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.
SIX TO FOLLOW FROM NEWBURY'S WINTER CARNIVAL
Ladbrokes "National Hunt" Maiden Hurdle, 30 November)
Always handy, Dashal Drasher had every chance from three out before being out-paced by surprise package Bright Forecast in this 2m 3f contest.
Switched out from his rails pitch, Dashel Drasher made a proper hash of the last flight but stayed on commendably for third place.
Jeremy Scott’s Wincanton bumper winner (heavy) also showed up promisingly behind Kateson on his seasonal debut at Chepstow earlier in the month and there are races to be won with the five-year-old.
(Ladbrokes Novices’ Hurdle, 30 November)
Didn’t show an awful lot in two bumper runs in February/March but improved on his hurdling debut at Bangor in early November to finish third.
Mr Pumblechook appreciated this step up to 2m 4f, running on under a patient ride from Wayne Hutchinson to throw down a determined challenge over the final flight.
Edging slightly left under pressure, Alan King’s four-year-old was outpointed by Kateson, with the two principals pulling well clear of the pack.
This was a fine effort, especially as Mr Pumblecchook was almost down on his nose when over-pitching three out.
THE LAST DAY
(Ladbrokes Chase For The Fulke Walwyn Trophy, 30 November)
Last seen spread-eagling his field in a novice hurdle at Chepstow in March, The Last Day couldn’t match strides with the electric Knocknanuss on his first try over fences.
Adam Wedge pushed him into second spot at the ninth but was in vain pursuit when crashing out at the final obstacle.
That weary fall was rough justice and connections must have been relieved to see him back on his feet after that purler.
(Ladbrokes In Memory Of Tara Von Ihering Handicap Chase, 1 December)
One of the most impressive winners over the two days, Lady Buttons was ruthlessly efficient and economical over her fences.
Adam Nicol was oozing confidence from some way out and had the race in safe keeping down the straight.
Equally at home over hurdles, with a high cruising speed, there are plenty of options open to trainer Phil Kirby for his ultra-consistent mare.
(Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle, 1 December)
Up 6lb for his comfortable Cheltenham success a fortnight earlier, Speedo Boy ran right up to his new mark with a fine third to improving Champ.
The testing ground on day two blunted his Flat acceleration and Speedo Boy was by no means knocked about, with trainer Ian Williams eyeing up the Dubai winter carnival for his Cesarewitch sixth.
BEWARE THE BEAR
(Ladbrokes Trophy Chase, 1 December)
Back in action following a 224-day break, Beware The Bear’s stamina kicked in as he ran on into a fairly remote fourth behind imperious Sizing Tennessee.
Nicky Henderson’s gelding has undergone a wind procedure since landing the 2017 At The Races Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle and he kept responding to Jeremiah McGrath’s urgings.
A four-time winner two seasons ago, Beware The Bear should be competitive in staying handicaps this season.