Donn McClean's Horses to Follow: June 11th - 18th

Welcome to Donn McClean's horses to follow column, where he looks back on the last week's racing and picks out some eye-catchers to take note of. Keep scrolling for this week's selections.

Donn McClean's Horses to Follow: June 11th - 18th

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.

Eldrickjones - Ascot, 15th June

Eldrickjones did really well to finish second in the Coventry Stakes on Tuesday. Held up early on by Danny Tudhope through the early stages of the race, and racing on the far side from stall two, he was still on the bridle as most of his rivals came under a ride on the run to the two-furlong marker. He started to pick up when his rider asked him to, but a gap closed in front of him just inside the two-furlong marker, and he had to switch inside The Acropolis in order to start his challenge. Once in the clear, he picked up well and he stayed on strongly on the far side all the way to the line, getting up for second place behind Berkshire Shadow, and doing best of the low-drawn horses.

The race developed towards the near side, and the other three horses who, with him, filled the first four places raced, respectively, from stalls 17, 16 and 10. He finished second, racing on the far side, and with an interrupted run.

Roger Fell's horse had run just once before this, he just failed to get up in a six-furlong maiden at Thirsk. Sent off at 66/1 for the Coventry on the back of that run, this was obviously a massive step forward. By Cotai Glory, who was at his best over five furlongs, he obviously gets this six-furlong trip well. He should be able to win his maiden without any trouble before stepping back up in grade.

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Golden Rules - Ascot, 15th June

LGolden Rules did well to finish fourth in the Ascot Stakes, given how keen he was through the early stages of the race. He was slowly away, but he was quickly up into a prominent position, in fourth or fifth place, up on the outside of Untold Story. He was keen though, he didn't really relax until they were racing out of Swinley Bottom. He travelled well up the side of the track and he travelled well to the home turn. Wheeled to the outside by Frankie Dettori at the top of the home straight, he picked up well and he hit the front on the run to the furlong marker. He just seemed tire through the final furlong as his early exertions probably took their toll, and he weakened into fourth place.

It was still a really good run by John and Thady Gosden's horse, on this, his first attempt at two and a half miles. Actually, he had never been beyond a mile and six furlongs before, it was a significant step up in trip for him, so it is understandable that he would be keen early on. It was just the sixth race of his career too, so he has plenty of scope for progression. By Derby winner and Arc winner Golden Horn and out of a half-sister to Ribblesdale and Mackinnon Stakes winner Magic Wand, and Irish Oaks winner Chicquita, he is regally bred and he is unexposed as a stayer, and he will be of interest wherever he goes next.


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Dubious Affair - Ascot, 15th June 2021

Dubious Affair looked unlucky in the Copper Horse Handicap at Ascot on Tuesday. She was squeezed out a little at the two-furlong marker and she had to switch to her right, and she was checked again a half a furlong out. In the end, she just failed by a head to catch Amtiyaz.

If she hadn't had her momentum checked in either of those incidents, she probably would have won, but it wasn't just that which makes her worthy of note. It was also the fact that she came from the rear in a race in which the pace held up well. The winner Amtiyaz raced in second place from flagfall, while the fourth and fifth horses, Arthurian Fable and Saldier, raced in the first six throughout, and the third horse Global Storm raced in mid-division. Dubious Affair raced towards the rear of the field, she only had three horses behind her as they started to race around the home turn. She did really well to get as close as she did. She travelled well into the home straight, and she stayed on strongly all the way to the line.

Winner of a novice stakes over 10 furlongs in December 2019 on her final run for Sir Michael Stoute, she appeared to improve when Charlie Fellows stepped her up in trip last season, winning three on the bounce and then finishing fourth in the Group 2 Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster on her penultimate run. She was well beaten on her only run over two miles, but that was in the Group 2 Champions Long Distance Cup, you can easily allow her that, and she is worth another try over two miles again. This is her style of racing, it appears that she likes to be held up and to pass horses, so she will be of greatest interest now over a mile and six furlongs or two miles in a race in which it looks like there will be a good pace on early.

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Emperor Spirit - Ascot, 17th June 2021

Emperor Spirit only finished 13th in the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot on Thursday, but he ran much better than that. Drawn in stall 12 towards the far side, he wasn't that sharply away but he was fast through the first 100 yards, with the result that he quickly moved to the front on the far side and crossed to the far side rail. The early pace was fast, and John and Thady Gosden's horse led the far side group through much of the race. Around three lengths ahead of his closest pursuer over there as they raced inside the three-furlong marker, he still had a clear break on his rivals at the two-furlong pole, but he tired from there as his early exertions took their toll, and he ultimately faded to finish 13th.

This was a race that was dominated by the stands-side group, and in which the hold-up horses came to the fore. Four of the first five home races in the near-side group, and the first six home were all held up early, which is not surprising, given that the early pace was so strong, as evidenced in the sectional times, which revealed that finishing speed was just 93.47% of overall speed. Emperor Spirit is worth another chance on this basis. Winner of his maiden over a mile at Wolverhampton last December, he did well to finish second in a handicap at Ripon on his debut this season when he was keener than ideal and was just run down late on. He is a keen-going sort, and he should do better now at a track at which forward-going tactics are rewarded. There is a three-year-olds' one-mile handicap at Newmarket's July meeting, and that could be an ideal race for him.


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Raymond Tusk- Ascot, 18th June

Raymond Tusk ran a big race to finish second in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap at Ascot on Friday. Drawn in stall one on the inside, which is not an advantage over 12 furlongs at Ascot, he was held up in rear early on in a race in which the pace held up well. The winner, Quickthorn, was up handy on the outside from early, while the third horse Zabeel Champion led until the furlong marker. Also, the other four horses who, with him, filled the first five places were all drawn in double-figure stalls. Raymond Tusk was a little keen at the rear of the field early on, and he made up ground along the inside, probably on the worst of the ground, as they rounded the home turn. He stayed on well too in the home straight, towards the far side. He made ground from the two-furlong marker, running on strongly all the way to the line to get up and take second place, just a length and a half behind the winner Quickthorn.

Raymond Tusk did well for Richard Hannon. He won a Group 2 race in Italy as a three-year-old, and he won a two-mile conditions race at Newcastle, and he finished fourth in an Ebor and second in a Sagaro Stakes. This was his fourth run for Alan King this season, and he has progressed for each run. It may be that connections have a hurdling career in mind for him, but it may be that they have the Ebor in mind instead or as well. He should improve for a step back up to a mile and six furlongs, and he has run well on the two occasions on which he has run at York.


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