Horse Racing Betting: Donn McClean’s Horses To Follow
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.
Consider ideal conditions across variables like venue, ground, opposition and ensure prices on betting sites are satisfactory to you as a punter.
This column should help you build up a list that proves profitable under those circumstances.
It should also provide timely reminders to reduce repeated form study and assist with your enjoyment of a season, be it National Hunt or Flat racing.
Yacowlef – Goodwood, 27th May 2023
Yacowlef did well to keep on as well as he did to finish second in the three-year-olds' seven-furlong handicap at Goodwood last Saturday.
Dropped in early on from stall seven and moved towards the inside, he was stone last of the 13 runners as they rounded the home turn.
Still last as they raced towards the two-furlong marker, he got buffeted around a little as he made ground among horses on the run to the furlong pole, and Tom Marquand had to stop riding for a stride or two in order to wait for a gap.
Back on an even keel and into the clear a furlong out, he finished off his race well. He stayed on best of all down the outside to just get the better of Tafreej for the runner-up spot.
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He was a length and a half behind the winner Urban Sprawl in the end, but Urban Sprawl made all from stall three, he was hard to catch, and he was sent off a warm favourite for a handicap at Epsom on Friday racing off a 6lb higher mark.
It was a nice performance by the Coles' horse, it was a good step forward from his previous run, when he won a seven-furlong handicap on soft ground at Newmarket's Guineas meeting off a mark of 86, 6lb lower than Saturday's mark.
The handicapper raised him by just 1lb for this run to a mark of 93, but this was a career-best performance, and he proved that he could operate on fast ground at this level.
He will be of interest wherever he goes next and, with a record of 312 at Goodwood, he will be of particular interest when he goes back there.
Mitbaahy – Haydock, 27th May 2023
Mitbaahy's performance in the Temple Stakes at Haydock last Saturday can be marked up at least a little on the bare form of the run, given that he had to race well away from the stands rail from flagfall.
Slowly away from stall three, he was dropped in on the far side early on by Ray Dawson.
Last as they passed the two-furlong marker, he picked up well on the far side, he made ground through traffic through the final two furlongs, and he finished off his race well on the far side, furthest from the stands rail, to get up for fifth place, just in front of Happy Romance.
This was a day on which, and a race in which, it was probably a significant advantage to race close to the stands rail.
The three horses who filled the first three places here – Dramatised, Equilateral and Live In The Dream – all raced in almost single file for a lot of the race close to the stands rail. Also, the first four home raced, respectively, from stalls 10, 12, 13 and 11 of 13. Mitbaahy raced from stall three.
This was Roger Varian's horse's seasonal debut too, his first run since he finished down the field in the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp last October.
He was progressive last season though as a three-year-old sprinter, he won the Listed Scurry Stakes at Sandown in July, beating Live In The Dream comfortably, and he won a Group 3 race at Newbury in September, coming from well back and just getting up to lead close home.
He is well suited by being delivered late off a strong pace over five furlongs.
He has never run at Ascot, but Ascot suits that running style well, and, while it is a pity that he is just rated just 2lb too high for the Palace of Holyroodhouse Handicap at Royal Ascot, he could be an interesting outsider if he were to take up his entry in the King's Stand Stakes.
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Bay Bridge – The Curragh, 28th May 2023
Bay Bridge put up a good performance to finish second to Luxembourg in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh last Saturday.
Settled in third place early on by Richard Kingscote along the inside behind the leader Luxembourg, he was slightly keener than ideal through the early stages of the race.
He was a little short of room at the two-furlong marker as the leader came under pressure, at which point it appeared as if he was travelling best of all.
He got a nice gap just inside the two-furlong pole, he was travelling well enough to engineer it for himself as Piz Badile started to weaken on his outside, and he stayed on well.
He was out early enough in order to mount a challenge to Luxembourg but, while he closed all the way to the line, he just couldn't get past the winner, who was game in front.
It was a fine run by Sir Michael Stoute's horse, to go down by a half a length to a top class rival who made all the running at a track at which pace holds up well and who benefitted from an astute ride from Ryan Moore.
Bay Bridge progressed nicely last year as a four-year-old, his season culminating in victory in the Champion Stakes at Ascot in October, when he kept on well to get home by a half a length from Adayar.
His trainer's top-class middle distance horses often progress again from four to five, and Bay Bridge has the ideal profile for that trajectory. He handles fast ground all right, but he is probably at his best with a little bit of cut.
He was beaten in the Eclipse last year, but he reportedly came home with a knock, so you can allow him that, and he won the Brigadier Gerard Stakes by five lengths on his only other run at Sandown, so he will be of interest if he lines up in the Eclipse.
We know that he goes well at Ascot too, so he will also be of interest if he takes his chance in the Prince of Wales's Stakes and/or the Champion Stakes again at the end of the season. He will be of greatest interest when the ground is good or on the easy side of good.
Kingswood - The Curragh, 28th May 2023
Kingswood did well to get as close as he did in the Gallinule Stakes at The Curragh last Sunday. Settled in fourth of the six runners early on by Ronan Whelan, he came under a ride early in the home straight as the pace quickened but, moved towards the outside, he picked up well.
He moved a little to his right when his rider asked him to pick up – he might have been still showing signs of inexperience, or he might not have been in love with the ground – but, once straightened up, he went forward again.
He probably wasn't helped by Teutates moving to his left and the concertina effect that that had – the placings of Teutates and Drumroll were reversed by the stewards – but there was still a lot to like about the willingness with which he went to the line. He was only third, but he was only beaten a total of a half a length.
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This was another step forward by John O'Donoghue's horse. He shaped with a lot of promise in his two runs last season as a juvenile, and he was impressive in winning his maiden at Cork on easy ground on his debut this season, with the first three clear, a race from which the third-placed Nation's Call has since come out and won.
That win earned him a tilt at this Group 3 prize, and he proved here that he was well able for the step up in grade.
He has run just four times in his life, so he has plenty of scope for progression now as he moves through his three-year-old season and, a half-brother to St Leger winner Eldar Eldarov, he should improve as he steps up in trip.
He races like he can get further than 10 furlongs. He could do even better too when he can get back on easy ground, and he could be an interesting outsider if he takes up his entry in the Irish Derby.
The Very Man - The Curragh, 28th May 2023
The Very Man kept on well to take fourth place in the one-mile-six-furlong handicap that brought proceedings to a close at The Curragh on Irish Guineas weekend.
Slowly away and ridden along early, he settled into his racing rhythm towards the rear of the field early on, 16th of the 18 runners.
Still third last as they rounded the home turn, Shane Foley had to take him wide in the home straight as he asked him to deliver his run, and the Jeremy gelding kept on well though all the way up the home straight.
It never looked like he was going to get to the leaders on the inside, but he kept on best of all down the outside to take fourth place, just over two lengths behind the winner Dame Rapide, who was winning the race for the second consecutive year.
It is often difficult to make ground from the rear in middle-distance races at The Curragh, and this was one such race. The three horses who finished in front of The Very Man were fourth, fifth and third respectively as they turned for home.
The Very Man was 16th. He did best of the hold-up horses. As well as that, he had to deliver his run wide, well away from the inside rail where the race developed. He can be marked up at least a little on the bare form of the run.
Best known as a hurdler, Jessica Harrington's horse hadn't run on the flat since he finished down the field in the November Handicap at Naas last November.
He had been in good form over hurdles in the interim though, he finished placed in valuable handicap hurdles at Cork and Punchestown in the spring, and there could be more to come from him on the flat now.
He is nine years old, but he has raced just five times on the flat, and a 1lb hike for Sunday's run was more than fair. He may have the Galway Hurdle on his radar again this year, but he will be of interest if he runs in another staying handicap on the flat between now and then.
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