Eyecatchers – Updated 10th March

Hello and a very warm welcome to ‘Eyecatchers’ for the 2013-2014 National Hunt Season.

Just to give you some background. I started compiling an eyecatchers list when I was about twelve years old (a long time ago!). It’s been very profitable over the years and in recent times, it has provided me with Festival winners such as: Bertie’s Dream, Alfie Sherrin and Holywell. (33/1, 33/1 and 25/1)

Due to complete lack of time, the latest eyecatchers are listed in name only. On Festival Eve, time is of the essence!



YOUR BUSY (Look at this horse for the Topham Trophy at Aintree)

Horses that have caught my eye that have entries at Cheltenham –









Pay The King (17/11 Cheltenham)

Was quite frankly, given a shocker of a ride in the CJ’s Hurdle at Cheltenham on the concluding day of the Open Meeting. Was taken wide the whole way and made late headway but had no chance from that position. He still finished 5th.

Comenginger (23/11 Ascot)

Had numerous problems when a highly touted recruit with Paul Nicholls last season. Changed hands to Chris Gordon this October. Has had two very encouraging runs, most notably at Ascot when 4th to Kris Cross. He is on a dangerously low mark (111) and is a full brother to the ill-fated Brindisi Breeze, from the family of Royal Auclair.

Alfie Sherrin (23/11 Haydock)

This former Cheltenham Festival winner is heading to the Welsh National and he looks tailor made for the job. Talk of Aintree wouldn’t be out of place either.

Arctic Fire (1/12 Fairyhouse)

Had no luck in running in the Royal Bond and still finished 3rd.

Windsor Park (1/12 Fairyhouse)

No match for Value At Risk but the pair were 8 1/2 lengths clear of the third horse. Has a bumper entry at Leopardstown over Christmas.

Champagne At Tara (7/12 Sandown)

Crying out for a step up in trip. He ran a blinder behind Red Sherlock at Cheltenham that screamed eyecatcher at Sandown. A must for the Nag Me or similar type service.

Mr Watson (8/12 Warwick)

He reappears on the list for the reasons stated in October’s list – Yes he’s mad but he is talented. There will be a day for this fella, keep watching him.

Hawaii Five Nil (13/12 Cheltenham)

A likely blot on the handicap, when transferred to that sphere.

Ballyhooley Boy (13/12 Cheltenham)

Not knocked around to coast home 4th of 19 behind Ballyalton. Holds a few entries over the Christmas period.


Louisville Lip – 4th Gowran Park, 5/10.

I have no doubt that there will be a plan for this horse, I just wish I knew what it was! When you go back through his form, he has won on heavy but he has also run with credit on good. Don’t expect fireworks immediately but he will pop up somewhere, so keep him onside!

Act Of Kalanisi – 6th Cheltenham, 18/10.

6th in a Pertemps Qualifier, which gives them the option of returning in March. I wouldn’t have him on my mind for that at this stage, but nevertheless this performance really was eyecatching. Held up in rear, he then ran on towards the leaders without being able to be a danger. He raced off a mark of 128 and has only been dropped 1lb for that run. Won a h’cap hrdle in soft ground at Ascot in 2011. To my eye, he’s best at 2m3f – 2m5f, hence why I wouldn’t be looking at the Pertemps Final.

Hawaii Five Nil – 4th Cheltenham, 18/10.

Jumped left throughout and came home 18 1/2 lengths behind Lac Fontana in the Maiden Hurdle. Stayed on encouragingly up the hill. He was a useful bumper winner in Ireland in November 2012 when in the care of Eoin Doyle, beating Turnandgo in a Clonmel bumper. That rival went on to score twice afterwards, once back at the Tipperary venue and again at the Punchestown Festival. Shapes like a trip will suit in time.

Malt Master – 12th Cheltenham, 19/10.

Beaten 37 lengths by Johns Spirit, not phased by this. Would be looking at this horse with a Festival handicap in mind.

Mr Watson – 3rd Cheltenham, 19/10.

Yes he’s mad but he is talented. There will be a day for this fella, keep watching him.

Conquisto – 1st Aintree, 26/10

Progressive and no surprise to see him take a below par renewal of the Old Roan Chase. He heads to the Paddy Power next but I cannot see him landing a blow in that, I have my reservations as to whether Cheltenham will suit. However, this lad is tough. I rather fancy his chances back at Aintree in April in something like the Red Rum. He’s tiny and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for him around Prestbury Park. His trainer speaks very highly of him and he is a credit to the yard.

Lienosus – 3rd Chepstow, 26/10

A chaser in the making, already a winner of an Irish point. Has a lot of talent but doesn’t seem to respect the smaller obstacles.

Anay Turge – 5th Cheltenham 18/10 and 2nd Aintree 27/10

Hurdles rating of 121 and a Chase rating of 127. He caught my eye at Cheltenham when staying on when the race had been put to bed in the CJ’s Hurdle on the opening day of the Showcase meeting. Then at Aintree on Sunday, he jumped like a stag when coming up second to Eastlake, Eastlake’s victory was never in danger but for the second time in 9 days, I was impressed with the attitude of Anay Turge.

Waaheb – 4th Naas, 28/10

Make no mistake, the jumping issues will be ironed out. When they are, get on. Would be no surprise to see him absolutely jot up around March /April time.

Competitive Edge – 7th Naas, 28/10.

Ran a lovely race without getting involved, did all his best work at the end.