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.
A SEXTET WHO SHOWCASED THEIR TALENTS AT CHELTENHAM
(Matchbook Most Trusted Betting Exchange Novices’ Chase, 25 October)
Favourite backers looked sure to collect as market leader Wholestone lobbed along at the head of affairs, jumping proficiently in the main apart from a miscalculation at the 14th.
However, he found Mulcahys Hill a game and doughty rival when the chips were down and Wholestone had to give way close home.
Some of his best days have come at Prestbury Park and in all likelihood, he’ll be targeting one of the better races here as the season unfolds.
(Two Farmers Crisps Handicap Hurdle, 25 October)
Trans Express had finished seventh and fifth in this race previously and was a 40-1 shot to make it third-time lucky.
He deserved a better return than eighth spot behind Duke Street, doing a lot of the spade work until fading on the run to the final flight.
He was 6lb higher than when scoring in March at Exeter, where he has won five times (his other success came at Leicester, another right-hand circuit), but should remain competitive back in slightly lesser grade.
PETER THE MAYO MAN
(‘Matchbook Betting Exchange Podcast’ Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, 25 October)
Judging from his derisory 33-1 starting price not much was expected on Peter The Mayo Man’s comeback from a 403-day absence.
This was only his second outing for Dan Skelton since leaving the Paul Nicholls yard more than a year ago and this spin over hurdles, following a final-fence fall in a handicap chase at Worcester last September, may well have been designed as a confidence-booster.
Peter The Mayo Man, held up, was almost tailed off starting down the hill before finding his stride late, staying on into seventh behind Benny’s Bridge.
If the handicapper relents a little, the gelding looks capable of winning again on his preferred sound surface.
(Matchbook Best Value Betting Exchange Novices’ Chase, 26 October)
Slate House returned to action with a bang and fingers crossed he can build on this facile success following another lengthy absence.
He looked destined for a bright future when showing his liking for Cheltenham’s Old course two seasons ago, mopping up two hot novice hurdles in October and November.
Colin Tizzard’s gelding has been bedevilled by wind problems but appears back to his best, coasting to victory under a confident Robbie Power.
His owners deserve further reward for their patience.
THE BUTCHER SAID
(Randox Health Novices’ Hurdle, 26 October)
Showed the benefit of a wind procedure when racking up four straight victories last season and he was a bit unfortunate to run into such a tough customer in Welsh Grand National runner-up Ramses De Teillee, reverting to a novice hurdle before tackling good company back over fences.
The Butcher Said was untested on such extreme ground but seemed to handle it well enough.
Owner Max McNeill has some smashing horses in his portfolio and The Butcher Said would be near the top of his ‘expected’ list for the season ahead.
(Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Standard Open NH Flat Race, 26 October)
Impressive winner Time Flies By looked useful sporting the JP McManus colours and this bumper usually throws up its fair share of winners.
Paul Nicholls has a nice type on his hands in the shape of handsome Barbados Buck’s, not knocked about on the very testing ground by Harry Cobden once his chance had gone.
Andy Stewart’s gelding was easy to bet in the ring and should be a different proposition next time.