Twelve to follow

My summer Twelve to Follow

Usually in May I am still casting an enviously nostalgic eye backwards to Aintree and Cheltenham, reluctant yet to pack away my stouter shoes and rainproof Barbour. This year it is different: I have rarely looked forward more to the Flat. It all began with two glorious races for the Guineas. Rock-star wrinklies make farewell tours an annual event, but this really is to be Frankie Dettori’s last year in the saddle and in this year’s 2000 his victory on Chaldean was a perfect reminder of his skills. Andrew Balding, scoring his second training success in the race in four years with the first horse sent to him by Juddmonte,

How modesty triumphed in the Derby

In the absence on her Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty, such an avid Derby attender in the past, and following the death just days before of the legendary Lester Piggott, it could have been a low-key, insignificant Derby. Instead, a truly impressive victory for the favourite, Desert Crown, turned it into a different kind of celebration. He had never really been away, but how the crowd welcomed the comeback when Desert Crown won Sir Michael Stoute his sixth Derby, becoming at 76 the oldest to perform the feat. The previous holder of the record was the 75-year-old Matt Dawson with Sir Visto in 1895, but in those days there were

The art of picking winners

‘Some of our players can hardly write their names,’ moaned one leading football manager. ‘But you should see them add up.’ With soaring energy prices and grocery bills going up, up and up, we are all getting better at maths. My monthly energy bill has just risen by more than I paid for my first car so I need to find a Twelve to Follow this summer that will have the bookmakers making a contribution to the difference. After his domination of the early Flat scene, the most logical option would be to slip on a blindfold, poise a pin over the list of Charlie Appleby’s Godolphin stable inmates and

My Twelve to Follow on the Flat

Combing through race recordings to try to find some fun horses for Spectator readers this summer, I have been struck by how often even the best riders find themselves stuck in equine traffic with plenty of horsepower underneath them but nowhere to go. Gaps open in a flash and then close again, forcing riders to snatch up and probe, often too late, for another opening. It is never, though, as simple as it looks from the stands. One former top jockey was berated by a trainer on his return to the unsaddling enclosure: ‘Why didn’t you go for that gap between the leaders two furlongs out?’ ‘Because, Guv’nor, the gap

Our Twelve to Follow have generated a record-breaking profit

First the company report. Readers who invested a tenner on the nose each time our Twelve to Follow for the Flat turned out have made a wallet-warming profit of £638. Only the management consultants on whom a panicky government has showered gold-plated contracts with no questions asked have done better than that in these Covid times. The dozen contested 39 races and seven won, four of them more than once. The standout was James Fanshawe’s filly Audarya. After a 12-1 Newcastle success she was sent to France for the Group One Prix Jean Romanet. Ridden by Ionitz Mendizabal, she won by a neck with British bookmakers paying 33-1. On-course investors

Aidan O’Brien’s Derby victory was an act of grand larceny

It wasn’t so much a Derby victory this year as an act of grand larceny. Aidan O’Brien isn’t just a master racehorse trainer. He is a master of psychology too. On Serpentine, a son of his first Derby winner Galileo, he put up a capable but little-known jockey who hadn’t had a winner for 260 days assuring him that his mount would last two furlongs more than the Derby distance. Emmet McNamara duly pushed Serpentine into a massive lead and the other jockeys assumed they would blow up well before the finish, just as two front runners had done earlier in the Oaks. By the time the others realised that