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Five to Follow

The 2019 Flat season is in full swing now.  Here are five horses who might be worth following as the season develops.

Madhmoon (Kevin Prendergast)

Madhmoon finished fourth behind Magna Grecia in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket two weeks ago, and you can argue that he ran better than the bare form of the run suggests.  He was drawn one of 19, over on the far side, in a race in which the small group that raced on the near side fared best.

In the circumstances, Kevin Prendergast’s colt did well to keep on as well as he did for Chris Hayes to take fourth place.  He did second best of the group of 16 that raced down the centre of the track, finishing just a head behind Skardu, who did best.  Also, he appeared to be caught a little flat-footed as they raced into the Dip before staying on well on the run back up the hill, shaping like a colt who could do better over a slightly longer trip.  

He is bred to be a miler, by Dawn Approach out of a Haafhd mare, a half-sister to the dam of Awtaad, but he could be even better over further.  He is worth a shot in the Derby, but it may be that 10 furlongs will prove to be his optimum.  He was a top class juvenile last season, and it will be interesting to monitor his progress now this term.

Decrypt (Paddy Twomey) 

Decrypt looked very good in winning over seven furlongs at Cork on his debut this season.  Paddy Twomey’s horse travelled like the most likely winner from a long way out.  He moved up nicely to join the leaders at the two-furlong marker and, when Billy Lee gave him a squeeze, he picked up impressively to come clear of his rivals.

That was just the third race of his career.  Second in a maiden on his racecourse debut at The Curragh on Irish Guineas weekend last year, he had this year’s 1000 Guineas runner-up Lady Kaya behind him in third place when he won his maiden back at The Curragh in June last year.  He is a talented and progressive individual. 

The Jersey Stakes over seven furlongs at Royal Ascot would be a legitimate target, but he holds an entry in next Saturday’s Irish 2000 Guineas, and he could be an interesting outsider in that.  He is by Dark Angel out of a Kodiac mare who won over five furlongs, but he saw out the seven furlongs well at Cork, and his style of racing gives him every chance of getting a mile. 

Sam Cooke (Ralph Beckett)

Sam Cooke didn’t make his racecourse debut until September last year, when he ran promisingly in finishing second in a one-mile maiden at Kempton.  Beaten at odds-on on his next run, he got off the mark on his final run last year in a one-mile novice auction stakes at York. 

All three of his runs last season as a juvenile were over a mile but, by Pour Moi out of a Peintre Celebre mare, and a three-parts brother to the stayer Diocletian, it was always likely that he would improve for stepping up to middle distances this season as a three-year-old.  And, sure enough, Ralph Beckett’s horse was impressive in winning a three-year-olds’ one-and-a-half-mile handicap at Chester’s May meeting on his debut this season.

His trainer mentioned the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot as a possible target afterwards, and that makes sense.  The handicapper raised him by 8lb for his Chester win, to a mark of 93, but that was his seasonal debut and just his fourth run, and it was his first run over a middle distance and his first since being gelded, so he has lots of potential for progression.  

Kew Gardens (Aidan O’Brien) 

Kew Gardens could only finish second to Morando on his debut this season in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester, but the ground was softer than ideal for him that day, and he was conceding weight to a well-fancied rival who revels in those conditions.  You can easily allow him that. 

Aidan O’Brien’s horse was a high-class middle-distance three-year-old last season.  He won the Group 2 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot and he won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp, and he won the St Leger at Doncaster.  On his final run last season, he finished seventh in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but he was only beaten four lengths in the end by Enable and Sea Of Class, racing from a wide draw and encountering traffic problems as he tried to make his ground.

He could be a Cup horse this season, but he could also be an interesting horse over all distances from a mile and a half up.

Tarnawa (Dermot Weld)

Tarnawa didn’t win in three attempts last season as a juvenile over a mile and seven furlongs but, stepped up to 10 furlongs for her debut this season in a maiden at Leopardstown, she stayed on well to win nicely. 

Dermot Weld’s filly stepped forward from that next time when she finished a close-up third behind Pink Dogwood in the Listed Salsabil Stakes at Navan over 10 furlongs, a race from which the filly who finished fourth, Fresnel, came out and ran a big race in the Musidora Stakes at York on Wednesday.  

Tarnawa stepped forward again last time when she won the Group 3 Blue Wind Stakes at Naas, again over 10 furlongs.  She did well to win that day, she stayed on well down the stands side to get the better of the classy older filly Who’s Steph.  She was strong in the finish and, out of the Cape Cross mare Tarana who won two listed races over a mile and a half, she could improve for stepping up in trip.  She could be a filly for the Epsom Oaks or the Irish Oaks or the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.

© The Sunday Times, 19th May 2019