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.
A SEXTET TO TRACK FROM CHEPSTOW’S JUMPS SEASON OPENER
Made a winning debut in an Exeter bumper last October when trained by Christian Williams, beating useful Acey Milan on soft ground, but was later switched by owner Dai Walters to join Nigel Twiston-Davies.
Sporting the Highclere Thoroughbred colours carried to victory in the previous race by Posh Trish, ex-French recruit Ballywood hinted he can follow suit later in the season with a promising fourth to Grand Sancy.
Held up by Tom Cannon, Ballywood latched on to the principal players three out and wasn’t knocked about when the leaders quickened clear between the last two flights.
Alan King would have been pleased enough with this effort.
Ended last season on a high with a brilliant round of jumping at Sandown to land the bet365 Gold Cup by 13 lengths from Rock The Kasbah and Mark Bradstock’s gelding made a satisfactory return to action.
Pre-race concern that the ground was on the dry side for Step Back proved valid as he couldn’t quicken after cutting out much of the donkey work up front.
Although only seventh in the end to rejuvenated The Young Master, this augurs well for the months ahead.
Paid his way on the Flat this season, recording victories at Wolverhampton and Sandown (good to firm), and this was a respectable start to his hurdling career.
The rain arrived on Sunday and Alan King’s gelding would have preferred a sounder surface.
Enjoyed an excellent novice chase campaign, culminating in a meritorious second to Road To Respect at Cheltenham in March two years ago, and on this evidence Baron Alco is poised for another successful season following a 577-day break.
Jamie Moore had him to the fore from flagfall and Baron Alco looked the likely winner when pushed clear three out, still travelling strongly.
However, brave top weight Charbel kept nibbling at his advantage and hit the front close home in a thrilling contest.
Michael Scudamore’s point winner is a work in progress and connections will have been suitably encouraged after running fourth to Paul Nicholls’s strong finisher McFabulous.
Held up, One Touch was pushed along to take closer order early in the straight before being left behind by the principals.
Still only a four-year-old, One Touch should improve with experience.