Donn McClean's Horses To Follow: February 28th to March 7th

Donn McClean's Horses To Follow: February 28th to March 7th

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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.

Famous Bridge - Kelso, 5th March 2022

Famous Bridge was impressive in winning the two-mile-five-furlong handicap hurdle at Kelso last Saturday. Settled in mid-division early on by Brian Hughes, he made easy ground to move in behind the leaders at the third last flight. He moved easily into second place behind Kaizer on the run to the second last flight, and he picked up well when his rider asked him to join the leader and hit the front on the run to the last, before staying on well up the run-in to win by five lengths.

It was an impressive performance by Nicky Richards' horse, he travelled like the best horse in the race from a long way out, and he came away from his rivals impressively in a race that was run at a good pace and in a good time, 0.06secs/furlong faster than Racing Post par. He is a progressive young hurdler, he has now won twice and finished second twice in four completed runs over hurdles, and there may not have been much between himself and Saint D'Oroux at Kelso in early February had he not unseated at the second last flight. He stays this two-mile-five-furlong trip well, and he will be of interest again over this trip or ever further. The handicapper raised him by 8lb to a mark of 126, but he has the potential to go higher than that, and he will be of interest now if he goes for a handicap hurdle at Aintree, especially if the ground is on the soft side.


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Saint D'Oroux - Kelso, 5th March 2022

Saint D'Oroux didn’t have a lot of luck in-running in the closing stages of the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso last Saturday. Last of the 11 runners early on, he made nice ground for Ben Bromley around the outside as they raced down the side of the track. He tracked the ultimate winner Cormier into the home straight, and he came widest of all around the by-passed second last flight. He was a little short of room just inside the furlong marker as Faivoir moved to his right in front of him and, switched back inside, he stayed on well to get back past Faivoir and take second place, a length and a half behind the winner.

It was a race in which it was probably an advantage to be held up, the winner, second and third were third last, second last and last early on, so that was a positive for Saint D'Oroux, but he could have gone closer if he had enjoyed a clear run up the long home straight. It wasn't a help to him either that the last two flights were both by-passed. Winner of his maiden hurdle for Gordon Elliott as a four-year-old, and third in the Fred Winter Hurdle, he won a two-mile-five-furlong handicap hurdle on his first run for Stuart Crawford last month, and he could benefit from a step back up in trip now. He was taken out of the Coral Cup at Cheltenham at the five-day stage, but he will be of interest if he lines up in a good handicap hurdle now at any of the other spring festivals, ideally over two and a half miles.

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Straw Fan Jack - Newbury, 5th March 2022

Straw Fan Jack put up a nice performance to finish second to Black Poppy in the two-mile handicap hurdle at Newbury on Saturday. He horse disputed the lead with Tap Tap Boom from flagfall. He came under a ride from Sean Houlihan after landing over the third last flight, but he responded well. He got the measure of Tap Tap Boom over the second last, but he was immediately challenged by the favourite. It looked like Black Poppy was travelling better at that point, and he had moved on by a length by the time they got to the final flight, but Straw Fan Jack battled back gamely on the far side, and went down by just a short head in the end.

This was a fine performance by Sheila Lewis' horse, it was a good return to form after he disappointed in a better race at Ascot last month on his first run back after a short break. He raced over two miles as if he will get further, but he probably doesn't truly get two and a half. It is probable that a well-run stiff two miles suits him best, and ridden forward like this, possibly even a little more aggressively. The handicapper raised him by 3lb for this run to a mark of 131, and he is not obviously unexposed, but he is in good form now, and he will be of interest wherever he goes now. He may not get into any of the handicap hurdles at Cheltenham, but he will be of interest if he goes to Aintree, a track at which he won a novices' hurdle last season.


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Brookie - Leopardstown, 7th March 2022

Brookie ran a really encouraging race on his racecourse debut to finish third in the first division of the two-mile maiden hurdle at Leopardstown on Monday. Settled in mid-division early on by Peter Carberry, his jumping was a little novicey, which was understandable, but he travelled well out of the back straight in a share of fifth place, about seven lengths behind the leaders. He came under a ride on landing over the second last, but he responded well. He picked up around the home turn to move into a clear fifth place. He had moved into third place by the time he got to the final flight and, a little awkward over that obstacle, he kept on well up the run-in to finish a clear third behind Brooklynn Glory and Pats Choice.

This was a really smart debut from Tony Martin's horse. There was a lot to like about the attitude that he showed, about the strength with which he went to the line, and there is room for improvement in his jumping. He could improve significantly for this experience. He is really well-bred, a half-brother to top two-mile chaser Captain Guinness, and out of a half-sister to Jerrysback, and he should be winning his maiden hurdle soon before stepping up in grade. He is an exciting prospect.

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Glengouly - Leopardstown, 7th March 2022

Glengouly put up an impressive performance to win the Connolly's Red Mills EBF qualifier at Leopardstown on Monday. A little keen early on behind pace-setter I Don't Get It, he settled back into fourth place under Jack Foley as they raced down the side of the track and into the back straight. He travelled nicely down the back straight, moved up on the outside as they raced into the home straight, and travelled easily up on the outside of new leader Pinkerton as they approached the final flight. He jumped to the front over that obstacle, and he picked up well from there. Old rival Sam's Choice finished off his race well on the near side, but Glengouly was always holding him. He went to the line willingly and he won nicely.

Glengouly had idled when he hit the front at Gowran Park on his previous run, when he beat Sam's Choice for the first time, but there was no sign of that here. He went to the line willingly, and it looked like he was just doing as much as he needed to do, that he won with a little in hand, and he clocked a time that was the fastest of the four two-mile hurdles run on the day. He may be even better over two and a half miles, but he is good over this two-mile trip too, the faster pace at the shorter trip probably helps him to settle better, and there could be plenty more to come from him. Trainer Willie Mullins said that he will be prepared now for the final of this series, at the Punchestown Festival, a race that Suprise Package won last year, and he will be of big interest in that.