Donn McClean's Horses To Follow: June 26th to July 3rd
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.
Perotan - Bellewstown, 1st July 2022
Perotan was impressive in winning the 12-furlong fillies' maiden at Bellewstown last Friday on her racecourse debut. A little keen early on, Seamie Heffernan got her settled nicely in mid-division after they had gone a couple of furlongs. She moved up well as they raced across the top of the track and, still only sixth or seventh as they entered the short home straight, she picked up well when her rider moved her towards the outside. She stayed on strongly down the near side to hit the front inside the final furlong, going on to win by almost two lengths in the end.
There was a lot to like about this performance from Aidan O'Brien's filly. She was weak in the market, she showed signs of greenness, and she was a fair way back early on off no more than a moderate pace, in a race in which the prominent racers did well, but she was well on top at the end. A three-parts sister to Bangkok, a Group 2 winner over 10 and a half furlongs, and a half-sister to Group 1 winner Matterhorn and Curragh Cup winner Tactic, the fact that she holds entries in the Irish Oaks and in the Nassau Stakes is a measure of the regard in which she is held at home. She will be of interest wherever she goes next.
Wilderness Girl - Haydock, 2nd July 2022
Wilderness Girl was unlucky not to finish closer than she did in the seven-furlong three-year-olds' handicap at Haydock last Saturday. Smartly away from stall one, she settled nicely for Harry Davies just behind the leader Zero Carbon and along the inside. She travelled well up the home straight, but she just couldn't get a gap when her rider wanted to go forward. Zero Carbon travelled well in front of her, and even when he quickened, with Spirit Of Nguru appearing on the outside, no gap materialised. She only finished fourth in the end, but she was beaten a total of just a length and a half, the first five were clear, and it appeared that she finished full of running.
Andrew Balding's filly was racing for just the fifth time here, and she remains progressive. The handicapper dropped her by 3lb after she finished down the field in the Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot, to a mark of 90, which meant that she could compete in this 0-90 contest, and he has left her on that mark, so she will be of interest now in a similar contest. Winner of a seven-furlong maiden on easy ground at Glorious Goodwood last July, she will be of particular interest when the ground eases again.
Sea King - Haydock, 2nd July 2022
Sea King only finished seventh in the one-mile-six-furlong three-year-olds' handicap at Haydock on Saturday, but he is better than that. He was keen early on along the inside, he was still keen as they raced to the end of the back straight, but he travelled well into the home straight and he moved to the front on the run to the two-furlong pole. It was always likely that his early exertions would catch up with him though, and that duly happened. He came under a ride inside the two-furlong marker as Giavellotto came past, and he weakened from there. He faded to finish seventh, beaten a total of seven lengths by the winner Nathanael Greene.
This was Sea King's second run of the season, his first since he landed odds of 4/6 at Doncaster on his seasonal debut in April, and just the sixth of his career. Also, he was stepping up to a mile and six furlongs for the first time, and he was racing on soft ground for the first time, and that, combined with how keen he was early on, made it all very difficult for him. Sir Mark Prescott's horse should be seen to better effect now on better ground, and maybe dropped back down in trip, and not as keen as he was here. He had won two of his previous five races, and there could be much more to come from him. He holds an entry in a listed race over 11 furlongs at Hamilton on Friday, and he will be of interest if he lines up in that.
Wolsey - Sandown, 2nd July 2022
Wolsey ran better than suggested by the bare form of his run in the 10-furlong three-year-olds' handicap at Sandown on Saturday. Weak in the market beforehand, he was held up towards the rear of the field by Adam Kirby early on, and he travelled well into the home straight. He made nice ground down the outside early in the home straight, and he picked up when he came under a ride at the two-furlong marker. He just couldn't get to the leader Youthful King however, his run flattened out close home and he faded deep inside the final furlong to finish sixth.
This was a race in which the early pace held up well, the winner made all, and the favourite Picual did well to keep on as well as she did to finish second. She can be marked up on the bare form of the run too. But Wolsey's run may have gone under the radar. As well as being well back early on, he had to try to make his ground widest of all.
This was his first run for Kevin Philippart De Foy, it was his first run since a gelding operation and it was his first run since April, and he was weak in the market beforehand. He could come on appreciably for this. This 10-furlong trip is probably his optimum, he may not have fully seen out the 12-furlong trip on his final run for Andrew Balding in April, but he will be of interest wherever he goes next.
Pythion - Tramore, 3rd July 2022
Pythion put it all together in winning the two-mile handicap chase at Tramore last Sunday. Prominent from early, he settled into a nice racing rhythm for Darragh O'Keeffe, and his jumping was very good. Third behind a decent pace that Jack Holiday set, as is his wont, Mick Winters' horse moved up on the outside of the leader as they left the back straight final time. He joined the leader at the second last fence, the pair of them clear, he moved to the front on the run to the last, and he cleared away to complete a really impressive performance, clocking a good time and bringing up a treble on the day for his rider.
Pythion was a talented horse on the flat when he was with Ger Lyons. He wasn't beaten far by Japan in the Group 2 Beresford Stakes as a juvenile, and he finished third in the Ballysax Stakes as a three-year-old, behind Hardwicke Stakes winner Broome and Irish Derby winner Sovereign. Still racing in the David Spratt colours, he only won once over hurdles, but he has been steadily progressing over fences. He ran well at Clonmel in June on just his third run over fences, and this was as nice step forward from that. The handicapper raised him by 8lb to a mark of 111, but that is a mark that should still be well within range and, still only six, he should be able to continue his progression.
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