Donn McClean's Horses To Follow: March 29 to April 5

By Donn McClean
 |  5 mins
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Donn McClean's Horses To Follow: March 29 to April 5

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.

Baradar - Doncaster, 1st April 2023

Baradar ran a big race to finish third in the Lincoln on Saturday. Slowly away from stall four, he was dropped in behind runners early on by Kevin Stott and he moved towards the centre. No better than 15th or 16th as they raced past the five-furlong pole, he travelled well to the three-furlong marker and he made good ground on the far side on the run to the two. He probably travelled best of all on the run to the furlong marker on the far side, and he joined the leader on the near side, Awaal, at the furlong marker, but he just ran out of stamina inside the final 150 yards, just giving best to Migration and Awaal.

It was still a fine run by George Boughey's horse on his seasonal debut. He does like this soft ground, but a mile on soft ground probably just stretches his stamina beyond its limit. As well as that, he raced middle to far side throughout, the runner-up raced against the stands rail from early, and the winner finished off his race against the stands rail, and Baradar was the only horse who emerged from a single-figure draw to finish in the first five. A dual winner over seven furlongs on soft ground when he was with Roger Varian, he did well on his first run for Johnny Murtagh last season, in finishing third behind his stable companion, the Irish Lincoln winner Raadobarg, over seven and a half furlongs on heavy ground at Tipperary last April, and he won on his debut for George Boughey over seven furlongs on heavy ground at Doncaster in November. He will be of big interest now when he returns to seven furlongs and encounters soft ground again. It can often be soft for the Victoria Cup at Ascot next month, and that race would be a good target for him now. He was well beaten in the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot last season, but that was on fast ground, and a proven ability to operate on soft ground at Doncaster is often a positive to take into a soft-ground contest on Ascot's straight track.

Savvy Victory - Kempton, 1st April 2023

Savvy Victory was unlucky not to finish closer than he did in the Listed Magnolia Stakes at Kempton on Saturday. Settled at the back of the seven-runner field early on by Richard Kingscote, and along the inside, he travelled well through his race, and he was still travelling well in behind as they rounded the home turn. He was short of room as they straightened up for home as Phantom Flight moved a little to his left. Switched back inside by his rider, Savvy Victory started to stay on against the inside rail, but he ran out of room as Secret State weakened in front of him. Richard Kingscote had no option but to take a pull, and that was winning chance gone, but Savvy Victory still ran on once he got a gap again.  He left the impression that he finished with at least a little left to give.

This was an encouraging return to action by Sean Woods' horse. He was a high-class handicapper last season, he won a good 10-furlong handicap at Goodwood in August, and he finished fifth in the Cambridgeshire. He could only finish a well-beaten third in a listed race at Newmarket in October, but he proved here that he could be at least up to listed class this season as a four-year-old. He stays 10 furlongs well, he handles a little bit of cut in the ground, and he goes well on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket.


There's The Door - Doncaster, 2nd April 2023

There's The Door was impressive in winning the 10-furlong handicap at Doncaster on Sunday. Slowly away and nicely settled by Pat Cosgrave on the inside early on, she moved up nicely on the far side early in the home straight as the field came stands side. She picked up well to hit the front at the two-furlong marker, and she cleared away from there, staying on strongly through the final furlong to win by almost five lengths in the end.

It was a really nice performance by David Evans' filly on her seasonal debut. A winner of a novice stakes over seven furlongs on fast ground last season, she proved that she could handle soft ground too when she finished second in a nursery at Newmarket in October over nine furlongs. She saw out the 10 furlongs well here and she appeared to relish the testing conditions. The handicapper will have his say now, but she remains unexposed over middle distances and, from the family of Loughbrown Stakes winner Eye Of The Storm, she could be even better over a mile and a half. She does handle faster conditions, but she will be of greatest interest when conditions are testing.

Matilda Picotte - Leopardstown, 2nd April 2023

Matilda Picotte did well to finish a good second to Never Ending Story in the 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown on Sunday. Smartly away from her outside draw, she was quickly into her rhythm in front, but she wasn't given an easy time of it by Zarinsk, who raced keenly up on her outside. Ronan Whelan appeared to try to steady it down as they raced out of the back straight, but it wasn't easy to do that and retain the lead and the inside berth, and Zarinsk actually headed his filly for a couple of hundred yards. Once into the home straight, Matilda Picotte picked up well and went about two lengths clear. She was run down inside the final furlong by Never Ending Story, but she still kept on well enough to finish a clear second, two and a half lengths in front of Zarinsk.

This seven-furlong trip was the longest trip over which Kieran Cotter's filly had ever raced, her six runs last season were all over six furlongs. She was fast last season, she was high-class over six furlongs, as she proved when she finished third in the Lowther Stakes at York and when she won the Listed Bosra Sham Stakes at Newmarket in October. She does hold entries in the Guineas at Newmarket and at The Curragh, but it may be that she will be at her best this season over shorter, possibly seven furlongs but probably six. She can be ridden aggressively over six. She is obviously well suited by Newmarket, and she will always be of interest at a track that favours forward-going tactics.

Walsingham - Leopardstown, 5th April 2023

Walsingham ran well for a long way in the three-year-olds' 10-furlong maiden at Leopardstown on Wednesday. Smartly away and quickly into a nice racing rhythm just behind the leaders, he travelled well to the three-furlong marker and, taken towards the outside by Chris Hayes, he shaped as though he was going to be a big player as they straightened up for home. He made progress in the slipstream of the ultimate winner The Prairie to the two-furlong marker, but he just couldn't sustain his run through the final furlong, and he faded to finish fourth, caught for third place by New Variant inside the final 100 yards.

It was still a good run by Dermot Weld's horse on his first run since he finished fourth in a maiden on heavy ground at Naas last November. He had New Variant well behind him in ninth place that day, with the Ballysax winner White Birch just behind him in fifth place. He is a full-brother to fellow Newtown Anner Stud horse Duke De Sessa, a Group 3 winner over nine and 12 furlongs, and he should get 10 furlongs at least this season. He should come on for this run, his seasonal debut. He is still a maiden, but he will be of interest on horse racing betting sites wherever he goes next.

Donn McClean, for many, is the face of horse racing in Ireland. He is the chief horse racing writer for The Irish Sunday Times and appears regularly on RTE's horse racing coverage as well as Racing TV. An accomplished author, Donn recently added Champion, written with the late Pat Smullen, to his list of horse racing books. You'll find Donn's musings across the world of Horse Racing here at

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