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.
BLAKENEY POINT A STAYER TO KEEP ONSIDE
Switched from Andrew Balding’s yard and made a successful debut for Ken Slack at Thirsk over 1m 4f before tackling this four-runner event over a furlong less. Calliope was always going to be a hostage to fortune in this tactical affair, with her hold-up style totally unsuited by the mundane gallop.
She held a pretty hopeless position as El Beau eased to the front but was doing all her best work at the finish, narrowly missing out on second slot on ground that was very much on the fast side compared to Thirsk. Calliope remains a progressive three-year-old at this level.
Had returned from a 70-day absence to finish fourth to Multellie at Hamilton and looked trained to the minute for this 12-furlong handicap. Franny Norton could have done with a bit more racing room down on the inside, with Renfrew Street travelling strongly.
His mount ran on well after coming under pressure to chase home the progressive William Hunter and Mark Johnston’s filly will surely add to her Pontefract success in June before too long.
Punters marginally preferred Koropick (11-10 fav) over principal rival The Last Lion in the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes but they got it wrong big style. Koropick had made an eye-popping debut at Thirsk, cruising through on the bit to land his maiden with plenty in hand. Hugo Palmer’s colt found The Last Lion a more street-wise adversary and was always playing catch-up after a sluggish break.
Joe Fanning gave The Last Lion a textbook ride, travelling on the shoulder of the leader before kicking for home over a furlong out. Koropick ran on into second spot and this experience will stand him in good stead.
Mark Usher’s three-year-old had proved he handled soft ground when landing the Bibury Cup at Salisbury but following hours of relentless rain the track was riding very deep by the time of this last race on the card.
Marmajuke Bay was understandably a bit fresh, tugging for his head on this comeback run after a 73-day break, and then losing his pitch early in the straight. To his credit, the gelding battled on tenaciously to grab third spot and seemed to stay every yard of this 1m 6f trip behind progressive duo The Graduate and Cosmeapolitan.
Roger Charlton’s three-year-old brought solid form into this Class 4 two-miler, having just failed to master Yangtze at Sandown. The giant Withhold rather set up the race by cutting out a steady end-to-end gallop and had no answer when James Doyle asked Blakeney Point to quicken. The response from his mount was impressive and this is definitely a stayer whose career is on an upwards curve.
Mastered the consistent Nigel with little fuss and looks one to follow, especially on the all-weather. Mark Johnston’s five-year-old has posted victories at Wolverhampton, Lingfield, Chelmsford and Dundalk, and was only denied in a photo finish on his sole visit to Kempton.
With Newcastle added to the ‘sand’ roster, Watersmeet will have plenty of options at a decent level (scored off 103 at Dundalk in March and was on a mark of 94 here).
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