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.
DUAL WOLVES WINNER STAR ARCHER CAN CONTINUE TO HIT THE TARGET
(Newcastle, 5 February)
Winner Smooth Stepper produced a magnificent round of jumping which tended to overshadow a fine run in second from Micky Hammond's Silver Tassie.
Sent off a 16-1 outsider, he finished a few lengths front of the fairly useful Baywing, and Silver Tassie scored at Ayr (heavy) at this time last year off the same mark.
(Market Rasen, 6 February)
Alan King's seven-year-old was having only his fourth career start in this 2m 4f novices' hurdle and looks ready to make up for lost time.
Herewego Herewego, running in the JP McManus colours, latched on to the leaders early in the straight and stayed on steadily into second behind the Nicky Henderson-trained favourite Burrows Edge.
He landed the odds at Warwick on a sound surface last October and might well be a spring/summer horse back on good ground.
(Doncaster, 8 February)
Odds of 16-1 were looking decidedly generous as Nautical Nitwit moved menacingly well in the lead down the straight in this 3m handicap hurdle.
Phil Kirby's gelding was eventually collared close home by favourite Gunfleet but he readily held well fancied Clondaw Native for second prize.
Nautical Nitwit remains a relatively fresh horse as he has been sparingly campaign through the winter months and he struck form at this time 12 months ago when scoring at Southwell (good to soft).
(Huntingdon, 8 February)
This was a perfectly satisfactory return to action following a 143-day break, with Vosne Romanee finding this 2m 3f trip over hurdles just too onerous on soft ground, eventually tiring into third behind Azzerti.
The seven-year-old mopped up three races over fences on good ground last summer (Stratford, Perth and Worcester) and this will have teed him up nicely for a similar campaign.
(Wolverhampton, 10 February)
Backers of Keith Dalgleish's four-year-old were entitled to feel a little aggrieved that Acker Bilk met an improving sort in Ed Walker's Reckless Wave.
For much of this 1m 4f handicap it looked plain sailing for Acker Bilk as he stretched his field to breaking point on the home bend before Reckless Wave arrived on the scene.
Acker Bilk scored by eight lengths on his previous visit to Dunstall Park and despite running off an 11lb higher perch he could be winning again before too long.
(Wolverhampton, 12 February)
Made it two course and distance victories since the turn of the year, with the result in little doubt from a long way out.
Josephine Gordon edged across from her wide draw to sit on the shoulder of free-running Third Time Lucky and it was soon all over as Star Archer stretched clear over a furlong out.
Hugo Palmer’s gelding is going from strength to strength.