Donn McClean's Horses To Follow: April 27th to May 4th
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.
Umm Kulthum - Newmarket, 30th April 2022
Umm Kulthum looked good in winning the Listed six-furlong fillies’ race that opened proceedings at Newmarket on 2000 Guineas day on Saturday. Richard Fahey’s filly travelled well through her race on the far side, behind a decent pace that favourite Flotus set. She had her two main market rivals, Flotus and Gale Force Maya, in front of her, but actually, her main challenge came from closer towards the stands side, as Tenaya Canyon picked up smartly on the near side. But Umm Kulthum picked up well too to hit the front inside the final furlong and get home by a neck from Ed Walker’s filly, with Queen Kahlua staying on well on the near side to take third place.
Favourite Flotus obviously under-performed – she got upset in the stalls and she returned with a cut lip – but Umm Kulthum still picked up well on the far side from her low draw to get the better of the runner-up, who raced away from her towards the near side. A close-up third in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket as a juvenile, the Kodiac filly raced only twice last season. She was well beaten in the Fred Darling Stakes on her three-year-old debut in April, but she was much better in the second of those two races to finish third in the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes on heavy ground at Haydock in May, when she had to be switched towards the far side in order to deliver her run.
This was her first run in 343 days – she apparently had an issue with her knee after the Sandy Lane and trainer Richard Fahey just gave her time – and, even though she was strong in the market, she should progress for the run. She goes well on soft ground as well as on this good ground, and she could make her mark in some of the good sprints later this season. She holds entries in the Group 2 Duke of York Stakes and in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot, and her trainer said afterwards that, all going well, she will be aimed at those two races. Looking further ahead, the Haydock Sprint Cup could be an ideal race for her.
Miami Girl - Newmarket, 1st May 2022
Miami Girl showed signs of inexperience before the juveniles’ five-furlong maiden that opened proceedings on 1000 Guineas day at Newmarket on Sunday, and some signs of inexperience during the race, but she quickened up impressively and she won well. She was slowly away, and she was keen through the first furlong, but Rossa Ryan got her settled back in behind the leaders by the time they got to the three-furlong marker. Moved to her right at the two-furlong marker and into the clear, she picked up really nicely when her rider asked her to. She led on the run down into the Dip and, although she hung to her left, she kept going forward and she pulled five and a half lengths clear of her rivals by the time she got to the winning line.
It was a really nice performance by Richard Hannon’s filly on her racecourse debut. Bought for €62,000 at the Goffs Sportsman’s Sale last September by Peter and Ross Doyle, she is a half-sister to Eyes, a winner over seven furlongs and a mile, but she showed lots of speed here – she clocked 10.94secs for her penultimate furlong, the fastest furlong clocked by any horse in the race, and the only one that dipped below 11secs – so there is no real reason to go beyond five furlongs, at least for now. By King’s Stand Stakes runner-up Cotai Glory, she could be a Royal Ascot filly, a Queen Mary filly more than an Albany filly, and her trainer said that she could take in the Marygate Stakes at York or the National Stakes at Sandown en route. She should be even better off a faster pace. Interestingly, Richard Hannon won this race in 2019 with Threat, who finished second in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot on his next run before going on to win the Gimcrack Stakes and the Flying Childers Stakes.
Cemhaan - Newmarket, 1st May 2022
Cemhaan did well to win the one-mile-six-furlong handicap at Newmarket on Sunday as well as he did, given how keenly he travelled for most of the race. He raced in third place from early behind Golden Flame and Soapy Stephens, but he didn’t really drop the bridle until they raced inside the four-furlong marker. It was at that point that Hollie Doyle allowed him his head, and he moved up nicely on the outside of the leaders. He picked up well when his rider asked him to, he hit the front at the two-furlong marker, and he stayed on well from there, coming away from his rivals inside the final furlong to win, eased down, by two and a half lengths.
It was an impressive performance by George Baker’s horse. Winner of a one-mile novice stakes as a three-year-old on all-weather when he was with John Gosden, he didn’t win again until he won a one-mile-six-furlong handicap on soft ground at Salisbury last September. He was impressive in winning on fast ground over a mile and a half at Salisbury on his debut this season, and this was a nice step forward from that, racing under his 5lb penalty. He sees out this one-mile-six-furlong trip well and, while he is effective too over a mile and a half, this is a good trip for him, and he should be able to do even better over this trip if he can learn to settle a little better. His trainer mentioned the 12-furlong handicap at Epsom on Derby weekend as an option now, and that would be interesting. He has finished second twice in two runs at Epsom over a mile and a half. He is versatile in terms of ground too, and he will be of interest wherever he goes now.
Ebaiyra - Newmarket, 1st May 2022
Ebaiyra did well to finish a close-up third in the circumstances in the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday, dropping back down to nine furlongs and racing in rear early on. She settled nicely for Christophe Soumillon early on, sixth of the six runners behind no more than a moderate pace that Romantic Rival set. Still last after the pace quickened on the run to the two-furlong marker, she picked up as they raced into the Dip but, while she wasn’t hampered or impeded, she didn’t really get into the clear until they reached the furlong marker. When she did, she picked up nicely and finished off her race well towards the near side as Dreamloper and Ville De Grace duelled on the far side. She closed on that pair all the way to the line, just going down by a nose and a short head in a thrilling finish, closest at the winning line.
It was a fine effort by Francis-Henri Graffard’s mare, given that she was racing over a distance that was short of her best. Also, she had to make her ground from the rear at a track at which pace usually holds up well, and she wasn’t able to hit full stride until they met the rising ground. Sixth in the Prix de Diane as a three-year-old, the Aga Khan’s filly won a Group 3 race and a Group 2 race last season, over 10 furlongs on good to soft ground and over 10 and a half furlongs on heavy ground respectively, for Alain de Royer-Dupre. She also finished second behind Broome in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint Cloud over a mile and a half, and she finished third in the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin on her final run last year. She has run three times now for her current trainer this year, including a third place finish in the valuable Neom Turf Cup in Riyadh, and she retains lots of ability on this evidence. She will probably be seen to best effect when she steps back up to 10 or 11 or 12 furlongs.
Sandrine - Newmarket, 1st May 2022
Sandrine did well to get as close as she got in the 1000 Guineas. Held up early on from her high draw and racing towards the stands side, she was a little keen through the early stages of the race, but she settled into her racing rhythm at the back of the field as they raced to the half-way point. She travelled well to the three-furlong marker, she was one of the only fillies who was still on the bridle at that point, and she moved up nicely on the near side, with only the Godolphin filly Wild Beauty closer to the stands rail than she was. She moved to her left when she came under pressure, which wasn’t ideal, it took her closer to the stands rail, away from her main rivals on the far side, but she picked up well and, while her run flattened out a little through the final 150 yards, she still kept on well enough to take fifth place, just a half a length behind third-placed Tuesday and losing out by just a head to Zellie for fourth.
Winner of her maiden on her racecourse debut last season, Andrew Balding’s filly progressed from that to win the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot on heavy ground and the Group 2 Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket in July, before finishing second in the Gimcrack Stakes and third in the Cheveley Park. She was a really talented juvenile, and her Guineas run suggests that she retains lots of ability. Her half-sister won over nine furlongs, and you couldn't say that she didn’t stay in the Guineas, but it may be that Sandrine will be at her best at distances short of a mile. She holds entries in the Coronation Stakes over a mile and in the Commonwealth Cup over six furlongs at Royal Ascot, and it may be that the shorter race will suit her best of those two options, but it may be that seven furlongs will prove to be her optimum trip.
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