Donn McClean's Horses To Follow: October 18th to 24th

By Donn McClean
 |  7 mins
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Donn McClean's Horses To Follow: October 18th to 24th

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.

An Tailliur - Cheltenham, October 22nd 2022

An Tailliur put up a nice performance to finish third in the Pertemps Qualifier at Cheltenham on Saturday. Weak in the market before the off, he was settled towards the rear of the field early on by Jonjo O'Neill Jr. A little keen early on, he made nice progress on the outside down the back straight and he moved into a share of fifth place with the ultimate winner Shoot First at the top of the hill. He travelled well down the hill, too, just behind the leaders. He came under a ride on the run to the second-last flight, and an untidy jump there didn't help him. He could have faded out of it from there, so there was a lot to like about the manner in which he battled. Only fifth rounding the home turn, he stayed on well from there over the last and up the hill to finish third, just three lengths behind the winner and only beaten a half a length by Botox Has for the runner-up spot.

It was a really likeable performance by Jonjo O'Neill Sr's horse on his first run since May. He was a progressive horse in 2021, having won six of his seven completed races between May and December 2021, and he finished second to subsequent Mares' Hurdle winner Marie's Rock on soft ground in the other. He is only six, so he has the potential to progress again as we move through the season, and the Pertemps Final back at the Cheltenham Festival in March is a legitimate target now that he has proven that he can operate at the track. He is at his best on goodish ground.

Ga Law - Aintree, October 23rd 2022

Ga Law ran a big race to finish third in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree on Sunday on his first run back after a long break. Settled on the inside by Jonathan Burke, last of the seven remaining runners after Millers Bank's departure at the first, he was keen early on, which wasn't surprising given that he had been off the track for so long. He moved towards the outside as they raced down the back straight final time, but a significant mistake at the final fence in the back straight halted his forward momentum. A detached last as they jumped the cross fence, he came under a ride as they rounded the home turn, but he kept on well for pressure. He jumped into fourth place over the second last fence, and he stayed on well from there, getting past Beakstown on the run-in and getting to within a length and a half of Riders Onthe Storm and Hitman by the time they got to the winning line.

It was a big run by Ben Pauling's horse after an absence of 603 days. There was a lot to like about the manner in which he stayed on all the way to the line, after making that mistake at the fifth-last fence, just when he was starting to make progress. He was a talented novice chaser in 2020/21, he won a Grade 2 contest at Wincanton and he finished third behind Allmankind and Hitman in the Henry VIII Chase at Sandown's Tingle Creek meeting. This was his first run since he finished second behind Tamaroc Du Mathan, and in front of subsequent December Gold Cup and Cheltenham Plate winner Coole Cody in the Pendil Chase at Kempton in February 2021. He has obviously had his issues, but he is only six and has raced just six times over fences, and he obviously retains lots of ability. He is interestingly handicapped on a mark of 142, and he races like he could improve for stepping up in trip.

Honor Grey - Aintree, October 23rd 2022

Honor Grey was a good winner of the conditional jockeys' three-mile handicap hurdle at Aintree on Sunday. Settled just behind the front rank early on by Luca Morgan, he was tightened up as they raced around the first turn after they had jumped just one flight of hurdles. He had to be checked and lost ground and momentum, with the result that he was well back in the field, further back than planned apparently, and wide as they raced around the second turn and into the back straight first time. He settled into his rhythm, though, and travelled well through his race towards the back of the field, and he made nice ground on the outside as they raced down the back straight for the final time, travelling best in fourth place when they left the back straight. He jumped to the front over the second-last flight, and he travelled really well in front. He idled on the run-in, as Glimpse Of Gala closed to three parts of a length, but Honor Grey left the impression that he had far more in hand than that.

This was another step forward by Ben Pauling's horse on his seasonal debut. He has now won three of his four races since he was fitted with blinkers for the first time at Ffos Las last March. He raced off a mark of 107 then and was racing off a mark of 120 on Sunday, and he will obviously get another hike for this, but he remains progressive, and there is every chance that there is more to come. It was a 0-130 contest on Sunday, so he should be able to remain in this grade if connections wish. He stays three miles well, and he has form on heavy ground as well as on this good to soft ground.

Ain't That A Shame - Limerick, October 23rd 2022

Ain't That A Shame was unlucky not to win the Munster National at Limerick on Sunday. Smartly away and settled into a nice rhythm early on just behind the leaders, his jumping was very good in the main. When he was short, he was able to shorten well ,and he was able to get away sharply on the landing side. He moved up easily to join the front rank when they turned into the home straight with a circuit to run, and he jumped his way into the lead by the time they set off on their final circuit. He travelled well in front, jumping the four fences down the back straight well. He got in tight to the third-last, but he was quickly back in front and travelled best of all into the home straight. He moved into a three-length lead on the run to the second last, jumped that well and looked all set for victory, but he got in tight to the final fence and lost momentum, and that gave a chance to his pursuer, The Big Dog, a strong stayer. It was a chance that Peter Fahey's horse duly took, as he stayed on strongly to get up and beat Ain't That A Shame by a head.

Even so, it was a massive run by Henry de Bromhead's horse in defeat. He impressed with his jumping and the ease with which he travelled. He hasn't won over fences yet, but he has run some big races in defeat, including when he was only just caught by Champagne Platinum in a beginners' chase at Navan last January. The handicapper raised him by 5lb for this defeat to a mark of 142, but that is a mark that should still be well within range. This was just his fifth run over fences, his first since he finished down the field in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham in March, so he has plenty of scope to progress from this. Winner of his maiden hurdle over three miles on heavy ground, he stays well. He is obviously still a novice and is still a maiden over fences, so he has plenty of options, but there could be a good staying handicap chase in him this winter.

Gevrey - Limerick, October 23rd 2022

Gevrey only got home by a neck from Optional Mix in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase at Limerick on Sunday, but there could still be more to come from Gordon Elliott's horse now. Settled back in the field early on by Davy Russell and along the inside, he was still only seventh of the nine runners as they raced down the back straight final time. He made nice progress from there, he moved into fourth place as they left the back straight and he continued his progress in the home straight. He was left in third place, about a length behind the two leaders, when The Dara Man fell at the second-last fence, and he found lots from there. He touched down over the last in a share of the lead, and he stayed on well up the run-in to get up and win by a neck.

It looks like Gevrey is a horse who only just does as much as he needs to do. Three of his four wins have been gained by less than a length, and in his other victory, he was left in front at the second-last fence. As such, it might be difficult for the handicapper to get a handle on him. He is only six and has plenty of scope to progress further now, and a 5lb hike may not be sufficient to halt his forward march. Davy Russell gets a great tune out of him; his record on him now reads 3-4-1-1-3-1, and the Saddler Maker gelding will be of interest wherever he goes next. Two-and-a-half miles is a good trip for him, although it could be worth giving him another try over further.

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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