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.
DUBIOUS AFFAIR WON’T REMAIN A MAIDEN MUCH LONGER
(Kempton, 28 August)
John Ryan’s gelding must be one of the most versatile horses in training having won two bumpers, a maiden hurdle and handicap hurdle before going close in this 7f all-weather maiden.
His final run over timber came in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, so who knows where Normal Norman will turn up next.
Wherever, he is clearly on good terms with himself.
(Carlisle, 29 August)
Borders trainers Alistair Whillans has enjoyed a fruitful late summer but a 5lb penalty, plus racing on quicker ground, found out his gelding Royal Shaheen.
Graham Lee rode a more patient race when scoring here eight days earlier (good to soft) but he soon had his mount at the head of affairs over this shorter trip.
Royal Shaheen had no answer when International Man swept past but he shouldn’t be ignored when conditions turn in his favour.
CARAVAN OF HOPE
(Ffos Las, 29 August)
With winner Trueshan clocking an impressive time in this 1m 4f Novice Stakes, it could pay to give runner-up Caravan Of Hope another chance, with the front two pulling well clear of odds-on favourite Alignak.
Caravan Of Hope had been pipped by Trueshan at Wolverhampton earlier in the month, so a return to the all-weather will be a tempting option for trainer Hugo Palmer.
(Sandown, 31 August)
Mick Appleby’s five-year-old was unlucky not to give speedball winner Justanotherbottle a race of it in the 5f Betway Handicap.
David Egan had a lot of horse under him two out but couldn’t thread a passage through.
Saaheq stayed on well into fourth when switched wide and this backed up his close second to Orvar at Doncaster (soft).
He won twice in September last season, admittedly off lower marks, and looks just the type to go close in something like the William Hill Ayr Silver Cup.
(Wolverhampton, 31 August)
Alan King saddled three winners in three consecutive days last week, culminating in Chicago Doll’s victory in this 1m 4f Class 4 handicap.
‘The Mighty’ Thore Hammer Hansen is excellent value for his 5lb claim and although he was niggling along early, his mount responded willingly to hit the front over a furlong out, scoring with something in hand.
Chicago Doll looks an improving three-year-old filly and didn’t go unbacked on the strength of an earlier victory at Leicester (good to firm) followed by an excellent second to Cambric at Newmarket in early August.
(Windsor, 2 September)
Favourite Culture nicked a couple of lengths when kicking on at the intersection and all Richard Kingscote’s efforts on pursuing Dubious Affair proved in vain, with Sir Michael Stoute’s filly failing by a short head.
The daughter of Frankel, second to Vindolanda at Beverley 19 days earlier, isn’t blessed with an instant change of gear but won’t remain a maiden much longer on this evidence.