Andy Gibson's Eyecatchers: Le Milos, Empire Steel plus three others to watch

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There is usually more upside to noting an interesting performance when you believe the majority are more likely to have missed it.

Spotting winning and losing efforts that may be underestimated or overestimated in the future can be key. The five below have caught my eye for various reasons in their recent outings.

Empire Steel

  •  March 4, 2023 - Kelso

I think it is fair to suggest that there was more than a touch of default attached to this success of Empire Steel here. The eventual runner-up probably went too fast too early and finished legless in the final 100 yards as a result. The winner appeared to have lost his chance after hitting the 13th fence very hard before turning for home. Empire Steel has been raised four pounds for this fortunate victory and may find life more difficult in the short term.

Le Milos

  • March 4, 2023 - Kelso

The way that the pace-setter, Wishing And Hoping, rapidly dropped away supports the notion that the jockey on second-placed Le Milos asked too much of his mount from the third last fence, which was the point in the race where the front two drew well clear of the only other two in the race. Le Milos was more than two seconds clear of the eventual winner with three to jump and still had ten lengths in hand jumping two out. The warning signs began to show on the approach to the final fence and it was obvious from his body language that Harry Skelton knew he was in trouble from soon after the last.

The issue of whether he went too fast too soon is clouded by Dan Skelton's post-race comments, when he stated that Le Milos was not 100 per cent here as the Grand National was the day that mattered. That being the case, he has jumped and travelled extremely well aside from one mistake at the 11th fence.

He is available at 20/1 for Aintree and I would prefer his claims to those of his similarly-priced stable mate Ashtown Lad, and it will be fascinating to see which of the pair Harry Skelton chooses to ride.


  • March 4, 2023 - Kelso

After coming from last to first Benson eventually won with plenty in hand, and although he has been raised to 139, it is unlikely to be his new rating that beats him next time out. Now that his new trainer has found a key to winning with this eccentric character, Benson could still be dangerous in another competitive handicap hurdle off his new rating.

Cooper's Cross

  • March 4, 2023 - Doncaster

Cooper's Cross hit a couple of fences along the way including the third, but went on to make stealthy headway in the home straight after being held up out the back. He still looked dangerous after the third last fence, but stopped quickly soon after, which is presumably the point at which he bled. He has stopped quickly before now so may have bled on that previous occasion at Sedgefield in January 2022. He looked well handicapped and very progressive prior to this disappointment. And personally I would be happy to consider him next time in a three-mile-plus handicap chase, provided he is given plenty of time to get over this setback.

Espoir De Guye

  • March 4, 2023 - Newbury

I think Espoir De Guye showed enough here to suggest that he will be a real force when he is able to compete on a softer surface. This was his first start for the Paul Nicholls yard, and it was a particularly encouraging effort on ground much faster than ideal. He made a promising move off the home turn which only began to peter out before the second last fence, from which point he was considerately handled when beaten and he looks a very interesting short-term prospect. The handicapper has overreacted by dropping him four pounds to a mark of 140, which is another major point in his favour for the next time he competes on soft ground.

Andy Gibson's Eyecatchers Service considers horses that may go under the radar for many, some obvious ones, and a few interesting performances from horses he might oppose on another day.

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