Donn McClean's Horses To Follow: November 27th to December 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.
Ash Tree Meadow - Fairyhouse, 27th November 2021
Ash Tree Meadow but up a good performance to finish third behind Gringo D'Aubrelle and Adamantly Chosen in the first division of the two-mile maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse last Saturday. The market was dominated by the first two home, as was the race, they raced in first and second places respectively from flagfall, with Ash Tree Meadow racing in third place behind them. He was a little keen early on, but he travelled well through his race. He dropped to fourth as they raced to the home turn, as Mind Your Money moved up on his outside, but he still travelled well to the second last flight, and he picked up well from there to get back past Mind Your Money for third place, and keeping on well to the line.
It was a really encouraging run by Gordon Elliott's horse. He was weak in the pre-race market, on this, his first run for Gordon Elliott, and his first since he won the second of his two point-to-points for Donnchadh Doyle last April. A stable companion of the winner, he is out of a half-sister to Pacha Du Polder, so he could improve if and when he goes out in trip, and he should progress for this experience, his first run over hurdles. He should be winning his maiden hurdle soon before stepping up in grade.
Ch'tibello - Newbury, 27th November 2021
Ch'tibello ran well on his seasonal debut to finish fifth in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle at Newbury on Saturday. Held up early on, he was last and being pushed along as they left the back straight, but he stayed on well for Harry Skelton from the top of the home straight, over the last two flights, to take fifth place. He was well beaten by the first two home, Earlofthecotswolds and Masters Legacy, but he was only beaten a length by Glory And Fortune for fourth.
It was a more-than satisfactory return from Dan Skelton's horse, on his first run since he finished sixth in the Grade 2 International Hurdle at Cheltenham's December meeting almost a year ago. He is usually better in the middle-to-latter stages of the season than he is in the early part of the season, his best runs have been between mid-December and April, and he won the County Hurdle at Cheltenham in March 2019. He hasn't won since then, but he is back down to a mark of 144 now, 2lb lower than he was for that win and 13lb lower than his peak. He is not getting any younger, but he retains lots of ability on this evidence, and that mark could under-rate him now. He stays two and a half miles well, he may need it now, as a 10-rising-11-year-old, and there could be another good handicap in him off a mark of 144.
Sit Down Lucy - Fairyhouse, 28th November 2021
Sit Down Lucy did well to finish fourth in the Grade A two-mile handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday. Setting off just behind the leaders and towards the outside, Peter Fahey's mare progressed to move up in behind the leader Wolf Prince by the time they reached half way, and she was left in a share of the lead when that rival came down at the fifth flight, also the fifth last. She led into the home straight, and she still held a share of the lead when they picked up at the final flight, challenged on all sides. She couldn't fend off the closers, but she kept on well enough to retain fourth place.
This was a race that was run at a strong pace and in which the hold-up horses came to the fore. Sit Down Lucy was one of just two prominent racers who finished in the first 11, and the winner, Gua Du Large, was last early on. As well as that, it wasn't ideal that Sit Down Lucy was left in front from so far out, and she jumped a little to her left throughout, which wasn't ideal at a right-handed track. Interestingly, she has only run once at a left-handed track. That was at Killarney in October, when the two-mile-seven-furlong distance probably stretched her stamina. She has only won once, a maiden hurdle at Limerick last April, but she has been progressing with every run through the autumn. She kept on well to finish second to Top Bandit - a winner again back at Punchestown on Sunday - in a two-mile novice hurdle at Punchestown last month. That was probably a career-best performance up to that point, and Sunday's performance was probably better again. The handicapper raised her by just 1lb to a mark of 124, and that was more than fair. She appears to be adept at any distance between two miles and two and a half miles, and she will be of interest wherever she goes next. There could be a good handicap in her off that mark, possibly at a left-handed track. She will be of interest if she lines up in a handicap hurdle at Leopardstown's Christmas Festival.
Good Boy Bobby - Newcastle, 28th November 2021
Good Boy Bobby did well to finish second to Aye Right in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle last Saturday. Prominent from early, he and the ultimate winner Aye Right disputed the lead for over a circuit. They had it between them from the top of the home straight in a race in which it was difficult for the hold-up horses to make progress. Aye Right moved on at the third last fence, travelling best, but he got in tight to the last, and Good Boy Bobby stayed on willingly and strongly up the run-in to get to within a head of the winner.
This was a fine performance by Nigel Twiston-Davies' horse, on his second run of the season and back up to nearly three miles. He had raced over this type of trip just once before, he finished third in a three-mile-one-furlong handicap hurdle at Huntingdon when it appeared as if he didn't stay the trip. He stayed the trip at Newcastle all right, he had to stay in order to get as close as he did, through the snow, and he was strong on the run-in. The handicapper raised him by 5lb for this to a mark of 146, but that was fair, it is back up to the rating on which he started off last season. He handles soft ground well, and he remains unexposed over staying trips.
Mighty Potter - Fairyhouse, 29th November 2021
Mighty Potter did well to get as close as he did in the Royal Bond Hurdle at Fairyhouse last Sunday. A little keen in the middle of the seven-runner field early on, fourth or fifth, he was wider than ideal as they raced to the home turn as all seven runners closed up. Four wide as they rounded the home turn, he got a little tapped for toe as they leaders quickened. Only sixth jumping the second last flight, he started to stay on towards the far side for Bryan Cooper. Still only fifth jumping the last, he finished off his race best of all to take third place, just over a length behind Statuaire and My Mate Mozzie, and he would have been even closer if he hadn't had to switch on the run-in.
Winner of his bumper on his racecourse debut at Punchestown last March, Gordon Elliott's horse was a really impressive winner of his maiden hurdle at Down Royal at the end of October on his hurdling bow, and this was a good step forward from that. It was just his second run over hurdles, and just his third run under all codes, so it is probable that he will progress for the experience. A half-brother to two talented Mouse Morris-trained horses French Dynamite and Indiana Jones, he should also do better off a faster pace, and he could step up in trip in time. He is only four, he was one of just two four-year-olds in Sunday's race, and he remains an exciting prospect.
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