WELCOME to our Eyecatchers column. Every week 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.
ITSHARD TO NO ATR Tracker
(Ludlow, 12 January)
Kerry Lee has made a dream start to her rookie season and the young trainer has unearthed another potential winner in Itshard To No. The former Irish-trained seven-year-old has taken a little while to settle into his new surroundings but was quite well backed (4-1) in this novices’ hurdle, despite the presence of odds-on winner The Gipper. The pair pulled 28 lengths clear and Itshard To No made a howler two out which didn’t help his cause.
CHETAN ATR Tracker
(Kempton, 13 January)
Another rock-solid effort from this course specialist. Chetan almost defied a 6lb penalty for his track success seven days earlier, finding only Nasri too strong after a spirited battle. The four-year-old showed winning course form for Milton Bradley and new handler Charlie Wallis has hatched a wise game-plan for his consistent recruit, keeping him busy at his beloved Kempton.
SHOWTIME STAR ATR Tracker
(Lingfield, 15 January)
Slightly out of his depth in two hot handicaps at Wolverhampton (but didn’t run badly), Showtime Star was back on his more productive Polytrack surface here. Dropped into a claimer by Gay Kelleway, the six-year-old was always racing two or three horses deep as winner Yeeoow stretched his rivals from the front. Showtime Star’s prospects were further compromised when shoved wide off the home bend and he did well to rally into third spot, beaten just over a length. He has winning form at Southwell, too, so more prize-money beckons this winter.
MOULIN ROUGE ATR Tracker
(Wolverhampton, 15 January)
Sent off a 33-1 rag on her first start for Kevin Frost, Moulin Rouge belied those dismissive odds with an excellent effort in this 1m 6f handicap. Possibly aided by the honest gallop set by a disputing pair down the back straight, Moulin Rouge moved up menacingly off the home bend before being swept aside by strong traveller Pinotage. She had winning course form over a much shorter trip for previous handler Ian Williams and a couple of runs over hurdles in the summer hinted there was latent stamina to exploit in these low-grade affairs.
HOLD TIGHT ATR Tracker
(Lingfield, 16 January)
Gives the impression of a horse going places. Hold Tight, another son of Exceed and Excel to show a distinct liking for synthetic surfaces, was having only his third start at the age of four and did it the hard way following an awkward break from the stalls. Young rider Ali Rawlinson kept a cool head as his mount was initially caught wide before tucking in and, consequently, the Godolphin runner had plenty to do before the home bend. Taking full advantage of a fortuitous split, Rawlinson sent Hold Tight about his business to eventually win a tad cosily from the bang in-form, hat-trick seeking Boomerang Bob (pair well clear).
KALKIR ATR Tracker
(Leopardstown, 17 January)
A Grade 3 Hurdle winner at Fairyhouse on his hurdling debut sporting the Ricci colours, Kalkir could have a big handicap in him. Indeed, Kalkir earned quotes of around 12-1 for next’s month’s Betfair Hurdle at Newbury after chasing home impressive Henry Higgins in this 23-runner (0-150) contest having led briefly on the run to the final flight.
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