WELCOME to our Eyecatchers column. Every week 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.
BATTLE-HARDENED BIRDMAN ONE TO FOLLOW AFTER HIS FINE LINCOLN FOURTH
Showed some promise in three runs last season and a mark of 64 probably underestimates her ability.
Stuart Williams pitched Auntie Barber into this weakish maiden and she didn’t have much luck in running. Caught on the heels of some slower rivals three out, Auntie Barber was never going to reel in Bargain Buy but she stuck on well for second spot.
A three-year-old handicap will be on the agenda in the weeks ahead.
A winner in France, Beau Bay has taken a little while to settle in and didn’t show much in four initial runs.
Following a 114-day break, however, he displayed plenty of enthusiasm from the front, only capitulating between the final two flights when Itshard To No breezed past.
There was eight lengths back to Cape Caster and Beau Bay seemed to appreciate this soft ground.
Drifted on-course after several bookmakers had installed Mick Easterby’s seven-year-old overnight favourite for this handicap hurdle.
Having started at 66-1, 66-1, 66-1 and 33-1 in his four starts it was hard to figure out why the firms were running scared but their caution was definitely warranted as Cactus Valley proved an unfortunate loser.
Travelling strongly three out, the gelding mounted his challenge racing to the last flight, only to blunder away a winning chance.
Enjoyed a superb 2015 season, recording five victories, and he ran a cracker in the Betway Lincoln.
Drawn high, Birdman found himself well adrift by halfway but gradually picked up the leaders from two out, despite being isolated near the stands’ rail.
His run petered out in the last 100 yards but fourth was still a fine effort.
David O’Meara has a willing warrior in this battle-hardened handicapper.
Making his debut for Charlie Hills in this 1m 2f maiden, Mahfooz rather fluffed the start and was always playing catch-up.
It’s fairly safe to assume the persistent rain did him no favours, with good-looking Mahfooz unable to utilise his long stride in the mud.
Hills had been quite complimentary in his pre-race comments and Mahfooz will surely do better given a sounder surface.
Landed back-to-back successes in midsummer, at Lingfield and Newmarket, but was returning here from a 245-day absence.
There was little sign of rustiness as Solar Flair struck for home over a furlong out, finding plenty until collared by Crazy Chic.
William Knight appears to have a progressive four-year-old on his hands and Solar Flair can pick up the winning thread over his optimum seven-furlong trip.
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