Donn McClean's Horse to Follow - August 19th - August 26th
Before we dive in, some basic rules for a horses to follow list is to keep them in a tracker and on your radar for the next three runs, bearing in mind ideal conditions across variables like venue, ground, opposition and price are satisfactory to you as a punter. This column should help you build up a list that proves profitable under those circumstances, provides timely reminders to reduce repeated form study and assist with your enjoyment of a season be it National Hunt or Flat racing in the UK and Ireland and sometimes beyond.
Sevenna Star - Killarney, 19th August 2021
Sevenna Star kept on well to finish fourth behind Morph Speed in the one-mile-six-furlong premier handicap at Killarney recently. Settled back in the field early on by Wesley Joyce, he travelled well through his race, but he had dropped back in the field, to 10th of the 10 runners, by the time they straightened up for home. He was short of room on the run to the two-furlong marker and, by the time he got into clear sailing on the outside, the race had gone beyond him. He stayed on well though and, while it never looked like he was going to get to Morph Speed, who got the better of Camorra close home, he did stay on well into fourth place.
Sevenna Star is not obviously unexposed on the face of it, he is six years old and he has run 20 times now, but he is a well-bred horse who has high-class back form, and he only joined Emmet Mullins this year. Winner of the Group 3 Classic Trial at Sandown as a three-year-old when he was with John Gosden, and out of a mare who won the Group 3 Lillie Langtry Stakes over a mile and six furlongs, he put up an encouraging performance to finish second behind Groveman in a two-mile handicap at Tramore on his last run before Thursday.
He obviously stays well, and he will be of interest in staying handicaps on the flat now as we move into the autumn. The handicapper raised him by 2lb for Thursday's run to a mark of 80, but that mark should be well within range. It is admittedly a while ago now, but he was rated 107 when he was three. If he is aimed at the Irish Cesarewitch, a race that his trainer won last year with Cape Gentleman, he could get into the race on a nice racing weight, but he will be of interest wherever he goes next.
Cliffs Of Capri - York, 19th August 2021
It might be worthwhile giving Cliffs Of Capri another chance, after he only finished 13th in the Clipper Logistics Handicap at York recently. Squeezed along a little by Dougie Costello early on in order that he could adopt a decent position just behind the pace, he was just short of room on the run into the turn at the end of the back straight, he had to concede a good position, and the incident seemed to light him up a little. He was keen on the run around the home turn, and he was three wide and back in mid-division, none of which was ideal. He came under a ride early in the home straight and he got out-paced when they quickened, but he kept on well deep inside the final furlong to finish within four and a half lengths of the winner.
It was a race in which it was difficult to make ground from the rear, a theme which generally ran through the week at York. The winner Cruyff Turn made almost all the running, while the second and third, Magical Morning and Astro King, were always prominent. Also, this was Cliffs Of Capri's first run at York. His form on Ascot's straight track is better than it is anywhere else. His record there reads 151342404, and some of the best runs of his career have been there, including when he finished second to Blue Mist in the International Stakes last year, and when he finished fourth in the same race this year. He is probably better over seven furlongs at Ascot than he is over a mile, but he will be of interest now the next time he runs there, over either distance.
Alnofoor - The Curragh, 21st August 2021
Alnofoor did well to finish as close as he did in the six-furlong maiden at the Curragh recently, keeping on well on the near side from his high draw to take sixth place behind Heavenly Power. Settled just behind the leaders and on the stands side of the main body of the field early on by Gavin Ryan, he was caught a little flat-footed when they quickened at the two-furlong marker. Moved to his left a little on the run to the furlong marker in order to secure a clear passage, he stayed on well through the final 200 yards. He moved from about 10th or 11th 200 yards out to sixth by the time they got to the winning line, beaten a total of just over three lengths.
Natalia Lupini's colt did best of the high-drawn horses in Saturday's race, racing towards the stands side from stall 19, on an evening on which it may have been a disadvantage to race towards the near side. The five horses who finished in front of Alnofoor were all drawn 10 or lower, and the first six home in the 17-runner five-furlong handicap that brought the curtain down on the evening's racing were drawn in the six lowest stalls. Alnofoor has raced just four times now, and this was probably the best run of his life.
He finished fourth behind Gyldan and Jon Riggens, who was an impressive winner next time when he beat the winner of Saturday's race Heavenly Power, and Swift Flight, who finished third in Saturday's race, in a five-furlong maiden at Tipperary in early June on his previous run, racing towards the far side. This was his first run back after a short break, and he should be able to continue his progression. He obviously handles soft ground well, he stays six furlongs well and, from the family of Dylan Thomas and Homecoming Queen and Remember When, he could do even better over further.
Pachmena - The Curragh, 21st August 2021
Pachmena put up a good performance to finish second behind Pineapple Express in the 12-furlong fillies' handicap at the Curragh recently. Settled nicely in mid-division and along the inside early on by Wesley Joyce, she started to make her progress among horses from the top of the home straight. Moved back towards the inside on the run to the two-furlong marker, she struggled to get a gap among her rivals. After exploring a couple of different avenues, she eventually came outside Merroir and Pineapple Express and, when she did, she picked up well. But Pineapple Express was strong all the way to the line and, while Pachmena closed her rival down, she was still a half a length behind her by the time they got to the winning line.
It was another fine run by Gavin Cromwell's filly, stepping back up to 12 furlongs after running well to finish second to Miss Myers in the Connacht Oaks at Sligo over 10 furlongs on her previous run when, again, she might have gone closer had she had a clearer run through the final stages of the race. Winner of a 10-furlong handicap at Dundalk in November last year off a mark of 66 when she was with Johnny Feane, she has continued her progress since she joined Gavin Cromwell in April this year, and she could be a well-handicapped filly now. She is obviously effective over 10 furlongs, but she stays 12 furlongs well, and she goes well on soft ground, which will be a positive as we move into the autumn.
Roca Roma - Tipperary, 26th August 2021
Roca Roma did well to run on as well as she did to take second place behind Pearls Galore in the Group 3 Fairy Bridge Stakes at Tipperary recently. Dropped out at the rear of the field early on by Colin Keane from her high draw, the early pace was not overly strong, Gary Halpin was able to dictate the early fractions on Thinking Of You. Roca Roma was just about last of the 15 runners as they straightened up for home but, wheeled to the outside by her rider, she picked up impressively from the rear. She stayed on best of all down the outside, and got past all her rivals with the exception of the talented Pearls Galore, who had gone into the race on the back of an impressive victory in the Group 3 Brownstown Stakes, and who raced close to the early pace here from flagfall from her inside draw.
It was a really nice run by Roca Roma. A half-sister to Britannia Handicap winner Roca Tumu and to Grade 2 winner in America Roco Rojo, she went into Thursday's race on the back of a game win in a handicap at Killarney off a mark of 97 in a first-time tongue-tie. Her new mark of 102 still left her with a little to find on the top-rated fillies in Thursday's race but, despite the fact that warm favourite Pretty Gorgeous under-performed, she proved that she belongs in this grade. This was just her ninth run, she remains progressive, and she could be winning her Group race soon.
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