Donn McClean's Horses To Follow: March 20th to March 27th

Donn McClean's Horses To Follow: March 20th to March 27th

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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.

Karkiyna - The Curragh, 26th March 2022

Karkiyna did better than the bare form of her run in the seven-furlong fillies' maiden at The Curragh on Saturday suggests. In traffic from early towards the inside from her low draw, Ben Coen was struggling to find clear passage from a fair way out. Perfect Thunder and Toy engaged in a duel up front from the two-furlong marker, at which stage Karkiyna was still in among traffic. She got out on the run to the furlong marker and, when she did, she finished off her race nicely to take fifth place, but she probably would have been at least a little closer if she had been able to deliver her run earlier. She wasn't stopped in her run or anything, she wasn't an unlucky loser, but she was trying to make progress among traffic until she got to the furlong marker.

Johnny Murtagh's filly had more experience than most of her rivals going into this maiden, but it was still just her sixth run, and it was her seasonal return, her first run as a three-year-old, so she still has plenty of potential to progress. Second in a six-furlong maiden at Naas last September, and this in another six-furlong maiden at Naas in October, she saw out the seven furlongs well here. A half-sister to one-mile winner Karakour and to Kartayaz, a dual winner over 10 and a half furlongs, she could step up to a mile too. She has a rating of 80, and she would be of interest too in a handicap off that mark should connections choose to go down that route.


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Mary Salome - The Curragh, 26th March 2022

Mary Salome only finished 12th in the one-mile handicap at The Curragh on Saturday, but she was unlucky not to finish closer. Andrew Kenirons' mare travelled well through her race along the inside, but she just couldn't get a gap when she needed one. Luke McAteer didn't have a lot of options but to ride for luck from stall one and, smartly away, she settled well into her race, along the inside and around mid-division. She travelled well in behind leader Focus Required along the inside rail, but the leader never came off the rail and, consequently, Mary Salome just didn't have anywhere to go. By the time the field had thinned out and she could come outside the leader, they were inside the final furlong and the finishers down the outside, Masaman and Knocknakilla and You Owe Me Money, were making the best of their way home.

Mary Salome was a big price here, but this performance suggests that she retains lots of her ability. She lost her form at the end of last season, but she had four very good runs in the early part of the season, two of them at The Curragh, and she obviously had a good break through the winter, she didn't run after Laytown in November last year before she returned on Saturday. She dropped to a mark of 69, 6lb lower than her peak, and she will be of interest off that mark now. She is effective over this seven furlongs, but she gets a mile too. She obviously goes well at The Curragh, and ground on the easy side of good is probably ideal.

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Santa Rossa - Limerick, 27th March 2022

It was good to see Santa Rossa back on the racecourse at Limerick on Sunday, for the first time in over a year, and she was impressive in winning the two-mile mares' hurdle. Settled in third place early on by Keith Donoghue behind Bonarc and Gjoumi, she was keen early on, as you would expect given her long absence, but she travelled well through her race and she made good ground as they rounded the home turn. She moved up nicely on the outside of Gjoumi when they straightened up for home, she jumped to the front over the second last flight, and she picked up smartly from there, jumped the last well and stretched away to win by six and a half lengths in the end.

Dermot McLoughlin's filly was a top-class bumper horse, she won the Grade 2 mares' bumper at Leopardstown's Dublin Racing Festival in 2019, and she finished third in the Grade 2 bumper at Aintree, and she finished fifth behind Colreevy in the Grade 1 Champion Bumper at Punchestown. She only raced once in the 2019/20 season, but she won her maiden hurdle on her return from a break at Navan in March last year. Sunday's run was her first run since then, she has obviously had her issues - her trainer said that she got a kick in the paddock just before Aintree last year - but hopefully Dermot McLoughlin can get a good run with her now, because she obviously had bundles of talent. Her rider said that he found it difficult to pull her up after Sunday's race. She is not overly flashy at home reportedly, and her trainer said that she would come on appreciably for this run. She will be of interest if she goes to one of the spring festivals now. A fast-run two-mile hurdle race run on goodish ground could see her to best effect. She was impressive in winning going right-handed here, but her trainer said that he thought she could be even better going left-handed. She is eight, but she has raced just seven times in her life, and there could be a fair bit more to come from her yet.


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Lust - Naas, 27th March 2022

Lust put up a nice performance on his seasonal debut under a big weight to finish third in the seven-furlong handicap at Naas on Sunday. Weak in the market beforehand, Ger Lyons' horse wasn't that sharply away, but he made nice ground early to adopt a good position from his low draw, along the inside and just behind the pace. He led into the home straight, and he still travelled well as they raced to the two-furlong marker. He picked up nicely too when Colin Keane asked him to, he led until the run to the furlong marker. He tired inside the final furlong, he gave best to Spanish Tenor and That's Just Dandy, but he kept on well enough to retain third place, just a neck behind That's Just Dandy.

It was a fine performance by the Newtown Anner Stud horse on his first run since last October, under a welter weight of 10st 4lb and conceding a stone and more to all his rivals. As well as that, he raced against the inside rail up the home straight from his low draw, probably on the worst of the ground. Zero from three as a juvenile, he did well last year as a three-year-old after he had been gelded, winning three of his five races and rounding off his campaign with an impressive performance in making just about all the running in a one-mile handicap at Gowran Park in October on soft ground off a mark of 90. He is up to a mark of 99 now, but that should be within range on this evidence, especially if he can get back on softer ground. His best performances have been on soft or heavy ground, and he appears to be equally adept over seven furlongs and a mile. He holds an entry in the Group 3 Gladness Stakes over seven furlongs at The Curragh on 10th April, and he will be of interest if he takes his chance in that, especially if the ground comes up soft.

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Navagio - Naas, 27th March 2022

Navagio only finished fourth in the Madrid Handicap at Naas on Sunday, but there was plenty of encouragement to be gleaned from his run. Settled back in the field early on by Danny Sheehy, he was keener than ideal through the early stages of the race, but he travelled well into the home straight, and he made nice ground from the rear at the three-furlong marker. Still travelling well at the two-furlong pole, he had to switch towards the far side in order to deliver his run, probably towards the slower part of the track, but he kept on well and, while he was well beaten by the winner Markaz Paname and the runner-up Mister Wilson, he was only just beaten by Eriskay for third place. It was a fine performance, racing in rear in a race in which the first two home occupied the first two positions from four furlongs out.

Johnny Murtagh's horse didn't make his racecourse debut until September last year and, while he didn't win in three attempts last season, he showed plenty of ability. From the family of Wolferton Stakes winner Forgotten Voice and Breeders' Cup Classic winner Arcangues, it may be that he will prove to be better over a mile than over seven furlongs, and there is every chance that he will progress when he learns to settle better as he gains in experience. He could be seen to best effect held up off a fast pace over a mile.