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2023 Flat season preview: Five to follow and Frankie Dettori's fond farewell

As the National Hunt campaign winds down, the Flat season is primed to take centre stage, allowing horse racing expert Andrew of Fiosrach to take a look ahead at what the summer might bring.

The turf Flat season makes its comeback on Saturday April 1, (no, not a joke!) with the Lincoln Handicap taking top billing on its traditional opening day renewal at Doncaster.

The transitional period between the National Hunt and Flat season can always be a tricky time for betting as the new campaign takes shape, so caution is always recommended in those early stages.

However, I do have my eye on a handful of three-year-olds that might be worth popping into a horse tracker, so that you can be notified when they are declared to run, and then take a closer look for yourself.

Auguste Rodin (A P O'Brien)

Already fancied to win the Epsom Derby in June, Auguste Rodin had four outings in his juvenile season, finishing second on debut and then winning impressively at Naas, Leopardstown and Doncaster, the latter two outings over a mile.

That last victory was in heavy going, and he has only run with some cut in the ground to date, so it will be interesting to see how he progresses through the summer.

Dramatised (K R Burke)

Preferring good or quicker ground, Dramatised followed up her debut success at Newmarket last April by winning the Queen Mary Stakes under Danny Tudhope at Royal Ascot in June.

A disappointing fifth place at York in August was followed by a runner-up spot under Ryan Moore at the Breeders' Cup meeting at Keeneland in November, when a brave effort saw her overhauled by Mischief Magic (see below) in the final strides.

Mischief Magic (Charlie Appleby)

Mischief Magic went to post half a dozen times during his juvenile season, winning four times, and showing a preference for good or quicker ground.

He bounced back from his most disappointing run - fourth by four lengths at Newmarket in September - to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Keeneland in November, finishing strongly to overtake Dramatised (see above) in the closing stages.

Noble Style (Charlie Appleby)

Unbeaten in his three outings in 2022, Noble Style got off the mark over the minimum distance at Ascot in May, before extending the trip to win over six furlongs at Newmarket's July meeting.

Relishing the quicker ground that last summer brought, he went on to land the Gimcrack Stakes at York in August, with all three wins coming under different jockeys (James Doyle, David Probert and William Buick).

Meditate (A P O'Brien)

The busiest of our shortlisted three-year-olds, Meditate had seven outings last year on various ground types (except heavy), kicking off with four straight wins that included the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Two runner-up spots at the Curragh and Newmarket in September were soon forgotten when Stateside success saw Ryan Moore guide her to an eye-catching two-and-a-half-length victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in November.

Frankie's farewell tour

This Flat season of course marks the retirement tour of Frankie Dettori and the comeback of previous Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy.

Frankie Dettori has had his troubles in the past, but will no doubt be trying to win as many high profile races as possible. He has already managed to win the Group 1 Dubai Turf on Lord North at Meydan last Saturday with a well-judged ride.
I would expect to see several more flying dismounts before the season ends and we say farewell to the larger-than-life personality who has kept Flat racing on the sports pages for decades.
Oisin Murphy is a great communicator with the media, and although not an entertainer like Frankie Dettori, he may be able to fill the gap that Frankie will inevitably leave behind.
Following his 14-month ban, Murphy is on a recovery mission with the media, trainers and the racing public, but he has unquestioned ability and I have no doubt he will be trying even harder than usual.

Who will win the 2023 Jockeys' Championship?

I sincerely hope that Oisin Murphy has conquered his demons and can go on to be Champion Jockey once more.

The Jockeys' Championship is certainly much more open this year, with Murphy joined by William Buick, Ryan Moore and Tom Marquand as likely high-profile challengers.

Younger jockeys to watch for include Benoit de la Sayette, Harry Davies and Clifford Lee, all of whom are sure to be among the winners as all three are extremely talented.

No matter who takes the best jockey mantle, we will all have our opportunity to say goodbye to Frankie Dettori, who, like so many good things, will only be truly valued when he is no longer around.

Who will win the 2023 Trainers' Championship?

On the training front Charlie Appleby is likely to continue his domination of top-class races and is most likely to win the Trainers' Championship again following his win last season, when he boasted a 31% strike rate overall and accumulated 18 Group race victories.
His Godolphin owners will continue to provide top-class juveniles and I expect him to continue to dominate the two-year-old races.
Two of the newer trainers to keep an eye on are George Boughey and James Tate, with both are likely to produce more winners than previously.
Of the old guard John and Thady Gosden, William Haggas and Andrew Balding are most likely to push Charlie Appleby for the title.

It will be interesting to see how Aidan O'Brien's string performs when appearing in the UK, as he had a disappointing season by his own high standards in 2022.

Interestingly he is well worth following at Chester where in the last five seasons he has enjoyed a 53% win strike rate and over 22 points profit.
Aidan O'Brien is pretty bullish about this season's crop of three-year-olds, especially with Auguste Rodin and thinks he will be Ballydoyle's top colt.

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