Horses To Follow » HTF – Ireland


Keats put up a nice performance to win the Listed Navigation Stakes at Cork on Tuesday. Smartly away from his outside draw, he moved up nicely early on to adopt a good forward position, up on the outside of early leader Free Solo. He travelled well into the home straight and, while he was niggled along by Seamie Heffernan just inside the three-furlong marker, he kept on finding. It appeared that Shane Foley on leader Free Solo was travelling better at that point, but Keats picked up nicely. He idled a little when he drew level with the leader, he moved a little to his left and a little to his right, but he went forward nicely inside the final 50 yards, and it appeared that he won with more in hand than the winning margin of a length.

This was a good listed race. The first two home dominated the race from flagfall, and they finished ahead of talented horses Fame And Acclaim and Could Be King and Flight Risk, all of whom were rated 103 or higher. Keats went into the race with a rating of 101, but he had run well in a listed race at Listowel on his previous run, when he got shuffled back on the run to the end of the back straight before staying on well to take second place behind Lady Wannabe. This was a step forward from that, it was his first listed race win, and he could step forward again. He has run eight times this season, but it appears that he is thriving for racing.

This was probably a career-best performance, and he probably won with a little bit in hand. His dam Airwave won the Cheveley Park Stakes over six furlongs as a juvenile for Henry Candy, but she also won the Group 2 Ridgewood Pearl Stakes over a mile for Aidan O’Brien, and she is the dam of Meow, dam of dual Guineas winner Churchill. Keats is, like Churchill, by Galileo and it appears that he is as good over 10 furlongs as he is over this one-mile trip.

Cork, 29th September 2020

Jesse Evans

Jesse Evans was impressive in winning the four-year-olds’ maiden hurdle at Gowran Park on Friday. Starting off along the inside in about seventh or eighth position, he jumped the first flight well for Sean Flanagan and had moved up into second place behind Dare To Flare by the time they jumped the second flight. He got in tight to the third but, after that, his jumping was good for a hurdling debutant. He jumped the third last flight well and he moved easily into the lead around the home turn. He got in a little tight to the second last, but he travelled strongly in front on the run to the last, jumped that obstacle well and readily came away from the runner-up Wojood, who in turn finished nicely clear of the rest of the field.

It was a really likeable performance by Noel Meade’s horse on his first run over hurdles. He had shaped encouragingly on his racecourse debut when he finished third in a bumper at Ballinrobe in August, and he stepped forward from that in easily landing a bumper at the Listowel Festival last month. This was another step forward. Visually, it was impressive, his jumping was good, he was fast and efficient when he was in tight, and it appeared that he won with a fair bit more in hand than the bare winning margin. He had the 119-rated Hammersmith back in third place, and the time that he clocked was faster than the times that the winners of both divisions of the maiden hurdle for older horses clocked afterwards. His trainer said afterward that he could give him a bit of a break now, but he will be of interest now up in grade. He has plenty of scope for progression.

Gowran Park, 2nd October 2020

Rhythm Divine

Rhythm Divine probably put up a career-best performance in finishing second to Buildmeupbuttercup in the Listed Mares’ Hurdle at Gowran Park on Friday. Prominent from flagfall in the main group behind early leader Effernock Fizz, it looked like she was back-pedalling when Buildmeupbuttercup passed her at the third last flight and when Emily Moon moved up on her outside as they rounded the home turn. But Rachael Blackmore didn’t really ask her mare for her effort until they straightened up for home and, when she did, Rhythm Divine responded well. She moved past Emily Moon and Effernock Fizz on the run to the final flight, and she closed on Buildmeupbuttercup on the run-in, getting to within a half a length by the time they reached the winning line. There was a sense that the winner was idling in front, but Rhythm Divine still pulled 14 lengths clear of Emily Moon in third.

It was a fine run by Tom Gibney’s mare. She was getting 11lb from the winner, but Buildmeupbuttercup is a high-class mare, a 143-rated performer, and Rhythm Divine ran her to a half a length. This two-mile trip is probably on the sharp side for her too. She won her maiden hurdle at Downpatrick in August over two miles and three furlongs and, when she followed up in a handicap hurdle at Bellewstown over two and a half miles on soft ground, she appeared to get a little out-paced at the fourth last flight before staying on strongly to win well. She has had plenty of racing, but she is still only six, it appears that she has taken her form to a new level this season, and she could do even better when she steps up in trip again.

Gowran Park, 2nd October 2020

Saint Roi

Saint Roi was entitled to win the Grade 3 Horse & Jockey Hotel Hurdle at Tipperary on Sunday, he was rated 8lb and more superior to his rivals going into the race, and he was sent off at odds-on, but you had to have been impressed with the manner of his victory. He travelled well through his race for Mark Walsh and, with the exception of a mistake at the last flight in the back straight, his jumping was slick and accurate. He moved up nicely on the outside on the run into the home straight and he easily came away from his rivals from the second last flight. You couldn’t really have hoped for much more from him on his seasonal debut.

JP McManus’ horse is obviously an exciting horse. He won the County Hurdle at Cheltenham in March on just his fourth ever run over hurdles. He beat his stable companion Aramon into second place that day, and Aramon won the Galway Hurdle in July off a mark of 155 and is now rated 163. Saint Roi raced off a mark of 137 in the County Hurdle, and he was rated 151 on Sunday morning, he will have to continue his progression if he is going to be competitive at the highest level, but he is only five and he has raced just five times over hurdles. Also, it is interesting that trainer Willie Mullins mentioned the Morgiana Hurdle as a possible target after Sunday’s race. He also mentioned the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal, an intermediate hurdle, and that looks like a good next step for him now.

Tipperary, 4th October 2020


Humaniste looked good in landing the two-mile handicap hurdle at Tipperary on Sunday. Settled towards the rear of the field early on by Sean O’Keeffe, he made nice progress around the outside as they raced out of the back straight final time. He moved into third place at the top of the home straight, closed on the two leaders between the final two flights, jumped the last final flight two lengths down and stayed on powerfully up the short run-in to win going away by four lengths.

It was a very likeable performance by Edward O’Grady’s horse. It looked like he had plenty to do at the top of the home straight, but he got there with lots of time to spare, and it appeared that he won with at least a little in hand, clocking a time that was two seconds faster than the time that Saint Roi clocked in winning the Grade 3 hurdle.

Winner of his maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse in November 2018, he didn’t win in four attempts last summer, two on the flat and two over hurdles, and he was well beaten at Punchestown in September on his first run over hurdles since, but he stepped forward from that on Sunday, he appeared to appreciate the patient tactics that his rider employed.

He probably won’t want the ground to get too soft, but he is only five and this was just his sixth run over hurdles, so he has plenty of potential to progress now over hurdles. He would also be of interest if he raced on the flat before the end of the season off his flat mark of 79.

Tipperary, 4th October 2020

©, 5th October 2020