Donn McClean's Horses To Follow: September 24th to September 27th
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.
Soft Whisper - Newmarket, 24th September 2021
Soft Whisper was impressive in winning the Listed Rosemary Stakes at Newmarket last Friday. Always travelling well, close to the stands rail, Frankie Dettori didn't ask her for her effort until they got inside the two-furlong marker and, when he did, she did appear to want to hang to her right. But it didn't stop her going forward. She drifted out into the centre of the track, but she still cleared away from her rivals to post an impressive victory in a fast time.
This was the Godolphin filly's first run since she finished last of 14 in the UAE Derby at Meydan in March. Her two wins in Britain last season as a juvenile were gained over a mile on easy ground, and it may be that she will be seen to even better effect back on easier ground than the ground that she encountered last Friday. She holds an entry in the Group 3 Pride Stakes at Newmarket on Friday, and, while she showed lots of pace here over a mile, there is every chance that she could stay 10 furlongs all right. Her dam won over 10 and 12 furlongs, and she is a half-sister to Prix Foy winner Policy Maker and to Lancashire Oaks winner Place Rouge. She is an exciting filly and she will be of interest if she does take her chance in Friday’s race.
Defan - Listowel, 25th September 2021
Defan put up a nice performance to win the two-mile-one-furlong handicap chase at Listowel last Saturday. Prominent from early, Henry de Bromhead's horse's jumping was good early on and he moved up to take a share of the lead with his stable companion Zarkareva as they passed the winning post with a circuit to run. The two stable companions had it between them from then. Zarkareva moved into the lead as they raced down the back straight, but Defan moved back up on the outside as they jumped the last before the home straight, and the pair of them came clear of Benefit Run and Bold Emperor and Espion Du Chenet. It was a good tussle between the two stable companions over the last two fences, but Defan was quickly away on the landing side of the final fence, and he ran on willingly up the run in to get home by a length, with the first two finishing nicely clear of their rivals.
Defan was in receipt of 21lb from his stable companion, but she is a talented performer, and Defan was the winner on merit. Also, there was a lot to like about the manner in which the front two pulled clear. The Kayf Tara gelding’s jumping was slick for a horse who was having just his third run over fences and his first in a handicap chase. He is only five and he has raced just seven times in his life under all codes, so there is plenty of potential upside. The handicapper raised him by 8lb to a mark of 119, but he has the potential to go beyond that mark now. He handles softer ground than this too, he won his maiden hurdle on soft to heavy ground at Limerick last November when his main rival fell at the last, so he will be of interest as we move into the winter.
Fastnet Crown - Newmarket, 25th September 2021
Fastnet Crown put up a big performance to finish fifth in the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket on Saturday. Slowly away from stall 14, he was settled towards the rear of the far side group early on by Leigh Roche. Still almost last of the far side group as they passed the three-furlong marker, he made good ground up on the outside of that group as they raced to the two-furlong pole, and he picked up well when his rider asked him to. It wasn't ideal that he raced in the far side group, in a race in which the first three home raced on the near side, nor was it ideal that he was forced out towards the centre of the track from that group, probably onto the worst of the ground. For all of that, he kept on well down the centre to take fifth place, less than four lengths behind the winner.
It was another good run by Michael O'Callaghan's horse, over another distance. Winner of a competitive handicap over six furlongs at The Curragh in June, he kept on well at the end of a mile in the Irish Cambridgeshire back at The Curragh four weeks earlier to finish third. He was racing off a mark of 93 on Saturday, over nine furlongs, 2lb higher than his Irish Cambridgeshire mark, but he proved that he was at least up to this type of mark. It may be that he will be better dropped back down to a mile now, a mile is probably his optimum trip and, while he goes particularly well at The Curragh, he will be of interest wherever he goes next.
De Lady In Red - Roscommon, 27th September 2021
De Lady In Red only got home by three parts of a length from Humble Glory in the mares' maiden hurdle at Roscommon last Monday, but she was more impressive than that. She always travelled well for Barry O'Neill just behind a good pace that was set by the two Tony Mullins fillies, Fraternity and Golden Bear. If anything, she travelled a little too well, the worry was that she was doing more than Barry O’Neill wanted her to do, but that worry proved unfounded. She moved to the front ahead of Fraternity on the run to the final flight on the far side, she moved easily into the home straight and, while Humble Glory did close on her on the run-in, it never really looked like she was going to catch the leader, and De Lady In Red had enough in hand to get home comfortably enough.
Promising in two runs over hurdles for Daryl Deacon, the Jet Away mare won a bumper at Galway in early September over two miles on her first run for Barry Connell, and she stepped forward from that nicely on Monday, going back over hurdles and stepping up to two and a half miles. Her trainer said afterwards that she could step up in trip now, and she is bred for stamina, but she travelled so well through her race on Monday that it appears that she could easily drop back down to two miles. She has bags of scope for progression now, she is only five, she has raced just four times in her life and just twice over hurdles, and she could step up into listed or graded mares' company now.
Exit Poll - Roscommon, 27th September 2021
Exit Poll put up another game performance in landing the Grade 3 Kilbegnet Novice Chase at Roscommon last Monday. Sent to the front from flagfall by Sean O'Keeffe, his jumping was very good in the main and, when he wasn't meeting a fence on a stride, he was able to go in tight and pop efficiently. He was challenged by Bold Enough at the third last fence and, after seeing off that rival after the second last fence, he was challenged by Embittered at the last. The Gigginstown House horse actually picked up just in front at the last, but Exit Poll fought back gamely, wrested the lead back half way up the run-in and surged forward to win by a neck.
It was a fine performance by Jessica Harrington's horse, who clocked a good time, just 0.03secs/furlong slower than Racing Post par, over a trip that is probably short of his best. He stayed two and a half miles well when he won at Kilbeggan on his previous run, and he jumps more like a horse who will be better over longer trips than like a specialist two-miler. He was a talented chaser last season, he won his beginners' chase at Leopardstown last March, admittedly a contest that was rendered not as strong as it would otherwise have been by the departures of Breaken and Soviet Pimpernel, and he made nice progress in novice chases and handicap chases through the summer. The handicapper raised him by just 3lb for Monday's win to a mark of 142, and that is a mark that could still under-rate him. He will be of interest in good handicap chases off that mark, ideally stepped up to two and a half miles, and he will also be of interest in listed or graded chases over the intermediate trip.
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