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.
SCOTTISH NATIONAL HERO HAD AN EXCELLENT SPRING WARM-UP AT NEWBURY
SIDE OF THE ROAD
(Musselburgh, 22 March)
Had shown bits and pieces of form without setting the heather on fire for Borders trainer Donald Whillans, but the combination of good ground and first-time cheek-pieces produced quite a transformation as the mare scooted clear.
Craig Nichol drove his mount into contention two out and Side Of The Road quickly mastered leader Oromo after they had jumped the last in unison.
The winner clocked a very respectable time and can win again.
(Newbury, 22 March)
With his two bumper wins and a victory over fences having come on deep ground, this drying surface wasn’t ideal for Air Navigator, but he ran a solid enough race in finishing third to Bob Mahler and Larry.
Air Navigator is usually campaigned around middle distances but seemed to stay this extended 2m 7f trip well enough, travelling comfortably off the pace before Ciaran Gethings brought him under pressure to close before three out.
He couldn’t quicken with the principals but remains of interest.
(Kelso, 23 March)
Seeking a hat-trick and up another 5lb for scoring at Carlisle last month, Budarri went down with all guns blazing.
Stuart Coltherd’s gelding, still only a six-year-old, led or disputed throughout, gradually drawing clear along with in-form Alizee De Janeiro.
They touched down together over the last but the winner exerted his influence to pull away close home.
Budarri has time on his side and is making up into a decent northern chaser.
(Newbury, 23 March)
Get In The Queue provided Noel Fehily with his widely-expected fairytale farewell winner in the bumper and although the odds-on favourite was well on top in the end, it wasn’t entirely plain sailing.
Prince Llywelyn wasn’t ignored in the betting either, boasting solid each-way credentials following his Wetherby victory in early January, and Kim Bailey’s gelding forced the pace before being headed on the home bend.
He remained close up, however, and David Bass drove Prince Llywelyn back into the firing line, his mount staying on resolutely to deny Nicky Henderson’s promising Fugitives Drift second spot.
Winners will come out of this contest.
(Lingfield, 23 March)
Off the track for 240 days, Ritchie Valens made a pleasing return to action in this one-mile Novice Stakes.
Richard Hannon’s colt raced slightly wide from his awkward draw in stall eight and failed to quicken when asked for his effort by Sean Levey.
(Newbury 23 March)
Rebecca’s Curtis’s gelding was having only his second start since landing the 2018 Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr last April and holds entries in both the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree and the Boylesports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.
Wherever Joe Farrell turns up next, this was an excellent warm-up, chasing home spring-heeled Chic Name after mounting a persistent challenge under Adam Wedge all the way up the straight.