Donn McClean's Horses to Follow: June 3rd - 10th
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.
Duke Of Hazzard - Epsom, June 5th
Duke Of Hazzard can be marked up at least a little on the bare form of his run in the Group 3 Diomed Stakes at Epsom on Derby day. Settled last of the seven runners early on by Frankie Dettori, he travelled well into the home straight, and he made good ground on the inside rail. He ran into a cul de sac, however, at the furlong marker, as can often happen at Epsom. His rider had to check him back and take him around horses, which effectively ended any chance he had of winning. He kept on well enough in finishing fourth to suggest that he had at least a little bit of energy left, and that he would have at least finished close up behind Oh This Is Us and Century Dream if he had enjoyed a clear run at it.
The Coles' horse is five now, and he didn't win last year as a four-year-old, but this was a nice step forward from his debut this season in a listed race at Ascot, his second run back after a wind operation. He was beaten in a listed race at York on Friday, but that was a four-horse race which wasn’t run to suit, in which the leader Azano had a long break on his three rivals at the top of the home straight, with Duke Of Hazzard leading the chase. Also, he had been beaten on his only other run at York.
He could be underrated now on the back of that defeat. He goes particularly well at Goodwood, where he has won three races out of five, including the Group 3 Thoroughbred Stakes and the Group 2 Celebration Mile, both over a mile, and he will be of particular interest if and when he goes back to Goodwood.
Lord Riddiford - Epsom, June 5th
Lord Riddiford did well to finish as close as he did in the Dash at Epsom on Saturday. Drawn poorly in stall five, he shipped a bump from Ornate next door on leaving the stalls, with the result that he stumbled a little, which left him playing catch-up immediately. There was plenty of pace on his side early on, with Son And Sannie leading the entire field from stall seven, but it was the far side horses who ultimately came to the fore. The first four home were all drawn high and they all raced towards the stands side early on. Lord Riddiford did get into his rhythm, but he was squeezed again a little between the ultimate winner Mokaatil and Pettochside at the two-furlong marker. Even after all that, he finished off his race well, running all the way to the line and getting up to finish fifth. He was one of just two horses drawn lower than 13 who finished in the first seven.
It was a really good run by John Quinn's horse, and he could be a well-handicapped horse now on turf. His all-weather rating of 103 is 13lb higher than the mark off which he raced on Saturday, and he will be of interest again now back on turf. He has run well at Doncaster and Goodwood in the past and will be of particular interest if and when he returns to one of those tracks, and five furlongs is his trip.
Timiyra - Cork, June 9th
Timiyra ran a really nice race on her racecourse debut to finish third in the fillies' maiden that opened proceedings at Cork last Wednesday. Strong in the pre-race market, she travelled well for Colin Keane in behind runners. While she didn't show an explosive turn of foot, she kept on strongly all the way to the line to get up for third, just over two lengths behind Impeachd Alexander, who is out of a half-sister to Queen Mary winner Anthem Alexander, and Might And Mercy, who fought out the finish.
Timiyra is by Coventry Stakes and Commonwealth Cup winner Caravaggio, but she is a half-sister to Tirmizi, who won over a mile and six furlongs. Out of a daughter of the Aga Khan's superstar mare Timarida, she should progress from this experience, and she could do better as she steps up in trip. She should be winning her maiden soon, and she will be of interest when she steps up in grade and up in distance.
Aesop - Cork, June 9th
Aesop did well to finish third in the Cork Derby last Wednesday, coming from behind in a race that was not run at a fast pace. The Cork Derby was one of two races run over a mile-and-a-half on the day. In the other race, the Munster Oaks, admittedly a Group 3 race, they got from the start to the end of the back straight in a time that was around seven seconds faster than the time that it took the runners in the Cork Derby to cover the same ground. Aesop was stone last at that point of the race and it was always going to be difficult for him to make up the ground.
He made a valiant attempt. Shane Foley took him towards the outside early in the home straight, and he stayed on well from there all the way to the line. The winner, Morph Speed, did well to win. He started his run from well back in the field too, but he was always in front of Aesop, and he beat him by just over a length in the end.
Jessica Harrington's horse was well-beaten on his previous run at The Curragh, but that was on soft ground, and this was much more like it, building on his win in a 10-furlong handicap at Cork in early April. He was raised by just 3lb for that win to a mark of 87, the handicapper left him on that rating after Friday's run, and that is a mark off which he will be of interest wherever he goes next. A half-brother to Youmzain from the family of Pilsudski, he stays a mile-and-a-half well, and he could even get further given his style of racing. It is interesting that he holds an entry in the Northumberland Plate.
Never Seen Before - Leopardstown, June 10th
Never Seen Before did well to finish second in the three-year-olds' one-mile handicap at Leopardstown on Thursday evening from a wide draw. Rider Billy Lee's hand was more or less forced given that he was drawn in stall 16. He dropped his horse in at the back and tucked in. Still four wide around the home turn, he had to go even wider as they swung into the home straight in order to ensure a clear path. His rider wheeled him to the outside a furlong-and-a-half out and, when he asked the Epaulette gelding for his effort, he found plenty. He stayed on strongly down the outside, moving from almost last of the 14 runners to get to within a neck of the winner Maralinga by the time they got to the winning line.
It was a really good effort by Darren Bunyan's horse from his wide draw. He did best by far of the horses who were drawn wide. He emerged from stall 16, while the four horses who, with him, filled the first five places were drawn nine, six, five and four respectively. This was just his fifth run too, and just his second on turf. It was his first since he won on the all-weather at Dundalk in February over seven furlongs, and he saw out the mile well. The handicapper raised him by just 2lb to a mark of 68, which was fair, and he has the potential to go beyond that mark now.
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