A big 12 months beckon in racing and for these 12 parties, 2024 could be defining. Our top team Marcus Townend and Dominic King give you the inside track on who you should be following.
Every year is big for the BHA’s chief executive. But with such hope invested in the new Premier Racing plan, pressure will pile up if there is no positive feedback on key indicators of the sport’s health.
Patience has been urged but it is a rationed commodity during tough times.
It will need steely leadership to keep everyone pulling in the same direction. (MT)
Jockey James Doyle has taken a big leap to become first rider for Wathnan Racing
Doyle boasts an excellent c.v. and is here pictured celebrating after winning the Club Godolphin Cesarewich Handicap with The Shunter in October
Walking away from the No 2 role at Godolphin was no easy decision but Doyle has taken a big leap to become first rider for Wathnan Racing, the venture of the Emir of Qatar.
Doyle will be expected to make a difference in the biggest races and his c.v. suggests he will do so. (DK)
He has been training for just three years, so it is all the more impressive that he has had winners at Royal Ascot in the last two seasons.
Eustace has outgrown the Newmarket stable he took over from father, James, and he is now leasing Highfield Stables — a prime spot to elevate his career. (MT)
It was a joy to see him with a smile of utter contentment at the Breeders’ Cup meeting after a fairytale win with Big Evs.
This man knows how to train horses at all levels and he has such confidence in Big Evs that more big days should be forthcoming. (DK)
Mick Appleby is another one-to-watch this year after his horse Big Evs claimed a fairytale win
Appleby has big confidence in the horse, who was victorious at the Breeder’s Cup in November
No one has trained more jumps winners this season than O’Brien’s 78.
He now has a generous sprinkling of quality in his Gloucestershire stables and the aim is to land a first success at the Cheltenham Festival.
He will saddle two live chances — Crambo, a contender for the Stayers’ Hurdle and Dysart Enos, who could take some stopping in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle. (MT)
All eyes will be on Aintree in April when the Grand National is staged.
Varma, the clerk of the course, and her team at the Jockey Club have overseen significant changes to the race, cutting the field size from 40 to 34 and making moderations to obstacles.
These moves were met with criticism but Varma was adamant they had to be made. (DK)
Underestimate him at your peril. He cut his teeth in the point-to-point world and was also Britain’s champion trainer of Arabian racehorses five times.
Now he is making waves (26 winners from 116 runners so far) and has the Triumph Hurdle favourite, Burdett Road, in his Newmarket yard. (MT)
Richard Hannon’s horse Rosallion is another to watch this year and could take him back to the top table
Jumping will also return to the Windsor Racecourse for the first time since 2005
For a man with such talent, it was remarkable Rosallion’s win in the Prix Jean Luc Lagardere on Arc day last October was only his third Group One triumph this decade.
His stable is formidable but he has been desperate to get a horse to take him back to the top table: Rosallion is that one. (DK)
Plenty mourned the end of jump racing at the track in 1998 and the brief return in 2004 and 2005 while the new Ascot grandstand was being built served only as a reminder of what was missed.
But jumping returns — hopefully for good — in December (MT)
She is 21 and been a pro for 12 months but there is nothing she does not know about racing.
Her father, Jamie, has been a guiding light and she has the ability to follow in the footsteps of Hayley Turner and Hollie Doyle.
When she returns from a knee injury, opportunities should abound. (DK)
Talented jockey Saffie Osborne, 21, is set to return from a knee injury for the upcoming season
Osborne (centre) has been pro for 12 months and could follow in the footsteps of Hayley Turner and Hollie Doyle
With a general election in the next few months likely to lead to a Labour government, racing may no longer be able to rely on its Tory allies to bat for it.
Portfolios change but the current Shadow Minister for Sport, Gambling and Media is the Barnsley East MP.
Her constituency borders Doncaster, home of the St Leger meeting which she was at in September. Some major decisions could soon be in her hands. (MT)
PS… Don’t forget to keep an eye on Frankie Dettori. His new life in the United States has started well — he has ridden three winners already.
His thirst to ride in the biggest races remains unquenched.