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.
A TACTICAL GOLDILOCKS SCENARIO FOR BE THE DIFFERENCE
2nd - Hub At Ballymore Maiden Hurdle, Tuesday 24th November
Julies Stowaway looked a strong stayer in bumpers last season yet connections have decided to run him over two miles on both starts over hurdles. On the most recent of those runs at Punchestown, he went straight to the front from the off and jumped well until making a slight error at 3 out and he was briefly headed. He was soon back on terms going to 2 out and a good jump there put him back in front.
Pushed along turning the final bend, he was headed at the start of the straight and came under strong pressure but he battled on gamely and just got back in front shortly before the last. He was joined on landing by Blue Lord and that horse had a bit too much speed for him on the run in.
This was a good run from Julies Stowaway given the inadequate test of stamina. As he’s run over two miles on his first two starts over hurdles and clearly wants further, it’s likely that connections have a long-term plan for him and will step him up in trip accordingly when the time comes.
5th - Appliance Solutions Ledbury Novices’ Handicap Chase, Wednesday 25th November
Gentleman’s Dream returned off a gigantic break when making his chasing debut at Hereford and ran promisingly in defeat. Held up at the back of the field early on, he raced a shade keenly and jumped awkwardly at the second fence.
Having made mistake at the first two fences in the back straight and jumped left at the third, he was in a detached last but once nudged along he got back on to the back of the main pack. His momentum was briefly halted when failing to get a clear run leaving the back straight but once in the clear he jumped 3 out in seventh before again finding his path blocked on the run to 2 out.
Angled towards the outside, he still appeared to be travelling well but was slow again at 2 out and was shaken along after. He responded well and closed going to the last but he slowed into it, jumped out to the left and landed awkwardly and eventually finished in fifth.
Considering the 1339-day absence that Gentleman’s Dream was returning from and all the mistakes he made, this was an encouraging return to action. He’s been dropped 2lb to 94 over fences and as long as he has a clear run of health, I think he can progress over fences this season, with left handed tracks possibly being more suitable.
3rd - Visit attheraces.com Standard National Hunt Flat Race, Friday 27th November
Galore Desassences unseated rider at the fifth on his debut at Maisemore Park in October and was switched to race under rules. Making his rules debut in a bumper at Doncaster, he showed promise for the future when finishing third. He raced prominently from the off and was allowed to stride on to the front early in the back straight.
He was still in front turning into the home straight and was soon pushed along to maintain his lead as his greenness showed. He continued to hold an advantage coming through the wings of 2 out and came under stronger pressure. He couldn’t match the speed of a couple of his rivals in the closing stages but kept going well to finish 3¼ lengths behind the winner in third.
After an unfortunate start to his career, this was a promising run from Galore Desassences given that he clearly looks a chaser for the future and this wasn’t enough of a test of stamina for him. I expect him to soon make the switch to hurdling and he’s one to note for the long term when going over fences.
5th - Get Your Ladbrokes £1 Free Bet Today Handicap Chase, Friday 27th November
After a poor start over fences last season, Musical Slave improved in his final three runs of the season and started this season at Newbury. Held up, he reached for the first and landed in a heap which caused him to drop to last. He was slow at the third and turning down the back in last place he was switched to the outside.
His jumping improved down the back and he made a bit of headway into third last at the cross fence in a tightly packed field. He was nudged along going to 3 out and was a bit awkward over that. Pushed along after, he moved into a share of fourth jumping 2 out and he was closing strongly on the leading trio under only hands and heels going to the last but he crashed through that and couldn’t challenge after, finishing fifth.
Considering the early mistakes, the crucial one at the last and that he wasn’t given a hard ride, this was a good seasonal debut from Musical Slave. He’s been left on 137 and one of the 2m4f handicaps at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day or Trials Day could be suitable targets for him.
3rd - Rybo Ladies National Handicap Chase, Saturday 28th November
Envol Pierji was unsurprisingly well backed upped in trip for his second run in a handicap over fences and while failing to win, his performance showed that he’s better than his rating.
He initially set off in mid-division before dropping back a little and he then made a very bad mistake at the third fence. A cautious jump at the fourth followed and he was in second last going out on to the final circuit. He remained towards the back of the field before making a little headway going to 5 out.
He was still travelling quite well in eighth turning the final bend and gradually made headway under hands and heels before coming under stronger pressure going to the last. He continued to run on well after the last but could never challenge the leading pair and finished third.
The early mistake and following slow jump left Envol Pierji much further back than ideal in this race and he did well to finish as close as he did having been given plenty of time to recover his poise.
This trip is fine for him but he also looks capable of stepping up to 3m so there are options for him and he shouldn’t be long in getting off the mark over fences.
3rd - Irish Racing Industry Fundraiser For Children’s Health Foundation Crumlin Handicap Hurdle, Saturday 28th November
Jiving Jerry has progressed well this season and although he finished just over ten lengths behind the winner in third on his latest start at Fairyhouse, I think he took another step forward.
Held up on the inside at the back of the field, he remained in that position for much of the race before making significant headway on the very long run to 2 out to be just behind the leaders. However, a loose horse cut across his path shortly before the bend which severely hampered him, causing him to lose him position and momentum at a crucial stage.
Pushed along in the straight, he plugged on but couldn’t get close to the winner and was beaten 10½ lengths in third.
This was a race where it was favourable to race prominently so not only did Jiving Jerry suffer severe interference, he was also poorly positioned given the way the race panned out. A stronger run race will suit him and there’s more to come from him in more suitable circumstances.
3rd - Willie Elliott Memorial (Pro/Am) Flat Race, Saturday 28th November
Having won a mares maiden on debut, Red As Rust was moved from Nigel Slevin to Gordon Elliott but having failed to make the track for Elliott, she returned to action after 909 days off back with her original trainer.
Sent off an unconsidered 150-1 chance in a good bumper, she ran much better than the market expected. Held up towards the back of a tightly grouped field, she was still travelling well in fifth shortly before turning into the straight.
Racing furthest towards the inside as the field moved towards the outside early in the straight, she was shaken along and tracked the leading pair until being left behind with just under two furlongs to go. She continued to respond to pressure and finished 7¾ lengths behind in third with another 29 lengths back to the fourth.
Considering the very long absence and the strength of competition on her return, this was a promising run from Red As Rust. If she has a clear run of health, a mares’ bumper or maiden hurdle should be within her capabilities this season.
7th - Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase, Saturday 28th November
Kapcorse had been an intended runner in the Ladbrokes Trophy last season before injury struck and that injury meant he was off the course for 644 days. Having been taken out of this year’s Ladbrokes Trophy at the first forfeit stage, he ran in another handicap chase on the same day over 2m6½f.
Held up on the outside early on, he made a little headway before dropping back again slightly when very wide on the bend turning away from the stands. He made headway again to be towards the front of the chasing pack leaving the back straight. He was pushed along entering the home straight and briefly looked to be struggling but he soon picked up to be in a share of fourth jumping 4 out.
He was still only a few lengths behind the leader at 2 out but he made a bad mistake there and weakened after to finish a well beaten seventh.
The manner in which Kapcorse travelled through the race suggests that he retains the ability he showed prior to the injury and that there are still races to be won with him. He’s been dropped 3lb to 135 and he’s capable of winning a good handicap this season.
2nd - Welsh Horse Racing Awards 2020 Novices’ Hurdle, Sunday 29th November
Bear Ghylls was a very short price to make it three from three in his career but a newcomer made sure it wasn’t a cakewalk for him. Gowel Road was making his debut for Nigel Twiston-Davies and the €90,000 store showed plenty of ability and greenness.
Held up towards the back of the field, he was ponderous over the first hurdle, dived at the second and wasn’t perfect at any of the three hurdles in the back straight. Despite the errors, he still travelled well turning out of the back straight and made significant headway on the outside to tracks the leaders turning into the home straight.
He got in tight at 3 out and was pushed along on landing as the front pair started to get away. Gowel Road responded well and jumped 2 out in a share of the lead. Put under stronger pressure between the final two hurdles, he went to the front approaching the last but slightly wandered into it which allowed Bear Ghylls to get back upsides.
Gowell Road drifted left under pressure on the run in and was beaten 1½ lengths.
Given how poorly he jumped through the first half of the race, this was a very promising effort from Gowel Road to be able to get so close to a smart novice hurdler on his debut. He looks a good recruit for the yard and can soon get off the mark.
3rd - Pudding Norton Handicap Hurdle, Monday 30th November
Be The Difference makes a second appearance in a row in this column. Having been sent into a clear lead before weakening at Kelso, the tactics at Fakenham were at this complete opposite end of the scale as he was held up in last wearing a hood for the first time.
He stayed in last throughout the first circuit and only had one rival behind him jumping what is usually 4 out. Briefly nudged along after, he got on to the back of the main pack turning into the back straight and was then pushed along going around the bypassed third last.
He made headway into seventh before being nursed around the bend leaving the back straight. He came under more vigorous riding again after 2 out and ran on strongly under hands and heels to finish a never-nearer third.
At a track that favours horses racing prominently, Be The Difference did well to finish as close as he did having been held up last. Having used tactics at both ends of the scale, it seems that somewhere in the middle is most suitable for Be The Difference and such tactics can see him getting off the mark under rules in the near future.