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.
Oodnadatta - The Curragh, 27th August 2021
Oodnadatta did well to finish third in the Group 3 Snow Fairy Stakes at the Curragh recently. Slowly away from her wide draw, she was settled back in the field early on by Shane Foley. No better than ninth as they passed the four-furlong marker and raced down the hill to the home turn, she came under a ride as they straightened up and raced past the three-furlong pole. She picked up well too, she had to come widest of all, outside Champers Elysees, and it took her a little while to hit top stride, but when she did, she finished off her race well, getting up to take third place, just a length and a half behind the winner Acanella.
It was a race in which, and an evening on which, it was difficult to come from too far back, as it often is on the round course at The Curragh. The winner and the runner-up Champers Elysees were fifth and sixth turning for home, while the fourth, fifth and sixth fillies, Shale, Solene Lilyette and Emaniya, were third, second and fourth respectively at the top of the home straight. Oodnadatta did well to get as close as she got, coming from well back in the field.
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Jessica Harrington's filly hasn't won since she won on her racecourse debut at Leopardstown in June last year, when she beat subsequent Marble Hill Stakes winner Minaun, but all but one of her runs since have been in Group races. Third in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes last year as a juvenile, she ran a big race to finish fourth in the Group 3 Royal Whip Stakes against older colts and geldings on her last run before Friday, when she probably didn't fully see out the 10-furlong trip. Friday's run was probably a career-best though, and it is a performance on which she should be able to build now. A strongly-run mile or nine furlongs suits her well, and there could be a Group race win in her soon, perhaps the Denny Cordell Lavarack & Lanwades Stud Stakes at Gowran Park in mid-September, in which she holds an entry.
Dandyville - The Curragh, 27th August 2021
Dandyville did well to keep on as well as he did to finish third in the six-furlong handicap at the Curragh recently. A little awkwardly away, he raced towards the back of the far-side group of eight from early. He came under a ride from Chris Hayes on the run to the two-furlong marker, but he found plenty for pressure, keeping on well on the far side to get the better of Indian Raj for third place, doing best of those who raced towards the far side, behind Goodnight Girl and Lord Dudley, who both raced down the near side.
It was another good run by Natalia Lupini's horse. Well beaten in both his runs last season as a juvenile, he got off the mark in a six-furlong three-year-olds' handicap at Fairyhouse in June. Raised by 5lb for that win, he followed up off his new mark of 71 at Naas in another six-furlong handicaps, this time against his elders, when he just got up on the line to beat Indian Raj by a nose. He raced off a career-high mark of 79 on Friday, but he proved that he was more than capable off that type of mark. He has a good attitude, he is a young sprinter who continues to progress, and there could be a good six-furlong handicap in him now before the end of the season off his new mark of 76.
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Happy Power - Goodwood, 28th August 2021
Happy Power only finished sixth in the Celebration Mile at Goodwood recently, but he ran well for a long way over a trip that stretches his stamina. Sharply away, Andrew Balding's horse settled into a nice position for Silvestre de Sousa, just up on the outside of leader Pogo. He moved up to share the lead with Charlie Hills' horse at the two-furlong marker, and he just got past that rival at the furlong marker. But his stamina seemed to ebb inside the final furlong, as Benbatl came up on his outside. He was still in a dispute of third place with a half a furlong to run, but he faded into sixth place, as Chindit and Perotto stayed on past him close home.
Happy Power's best runs have been over seven furlongs, with five of his seven wins gained over that distance. He won the Group 3 Supreme Stakes last year over seven furlongs at Goodwood, and he finished fourth in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot in June over six. He has won over a mile, but he has won just once in eight tries, seven since his sole win over the trip in the Listed Ganton Stakes at York in June 2019. He goes well on soft ground, so he will remain of interest as we move into the autumn. He holds an entry in the Group 2 Park Stakes next Saturday over seven furlongs at Doncaster, a track at which he is one for one, so he will be of interest if he lines up in that, while the best performance of his career was probably the performance that he put up when he won the Group 2 Challenge Stakes on soft ground over seven furlongs at Newmarket last October, so he will be of particular interest if he is aimed at that race again.
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Khaadem - Newmarket, 28th August 2021
Khaadem could only finish fifth in the Listed Hopeful Stakes at Newmarket recently, but he ran much better than that. Drawn on the wing, effectively nine of nine, he was sharply away and keen early on, with the result that Andrea Atzeni couldn't get him back and covered up behind runners in his first-time blinkers. He showed lots of pace though, he travelled really well on the far side, and he moved easily into the lead on the run to the two-furlong marker. He was the last horse in the race to come off the bridle and, when his rider went for him, he picked up nicely, he led by daylight as they raced inside the final furlong, which is probably the point at which he traded at 2.12 in-running. He couldn't sustain his effort, however. He weakened on the run up the hill, as his early exertions took their toll, fading to finish fifth.
There was still plenty to take out of this run by Charlie Hills' horse. He was beaten three lengths by the winner Summerghand, but he was only beaten a neck and a nose for third. More than that, he expended energy unnecessarily in trying to go faster than his rider wanted him to go through the first furlong and a half. The first-time blinkers obviously lit him up, and that was exacerbated by the fact that he was sharply away from his draw on the wing. He did show lots of pace, and he would be interesting now dropped to five furlongs.
He would also be interesting over six furlongs again, as long as he could settle better than he did on Saturday, perhaps drawn in among horses and racing just behind the pace. He is a talented horse, he finished fourth in the July Cup and in the Diamond Jubilee last year, and he won the Stewards' Cup in 2019 by almost three lengths off a mark of 107, reaching a high of 116. He retains lots of speed, and it is interesting that connections have entered him in the Listed Scarborough Stakes over five furlongs next Wednesday at Doncaster, a track at which he won a conditions race as a juvenile on his only visit.
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Naval Commander - Epsom, 30th August 2021
Naval Commander was a little unlucky not to finish closer than he did in the 10-furlong handicap at Epsom on Monday. Smartly away and in front after they had gone 50 yards, William Buick took him back in order that he could take a lead from Fast Steps. He travelled well from there, down around Tattenham Corner, and he travelled well to the three-furlong marker, but he was kept in on the rail from that point. There was a gap there early in the home straight, but then Wait For The Lord rolled down the camber to his left and suddenly Naval Commander had nowhere to go.
Patient Dream came with an unchecked run down the outside, and he got the better of a good tussle with the early leader Fast Steps, but Naval Commander kept on again at the end and, beaten just a total of two lengths, left the impression that he had plenty of energy left. He may not have beaten Patient Dream even with a clear run, but he may have, and the winner was the one who received the majority of the post-race attention, with the result that Naval Commander's run may have gone a little under the radar.
Winner of a maiden last year over a mile, Robyn Brisland's horse kept on well to win over a mile at Newbury on his debut this season off a mark of 88, and he was racing off just a 2lb higher mark on Monday. All but one of his previous runs had been over a mile, but he stayed the 10-furlong trip well on Monday and, with just eight races under his belt, he retains potential for progression over this trip. He handles easy ground, and he could progress beyond his mark of 90 now as we move into the autumn.