Cheltenham contenders and Derby dreams: 10 to follow in 2022

With the new year under way, the thoughts of horse racing fans will soon be turning to the next Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner, Gold Cup victor or Epsom Derby hopeful.

We have taken a look at some of the horses that are set to be of interest as we head into 2022…

American Mike (Gordon Elliott)

A point-to-point victory at Cork by 20 lengths and a £195,000 price tag indicated that American Mike could be something special and it is looking more likely with each run.

His rules debut was a dominant seven-length success at Down Royal under Jamie Codd, with the same rider guiding the four-year-old to a 17-length demolition in a Listed bumper at Navan.

Rightly at the head of the Champion Bumper market, Gordon Elliott looks to be sending him straight to Cheltenham, where he would have every chance before going over obstacles in the back end of 2022.

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Bravemansgame (Paul Nicholls)

Paul Nicholls looks to have another star chaser on his hands, with comparisons already being made to Gold Cup winner Denman.

If he has half the career that legend had, the Nicholls team would almost certainly take it, and he is on the right path.

Two convincing chase victories were followed with a Grade One rout of Ahoy Senor at Kempton on Boxing Day, with options at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown now all available to the Ditcheat handler.

Image: Bravemansgame jumps the last at Kempton clear of Ahoy Senor

Coroebus (Charlie Appleby)

The first of two Charlie Appleby horses to feature on this list, Coroebus looks highly progressive and one to watch for next year’s Classics on the Flat.

After winning on debut, he was run down late by Royal Patronage in the Royal Lodge Stakes in remarkable fashion but got back on track in the Autumn Stakes last time out.

All his runs were over a mile so he could look to step up in trip, with the 2000 Guineas a potential starting point before a possible a tilt at the Epsom Derby.

Image: William Buick riding Coroebus (blue) to win the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket

Inspiral (John and Thady Gosden)

Frankel filly Inspiral remains unbeaten through four starts for the Gosden team and Cheveley Park Stud, who can now boast a string of stars on both the Flat and over obstacles.

The pick of the three-year-olds is Inspiral, who moved nicely through the ranks and rounded off her two-year-old campaign with an impressive win in the Fillies’ Mile.

Assuming normal progress is resumed in the off-season, she looks sure to be favourite for the 1000 Guineas and possibly the Epsom Oaks, if they choose to step her up in trip.

Image: Frankie Dettori and Inspiral stretch clear to win the May Hill Stakes at Doncaster

Jonbon (Nicky Henderson)

Has Jonbon finally ditched the tag of Douvan’s brother? A Cheltenham Festival win in March would surely do the job, but he can’t be far away after a pair of foot perfect hurdling runs at Newbury and Ascot.

The latter was particularly impressive off a slow pace, quickening away in fine fashion to cement his position at the top of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle market.

Stablemate Constitution Hill could be a live threat alongside Sir Gerhard from the Willie Mullins yard, but they will all have to come up to the lofty standard set by Jonbon.

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Trainer Nicky Henderson has described Jonbon as an ‘extraordinary professional’ after landing the Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot.

Journey With Me (Henry de Bromhead)

This unbeaten five-year-old looked to have snuck under the radar when going off second-favourite behind Grade One bumper winner Kilcruit, but proved much the best as he outstayed his rival and came clear in the closing stages over the festive period.

That victory, albeit in only a maiden hurdle, sent him straight to the top of the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle market at the Cheltenham Festival.

He looks to be following the same route as last year’s Ballymore winner Bob Olinger for the same owner-trainer combination and will definitely be worth looking at if he shows up at the Dublin Racing Festival and again at Cheltenham.

Image: Journey With Me and Rachael Blackmore (right) winning for trainer Henry de Bromhead from Minella Crooner and Kilcruit

Klassical Dream (Willie Mullins)

It would probably be little harsh to describe Klassical Dream as an enigma, but he certainly has his own way of doing things, and so far, it is proving profitable.

Fresh from Punchestown Stayers’ Hurdle victory in April, he returned with an all-the-way win at Leopardstown ahead of Stayers’ Hurdle winner Flooring Porter, sending him to the top of that market.

Trainer Willie Mullins felt the horse had some improvement to come, which would be a worrying note for his rivals later this season.

Image: Klassical Dream and jockey Paul Townend celebrate victory at Leopardstown

Life Is Good (Todd Pletcher)

A neck defeat to Jackie’s Warrior is the sole blemish on the formbook of Life Is Good, who currently sits at the head of the Dubai World Cup market after a bloodless success in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

He is also joint-favourite for the Pegasus World Cup alongside Knicks Go, so the three-year-old will have plenty of options for trainer Todd Pletcher, who could be set for another big season.

Luxembourg (Aidan O’Brien)

Another unbeaten two-year-old, Luxembourg shot towards the top of all the Classic markets with a Group One victory at Doncaster in the Vertem Futurity Trophy back in October.

From what we’ve seen so far, he looks a real Derby prospect for the Ballydoyle team, especially if he shows the winter improvement that so many of the Aidan O’Brien battalion show from two to three.

He’s certainly one to note in any early Derby trials in April or May.

Image: Luxembourg and Ryan Moore on their way to victory in the Vertem Futurity at Doncaster

Native Trail (Charlie Appleby)

The Champion two-year-old Colt of the Year, Native Trail was the icing on the cake for the Charlie Appleby team who enjoyed a quite simply stunning 2021.

A standout defeat of Aidan O’Brien’s Point Lonsdale in his own backyard highlighted the ability of Native Trail, who subsequently took out the Dewhurst Stakes to round off a flawless 2021 campaign.

If he can remain at that level and perhaps find further improvement, Appleby must surely hold the key to the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in the spring.

Source : Sky Sports