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Peter Naughton's Notebook: Eyecatchers and horses to follow from the TV presenter and tipster




My Drogo bolted up for the column in the Grade One Mersey Novices' Hurdle at Aintree on Saturday.

On his toes in the paddock and at the start, this free-going gelding was settled in rear but possesses so much pace that connections were thinking at halfway that he might have done better in the 2m race. However, this classy son of Milan has plenty of stamina and romped up the home straight to win by almost twenty lengths.

Intelligently campaigned, this imposing gelding will be a massive force over fences next term. A drop back in trip is very possible (he could be a Sporting Life Arkle horse) before building up into a Gold Cup in future years. Very exciting.

Fellow Notebook horse Dostal Phil rewarded each-way support when a strong finishing third in the Grade Three Red Rum Chase on Thursday.

This race is always a test of jumping and travelling at pace, so it was always going to suit Dostal Phil, who was ridden with the utmost confidence. Sitting quietly in rear, the classy gelding wasn't pushed along until three-out.

Making good headway, he switched right after two-out and stayed on well on the run-in. Unfortunately for those who backed him at double-figure odds, Editeur Du Gite didn't come back to the field having been ridden aggressively. Dostal Phil's jumping ability should ensure he remains competitive in similarly strongly run events.

After Aintree, attention switches to the Flat and Hamoudi made a very bright start to his season when fourth in the opening 7f maiden at Newmarket on Tuesday.

Roger Varian's classy son of Dark Angel lost his action and stumbled when unseating his rider at Ascot in July on his only previous start. Very highly regarded, this 220,000 guineas purchase was drawn on the outside here and raced unfavourably wide. Still on the bridle two-out, he kept on under hand riding with the promise of so much more to come. He looks a ready-made winner.

Dan Skelton has inherited well handicapped Zero To Hero, who made a very promising start for her new stable when second to Go Chique in the second division of the extended 3m handicap hurdle at Southwell on Tuesday.

The daughter of Arakan was taking on geldings and ridden cold at the back but she wanted to go a stride faster against modest opposition and made her move down the far side on the final circuit.

With every chance from two-out, the hooded six-year-old found plenty for pressure but couldn't quite pass the year-younger winner, who benefited from stepping up in trip. Zero To Hero is now 0-18 but the Skeltons should have no trouble finding a winning opening at a similarly low level.

Looking ahead, I'm really looking forward to following Rhythm Master this season and this class act reappears in the Group Three Greenham Stakes at Newbury on Sunday.

The selection deserved enormous credit for a close third in the Group One Prix Morny at Deauville on only his second start.

Richard Fahey's son of Dark Angel cost 210,000 guineas as a yearling and put in strong late work to win at Haydock on debut a month earlier. Still green, he fly jumped leaving the stalls and was bumped before racing in midfield.

Ridden to produce his effort over a furlong out, the colt stayed on well but lacked the experience or pace of strong favourite Campanelle, who had valuable experience of two previous outings, including success in the Group Two Queen Mary.

Rhythm Master's owner John Dance revealed: "We looked at the Gimcrack but came here instead because he was showing very good work at home. He could be the best horse me and Jess have had in another 12 months."

High praise from the owner of star mare Laurens.



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