Rhys Williams has shortlisted seven horses to track from the Boxing Day and St Stephen's Day cards in the UK and Ireland, including a JP McManus horse who is now qualified for the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham, should he be able to climb the ratings.

  • Saturday 04 January
  • Blog
Get a £10 risk-free first bet
Welcome to the attheraces.com Eyecatchers column. Every week Rhys Williams will pinpoint horses primed to strike in the next few weeks, if not days. Remember, you can add Rhys's weekly updates to your ATR Tracker.


2nd - Proparamedics (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race, Thursday 26th December

Having fallen at the fourth fence when sent off joint-favourite for a point to point 18 days beforehand, Mig Des Taillons made his first start under rules in the bumper at Down Royal and was yet again prominent in the market, this time being the 11-2 second favourite.

He raced a bit keenly under restraint through the first half of the race before moving a bit closer turning up the side of the course to be in a chasing group of three behind Farouk d’Alene. He continued to travel well and moved into second shortly after entering the straight.

Mig Des Taillons and Farouk d’Alene started to pull clear of the rest at this point and Mig Des Taillons looked as though he might put up a serious challenge to the odds-on favourite coming down the hill but Farouk d’Alene moved into another gear as the early keenness looked to tell with Mig Des Taillons.

He ended up finishing 17 lengths behind the winner, who is a top-class prospect, but shaped much better than that suggests and if he learns to relax as he matures, he can have a good future under rules.


5th - Ladbrokes “Where The Nation Plays” Chase (A Novices’ Limited Handicap), Thursday 26th December

Muratello has been the last of the finishers on both starts over fences but I think there’s encouragement to be taken from his performance at Kempton when finishing fifth. His jumping was less than slick over the first three fences which resulted in him dropping to second last place but it improved through the race and he was travelling well at the back of a tightly-grouped leading pack going towards 7 out.

He continued to travel well and despite being a bit slow at 4 out he was only a few lengths behind the leader turning the final bend. Having jumped 3 out four lengths behind the leader, he started to tire and eventually come home 25 lengths behind.

It is a bit concerning that Muratello had a wind op prior to this run and finished weakly but I think that he wants a shorter trip and quicker ground and a shorter trip will also allow him to be ridden more prominently.

If he gets those conditions, I wouldn’t be surprised if Muratello takes a big step forward from what he’s shown so far over fences.


6th - Bet With Tote Maiden Hurdle, Thursday 26th December

Filon d’Oudairies made an encouraging Irish and hurdles debut on this day last year but ran terribly in both starts after that at the end of the season. He bounced back in this maiden hurdle with a promising effort in a reapplied tongue tie (had worn one in France) and the hood taken off.

Having raced in midfield through the first half of the race, he made a big move towards the end of the back straight and continued that to jump the last hurdle in a narrow second before appearing to take a slight advantage turning the final bend.

However, the huge effort to make that much headway in that time took its toll in the closing stages and he weakened quickly once going past the last fence to finish 22¾ lengths behind Cedarwood Road.

This was a very promising performance from Filon d’Oudairies and hopefully this season he will go the right way from a promising first run.


2nd - Garthwest Packaging Chase (A Novices’ Limited Handicap), Thursday 26th December

Oscar Wilde fell when a well-supported second favourite at Wetherby last time out but he showed no ill-effects from that when finishing second at Market Rasen on Boxing Day.

Held up off a strong early pace, his jumping was a little hesitant at times but it warmed up as the race went on and he moved smoothly into contention halfway down the back straight on the final circuit. A good jump at the last in the back straight took him to the front and he was still going easily while most of his rivals were under strong pressure.

Nudged along shortly after entering the straight, he responded and maintained his lead to 2 out where he made a mistake but his momentum wasn’t halted too much and he still held the lead at the last before Fortified Bay finished the stronger on the run-in.

The ease with which he made significant headway in the back straight was the move of a well-handicapped horse and a 2lb rise looks fair. Given that Oscar Wilde is a huge horse, I expect he’s still on the weak side and there’s likely to be much more improvement to come from him as he fills his considerable frame.


2nd - Pallinc Novices’ Handicap Hurdle, Thursday 26th December

Having attracted so much attention at Stratford, Eaglehill was well beaten on handicap debut at Warwick last month but at Market Rasen he returned to the level of form that the Stratford run suggested he could be capable of.

In first time cheekpieces, he raced prominently from the off and was in a leading line of three as they turned into the home straight for the final time. He was still travelling easily when jumping into a clear lead at 2 out but he didn’t instantly move away from his rivals under gentle urging and that allowed Bells Of Peterboro to join him shortly after jumping the last.

Eaglehill responded well to stronger pressure and tried to fight back as his rival took a narrow lead but could never quite get back to him and was beaten half a length, with nine lengths back to the third. It may have been a case of the challenge of Bells Of Peterboro surprising both Coleman, as he clearly had the pair alongside him going to 2 out covered, and Eaglehill, as he may have been idling a little between the final two hurdles.

Eaglehill has been raised 5lb but I think he’s still capable of winning off his new mark, with a left-handed track possibly suiting him better given his tendency at times to jump to the left at Market Rasen.


Fell - Fry’s Electrical Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Novices’ Championship Hurdle Series Qual.), Thursday 26th December

A winner at the track on her previous outing over 2m5½f, Kissesforkatie was dropped back in trip to 1m7½f for a mares’ novices’ hurdle on Boxing Day. The start didn’t go ideally as she didn’t get into stride as quickly as planned but soon recovered and raced in second place behind the clear leader Whitehotchillifili.

She continued to race in sole possession of that position until very briefly being joined by Daphne Du Clos at the end of the back straight. She soon moved back into a clear second running down the side of the course and began to be nudged along shortly after entering the straight as the leader quickened away.

Kissesforkatie responded to go in chase of the leader while pulling away from the rest but she reached for 2 out when about ¾ length behind and fell. Until the fall this looked set to be another good performance from Kissesforkatie, despite it being an inadequate test of stamina, and a 3lb rise doesn’t look too harsh.

A return to a longer trip will suit and the EBF mares’ final at Newbury looks an obvious target for her later in the season.


6th - Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Pertemps Hurdle Series Qualifier), Thursday 26th December

The Storyteller sneaking into sixth in a Pertemps qualifier attracted plenty of attention over the festive period but it was another horse who finished sixth in a qualifier on Boxing Day who gained my attention.

Collooney had been off the track for 267 days and had a wind op before returning at Wincanton in very testing conditions. Held up in last off a slow pace, he was still in that position and travelling well turning into the home straight for the final time. Only ridden hands and heels afterwards, he unsurprisingly couldn’t get into contention having been badly positioned off a steady pace and finished 16½ lengths behind the winner in sixth.

A return to more prominent tactics and better ground would suit and I think he can show himself to be better than his rating of 127 when that happens. 

Sign up to bet365. Click to View Bonus Code Details
Up to £30 in free bets
Get £20 in free bets
£20 Risk Free First Bet
Up to £20 in free bets
Up to £10 in free bets
Up to £40 in Bonus funds
£20 Free Exchange Bet
Get a £10 risk-free first bet

Existing User?

Forgot your password?

New User?

Sign up using our simple one-page form and you'll be able to access free video form, tips and exclusive content straight away.