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 CRAVEN MEETING
(Weatherbys TBA Handicap, 16 April)
Kevin Ryan’s gelding finished third in a handicap at this meeting last season and was expected to make a bold show on the back of a promising effort at Doncaster last month.
It developed into something of a nightmare, however, with Tommy Taylor sweating and edgy beforehand.
He then missed the break slightly and pulled hard, giving Tom Eaves no chance of settling his mount into a rhythm.
Just to compound matters, Tommy Taylor then encountered trouble over a furlong out and was eased down to finish last of 15 behind Flavius Titus.
The five-year-old has looked a little tricky in the past but has the latent talent to do much better, especially if the handicapper does his bit.
Tommy Taylor ran in cheek-pieces for most of last season so it would be no surprise to see them dusted off again.
(bet365 Handicap, 17 April)
Stuart Williams plundered the Group 3 Abernant Stakes later in the day with 66-1 outsider Keystroke after Don Armado had performed with credit in the opener.
His colt came here fighting fit following three runs on the all-weather, the pick coming at Newcastle when third to Deep Intrigue in February, but he didn’t enjoy a clean run through, having been tightened up two out.
Richard Kingscote had to switch and Don Armado stayed on into seventh behind front-running Top Breeze.
Don Armado, a six-furlong specialist on quick ground, scored twice last year in midsummer, at Goodwood and Nottingham, and is back down to a winning mark granted similar conditions.
(Coates & Seely Blanc De Blancs Handicap, 17 April)
An opening UK mark of 78 looks a bit high for the ex-Aidan O’Brien gelding but new trainer Chris Wall will probably consider he has something to work with on this evidence.
The Corporal ran four times last season in Ireland, all in maidens, with his Naas third in October, when attempting to make all, the pick of the bunch.
The Corporal was sent off a 66-1 chance for this mile contest and travelled well enough under George Wood until coming under pressure and finding himself a bit short of room over two out.
He plugged on into seventh spot behind Alan King’s Aweedram and may have preferred an easier surface.
POWER OF DARKNESS
(Coates & Seely Brut Reserve Handicap, 18 April)
A cracking one-mile contest, with Beringer just hanging on from Marcus Tregoning’s Power Of Darkness.
The winner brought strong handicap form into the race and Power Of Darkness, a dual Salisbury winner last June on quick ground, was returning from a 295-day absence following a wind procedure, so this has to go down as a personal best under Hayley Turner.
The four-year-old has had only five career starts and should remain competitive granted a dry summer.
(bet365 Earl Of Sefton Stakes, 18 April)
Having missed the kick and racing a little wide, Mustashry was never in the ideal slot but this outing will have put him spot-on for another successful campaign.
He beat Zabeel Prince, giving him 5lb, in the Group 2 Shadwell Joel Stakes at HQ last September.
ON THE WARPATH
(bet365 Handicap, 18 April)
The market couldn’t split Charlie Appleby’s pair On The Warpath and Mubtasim, and the 5-2 joint favourites duly fought out the finish.
On The Warpath held a verdict over his stablemate in Meydan at the end of February but the tables were turned in this 7f contest, with William Buick stealing a march on front-running Mubtasim to beat On The Warpath by a length.
The runner-up failed by a nose to catch Vale Of Kent in the Qatar Handicap at Goodwood last summer and seems destined for another productive year for the boys in blue.