There’s something spectacular about seeing a strung-out line of Thoroughbreds hurtling down the final furlong. The thunder of hooves, the sun glinting on sweat-sheened hides, the hollering of the crowds… It’s the most exhilarating cocktail of sights and sounds and smells.
To us, flat racing is the ultimate marriage of man and beast. Pairing elite equine athletes with men and women at the top of their game, it pits the best against the best – but the result is never predictable.
Some horses, however, have that special quality from the start. The one that makes them stand out in a field full of brilliance. The one that powers them toward the finish line even as the rest of the runners fall away. Those are the horses that earn a place in racing’s hall of fame, and each year, there are new names to join their ranks.
Here are the ones to watch out for in 2021.
In the world of horse racing betting, the outcome is always unpredictable. Even the favorite can fall at the final hurdle, turning what seemed like a sure-fire victory into a crushing defeat. Take St Mark’s Basilica, who’s currently the 7/1 favorite to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. When the race begins, the truth is that anyone could take the crown.
From injury to unfavorable weather conditions, news pages are filled with the latest twists and turns, but one filly who seems like a good bet for 2021 is rising star Santa Barbara. This three-year-old doesn’t have many races behind her, but she does have delectable breeding. By Camelot out of Senta’s Dream, she has some impressive half-siblings making their mark on the race track, including bay colt Order of Australia.
Out of four runs so far, Santa Barbara has had both a win and a second. The former was in a maiden at Curragh, where she put in a notably decent performance. While she hasn’t quite managed to replicate this so far in her three-year-old year, we feel she has more in the tank and waiting to be unleashed.
Alcohol Free is another filly to look out for. Winner of the Cheveley Park Stakes in September 2020, it was clear she was a quality horse from her first outing. By No Nay Never out of Plying, this is a runner that was bred for speed. Her dam proved herself a winner up to seven furloughs, and her sire has also put in some incredibly quick runs.
Owned by Jeff Smith, who campaigned both Lochsong and Lochangel, she’s certainly in experienced hands and seems like a genuine contender for the 1,000 Guineas. She’s run six times to date, with four wins and a second to her name. With earnings of over £412,000 already, we’re looking forward to seeing how she does for the remainder of her three-year-old season.
We’ll also be keeping an eye on Secret Protector. Sold for $800,000, this Godolphin-owned colt has had obvious potential from the get-go. He’s not only a good-looking horse with some solid results under his belt, but seems like the sort who’ll improve further as he matures.
To date, Secret Protector has run four times, with a win and two seconds to his name. This has earned his connections a little over £45,000, but we expect to see that number increase as the season goes on.
Certainly, Secret Protector has lots of nice breeding behind him, being by War Front out of Eternal Bounty, a mare by Galileo. With a full sister who has also impressed on track, we reckon his talent may lie in middle distance contests more than anywhere else. Fancy a flutter this flat season? Which one of these horses will your money be on?