Timeform Eyecatcher of the Day


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Timeform Eyecatcher: Sunday

HUNTERS STEP

Ninth, 1m handicap, Kempton, Sunday 19 December

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Low-grade fare, admittedly, but Hunters Step came in for a bit of market support prior to the closing race at Kempton and those who followed the move didn't really get a fair crack of the whip.

He wasn't too brightly away but that's quite typical of the five-year-old, who was a winner at Chelmsford on his debut for the Henry Spiller yard back in February and again at Newcastle in June.

Those victories both came from marks of 55 so it wasn't a great shock to see money for him at Kempton having slipped back to a BHA rating of 51 following seven defeats in a row.

He shaped better than the result would suggest in ninth, though, as he was denied a run when seemingly picking up well from the back of the pack, and he will remain of interest at this lowly level.


Timeform Eyecatcher: Saturday

IMPHAL

Second, 3m handicap, Ascot, Saturday 18 December

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The story of this race was the gamble that was landed on the Gordon Elliott-trained Ardhill, who proved well ahead of his mark in first-time blinkers, but the one to take away is Imphal.

He did incredibly well to finish second having been badly hampered by a faller at the first hurdle, losing lots of ground on the pack, but he gradually made his way back into the race and looks another who is on a good mark.

Imphal attracted support beforehand, so clearly connections feel they have a well-handicapped horse, and he will be one to look out for next time where he will surely hold a big chance of gaining some compensation with a clear run.


Timeform Eyecatcher: Friday

CITY CHIEF

Second, 2m6f maiden hurdle, Ascot, Friday 17 December

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The eyes were immediately drawn to City Chief, a £210,000 purchase after winning his sole start in Irish points, and he very much looked the part in the flesh, too, a big, strong type who gave the impression he would tighten up for the run.

There wasn't much to dislike in the race itself, either, travelling well in behind the leader for much of the way, and a little short of room when the tempo quickened approaching the second-last. City Chief got squeezed out a little at that point and lost ground on the front two, but he stayed on strongly after the last without being given too much of a hard time to take the runner-up spot close home.

City Chief seems sure to sharpen up for that run both physically and mentally, and he looks a banker for a similar event next time, while he also remains a smart prospect for further down the line.


Timeform Eyecatcher: Thursday

THE SHORT GO

Third, 2m3f maiden hurdle, Naas, Thursday 16 December

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Last season this maiden hurdle was won by Echoes In Rain, a Grade One winner later in the campaign, and stablemate Hawai Game promises to be competing in that sort of company before too long if this opening effort over hurdles is anything to go by, taking control from two out to win by over three lengths in impressive fashion.

Both placed horses also shaped with promise, especially the smooth-travelling third THE SHORT GO, who might have given the winner something to think about if not making a mess of the last. He was easy to back but definitely shaped better than the bare result on debut, almost certain to have finished second but for that late blunder when yet to be asked for his effort.

Trained by Henry de Bromhead, The Short Go is in the right hands and he is sure to improve with this run under his belt. Look out for him in something similar in the coming weeks.


Timeform Eyecatcher: Wednesday

WONDERWALL

Second, 2m4f novice hurdle, Newbury, Wednesday 15 December

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A fairly useful performer in bumpers last season, WONDERWALL found one too strong here on his hurdling debut, but it was still a run full of promise to suggest there are plenty of races to be won with him in this sphere.

After travelling smoothly on the heels of the front-running Guardino in the early stages, Wonderwall still looked full of running when produced to lead after two out, hitting a low of 1.16 in-running with most of his rivals hard at work.

However, a bad mistake at the final flight caused him to lose valuable momentum and, though Wonderwall kept on again on the run-in, the winner Pull Again Green was already away and gone with over two lengths splitting them at the line.

The winner had the benefit of previous experience over hurdles and Wonderwall himself looks sure to improve with this run under his belt. He clearly possesses an above-average level of ability and a similar event should prove his for the taking before he attempts to climb through the ranks.


Timeform Eyecatcher: Tuesday

BRIEF TIMES

Second, 2m handicap hurdle, Wincanton, Tuesday 14 December

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Brief Times lost his unbeaten record when runner-up on his handicap debut at Wincanton on Tuesday, but he arguably posted his best effort yet in going down by just a length to a promising sort.

Brief Times had been able to dictate on his first couple of starts over hurdles at Exeter and Doncaster, but he didn't have that luxury this time and was settled in mid-division. It was encouraging that he jumped straighter than has been the case, and he made good headway when shaken up in the straight to go after the leader.

He was unable to overhaul Earth Company, but that rival had won well on his previous start and was completely unexposed, so it's likely that Brief Times bumped into a well-handicapped opponent.

Races around the minimum trip at Wincanton are as sharp as it gets, and Brief Times, a stoutly-bred sort with a pointing background, may yet do better faced with a slightly stiffer test.


Timeform Eyecatcher: Monday

PROPHET'S DREAM

Fourth, 7f maiden, Chelmsford, Monday 13 December

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This looks just ordinary novice form overall, the well-backed favourite again fluffing his lines, but the fourth-placed Prophet's Dream shaped well with an eye to the future on debut.

He has a mixed pedigree and lost around four lengths at the start following a tardy start, while he was also keen enough in the early stages, too.

Prophet's Dream found himself disputing last position entering the straight, still having plenty of work to do, but he was still going better than most, and he made up some considerable ground without being given too much of a hard time. He would have probably finished third with another 50 yards, and he looks well up to winning races in the future, probably when sent handicapping.


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