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.
TEN TO FOLLOW FROM THE QATAR GOODWOOD FESTIVAL
(Unibet Fillies’ Handicap, 30 July)
Infanta Isabella didn’t look entirely happy on the track but George Baker’s mare certainly deserves pass marks for perseverance, finishing fourth behind Maid For Life, beaten less than two lengths.
She was raised 10lb for her runaway victory on soft ground at Newbury in June but is no forlorn hope off her new mark when returned to a muddy, galloping course.
LE DON DE VIE
(Unibet Handicap, July 31)
Mark Johnson was talking-up winner Sir Ron Priestley as a possible St Leger contender, so this was a typically hot three-year-old staying handicap.
Le Don De Vie came up a little short in fourth, with Oisin Murphy taking him to the front early in the straight before they were swallowed up at the furlong pole.
A dual Epsom scorer for Andrew Balding earlier this season, going up 10lb after beating The Trader more than four lengths on Derby Day, the gelding his since joined Hughie Morrison.
(Unibet Handicap, 31 July)
Andrew Balding’s filly Tribal Craft was another to take out of the race.
After being impeded slightly at the break, David Probert found himself stuck near the rear of the chasing posse before running into a spot of trouble when pressing for an opening over two out.
Tribal Craft didn’t possess the pace to threaten, eventually fading under pressure into seventh, but she is lightly raced and will have learned much more from this experience than when hacking up by 20 lengths in a three-runner affair at Pontefract on her previous outing.
(New & Lingwood Handicap, 31 July)
Richard Fahey’s four-year-old has been out of sorts for a while but this was more encouraging.
Tony Hamilton’s mount, a 25-1 shot for this seven-furlong contest, travelled nicely behind the leaders and although lacking a change of gear, Zap stayed on into fourth spot behind Dirty Rascal, doing best of those drawn in double figures.
He is certainly well enough treated to be competitive in the coming weeks.
(British EBF Premier Fillies’ Handicap, 31 July)
The glaring hard-luck story was Moll Davis, blocked for a run from two furlongs out, but she will not be missed in the betting next time.
Things didn’t pan out smoothly, either, for Sir Michael Stoute’s Vivionn, although she contributed to her own misfortune by hanging slightly right toward the rail at a vital stage.
By the time Ryan Moore found some room winner Mannaal had poached a lead under Megan Nicholls.
Vivionn is clearly back on track following her previous Chelmsford City disappointment in a four-runner affair and she was ridden with a little more restraint after trail-blazing in some of her earlier runs.
FOREST OF DEAN
(Unibet Handicap, 1 August)
John Gosden’s colt had almost four lengths to make up on Sinjaari on their running behind Headman in the traditionally strong London Gold Cup at Newbury in mid-May, but that didn’t deter punters piling in.
Sent off the 4-1 joint favourite alongside his old rival, Forest of Dean produced a powerful performance, recovering from some interference two out to scythe down Fox Premier in the manner of a much-improved three-year-old.
He looked well at home on the drying ground.
(Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes, 2 August)
Roger Varian’s colt came into this one-mile Group 3 contest with an unblemished record from three appearances but was a noticeable drifter in the market.
Sluggish from the stalls, he took a keen grip wearing first-time blinkers and Jim Crowley did well to harness that energy until unleashing his mount out wide.
Turjomaan didn’t flinch in the heat of battle and after hitting the front inside the final furlong was cut down by much-improved Duke Of Hazzard.
The front pair had a couple of lengths in hand of Momkin and although this excellent effort has blown Turjomaan’s mark (93 here), he is clearly continuing on the upgrade.
(Theo Fennell Oak Tree Stakes, 2 August)
Bookmakers were hardly snowed under in bets for Blizzard (100-1), despite Ralph Beckett’s filly having landed a Listed event at Fontainebleau last November.
Settled in mid-pack by Harry Bentley, Blizzard couldn’t quicken with the principals as Billesdon Brook swooped to grab this Group 3 prize, but she wasn’t by any means disgraced in seventh.
All her best form has come on a quick surface and Blizzard is worth bearing in mind in a lesser contest when conditions are advantageous.
(Unibet Stewards’ Cup, 3 August)
Heavily-backed favourite Khaadem was in a different league but Raucous (stall 18) ran out of his skin in third, doing the best of those sprinters with a double-digit draw.
Charlie Hills’s three-year-old winner deserves the plaudits, in the process denying rising apprentice Cieren Fallon aboard Raucous a slice of history as he attempted to follow in the footprints of dad ‘King Kieren’, a dual Stewards’ Cup winner on Gift Horse (2005) and the popular Hoof It (2011).
Raucous came into the race carrying an unwelcome 6lb penalty for his recent Yarmouth success but he had course credentials, scoring here last May.
His fourth in the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot pointed to trainer Robert Cowell having his gelding in peak form and so it proved.
(Qatar EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes, 3 August)
Paul Cole has his team in A1 condition and Celtic Art laid down a marker for the future, improving notably from his nondescript Newmarket debut the previous month.
The colt, carrying Fitri Hay’s colours, couldn’t go the early gallop but P J McDonald bided his time before Celtic Art picked up in style to close down winner Persuasion on the run to the line.
This sharp seven furlongs didn’t play to his strengths, but the experience should stand Celtic Art in good stead.