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.
DONNY RUNNER-UP CHOCOLATE BOX PROVED HE HAS NO SOFT CENTRE
(Doncaster, 9 January)
Rated in the mid-eighties on the level, Chocolate Box made an encouraging hurdling debut in this 2m 4f maiden won by front-running De Forgotten One.
Liam Heard pushed Chocolate Box upsides jumping three out and the front two traded punches until the winner asserted before the final flight.
Chocolate Box proved he has no soft centre by staying on stoutly up the long straight and should remain competitive granted decent ground.
(Huntingdon, 11 January)
Punters narrowly favoured wide-margin Fontwell winner Westbrook Bertie over Prabeni but he couldn’t match his market rival’s speed when the chips were down.
A mistake two out didn’t help his cause but Westbrook Bertie was rallying at the finish.
Plenty of use was made of him at Fontwell (soft) and he is worth watching when guaranteed a strong end-to-end gallop or stepped up in trip.
‘Bertie’ won on heavy at Salisbury last April for Mick Channon, so the track may have been riding on the quick side for him at Huntingdon.
(Newcastle, 12 January)
Making her debut for Richard Fahey but was ignored in the betting market in this 6f novice stakes.
However, Plumette belied her 25-1 odds, closing down the idling odds-on winner Kareena Kapoor (pair clear) after running a little green when first coming under pressure.
Simon Crisford’s winner had finished second to Group 1 winner Pretty Pollyanna at Yarmouth in the summer and clocked a decent time here, despite the track riding on the slow side.
(Wetherby, 12 January)
A winner at Wetherby over 1m 6f, the seven-year-old was chopped for speed by the principals but David O’Meara can find him a race over obstacles on this evidence.
LUIS VAZ DE TORRES
(Newcastle, 12 January)
A dual winner off 80 and 82 last season on turf, Luis Vaz De Torres was entitled to go close off his all-weather mark of 75 in this Class 4 handicap over seven furlongs.
Richard Fahey’s gelding was virtually ignored in the betting, however, but proved his 18-1 starting price all wrong by running Portledge to a length after being held up by Tony Hamilton.
He was off the track for a long time after running third at Ayr in July but appears back on the boil.
(Fontwell, 14 January)
Sent off favourite for this handicap chase and Nick Scholfield was content to sit off the pace.
Native Robin, a Fakenham winner last month, was travelling well enough four out but untimely mistakes put the brakes on his progress as he laboured into third spot behind Night Of Sin and Stage Summit.
He probably remains in form.