WELCOME to our Eyecatchers column. Every Tuesday 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.
TWELVE TO FOLLOW FROM CHRISTMAS 2018
(Haydock, 22 December)
Ciaran Gettings overcame some tack trouble to run out a worthy winner aboard Queenohearts in this classy mares’ hurdle, mastering promising Danse Idol before the final flight.
The winner of two bumpers for Stuart Edmunds, Queenohearts was hot property in the betting market on the back of her second to Deise Aba in a strong maiden hurdle at Chepstow.
She has a bright future and seems at her very best on deep ground around two and a half miles.
BIG MAN CLARENCE
(Ascot, 22 December)
Sent off 100-1, 66-1 and 40-1 on his three starts for Paul Henderson this season, Big Man Clarence belied his huge odds with a fine second in this three-mile novices’ handicap hurdle.
Nick Scholfield was keen to help force the pace and Big Man Clarence had his rivals in trouble before strong-travelling Casko D’Airy loomed up at the final flight.
(Haydock, 22 December)
Fourth to Global Citizen over the minimum trip on his previous outing at Newbury, Ballymoy can pick up a decent prize for Nigel Twiston-Davies in 2019.
DEYRANN DE CARJAC
(Huntingdon, 26 December)
Alan King’s five-year-old was preferred marginally in the betting over Admiral Barratry but he had no answer to the winner’s finishing kick after holding every chance in this 2m 3f novices’ hurdle.
Deyrann De Carjac had caught the eye in the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in mid-November, falling two out when not totally dismissed, and he looks weighted to win in that sphere.
(Sedgefield, 26 December)
Joe Colliver, fresh from being dumped unceremoniously at the second flight by reluctant Sam Spinner at Ascot, had a much more enjoyable experience aboard Lord Yeats.
Winner of the Listed Fred Archer Stakes at Newmarket in July, Lord Yeats looks a natural over hurdles.
After coasting to the front four out, Colliver had a steering job in the straight and given Lord Yeatss’ penchant for soft ground, Jedd O’Keeffe’s gelding can hold his own in much higher grade.
(Market Rasen, 26 December)
Well-handicapped Sir Egbert was all the rage for this 2m 1f handicap chase but the odds-on favourite proved no match for Cesar Collonges, dropping in trip after failing to see out 2m 5f on chasing debut at Ffos Las in November.
Adam Wedge moved Cesar Collonges effortlessly to the front three out and the race was in the bag barring accidents.
Evan Williams appears to have an improving six-year-old on his hands and it may be significant Cesar Collonges’s best efforts have come going right-handed.
(Wolverhampton, 26 December)
Often takes a tug and isn’t always the simplest conveyance, but Flood Defence should have won this 1m 4f handicap. Theodore Ladd did well to get the filly settled off a decent clip but the apprentice twice encountered interference in the straight.
(Wincanton, 26 December)
Warren Greatrex’s gelding doesn’t hang about and he had a few of his rivals in trouble before being headed early in the straight, eventually taking third spot behind Admiral’s Secret.
Similar trailblazing tactics were employed at Newbury when fifth to classy Lady Buttons, but it is still early days over fences for the seven-year-old, a hurdles winner at Fontwell last season.
(Leicester 28 December)
Bought off the flat (ex-William Haggas) by Dan Skelton, Humble Hero made a satisfactory debut in this novices’ hurdle.
The four-year-old travelled well on the heels of hot-pot Bright Forecast but couldn’t close the gap when the chips were down.
The winner previously had landed a 20-runner contest at Newbury and Humble Hero can pick up a race or two granted decent ground.
(Kelso, 29 December)
Fourth on his hurdles debut at Ayr last month over two and half miles on heavy ground, Elvis Mail was dropped to the minimum trip by Nick Alexander.
Elvis Mail revelled on this sounder surface, toying with his rivals before pulling 13 lengths clear at the line, and if the four-year-old does not prove totally ground dependent there are more races coming his way in the weeks ahead.
(Exeter, 1 January)
Fell on his chasing debut at Cheltenham in mid-November and was a bit deliberate at his obstacles when only fifth to Defi Du Seuil here the following month.
Dropping slightly in trip, White Moon was taken straight to the front by Tom Scudamore and, jumping with precision, came clear from the home bend.
This will have done his confidence a power of good and Colin Tizzard has another very useful sort to nurture.
(Cheltenham, 1 January)
A useful novice chaser last season, winning three times for Kerry Lee, Happy Diva is making up into a smart handicapper.
She was just creeping into contention when brought down in the BetVictor Gold Cup here in November and similar tactics were employed here, with Happy Diva making a promising move after four out.
The mare couldn’t quite get to grips with in-form Aso but there was no disgrace in defeat as the foot-perfect winner is improving at a rate of knots.