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.
Collonges No Flash In The Pan
Flash Collonges was weak in the market throughout the day for his debut at Exeter, but defied market expectations despite the race not being run to suit. He raced just behind the leaders, who set a steady pace, through the first half of the race and his inexperience showed at times. He was briefly shaken along turning the final bend as the pace started to quicken, and jumped 3 out a couple of lengths behind the leader. Pushed along and given a couple of cracks, he responded well and got to the front approaching the last. He got in tight and shifted sharply left shortly after landing, but straightened up again he kept going well enough to win by three quarters of a length. While I think this was the weaker division of the two, Flash Collonges’ margin of victory significantly underplays his ability as he was green, unsuited by the slow pace and is clearly a horse for the long term. With that being the case, I think he should be kept low key this season by running in novice hurdles away from the major tracks, which could also help keep his opening handicap mark down to be exploited in novice handicap chases next season.
Dawson City had a largely disappointing season in 2019/20, with a fourth at Ascot a brief bright spot. As he’s now an eleven-year-old, it could be he’s simply on the decline, but while well beaten on his first run of this season at Exeter I thought there was some encouragement to be taken from it. Having initially set off fairly prominently on the wide outside, he gradually drifted towards the back as the field turned down the back straight. He made a bit of headway going to the first in the back straight but soon dropped back to last place after jumping the last in the back. He seemed to be struggling but plugged on under pressure in the home straight to finish twelfth. As stated, Dawson City may just not be as good as he was, but this test was always likely to be too sharp, and he at least showed he’s still got some fight left in the way he ran on late. He’s been dropped 5lb to 122, 9lb lower than the mark he raced off in last year’s Devon National when second favourite, and it’s likely his season will be focused around trying to become a three-time winner of that race.
One For The Team
One For The Team progressed well in staying handicap hurdles last term and opened this season with a good run, given the inadequate test of stamina that the Persian War provided. Switched to fences, he made his chasing debut at Newbury and was sent off favourite. He raced a shade keenly under restraint and his jumping lacked fluency at times, most notably at the last with a circuit to go. He made headway leaving the back straight and was travelling well turning into the straight where he was switched out to make his challenge. He was shaken up approaching the first in the straight where he shifted left and made a mistake. He rallied under pressure to move into second jumping 2 out before a minor error at the last when unseating, looking to have no chance of catching the winner.
One For The Team improved last season and once getting into a bigger field and stronger run race, and I expect the same this season over fences. If they keep his rating around 140 after three runs in novice chases, the Ultima would be an obvious target.
Conkwell Legend showed promise in a heavy ground bumper and maiden hurdle last season before a wind op ahead of his return at Fontwell. Racing in midfield, he jumped sharply left at the two hurdles in the back straight, and did so again at the last hurdle in the back on the final circuit. Pushed along in sixth place, he responded and moved into third 2 out with plenty of ground to make up on the front pair. He ran on under pressure and finished strongly on the climb, beaten 1¼ lengths in third.
All three of Conkwell Legend’s runs suggest he will be better with a greater test of stamina, as does his pedigree. He’s received an opening rating of 117, and once stepped up in trip, I think he’ll show himself better than that.
Be The Difference didn’t get anywhere near the front in three starts tackling maiden and novice hurdles, but there was a big chance of tactics for his handicap debut at Kelso. He quickly went bounding off into a clear lead, racing a shade keenly, and was ten lengths in front by the first hurdle. He continued to hold a substantial lead with a circuit to go but the pack closed down the back straight, and joined him turning the final bend. Soon headed, he quickly faded under pressure and eventually finished 34¾ lengths back in seventh.
Be The Difference clearly went off too quickly, and paid for it late on. He’s been dropped 2lb to 92, and with a more patient ride, has the potential to win off that mark this season.
Genois faced a tough task on his debut against Joshua Webb and Grangeclare Native and showed promise for the future in defeat. He raced handily in the main group and was travelling strongly leaving the back straight on the final circuit. He was nudged along after jumping 3 out before having no room as Joshua Webb moved up and trapped him on the inside. He was outpaced after 2 out and switched wide to get a clear run, before staying on strongly after the last to finish third, beaten two lengths.
This was a fine debut against two good horses with experience, and I think he’s the best long-term prospect from this race. He shouldn’t be long in getting off the mark.
A winning pointer on debut back in 2017, Outlaw Jack hasn’t shown much since, firstly for Alan Jessop and subsequently for Johnny Farrelly. However, returning from a 504-day absence at Stratford he put up a performance to suggest he could add to that success. He raced towards the back for most part and his jumping lacked fluency, but he made headway down the back on the final circuit, travelling well. Pushed along coming down the mound, his path was blocked and he was steadied twice, but could never get into contention, finishing fifteen lengths behind in sixth.
This trip looked too sharp, but the manner in which he made headway was notable, and this was an encouraging performance after a long absence. Back up in trip, I think he’s capable of success at a low level.