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.
Bright Diamond can be marked up at least a little on the bare form of the performance that she put up in finishing third in the Group 3 Prestige Fillies' Stakes at Goodwood on August 27th. She was slowly away and so was playing catch-up from the start. Still last of the eight runners behind no more than a moderate pace that Fairy Cross was able to set as they straightened up for home, she travelled well for Clifford Lee, widest of all, at the three-furlong marker. She came under a ride on the run to the two-furlong pole, but she was trying to make ground into a quickening pace, and that wasn't easy. Fairy Cross quickened from the front, and the Godolphin filly wasn't for catching, but there was a lot to like about the manner in which Bright Diamond kept on down the near side to take third place.
It was a race in which the pace held up well; the winner made all and the runner-up, Breege, sat second from early. Bright Diamond was the only one who was able to mount a challenge of sorts from the rear. It was a really likeable performance by Karl Burke's filly on just her second run. She was a seriously impressive winner of her maiden at Newmarket in early August, and she proved here that she was well up to Group standard in a race that wasn't run to suit. It was just her second run, too, so she should progress from it. She won her maiden on fast ground, but she handled this easier ground well, which augurs well for the autumn. She holds entries in the Rockfel Stakes and in the Fillies' Mile, and she could be underrated if she lines up in either.
Vadream did well to finish second to Sam Maximus in the Listed Hopeful Stakes at Newmarket on August 27th. She was awkward from the stalls, and she settled towards the rear of the field on the near side. She came under a ride on the run to the two-furlong marker, put she found plenty for pressure. She picked up well as she hit the rising ground and, while she was overhauled by Sam Maximus on the near side close home, she kept on willingly to take second place just in front of Great Ambassador, who raced towards the far side, beaten just a head by the winner.
This was much more like it from Charlie Fellowes' filly. She has been well beaten in each of her three previous runs this season, but this was a nice step forward from her, which makes her of interest now as we move into the autumn. She goes well on easy ground; she won the Group 3 Bengough Stakes at Ascot last October on soft ground; and she finished fifth in the Group 1 British Champions Sprint Stakes two weeks later. She goes well at Ascot, too. Her three best runs have been at Ascot, so she will be of greatest interest if and when she goes back there this autumn, ideally on soft or good to soft ground.
The Irish Cambridgeshire result was another example of the talents of Joseph O'Brien as a trainer, as his two runners in the 28-runner handicap finished first and second. Not only that, but the winner Federal was racing for just the fourth time in his life, and for just the second time since his return to action after a break of over a year. Signs are that he wasn't wholly expected either, given that he was allowed go off at 28/1, more than four times the SP of his stable companion Good Heavens, who also ran a massive race to finish second, beaten just a neck.
Of course, Federal isn't under the radar anymore, but he is a horse who should be worth following. He travelled like the most likely winner from a long way out and, under a superb ride by Mikey Sheehy, was delivered to lead close home. He only won by a neck, but he left the impression that he had a fair bit more in hand than that.
The handicapper raised him by 7lb for that win, and that was more than fair, and he has bags of potential to improve again. He was beaten by four-and-a-half lengths by Good Heavens at Cork on his first run back after a long break and after a gelding operation, so he obviously improved significantly for that, and there is every chance that he will improve again. He would be of big interest again in another big handicap, and he will also be of interest if he steps up into listed or Group 3 company.
There were several other horses who were worth noting from the Irish Cambridgeshire, including Pierre Lapin (again!), Good Heavens and Monaasib, but the one who might remain most under the radar is No More Porter. Johnny Feane's horse did well to finish as close as he did given that he raced handily and towards the far side from his low draw.
It was a race in which it was probably an advantage to come from off the pace and to race on the near side. Six of the first eight horses home came from midfield or worse, and six of the first eight horses home were drawn 16 or higher. Pierre Lapin did finish fourth from stall four, but he was dropped in and moved over to deliver his challenge towards the near side by Ben Coen. By contrast, No More Porter raced towards the far side and was prominent from early. He hit the front on the run to the furlong marker before he was swamped by the closers. In the end, he faded to finish seventh, but he was only beaten a length-and-a-half for fourth.
The Elzaam gelding hasn't won since a one-mile handicap at The Curragh in August last year, but five of his last six runs have been good. This run suggests there could be a good handicap in him off his mark of 84. He goes well at The Curragh; his two wins and some of his best runs have been there. His record there before Saturday read 1-1-2-4-3, and even though he finished third in the Scurry Handicap over six-and-a-half furlongs in July, this one-mile trip suits him well. He goes well on easy ground, too, so he will remain of interest as we move into the autumn.
Kojin did well to win the nine-and-a-half-furlong handicap at Clonmel on Thursday. Smartly away and quickly into a prominent position, Peter Fahey's horse travelled well through his race for Sam Ewing. Third and travelling well along the inside as they raced down the hill towards the home turn, he came under a ride early in the home straight, but he responded well to pressure. The leader, Zabeir, moved across to the inside rail at the two-furlong marker, with the result that Kojin had to be switched to deliver his challenge from off the rail, but he quickly recovered his momentum. Into the clear on the run to the furlong pole, he stayed on strongly to hit the front with 150 yards to run, and he stretched out willingly to repel the late challenge of Dare To Flare on the outside, going away from his rivals in the closing stages of the race.
It was a good performance by Peter Fahey's horse under less than optimal conditions. He stays a mile-and-a-half well, so he did well to quicken as he did off a moderate pace over nine-and-a-half furlongs. A winner over a mile-and-a-half at Tramore on his previous run off a 4lb lower mark and a 5lb hike for this takes him up to a mark of 86, but he is progressive enough to take that hike in his stride, and he should do better now stepped back up to a mile-and-a-half and racing off a stronger pace. Trainer Peter Fahey mentioned the 12-furlong handicap on Irish Champions' Weekend as a potential target, and he will be of interest if he takes his chance in it. Last season, the bottom weight in that race was rated 80, so there is every chance that he will get into the race all right. The trainer has his horses in tremendous form. Four of his last five runners have won, and the other, the evergreen Peregrine Run, finished second in the Ulster Cesarewitch on Friday.