Horse Racing Betting: Donn McClean’s Horses To Follow

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Horse Racing Betting: Donn McClean’s Horses To Follow
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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.

Spirit Of Light - York, 17th May 2023

Spirit Of Light did well to keep on as well as he did to take fourth place in the six-furlong handicap at York last month. It just all seemed to happen a little quickly for him. 

He was being niggled along from mid-division towards the near side from half-way, and he came under a drive before they got to the two-furlong marker. 

He didn't have a clear path through the final furlong and a half either, he had to check twice but, once he got into the clear, he finished off his race strongly to get up and take fourth place. In another three strides he would have been third.

It was a strong run by Ian Williams' horse in a test that was probably sharper than ideal. 

He has only won twice in his life, but he put up a performance that was up there with the best of his career last month when he finished third behind Rebel Territory and Vafortino in a seven-furlong handicap at Newmarket's Craven meeting. 

Those two horses finished first and third in the Victoria Cup at Ascot last Saturday. Seven furlongs probably suits him best, or a stiff six.


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White Birch - York, 18th May 2023

Passenger was the obvious eye-catcher from the Dante Stakes, he didn’t have a lot of racing room in the home straight and he finished off his race well. This was just his second race, and he will surely be a big player in the Derby if connections decide to supplement him. 

But, while his run has not gone unnoticed, the performance that White Birch put up may have gone a little under the radar. He was slowly away for starters, he kind of hesitated when the gates opened, which meant that he was last of the 11 runners after they had gone a hundred yards. 

It was almost certainly the plan to be patient, he was last early on too in the Ballysax Stakes last time, which he won, and Shane Foley didn't appear to be overly concerned about being last. 

He was still last when they turned for home, and as they raced to the two-furlong marker but, taken to the near side early in the home straight, he stayed on well from there.  

He got past all his rivals except one, The Foxes, who made his ground on the far side and kept on well. White Birch got to within a neck of Andrew Balding's colt, closest at the finish.

The sectional times tell you that White Birch was faster through each of the last four furlongs than all his rivals. His finishing speed percentage of 106.67% was also higher than any of his rivals'. 

John Murphy's horse is a really progressive individual, he won his maiden at Dundalk last November, and he was the outsider of the entire field when he won the Ballysax. 

He was a big price too for the Dante, and he remains a big price in the Epsom Derby odds. It may be that he is just an under-rated horse, and he could be a player in the Derby.


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Majestic - York, 19th May 2023

Majestic did well to get as close as he did in the 10-and-a-half-furlong handicap at York last month. He was slowly away from stall 10 and he was checked a little on leaving the stalls, with the result that he was last of the 13 runners through the early stages of the race. 

Still last as they turned for home, he made good ground on the far side early in the home straight. He moved up nicely two furlongs out, and he picked up well when he came under a ride on the run to the furlong pole.

He shaped as if he was going to be involved in the finish as they raced inside the final 200 yards, but his run just flattened out from there, and he only kept on to finish fourth.

It was still a big run by Jack Channon's horse. It was a race in which the pace held up well, Marie's Diamond led from early and almost lasted in front all the way, while the other four horses who, with Majestic, made up the first five places, all raced in midfield or better from early. 

Majestic had to make his ground from a long way back, and towards the far side, which was probably not on the fastest part of the track. 

He was progressive last season, he won two of his last six races last season and finished second in three of the other four, his season culminating in victory in the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket in October. 

He ran well on his debut this season too in finishing fourth in the Lincoln, and he put a poor run in a handicap at Newmarket behind him here. 

Nine furlongs is probably his absolute optimum trip, but a fast-run stiff mile probably suits him better than 10 or 10 and a half furlongs. 

The Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot could be an interesting target for him now, but he will be of interest wherever he goes next.

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Launch - Naas, 21st May 2023

Launch did well to keep on as well as she did to finish third in the Group 3 Fillies' Sprint Stakes at Naas on May 21. 

Smartly away and quickly into her stride at the head of affairs, she led or shared the lead with the well-backed Ribchestina through the first three furlongs. She came under a ride on the run to the two-furlong marker, but she kept responding. 

She got the better of Ribchestina, she led on the run to the furlong marker. She couldn't contain Porta Fortuna, who quickened up impressively on the far side, and the newcomer Navassa Island finished off her race well on the near side, but she kept on willingly to hold onto third place behind them, over a length in front of Ribchestina.

This was a race that was run at a fast pace and in which the hold-up horses came to the fore. Launch showed lots of pace early on and lots of resolution late on to finish a clear third. 

Adrian Murray's filly did well too on her only previous run, when she had to do a lot of her own running on the far side in a soft-ground five-furlong maiden at Cork.

She kept on well to finish a half-a-length second to Bated Moon, with whom she reversed placings here, in a race in which three of the first four home raced towards the near side. 

The fact that she was pitched into a Group 3 race here, a maiden having just her second run, is an indication of the regard in which she is held by connections.

She should be winning her maiden soon, perhaps over five furlongs, before stepping back up in grade, but she might be under-rated now because you can probably mark her up on the bare form of each of her runs to date.


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Ocean Quest - Naas, 21st May 2023

Ocean Quest ran another big race to finish second to The Antarctic in the Group 3 Goffs Lacken Stakes at Naas on Sunday. 

She was held up just behind the leaders in the small group of five that raced towards the stands side, with The Antarctic leading the larger group that raced on the far side. 

She made nice ground on the near side at the three-furlong marker, but Shane Foley had to ask her for her effort at the two-furlong pole as The Antarctic kicked for home on the far side. 

She came clear of her rivals on the near side inside the final furlong, and she closed on The Antarctic all the way to the line, despite the fact that she had nothing with which to race on the near side. She missed out by just a head in the end.

It was a big performance by Jessica Harrington's filly on just her fifth run ever, and her second run of the season. 

She had been impressive in winning a listed race on her seasonal debut on heavy ground at Navan, when she had The Antarctic almost seven lengths behind her in third, but she proved here that she could also operate on good, fast ground. 

She holds an entry in the Commonwealth Cup at Ascot, and she could be an interesting contender in that race if she took her chance in it, a stiff six furlongs and a fast pace could suit her well. 

She is a progressive filly, she will be of interest wherever she goes next, and she is a filly who is well worth keeping in mind for the autumn too.

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