Donn McClean's Horses To Follow: April 19 to April 26
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.
Canberra Legend - Newmarket, April 19
Canberra Legend did well to win the Listed Feilden Stakes at Newmarket on Wednesday. Well away from stall one on the far side, he was settled back just behind the leader on the far side. He travelled well through his race on the far side behind no more than a modest pace, he looked very comfortable striding away on the far side behind the pace.
He was the last horst to come off the bridle but, when Daniel Muscutt asked him to pick up, they were racing into the Dip and he didn't appear to handle it that well. He looked booked for third as they raced past the furlong pole but, when he hit the rising ground, he picked up impressively, caught the long-time leader Killybegs Warrior for second place and forged on to get up and beat Kolsai by a half a length.
It was a really likeable performance by James Ferguson's horse. This was just his second run ever, his first on turf, and his first since he won a one-mile novice stakes at Newcastle in February. His dam is a half-sister to sprinters Blaine and Bogart, but his half-brother Youth Spirit won a Chester Vase and finished fifth in a St Leger.
He gets nine furlongs well on this evidence, and he settles so well he should get 10 no problem and possibly 12. He holds entries in the Guineas, as well as the Dante and the Derby, he will be of greater interest over middle distances than over a mile, and he should continue to progress.
Chally Chute - Tipperary, April 19
Chally Chute put up a nice performance to finish third in the good 12-furlong handicap at Tipperary last Thursday. Weak in the market beforehand, he settled well through his race early on for Ronan Whelan, just worse than mid-division. He picked up well on the outside early in the home straight, and he looked a threat on the run to the furlong marker, but his run just flattened out from there. Even so, he finished good third behind the progressive Burren Song and Taipan, the first three well clear.
This was a really encouraging step into the season by Michael Halford and Tracey Collins' horse, and he should be able to build on this now. He was seriously progressive at the end of last season, he won his last three races of the term, in September and October, improving from a rating of 60 to this rating of 88, and he was really impressive in winning his final race of last season at Galway over 12 furlongs on heavy ground. The handicapper gave him another 2lb for this win, but he has the potential to go beyond his mark of 90. He could be better than a handicapper. He can handle better ground, but he goes well on soft ground, and he will be of interest wherever he goes next.
Villanova Queen - Tipperary, April 20
Villanova Queen looked good in winning the seven-and-a-half-furlong contest at Tipperary last Thursday. Fifth of the six runners early on, she came under a ride from Shane Foley at the top of the home straight, but she made nice progress towards the leaders. Taken to the outside at the two-furlong marker, it took her a few strides to build momentum but she picked up well, she hit the front deep inside the final furlong before surging on to win by a half a length.
It was a strong performance by Jessica Harrington's filly, a performance of quality in a good race - five of the six runners were rated 100 or higher - on her first run since last May. That run was in the Irish 1000 Guineas, in which she was quietly fancied at big prices on new betting sites after the performance that she put up in finishing a close-up third behind Homeless Songs in the Leopardstown Guineas Trial last April. It didn't happen for her in the Guineas, she was close up early on before she faded. It was probable that that just wasn't her running and, given a nice break by her trainer, she proved that here.
She should be able to build on this now, she could morph into a high-class filly, and she has lots of options. She holds entries in the Group 3 Amethyst Stakes at Leopardstown over a mile and in the Group 2 Middleton Stakes at York over 10 and a half furlongs. She does shape as if she will get further than a mile, and she would be interesting in the Middleton Stakes, against her own gender.
Walsingham - Cork, April 21
Noted here after he finished fourth in a Leopardstown maiden on his debut this season, Walsingham is worthy of mention once again after his run in the one-mile three-year-olds' maiden that opened proceedings at Cork last Friday. He didn’t have a lot of luck in-running through the race. Chris Hayes had him in a nice position from early, settled and travelling towards the inside, just better than mid-division.
He angled out early in the home straight in order to secure racing room, but twice the gap closed in front of him before he could get into it. He had to check back inside the furlong marker and, finally in the clear, he finished off his race like a horse who had at least a little bit left to give.
Dermot Weld's horse was dropping down in trip from 10 furlongs to a mile, and it looks like this is a good trip for him. He raced just three times last season as a juvenile, so there should be more to come from him. A full-brother to Duke De Sessa, a dual Group 3 winner over nine and 12 furlongs, he holds an entry in the one-mile maiden at Gowran Park on Wednesday. He should be up to winning his maiden soon before moving on from that.
Term Of Endearment - Cork, April 21
Term Of Endearment only finished fifth in the Listed Noblesse Stakes at Cork last Friday, but she ran better than that suggests. Slowly away, she was 10th of the 11 runners as they raced away from the stands with a circuit to go. She travelled well for Wayne Lordan down the back straight and, angled towards the outside in the home straight, it took her a little while to find top gear but, when she did, she finished off her race strongly, closing all the way to the line. Although she was only fifth, she was only beaten a total of two and a quarter lengths by the winner Moracana, and in another couple of strides she would have been third.
It was a good run by Henry de Bromhead's filly on her seasonal return. She has only won once, but she has raced just six times now, she is Group 3 placed and she was only beaten a half a length by the 104-rated Yaxeni in the Listed Bluebell Stakes at Naas last October on her final run last season. Probably at her best with at least a little bit of cut in the ground, she stays a mile and a half well, and she could be even better over further. She is lightly raced, and she has lots of potential for progression this season.
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