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.
Mudawy - Limerick, 24th April
4yo Gelding, Kevin Prendergast
Mudawy kept on well to take second place in the one-mile maiden for older horses at Limerick last Saturday. Chris Hayes settled him nicely towards the back of the field and on the inside rail early on. He travelled well into the home straight, eighth of the 13 runners, but he had to wait for a few strides before he could move out and deliver his challenge. He finished off his race well, but he was still a half a length down on Solene Lilyette by the time they reached the winning line.
It was a good run by Kevin Prendergast's horse in a race in which it was difficult to make ground from the rear. The winner made all the running, and the third horse, Fictitious Lady, sat second from early, while the fourth horse St Clerans was always prominent. Mudawy was the only one who could get into the race from worse than mid-division. He didn't win in four attempts last season, but he ran well on his final run of the season to finish second in a seven-furlong maiden at Cork, and he shaped well on his debut this term too in finishing third in a one-mile maiden at Dundalk, when he was a little keen early on and had to go wider than ideal around the home turn. This was a nice step forward from that, and he should be able to win his maiden soon before stepping up in class. A son of Dark Angel, he is out of a half-sister to Louversey, who won over nine and 10 furlongs in France, and he is from the family of Prix Niel winner Ectot and St James's Palace Stakes winner Most Improved. He stays a mile all right, but he is also effective over seven furlongs.
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Finest Sound - Haydock, 24th April
4yo Gelding, Simon & Ed Crisford
Finest Sound did well to win the one-mile handicap at Haydock last Saturday. It was a race in which Danny Tudhope was allowed to set steady fractions on the talented Shelir, and quicken from the front. Andrea Atzeni settled Finest Sound behind the leader and along the inside. He travelled well around the home turn and into the home straight, but he was caught in a pocket as Amber Island still travelled well up on his outside until they raced to the furlong pole. The gap developed when Shelir quickened and Amber Island weakened, but Finest Sound still had two lengths to make up on Shelir at that point. He picked up impressively though, and just got there.
It was a good performance by Simon and Ed Crisford's horse. Shelir is a talented individual and he had the run of the race in front. Finest Sound is talented too, and he progressed nicely last season, his first after a gelding operation and a wind operation. He finished second in the Britannia Handicap last season, and it is probable that the Royal Hunt Cup, over the same course and distance, is his primary target now. A fast-run mile suits him well, and we know that he goes well at Ascot. The handicapper raised him by just 3lb for this win to a mark of 99, and that was more than fair.
Flic Ou Voyou - Sandown, 24th April
7yo Gelding, Paul Nicholls
Flic Ou Voyou put up a good performance to finish second in the good novices' handicap hurdle that opened proceedings at Sandown last Saturday. After lining up in the front rank and wide, he made a mistake at the first flight, with the result being that he had to settle just behind the front rank. He was wider than ideal around the first bend and into the back straight, but he travelled well out wide and, despite making two slight errors in the back straight, he was able to lie up with the pace easily enough. Wide again as they left the back straight, he travelled well into the home straight, and he looked a likely winner when he moved on to the second-last flight. Favourite On To Victory came under pressure at that point, but Herbiers moved up well on the far side and, ultimately, Flic Ou Voyou couldn't repel his challenge. Even so, Paul Nicholls' horse kept on well enough to finish second, nicely clear of On To Victory in third.
It was a good run by Flic Ou Voyou in a race that didn't pan out ideally for him. He couldn't get to the front, and he was wider than ideal, but he still did best of the prominent racers. He should do better next time he faces less competition for the lead than he did here. He goes well at Kempton and Wincanton and, importantly, he goes well on good ground, so he will be of interest if he runs again now this spring. The handicapper raised him by just 3lb for this, which was fair. He will be of interest again now off his new mark of 138.
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Fils D'Oudairies - Punchestown, 30th April
6yo Gelding, Joseph Patrick O'Brien
Fils D'Oudairies ran well in the two-mile-five-furlong novices' handicap chase at Punchestown on Friday. Weak in the market beforehand, he settled nicely at the back of the field early on for Donagh Meyler. His jumping was generally good and he travelled well through his race towards the outside. He just got a little outpaced when they quickened at the third last fence, and he was obviously no match for the high-class Asterion Forlonge, but he had stayed on into fourth place when he crumpled on landing over the final fence. He would surely have finished fourth at worst, and he might have got close to the second and third horses Walk Away and Port Stanley.
Joseph O'Brien's horse was unfortunate to fall. His jumping had been good throughout, and he actually jumped the final fence well too. It is the second time in a row that he has fallen at the final fence, and the third time that he had fallen in just six runs over fences, but he is actually not a bad jumper. Hopefully this will not have affected his confidence unduly, because he is a young chaser who has the potential to go higher than his current handicap rating of 142. He is only six and he is lightly raced over fences.
This race is usually a good pointer to the future. The previous two renewals had been won by Kemboy and Real Steel. It can also be a good pointer to the Galway Plate in particular, with recent Galway Plate winners Blazing Tempo, Carlingford Lough, Road To Riches, Shanahan's Turn, Lord Scoundrel and Balko Des Flos all running in the Punchestown race before going to Galway. Fils D'Oudairies will be of interest in the Galway Plate if he lines up in the race, for last year's Galway Plate-winning trainer, especially if the ground happened to come up on the soft side at Galway. Even if he doesn't make it to Galway, he will be of interest for next season. He could continue his progress on soft ground next winter.
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Walk Away - Punchestown, 30th April
8yo Gelding, Henry de Bromhead
The other horse to take out of Friday's EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase from Punchestown is Walk Away. He was smartly away, but he was a little sticky over the first couple of fences, with the result that he was a little worse than mid-division going up past the stands first time. He warmed to his task though and made progress down the back straight to move up just behind the leaders before they left the back straight. He moved into third up on the outside at the third last fence and he travelled well into the home straight and, while he couldn't go with Asterion Forlonge, who pulled away from his rivals like a high-class individual, he kept on well up the run-in to finish a good second, five lengths clear of Port Stanley in third.
It was a fine performance by Henry de Bromhead's horse on his first run in over 200 days. He is a talented individual, he finished fourth behind Champ, Emitom and Lisnagar Oscar in the Grade 1 Sefton Hurdle at Aintree in 2019, and he finished second behind Faugheen in his beginners' chase at Punchestown the following November. He has obviously had his issues, only racing three times that season, and he had only raced once in the 2020/21 season before last Friday, but he proved there that he retains lots of ability.
As mentioned in the context of Fils D'Oudairies, the EMS Copiers Novice Chase is a good pointer to the future, and it is a particularly good pointer to the Galway Plate, with six of the last 10 winners of the Galway Plate contesting the Punchestown race three months earlier, and it is interesting that Henry de Bromhead trained two of those six. Walk Away goes well on goodish ground too, so he could be an ideal type for Galway, and his mark of 136 could be just about high enough to get him into the Galway race on a good racing weight. And, as with Fils D'Oudairies, even if he doesn't make the Galway line-up, he will be of interest wherever he goes next.
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If you want to see previous editions check out Donn McClean's library of past horses to follow here.