King Power Racing, Heeraat and Duke of Roxburghe all set for a stellar 2018
Zoe Vicarage on key figures who could shape this season
With the Lincoln and Irish Lincolnshire in the rear view mirror, the Flat season is now firmly upon us, meaning the grand plans made by some of the industry's leading players will soon be unfolding, for better or for worse.
There are countless breeders, owners and trainers who have spent the recent cold months dreaming of what could happen as the temperature begins to rise and here are nine names for whom 2018 could be very special indeed.
VICHAI SRIVADDHANAPRABHA - KING POWER RACING
Owner of Beat The Bank
Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was one of the key players to make an impact during 2017 when purchasing six lots at the Goffs London Sale for a whopping £2,050,000. The prestigious auction on the eve of Royal Ascot was not the only sale at which the Thai businessman spent big, as he also took home the Exceed And Excel half-sister to his own Beat The Bank for 500,000gns at last year's Book 2.
Beat The Bank has already rewarded Srivaddhanaprabha with victory in last season's Joel Stakes but if 2018 is to be memorable for the owner's King Power Racing, it is likely it will be this horse making it so. Despite making no impact in the QEII Stakes on Qipco British Champions Day, he looks more than worthy of his place in Group 1 races and is capable of building on what was an otherwise splendid campaign.
PETER BRANT - WHITE BIRCH FARM
After two decades away from racing, businessman Peter Brant made a splash when returning to the sales ring in 2016, purchasing 19 horses from the Wildenstein dispersal at Goffs for an outlay of €7.5 million.
His spending spree continued throughout 2017 and among his high-profile purchases was Albany Stakes heroine Different League, bought in partnership with MV Magnier for 1,500,000gns at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale. With plenty of classy prospects to go to war with this year, the American businessman could have several glory days throughout the season.
Owner of Laurens
Laurens' gutsy victory over September in the Fillies' Mile at Newmarket during the back end of the 2017 Flat season provided a memorable first Group 1 success for Newcastle-based businessman John Dance, whose white silks with maroon and purple-striped sleeves have become an ever more regular sight on racecourses across the country.
With Laurens, a daughter of Siyouni, having established herself as a leading contender for this year's Classics, it may not be the last time we see the businessman celebrating in style.
Dalham Hall Stud
First 3yos 2018
Lockinge and Champion Stakes hero Farhh was represented by his first crop of juveniles last year and there were a host of exciting prospects who emerged over the course of the season. Among those is the unbeaten Group 3 winner Wells Farhh Go.
With plenty of his first crop to appear this year at three, the son of Pivotal has made an encouraging start to his stud career and with his stock set to be later maturing types, 2018 looks like the year when the progeny of the son of Pivotal can make their mark.
First 2yos 2018
One sire who seemed to have the confidence of 2017's yearling market was Mickley Stud's Heeraat, Dark Angel's Hackwood Stakes winner who retired to the Shropshire operation for the 2015 breeding season. At the Goffs UK Premier Sale, Heeraat had eight lots change hands for an average of £54,250 and by the close of the yearling sales season had 46 sell for an average of 24,528gns and a top price of 150,000gns.
With 71 juveniles to hit the track this year including a colt from the family of Irish 1,000 Guineas runner-up Ardbrae Lady, the influence of his sire Dark Angel is sure to mean that Heeraat will be one to watch in 2018.
Former Ashford Stud resident
The loss of Scat Daddy in December 2015 has been keenly felt in the last couple of years and none more so than in 2017 when four of his progeny - Caravaggio, Con Te Partiro, Lady Aurelia and Sioux Nation - struck at Royal Ascot.
His sprinting son Caravaggio is now destined to shuttle to Coolmore Australia, which will further enhance the son of Johannesburg's legacy. With Mendelssohn, Sioux Nation, Seahenge and his final crop of juveniles sure to throw up more impressive performers, the son of Johannesburg will ensure that while he is gone, he is not forgotten any time soon by the bloodstock industry.
DUKE OF ROXBURGHE
Breeder of Elarqam
It is almost 14 years since Attraction announced herself to the racing world when she landed the 1,000 Guineas for trainer Mark Johnston and her owner-breeder the Duke of Roxburghe. After a career that yielded ten victories including four further wins at the highest level, the daughter of Efisio joined the duke's broodmare band at Floors Stud in Scotland.
The duke has bred leading 2,000 Guineas candidate Elarqam out of his star mare and the Frankel colt - trained by Johnston and owned by Shadwell - has a live chance of emulating his dam when lining up in the contest in May. With his two-year-old Dubawi half-brother, also bought by Shadwell and in training with Johnston, the duke could certainly have a stellar 2018.
Breeder of Different League
Tunisian breeder Lotfi Kohli is a name who will be familiar to jumps aficionados as he has managed to purchase the dams of Cheltenham Festival heroes Labaik and Douvan for a combined price of €7,000.
Having proved himself as a shrewd horsetrader, Kohli could be toasting success on the Flat this year if Different League were to win at the highest level. It was at the Arqana December Sale in 2014 that Kohli picked up the daughter of Danehill Dancer for €6,500 through MAB Agency when she was in foal to Dabirsim. The rest as they say is history and for her new connections, Peter Brant and Coolmore, Group 1 contests are well on her radar.
Breeders of Poet's Word
It was hard not to be blown away by the performance of Cracksman in the Champion Stakes in October but another look at the race revealed that Poet's Word, while no match for the winner on the day, put in an impressive performance of his own nonetheless.
The son of the late Poet's Voice steadily progressed through the ranks last season, graduating from handicap company to land the Group 3 Glorious Stakes at Goodwood. He looks a prime candidate to strike in Group 1 company and would become another top performer for Woodcote Stud - breeders of St Leger hero Kingston Hill.
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