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.
COURT MINSTREL TO SING A WINNING TUNE AFTER DISAPPOINTING RUN
(Lingfield, 6 September)
Running in the venerable blue and white Hamdan Al Maktoum colours, Manthoor split the odds-on Society Power and Jupiter in this 6f maiden run on an easy surface. The third is rated 78, so Manthoor shouldn’t be burdened with a prohibitive handicap mark and Owen Burrows will no doubt find him a suitable opening before too long, over a slightly longer trip on this evidence.
(Salisbury, 7 September)
Hugo Palmer’s colt has been sent off favourite on both career starts and on the back of his maiden success at Haydock last month White Mocha was well touted to land this one-mile Novice Stakes. His backers seemed to be sitting pretty as White Mocha mastered Yaafour two out, with Josephine Gordon kicking for home, but he was cut down close home by Al Jellaby. White Mocha is entered in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge at HQ and while probably falling a bit short of the standard required to land that Group 2 contest, he remains a talented sort.
(Salisbury, 7 September)
Ran out a shock 40-1 winner of this Group 3 Fillies Stakes but there was definitely no fluke about the result. Richard Hannon’s juvenile had edged out Al Hajar at Newmarket in July and on paper this six-furlong trip was a bare minimum for the son of Dubawi out of an Old Vic mare. Tom Marquand brought Anna Nerium under pressure from halfway but she kept responding, taking the measure of well-fancied Eirene close home. With a keen eye on her future paddock value, connections will be relieved they came here rather than take up a nursery engagement at Doncaster later this week.
(Ascot, 8 September)
There was no mistaking the flashy chestnut son of Frankel in the preliminaries and this imposing colt is well named. Racing in the Khaled Abdullah silks, Herculean looked vulnerable when Ryan Moore briefly niggled along over two out but they soon powered to the front to score decisively from newcomer Wadilsafa, another of Frankel’s promising progeny. Roger Charlton has taken out entries in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge and next month’s Darley Dewhurst Stakes for the white-face emblazoned Herculean.
(Stratford, 9 September)
His backers endured a frustrating few minutes, with Court Minstrel restrained by his promising young rider rather too far off the sedate pace and was never able to strike a blow. Court Minstrel is at his best sitting off a strong gallop in a big field and everything fell into place when he quickened clear to land the 2015 totepool Silver Trophy at Chepstow. That could be a feasible target again next month, especially if the ground is riding good.
(Perth, 11 September)
Returning from a 257-day absence but looked as good as ever. Fergal O’Brien’s gelding, a three-time novice chase winner last season at Newton Abbot, Ludlow and Ascot on good ground, travelled like the winner for much of this 2m 4f handicap until lack of peak fitness took its toll. Master Dee eventually faded into third behind useful Hammersly Lake but the eight-year-old looks set for another fruitful campaign.