WELCOME to our Eyecatchers column. Every week form expert Alan Thomson pinpoints horses primed to strike in the next few weeks, if not days. Remember, you can add Alan's weekly updates to your ATR Tracker.
SIX TO FOLLOW FROM THE FLAT SEASON’S CURTAIN-RAISER
(Unibet Lincoln, March 30)
Brought strong form into the first big betting handicap of the new turf Flat season and didn’t disappoint with an excellent third (dead-heated) to above-average Auxerre.
Beringer’s backers were bemoaning their luck when Alan King’s gelding met trouble in running through the opening furlong, pushing Beringer to the rear of the pack.
Andrea Atzeni, so successful on Town Moor in recent years, did well to get his mount back into the race but the winner was given a most confident ride in front and never looked in danger of being reeled in.
Beringer’s close second to Wissahickon at York and his third to Communique at Newmarket through the summer, coupled with a brace of victories at Sandown and Leicester, marks him down as a horse to follow on quick ground.
GULF OF POETS
(Unibet Spring Mile Handicap, March 30)
Mick Easterby’s gelding comes to hand early and this should have set him up nicely for the weeks ahead.
Gulf Of Poets, a winner at Pontefract and Haydock during April last season, wouldn’t have been suited by the drying ground, so his fifth to Petrus deserves plaudits.
Nathan Evans had his mount well positioned but Gulf Of Poets was tapped for tactical speed two out before staying on.
He was down to an attractive mark of 92 here and connections will be hoping for a few heavy April showers.
(Unibet Cammidge Trophy Stakes, March 30)
James Tate has his string in top order and Invincible Army looked different class to this Listed opposition.
The colt has proved an admirably consistent sprinter and made an immediate impact in the early stages of last season as well, beating Eqtidaar at Ascot (soft) and losing out on the nod to Sands Of Mali in the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock.
Invincible Army wasn’t quite so good on his next two outings in June/July and wasn’t seen again before this emphatic victory.
The four-year-old is at his very best with a bit of cut underfoot, so this was a pretty smart return to action on a drying surface.
(32Red.com Handicap, March 31)
Goes particularly well at Beverley and Thirsk, and Michael Dods will be charting a path to both Yorkshire courses again this season.
This solid sixth to Right Action will have tuned up Proud Archi for future assignments and he responded positively to Paul Mulrennan’s urgings from an exposed slot in stall one over this straight seven furlongs.
(32Red Handicap, March 31)
Richard Hannon booked Ryan Moore for this Class 3 sprint but Buridan was a shade disappointing, staying on at one pace to finish seventh to Foolaad.
The four-year-old won twice on fast ground last summer off lower marks, at Haydock and Newmarket, and may just have needed the run following a 237-day absence.
His unease in the betting suggests that may have been the case.
(Unibet Handicap, 31 March)
The subject of strong support into 100-30 favourite, Guildhall lacked the speed to mount a serious challenge to Good Birthday after racing handily under Harry Bentley.
Guildhall scored on very deep ground at Ayr last September, so the track was probably on the lively side for Ralph Beckett’s gelding, and his opening mark of 78 could look very fair once encountering his favoured conditions.