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 Red Lacewing put up in winning the five-furlong juveniles' maiden at Naas recently. Slowly away and bustled along a little by Andy Slattery early on, she settled back in the field, but she made good progress against the far rail from the three-furlong marker. She had to be brave to go through a tightening gap on the run to the furlong marker and, once in front, she had to dig deep to fend off the challenge from the Aidan O'Brien-trained colt New York City. The pair of them pulled nicely clear of their rivals, and they clocked a time that was two seconds faster than Rhythm Of Zain clocked in winning the nursery 35 minutes later.
This was a nice step forward by Fozzy Stack's filly. She had run well on her racecourse debut to finish third in a Navan maiden that is working out ridiculously well already. The winner HMS Endeavour won again at Dundalk next time, the fourth, Exquisite Acclaim, won his maiden at Dundalk on the same evening, and the sixth, Pearl Palinka, won at Down Royal next time. Red Lacewing is a half-sister to The Last Lion, who won the Sirenia Stakes and the Middle Park Stakes as a juvenile for Mark Johnston, and she is out of a half-sister to the Stacks' Moyglare and Irish 1000 Guineas winner Tarascon. She will be of interest wherever she goes now before the end of the season and, all going well, she is a filly to look forward to next year.
Takana showed a lot of speed in the six-furlong median sires series maiden at Dundalk recently. Sharply away from her outside draw, she moved up on the outside early on for Siobhan Rutledge and she led the field by the time they had completed the short run to the turn out of the back straight. She travelled well into the home straight, she picked up well and it looked like she had all her rivals in trouble as they raced to the furlong marker. She just tired through the final furlong, however, she was passed by the winner Exquisite Acclaim 100 yards out and she lost second to Marsa in the final strides.
It was still a good run by Ciaran Murphy's filly. She had to do a lot of running from her outside draw early on, on her first attempt at six furlongs, in order that she wouldn't be too wide around the first turn, and those exertions probably just told inside the final furlong. She ran really well on her previous run at Naas over five furlongs, she travelled well and she kept on well late on to finish second to Up Above. She will be interesting again now, ideally back down at five furlongs.
Sense Of Style did well to stay on as well as she did to finish third behind Astadash and Emaniya in the Denny Cordell Lavarack & Lanwades Stud Stakes at Gowran Park recently, coming from mid-division and finishing off her race well. Settled in mid-division and along the inside early on by Shane Crosse, Sense Of Style was well back in the field as they straightened up for home. She travelled well on the run to the two-furlong marker though and, while she couldn't get to the winner, she picked up well at the furlong pole and she finished off her race best of all, just failing to catch Emaniya for the runner-up spot.
It was a race in which the pace held up well, as it did generally on the day. Astadash and Emaniya, from stalls one and two respectively, were prominent from early and along the inside, and Sense Of Style did well to get as close to them as she did, coming from well back in the field. Joseph O'Brien's filly has been busy this season, and she hasn't won since she won her maiden at Naas last September, but her six runs this season have all been in listed or Group races, and this was probably a career-best effort, on her first run back after a short break. Most of her races have been over seven furlongs or a mile, but she saw out this nine-and-a-half-furlong trip well, and she is worth another try at 10 furlongs. She goes well on soft ground, so she will remain of interest as we move more deeply into the autumn.
Wings Of War did well to win the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury recently, given how keen he was through the early stages of the race. He was sharply away, but Adam Kirby was anxious to get him back in behind runners as Hierarchy went on, but Wings Of War didn't really drop the bridle until after they had gone about a furlong and a half. He came under a ride on the run to the two-furlong marker, and he had to manoeuvre a passage for himself, after which he had to get out after Hierarchy, who kicked from the front on the run to the furlong pole. But Wings Of War dug deep on the far side, got to the front 100 yards out and kept going well enough to hold off the renewed effort of Hierarchy.
It was a game performance by Clive Cox's colt. Winner of his maiden at Nottingham in July, he stepped forward from that to finish a close-up third behind the talented Ever Given in a valuable sales race at York's Ebor meeting, and he improved again on that on his last run before his recent race to finish second in the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes over six furlongs at Kempton. His most recent run was a step forward from that, and he should be able to improve again as he learns to settle better. He will be of interest if he runs again before the end of the season.
Strange to be noting a horse who got no further than the third fence, as was the case with Conflated in the Kerry National at Listowel recently, but there could still be a good handicap chase in the Gigginstown House horse off his mark of 145. It was significant that Jack Kennedy chose to ride Conflated, in front of three other Gordon Elliott-trained runners in the race. None of his stable companions went close, but The Big Lense fell early in the race, and badly hampered Aramax, while Farclas was travelling well when he unseated his rider at the third last fence.
Conflated hadn't been foot perfect over the first two fences either, but he was good when he beat Opposites Attract and The Big Getaway in his beginners' chase at Navan last December over two and a half miles, and he was safe in the main when he won a Grade 3 novices' chase at Naas last March, also over two and a half miles, when he shaped as if he would do even better when stepped up to three miles. A chase mark of 145 is 7lb higher than his hurdles mark, but he is only seven and he has the potential to go beyond that mark in staying handicap chases this season. The Troytown Chase back at Navan, where he won his beginners' chase, in November could be a good early-season target for him.