Donn McClean's Horses To Follow: May 18th to May 25th
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.
Band Of Outlaws - The Curragh, 20th May 2022
Band Of Outlaws put up a good performance to finish fourth in the one-mile-six-furlong handicap at The Curragh last Friday on his first run in almost a year. Settled nicely towards the rear of the field early on by Shane Crosse and along the inside, he travelled well into the home straight and, while the leaders got away from him a little when they quickened, he kept on well on the far side to finish fourth. He was beaten by six lengths by the winner Dame Rapide, but the first four were clear, he was over four lengths ahead of the fifth horse.
It was a really encouraging run by Joseph O'Brien's horse on his first run since he finished sixth in the Grade 3 Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary last July, and it was his first run on the flat since he finished third in a one-mile handicap at Naas last May. He is obviously a high-class hurdler, he won the Fred Winter Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2019 and he finished a close-up third in the Galway Hurdle four and a half months later. He will be of interest if he goes for the Galway Hurdle again this year, he is rated 1lb lower now than he was in 2019. He would be of greater interest if he were to run next on the flat, in a good handicap at any distance between a mile and a half and two miles. He has a rating on the flat of 88, 56lb lower than his hurdles mark and 6lb lower than his peak.
Wings Of War - Haydock, 21st May 2022
Wings Of War kept on well to finish third in the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock last Saturday. Held up early on by David Probert and tucked in behind the leaders, he was ninth of the 10 runners as they passed the three-furlong pole. Still on the bridle as they raced to the two-furlong marker, he switched towards the near side in order to get racing room, and he picked up well as a gap developed on the run to the furlong pole. He kept on well from there and, while it never looked like he would get to El Caballo or Flaming Rib, he finished off his race strongly to take third place behind them.
Winner of two of his five races last season as a juvenile, and placed in the other three, Clive Cox's horse finished last of four behind Go Bears Go in the Group 3 Pavillion Stakes at Ascot on his debut this season, but he proved here that that just wasn't his running. This was much more like it, in his first-time cheekpieces, and he should be able to build on this now. He will be of interest wherever he goes next.
Mighty Ulysses - Haydock, 21st May 2022
Mighty Ulysses did well to finish second in the Silver Bowl at Haydock last Saturday. Slowly away and no better than seventh or eighth through the early stages of the race, he travelled well into the home straight and he was able to engineer racing room for himself to make ground easily up on the outside at the three-furlong pole. He picked up well too when Benoit De La Sayette asked him to at the two-furlong marker to go two lengths clear of his rivals and traded at 1.2 in-running before getting run down close home by Whoputfiftyinyou, who had been out the back early on.
Winner of his only race at two, John & Thady Gosden's horse ran well in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom on his debut this season, and he was impressive in winning a novice stakes at Newmarket over a mile on his only other run before Saturday. He is by Ulysses unsurprisingly, so he could be a 10-furlong horse, but his dam won over seven furlongs and a mile, and he is from the family of Coronation Stakes winner Rebecca Sharp, and a mile looks like his optimum trip at least for now. He holds an entry in the St James's Palace Stakes, and he would be an interesting outsider if he took his chance in that, but he will be of interest wherever he goes next.
Kiss You Later - The Curragh, 21st May 2022
Kiss You Later stayed on well to win the 10-furlong three-year-old fillies' maiden at The Curragh last Sunday. Settled in a share of fourth place early on by Seamie Heffernan behind a good pace that her stable companion Ark set, the Moyglare Stud's filly was niggled along by her rider as they rounded the home turn, fully three and a half furlongs from home. It appeared that she was travelling sixth best of the first six fillies and, when she moved to her right in behind horses, victory looked unlikely. It was probably at around about that point that she traded at 180 in-running. But she responded gamely to her rider's urgings, she moved back towards the near side and, still only sixth as they passed the furlong pole, she stayed on strongly down the near side to get up and get the better of Star Angel and River Rain, going on to win by a length and a half in the end.
It was a really game performance by Aidan O'Brien's filly. She had shaped encouragingly on her previous run, in a Leopardstown maiden on her first attempt at 10 furlongs, when she kept on despite not having a lot of room through the closing stages of the race, and she showed a really willing attitude again here. This was just her fifth race, she should continue to progress as she gains in experience and, on this evidence, she could improve significantly for a step up in trip, a hypothesis that is backed up by her pedigree. She holds an entry in the Group 3 Munster Oaks at Cork on 8th June, and that could be an ideal target for her now.
Golden Twilight - The Curragh, 21st May 2022
It might pay to give Golden Twilight another chance. He ran no kind of race in the 10-furlong premier handicap at The Curragh last Saturday. Usually a prominent racer, Michael Halford's horse missed the break, he was last of the 19 runners after five strides, and he just never got into the race. Still last as they turned for home, he never got close, and he just kept on to finish 16th.
He is obviously a leap of faith now, but it just wasn't his day. Interestingly, on his previous run, his first run of the year, he had finished fifth in a handicap at Cork in which the two Johnny Murtagh horses Mashhoor and Safecracker – first and second in Saturday's race – had finished just in front of him in fourth and third places respectively. Golden Twilight shaped that day too as if he would come on for the run, his first in three and a half months. It could be worthwhile giving him another chance now, and it may be that he will be under-rated by the market next time on the back of Saturday's disappointing run.
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