Donn McClean's Horses To Follow: March 22 to March 29
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.
Frazil - The Curragh, 25th March 2023
Frazil made an encouraging racecourse debut in the seven-furlong maiden at The Curragh on Sunday, despite things not going to plan in the preliminaries. On his toes beforehand in the paddock, he went down to the start on the track, not on the shoot inside the track, with the result that Luke McAteer had to dismount and a rail had to be moved in order to allow him join his rivals at the start. He was smartly away though, and he travelled well in a prominent position from early.
He was one of just a few horses who were still on the bridle on the run to the two-furlong marker. He picked up when his rider asked him to, but he just kept on through the final furlong, he couldn't get close to the winner Shadowed, but he kept on well to take fifth place, towards the stands side, probably not on the fastest part of the track.
It was an encouraging performance by Jim Bolger's horse on his belated racecourse debut. He is a full-brother to Poetic Flare, Guineas winner and St James's Palace Stakes winner, and it is obviously encouraging that his trainer has kept faith in him until making his racecourse debut as a four-year-old. He should benefit from this experience, and that could bring him forward considerably.
Toistiun - The Curragh, 25th March 2023
Toistiun did well to finish third in the seven-furlong fillies' maiden at The Curragh on Sunday from her high draw and racing towards the near side for much of the race. Like Frazil, a Jim Bolger-trained racecourse debutante, she was prominent from early, racing in the group of 13 that raced down the centre of the track.
She came under a ride on the run to the two-furlong marker, but she showed a really willing attitude, she kept going forward. Only seventh or eighth at the two-furlong marker, she stayed on well from there to get up and take third place, moving over towards the far side late on and doing best of the group of 13 who raced down the centre.
Just three fillies raced towards the far rail, Honey Girl, Unless and Queen St Clair, and, while the three of them occupied three of the top four positions in the market, it may not be insignificant that they finished first, second and fifth. Toistiun did best of the 13 fillies who raced away from the far rail.
She raced here too as if she would appreciate a step up from this seven furlongs, and that hypothesis is backed up by her breeding, by Classic Trial and Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial winner Fracas, and from the family of Irish Derby winner Soldier Of Fortune. She will be of interest now stepped up to a mile and even beyond.
Run Forest Run - The Curragh, 25th March 2023
Run Forest Run finished off his race well on the near side to take third place in the six-furlong handicap that concluded proceedings at The Curragh on Saturday.
Slowly away from stall 16, he was well back on the leading new betting sites in the field early on and towards the near side. It was a day on which low-drawn horses who raced towards the far side appeared to be favoured, and this race did nothing to disprove that hypothesis with the five horses who, with Run Forest Run, filled the first six places drawn, respectively in stalls two, eight, three, seven and five of 17.
Just about last passing the two-furlong marker, Run Forest Run was taken towards the stands rail by Jamie Powell in order to ensure a clear path, and he finished off his race strongly from there, getting up to take third place, just three parts of a length behind the winner Queen's Pardon, with the first four clear.
Not only was Michael Fenton's horse the only high-drawn horse to get in among them, but he was also the only one who got into it from the rear. The other three horses who finished clear in that group of four all raced handily. As well as that, the form of the race has already received a boost, with the runner-up Seeingisbelieving winning at Navan on Wednesday.
This was the Bobby's Kitten gelding's seasonal debut, and it was just his fourth run for his current trainer, and his first in a hood and cheekpieces combination, although he had worn cheekpieces once before. The handicapper raised him by 4lb to a mark of 63, but that was fine, it still leaves him easily in this 50-70 grade. A three-time winner for George Baker in Britain, twice over seven furlongs, he reached a peak rating of 72 in Britain, so there could be more to come from him. He handles better ground too, and he will be of interest wherever he goes next, over six or seven furlongs.
Life In The Park - Limerick, 26th March 2023
Life In The Park put up a fine performance to finish third behind Thedevilscoachman in the Grade 3 Hugh McMahon Memorial Chase at Limerick on Sunday.
This was more like it from Henry de Bromhead's horse. The last time we saw him, he finished a disappointing third of three behind Chemical Energy in a novices' chase at Cheltenham's October meeting. He travelled well here for Rachael Blackmore, back in the small field and along the inside, and his jumping was good. The leaders got away from him a bit when they quickened from the top of the home straight, but he stayed on well from the second last fence to take third place, less than three lengths behind the winner.
It was a fine run by the Walk In The Park gelding on his first run since October, and on ground that was probably softer than ideal for him. He should do better with this run under his belt, and was we move onto better ground in the spring. He will be fresher than most too if he runs at the spring festivals, and he will be of particular interest if he goes to Punchestown, where he won the Adare Manor Final last year. He is only six and this was just his third run over fences. A half-brother to Lifetime Ambition, there could be a fair bit more to come.
French Claim - Navan, 29th March 2023
French Claim ran out an impressive winner of the one-mile-six-furlong race at Navan on Wednesday. He was a long odds-on shot, and the defection of Okita Soushi made his task easier than it might have been, but he couldn't have been much more impressive than he was in winning, and, Paddy Twomey's first runner of the season, it could set him up for a good season ahead.
He was a progressive stayer last season. He ran a big race to finish third in the Irish Derby, and he didn't run badly in the St Leger, he was only beaten a total of five lengths in a race that appeared to be an insufficient test of stamina for him on good to soft ground. He goes well on soft ground, and he is a horse who should appreciate a thorough test of stamina.
The Vintage Crop Stakes back at Navan could be next for him, according to his trainer, and, if all goes well there, he could move on to the Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown, and on from there. He could be a Cup horse. The two and a half miles of the Ascot Gold Cup could suit him well and, although he isn't quoted in the betting for that race, as long as the ground didn't come up too fast, he could be a lively outsider at Royal Ascot.
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