WELCOME to our Eyecatchers column. Every week 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.
SIX TO FOLLOW FROM THE DANTE FESTIVAL
(Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes, 15 May)
Invincible Army overpowered his rivals in the Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster’s Lincoln fixture and proved a cut above in this intriguing Group 2 event.
Back in third place, Richard Hannon’s Yafta found himself inconvenienced by drawn on the wing out in stall one but was doing some solid work through the final furlong.
Runner-up in the Abernant Stakes at HQ last month, Yafta should remain competitive in Group 2/3 company.
(Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes, 16 May)
Roger Varian’s colt had made such an explosive impression when scoring at Newcastle at the end of April that he was well touted for this prestigious Derby trial, despite the huge elevation in grade.
As the race unfolded it gradually became clear his backers were never going to be rewarded as held-up Surfman had no prospect of landing a blow.
Andrea Atzeni was by no means hard on Surfman, with his mount grabbing third spot close home, and although Surfman holds an Investec Derby entry, he may be better suited by the King Edward VII Stakes over 1m 4f at Royal Ascot.
WHAT’S THE STORY
(Matchbook Betting Podcast Hambleton Handicap, 16 May)
Having his second run since a gelding operation, What’s The Story quickened decisively under Joe Fanning to pull clear in the final 100 yards of this tough-to-call one-mile contest.
The Keith Dalgleish-trained five-year-old had shaped with promise 13 days earlier at Newcastle when a running-on third to Godolphin’s Dubai Legacy and, encouraged by that performance, the cash was down.
His Glasgow owner John Wright enjoyed a week to remember having seen Soldier’s Minute bolt up by three lengths on the Knavesmire in a 6f handicap the previous day, then topping things off nicely by landing a double at his local Hamilton track on Friday evening with Glasvegas and Universal Gleam, the quartet all trained by Dalgleish.
(Langley Solicitors British EBF Marygate Fillies’ Stakes, 17 May)
Kevin Ryan’s debutante looked in danger of becoming tailed off before halfway in this five-furlong Listed sprint but she finally got the message, finishing with a flourish into an unlikely fourth spot behind Good Vibes.
This experience shouldn’t be lost on the daughter of Dutch Art.
(British EBF Frank Whittle Partnership Fillies’ Handicap, 17 May)
Having only her fourth start for Stuart Williams, and her first in a handicap, Breathtaking Look belied odds of 16-1 by losing out in a blanket finish.
Breathtaking Look won on debut at Yarmouth last September before adding to that tally at Newcastle in November, and this was a most encouraging return to action.
(Longines Irish Champions Weekend Handicap, 17 May)
Sir Michael Stoute’s colt took quite a grip going to post under Ryan Moore but that didn’t deter punters supporting Laafy into 2-1 favourite for what looked a hotly-contested 1m 4f handicap.
Laafy settled well enough in the race itself but was made to look quite pedestrian at the business end as Mark Johnston’s trail-blazer Summer Moon proceeded to gallop his rivals into submission in the manner of a fast-improver.
Powerfully-built Laafy, a previous winner at Leicester, should continue his progression through the summer.