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Horse Racing: Five things to look out for in 2023

As the calendar year swings towards an end, what have racing fans got to look forward to heading into 2023?

We take a look at five potential storylines for fans of the Sport of Kings next year.

Frankie's farewell tour

The most iconic jockey in a generation, Frankie Dettori recently announced he plans to draw stumps on his outstanding career in the saddle.

In fairly typical Dettori style it won't be without fanfare that he plans to say goodbye. That's just not his style and so it was that the Italian, now 52, announced he will be retiring at the end of 2023 - most likely after the Breeders' Cup in November.

That means there's one whole Flat season in Britain for him to say farewell, alongside possible final trips to the likes of the Dubai World Cup, Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and the Melbourne Cup.

He'll potentially have his last swing at the British Classics, with Dewhurst winner Chaldean a 16/1 contender to possibly see Dettori bid farewell to Epsom and The Derby with a win on 3rd June.

There will be fanfare of the sort that only Dettori can provide along the way. He's been box office news for three decades and don't expect him to go quietly.

Constitution Hill vs Honeysuckle at Cheltenham

It has got to be hoped that this eagerly-anticipated clash will still materialise, despite the mare Honeysuckle losing her unbeaten record in her comeback in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle.

She is a two-time winner of the Champion Hurdle and will join the greats should she manage to equal the record of three wins.

She's now 9/1 to do it, although recent murmurs from trainer Henry De Bromhead have suggested the Mares' Hurdle is being viewed as an alternative option come March.

That really would be a travesty should it manifest itself. Honeysuckle is a champion, if she rebounds to win another Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in February she deserves her shot at the best young horse around. Defeat would see her lose nothing.

After all the recent talk of British trainers 'ducking and diving' to avoid big clashes, it would be an egg-on-the-face moment for the Irish if Honeysuckle swerves her greatest challenge.

Constitution Hill is already 1/3 to win the Champion Hurdle and he looks a machine for Nicky Henderson, but the flipside is that no horse has yet managed to engage him in a battle of any description. The great mare deserves a shot at it.

A new era in the jumps weighing room

Unlike Dettori, Davy Russell chose the instant retirement option as he surprised plenty in calling time on his career at the weekend.

The 43-year-old Cork man had battled back from a serious neck injury, confounding expectations to get back amongst the Grade 1 winners last season, including the Irish Gold Cup on Conflated.

He was the winning-most active rider at the Cheltenham Festival when he retired and his moving on ends a wonderful era for National Hunt jockeys.

His peers Ruby Walsh, AP McCoy, Barry Geraghty, Richard Johnson and Paul Carberry were an elite squad, the like of which it will be hard to replace as they have all now sailed off into the sunset.

The new breed are led by Paul Townend, Rachael Blackmore and Jack Kennedy as the balance of power sits in Ireland.

But they have challengers aplenty on British shores, with Harry Cobden, Harry Skelton, Sean Bowen and Jonjo O'Neill Jnr all eager to impress on the biggest stages of all.

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Galopin for Gold at Cheltenham

Not since Native River fended off Might Bite in an enduring duel in 2018 has a British-trained horse laid claim on the Blue Riband of jumps racing, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Willie Mullins and Henry De Bromhead have won two each in the intervening period via Al Boum Photo (2019 & 2020) and then Minella Indo and A Plus Tard.

When the latter strung out the field back in March under Rachael Blackmore, plenty would have felt he might be one for multiple successes, but his turgid comeback in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November means he's now 9/1 to retain his perch on 17th March.

That date, too, isn't to be missed - as St Patrick's Day will ensure the raiding party are as keen as ever for Gold Cup glory.

Galopin Des Champs famously crashed down at the final fence in March with Festival glory at his mercy, his only defeat so far over fences.

After his impressive reappearance win in the John Durkan at Punchestown he's now 7/4 and, after what seemed like an endless list of near misses for Mullins in this race, can he now make it three wins in five years?

Britain's leading hopes, meanwhile, are L'homme Presse at 6/1 for Venetia Williams, winner of the three-mile novice chase at the Festival in the spring and seemingly still on an upwards curve, and Dan Skelton's 8/1 chance Protektorat, the impressive beneficiary when A Plus Tard flopped last month at Haydock.

Galopin Des Champs looks quite a weapon as he continues to mature and it isn't hard to conclude that whatever can trump him will have the Gold Cup prize in their sights.

Appleby and Godolphin back on top

In 2018, Masar landed The Derby at Epsom for Charlie Appleby and William Buick, finally allowing Sheikh Mohammed to see his famous blue Godolphin silks carried to glory in the world's most esteemed Flat race.

Appleby was, at that time, a growing force for Godolphin and that win for Masar helped propel him toward the next level.

"I have to admit, I was starting to wonder what we would have to do to beat (Aidan O'Brien)," he said at the time, having secured his first Classic.

Fast forward toward the start of 2023 and the Newmarket trainer is the reigning two-time champion trainer in Britain, while stable jockey William Buick was crowned champion jockey for the first time in October and Godolphin as leading owners meant a clear sweep for the now resurgent firm.

In 2022, Appleby held the English (Coroebus), Irish (Native Trail) and French (Modern Games) 2000 Guineas at the same time, but it was a first victory in the Newmarket version that he treasured most.

He will be hoping to continue his rise as the pre-eminent force in Britain in 2023 and carry the fight to Ireland's powerhouse O'Brien.

Appleby's unbeaten Gimcrack winner Noble Style is 10/1 to win the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday 6th May.

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