Good morning all,
Early start for me as I'm off to Hereford, where I'm hoping the weather isn't too unkind. Long day ahead.
Some Eyecatchers today and tomorrow for you, starting with three worth a watch in handicaps this winter.
Zulu (Gail Haywood)
I was trying to remember if Gail Haywood’s name had ever cropped up on the Punt before and a quick search reveals this is indeed her debut in the Eyecatchers bit. Zulu wasn’t up to a lot on the Flat for the Millmans but a switch to Gail and some hurdles in front of him has seen him show a lot more promise. He’d run respectably at Newton Abbot in the summer but stepped up a bit on that when fifth in what looked a decent event on paper at Chepstow last week, staying on well once it was all over for fifth. That qualifies him for a handicap mark (update – handicapper has given him a mark of 108, which is fair enough) and you’d hope the handicapper won’t go mad, given his overall profile. Could pop in at a nice price in the next couple of runs.
Strictly Art (Denis Quinn)
A 6yo that has had 40-odd starts on the Flat and only won four of them hardly seems a natural candidate to go in the Eyecatchers as a hurdles project, but there’s no denying that Strictly Art has now shown some improved form on his last two starts (both under a 7lb claiming amatuer) for his new yard and this column is about finding decent priced winners whatever the grade, not just finding the Grade 1-ers of tomorrow.
He’s run at Huntingdon on both starts this autumn, firstly when staying on under his own steam to finish a respectable seventh to Book Of Invasions and then doing better again at the weekend when a close fifth to Northern Princess, possibly not helped by going up the inside in the home straight. He clocked a decent speed figure there and I have a feeling the race might work out well. With that, Strictly Art will now get a handicap mark too, and given how well he stayed on the Flat, probably a step up in trip next time too. Watch out for him this winter! (Update – handicapper has given him a mark of 102. Could get in a 0-100 with that!)
Only one I fancy at present at Hereford today is Clondaw Rigger in the 3.15. He's taken a couple of runs to get fit this autumn but looks like he's about ready to win again after his close third at Chepstow last time. Now just 2lb higher than his last win, he handles soft/heavy ground fine and the last time he raced at Hereford he won 15l, so handles the track no problem. In a weak race, he should take a bit of beating.