Eyecatchers

Previous Eyecatchers to turn up the heat last week were What’s The Story (12-1), Raucous (10-1), Le Don De Vie (2-1), Tonto’s Spirit (2-1), Yimou (13-8) plus Forest Of Dean (6-4) and form expert Alan Thomson has handpicked ten horses to follow from the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.

  • Tuesday 27 August
  • Blog
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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.

EBOR FESTIVAL EYECATCHERS

ORVAR
(Sky Bet And Symphony Group Handicap, 21 August)

Speedball Dakota Gold produced the perfect curtain-raiser for favourite backers but Orvar shouldn’t be overlooked for future reference.

Paul Midgley has been a dab hand with sprinters for many years and Orvar was doing some good late work in seventh, beaten less than two lengths.

The six-year-old was up 5lb for his Doncaster victory four days earlier (soft) and Jason Watson found himself a little short of room in the closing stages.

Orvar won last September off a 4lb higher mark on good to soft, so this was a signpost to imminent success granted a bit of juice underfoot.

CHARLES KINGSLEY
(Sky Bet Handicap, 21 August)

The jury was out whether Charles Kingsley would stay two miles at this level and the doubters probably won the argument.

Joe Fanning soon had him at the head of affairs, but it was always going to be a daunting challenge trying to repel a whole battery of boarders poised to pounce down the straight.

Charles Kingsley duly faded out of contention (ninth) from the two-furlong marker but he is not one to write off as Mark Johnston will surely find him easier assignments.

Charles Kingsley has already enjoyed a productive (and busy) season, dominating smaller fields to score at Brighton and Newmarket, adding to an easy Hamilton triumph earlier in his campaign.

TROUBADOR
(Sky Bet Nursery Handicap, 21 August)

Michael Dods has had Troubador in terrific form this summer and he came here chasing a four-timer following victories at Thirsk, York and Carlisle.

Although 10lb higher than on his last visit to the Knavesmire, Troubador gave it everything, leading at the furlong pole before losing out by a neck to Owney Madden.

His form figures of 1-2-1-1-1-2 since late May are a credit to his trainer.

QAYSAR
(Clipper Logistics Handicap, 22 August)

Stall one in races of seven furlongs and a mile at York may look good on paper but it often becomes the dreaded ‘coffin box’ if a horse misses the kick or cannot lie up with the pace.

Well-backed Qaysar broke from the inside berth but wasn’t able to take advantage of pole position before making late headway into sixth on the far side of the track, wide of What’s The Story and Vale Of Kent as they fought out an exciting duel.

Qaysar, a winner at Newmarket and Newbury for Richard Hannon, never had the opportunity to strut his stuff and can be marked up on this performance.

MUBTASIMAH
(British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies’ Handicap, 22 August)

Wide smiles from bookmakers greeted the 66-1 success of Excellent Times, while supporters of well-touted Mubtasimah were left scratching their heads after a fairly limp display in sixth.

William Haggas had stripped her for three summer successes at York, Haydock and Newmarket, and there was good reason to believe she was still well enough treated to play a prominent role.

James Doyle gave Mubtasimah every chance up the stands’ side but the daughter of Dark Angel lacked a turn of foot.  She may well have found the drying ground going against her.

EYNHALLOW
(Sky Bet Handicap, 23 August)

Further victory jigs from the layers as 33-1 outsider Tamreer thwarted Frankie Dettori aboard Corelli in another tight finish.

Charlie Appleby’s five-year-old Eynhallow was a bit on edge and sweating, so sixth place wasn’t a bad effort under the circumstances.

He was a dual winner for Roger Charlton a couple of seasons ago off much lower marks but missed more than a year before a comeback fourth at Newmarket earlier this month.

Eynhallow needs to drop a few pounds to trouble the judge and connections could do worse than employ a talented apprentice at some stage.

MALOTRU
(Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes, 23 August)

Warm favourite Threat was a worthy winner on the back of some top-notch juvenile performances so, hopefully, the form will stand up to examination in the weeks ahead.

Malotru, despite mopping up his first two starts for Marco Botti, was allowed to go off a 20-1 shot under Gerald Mosse but the colt outran his odds with an honourable fourth, staying on steadily near the stands’ side after meeting some trouble in running.

He finished his race strongly when scoring at Salisbury (good to soft) in June and looks to be crying out for seven furlongs.

COOLAGH FOREST
(Nationwide Accident Repair Services Handicap, 23 August)

Richard Fahey’s colt has been keeping good company since demolishing his rivals at Musselburgh in May and he was just a little out of his depth in this mile handicap won by Pogo.

However, Coolagh Forest may well have finished closer than eighth but for being hampered on the home bend. Paul Hanagan had to re-group and was soon pushing along, so this was a fair effort under the circumstances.

Coolagh Forest is beginning to look better handicapped again.

FIRST IN LINE
(Sky Bet Melrose Handicap, 24 August)

This 1m 6f contest is often the first port of call for form students prowling for future winners and this year’s renewal is unlikely to prove an exception to the rule.

Hamish came into the race to an extent still unexposed and he proved his class by keeping First In Line at bay, the pair racing wide apart.

First In Line was heavily supported to give crowd-pleasing John Gosden and Frankie Dettori another scalp and the roars went up when First In Line hit the front briefly up the stands’ side over a furlong from home.

Hamish, receiving a valuable 3lb, duly prevailed in another terrific spectacle and this mouth-watering handicap was crammed with winners down the line.

BEN VRACKIE
(Sky Bet Ebor Handicap, 24 August)

Full marks to Ger Lyons and Colin Keane for pulling off a memorable megabucks victory with Mustajeer, a handsome winner on the day, but a mention in despatches goes to Ben Vrackie.

Frankie Dettori had to make a lot of use of his mount to gain a prominent position from a very wide draw and they found themselves rolling along in front after a couple of furlongs.

Thereafter, Ben Vrackie was a sitting target and it was no surprise to see him fading out of the picture (seventh) with the pack snapping at his heels.

It is worth recalling Ben Vrackie was ridden totally differently at Royal Ascot (missed break) when he would have caught Baghdad in another few strides in the 1m 4f Duke Of Edinburgh, and he might be worth persevering with at this longer trip granted a less aggressive ride.

He seems at his best on a sound surface.


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