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 American Sonja put up in winning the two-year-olds' median sires series maiden at The Curragh on Thursday. Settled in mid-division in the far-side group early on, she travelled well through her race for Dylan Browne McMonagle, but the leader in the near-side group was well ahead at halfway, so she had to do a lot of running on the far side on her own. She moved to the front of the far-side group fully two furlongs out, at which stage she still had a few lengths to make up on McCauley's Tavern, who led the near-side group. But she picked up well from there, and she went to the line strongly. She won by three and a half lengths in the end, and she finished almost five lengths clear of the next best in the far-side group.
It was a strong performance by Joseph O'Brien's filly on just her fourth run. She had a tough race in a seven-furlong nursery at The Curragh just three weeks earlier, when she went down by a neck to Devore, to whom she was conceding 11lb. It was to her credit that she was able to bounce back here, stepping up on that performance and probably appreciating the drop back down to six furlongs. She handled this easy ground well, and she will be of interest if she races again now before the end of the season.
Insinuendo did really well to come from as far back as she did to finish third in the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot on Saturday. Dropped in by Oisin Orr early on from her outside draw, Willie McCreery's filly was still 13th of the 14 runners when they started around the home turn. Taken towards the outside early in the home straight, she stayed on strongly, charting a path among horses, to get up and take third place from last year's winner Eshaada. It never looked like she was going to get to the winner Emily Upjohn, but there was a lot to like about the manner in which she kept on all the way to the line. Her penultimate furlong was the second fastest penultimate furlong in the race, behind only Emily Upjohn's, and her final furlong was the fastest in the field.
They didn't go fast early on here, it was a race in which it was difficult to make ground from the rear. The other four fillies who, with Insinuendo, filled the first five places all raced in the first seven places from early. It was a career-best by the Gleneagles mare, on her first attempt over a mile and a half. She was high-class over 10 furlongs this season. She was only just beaten by Luxembourg in the Royal Whip Stakes, and she failed by just a neck to catch Above The Curve in the Blandford Stakes, but she obviously saw out this 12-furlong trip well. There could be more to come from her over this type of distance, if she races again this season or if she remains in training next year. She is five now, a Group 3 and Group 2 winner, and now Group 1 placed; she is obviously a fantastic broodmare prospect. However, she could have more to offer on the racecourse too. Interestingly, Willie McCreery achieved that Group 1 win with Fiesolana in 2014 when she was kept in training as a five-year-old.
Killer Clown put up a good performance to finish third behind Kiltealy Briggs in the two-mile-five-and-a-half-furlong handicap chase at Market Rasen on Saturday. Weak in the market beforehand, he had the early pace to adopt and maintain a nice prominent position, up on the outside of Kiltealy Briggs at a good pace. His jumping was good, and he moved up nicely on the outside of the leader as they left the back straight. It looked like he might be getting the better of the leader as they straightened up for home, but he got in tight to the third last fence, and he just tired from there. It was a slow-motion finish, but he couldn't get past the leader, and Guy stayed on well on the far side to deprive him of the runner-up spot. Even so, he was only beaten a total of two-and-a-half lengths in the end.
It was a good start back by Emma Lavelle's horse. He progressed nicely last season, winning a handicap chase at Kempton on the Saturday after Cheltenham in March off a mark of 140, and running well for a long way in the Topham Chase off an 8lb higher mark. He should be able to step forward from this run now that his first run of the season is under his belt. His record on his seasonal debut reads 2-5-U-6, and a mark of 148 should be within range. Two-and-a-half miles is his trip, and it appears that he is at his best on flat tracks, probably flat right-handed tracks, and he is two for two at Kempton.
Mehnah put up a nice performance on her return to action in the Listed Garnet Stakes at Naas on Sunday. We hadn't seen Kevin Prendergast's filly since she had won the Listed Cairn Rouge Stakes at Killarney in July last year, when she came from well back and wide, yet still had the resolve to get up and win by three parts of a length. She was solid in the market on Sunday, despite the fact that she hadn't raced for 459 days, and, again, she was well back in the field early on. It was a race in which it was difficult to make ground from the rear, four of the first five home occupied four of the first five places at the top of the home straight, so Mehnah did well to finish off her race as well as she did to take sixth place. She missed the break, she was almost last after they had gone 100 yards, and she was keen enough early on, so Chris Hayes had no option but to drop her in and take his time. Just worse than mid-division as they raced around the home turn, she travelled well into the home straight and, taken towards the outside as they raced to the two-furlong marker, it took her a little while to pick up, but she stayed on really nicely through the final furlong, getting up to take sixth place, beaten less than three lengths in total and closest at the finish. As well as that, she had to make her ground wide, probably on the worst of the ground on a day on which it looked like the inside rail was the place to be.
It was a more than satisfactory return by the Shadwell filly on her first run back after such a long break and on just the fourth run of her life. She beat subsequent listed race winner Fantasy Lady on her racecourse debut at two, and she just failed to get up and win the Leopardstown Guineas Trial on her first run as a three-year-old. A half-sister to Kevin Prendergast's Irish 2000 Guineas winner Awtaad, she will be of interest if she runs again before the end of the season - she obviously handles this soft ground well - and next year if she remains in training as a five-year-old.
All About Joe put up a really nice performance to win the Durham National at Sedgefield on Sunday. Nicely settled, eighth of the eight runners, by Alan Doyle early on, he was still only seventh as they raced down the back straight for the final time. He made nice progress on the outside down the back straight though, and he moved into second place behind the leader Raddle And Hum as they raced around the home turn. He moved to the front after they jumped the second last, and onto the inside rail, and he popped the last nicely before staying on strongly up the run-in. He was probably idling in front, and he left the impression that he had more in hand than the bare winning margin of three lengths.
A faller in a handicap hurdle at Ayr in May on his first run for Andrew Hamilton, the Oscar gelding sprang a 33/1 shock when he won a novices' handicap chase at Cartmel in June on his first run over fences over two miles and five furlongs, a trip that was surely wholly inadequate. He improved again for stepping up in trip to three miles, but this was a career-best from him on his first run over an extreme trip. He remains unexposed now as a staying chaser. He is only seven and this was just his fifth run over fences, and the further he goes, apparently, the stronger he gets. He obviously goes well on this good ground, but he did finish second to Eklat De Rire in a maiden hurdle at Thurles on heavy ground when he was with Colm Murphy, so he does have options. He will be of interest again in another marathon chase now over an extreme distance.