Donn McClean's Horses to Follow: March 23rd - 28th
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.
Judgement Day - Clonmel, 23rd March
9yo Gelding, PF McEnery
Judgement Day did well to finish third behind Robin Des Foret and Westerner Point in the two-and-a-half-mile chase at Clonmel last Tuesday. Held up in behind the leaders early on, he struggled a little to lie up with the first three, Richie Deegan had to niggle him along as they raced down the back straight. About five lengths behind the leading trio as they left the back straight, he closed a little at the top of the home straight and, while he lost ground on the run to the second last fence, he kept on well from there. It never looked like he was going to get to Robin Des Foret and Westerner Point, but he stayed on well to get to within five and a half lengths of them by the time they reached the winning line.
The Martaline gelding was a progressive staying chaser as a novice. Trained by Henry de Bromhead then and owned by Gigginstown House, he ran up a hat-trick of victories in the autumn of 2018 on good ground, he reached a peak rating of 139, and he was sent off at just 10/1 for the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Chase at Leopardstown's Christmas Festival that season that Delta Work won. He has obviously had his issues, he has had long spells on the sidelines and he was sold by Gigginstown House for £5,000 at Doncaster last September, but he shaped encouragingly over hurdles on his first run for Paul McEnery at Leopardstown in March, when he finished second in a three-horse race behind Mouse Morris' talented hurdler French Dynamite.
He was running in a chase on Tuesday for the first time since he finished 12th in the Midlands National at Kilbeggan last July, and there is every chance that he will progress from it. He should also improve as the ground improves, and he should do better for a step back up to three miles. He is nine now, but he has raced just eight times over fences, so there could still be a day or two in him.
Danyah - Doncaster, 27th March 2021
4yo Gelding, Owen Burrows
Danyah did well to finish fourth in the Lincoln on Saturday. Smartly away, he was very keen through the early stages of the race. Kieran Shoemark managed to get a little bit of cover after they had gone a couple of furlongs, and Danyah settled a little better then, but he just appeared to be doing a little more than his rider wanted for most of the race. He travelled well to the two-furlong marker, and he picked up when his rider asked him to, but he just flattened out through the final furlong as the winner Haqeeqy came past and his early exertions took their toll. In the end, he kept on well to hold onto fourth place from Orbaan.
Danyah can go well fresh, he had won on each of his two previous seasonal debuts, but he should still come on for this run, given how keen he was early on. Hopefully this run will have taken some of the freshness out of him. He is a keen-going sort, he has worn a hood now in each of his last six races, and he is suited by a good pace. He won over a mile on his last start last season, this trip suits him well, so the Spring Mile at Newbury, a track at which he ran well last August, could be the race for him now. He is also effective over seven furlongs, a trip over which the faster pace helps him settle better, and the Victoria Cup over that trip at Ascot in May would be a legitimate mid-range target.
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Earlswood - Navan, 27th March
3yo Colt, JP Murtagh
Earlswood put up a nice performance to win the one-mile maiden at Navan on Saturday. Drawn wide, he travelled nicely through his race for Ben Coen, just behind the leaders. He moved nicely into the home straight, and he made progress towards the leaders towards the near side on the run to the two-furlong marker. He got the better of favourite HMS Seahorse inside the two-furlong marker, but he was challenged and passed by Earl Of Tyrone and Too Nice, who both raced towards the stands side, so he did well to pick up as well as he did on the far side, hitting the front inside the final furlong and going on to put two lengths between himself and his rivals.
It was a day on which it was probably an advantage to race towards the near side. Earlswood didn't race on the inside rail, but he had to make his challenge towards the centre of the track, on the far side of the horses with whom he fought out the finish, so it was to his credit that he was able to finish as strongly as he did. He won going away, and he can probably be marked up on the bare form of the run.
The Pivotal colt raced three times last season as a juvenile for John Oxx, and he progressed with each run, putting up his best performance on his third and final run when he finished third in a seven-furlong maiden at The Curragh in November on heavy ground. He had Sir Lamorak a neck behind him in fourth place that day, and Sir Lamorak came out and won his maiden at Dundalk on Friday. This was a nice seasonal debut by Earlswood, a good first run for Johnny Murtagh, and it is a win on which he should be able to build now. It may be that easy ground is important to him, but his full-brother Making Miracles won on good and fast ground for Mark Johnston. He won over two miles, and his half-brother Litigious won over a mile and a half, so there is every chance that Earlswood will improve for stepping up in trip. His run on Saturday left the impression that he could go up in trip too.
Kailash - Navan, 27th March
3yo Colt, DK Weld
Kailash ran well on his seasonal debut to take third place behind Team Of Firsts in the 10-furlong median auction three-year-olds' maiden at Navan on Saturday.
Well away from his inside draw, he travelled down the back straight along the inside, just behind the front rank. Still travelling well when they straightened up for home, he picked up nicely for Oisin Orr on the run to the two-furlong marker to join the front rank. But he was forced to make his challenge towards the far side, probably on the worst of the ground, and that wasn't ideal. He was never getting to the impressive winner Team Of Firsts, but he stayed on well on the far side to take third place, in front of Camino Mission and Skilled Warrior, and closing on outsider Play The Crowd for the runner-up spot all the way to the line.
It was an encouraging three-year-old debut by Dermot Weld's horse. He didn't win last year as a juvenile, but he didn't make his racecourse debut until early September, and he finished second to current warm 1000 Guineas favourite Santa Barbara in her maiden at The Curragh in mid-September. His dam is a half-sister to Kaleefa, whose only win was in a 12-furlong maiden, and he is from the family of Kalanisi. He is bred for middle distances, and he raced here as if he could easily step up to a mile and a half. It is interesting that his trainer thought enough of him to include him among his four entries for the Irish Derby.
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La Petite Coco - Naas, 28th March
3yo Filly, Andrew Kinirons
La Petite Coco did well to finish fourth behind Empress Josephine in the one-mile fillies' maiden at Naas on Sunday. A little keen early on just behind the leaders, she was caught in traffic a little on the run to the two-furlong marker. She had the winner just beside her to her left, and she appeared to be travelling at least as well as her, but the gap didn't open up for her, as it did for Empress Josephine. Billy Lee has to wait until, first, Blazing Star picked up on his outside, and then New York Angel came with her run, before he could ask his filly to pick up. When he did, La Petite Coco responded well, picked up nicely and finished off her race strongly to take fourth place, just over two lengths behind the winner.
It was a fine run by Andrew Kinirons' filly on just her second run ever and her first since last November. The winner could prove to be a high-class filly, she is by Galileo out of Lillie Langtry, and she got to within two and a half lengths of her, without having had the run of the race. La Petite Coco shaped well on that racecourse debut last November at a big price, in a one-mile maiden at The Curragh on heavy ground, keeping on nicely to dead-heat for sixth place. Out of a half-sister to German Derby winner Lavirco, there is plenty of stamina in her pedigree and she shaped here as if she could do even better when she steps up in trip. She obviously handles soft ground well.
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