GG tipster Andrew Mount reveals his list of eyecatchers from the past week’s racing. Check them out below and GET A RISK FREE £10 FREE BET AT TOTE
BARBADOS BUCK’S (won, 3m novices’ hurdle, Kempton, Saturday, January 9)
It was an advantage to race wide in the hurdle races – despite what Mick Fitzgerald said on ITV - and BARBADOS BUCK’S impressed in this 3m novice contest after racing closer to the inside rail than his rivals. He’s three from three since an eyecatching second from off the pace at Stratford on his hurdling debut and will reportedly be rested before a spring campaign, which might include a crack at the Albert Bartlett.
CASTLE QUARTER (second, 1m handicap, Southwell, Sunday, January 10)
CASTLE QUARTER, running without his usual headgear, was heavily backed on his debut for Mick Appleby but had to settle for a two and three-quarter length second. His two wins for Seb Spencer came at Newcastle in first-time headgear (cheekpieces and blinkers) and a return to Tapeta could see him go one better in the near future.
CHTI BALKO (fifth, 2m handicap hurdle, Kempton, Saturday, January 9)
There were five horses still in contention as the runners turned into the straight for Kempton’s finale last Saturday, with the three who came wide towards the stands’ side finishing first, second and fourth. CHTI BALKO faded into fifth after taking the inside route and can be given another chance. His five career wins have come in small fields on soft or heavy ground, three of them at Haydock.
FRANSHAM (fifth, 2m handicap hurdle, Kempton, Saturday, January 9)
FRANSHAM did best of those to stick to the inside when third in the same race as Chti Balko (see above). Pam Sly’s seven-year-old won here in April 2019 but his other four wins have come at Wetherby where his full record reads 211511 (4-6).
HUNTERS CALL (third, 2m5f handicap hurdle, Kempton, Saturday, January 9)
HUNTERS CALL raced hard up against the inside rail for much of the Lanzarote Hurdle, doing really well to finish a close-up third. The 66-1 winner Boreham Bill was wide throughout and Hunters Call, who had fared best of the closers when third at Aintree the time before, deserves to win a good handicap hurdle this term.
LIAMBA (third, 7f handicap, Southwell, Sunday, January 10)
LIAMBA looks to have been revitalised by the switch to Mick Appleby, scoring over course and distance last month and doing well to finish third after missing the break this time. The winner and second were in the first two pretty much throughout and she left the firm impression that she would have gone close had she not blown the start.
SIZABLE SAM (won, 2m5f handicap hurdle, Wincanton, Saturday, January 9)
SIZABLE SAM, as the name suggests, is a big old unit and Jeremy Scott’s six-year-old took his career record to 21211 (3-5) when gamely holding on in this 2m5f handicap hurdle. Twice a non-runner because of soft ground, he looks one to improve in the spring when encountering quicker going and a more galloping track. Post-race, his trainer said “..he was bought as a 3m chaser and that’s exactly what he is.’
SMARTY WILD (won, 2m4.5f handicap chase, Kempton, Saturday, January 9)
SMARTY WILD’s patient running style had left him vulnerable when third at Ascot last time and it was good to see Richard Johnson sit handy on the Philip Hobbs-trained seven-year-old, a previous eyecatcher at Wetherby in November His jumping was still not 100% perfect but, after losing ground with a mistake at the tenth fence, he rallied gamely to score by one length from Nicky Henderson’s Pistol Whipped. All five of his wins have come on right-handed tracks.
THE BAY BIRCH (third, 2m4.5f handicap chase, Kempton, Saturday, January 9)
THE BAY BIRCH tends to go off the boil in the depths of winter before returning to form in February/March time. He was a respectable third here and will be much more interesting next time. His record from February to May reads 121121171128 (7-12) with the latest defeat coming at the Cheltenham festival when a 50-1 shot.
THOMAS DARBY (third, 2m5f Grade 2 hurdle, Kempton, Saturday, January 9)
THOMAS DARBY, like Hunters Call ridden by Aidan Coleman, also took the inside route on the slower ground. He hit the front plenty soon enough in the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle and was run out of it by McFabulous and On The Blind Side, who both raced closer to the nearside rail. He rallied after the last flight to almost grab second, finishing two and a half lengths behind the winner. This was a huge effort given his poor track position and he could yet make up into a Stayers’ Hurdle prospect.
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