleton-based trainer has enjoyed plenty of success in big sprints including Temple Stakes, Middle Park, Prix de l’Abbaye and more, whilst also landing the Wokingham and Ayr Gold Cup in recent years. He’s also enjoyed French Derby success with The Grey Gatsby, and is preparing for another big season ahead.

Brando – Dual Group winner who won the Ayr Gold Cup off top weight last season. Third in the Group One Champion Sprint, and the five-year-old won the Group Three Abernant on his first start of the season.

“He improved throughout last year, he’s got a couple of group threes on his resume. I thought he was really impressive when winning at Newmarket at the start of this year. He’s goes in the Duke Of York, which we think he has a leading chance in especially with the rain that’s come. I think he should be a big player for all of the top sprints this season. Hopefully he can go well today.”

Syphax – Godolphin three-year-old who won both starts last season, including the Group Three Acomb at York. He beat Best Of Days, who went on to win the Royal Lodge on his next start. He was last seen finishing second in a 1m conditions race at Newcastle.

“He’s one going to the Dante and he ran well in a mile conditions race at Newcastle the last time out, but the trip was just a little too sharp for him. He’s still work in progress for us but William Buick was very complimentary about him. He felt the step up in trip would suit, so our plans is the Dante first and possibly progress into a Derby or French Derby type of horse.”

Laughton – Four-year-old rated 82. Ran two times this season finishing seventh at Redcar and fourth at Doncaster in 5f handicaps. Has won three times all at 5f.

“He reminds me a bit of Brando was last year, they have a similar profile. He looks like there’s a lot of him, and he hasn’t quite produced his best in the last couple of runs but has travelled extremely well. We feel there is plenty more to come from him, he could definitely be a sprinter to follow. We hope he can be a ‘big Saturday’ runner, just like Brando was for us last season. He’s certainly one to keep an eye on.”

Vj Day – Unraced two-year-old. Out of two time American Grade One winner Sassy Image, and sired by War Front.

“He’s a nice looking two-year-old and he should run at York sometime soon. He’s by War Front and he’s come to hand pretty early, but he’s got plenty of scope and should continue progressing throughout the year. He’s very nice at home for us, hopefully he can do himself justice and rise to the occasion on his debut. He should progress nicely throughout the year.”

Weekend Offender – Four-year-old whose won two mile handicaps and a seven furlong maiden last season. He was last seen finishing third at Nottingham, and is rated 89.

“He was a good horse last year and progressed as a three-year-old. He’s going off on a mark of 89. He ran really well at Nottingham but just didn’t get a gap when needed. I think he would’ve gone quite close to winning that day. The form of that race has worked out quite well now too, with the winner (ITN entry George William) finishing in second in the Victoria Cup. I think he’s one that will definitely progress. He’s probably best over 1m2f, and he just didn’t quite get into the race at York today. He’s a nice horse, and one to improve with time too.”