Eyecatchers

National Hunt Chase winner Minella Rocco (8-1) plus World Hurdle hero Thistlecrack (evs) and ten other winners scored for the column in the past fortnight and form expert Alan Thomson has shortlisted 12 Eyecatchers from the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.

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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.

A DOZEN TO FOLLOW FROM THE 2016 CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL

TOMBSTONE ATR Tracker
(Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle)

Another tip-top renewal with Altior proving too strong for Min, with Gordon Elliott’s Tombstone snatching fourth spot after becoming outpaced when the principals bounded clear.

His trainer excels with this type of horse and Tombstone should do well when launched on his novice chasing career.

THE YOUNG MASTER ATR Tracker
(Ultima Handicap Chase)

Appreciated the drying ground and was spotted going comfortably on the heels of the leaders until the pace lifted three out.

Although The Young Master looked a bit leaden-footed when Un Temps Pour Tout and Holywell forged clear, he stayed on into third. Still only a seven-year-old, he remains open to improvement.

ALOOMOMO ATR Tracker
(Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase)

Punters latched on to Aloomomo in a serious manner, forcing him down to 3-1 favourite in a typically competitive affair.

Assuming a prominent pitch, Aloomomo was going as well as anything for much of the trip before fading turning for home, struggling up the hill to finish sixth.

The six-year-old was 11lb higher for his Newbury win in November but is another with plenty of time on his side.

THE ROMFORD PELE ATR Tracker
(Coral Cup)

Better known as a chaser, The Romford Pele had acquitted himself with credit over hurdles behind Thistlecrack and Ptit Zig in the Cleeve Hurdle at the end of January.

The nine-year-old was rather predictably tapped for toe when the pace lifted coming down the hill but he rallied into eighth, beaten less than four lengths by Diamond King.

Rebecca Curtis is emerging from the doldrums and The Romford Pele looks reasonably handicapped on a mark of 140 here.

HIGH BRIDGE ATR Tracker
(Weatherbys Champion Bumper)

The form of his facile Catterick win has worked out well and John Ferguson harboured high hopes that he could crown a fairly short, but illustrious, training career with a Cheltenham winner.

High Bridge for a long time looked as if he might oblige, travelling strongly under a positive ride from Aidan Coleman but having threatened turning for home ran out of gas up the hill, fading into sixth.

With a pedigree to die for (a son of Monsun out of 1000 Guineas winner Ameerat), High Bridge might be worth a try over middle distances on the Flat this summer.

OUR KAEMPFER ATR Tracker
(Pertemps Network Final)

Returning after a 117-day absence having been brought down at Haydock in November, Our Kaempfer ran a solid race in fifth.

Charlie Longsdon’s seven-year-old was produced between the last two flights, edging right under pressure as winner Mall Dini shifted in the opposite direction. 

He will be of interest if heading to Aintree.

TEA IN TRANSVAAL ATR Tracker
(Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle)

With a 138 rating, Tea In Transvaal was fancied by several shrewd judges to hit the frame behind hotpot Limini, so her finishing position (seventh) could be considered disappointing.

However, unlike several of the horses to finish in front of her, Tea In Transvaal was ridden to win, cutting out much of the donkey work until headed before two out.

Evan Williams’s five-year-old has proved a real money-spinner, rattling off a four-timer at Chepstow in October and scoring again at Newbury’s Hennessy fixture in November.

She was then given a 110-day break, so this was by no means a bad comeback effort.

ALPHA DES OBEAUX ATR Tracker
(Ryanair World Hurdle)

All the superlatives were reserved for Thistlecrack, and rightly so, but Alpha Des Obeaux was magnificent in defeat, especially as his best form previously had come on much deeper ground.

Mouse Morris’s six-year-old can take high rank when sent novice chasing.

CHAMPERS ON ICE ATR Tracker
(Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle)

Overturned previous form with well-supported Shantou Village and went down to Unowhatimeanharry with all guns blazing, especially as he traded blows throughout with Barters Hill.

David Pipe’s grey, a previous course winner, is clearly a stout stayer and earned plenty of plaudits with this courageous display.

SILVERGROVE ATR Tracker
(Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup)

His precision jumping will always stand him in good stead in these big-field handicap chases and Silvergrove served it up to his rivals before Cause Of  Causes arrived late on the scene to motor past his rivals.

Ben Pauling has done well with this lad and more success beckons.

JETSTREAM JACK ATR Tracker
(Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle)

Seemed to idle in front when scoring at Musselburgh in his prep race but the waiting tactics were overdone on Gordon Elliott’s hooded six-year-old.

Jetstream Jack was never at any stage put into the race, staying on into ninth behind Ibis Du Rheu.

He twice ran with credit at Punchestown in December on much softer ground, behind Up For Review and Thomas Hobson respectively, and he is worth close scrutiny in future.

PAINT THE CLOUDS ATR Tracker
(St James’s Palace Foxhunter Chase)

With the Victoria Pendleton media circus in full swing, serious post-race analysis was in short supply but astute race-watchers would have spotted Paint The Clouds’s roubled run from three out.

The 11-year-old filled the same position as last year in third, but he would have given On The Fringe plenty to think about with a clearer passage down on the fence (switched late).

There is still a spring in his step on this good ground.

Alan Thomson's Eyecatchers column is sponsored by SIS - visit www.sis.tv for more information on a range of services for bookmaker and punter.

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