Eye-Catchers #4 2022

A list of horses that have caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later.

Tiber Flow
15/04/22 – 3.10 Newcastle:

Slightly impeded at the start, although it may not had a dramatic bearing on the outcome of the race as he has the habit of starting slowly. But as a result of this he found himself settling well off the pace and that, indeed, may have been a disadvantage.

He travelled strongly in the pack but couldn’t quite unleash a clear challenge until two furlongs out. In contrast the eventual winner was always handy and had a clear view at the most crucial stage of the race.

Tiber Flow was slightly switched over a furlong from home to thunder home on the stands’ side and nearly reeled in the winning favourite, who is a 107 rated and vastly more experienced rival.

Visuals and sections as well tell the same story: Tiber Flow was unlucky not to win.

Tiber Flow came here with a progressive profile, but clearly made a dramatic jump, running to a 103 topspeed rating while only rated 94. Surely the handicapper will rectify this gap. That won’t matter because this lad is a Group horse in the making.

How good? We’ll see. Clearly the way he finished here at Newcastle suggests he wants to go back to 7 furlongs, which looks ideal on pedigree too.

Ex Gratia
15/04/22 – 3.30 Lingfield:

From the widest draw she was soon trailing the field, although, different to all her other career runs, she started more alertly this time. Perhaps, the penny starts to drop – albeit slowly.

The race was certainly dominated by the front group with the winner and runner-up always up or close to the pace. The eventual winner kicked away and was way too good, running to an impressive topspeed rating.

In that context, also the horses finishing behind ran to solid TS ratings, giving this form a rock solid look. Ex Gratia never landed a blow, though. But she was in the worst possible position as the pace increased, and also didn’t quite seem to enjoy the sharp home turn.

What caught my eye was how easily she was finishing in the closing stages, though. Passing horses easily and closing to the main bunch without an overly animated Luke Morris in the saddle (especially if one accounts for his normally highly animated and aggressive style of riding).

This filly is obviously a temperamental, backward one. She is already four but only started racing in December. She showed plenty of promise but also plenty of quirks. The way she dismantled her rivals at Southwell – albeit a poor bunch – on her second career start remains a vivid impression.

Connections must have been impressed too as they where throwing her into the deep end at Newcastle against well seasoned high-class sprinters the next time. She faded in the closing stages but wasn’t disgraced.

The handicapper gave her an 80 opening mark which is hard to gauge whether it’s too high or too lenient. My feeling is 6 furlongs is too sharp, despite all the speed in the pedigree – but she is a half-sister to a 10f winner also.

I imagine her rating may drop a couple of pounds and if that is the case I will be interested in her over 7 furlongs. I am not ruling out a mile either. But want to see her at a less sharp track.

Race Replay

Alpha Cru
16/04/22 – 5.15 Nottingham:

From the second widest draw she was hampered early on which meant she couldn’t get close up with the pace, which is the filly’s preferred style of racing. Travelling in rear of the field she made a bit of progress in the home straight but was short of room over 2 furlongs out.

Even with a clear run from that point she wouldn’t have won, given the eventual winner ran away with it here. But it’s reasonable to argue that if things went more here way she would have finished perhaps in the placings. Eventually she finished well enough under hands and heels in my eyes.

Alpha Cru was progressive as a three-year-old last season. She won three times and performed with credit the other two times she raced in 2021. Particularly the final run last year was quite exceptional in my view.

Of her current mark there is not much scope over a mile, however her pedigree and the way she has seen out her races over that trip, gives rise to hope that a step up in trip will bring out additional improvement.

She may drop below a 80 mark now, which, if she goes up to 10 furlongs will be interesting. It’s worth waiting for that and keep tracking her for the day that’ll come probably sooner rather than later.

Race Replay

Ajrad
16/04/22 – 6.00 Lingfield:

Received a bump soon after the start that lit him up. Keen and pulling for much of the race as a consequence, yet travelling much the best approaching the home turn. He’s on the heels of a rival ahead, having to be pulled back, costing momentum.

He takes the shortest route and is brave when going through gaps on the inside finishing the final two furlongs the fastest, but the winner and runner-up had first run and were impossible to catch in the home straight.

He is still a maiden after 13 runs, even though placed on nine occasions. He tends to find misfortune in races, but also doesn’t always help himself when breaking slowly.

He is clearly ripe to win of his current handicap mark, though. Granted the handicapper isn’t harsh after this promising run. He was runner-up of 6lb higher in a class 3 Handicap last summer. A return to turf for a low-grade 7 furlong Handicap will see him with a massive chance.

Race Replay

Pop Dancer
19/04/22 – 1.50 Epsom:

This was a wild finish which could have gone many different ways on the day I feel. Pop Dancer was one of those who travelled strongly but didn’t get the gap when he needed it from two furlongs out. Horses where shifting around and whenever there an opening for a split second it closed as quickly again.

Late on there was space for a challenge but the bird was flown and he wasn’t helped by hanging down the cumber, which meant he finished poorly in the end.

The 5-year-old had a really poor last term, although comes down to a good mark and has shown in the past to be a quality sprinter. His previous topspeed ratings give him a great chance of his current 69 mark, especially as I feel his wellbeing has been confirmed with this run.

Pub Crawl
19/04/22 – 4.30 Epsom:

Travelled in rear always on the inside which would come to bite him in the home straight. When asked to improve his position from 4 furlongs out he made rapid progress but got caught between the leading trio from over 2f out, being slightly short of room and with no other option than to delay his challenge.

He looks a bit flat footed until switched over 1.5 furlongs from home when he hits top gear to thunder home and grab second place.

The way he finished matched the visual impression created three weeks earlier on his seasonal reappearance at Leicester when finishing strongly in the closing stages over 7 furlongs.

There is enough stamina on the dam side to suggest he can stay 10 furlongs. He was hitting the line at Epsom full of running over the 8.5f trip. So I’d be really interested if he steps up in distance and if the handicapper isn’t too harsh, i.e. a hike to 80 and above.

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