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.
Fonteyn did well to win the Listed Oaks Farm Stables Michael Seely Memorial Stakes at York last Friday. She was keen through the early stages of the race as Andrea Atzeni got her tucked in as they raced to the end of the back straight. Still keen as they left the back straight in fifth place along the inside, she travelled well into the home straight, and she picked up towards the inside as they raced to the two-furlong marker. She had to switch a little to her right in order to get around the leader, Arion, and when she did, the favourite, Grande Dame, made good ground towards the near side.
Fonteyn was challenged by the favourite when she hit the front inside the furlong marker, but she kept on strongly, and there was a lot to like about the attitude she showed in fending off her challenger. She got home by a head in the end from her well-fancied and well-backed rival, the pair of them finishing nicely ahead of their rivals.
This was Fonteyn's first win, but she had run just three times previously, twice last year as a juvenile, and she had shaped with a lot of promise on her debut this season at Newmarket last month in finishing second to Crenelle in a one-mile three-year-old fillies' maiden. Weak in the market in the morning of that race but strong in the pre-race market, Kevin Ryan's filly broke smartly from stall one and was quickly into her stride and into the lead. She was keener than ideal early on that day, too, but she still had most of her rivals in trouble by the time they raced towards the two-furlong marker. In the end, she couldn't repel Crenelle's challenge, but she kept on well all the way to the line, going down by just a neck to the favourite, and pulling eight-and-a-half lengths clear of the third filly, Rebel Love.
This was a nice step forward from that. She showed lots of pace and kept on willingly, and she should be able to step forward again from this, especially when she learns to settle better early on. A mile is a good trip for her for now. She should do even better when she learns to settle a little better, and she should be able to step up in trip in time.
Rogue Bear's turn is surely not far off now. Keen going to post before the 10-and-a-half-furlong handicap at York last Friday, he was keen again through the early stages of the race, as Jack Mitchell tried to get him to drop the bridle at the back of the field. He was still keen as they raced around the home turn; he didn't drop the bridle until they raced to the three-furlong marker. Switched to the far side at that point, he picked up well, and he looked a likely winner when he joined Bollin Joan and Love Is Golden inside the final furlong. He had expended a lot of energy before he got to that point, and his run flattened out close home, to be beaten a head by Bollin Joan, with a half a length back to Love Is Golden, and the first three clear.
It was another big run by Tom Clover's horse, stepping up to 10-and-a half furlongs for the first time. He ran a big race in the Lincoln at Doncaster on his seasonal debut, doing best by far of the hold-up horses and the high-drawn horses, and he ran another big race in the Spring Cup at Newbury last month, when he went down by just a half a length to the talented Modern News. There is lots of stamina on his dam's side, so this should be a good trip for him. You can't say that he didn't stay the trip here, and he will do even better when he learns to settle better. This was just his eighth run, and there could still be a fair bit more to come.
Mr Big Stuff only finished fifth in the London Gold Cup at Newbury last Saturday, but he ran much better than that. Settled in midfield early on by Hollie Doyle, he travelled well into the home straight, and he moved up nicely in behind the leaders on the run inside the three-furlong marker.
He had to wait for a gap as they raced to the two-furlong pole and engineered racing room for himself just outside Wineglass Bay, as Zoom came up on his outside. When he did get the gap, he didn't have the push-button acceleration to move into it, into a quickening pace. He moved back to the inside and, checked again a little at the furlong pole, he had to check again inside the final 200 yards as Wineglass Bay moved to his left.
In the end, Hollie Doyle just allowed him to come home under hands and heels, once it was obvious that he couldn't reach the first four. He was beaten a total of three-and-a-half lengths in the end, but he can be marked up at least a little on the bare form of the run.
Richard Spencer's horse hasn't won yet, but he has run some fine races in defeat. Third behind Derby favourite Desert Crown in a one-mile maiden at Nottingham last November on soft ground, and he finished a close-up second behind Al Qareem in a 10-furlong handicap at Nottingham on his debut this season, with the pair of them clear. Al Qareem has since finished second in a good handicap at Sandown and won again at York, and he is now rated 15lb higher than he was for the Nottingham race. Mr Big Stuff is rated 82, just 4lb higher than he was at Nottingham, and there could be a good handicap in him off that mark. His dam won over a mile and three furlongs and finished second in a Park Hill Stakes over a mile and six, and Mr Big Stuff shapes as if he could improve again for a step up to a mile-and-a-half.
Crystal Black ran an encouraging race on his seasonal return in the one-mile handicap at Naas last Sunday. A little weak in the market beforehand, he was settled back in the field early on by Chris Hayes. Just 10th of the 13 runners as they raced to the home turn, he came under a ride early in the home straight, but he made good ground on the far side, before he tired deep inside the final furlong as he hung a little to his left, probably onto the worst of the ground, as lack of a recent run probably told.
This was a race in which the pace held up well, the first and second, Hale Bopp and Loingseoir, were first and second from flag fall, and it was difficult for the hold-up horses to get into it. As well as that, Crystal Black should progress from this run, his first since last September. He was a progressive three-year-old last season. Sixth in the Irish Cambridgeshire at The Curragh at the end of August, he rounded off the campaign with a big run to finish a close-up third in the hugely competitive Northfields Handicap at The Curragh on Irish Champions' Weekend. He is effective over a mile, but, out of the prolific mare She's Our Mark, it may be that he will be seen to best effect this season over 10 furlongs.
Beamish ran out an impressive winner of the final race at Killarney last Tuesday. Always travelling well for Billy Lee in a share of third place behind leader My Mate Mozzie, he made nice ground on the outside as they straightened up for home. He moved up easily to join the leaders at the two-furlong marker, and he picked up smartly when his rider asked him to, hitting the front on the run to the furlong marker and clearing away to win impressively, leaving talented rivals Ebendi, My Mate Mozzie and Port Sunlight in his wake.
It was a fine performance by Paddy Twomey's horse on just his second run ever. Impressive in winning a median auction maiden on fast ground at Leopardstown over a mile and five furlongs on his racecourse debut, he didn't race again last season. However, he proved here that the positive impression he created that evening was not misplaced, and he proved that he could handle testing ground as well. A half-brother to Bourree, a Group 3 winner over a mile-and-a-quarter in France, he is an exciting young stayer, and he will be of interest wherever he goes next.