With a smorgasbord of racing, a feature or special event occurring weekly, 2023 is promising to be the best year of racing this century.
With no real racing “off-season”, and a menagerie of talented horses’ emerging, join our experts as they preview the Top 5 runners that will have punters’ hearts racing.
Giga Kick won the world’s richest sprint race, The Everest, at just his fifth race start. He stormed over the top of an elite field, including the world’s highest-rated sprinter Nature Strip. He was game in defeat in The Champions Sprint at Flemington, and with a better jump and run in transit, he probably features in the finish.
The options for Giga Kick moving forward are endless. A maiden Group 1 victory is just around the corner, and I expect him to be crowned the Champion sprinter by the end of the calendar year.
For the autumn, he is near the top of the all-in markets for The Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning and The Group 1 Newmarket Handicap. He will be tough to beat in both events if he handles the Flemington straight. A time-honoured T J Smith could be on the radar. If his autumn campaign goes beyond March, something punters and racing fans would love to see.
Spring targets will include another tilt at The Everest, and I am sure he will pick up several Group events along the way. The future looks bright for the gelding by Scissor Kick, who has put his young trainer Clayton Douglas in the headlines.
The talented Choisir filly has the world at her feet. The Group 1 Coolmore Stakes winner was arguably the best winner on VRC Debry Day. Despite bombing the start, she weaved a passage to record an incredible yet comfortable victory. This capped off a brilliant campaign that included a win in The Run To The Rose and a narrow defeat in The Golden Rose.
What does 2023 have in store for In Secret? Like Giga Kick, In Secret is prominent in all significant autumn sprinting markets. A winter preparation could include a tilt at The Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap before a spring campaign, including The Group 1 Galaxy and The Group 1 Champions Sprint.
Being a filly, she has a plethora of options with filly and mares grade Group races. She has 2023 at her mercy!
White Marlin stamped himself as a serious horse on Melbourne Cup day last year. Ridden by Tim Clark, the import scored his most significant win to date, demolishing his rivals in a $150,000 Benchmark 96. He remains undefeated in Australia, and he has rocketed into calculations for all the major autumn and spring staying events after his impressive Cup day victory.
I am unsure what the autumn campaign will involve; however, I expect his spring preparation to be based around the first Tuesday in November. He has a high cruising speed and the ability to produce blistering sectionals, and he is tough enough to do the hard work at both ends.
Before aiming at Group 1 glory, he can go through his grades and string win after win together. With a rating of 90, he has plenty of options while climbing the ladder to the top.
He is the real deal.
Surely Chris Waller is sick of having horses with freakish ability? Soulcombe, an import from the United Kingdom, put his name in lights on Champions day, taking out The Group 3 Queen’s Cup at Flemington.
The Frankel gelding had above-average ability and no right to win at his Australian Debut. He was caught wide in transit and was blocked for a run at a crucial stage, but he still had the desire and will to win. On course, Craig Williams and the healthy crowd realised they witnessed a future Group 1 winner and a potential superstar.
Sometimes less is more, and coming off previous European campaigns. Hopefully, he can race sparingly or bypass the autumn and follow a traditional spring path towards the two cups and a plate. With his rating still relatively low (103), he can resume in handicap or weight for age events and be well placed.
With the Cox Plate moving towards the end of November, Soulcombe’s owners are spoiled for choice and are in for a hell of a ride. He has the potential, and the ability, to take out some serious races in 2023.
After a career-defining preparation for the most winningest Group 1 horse produced by Godolphin, it’s hard to believe there is room for improvement. Guess what? There is! He never handled the Melbourne way of going last preparation, and he had a three-week setback during the campaign due to lameness.
I expect him to springboard into another stratosphere and remain undefeated where ever he goes in 2023. Godolphin has the ability and luxury of choosing the suitable races for ‘The Big A’, and there is no advantage of going to the well too many times or choosing unrealistic options. The goal will be to defend his weight for the age championships of Australasian (Cox Plate), and anything before or after will be a bonus and strategic.
Racing has never looked so good!