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.
Music Society – Goodwood, 31st July 2021
Music Society did well to finish fourth in the Stewards' Cup consolation race at Goodwood on Saturday, racing from stall two and racing on the far side on soft ground, in a race in which the near-side horses fared best. Away well from his low draw, he was held up early on behind the front runners on the far side. He made nice ground on the far side of the entire field to join the front rank on the run to the furlong marker, but he had done a lot of running to get into that position, and his run just flattened out a little from there. Even so, he did well to keep on as well as he did to finish fourth behind Mr Wagyu.
Tim Easterby's horse was well-in here, he was racing off his old mark of 82, and he will revert to his new mark of 90 now, but he will still be of interest off that mark, especially when he can get back on better ground. He is six now, but he is in the form of his life. He was only just beaten in each of his last two runs before Saturday, including in the Scottish Stewards' Cup at Hamilton two weeks earlier when he went down by a nose to Commanche Falls, who won Saturday's Stewards' Cup under a 6lb penalty. He goes well at York, so he will be of interest if he goes for a handicap there at the Ebor meeting, and he won the Ayr Bronze Cup in 2019 so, while he may not be rated highly enough to get into the Ayr Gold Cup this year, the Silver Cup would be a legitimate target.
Portfolio - Goodwood, 31st July 2021
Portfolio put up a good performance to finish a close-up third in the Listed Chalice Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday. She adopted a nice prominent position just behind the pace early on, and it looked like she was travelling better than any of her rivals as she moved up on the near side on the run to the two-furlong marker. But Save A Forest and Sayyida made their ground from the rear towards the far side, and they moved on into a share of the lead. Portfolio appeared to get a little lonely on the near side because she picked up well as they met the rising ground and she moved over towards her two rivals. She only finished third, but she was only beaten a total of a length by the Oaks fourth Save A Forest in a race that was run in a really good time, 0.17secs/furlong faster than Racing Post standard.
This was another good run by Sir Michael Stoute's filly, stepped up in grade. She had won her two previous races, both handicaps, and she proved here that she belonged in listed company at least, even though she was rated 4lb lower than the winner going into the race. She had made all the running in winning her two previous races, both over 10 furlongs, and she was ridden a little more conservatively here, stepped up in trip as well as in grade. But she saw out the 12-furlong trip well, and it wouldn't be surprising if she was ridden more forward the next time she races over 12 furlongs.
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Noble Seal - Galway, 1st August 2021
Noble Seal was unlucky not to finish closer than he did in the one-mile handicap that opened proceedings at Galway on Sunday. Smartly away form stall six, he had to be ridden along a little by Ronan Whelan on the run to the first turn in order to hold his position just behind the leaders and along the inside. He travelled well though down the hill, in about sixth place and along the inside, and he went to angle out as they raced to the home turn, but he was held in by Ten Ten Twenty around the home turn, and he just couldn't get a gap thereafter. He went to go outside Chavajod as they straightened up and, when that gap closed, he went to go inside, but he never really got a gap, and he just kept on along the inside to finish fourth, beaten a length and a half by the winner Church Mountain, who made just about all the running.
This was another good run by Tony Martin's horse, in a race from which the runner-up Ten Ten Twenty came out and won at Sligo on Wednesday. He hasn't won yet, but his previous two runs had been good, and he continues in good form. This was just his ninth race, just his fifth for Tony Martin, and he should be able to win a handicap soon over a mile or nine furlongs off this type of mark in the high 60s.
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Eurocrat - Galway, 1st August 2021
Eurocrat could only finish fifth in the seven-furlong median auction maiden at Galway on Sunday, but there was mitigation. He missed the break from his outside draw, and he was squeezed out a little after he had gone a couple of strides, with the result that he was further back than ideal early on. As well as that, he was wider than ideal. He had to go four wide as they raced around the home turn, he had to go outside the ultimate winner Malayan and, while he got to within a neck of that rival on the crown of the home turn, he had done a lot of running to get to that point, and he couldn't find any more close home. He only finished fifth, but he was only beaten a total of two and a half lengths.
This was Eurocrat's first run since he made his racecourse debut at Leopardstown in May, and he was weak in the market beforehand, so it is reasonable to assume that he will progress from this. He ran well in that Leopardstown maiden in May, he kept on well to take third place behind Celtic Times, who just held on from the fast-finishing Moony Beams, and they have both enhanced that form since. A son of Holy Roman Emperor, out of the Archipenko mare Apparatchika, who won over 10 furlongs and 12 furlongs, Jessica Harrington's horse should be able to build on this now, and he could progress again for stepping up in trip.
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Hadman - Naas, 2nd August 2021
Hadman only finished eighth in the valuable Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes at Naas on Monday, but he ran much better than that.
Sharply away from stall 12, he raced down the centre and disputed the early overall lead with Jarvis, who raced from stall one down the far rail. He picked up nicely when Dylan Browne McMonagle asked him to on the run to the two-furlong marker, and he was the overall leader as they raced to the furlong pole, but he drifted to his left over towards the far side, in a race in which and on a day on which the stands-side runners appeared to have an advantage on the straight track. He weakened close home as his early exertions told but, although he was only eighth, he was only beaten a total of three and a half lengths by Ger Lyons' exciting filly Sacred Bridge.
The first four home in this year's renewal of the Ballyhane raced, respectively, from stalls 20, 19, 17 and 18, and Hadman, who raced from stall 12, was the lowest-drawn of the first nine home. As well as that, Hadman finished off his race close to the inside rail, probably on the worst of the grond. It was a fine run by Joseph O'Brien's horse in the circumstances, racing prominently too in a race in which the hold-up horses on the near side came to the fore. His run was not dissimilar to Measure Of Magic's run in the Ballyhane last year, Johnny Murtagh's filly racing prominently from stall three and hitting the front inside the two-furlong marker before being overhauled close home by the closers on the near side and finishing just seventh overall. Measure Of Magic, now a dual listed race winner and third in the Commonwealth Cup, finished a close-up third in the Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes on her next run.
Hadman is a dual winner, and he finished a good third behind another exciting horse of Ger Lyons', Beauty Inspire, in the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes at The Curragh on Irish Oaks day on his last run before Monday. A winner over seven furlongs and out of a Galileo mare who won over 10 furlongs, an easy seven furlongs on a speed-favouring track could be ideal for him. He has plenty of good entries and he will be of interest wherever he goes now.