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.
DAVID EVANS CAN EXPLOIT ATHLETIC'S LOWLY MARK
This three-time winner over hurdles has taken a few runs to break his duck over fences but it looks a case of onwards and upwards after this quite emphatic success.
Held up, Captain Redbeard moved up menacingly emerging from the back straight and was sent for home before four out.
With the race in the bag barring accidents, the eight-year-old threw in a huge leap at the last just to underline his superiority under a well-judged ride.
A fine servant to Andrew Reid for many years, Athletic was having his second start for new trainer David Evans.
Punters backed the eight-year-old into favouritism but, following a sloppy break, he proved no match for chief market rival Fire Diamond.
Athletic hasn’t won since 2015 and has dropped to his lowest mark in almost four years, which his new connections should be able to exploit at lowly Class 6 level. (Athletic runs in the 5.50 at Wolverhampton on Tuesday)
Roger Charlton stepped his three-year-old gelding up to 1m 2f after a promising debut (sixth), again at Lingfield, over a shorter trip a fortnight earlier.
On this occasion Abaad was stuck horribly wide throughout, then hung a little in the straight, eventually staying on into fourth spot behind Fashion Business, beaten less than two lengths.
He probably ran to a mark of around 70 which will make him interesting when sent handicapping at a modest level further down the line.
Jonjo O’Neill has brought the five-year-old along very steadily since Quarenta was beaten on the nod by The Blue Bomber in an all-weather bumper at Lingfield a year ago.
The five-year-old is now qualified for a handicap mark following this creditable fourth to useful Air Horse One, running on into fourth spot after the principals had caught him flat-footed in the straight.
Returning from a 277-day absence, Southfield Royale was well backed to land the Sky Bet Chase but never showed up.
There were mitigating circumstances, however, as Neil Mulholland’s gelding was hampered in a scramble for room over the first two fences and was knocked right out of his rhythm.
It should pay to ignore his abysmal run and this dual novice chase winner on deep ground, and subsequently a very good fourth to Minella Rocco in the 2016 National Hunt Chase and runner-up behind Tea For Two in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton, remains a seven-year-old possessing plenty of potential.
There was carnage in the Timeform Novices’ Chase and Potters Legend was hampered at the third last when just threading his way into contention.
Although no match for Royal Vacation, Lucy Wadham’s seven-year-old found his stride up the hill to take second and this dual winner in November (Kempton and Bangor) continues to make steady progress at a decent level.