Five horses that may light up the racecourse in 2017
As we head into the new year there are plenty of exceptional talents, both on the Flat and over jumps, for racing fans to be excited about. Tony McFadden highlights five horses that could light up the racecourse in 2017
Altior (Nicky Henderson)
Replacing Sprinter Sacre was never going to be an easy task but in Altior Nicky Henderson has a horse capable of being the yard's flagbearer for many years to come. A wide-margin winner of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle last season, Altior would have been a leading fancy for the Champion Hurdle had connections opted to go down that route. However, the imposing Altior has created a formidable impression since going over fences, winning all three starts in style, and it will take a horse of remarkable talent to lower his colours.
Big target in 2017: Racing Post Arkle (best price 6-4)
Caravaggio (Aidan O'Brien)
A tweaked muscle brought Caravaggio's two-year-old campaign to a premature halt but he had already established himself as one of the leading lights of his generation courtesy of four wins from as many starts. Caravaggio's most memorable performance came in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, when he overcame an unfavourable track position to run down a talented rival in the style of a top-notch juvenile. With Aidan O'Brien having 2,000 Guineas favourite Churchill in his stable, expect to see Caravaggio once again blazing the Ascot turf in the Commonwealth Cup
Target: Commonwealth Cup (4-1)
Coronet (John Gosden)
Coronet may have been a narrow winner on both starts but she has looked a filly of some potential and showcased a sharp turn of foot to come from an unpromising position to win the Listed Zetland Stakes at Newmarket. John Gosden's unbeaten filly has plenty more to offer and is an exciting middle-distance prospect.
Target: Oaks (16-1)
Defi Du Seuil (Philip Hobbs)
JP McManus has an embarrassment of riches in the juvenile hurdle division but the jewel in the crown could well be Defi Du Seuil, who has won all four starts since joining Philip Hobbs, and hasn't yet had to reveal the full extent of his ability. Barely allowed off the bridle when twice winning at Cheltenham, Defi Du Seuil was finally asked a question in a Grade 2 at Chepstow and the response was impressive. A few sloppy leaps late on didn't stop him motoring 12 lengths clear and he is a leading contender for the Triumph Hurdle.
Target: Triumph Hurdle (6-1)
Native River (Colin Tizzard)
Few people would argue that Native River is as talented as his illustrious stablemate Thistlecrack, but he is a high-class, progressive, tough staying chaser whose way of running should ensure fireworks in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Native River may well come up short but his accurate jumping and powerful, remorseless front-running style will ensure that Thistlecrack faces a stern examination of his credentials. Just seven on New Year's Day, Native River should be a permanent fixture in the staying chase scene for many years to come.
Target: Cheltenham Gold Cup (8-1)