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.
It was only a three-horse race in the end that Affogato won at Fairyhouse on Friday evening, but it was a good three-horse race, and she was really impressive in winning it.
Colin Keane was happy to allow his two rivals, San Andreas and Ace Aussie, get at it up front. He stalked them into the home straight, and when he took his filly towards the outside and asked her to pick up, the response was impressive. She quickened past her two rivals in a matter of strides and kept on nicely under just a hands-and-heels ride to win by over four lengths.
It was a fine performance by Ger Lyons' filly to beat the 104-rated San Andreas as well as she did. There is, of course, a danger that San Andreas didn't run his race, but there is every reason to expect that he did. He had close to optimal conditions: seven furlongs is his trip, he goes well on this ground and at Fairyhouse he won this race last year. He also came nicely clear of Ace Aussie, himself a 103-rated horse.
This was just Affogato's third race, her second for Ger Lyons and first since she won her maiden at Gowran Park in April, so she should come forward from this. Her trainer said afterwards that she is a very light filly, and that she will tell him where she will go next, but she will be of interest wherever she goes. The handicapper gave her a mark of 103, which is workable. She holds an entry in the valuable fillies' seven-furlong handicap at The Curragh on Irish Derby weekend, and she will be of interest if she lines up in that, but she could go beyond handicaps. She might be better suited to conditions races now than to big-field handicaps.
Mitbaahy ran out an impressive winner of the Listed Scurry Stakes at Sandown on Saturday. David Egan was in no rush early on Roger Varian's colt; he took him back early from his draw in stall four behind a decent pace that Frankie Dettori set on Live In The Dream. He travelled really well through his race up on the outside of the field and had to come outside Attagirl, who came under a ride just in front of him, but he picked up well when his rider gave him a squeeze. He hit the front inside the furlong marker, and he went on strongly to hit the line a length-and-a-half in front of runner-up, Live The Dream.
Winner of a five-furlong maiden at Thirsk last August, and second in the Listed Harry Roseberry Stakes at Ayr in September, he is progressing nicely this season as a three-year-old. Second at Nottingham on his seasonal return, he stepped forward from that to win a conditions stakes at Hamilton next time over five furlongs nicely, and this was a step forward from that. He is a half brother to Del Mar Oaks winner Going Global, but he is a speedy colt. Held up and delivered late over five furlongs suits him well. He will be of interest wherever he goes next, but he will be of heightened interest at a track at which hold-up tactics over the minimum trip are rewarded.
Windseeker had the run of the race in the three-year-olds' seven-furlong handicap at Sandown on Saturday, but time may show that he still did well to go down by just a head to Golden Voice. Smartly away and quickly into a nice rhythm in front for Pat Dobbs, he was stalked by the well-fancied and well-backed Golden Voice. They had it between them from early in the home straight and duelled from the two-furlong marker. It wasn't until deep inside the final furlong that William Haggas' horse surged to the front.
It was a good performance by the winner, but the runner-up also ran really well in defeat. Winner of a novice stakes at Salisbury on his debut this season, this was a nice step forward by Richard Hannon's horse on the form that he showed when he finished third behind Liamarty Dreams in a handicap at Haydock at the end of May. He is learning to settle better in his races now, and it may be that he can stretch out to a mile now, the distance over which he finished second to the well-bred Qitaal on his racecourse debut at Nottingham last October. The handicapper raised him by 4lb for Saturday's run to a mark of 89, and he has the potential to go beyond that mark now.
Chalet did well to just hold onto third place in the seven-furlong handicap at York on Saturday. Sent to the front early on by Connor Beasley, he set fast early fractions, and he had set up a significant break on his rivals before they got to half way. He was eventually run down by Lion Tower, but he kept on well enough to just hold onto third place behind Lion Tower and Young Fire, just in front of Titan Rock.
Michael Dods' horse showed a lot of pace here, but it was always going to be difficult for him to hold off the closers. He went into the race in good form, having finished a close-up third behind Il Bandito over Saturday's course and distance in May. He is a pacey horse who stays a mile, with four of his five wins having been gained over a mile. His best runs have been at Ripon, where his record is 1-1-4-2, and at York, where his record now reads 1-1-3-3-3, and he will be of particular interest when he races again at one of those tracks.-
The other horse to take out of the seven-furlong handicap run at York on Saturday was Titan Rock, who ran a nice race to finish fourth. Slowly away from his wide draw and held up early on, eighth of the nine runners, he travelled well into the home straight behind a fast pace that Chalet set. He moved up nicely among horses, and he travelled best of all at the three-furlong marker. He came under a ride inside the two-furlong pole, and while it never looked like he would get to the leaders, he stayed on takingly on the far side to get up for fourth place, closest at the finish.
This was John Quinn's horse's seasonal debut, his first run since he won a seven-furlong handicap at Ayr last September, his first since a wind operation, so there is every reason to expect that he will progress from this run. He was progressive last season; that win at Ayr was probably a career-best, but this wasn't far off that, and he should be able to do even better next time. He is only 3lb higher than he was when he won at Ayr on a mark of 93, and that looks like a mark that he can surpass now.
He holds an entry in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket's July meeting, and that would be a good target for him now. Seven furlongs is his trip, and he goes well off a fast pace, which he should get in a Bunbury Cup. On his only run on Newmarket's July Course, at last year's July meeting, he ran well to finish third in a three-year-olds' handicap over a mile, a distance that probably stretched him.