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.
If you want to see previous editions check out Donn McClean's library of past horses to follow here.
Tyrrhenian Sea travelled like the best horse through most of the race in the All-Weather Middle Distance Championships Stakes at Newcastle on Good Friday. He picked up well to hit the front at the furlong marker, which was probably when he traded at 1.03 in-running, but he weakened inside the final 150 yards, just getting run down by Living Legend close home.
Roger Varian's horse has now won three of his five races, but if the ball had bounced his way, he could have won five of five. Winner of his first three races, all at Newcastle during the winter, he was unlucky on his previous run, in a 10-furlong handicap at Kempton, when he was denied a clear run and went down by half a length to Baldomero.
He was well worth another go at 10 furlongs after that, but on the evidence of his latest Newcastle run, it may be that a drop back to a mile will suit him well. There is plenty of stamina in his pedigree, but, a son of Middle Park Stakes winner Dark Angel, sire of Battaash and Harry Angel and Mecca's Angel, it may be that a strongly-run mile will be his optimum. He has raced exclusively on all-weather, but there is no reason to think he cannot be at least as effective on turf. He has run just five times in his life, and there could be much more to come.
Jumbly put up a good performance to finish second to Wild Beauty in the Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury last Saturday. She was keen early on and took her a while to settle, but she travelled into her race well on the near side. She quickened up well on the run to the furlong marker and went about a neck in front of Wild Beauty inside the final furlong, but she just tired inside the final 150 yards, giving best to the Godolphin filly close home and going down by half a length in the end.
It was a fine performance by Harry and Roger Charlton's filly on her seasonal debut. She travelled like the best horse in the race to the two-furlong marker, but she just seemed to tire close to home as her early exertions probably took their toll. Winner of three of her four races last season as a juvenile, including the listed Radley Stakes over the Fred Darling course and distance, she is bred to get a mile at least. She is out of Pretty Polly Stakes winner Thistle Bird but has plenty of pace. If she settles better, she may get a mile next time with this run under her belt, and given that her best performance last season was in the Radley Stakes on soft ground, she will be of heightened interest if and when she gets back on easy ground.
Migration stayed on well to take second place behind Modern News in the Spring Cup at Newbury last Saturday. Held up towards the rear of the field early on by Ryan Moore, he made good progress among traffic on the run to the two-furlong marker. He came under a ride inside the two, at which point he had a wall of horses in front of him, and Ryan Moore had to wait for a gap before he could ask his horse for his effort. He got into the clear on the run to the furlong pole and picked up well to finish off his race strongly to get to within a neck of the winner.
It was a really nice start to the season by David Menuisier's horse, carrying top weight and racing over a distance that is probably short of his best. As well as that, he was the only one of the first four home who came from the rear. He has never won on his seasonal debut, but his record on his second run of the season reads 5-2-1, so he will be of interest wherever he goes next, especially if he steps back up to 10 furlongs. He goes well at Sandown and at Goodwood, so he will be of interest if and when he goes back to one of those tracks, and he is one for one at York, so he will be of particular interest if he runs at the Dante meeting next month.
Aukland did well to get as close as he got in the two-and-a-half-mile novices' handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday, coming from off the pace in a race in which the winner made just about all the running. Settled back in the field and along the inside early on by Danny Mullins, he didn't start to make ground from the rear until they raced towards the end of the back straight for the final time.
He made ground along the inside over the third last flight, and he progressed as they raced around the home turn. He moved into fifth place on the run to the second last, but he got in tight to that obstacle, which didn't help, and he wasn't great at the final flight either. It never really looked like he was going to catch the winner Digby, but he ran on strongly to take second place in front of The Tack Room, Gracchus De Balme and L'Yser.
This was a race in which the early pace held up well. Digby made just about all the running, and L'Yser, who tracked him all the way, was only just run out of the places. Auckland was well back early on, and he travelled well and kept on nicely. Tony Mullins' horse is only five years old. He hasn't won yet over hurdles, but he was only just beaten by Big Debates in a two-and-a-half-mile rated novices' hurdle at Limerick over Christmas, and he could be winning soon. He stays two-and-a-half miles well, and, a winner over 10 and 11 furlongs on heavy ground on the flat in Germany as a three-year-old, he could progress again for a step up in trip.
Early Doors did well to get as close as he got in the Irish Grand National, coming from the rear in a race in which the pace held up well. Held up early on by JJ Slevin, Joseph O'Brien's horse was still no better than 17th or 18th as they raced across the top of the track with six fences to jump. A mistake at the fifth-last fence didn't help, and he came under a ride after that and was still only 12th as they raced to the home turn. He stayed on gamely from there, though, over the last three fences, despite pecking slightly on landing over the second last. He kept going all the way to the line, just getting up for fifth place on the far side close home, beaten a total of seven-and-a-half lengths.
It was a mighty effort from JP McManus' horse from the rear. They didn't go a great pace, and it was difficult for the hold-up horses to get into it. The winner and the runner-up, Lord Lariat and Frontal Assault, occupied the first two positions for most of the race, while the third horse Gaillard Du Mesnil was never too far off the pace.
Early Doors is nine years old, but he has raced just seven times over fences, and there still could be more to come from him on this evidence. Winner of the Martin Pipe Hurdle in 2019 off a mark of 145 and winner of the Galway Plate in 2020 off a mark of 139, he proved here that a mark of 148 is more than workable. He obviously stays well, but it wouldn't be surprising if the Galway Plate was on his radar again this year. Looking further ahead, he would be a candidate for all the top staying handicap chases next season, and the Aintree Grand National would be a legitimate long-term target.
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