Donn McClean's Horses To Follow: June 20th to June 27th
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.
De Velara - Naas, 22nd June 2022
De Velara looked good in winning the six-furlong maiden at Naas on Wednesday, and there is every chance that he will step forward again now. He was keen enough through the early stages of the race, and he raced towards the near side, probably not an advantage on the evidence that the earlier races on the day provided. He tracked the favourite Plankton through and, when Wayne Lordan moved him towards the outside and asked him to pick up, the response was impressive. He hit the front inside the final furlong and he cleared away through the final 150 yards to win by four lengths in the end.
This was just De Valera's second run in Ireland, his second for Willie Browne since his arrival from France. He had shaped encouragingly on his Irish debut, in finishing second in a five-furlong maiden at Cork behind Funchal, who ran well to finish a close-up third behind Moss Tucker at Tipperary on Wednesday evening. He went into Wednesday's maiden with a rating of 77, and the handicapper raised him by 8lb for that win to a mark of 85, but that is a mark that could still under-rate his ability. He has raced just five times in his life, and just twice in Ireland, so he retains plenty of scope for progression. He should improve if and when he learns to settle better through the early stages of his races. He could go out in trip too in time. He is an exciting prospect.
Gypsy Woman - The Curragh, 24th June 2022
Gypsy Woman only finished fifth in the end behind Never Ending Story in the two-year-old fillies' seven-furlong maiden at The Curragh on Friday, but she did well in the circumstances. Drawn wide in stall 18, she was keener than ideal for most of the race up on the outside of runners, but she moved up nicely to join the front rank on the run to the two-furlong marker. She travelled really nicely at that point, and she actually ran on well on the near side to finish fifth, just three lengths behind the winner.
It was a really nice racecourse debut from Ger Lyons' filly. A full-sister to Adeb, who won a maiden over five furlongs, and a half-sister to Seen The Lyte, who won seven times over five and six furlongs, she was nicely supported in the market before Friday's race. She could progress considerably for this experience, and it is significant that her trainer thought enough of her to give her an entry in the Moyglare Stud Stakes.
Raadobarg - The Curragh, 25th June 2022
Raadobarg ran well to finish fourth in the Listed Celebration Stakes at The Curragh on Saturday. Settled back in the field early on, sixth of the nine runners, he came under a ride as they levelled up for home and, while the leaders got away from him, he stayed on well down the outside through the final furlong and a half to take fourth place, two and a half lengths behind the winner Wexford Native.
It was difficult to make ground from the rear all weekend on the round course at The Curragh, as it often is. They didn't go a great pace here, as evidenced by the winner's finishing speed of 109.11% (Raadobarg's was 110.57%, and he covered the final three furlongs in 34.46secs, faster than all his rivals), which accentuated the difficulty faced by the hold-up horses. The first three home, Wexford Native, The Acropolis and Emphatic Answer, occupied three of the first four places from early, and Raadobarg did well to get as close to them as he did.
Winner of three races as a three-year-old for Roger Varian, including the Class 2 Silver Bowl at Haydock, the Night Of Thunder gelding won the Irish Lincoln on his debut this season on easy ground, on his first run for Johnny Murtagh. He followed up by winning at Tipperary on heavy ground over seven and a half furlongs, beating subsequent listed race winner Lust into second place. You have to forgive him an abject performance in a listed race at Longchamp at the end of May, but you easily can now on the back of Saturday's run. He is a half-brother to the sprinter Captain Dunne, but he stays a mile well, and he shapes as if he could get further, and his best runs have been on easy ground. He holds an entry in the Group 3 Meld Stakes at Leopardstown next month over nine furlongs, and he will be of interest if he lines up in that, especially if the ground happened to come up on the easy side. He would also be of interest if he was kept now for an autumn campaign.
Catena Zapata - The Curragh, 25th June 2022
Catena Zapata finished off his race well to take fifth place in the 10-furlong handicap at The Curragh on Saturday. Settled back in the field by Wayne Lordan, Catena Zapata travelled easily through his race early on. Last of the 11 runners as they rounded the home turn, Henry de Bromhead's horse had to come widest of all in order to deliver his challenge. Still last as they raced inside the two-furlong marker, he stayed on well down the outside to get involved in a bunched finish. He only finished fifth, but he finished best of all, and he was only just over a length behind the winner, the progressive Bay Of Bengal. Three strides past the line and he was third.
It wasn't easy to make ground from the rear on the round course at The Curragh all weekend, as is often the case, and Catena Zapata did well to get as close as he got. A game winner of a one-mile handicap at Dundalk in February, he was disappointing in a hugely competitive handicap on his previous run at The Curragh, but that was after a break of almost 100 days since his Dundalk run, and this was much more like it. His two wins have both been at Dundalk, but he proved here that he could be good on turf as well, and that obviously augurs well for the future. He obviously stays this 10-furlong trip, and he should do better off a faster pace. He holds an entry in a 10-furlong premier handicap at Leopardstown next Thursday, and he will be of interest if he lines up in that.
Imadpour - The Curragh, 26th June 2022
Imadpour finished only joint-fifth in the seven-furlong juveniles' maiden that opened proceedings at The Curragh on Sunday, but he ran better than his finishing position suggests. Smartly away form stall nine and in the front rank from early, he was keen through the early part of the race. Taken back behind horses by Ronan Whelan after they had gone a furlong, he was still keen even with a lead, and he moved up again on the outside of early leader Glazunov. He moved into the lead on the run to the two-furlong marker, and he travelled as well as any of his rivals at that point. He picked up nicely too for pressure as they raced to the furlong marker, but he was headed inside the final furlong by the ultimate winner Proud And Regal, and he just tired late on as his early exertions probably took their toll, losing one and a half places inside the final 50 yards.
It was still a most encouraging debut by Michael Halford's colt. By Le Havre and out of a mare who won over a mile and a half, he should progress for this experience, and he should do better when he learns to settle better. He showed plenty of pace here, but he still should do better for stepping up in trip. He was a big price here, he was allowed go off at 25/1, but he should be winning his maiden soon before stepping up in grade.
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