Everyone loves insight from the best in the business, so where better to get it from than three-time champion flat jockey, Oisin Murphy. When I spoke to him, he gave the names of five horses he was looking forward to riding and thought would do well during the coming flat season.
The flat season begins at Doncaster on April 1st and it'll be Oisin's competitive return to flat racing. Having been back in the saddle for just over a month, riding on the all-weather, Oisin is hopeful he can prove himself and win his place back aboard some top horses.
Whilst I’m sure he won’t be short of opportunities throughout the year, here are the five names he pinpointed for the 2023 flat season:
Oisin says: “Berkshire Shadow was very good at two; he won the Coventry but lost his way last season. He's had a break and I think he can start at a realistic level and build this year. I saw him recently and he looks fantastic. He's put on a lot of condition and it's the first break he's had since he was broken in as a baby, so it will have done him the world of good."
How it's going: Berkshire Shadow returned from a 212-day break at Wolverhampton earlier this month, winning the Listed Lady Wulfruna Stakes under Oisin by 1.25L. It was an impressive return to the track and hopefully he will kick on again this season.
Oisin says: "He's an absolute beauty and one I've ridden a lot at home. He got lost the first time out, but I like him. He won nicely at Kempton next time out and his work is very smart. He's a son of Cracksman, so he's one to look out for when the flat season gets underway."
How it's going: Lieber Power returned to the track in a Class 2 Conditions Stakes at Kempton just a few weeks ago. Ridden by Oisin, he finished a disappointing 6th of 7, after getting caught for pace and looking in need of the run. He still holds an entry in the Epsom Derby, so evidently is held in high regard and more is expected of him as the season progresses.
Oisin says: "He's another who had maybe lost his way a little, but I have a high opinion of this fellow. He was too keen on his last outing in a Group-1 at Doncaster, doing way too much in the first half of the race before falling in a hole late and fell out the back of the television. I would forgive him and I think he can start at a realistic level again this year as well."
How it's going: Stormbuster hasn't been handed any entries this year as yet, but he looked impressive until his blowout at Doncaster and, provided he has trained on, could be a useful miler for Andrew Balding.
Oisin says: “He hasn’t run since finishing down the field in the French Guineas and he’s since been gelded. He’s a lovely horse, he’s training well, and I hope he will be back to winning ways soon.”
How it’s going: Another of the Andrew Balding contingent, Imperial Fighter had some good form at 3, performing well at Group level before racing too freely in the French Guineas. Should the gelding operation have done the trick, it looks as though he could be a very capable middle-distance horse this season, although he doesn’t hold any fancy entries yet.
Oisin says: “Caravel is one sprinter who I hope will go to Saudi for me to ride. She's in excellent form and she'd be one I really would be looking forward to riding.”
How it's going: Despite not going to the Saudi Cup meeting as first thought, Oisin is still keen on this sprinter as one to watch for the coming season.
Whilst nothing is guaranteed in racing, there are few better people to get insight from. It will be interesting to follow the horses throughout the season and see how they get on.