Donn McClean's Horses to Follow: June 28th - July 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.
Angel In The Sky - Tipperary, 30th June 2021
Angel In The Sky did well to keep on as well as she did to finish third in Division 1 of the 12-furlong handicap at Tipperary last Wednesday. Smartly away from her outside draw, she moved forward nicely for Joe Doyle and led the field up past the winning post first time. She travelled well in front, heading up a well-stretched-out field. They congregated around her as they raced around the home turn but, moving over towards the stands side in the home straight, she found plenty for pressure. She was passed by Wild Shot and Custers Mistake, who both raced in rear early on, but she was beaten a total of less than three lengths, and she finished nicely clear of the fourth horse Alvaro.
This was Luke Comer's filly's second run back after a break of 12 months, her second run in cheekpieces, and she did well to keep on as well as she did behind two horses who were held up, having led from flagfall. The first three finished nicely clear, and the winning time was 0.84secs faster than the time of the second division of this race. The handicapper raised her by just 1lb for this to a mark of 50, which is still 4lb lower than her all-weather mark. She has raced just seven times in her life, and just three times on turf, so she retains plenty of potential to progress. She is entered in a 12-furlong handicap at Fairyhouse on Sunday, and she will be of interest if she takes her chance in that.
Tashkhan - Haydock, 3rd July 2021
Tashkhan put up a game performance to win the 14-furlong handicap at Haydock on Saturday. Niggled along early on in order to retain his position, he got stronger as the race developed. Taken to the near side by Harry Russell in the home straight, he ground it out down the stands rail. His task was made easier than it might have been when Dhushan was withdrawn at the start but, even so, he battled on gamely to get home by a length and a half from Summer's Knight.
Winner of a handicap at Navan on heavy ground on his final run for Emmet Mullins in March off a mark of 57, the Born To Sea gelding has continued his progression since he joined Brian Ellison. He does go well on this soft ground, and he is two for two at Haydock now, but he ran better than the bare form of his run suggests in the King George V Handicap on fast ground at Royal Ascot. The handicapper raised him by 6lb for Saturday's win to a mark of 92, but it was just his eighth run, it was his first over a mile and six furlongs, and he has lots of scope for continued progression now over staying trips. The Melrose Handicap at York is the obvious target for him now, and he was only just beaten at York's Dante meeting on his only run there to date.
Mrs Bouquet - Naas, 3rd July 2021
Mrs Bouquet was unlucky not to finish closer than she did in the six-furlong fillies' handicap at Naas on Sunday. Settled back just behind the leaders by Ronan Whelan and along the inside rail early on, she was angled off the rail just inside the three-furlong marker, but she couldn't get out into the clear as the eventual winner Affable travelled well up on the near side. A half a gap in front of her which looked like it might develop between Deidra and Misterio failed to materialise too, with the result that Ronan Whelan had to sit and suffer until he got a gap deep inside the final furlong. When he did, Mrs Bouquet picked up nicely and ran into third place, just over a length in front of Affable. You can't say that she definitely would have won if she had had a clear run, but she almost certainly would have finished closer than she did.
This was another good run by Jack Davison's filly. On her previous run, she had kept on well on the far side to finish sixth in the Rockingham Handicap, finishing off her race well out towards the centre. The handicapper left her on her mark of 83 after that, and he raised her by 2lb for Saturday's run to a mark of 85, but that is a mark off which she remains of interest, it is still 12lb lower than her mark at the start of last season when she was with Mark Johnston. There could be a good sprint handicap in her now off that mark.
Luigi Vampa - Sandown, 3rd July 2021
Luigi Vampa did well to finish third in the 10-furlong handicap at Sandown on Saturday. David Menuisier's horse was very slowly away, he was about four lengths behind the second last horse after they had gone a hundred yard, and he was always playing catch-up thereafter. Taken to the outside by Jason Watson as they raced down the back straight, he made ground to move up into mid-division by the time they got to the end of the back straight. Wider than ideal around the home turn, he made his challenge towards the stands side, and he stayed on well through the final furlong to get up for third place, just a length and a half behind the winner Makram in a race that was run in good time, a time that was faster than the time that St Mark's Basilica clocked in the Eclipse.
Luigi Vampa has been slowly away in the past, including at Windsor on his debut this season, when he made up the lost ground quickly and made the rest of the running. It may be as a result of this that it appears that he is at his best in small fields. His record in fields of seven or less reads 11. At his best over 10 furlongs on good ground, he will be of interest wherever he goes next, and he will be of greatest interest the next time he races in a relatively small field.
Mazagran – Limerick, 4th July 2021
Mazagran was impressive in winning the one-mile rated race at Limerick on Sunday. Slowly away and dropped in early on by Shane Crosse, he was last of the eight runners as they raced around the home turn. Taken wide as they straightened up, he travelled best of all to the two-furlong marker and, when his rider just gave him a slight squeeze, his response was impressive. He made good ground on the near side to hit the front at the furlong pole, and it wasn't until that point that his rider asked him to pick up. When he did, the War Front colt stretched nicely clear of his rivals to win by three lengths.
The pace generally held up well at Limerick on Sunday and, the winner apart, this race was no exception, with early leader Catena Zapata keeping on well to finish third. It was a fine performance by Mazagran to come from the rear as he did off a moderate pace. This was his first run for Joseph O'Brien, he won twice over a mile on dirt at Jebel Ali for Sateesh Seemar in January, and he is an interesting recruit. The handicapper raised him by 12lb for Sunday's performance to a mark of 94, but he has the potential to be better than that mark. This was a really taking performance, and there is no knowing how high he could go.
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