Donn McClean's Horses to Follow: September 10th to September 12th
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.
Viola - Doncaster, 10th September, 2021
Viola did well to close as well as she did, and get to within a half a length of the winner Sea La Rosa in the 12-furlong fillies' handicap at Doncaster recently. Dropped in early on from her outside draw by Daniel Muscutt, she was still last of the seven runners when they straightened up for home. She made good ground towards the far side on the run to the two-furlong marker, she tracked Sea La Rosa through. She picked up well too as the winner picked up in front of her and, while she couldn't catch her, she closed to within three-parts of a length of the admittedly idling winner by the time they got to the winning line.
It was another good performance by James Fanshawe's filly. The winner is a progressive three-year-old filly, and she picked up smartly from a better position, and Viola kept on strongly all the way to the line, pulling over two lengths clear of the third-placed Ms Gandhi. Winner of a handicap over a mile and a half at Lingfield last season, her only win in six attempts in 2020, she won two of her previous three races this season, including another fillies' handicap at Doncaster, in which she stayed on well to beat Sea La Rosa by a neck to record her first win on turf.
The handicapper raised her by 3lb to a mark of 90, but she remains progressive enough to give herself a chance of coping with that hike. She stays well, she could go out in trip and, a daughter of Sistine, who recorded her sole win at Southwell, it may be that she will show her best form on artificial surfaces, or at Ascot or Doncaster, where she has now put up two of the best performances of her career. The Park Hill Stakes back at Doncaster next year is a legitimate long-term target, but she will be of interest now back at one of Doncaster's meetings in October or November, or at Ascot in October, although she is unproven on soft ground, or on the all-weather thereafter, and she will be of particular interest if and when she steps up in trip.
Limiti Di Greccio - Leopardstown, 11th September, 2021
Limiti Di Greccio ran a big race to finish second to Panama Red in the Listed Ballylinch Stud Ingabelle Stakes at Leopardstown on the first day of Irish Champions Weekend. Settled just behind the leaders early on by Billy Lee from her wide draw, she was just starting to tuck in in mid-division as they raced to the end of the back straight, when the loose Voice Of Angels came up on her inside and pushed her out. Billy Lee had no option but to take her back, she would have been five or six wide out of the back straight if he hadn't, but the net result was that she wasn't as well positioned on the run across the top of the track as she would otherwise have been.
She probably would have been upsides the ultimate winner Panama Red, in the second rank, disputing fourth place. Instead, she was in the third rank, disputing sixth place, a length and a half behind Panama Red. She did well from there. She had to go five wide in order to deliver her challenge, outside Panama Red, who had to go four wide, and she closed on the winner all the way to the line. The pair of them picked up well on the outside, they both got past Malayan and Pennine Hills and Corviglia, and Limiti Di Greccio closed Panama Red to a half a length by the time they got to the winning line.
It was a big run by the Elzaam filly. Panama Red is a highly progressive filly of Ger Lyons', and she did well to run her as close as she did, despite not having a good run through the race, leaving some talented juvenile fillies behind her. That was just her fourth run, it was just her second for Paddy Twomey, so she should be able to go on from this now. She holds entries in the Rockfel Stakes and the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket, of which the Rockfel Stakes, over seven furlongs, would be a more suitable target. But her trainer said that she could stay at home and go for the Weld Park Stakes or the Staffordstown Stud Stakes, a race in which Twomey sprang a mild surprise last year with Fantasy Lady. She will be of interest wherever she goes next, but it may be that she will be of most interest from a betting perspective if she were to take her chance in the Rockfel.
Rohaan - The Curragh, 12th September 2021
Rohaan did remarkably well to finish fifth in the Flying Five at The Curragh recently. David Evans' horse completely missed the break. He had missed the break in the past, he was slowly away when he won the Wokingham at Royal Ascot, but not as badly as he was here. He gave his rivals a 10-length start, he had just about no chance of winning the race before he had gone a hundred yards. To his credit though, he made up the ground, he got back into the main body of the field, and he finished off his race best of all for Shane Kelly to take fifth place, beaten just a total of two lengths by the winner Romantic Proposal.
Rohaan was helped by the fact that they went very fast up front. Even so, it was a big run by the Mayson gelding, racing over five furlongs for the first time in his life, and probably on ground that was faster than ideal. He is a horse who probably hasn't got the recognition that he should got so far, and it may be that he will be under-rated again wherever he goes next. He will be of particular interest if he takes up his entry in the British Champions Sprint on Champions' Day at Ascot next month. The ground should be at least on the easy side for that race, which should suit, as should the step back up to six furlongs. Also, in two runs at Ascot, he has won a Pavilion Stakes and a Wokingham.
Concert Hall - The Curragh, 12th September 2021
Concert Hall did well to finish fourth in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, coming from the rear of the field in a race in which the pace held up well. Slowly away and settled at the rear of the field early on by Seamie Heffernan, she was still last of the eight runners as they raced inside the three-furlong marker. Moved to the outside of the field by her rider in order to secure clear passage, she picked up on the run to the furlong pole. Still only sixth at that point, she closed all the way to the line to take fourth place, less than four lengths behind the winner Discoveries.
It was a fine run by Aidan O'Brien's filly. The Moyglare was a race in which the pace held up well. The first and second, Discoveries and Agartha, raced in first and second from early, and it was difficult for the hold-up horses to get into it. By Dubawi, Concert Hall is out of Oaks winner Was, a full-sister to Derby third Amhran Na bhFiann and Derby Trial winner Douglas Macarthur. She won her maiden over seven furlongs at The Curragh on Irish Oaks weekend, and she was sent off as co-favourite for the Group 2 Debutante Stakes on the back of that win, but her breeding and her racing style suggest that she will be better when she goes beyond seven furlongs. She holds an entry in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile, at Newmarket next month, and she will be of interest if she lines up in that. Looking further ahead, she could be an exciting middle-distance three-year-old filly next season.
Ebro River - The Curragh, 12th September 2021
Ebro River was well beaten in the end by Native Trail in the Group 1 Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes at the Curragh recently, but he ran well for a long way over a trip that probably stretched his stamina beyond its limit. Sharply away and quickly into a nice racing rhythm in front for James Doyle, he was still on the bridle as his rivals came under pressure at the two-furlong marker. He came under a ride on the run to the furlong marker, and he was passed by Native Trail as that rival powered on to victory, but Ebro River battled on well through the final furlong, and he only just ceded the runner-up spot to Point Lonsdale close home.
This was a top-class juvenile colts' race, Native Trail and Point Lonsdale are clear first and second favourites for the Guineas and the Derby, and Ebro River ran them close, over a trip that was probably too far, with the first three nicely clear. Hugo Palmer's horse should be seen to better effect now dropped back down to six furlongs, the distance over which he won the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh last month. The Middle Park Stakes looks like the ideal race for him, as long as it doesn't come up too quickly after his exertions at The Curragh. Looking further ahead, he looks like a prime candidate for the Commonwealth Cup next year.
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