Donn McClean's Horses To Follow: April 6 to April 13
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.
Hotrocket - Cork, 8th April 2023
Hotrocket did well to finish fourth in the older horses' seven-furlong handicap at Cork on Saturday from his low draw. Fast away and settled back in mid-division through the early stages of the race, closest to the far rail, he made nice progress towards the leaders on the far side at the three-furlong marker.
Still on the bridle passing the two-furlong marker, he picked up well when Declan McDonogh asked him to, he hit the front at the furlong pole, but he just couldn't hold off the closers inside the final furlong. He only finished fourth in the end, but he was only beaten a total of a length by the winner Joe Masseria, and there was a little break between the first four and the rest.
It was a fine run by Joseph O'Brien's horse on his seasonal debut, and racing towards the far side from his low draw. The other four horses who, with him, filled the first five places were all drawn in double figures and raced towards the near side. This was his first run of the season too, and it was just his second run for Joseph O'Brien so, a lightly-raced four-year-old, who has raced just five times in his life, he has lots of scope for progression this season.
He coped with the soft ground well on Saturday, but he won his maiden over seven furlongs at Fairyhouse last July on good ground on his final run for John Murphy, so he will remain of interest on better ground too. The handicapper raised him by just 1lb to a mark of 86, and he will be of interest off that mark now wherever he goes.
Semblance Of Order - Cork, 8th April 2023
Semblance Of Order put up a fine performance to finish second in the three-year-olds' seven-furlong median auction maiden at Cork on Saturday. Smartly away from his low draw, Andy Oliver's horse led from early and he travelled well in front to the three-furlong marker.
He came under a ride on the run to the two, but he found lots for pressure, he still led on the run to the furlong pole. In the end, he couldn't withstand the challenge of Something Nice, who was the favourite on many new betting sites, on the near side, but he kept on well to finish a clear second, over two lengths clear of Chiketto, who was in turn four and a half lengths clear of the rest of the field.
It was probably an advantage to race on the near side on the all-straight-track card at Cork on Saturday and, while Semblance Of Order was not flush against the far rail from start to finish, he was drawn low, and he had to race centre to far side early on, while the winner and the runner-up both raced towards the near side of him from early, from higher draws.
He obviously didn't win last season as a two-year-old, but he was only just beaten in a seven-furlong maiden at Leopardstown on good ground last August, and he finished second in a Down Royal maiden in September to Panic Alarm, who won the valuable Irish EBF Auction Series Final at Naas on his next run. Sixth behind Paddington in the Madrid Handicap on his debut this season off a mark of 81, he is down to a mark of 78 now, and he would be of interest in a handicap now off that mark.
Tiger Jet - Haydock, 8th April 2023
Tiger Jet did really well to win the Challenger Stayers' Hurdle Series Final at Haydock on Saturday, given how keen he was through his race. Steadied at the back of the field and along the inside early on by Henry Brooke, he was keen down the back straight first time, and he pulled his way up into fifth place by the time they left the back straight. Still keen up the home straight with a circuit to run, he travelled well down the back straight final time along the inside.
He was crowded out of it a little on the inside at the final flight in the back straight, and he was shuffled back to about eighth place as they started around the home turn. He picked up well in the home straight though, jumped into fifth place over the third last flight, joined the leaders at the second last, and jumped the last a length in front before staying on well up the run-in to beat The Changing Man by three lengths, with another three lengths back to the third.
Plenty went wrong for Brian Ellison's horse through the race, he was keen and he was shuffled back in the field at a key stage, and his jumping wasn't overly fluent on occasion, so it was to his credit that he was able to win with such authority from a progressive and well-supported rival, with the pair of them nicely clear. It was his first run back after a short break, and he seemed to appreciate the step back up to an extended three miles and the return to better ground. The handicapper has raised him by 7lb for this to a mark of 118, but that mark should be well within range on this evidence.
He is not obviously unexposed, he has raced 11 times over hurdles, but he has plenty of scope for progression as a staying hurdler, especially on goodish ground. This was just his fourth race over a distance in excess of two miles and six and a half furlongs, and he has won two of them, both on good to soft ground. All his best runs are on flat, left-handed tracks, but he will be of interest now in another three-mile handicap hurdle on goodish ground. The Pertemps Network Long Distance Handicap Hurdle at Haydock on Swinton Hurdle day next month looks like an ideal target now.
Whiskeywealth - Fairyhouse, 9th April 2023
You had to feel for Whiskeywealth when he came down at the final fence in the two-mile novices' handicap chase at Fairyhouse on Sunday. Terence O'Brien's horse may or may not have beaten Dinoblue, but he appeared to be finding plenty in front and, either way, it was a fine run by the Yeats gelding. He had done most things right up until the point of his departure.
Handy from early, he led the main body of the field behind breakaway leader Irish Blaze. He jumped well, caught the leader over the fourth last fence and moved easily into the lead on the run around the home turn. He got in a little tight to the second last fence, and nodded on landing, which allowed Dinoblue close on him on the run to the last, but he was still at least a length in front of his pursuer as he closed in on the final obstacle, where he got in tight and came down.
Winner of a novice chase at Tramore on New Year's Day on his final run for Eoghan O'Grady, when Whiskeywealth won a novices' handicap chase at Clonmel in February on his first run for Terence O'Brien, he made all the running, and he found plenty for pressure from the front. He appeared to be happy to take a lead on Sunday, and it still appeared that he had more left to give at the time of his departure. Dinoblue is a high-class mare, she finished second to Maskada in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham on her last run before Sunday off a handicap rating of 140, and she was racing off the same mark on Sunday.
And Whiskeywealth would at least have given her a race, he may well have beaten her, as evidenced by an in-running low price of 1.23. The handicapper raised him by just 3lb to a mark of 127, which was fair, and there could be more to come from him off that mark as a two-mile handicap chaser. We know that he goes well right-handed, although, whether by design or happenstance, only one of his 16 runs under Rules – a maiden hurdle at Naas in November 2021 – has been at a left-handed track. He will be of interest if he goes to Punchestown, although he may need soft ground to be seen to best effect.
Love Ya - Dundalk, 11th April 2023
Love Ya put up a good performance to finish a close-up third in the five-furlong juvenile fillies' maiden at Dundalk on Tuesday. Weak in the market with some bookies beforehand, she showed a lot of pace from stall two to move into a share of the lead with Brighter as they raced to the home turn.
She led into the home straight, and she picked up well, but she hung to her left towards the far side when she came under pressure. She moved all the way over to the inside rail but, once she got there, there was a lot to like about the willingness with which she went to the line. She finished third in the end, beaten a head and a half a length by Brighter and Vanity Pays, the two who dominated the pre-race market.
This was a really encouraging racecourse debut by Willie McCreery's filly. She is a home-bred full-sister to Loveday, who won over five furlongs on fast ground and who was beaten a half a length in a listed race over the minimum trip, and she is a half-sister to Lovejoy, a winner over an extended five furlongs on soft ground. She could improve considerably for this, she was obviously green here, and she will be of interest again now over the minimum trip, ideally with a running rail to her left.
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