Two Gordon Elliott-trained horses are now on Donn McClean's radar after the recent action in Ireland. Check out his My Stable recommendations.
- Click on horse name for full profile, free video form and to add to your My Stable trackers
Wolf Prince (19th October, Gowran Park)
Wolf Prince put up a good performance in the finale at Gowran Park on Monday, the one-mile-six-furlong handicap, to finish third to Politicise. He travelled well through his race, along the inside and just behind the leaders. He travelled best of all into the home straight and, while he couldn't get to Politicise, he kept on well all the way to the line, just failing to get the better of Got Trumped for the runner-up spot.
It was a good run by Gavin Cromwell's horse to get as close as he did to two in-form and race-fit rivals on his first run since February. Politicise had won the Lartigue Hurdle on his previous run, while Get Trumped had won his beginners' chase on his penultimate run. Wolf Prince was a good juvenile hurdler last season, he kept good company, he finished second to Aspire Tower in the Grade 2 juvenile hurdle at Leopardstown's Christmas Festival, when he had A Wave Of The Sea well behind him, and he finished an admittedly fairly fortuitous second to the same A Wave Of The Sea in the Grade 1 Spring Hurdle at Leoparstown's Dublin Racing Festival in February.
That was his last run before Monday, so there is every chance that he will come on for this. He has run just five times over hurdles and, still only four, he has the potential to progress now over hurdles this term. He could be a horse for a good handicap hurdle off his mark of 136.
Sassy Yet Classy (24th October, Galway)
Sassy Yet Classy only finished eighth in the end in the WB Gavin Handicap Hurdle at Galway on Saturday, but she ran far better than that. A mistake at the second last flight ended all hope.
Gordon Elliott's mare had travelled and jumped well up to that point, in mid-division in the main group behind breakaway leader Le Hachette. She moved up nicely at the end of the back straight, she travelled well down the hill on the outside, and she hit the front on the run to the second last flight. She got in tight to the obstacle, however, and lost her footing and with it all chance. After that, Denis O'Regan wisely just eased off on her, let her come up over the final flight and up the hill in her own time.
Of course, it is impossible to know how she would have fared had she not made that mistake, but she appeared to be travelling at least as well as Agent Boru and Bothar Dubh, who fought out the finish, and better than everything else. It is probable that she would have finished third at worst, and more than possible that she would have done better than that. This was her first run too since she won a mares' handicap hurdle at Navan last February off a mark of 107, so she could come on for the run. The handicapper raised her by 8lb for that win, but she proved here that she was more than capable off her new mark of 115.
She wore cheekpieces for the first time that day, and she put up a career-best performance, and she wore them again on Saturday. It may be that she is an improved performer in cheekpieces, or it may be that, still only six, she is just progressing now. She goes well on goodish ground, but she proved at Navan in February, and again on Monday, that she can operate on soft and heavy ground too, and she will be of interest wherever she goes next.
Chavi Artist (25th October, Galway)
Chavi Artist did well to finish second to Discordantly in the two-mile-six-and-a-half-furlong handicap chase at Galway on Sunday. He was held up early on by David Mullins, and he was kept notably wide in search of better ground, as Beyond The Law stretched the field out, with The Red Menace chasing the leader and Discordantly a clear third. The first three set up a fair break between them and the main body of the field as they raced down the back straight final time, but Chavi Artist was making nice progress on the outside when a fairly significant mistake at the fourth last fence halted his momentum. After that, it was always going to be difficult for him to bridge the gap.
He made a gallant effort. He made good progress on the run down the hill to the second last fence. Beyond The Law fell at that obstacle, and he caught The Red Menace just after the final fence, but Discordantly had moved ahead as they started up the hill, he kept on well and Chavi Artist just couldn't get any closer.
It was still a fine run by Tom Mullins' horse, it was a continuation of his progression. He unseated his rider early on in the Munster National on his previous run, but he ran well on his run before that to finish second behind Doctor Duffy in the Mayo National at Ballinrobe in September, after being hampered at the second last fence. There could be a decent handicap in him now off this type of mark in the mid-120s.
Coko Beach (25th October, Galway)
There was a lot to like about the performance that Coko Beach put up in finishing second in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners' Chase at Galway on Sunday on his chasing bow. Weak in the market beforehand, he was prominent from early. He got in a little tight to the first fence but, after that, his jumping was very good.
Gordon Elliott's horse led and disputed with Forza Milan early on, and the pair of them established a fair break to the rest of the field after favourite Diol Ker came down at the third last fence on the first circuit, until Coko Beach moved into a clear lead as they raced up past the stands with a circuit to go. He travelled and jumped well down the back straight and, even when Pencilfulloflead challenged him as they jumped the last two fences, it still appeared as if he was travelling better than his stable companion as they raced around the home turn. He just gave best to that rival inside the final 150 yards, but he ran all the way to the line, going down by just three parts of a length and the pair of them nicely clear of another stable companion in Braeside.
Pencilfulloflead won well, but it was also a really nice run by Coko Beach to chase him home. The Gigginstown House horse was a good hurdler, he finished second to Band Of Outlaws in the Fred Winter Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2019, and he was still there with a chance in the Coral Cup in 2020 when he was badly hampered at the second last flight. This beginners' chase can be a really good pointer to the future, it has been won by Don Cossack, Presenting Percy, Lyreen Legend, Last Instalment and Battleoverdoyen in the past, and Coko Beach should be winning his beginners' chase soon before stepping up in grade. He could progress to take a high rank among the staying novice chasers this season.
Dreamingandhoping (25th October, Galway)
Dreamingandhoping did well to finish as close as she did in third place in the mares' maiden hurdle that opened proceedings at Galway on Sunday. She was very keen early on behind pace-setter Carrigeen Lotus. She jumped well, but she had to be restrained on landing over a couple of her obstacles in order that she wouldn't expend too much energy too early. She came under a ride as they raced into the dip as Tucanae challenged Carrigeen Lotus up front, and she could easily have been left behind by that pair. But she responded well to Liam Quinlan's urgings, she stayed on well over the final flight and up the hill to get to within three lengths of them by the time they reached the winning line. She did well to keep on as strongly as she did, given that she raced keenly early on.
This was a good mares' maiden hurdle, the first two home are good mares and the front three finished nicely clear of their rivals. Dreamingandhoping kept good company too last season in mares' bumpers. Declan Queally's mare got to within two lengths of Bigbadandbeautiful at Navan on her racecourse debut, and she wasn't beaten that far by Darling Daughter and Politesse in the Grade 2 mares' bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown in February. This was her first run since, it was her debut over hurdles. She can be a keen-going sort, she has worn a hood now in each of her last three races, but she jumped well here and she travelled well, and she should be able to improve on this when she learns to settle a little better.
- For more off Donn's work visit www.donnmcclean.com