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.
TIZZARD'S PLUMPTON SECOND SOLATENIF DESERVES A HONOURABLE MENTION
Made a solid if unspectacular start to his hurdling career for Philip Hobbs in what looked a useful maiden contest.
Richard Johnson always had the son of Kalanisi handy but Cigarisi failed to quicken with the principals from two out, eventually staying on for fifth spot behind Asum. There is better to come.
Sent off favourite for this extended 2m 5f handicap hurdle on the strength of his Newbury victory over Shantou Bob the previous month and punters who joined the gamble on Solomn Grundy will feel a bit aggrieved that they didn’t collect.
Patient tactics were again adopted and the jolly threw down a determined challenge between the last two flights.
A mistake at the last ultimately proved costly as he failed by only a short head to catch Agincourt Reef and Neil Mulholland’s gelding remains progressive.
Softer ground would have aided his cause as the track was riding deep when scoring at Newbury and also at Market Rasen back in March.
Only modest but looks capable of picking up a small event on the evidence of his spirited second to favourite Chakista.
Held up, Lough Derg Island appeared on the scene between the last two flights of this two-mile handicap hurdle and although readily outpointed on the run-in, this was a big improvement on a dismal effort over fences at Fontwell almost three weeks earlier.
The handicapper has dropped him 3lb.
Given his stout American pedigree it is hardly surprising that Mailshot appears well at home on synthetic surfaces, having scored over six furlongs at Kempton in the summer.
Returning from a 113-day break, Mark Johnston’s colt almost succeeded in making all under Jason Hart, only succumbing close home to Emenem’s late thrust.
Mailshot stayed this extended mile contest well and his trainer usually racks up plenty of winners early in the new year.
Lawney Hill’s gelding struck for the second time this month over course and distance, clearly relishing the fast ground.
Nick Scholfield made stealthy progress from the rear to strike the front two out, with Oliver’s Hill fairly dashing clear to score easily in a quick time.
The eight-year-old is at the top of his game and can complete the hat-trick if his trainer can find some decent ground in the coming weeks.
Favourite punters got their fingers burnt big style as Ten Sixty dropped out from the second-last in this three-mile handicap hurdle.
Philip Hobbs’s seven-year-old had returned from a long absence to score at Leicester three weeks earlier, so the ‘bounce’ factor may have contributed to this defeat.
Also, he was quite awkward at a few of his obstacles and needs to brush up on this performance, which is entirely possible.
The 2016 association of Tom George and Adrian Heskin has been a match made in heaven and the Irish horseman had Behind The Wire relaxed and jumping beautifully out in front.
Behind The Wire had the race in the bag turning for home and despite taking a lingering look at the last, he was too strong for fair yardstick Altesse De Guye.
There looks a good bit more untapped potential waiting to be excavated over fences.
Has been a grand servant to Nick Alexander and was well supported to add to his two course victories over hurdles.
Having made a winning debut over fences at Ayr 24 days previously, Marlee Massie turned in a rare poor show, with Brian Hughes unable to get him competitive in the 2m 5f chase won by Angus Milan.
He has won on soft/heavy in the past and connections were inclined to blame the sticky ground.
Ben Pauling’s mare, a past winner on good/good to soft ground, produced another solid effort in the 3m 2f Mandarin Chase.
Winner Potters Cross treated racegoers to an exhibition round of jumping up front, continually gaining ground at his obstacles, but Treaty Girl refused to throw in the towel, staying on gamely in second.
She clearly stays well and the six-year-old has time on her side.
Relished the step up to 1m 4f and Sir Mark Prescott’s filly came from some way back to almost land this competitive handicap.
Indeed, to many observers it looked as if Ryan Powell had poked Alinstante’s head in front but the photo showed she had lost out by a nose to Burcan.
A dual winner back in August, at Chelmsford City and Haydock, the four-year-old is not devoid of speed.
It’s rare to see a County Hurdle winner turning up at the East Lothian track and Superb Story rewarded favourite backers.
It was not all one-way traffic, however, and Traditional Dancer stayed on commendably in third after being prominent throughout.
A winner at Kelso and Carlisle in October, Traditional Dancer can expect a rise but Iain Jardine is an astute placer of his handicappers.
Trailblazing Baron Alco’s bold jumping was a joy to behold in the At The Races-sponsored 2m 1f novices’ chase, but runner-up Solatentif deserves a honourable mention in despatches.
One of several Alan Potts-owned horses inherited by Colin Tizzard from Henry de Bromhead, Solatentif probably found this trip on a sharp track not entirely playing to his strengths but the gelding stuck to his task manfully, with useful Starchitect well held in third.