Andy Gibson's Eyecatchers: Marie's Rock, Good Time Jonny and four others to follow
Some horses' efforts can be misread for a variety of reasons, and spotting those nuances that others may have missed can be key to recognising when a horse is likely to perform well or otherwise.
Andy's Eyecatchers Service considers horses that may go under the radar for many, some obvious ones, and a few interesting performances from horses he may be keen to oppose on another day.
Below are his notes on six horses that earned his attention on the final day of the recent Aintree festival
Good Time Jonny
Having raced on the inside Good Time Jonny did not enjoy the cleanest of passages through the latter stages. That said, this long home straight left him plenty of time to join the leaders if he had been quick enough.
I think this performance is worth close inspection as he really seemed to appreciate the hill at Cheltenham and yet ran out of racing room here on this flatter track despite the extra-long home straight.
After racing in the last position on the first circuit Gatsby Grey began to make headway around the final bend. His jockey was intent on tracking Good Time Jonny up the inside which may have helped him steer a path through the field.
He was briefly short of room approaching the second last hurdle but still seemed a danger to all at the final hurdle. I think he only just failed to see out this trip as well as those that finished in front of him.
The only obvious negative in the pre-race profile of Irish Point was the fact that Gordon Elliott was on a poor run of form and two of his main novice hurdlers had flopped badly the day before.
Here, he travelled and jumped smoothly throughout before drawing clear for a straightforward success. Given the runner-up's 128 rating plus the fact that the third horse home was beaten a long way at Cheltenham in March, I doubt Irish Point has added as much to his standing as a grade-one success at Aintree would imply. Davy Russell suggested that his trainer had got him back in the form he showed at Fairyhouse in December when he finished upsides the Supreme Hurdle winner.
Cool Survivor was still going well and had not been asked a serious question when coming down at the third last hurdle. He was supported down to 5/1 joint-favourite for the Martin Pipe and is well thought of.
Although he was the stable's second string according to the market here, he might yet turn out to be more than a handicapper.
His flop at Cheltenham and this return to form that ultimately ended before the business end may well disguise his ability level quite significantly. He stays three miles and seems versatile on the ground and could be interesting in a late-season handicap.
On balance, I would be pretty confident of the ability of Marie's Rock to stay this trip at the highest-level next season. Her jockey took closer order three out and joined the leader at the second last hurdle.
On another day, this would have been touted as a near-perfect ride; however, on this occasion, in retrospect only, I wonder if Nico will feel he might have been better off if waiting longer to put his mare into the mix. She was upsides the battling front runner with two to jump which is a long way from home. Furthermore, given the aggressive first circuit, the race was then set up for the winner to come from off the pace. Nico de Boinville could not have known this and to all intents and purposes, he was tracking the favourite and rode the perfect race to finish in front of him. I feel the mare was a little unfortunate here and I will remain open-minded as to how she will compete with this winner next season. She ran flat at Cheltenham so it was good to see her back in form here. I would guess that Punchestown will come too soon for her which is a shame as the sharp track would probably be to her advantage.
While his last three successes have all been earned with plenty to spare, maybe Kinondo Kwetu was just not quite as street savvy as the winner here in the closing stages.
He finished full of running and ran out of race before he could close further on the front two horses. Despite the big prize on offer, he was only pushed out hands and heels from the last. The winner looked very professional and street-wise whereas he was rather on his own and briefly outpaced in between the final two fences. He eventually found his stride and finished as well as any. I feel confident that we will see plenty more from him in the future and I doubt that he will be as low as 137 as a chaser by this time next year. I hope they have a nice prize in mind for him rather than use up his handicap rating for the sake of winning a small race in the north. Something like the SkyBet Chase at Doncaster or the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle would be obvious targets next season.
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