Eyecatchers

Rhys Williams has nominated nine horses to add to your ATR Tracker.

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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.

TWILIGHT CALLING FOR DROP BACK TO MINIMUM TRIP

STOCKBRIDGE TAP
2nd - Follow @attheraces On Twitter Handicap, Ripon, Wednesday 8th July

Stockbridge Tap split a pair of subsequent winners in A Star Above and Margaret Dumont when finishing second on his seasonal debut at Thirsk and once again ran well in defeat at Ripon. In a steadily run race, he tracked Mambo Nights but looked awkward and hung out to the left on the bends.

Having done this on the bend turning into the home straight he dropped back into last place but soon recovered his poise and continued to track Mambo Nights through on the rail before being switched off the rail with just under two furlongs to go. He couldn’t put in a serious challenge to Mambo Nights but drew three lengths clear of King’s Castle.

A stronger pace and a return to a left handed track will suit Stockbridge Tap and I think he can show himself to be better than his rating of 75 under these conditions.

ARCTIC FOX
3rd - attheraces.com Handicap, Ripon, Wednesday 8th July

Arctic Fox had shown little since winning the Queen Mother’s Cup last year before bouncing back with a far more promising run at Ripon. Held up a little further back than midfield, she was pushed along three furlongs out and started to make headway before finding her path momentarily blocked.

She was soon being pushed along again on the rail before being switched outside towards the middle of the track with about 1½ furlongs to go  and she ran on strongly in the closing stages to be beaten two lengths in third. She’s been dropped 1lb for this, which seems generous, so is now 1lb lower than the rating off which she won the Queen Mother’s Cup. Having run so poorly in her previous four starts it’s hoped that this isn’t a one-off return to form and when stepped up in trip, she looks capable of getting back to winning ways.

TWILIGHT CALLS
5th - Oakley Coachbuilders EBF Novice Auction Stakes (Plus 10 Race), Newbury, Wednesday 8th July

Twilight Calls was a £26,000 purchase as a yearling and that looks money well spent after a promising debut at Newbury. A shade slowly away, he was soon moved to race on the near side rail a few lengths behind the leaders. He travelled well to track the leaders just over two furlongs out with David Probert looking for a gap.

Switched off the rail, he moved smoothly to challenge just over a furlong out but once asked for his effort he didn’t pick up as well as anticipated and was held together in the closing stages, finishing 3¾ lengths behind the winner in fifth.

The ease with which Twilight Calls moved into contention was notable and with a combination of a drop back to five furlongs and quicker ground, I think it won’t be long before he gets off the mark.  

TERESA MENDOZA
1st - Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden (Plus 10 Race), Curragh, Friday 10th July

Teresa Mendoza made a winning debut for Ken Condon in the manner of a potentially useful filly at the Curragh. She raced towards the back of the leading group through the early stages and had to briefly be nudged along when showing signs of inexperience with just under four furlongs to go.

Having come straight back on to the bridle, she made some headway tracking Monaasib and having been nudged along just over two furlongs out, she joined that rival travelling smoothly. Shaken up more vigorously with a furlong to go, she showed greenness but got the better of a brief battle with that rival quite comfortably and went on to win by 1¾ lengths.

A couple of her rivals had already shown a decent level of ability and the time was only marginally slower than that clocked by the 85-rated Nordic Passage (carried 4lb more) in the older horse handicap later on the card. To put up a performance of such quality on debut while clearly showing her inexperience is a very promising sign for Teresa Mendoza’s future.

HUDDLETON MAC
2nd - Betfred “Still Treble Odds On Lucky 15’s” Novice Auction Stakes (Plus 10 Race), Ascot, Saturday 11th July

Understandably the market didn’t have high expectations for a Hughie Morrison trained two-year-old newcomer in July but Huddleton Mac significantly outperformed those expectations when finishing second at Ascot.

Having raced in midfield for much of the race, he was still going well just behind the leaders two furlongs out. Briefly pushed along, Pat Dobbs found his path blocked as New Mandate started to drift right and he had to switch him to the left. He wasn’t overly hard on him in the closing stages as he couldn’t challenge Jumby but he stayed on well into second.

It was encouraging that the front trio pulled clear of the two horses with experience and decent form in fourth and fifth. This was a promising debut from Huddleton Mac, who looks capable of doing well over seven furlongs and a mile as a two-year-old before really coming into his own over around 1m2f next year.

POWERFUL TED
7th - Holden Plant Rentals (Q.R.) Race, Leopardstown, Saturday 11th July

A winner of a weak maiden on his first start on the flat at Fairyhouse, Powerful Ted was in much stronger company in this amateur riders’ race. From the widest stall, he was dropped out in last place in a steadily run race while Millford Sound was allowed to go clear.

He started to make some headway on the inside leaving the back straight but still had eleven of his thirteen rivals ahead of him turning into the home straight. He continued to make smooth headway on the inside but had absolutely nowhere to go inside the final furlong and finished on the bridle in seventh, beaten 5¼ lengths.

With a clear passage Powerful Ted may well have won and at worst would have finished much closer to the winner. It’s difficult to be sure what his next target will be but the final race of the Galway Festival over just short of 1m6f looks suitable if they stick to the flat rather than looking to take advantage of his hurdles rating of 105.  

GETAWAYTONEWBAY
3rd - tote.co.uk Free Streaming Every UK Race Novices’ Handicap Chase (Div I), Bangor, Sunday 12th July

Having shown some promise behind The Big Breakaway at Chepstow, Getawaytonewbay struggled for the remainder of last season. On her first start over fences under rules and back on much quicker ground at Bangor, she showed enough to suggest that she can soon get off the mark under rules.

Having initially set off in third, she hesitated going into the first and dropped towards the back of the main pack and she remained there for the first half of the race, with her jumping warming up as the race progressed. She started to make some headway on the run to 5 out and moved smoothly into contention after 3 out as others around her started to come under pressure.

Pushed along going to 2 out, she didn’t respond instantly and was squeezed out at that fence which briefly put her back into a share of fifth before she ran on to finish third, beaten 6¼ lengths.  

The manner in which she travelled into contention suggests that Getawaytonewbay could be better than her rating of 91 over fences and with that run under her belt, it may not be long before she shows that, possibly over a little further.

WOODED
4th - Qatar Prix Jean Prat (Group 1), Deauville, Sunday 12th July

Wooded went into the Prix Jean Prat on the back of an impressive victory on his seasonal debut at Chantilly, having been a non runner in the Commonwealth Cup in the interim. He raced a bit keenly tracking the pacesetting Well Of Wisdom through the first half of the race. He still looked to be going easily 400m out but he was soon joined and headed by Pinatubo and came home in fourth, beaten 3½ lengths.

While five of Wooded’s six runs have been over 1400m, I think a return to a shorter trip will see him at his best. He looked suited by 1200m when winning easily at Chantilly and he was always racing a bit keener than ideal in this race before finding less than seemed likely in the closing stages. Given that the Commonwealth Cup was the initial intended target for him after Chantilly, it would be a surprise if he wasn’t campaigned as a sprinter from now on. 

BUG BOY
5th - Unibet Handicap, Kempton, Monday 13th July

Bug Boy was reunited with Rhiain Ingram, the only jockey to have won on him, for his latest start at Kempton. He was gradually restrained to race towards the back of the field and was still travelling well in that position turning into the straight. Pushed along to follow Catch My Breath, he started to drift inwards with a furlong to go and had to be corrected and switched outside again, eventually finishing fifth beaten 4¼ lengths.

Bug Boy’s previous two wins were over 1m2f and 1m4f and a step back up in trip looks likely to suit given the way he finished in this race over a mile. He has looked a tricky ride at times but he’s now dropped to a mark 4lb below the one he won off at Ffos Las and he looks capable of gaining a third win in the near future. 


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