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.
There was a lot to like about the performance that Datsalrightgino put up in finishing third in the two-mile novices' handicap chase at Newbury last Friday. Prominent from early, he raced along the inside, but it always appeared as if they were going a half a stride too fast for him down the back straight, and he dropped back to a share of last place as they left the back straight. Ridden along around the home turn, he was slow at the fourth last fence, but he stayed on well from there over the last three fences, finishing third in the end, only three lengths behind the winner Frere D'Armes. In another couple of strides he would have been second.
It was a fine run by Jamie Snowden's horse, who left the impression that he would be better with a greater test of stamina. He did win over two miles at Chepstow on good ground on his previous run, but that was in a 0-135 handicap and, up by 9lb and into a better race, he shaped as if this test was sharper than ideal. He will be of interest now if he steps up in trip to two and a quarter or two and a half miles. All his best form recent is on good ground, but he did finish a close-up second behind Gelino Bello in a bumper at Plumpton on soft ground two years ago so, if he is kept to two miles, he could probably do with a little bit more cut in the ground.
Two horses to take out of the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury last Saturday. The first is Corach Rambler, who did well to keep on as well as he did to take fourth place in a race in which the pace held up well. Settled towards the rear of the field early on by Derek Fox, he was a detached 12th of the 13 remaining runners and under pressure as they left the back straight final time. But he made rapid progress from the top of the home straight to move into seventh place as they landed over the fourth last fence. He was big at the third last, and he stumbled a little on landing, which cost him energy and momentum, but he stayed on well from there over the last two fences and up the run-in to move into fourth place, just two and a half lengths behind third-placed Gericault Roque.
It was a big run by Lucinda Russell's horse. Winner of a red hot Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, a race that continues to look stronger and stronger with the passage of time, this was a good step forward from his seasonal debut in the Colin Parker Chase at Carlisle. He was dropped by 1lb for his Newbury run, so he is only 6lb higher than he was at Cheltenham in March, and that is fair. He has run just eight times over fences, so we may not have seen the best of him yet. He is two for two at Cheltenham, so he will obviously be of interest if and when he goes back there, but he is also one for one at Aintree, and a tilt at the Grand National is surely tempting. He does like to be held up in his races, which wouldn't be your first choice of running style for a Grand National, but One For Arthur, also trained by Lucinda Russell, was held up when he won it. He stays really well, and he would be of interest over the extreme trip of the Aintree Grand National, or of any Grand National.
The other horse to take out of the Coral Gold Cup, as well as Corach Rambler, is Fanion D'Estruval, who did remarkably well to come from last place to finish seventh in a race in which six of the first seven home occupied six of the first seven positions jumping the final fence with a circuit to go. Fanion D'Estruval missed the break, he was last of the 15 runners jumping the first fence, and he was a detached last by the time they got to the end of the back straight first time. He remained a long last for most of the race, he had to have been about 14 or 15 lengths behind the second last horse as they turned for home, but Lucy Turner persevered, and he stayed on well for her over the last four fences to get up and take seventh place, just three parts of a length behind sixth-placed Annsam and less than three lengths behind fifth-placed Busselton.
It was a remarkable run by Venetia Williams' horse. The worry about him going into the race concerned his stamina, racing over the longest trip over which he had ever raced. And there is a chance that, having stayed away from the hot part of the race, he just picked up the pieces late on, passing tired horses. Either way, he kept on well, and he remains a horse of interest. He is at his best on soft ground, and he goes well at Ascot, so he will be of interest if he goes there now during the winter. He holds an entry in the Silver Cup over three miles at Ascot on Long Walk Hurdle day and he will be of significant interest if he goes there.
Poetic Music put up a good performance to finish third behind two talented rivals in Luccia and She's A Saint in the Listed Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Newbury last Saturday. Settled in fourth place early on behind a decent pace that Harry Skelton set on She's A Saint, she made good progress early in the home straight and she moved up nicely into third place on the run to the second last flight. She came under a ride at that point but, while she couldn't match Luccia for pace, she stuck to her task well despite an awkward landing over the final flight, to finish third, with the first three clear.
It was a nice performance by Fergal O'Brien's mare. Winner of her first three bumpers last season and sixth behind Facile Vega in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, she kept on well to win her maiden hurdle at Ludlow last month on her hurdling debut - a race from which the runner-up has since come out and won - and this was a nice step forward from that. She shaped in the Champion Bumper as if she could do better with a sterner test of stamina, and that impression was further enhanced here. She won a bumper on New Year's Day last year at Cheltenham on soft ground, and she will be of interest now when she can get back on soft ground, and/or when she steps up in trip.
Bodhisattva stayed on well to take third place in the two-mile-six-furlong handicap hurdle at Navan last Sunday. Settled in midfield early on in a well-stacked-up field, he travelled well into the home straight for Davy Russell. Just behind the front rank jumping the third last flight, he moved towards the outside just behind his stable companion and ultimate winner Jungle Prose on the run to the second last and, while he came under pressure at that point, he responded well, he picked up nicely to move into third place, and he kept on up the run-in to get to within two lengths of the impressive winner by the time he got to the winning line/
Winner of his maiden hurdle over two miles at Navan last March, this was a nice return to action by Gordon Elliott's horse, his first run since he was pulled up in a novices' handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse last April. Available at big prices in the morning, he was sent off at no bigger than 9/1, and he justified that support in putting up a fine performance. The handicapper raised him by just 3lb to a mark of 120, and that was fair, he is only five and this was just his sixth run over hurdles, so he has plenty of scope for progression. Out of a half-sister to Irish Grand National winner Point Barrow, he could do better with a stronger pace too, or with a step up in trip and, as such, he would be of interest if he took his chance in the three-mile handicap hurdle at Leopardstown's Christmas Festival and/or the one at the Dublin Racing Festival.