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Dark horses for 2020 - the handicappers nominate those who are under the radar

Wed 22 Jan 2020

Last year’s dark horses failed to yield much success for the British Horseracing Authority’s lead two-year-old handicapper Graeme Smith and his Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board counterpart Mark Bird.

However, Cracksman, Harry Angel and Without Parole have featured on their lists in recent years – and they have again narrowed down 2019’s juvenile crop to pick out five names to follow this year.

Alpine Star (Jessica Harrington)

“A half-sister, by the exciting stallion Sea The Moon, to the brilliant Alpha Centauri, she was forced to miss her intended autumn targets after pulling a muscle, but she should be capable of making up for lost time next year.” (MB)

Brentford Hope (Richard Hughes)

“Potentially the best horse Richard Hughes has handled when hacking all over the opposition in a one-mile-two-furlong maiden at Newmarket, speeding away to win by five lengths. By Camelot and bred to stay a mile and a half, his potent turn of foot should mean he takes high order.” (GS)

Even So (Ger Lyons)

“A late April foal, by Camelot, out of a half-sister to Derby winner Dr Devious, she has the potential to compete at a higher level as a three-year-old and is very much one to look forward to over middle distances.” (MB)

Via De Vega (Andrew Balding)

“A son of Lope De Vega, it was a really, really great impression he created when he won at Sandown on his first run in September. He was six lengths off some quickening leaders two furlongs out, and they were above average horses as well. How he made up that ground, I will never know. It was a flabbergasting debut. Admittedly he went to Group One company next time for the Criterium de Saint-Cloud, up in trip to a mile and a quarter and in very testing conditions. If I’m right about him and the strengths he showed at Sandown, they wouldn’t play to his strengths and he didn’t really fire that day. Perhaps bring him back to a mile, see how he gets on in something like a Guineas trial and take it from there, but I’m convinced he’s smarter than the form book tells us so far.” (GS)

Waldkonig (John Gosden)

“He overcame greenness in some style when winning a fairly ordinary novice at Wolverhampton in December, recording strong sectionals in the straight and winning by nine lengths. He’s a half-brother to 2019 Arc winner Waldgeist and looks exciting.” (GS)

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