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.
DESERT WIND CAN BLOW HOT IN HANDICAPS
(Wolverhampton, 3 January)
Not the strongest 1m 1f median auction maiden but Steve Donohoe made his intentions known straight from the off, steering his mount to the front and dictating the terms of the race.
Desert Wind was booted clear off the home bend and had six lengths to spare over Barbara Villiers at the line.
Ed Vaughan’s three-year-old colt can make his mark in handicaps.
(Wolverhampton, 4 January)
Robert Cowell's colt showed a modicum of ability on his debut at Chelmsford City four weeks earlier but was allowed to go off a 25-1 chance for this 6f novice stakes.
Grandfather Tom was soon bowling along up front and only yielded inside the final furlong to Roger Charlton's hotpot Breathless Times.
Hopefully, the colt can use this as a springboard to better things.
(Lingfield, 6 January)
Punters wanted to know only one horse in the 1m Conditions Stakes, with Arcanada sent off a very solid 4-6 shot.
His backers were all smiles as Martin Harley eased his mount past pacemaker In The Red (ran splendidly at 100-1), with Arcanada dipping under standard to impress the clock-watchers.
Tom Dascombe's five-year-old can win again.
(Sandown, 6 January)
Amy Murphy's gelding may have surrendered his unbeaten record in the 32Red Tolworth Hurdle but Kalashnikov has more big-race targets in his sights.
Winner of his bumper on debut, Kalashnikov mopped up two novice hurdles by 10 lengths, at Doncaster and Wetherby, before being elevated here to Grade 1 company.
He was under the pump early in the straight but responded to Jack Quinlan's urgings to keep winner Summerville Boy honest all the way to the line.
This very deep ground was not ideal and Kalashnikov reportedly lost a shoe.
(Sandown, 6 January)
Rattled off four wins in the space of a month around this time last year, all of them coming on good or good/soft ground.
Amber Gambler encountered a much deeper surface in this 2m 4f handicap chase and was a bit unlucky not to finish closer to winner Chef D’equipe.
Given a typically quiet ride from Brian Hughes, Amber Gambler was just moving into serious contention when a stuttering leap at the Pond fence cost him valuable lengths.
The Ian Williams-trained gelding found his stride up the hill and finished best of all to go fourth.
(Wolverhampton, 8 January)
Edward Greatrex always had a lot of horse under him in this apprentices’ handicap and the well-backed Dark Alliance fairly powered home for an emphatic victory.
Trainer David Loughnane reported that the ex-Irish gelding had been held back by a few issues which have been ironed out, and Dark Alliance is certainly one to follow now he is back in good health.