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.
100-1 TURBAN NO HEAD-BANGER BET FOR MULLINS IN GRAND NATIONALJONNY DELTA ATR Tracker
(Musselburgh, 17 February)
After a spell in the doldrums, Jonny Delta has been coaxed back to form by Jim Goldie. The nine-year-old has now run two cracking races at Musselburgh, chasing home handicap snip So Satisfied from off the pace before bold front-running tactics were employed here.
Jonny only gave way halfway up the run-in against consistent Teo Vivo and Goldie has a masterful touch with these old boys (Nanton and Dhaular Dhar spring readily to mind). Jonny has slipped to a lowly mark on the Flat and would be something to bet on either at Musselburgh or Ayr, two of his favourite tracks.TORREON ATR Tracker
(Wolverhampton, 19 February)
The five-year-old didn’t see a racecourse until earlier this month, finishing a promising fourth in a seven-furlong maiden for Phil McEntee. Torreon reappeared over course and distance, this time under the tutelage of John Ryan, and outran his 20-1 odds by making inspired gamble Ikerrin Road work hard all the way down the straight.
Torreon is a well-bred son of High Chaparral out of Rae Guest’s Nashwan mare Teide Lady, so even better can reasonably be expected when stepped up in trip.JAADU ATR Tracker
(Wolverhampton, 19 February)
Mick Channon has his all-weather string in good nick and Jaadu was beaten only on the nod by odds-on Dream Mover. Winner of a 16-runner Glorious Goodwood nursery, Jaadu was returning from a 184-day absence and proved he has trained on from his juvenile days.TURBAN ATR Tracker
(Fairyhouse, 20 February)
Willie Mullins dominated an exciting climax to the Attheraces Bobbyjo Chase, with Turban filling the minor berth behind Boston Bob and On His Own. This was the nine-year-old's first outing in 297 days and I thought it was a highly creditable Crabbie's Grand National trial.
Bookmakers were far more dismissive and Turban is available at 100-1 in several places. The gelding isn't overburdened at Aintree with 10st 10lb and could well run into a place, especially if he gets his favoured decent ground (beat Rubi Light last February at Clonmel on good to soft).
Turban was still travelling well enough when coming to grief in last year's Topham Chase and that track experience should stand him in good stead. Mullins has assembled a 'Magnificent 7' Grand National posse and Turban is worth an each-way bullet (five places).DUKE DES CHAMPS ATR Tracker
(Haydock, 20 February)
Handicappers rarely err on the side of leniency these days and Duke Des Champs was up 11lb for last month's wide-margin Ascot victory over 2m 5f. However, the imposte may not have been the major reason for his disappointing third to Jonniesofa as Duke Des Champs didn't appear to stay this three-mile trip on deep ground.
Philip Hobbs knows he has a lovely six-year-old on his hands and the master trainer will be plotting the next stage of the gelding's career with customary care.STEELRIVER ATR Tracker
(Wolverhampton, 22 February)
Having only his second spin for David Barron (previously with Michael Herrington), Steelriver had shown promise on his comeback at Lingfield behind Spring Loaded (winner since).
Drawn wide in stall 10 in this valuable and competitive Unibet-sponsored five furlong dash, Steelriver was restrained and tucked in by the 'head waiter' George Baker. The six-year-old was too far adrift to mount a serious challenge but finished on the heels of the principals, beaten just over two lengths, despite meeting slight interference.
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