Eye Catchers January 2024

Eye Catchers January 2024

Soldier Of Honour – 3rd in 3.30 Down Royal 23/01/24

Trainer Eoin McCarthy is going through a lean spell with his horses at the moment but Soldier Of Honour caught the eye at Down Royal in a Handicap Chase staying on well to finish third. This was his second run in a handicap and he jumped well throughout and was eventually beaten by St Denis’s Well who had won at Navan on his previous run. 

The second Monoxide got an easy lead and was well ridden by Philip Byrnes. Soldier Of Fortune is nothing special but off a mark of 92 he may pick up a moderate handicap over the coming months.

Marsa – 9th in 4.00 Dundalk 19/01/24

I tipped Marsa for this race and although disappointed with the result I still feel she is becoming well handicapped and is ready to strike in her next few races. She was slow away from the stalls here and had to make up plenty of ground to challenge the leaders a furlong out. She faded out of contention over the final furlong eventually finishing an eased down ninth. 

The handicapper has dropped her a further 3lbs and she is now on a mark of 73. She has won twice here at Dundalk both times over seven furlongs off marks of 77 and 81. Don’t be surprised to see her stepped back up to seven furlongs. She looked like she needed her last two runs and is one to keep onside.

James’s Gate – 3rd in 1.35 Punchestown 14/01/24

James’s Gate changed trainers from Willie Mullins to Martin Brassil at the end of 2023. He has run in two hot maiden hurdles.The first won by King Of Kingsfield and the second won by Mystical Power.

He needs one more run to get a handicap mark and it will be interesting on what the handicapper thinks. He finished third in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in 2022 and I would imagine he could be lined up for a valuable handicap in the Spring.

Klitschko – 2nd in 12.40 Warwick 13/01/24

Klitshko caught the eye, finishing second in a two miles handicap hurdle at Warwick. He gave the field a couple of lengths head-start when starting and then made a mistake at the first hurdle costing him a further couple of lengths.

He was ridden out of the back straight and stayed on gamely to finish 1 ¾ lengths second to Donnacha who had run well in defeat on his previous two runs. Off a mark of 118 Klitscho is well capable of picking up a similar event and could take a step up in trip with time.

Linda Moon – 3rd in 1.25 Doncaster 10/01/24

Linda Moon took a significant step forward finishing third at Doncaster on her second run over hurdles. She was second on her first run in a bumper at Kempton over two miles and won at Plumpton on her second run again in a bumper. Both of those races were on soft ground and she showed enough on Wednesday to suggest she is capable of picking up a maiden hurdle under similar conditions. She is a small mare that handles soft ground and she is quick over her hurdles.

She was sent for home a long way out and just got out stayed by Sammy’s Guarantee who had been ridden more patiently. Classic King collared her for second on the line but he looks more of a chaser in the making and was sent off 2/5 favourite. In all it was a good effort by Linda Moon and she could be an each way price next time.

Pay Later –  11th in 1.15 Fairyhouse 01/01/24

There was a significant gamble on Pay Later for trainer Jonathan Sweeney and jockey Michael O’ Sullivan. He had gone off at big odds when trained by his old trainer Gerard O’ Leary and was obviously showing something at home on the gallops. It wouldn’t surprise me if this horse was to pop up in his next few runs and win a low level handicap somewhere. A lot of people would have followed that gamble and I thought he was never put into the race at any stage. This could have been just a pipe opener for his next run and I’ll chance keeping him onside for another couple of runs. 

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