Dan Overall Eye-catchers: Four to watch and a possible 33/1 Cheltenham Festival contender

Generic Jumps Race

Dalamoi was another welcome winner for the column last Wednesday; making his hurdles debut, he jumped well and produced a likeable performance under an enterprising ride. Given how much stoutly bred he is, it was highly encouraging that he was able to win over two-miles and I remain excited about his long-term prospects.

Furthermore, the Uttoxeter Mares’ Maiden Hurdle that was flagged as a race to follow a few weeks back produced two winners last week in the form of Get a Tonic and Tweed Skirt. On that evidence, Lady Adare could well be a very smart mare and her odds of 33/1 for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham could look quite generous should she confirm her promise on her next start.

As for this column, there were multiple high-profile performances this weekend which have been discussed and analysed multiple times over. I would be hard pressed to elaborate further on the likes of Bob Olinger, Bravemansgame and A Plus Tard so instead, I have focused on some lesser mentioned types.

Wednesday 17th November – 1:15 Hexham – Captain Quint (1st)

Perhaps it’s because he carried my cash on route to winning (a rare winner for me this season, I can assure you), but I was really taken by Captain Quint and although his main market rivals were disappointing, I think Rose Dobbin might have a very smart prospect on her hands.

Bought for £110,000 after finishing second to a high-touted prospect in an Irish point-to-point, he looks every inch a chaser and was described as “a proper three-mile chaser” in the making so there would’ve been plenty of reasons to suspect that two-miles around Hexham would have been on the sharp side for him

And yet he travelled stylishly and when Craig Nichol did ask his mount for a bit extra, the response was immediate and that surprising abundance of pace allowed him to coast into the lead on the turn for home. He was kept up to his work by the runner-up, but his jump at the last proved that he had plenty left in the tank (Honestly, look at this jump!)

Tougher tasks await, but Rose Dobbin’s excellent start to the season continues and she has proven adept at placing her horses. This is certainly a horse to have in your trackers.

Thursday 18th November – 3:15 Wincanton – Thyme White (2nd)

After winning the four-year-old hurdle at Chepstow at the beginning of last season, Thyme White went on to run with plenty of credit in some of the top two-mile handicaps around. Given how ex-juvenile’s often struggle against their elders in their first season in open company, these efforts were highly encouraging and I have been looking forward to seeing him over a fence.

Given a patient ride, he looked a natural over the larger obstacles although he did show a slight tendency to shift out to his left which would be something to note with a view to next time. He travelled well but the winner had race fitness on his side and had the benefit of going from the front; it can be hard to make up ground at Wincanton especially on quick ground so Thyme White would not have been favoured by the tactical nature of this race.

Paul Nicholls noted in a stable-tour that Thyme White had missed some work due to a wind operation, while his on-course comments reiterated the fact that he would come on significantly for his first outing. 

With that in mind, this was a very promising debut over fences and it left the impression that he could make up into a useful novice. While the purpose of this column isn’t solely to point out potential festival pointers, I do wonder if he might make up into a Grand Annual contender. Perhaps I am thinking too far down the line here but I do think he will be an interesting type in big field handicaps this season, and although his trainer has said that he should get two-and-a-half-miles, he doesn’t look short of pace and so I would be keeping him to the minimum trip for now.

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Thursday 18th November – 3:25 Market Rasen – Springwell Bay (1st)

Sold for €155,000 after finishing second in the Land Rover Bumper, Springwell Bay was sent off a warm-order favourite here with the form of his previous run working out well, and he duly delivered in fine style.

Having travelled powerfully throughout, he eased into the lead with three furlongs to go before extending the advantage once Jonjo O'Neill Jr asked his mount for extra. The race was won a long way from home, with the fourteen-length winning margin underselling his superiority on the day over what was admittedly a modest looking bunch in behind.

The time in which he completed the final three furlongs was impressive, especially when you consider that he was being eased down and it will be very interesting to see how he will campaigned. Given he’s only a four-year-old, connections could well persist with bumpers for this season with the Champion Bumper being the end of season objective. However, Jonjo O’Neill has only had two runners in the race since 2007, which both came in the 2016 renewal and they finished well down the field (although he did have three hit the frame in three successive years from 2003 to 2005 – Refinement placed in both 2004 and 2005)

Regardless, he looks a hugely exciting prospect.

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Saturday 20th November – 1:38 Gowran Park – Harry Alonzo (3rd)

A horse with plenty of smart bumper form to his name, his first start over hurdles told the story of a horse desperately in need of the experience. 

And while he couldn’t improve upon his finishing position on his most recent outing, it was certainly a step in the right direction for Harry Alonzo. There is still a fair amount of work to be done before he can be considered a finished article, both in terms of his jumping and his application, but the fact that he can still be competitive despite these current flaws is indicative of his raw ability. 

This race has often thrown up some very nice types, including Bob Olinger and Ferny Hollow last season, and the front two here both look useful in their own right. 

You get the impression that he might just be the sort to flourish in handicap company in the spring.

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