Eye Catchers April 2023

Intent Approach – 2nd in 6.05 Punchestown 29/04/23

It’s not too often a Charles Byrnes horse finishes in the frame at odds of 18/1.The thinking would be that Intent Approach ran well above expectations and stayed on gamely to finish second. He was ridden a long way out and Full Metal Jacket and Goldinthemountains travelled all over him up to the furlong pole before Intent Approach outstayed them. He could find a suitable Bumper before going Hurdling. One to keep an eye on especially if there is strong market support.

Iberico Lord – 2nd in 1.05 Sandown 29/04/23

Iberico Lord was given a head scratching ride by Aidan Coleman and if you had him backed you would have been fuming. He followed the winner and stablemate Under Control throughout the race and Aidan Coleman let Under Control get first run on him before making some effort to catch her. I thought it didn’t look good for the integrity of racing but JP McManus owned the first two home and that will be the end of that. Iberico Lord is definitely capable of winning a Handicap Hurdle off this mark of 120 whenever connections decide.

Farland – 4th in 6.00 Punchestown 25/04/23

Farland was the horse to take out of the Goffs Bumper on Day One of the Punchestown festival. He is by the smart mare Askanna and is a half brother to Minella Cocooner who is a Grade One winner. You might not see this horse on this side of the Irish sea again but he is definitely one for next year. He was as green as could be here on his first run and Derek O’ Connor had to drop him back among horses to try and get him to settle. In doing so he had to ride for luck which he didn’t get and after hanging across the track he was a huge eyecatcher staying on for fourth. A pair for Willie Mullins and a Gordon Elliott horse finished ahead of him and I would imagine they had a lot more schooling done than Farland. He could turn out to be a graded level horse.

Luckie Seven – 2nd in 5.20 Ayr 22/04/23

Luckie Seven looks like a smart horse for the Nicky Richards team. He was second on debut before winning his Bumper at Doncaster. He looked the winner of this for a long way only to be outstayed by the well punted Charles Byrnes runner Bumble Bee Bet. He was giving weight to the rest of the field and travelled like a nice horse just to be out done near the line. He should be capable of picking up a Maiden Hurdle next time and has plenty of speed.

The First And Last – 2nd in 1.58 Cork 21/04/23


The First And Last took a giant step forward from his debut run when eight of eleven at the Curragh over 7 furlongs last June. The step up to a mile seemed to really suit him and I loved the way he put his head down to be just denied by the 40/1 Joseph Murphy trained Mr Lincoln. He was in a prominent position throughout and was one of the first to be pushed along but still kept finding for pressure. He should improve for that experience and should be capable of winning a Maiden soon.

Qualimita – 1st in 2.30 Fairyhouse P2P 21/04/23

It’s not too often I put up a point to point winner in my weekly eyecatchers but this Walter O’ Connor owned Mare is one for the horse tracker. She won a four year old Mares Maiden by 30 lengths at Fairyhouse. Trained by Colin Bowe and ridden by Barry O’ Neill this daughter of Muhtathir never came off the bridle on her way to winning by 30 lengths and looked to be a bit special. She could be a top Novice on the track next year and it will be interesting to see where she ends up.

Capodanno – Pulled Up in 5.15 Aintree 15/04/23

Capodanno ran a lovely race in the National, pulling up before the last when he was beginning to tire and saved for next year. This horse will be laid out for this race next year as I am convinced this was just a trial run with connections aware this was a year too early for him. He has some good past form having beaten Lifetime Ambition by 6 lengths in a 3 miles Grade One Novices’ Chase at the Punchestown festival last year.  He has been very lightly raced since and don’t be surprised if Capodanno is back for this race next year. You can get 50/1 with Unibet paying 5 places.

Strong Leader – 2nd in 2.55 Aintree 14/04/23

Strong Leader never travelled a yard in this race until after jumping the last Hurdle and then ran on strongly to the line. His pedigree would suggest he is capable of stepping up to 2m 4f next season and the manner in which he finished this race would confirm that. He doesn’t like Heavy ground may be better on Autumn or Spring ground. He finished ninth, best of the British in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and confirmed that behind Inthepocket here. They may go down the Handicap route with this horse and he could be targeted at one of the festivals in the Spring on better ground. He now has an official mark of 143.

Dysart Enos – 1st in 5.15 Aintree 13/04/23

Dysart Enos was very impressive when running out a 9 lengths winner of the Mares flat race at Aintree. She is unbeaten in three flat races for trainer Fergal O’ Brien and improved on the potential shown when beating Queens Gamble at Market Rasen. She is a very smart Mare and will be challenging in all the Mares Novice Hurdles in Britain next year. It will be interesting to see what Fergal O’ Brien will target her for next year but she will hold high ranks in the Novice Hurdles category on that performance.

Whiskey Wealth – Fell in 4.20 Fairyhouse 09/04/23

I tipped Whiskey Wealth in this race for the main service and thought he would go close when falling at the last in this Novice Handicap Chase. Dinoblue stayed on to win by 9 ½ lengths and she was well fancied in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham when finishing second behind Maskada. Whiskey Wealth is now rated 127 over fences but has a mark of 113 over Hurdles. You would imagine he could pick up a Hurdle race off that mark if finding life tough over fences now on a career high mark.

Ferns Lock – 3rd in 2.45 Fairyhouse 08/04/23

The unbeaten Ferns Lock was sent off 4/11 favourite when beaten into third by Annamix in the Hunters Chase at Fairyhouse. He is only six years old and I am assured the reason he was disappointed was due to him making a noise suggesting that he will be sent for a wind operation to help him see out his races in future. The reason I am putting this horse in the list as he is really highly regarded in these races and could be overpriced next time after just the one disappointing run for the reason we know why. I would imagine this season is over with an eye to Cheltenham next year.

Aliunde – 3rd in 2.15 Downpatrick 02/04/23

There was a lot of support for Aliunde overnight in the 80-109 Handicap Hurdle at Downpatrick for trainer Mark McNiff. He had been running over 2 miles and it looked as if the further 5 furlongs would bring about improvement with him. Top amateur jockey Aidan Kelly was onboard claiming 7lbs and a big run looked on the cards. I just feel Aidan gave this horse too much to do and he made up significant ground before staying on strongly after the last flight. Richard Condon riding the favourite Winding River was in a lovely position throughout against the rail just behind the pace and I can’t understand why he wasn’t the jockey to follow. No matter, Aliunde is no superstar but is capable of picking up a race of this nature. 

Al Mubhir – 5th in 3.35 Doncaster 01/04/23

Al Mubhir was well fancied for the Lincoln but was just way too free throughout the early stages of the race and did well to finish fifth in the circumstances. There is a big Handicap in this horse off an unchanged mark of 97. With that being his first run for 169 days after a wind op he was just too fresh in himself. This will have brought him forward and he is capable of picking up a big Handicap over the coming weeks.

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