WELCOME to our Eyecatchers column. Every Tuesday 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.
SLATE HOUSE WILL BENEFIT FROM A DROP BACK TO TWO MILES
(Southwell, 23 January)
Twice a winner over course and distance this winter, Midnight Malibu had the misfortune to be berthed on the ‘wrong’ side of the 5f track as Foolaad led a clean sweep of horses drawn near or under the stands’ rail.
Midnight Malibu eventually faded into sixth but Tim Easterby’s mare remains capable on the Fibresand, despite a slightly inflated rating.
(Chelmsford City, 25 January)
Having her third career run, and the second inside five days, Flora Tristan displayed much improved form under 7lb claimer Gabriele Malune.
Flora Tristan took a buffeting at the break but picked up the bridle to soon chase the leaders. Marco Botti’s filly struck the front a furlong out, only to be worn down in the final 50 yards by No More Frills, and on the back of her two quick runs Flora Tristan now qualifies for a mark.
(Doncaster, 26 January)
It was difficult to know what to expect from Wisecracker in this novices’ handicap hurdle as he had gone off 100-1 and 50-1 (twice) during his five career starts.
However, a wind procedure seems to have done the trick as Ben Case’s five-year-old looked a different proposition, leading in the straight before surrendering his advantage at the last flight.
Wisecracker stayed on willingly behind Lord County and the reluctant Peppay Le Pugh, suggesting that better times may lie ahead at a modest level.
(Huntingdon, 26 January)
Returned from a 630-day absence to give winner First Assignment plenty to think about as he closed all the way to the line.
Penn Lane, a strapping individual making his handicap debut, did well to recover from a clumsy leap three out and if Warren Greatrex can keep him fit and healthy there should be races to be won with this lightly-raced seven-year-old.
(Cheltenham, 27 January)
This expensive point winner rather collapsed in a heap between the last two flights as Santini and Black Op fought out a tremendous finish to the Ballymore Classic Novices’ Hurdle, but Slate House may benefit for a return to two miles at this stage of his career.
Colin Tizzard’s gelding, a dual winner in October/November over the minimum trip, travelled well enough under Harry Cobden until the heat was turned on, finishing a tired fifth.
Slate House was conceding 5lb to the placed horses and there are more races to be won with this talented six-year-old, especially when the stable starts firing on all cylinders.
(Sedgefield, 28 January)
This 2m 1f trip was just on the sharp side for Cape Hideaway but he found his stride between the last two flights to give narrow winner Black Art a real scare close home.
Cape Hideaway recorded form figures of 2-2-1 last spring on good ground, so this was an excellent effort on a soft surface.