Welcome to the attheraces.com Eyecatchers column. Every week Rhys Williams will pinpoint horses primed to strike in the next few weeks, if not days. Remember, you can add Rhys's weekly updates to your ATR Tracker.
Tower Bridge An Early Pertemps Candidate
Happygolucky was a comfortable winner on chasing debut at Stratford and was sent off at 4-9 to follow up at Fakenham. He led from the off and generally jumped well apart from a mistake at the sixth fence. He was briefly shaken along turning down the back on the final circuit and again came under driving leaving the back with a two-length lead. He was strongly pressed by Getaway Trump turning the final bend, and they jumped the last together before that rival got on top on the run-in to win by half a length.
4-9 beaten favourite wouldn’t be an obvious horse to view positively, but I
think these were unsuitable circumstances for Happygolucky. A very tight track
certainly wouldn’t suit him and he’s looked best tracking leaders in a well-run
race, so having to set his own pace, and looking idle wouldn’t have suited
either. He will be suited by a strongly-run big field handicap at the Festival,
and sensible placement on his third run will be required to keep his rating on
142, with that in mind.
Gladiateur Allen was well backed on his debut at Ffos Las and showed that support was well founded with a good run in defeat. He raced a bit keenly under restraint towards the back of the field through the first circuit before making headway turning the final bend. He travelled smoothly into third at 3 out and looked to be going best 2 out, but the horse immediately in front knocked the flight down and caused Gladiateur Allen to jump/land awkwardly. Shaken along and put under pressure to regain his momentum, he stayed on well but couldn’t challenge Pats Fancy, beaten 2¼ lengths.
This was a very promising debut and Gladiateur Allen may have won but for the unlucky incident. This also shows he handles testing conditions and he shouldn’t be long in getting off the mark this winter.
The fields in Pertemps qualifiers tend to be split into two groups, with those present because connections think it’s good prize money, and those who clearly have the Pertemps Final at the Festival in mind. Tower Bridge certainly looked to fit into the latter category prior to his run at Market Rasen, and shaped promisingly on his first start for 328 days. He was held up and was still there, travelling well, leaving the back straight for the final time. Nudged along on the run to 2 out, he couldn’t go with the front four, but stayed on well on the run in to finish 5½ lengths behind the winner in fourth.
This was Tower Bridge’s first run over hurdles since finishing third in the Grade 1 Sefton at Aintree in 2018, with a mixed bag of performances over fences during the interim. This was a promising run having been poorly positioned, and he looks a candidate for the Pertemps Final where a bigger field and stronger pace will suit.
Pushkin was the only newcomer in the opening novices’ hurdle at Wincanton,
showing a good level of ability and plenty of greenness. Held up towards the
back, his jumping lacked fluency, but got on to the back of the main pack
turning out of the back straight, soon pushed along. Switched towards the
outside in the straight, he made rapid headway to almost join the leaders but
wandered around going to 2 out, landing a bit awkwardly. Put under stronger
pressure, he plugged on into fourth, beaten 11¾ lengths.
Considering how green he was, Café Pushkin did very well to get into contention to 2 out. He’s likely to improve plenty and is capable of winning over hurdles this season.
Time Flies By showed promise in two starts in good company over hurdles last season and started this season with another encouraging run at Ascot. Held up at the back, he raced a shade keenly and got in tight both at 4 and 3 out, but was still travelling well approaching the final bend behind the leading pair. Angled towards the near side and pushed along entering the straight, he couldn’t go with Danny Kirwan and got in tight again 2 out. Put under stronger pressure, he stayed on between the last two hurdles, but another mistake at the last took away any chance he had of winning, beaten 3½ lengths in second.
Time Flies By has been given an opening rating of 129, which could look lenient if putting in a slicker round of jumping. A bigger field is likely to help, so that he can settle in the early stages, and he’s one to look out for if making the big handicaps.
Jog On returned from a 613-day absence and ran much better than the market predicted. He raced in midfield where his jumping was sloppy with mistakes coming at the second, fifth and sixth hurdles. Further small errors resulted in being pushed along on the long run to 2 out, but he soon came back on the bridle to travel well behind the leaders on the final bend. He was angled to the outside and responded well, moving up to challenge at 2 out, before put under stronger pressure between the last two hurdles, keeping on gamely to finish 3½ lengths back in fourth.
Considering this was his first run after a long break, it was a very promising run. He’s a chaser on looks and I expect that’s where his future is - he can progress well in staying handicap chases in the long term.
There were plenty of connections with high hopes entering the bumper at Ascot and the race lived up to expectations. Among the beaten horses, Top Of The Bill showed plenty of promise on his debut. Held up on the outside at the back, he started to make headway leaving Swinley Bottom but was briefly shaken along as he showed greenness. He continued to be nudged along intermittently to maintain focus and was pushed along more vigorously shortly before the final bend. He picked up in the straight, but had his momentum checked when switching to the near rail for a clear run. Put under stronger pressure, he ran on strongly despite edging to the right, finishing 2¼ lengths behind in third.
Given the clear signs of inexperience, this was a very promising start. Physically he looks a long-term prospect, so I expect they might take things steadily this season and reap the benefits over obstacles in the future.
Nothing Man was well backed for his first start for Sam Allwood and while not landing those bets, he showed enough to suggest he won’t be long in breaking his maiden. He raced enthusiastically under restraint in midfield, travelling very well before Charlie Price took a pull at 3 out to avoid making his challenge too soon. However, he was pushed along soon after and briefly left behind by the front pair early in the straight. He rallied under strong pressure before being left in second at the last, but couldn’t catch First Man, beaten by 1½ lengths.
The way Nothing Man travelled suggested he was ahead of his mark, and may have lacked fitness on his first run for 253 days. He’s been upped 3lb, but I expect him to add to the list of horses formerly trained by David Dennis that have been winning this season.
Ronde de Nuit made a promising debut on the Flat at Angers in June for Etienne Leenders and was bought subsequently by JP McManus. She made her hurdling debut at Exeter and again showed promise. Keen under restraint in a steadily run race early, she jumped the first hurdle in the back straight near last. She got in a shade close to the third hurdle in the back before making headway to the back of the leading group 3 out, jumping it in close fourth but was jumped across by a rival and landed a bit flat footed. Only ridden hands and heels, she closed at 2 out but had nothing left approaching the last , fading be beaten 15¼ lengths in fifth.
Although well beaten, this was a promising start over hurdles given she was poorly positioned early and made headway going uphill into an even pace, which is likely to leave its mark late on. Better ground will help, and she’s capable of winning a juvenile hurdle this season.