Donn McClean's Horses to Follow: May 8th - 14th

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: May 8th - 14th

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.

Hochfeld - Chester, May 7th

3yo Gelding, Mark Johnston

Hochfeld did well in the end to finish third in the Chester Cup on last Friday. Well drawn in stall two, Ben Curtis quickly had the Cape Cross gelding in a good position, around the inside and settled nicely in a share of fifth place. He had a ground-saving route all the way around, but he needed the gaps to appear later in the race in order to deliver his challenge, and they didn't. He probably travelled best of all past the three-furlong marker, but his rider had to wait before he could move off the rail and engineer racing room for himself, and he had to drop back a little to do that. No better than ninth or 10th when they straightened up for home with a furlong and a half to run, he wheeled to the outside and stayed on strongly through the final furlong to get up for third place, two lengths behind the winner Falcon Eight and just half a length behind The Grand Visir in second.

Mark Johnston's horse has had lots of running, he is not an obviously unexposed horse, but he seems to have rediscovered his best form this season, and there could be a good stayers' handicap in him now off his new mark of 99, just 1lb higher than the mark off which he raced on Friday. Second in a couple of listed races over a mile and a half in 2018, when he reached a peak rating of 103, he won a handicap over a mile and six furlongs at Nottingham late last month off a mark of 94. He was only just beaten by The Trader in a good handicap at Hamilton off a mark of 98, when he stayed on well at the end of that one-mile-five-furlong trip. He stayed the two-and-a-quarter miles OK on Friday, but it may be that two miles is his optimum trip, especially at a more conventional track.

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Jack's Point - Ascot, May 8th

5yo Gelding, Tom Clover

Jack's Point only finished 13th in the Victoria Cup at Ascot on Saturday, but the first 12 home raced on the near side. He did best of the nine horses who raced on the far side, and he can be marked up at least a little on the bare form of the run. As well as that, he led his far-side group from early, and he did well to keep on as well as he did to finish 13th, just six lengths behind the overall winner River Nymph.

He travelled well into his race too. Even though he led the far-side group, he was the only one of that group who was still on the bridle as they raced to the two-furlong marker. He came under pressure then, but he found plenty for pressure. He couldn't get competitive with the horses who raced on the near side, and he may have been headed by Cold Star or Fox Champion on the far side, but he was strong all the way to the line to get back ahead of those two rivals close to home to win the 'race' on the far side.

It was a good run by the Slade Power gelding on this, his first run for Tom Clover. He won over seven furlongs at Newmarket on his debut last season off a mark of 91, and he finished second to Motakhayyel in the reinstated Buckingham Palace Handicap at Royal Ascot last year off a mark of 96, when he almost made all down the near side, a really difficult thing to do in a big-field handicap on the straight track at Ascot, before running in the Wokingham too later in the week. Motakhayyel added ballast to that form by winning the Bunbury Cup next time off a 7lb higher mark.

Jack's Point obviously goes well at Ascot and he will be of interest if he goes to Royal Ascot again this year, but he will be of at least as much interest at a track that favours his forward-going running style more, like Sandown or Newmarket, where he has run well in the past. All his best runs have been over seven furlongs.



Gin On Lime - Killarney, May 9th

5yo Mare, Henry De Bromhead

Gin On Lime was seriously impressive in winning the two-and-a-half-mile mares' beginners' chase at Killarney on Sunday. Sent to the front from flagfall by Rachael Blackmore, she was very good over the first fence, and she was very good over the next 13 too. She got into a really good racing and jumping rhythm straight away, stretched her rivals out down the back straight, and continued to stretch them out as the race progressed. Reine Fee got closest to her, but even she was about eight lengths behind her when she took a tired fall at the second-last fence, as the effort required to keep tabs on Gin On Lime appeared to take their toll. By contrast, Henry de Bromhead's mare jumped the final fence apparently with lots of energy left, and she ran on strongly to the line, 42 lengths clear of her stable companion Tune The Chello, who had actually shaded Gin On Lime for favouritism in the pre-race market.

This was a hugely likeable performance by the Robcour mare. It was just about flawless. She had the race in the bag from a long way out, her jumping was easy and accurate, and she appeared to win with more in hand than the bare winning margin. As well as that, she clocked a good time, eight-and-a-half seconds faster than the time that Marshalled clocked in winning the handicap a half an hour later over the same course and distance. Gin And Lime is only five and this was just her third chase. She is a really exciting novice chaser for the season ahead, and there is no knowing how high she could go.

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Emilie Gray - Leopardstown, May 9th

3yo Filly, Dermot Weld

Emilie Gray put up a good performance to finish third in the seven-furlong maiden at Leopardstown on Sunday. Settled back in the field early on, she travelled nicely for Colin Keane out of the back straight and to the home turn. It took her a little while to pick up after she was asked for her effort by her rider, but she stayed on strongly through the final furlong. She got up almost level with Baldomero, who made his ground from a little further forward, and the pair of them got past Jeroboam, who had kicked for home from the front off the home turn, but neither of them could get past Eaglefield, who just got home by a neck.

It was a really good effort by Dermot Weld's filly. It was a nice step forward from her previous run, she probably would have won this contest had they gone another 100 yards, and she was in front at the pull-up. Third behind Sunday's Guineas Trial winner Joan Of Arc in a maiden at The Curragh on the opening day of the turf season on soft ground, she was well-beaten on fast ground at Cork next time, and she seemed to appreciate the return to good ground here.

By Dubawi and a daughter of Carla Bianca, who won the Group 3 Dance Design Stakes over nine furlongs and the listed Naas Oaks Trial over 10, the Moyglare Stud filly should appreciate a step up to a mile on this evidence, or even a step up to nine or 10 furlongs. She should be winning her maiden soon before stepping up in grade, and it is interesting that her trainer thought enough of her to give her an entry in the Irish 1000 Guineas.


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Sense Of Style - Leopardstown, May 9th

3yo Filly, Joseph Patrick O'Brien

Sense Of Style was unlucky not to finish closer than she did to the winner Joan Of Arc in the 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown on Sunday. Settled nicely at the rear of the field by Declan McDonogh through the early stages of the race, she travelled well around the home turn, but she was squeezed out of it a little as they straightened up for home two-and-a-half furlongs out. She lost ground and momentum, and her rider had to take her back and take her to the outside and ask her to go forward again. Stone last passing the two-furlong marker, she stayed on really willingly down the outside to get up and take sixth place, about five lengths behind the winner.

This was a good race, and it was a race in which the pace held up well. Joan Of Arc and Flirting Bridge raced in first and second places respectively from early, and they finished first and second, and the first four home occupied the first four places from seven furlongs out. It was difficult for the hold-up horses to get into it. So, even without the interference, you could have marked Joseph O'Brien's filly up at least a little.

She was a progressive filly last season as a juvenile. She was only beaten a short head by Fantasy Lady in a listed race at Fairyhouse in October, and she reached a rating of 101. She continued her progression on her debut this season in the Ballylinch Stud Guineas Trial at Leopardstown last month, when she outran big odds in finishing third behind Keeper Of Time and Mehnah, when she had Joan Of Arc and More Beautiful behind her. She ran better than the bare form of her run on Sunday suggests, and she will be of interest wherever she goes next. A half-sister to Mooresbridge Stakes winner Leo De Fury, she could step up in trip in time.


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If you want to see previous editions check out Donn McClean's library of past horses to follow here.