Donn McClean picks out five horses to follow from the recent action in Ireland

Connections of A Plus Tard

The Echo Boy and Henry De Bromhead's high-profile chaser A Plus Tard feature as Donn McClean picks out five horses to add to your My Stable tracker.

The Echo Boy (3rd November, Fairyhouse)

There was a lot to like about the performance that The Echo Boy put up in winning the opening beginners' chase at Fairyhouse on Tuesday.

Smartly away, he quickly settled into a nice rhythm in front for Conor Maxwell. He was a little hesitant at the first fence, but he warmed to his task nicely, his jumping was good thereafter, apart from at the second fence racing away from the stands, and he led all the way. He was challenged by Fauguernon and Hostage To Fortune at the third last fence, but he eased away from those two rivals around the home turn, popped the last two fences and kept on well to win nicely.

It was a nice performance by Dermot McLoughlin's horse on just his fourth run over fences. He had just been caught by subsequent winner and now 132-rated Jack Hackett in a similar contest at Kilbeggan on his penultimate run before this, and he put a disappointing run at Thurles in the interim behind him here. He seemed to enjoy himself on the soft ground and galloping away out in front. A dual point-to-point winner, this was just his fourth run over fences under Rules, so he has the potential to continue to progress, and he could improve again for a step back up to three miles.

Discordantly (8th November, Navan)

Discordantly ran another big race in the Troytown Chase at Navan on Sunday. The Jam Man obviously ran out a really impressive winner, but Discordantly ran another big race in finishing fourth behind him.

Paddy Kennedy had Jessica Harrington’s horse handy from early. A good jump at the first took him into a share of the lead with Cooldine Bog, and he led or disputed from there until the second last fence. His jumping was very good, he quickly got into a nice racing and jumping rhythm. He travelled well in front until he came under pressure on landing over the third last fence, at which point he was challenged first by Roaring Bull, and then by The Jam Man. He picked up in front at the second last fence, but a bad mistake there brought an end to his challenge. He tired from that point, and he was caught by Scoir Mear for third place, but he was only beaten a total of four lengths for the runner-up spot and, but for that mistake at the second last, he might have finished second behind The Jam Man.

This was another step forward by Discordantly. A faller in two of his first five chases, he only won his beginners' chase last March at Gowran Park, but he put up a good performance on his debut this season to win a competitive handicap chase at Galway last month by 13 lengths off a mark of 132. That was a race in which the leader went clear, and in which Discordantly chased him, but he proved on Sunday that he probably wasn't flattered by the margin of his victory there, racing, as he was, off a 10lb higher mark. He did well to run as well as he did for as long as he did, racing on the front end from flagfall. He is only six and he may not have reached his peak yet as a staying chaser. The Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas looks like the obvious race for him, at a track at which was running and jumping really well in a beginners’ chase in March on his only visit to date until he came down at the fence opposite the stands.

French Dynamite (8th November, Navan)

French Dynamite did well to go down by just a half a length to Sire Du Berlais in the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle at Navan on Sunday.

Sent to the front from flagfall, he travelled and jumped really nicely for Rachael Blackmore, he was fluent and smooth over his hurdles throughout. He got in a little tight to the third last flight, the first in the home straight, but he still travelled best of all down to the second last. He jumped that well and he had all his rivals on the stretch on the run to the last, and he only gave best to Sire Du Berlais half way up the run-in.

It was a taking performance by Mouse Morris' horse on his first run since last February. Considered good enough by connections to allow him contest the Grade 1 Lawlor's of Naas Hurdle in January, he got off the mark over hurdles at Thurles in early February in first-time cheekpieces, and he was sent off as favourite for a hot Michael Purcell Memorial Hurdle at Thurles later that month, when he didn't run badly in finishing fourth behind Five O'Clock. Winner of his only point-to-point and from the family of three-time chase winner Aupcharlie, he is a chaser in the making, but he is such a fluent jumper of hurdles that there are surely prizes to be won with him now over the smaller obstacles. He is only five and there could be much more to come.

A Plus Tard (8th November, Navan)

It was disappointing on the face of it that A Plus Tard didn't win the Fortria Chase at Navan on Sunday, given that he was sent off at odds-on, but there is mitigation. For starters, he was only beaten a half a length by Castlegrace Paddy, giving him 2lb, and Castlegrace Paddy is a talented horse who is at his best over two miles on soft ground. As well as that, it was his seasonal debut, and he has been beaten on his seasonal debut now ever year since he arrived in Ireland, including in this race last year. Last year he bounced back and won the Grade 1 two-mile chase at Leopardstown's Christmas Festival on his next run, but it may be that he will be better over longer trips now.

He was well beaten by Delta Work in the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase at the 2019 Punchestown Festival on his only run to date over three miles, but that was going right-handed, he is probably far better going left, and it is no coincidence that he hasn't gone right-handed since. He won the Close Brothers Chase at Cheltenham last year over two and a half miles as a five-year-old and, out of a mare who won over two and a half miles, Henry de Bromhead has spoken about the possibility of trying him over three miles again at some point. He is better over two and a half miles than he is over two, and there is a chance that he could be even better over three miles now.

Embittered (8th November, Navan)

Embittered ran a big race in the two-mile-one-furlong beginners' chase at Navan on Sunday. He went down by almost three lengths to Easywork in the end, but he ran really well in defeat and he was clear of the third horse.

He jumped the first three fences well, and Rachael Blackmore allowed him stride on as they passed the winning post first time. He jumped well in front down the back straight and, while a mistake at the cross fence didn't help, he still travelled well in the lead into the home straight. He was challenged by Easywork on the run to the third last, and there wasn't much between them on the run down to the second last, separated, as they were, by the width of the track. Embittered still led on landing over the second last, it wasn't until they were on the approach to the final fence that he was headed, but he still kept on well up the run-in after he was passed to finish second, clear of Port Stanley in third.

Joseph O'Brien's horse was a progressive young hurdler last season. He only won once, but he kept good company, he ran in the Royal Bond Hurdle and in the Future Champions Hurdle, and he ran a big race in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on his last run before Sunday. He did well to finish third behind Saint Roi that day, after racing prominently in a race in which the hold-up horses came to the fore. He was the only one of the first four home who raced prominently. He jumped his fences well here and, a half-brother to 145-rated chaser Precious Cargo, he should be winning his beginners' chase soon before stepping up in grade.

www.donnmcclean.com

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