Dan Overall's Eye-Catchers: Four to follow after the New Year action

Call Me Lord Wins The International Hurdle Cheltenham

Thursday 30th December – 1:35 Haydock – Captain Broomfield (2nd)

Having unseated his rider and running loose before the race started, Captain Broomfield showed some headstrong tendencies that his full brother, Captain Guinness, also displayed in the early stages of his career.

Despite those exertions, he shaped with a great deal of promise against more experienced rivals. Restrained early, he made smooth headway to track the leaders on the approach to two out, trading at a low of 1.8 in running. He did briefly strike the front before the race-fit Jungle Jack battled back to lead close home.

This looked to be a decent novice hurdle and to run as well as he did on rules debut will have undoubtedly pleased Emma Lavelle and his fantastic owner, Andrew Gemmell. He looks sure to improve and he should be able to win in similar company next time out.

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Friday 31st December – 12:45 Punchestown – Vauban (2nd)

Vauban had been well touted in many of the pre-season “Horses to Follow” publications and the market also spoke in his favour ahead of his debut for Willie Mullins.

After being backed as if defeat was out of the question, I don’t think his backers would ever have been entirely happy as he was a tad keen and his jumping lacked fluency. Paul Townend kept switching his mount from the inside to the outside (and vice versa) and yet he still held every chance as he and the eventual winner, Pied Piper, turned for home. Vauban was the first to come under pressure but he did keep finding, with another errant jump at the last costing him the chance to reel in the leader, for all that he did rally again to finish just half a length behind. 

The front pair pulled fifteen lengths clear of the remainder and both look like very smart juveniles. The fourth, Max Mayhem, finished twenty-five lengths adrift having previously finished twenty-sixth lengths behind the Triumph Hurdle favourite, Fil Dor, on his previous start. 

While Pied Piper was the winner this day, I think conditions were very much in his favour while a combination of a stiffer track and better ground look likely to suit Vauban in the future. With that in mind, his current price of 25/1 for the Triumph Hurdle makes plenty of appeal.

Saturday 1st January – 1:25 Cheltenham – Fantastikas (3rd)

While L’Homme Presse turned this renewal of the Dipper into somewhat of a procession, I thought there were plenty of encouraging efforts in behind; The Glancing Queen lost nothing in defeat and Fantastikas ran very well for a long way over a trip that is almost certainly shorter than ideal.

Prominent throughout, he jumped soundly but just didn’t appear to have the gears to go with the leader as they turned for home. Still, he stayed on well and a return to staying trips seems inevitable.

He’d been touted as a dark horse to follow by Sam Twiston-Davies before the season started following a productive season over hurdles, with Sam noting that “he’ll be a nice staying handicap chaser for the future”. He quickly justified Sam’s confidence by winning a competitive handicap off 128 on his first start over fences, beating a next time out winner. 

Given he’s proven he handles Cheltenham, I would be very keen on his chances in a race such as the Ultima Handicap Chase; British trained novices do very well in that race, his prominent run style will suit the nature of the old course and he’s still unexposed. 

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Saturday 1st January – 3:50 Cheltenham – Diamond Egg (5th)

Chris Gordon sparsely has first time out bumper winners and he has stated in previous interviews that he’s keen for his bumper debutants to learn from the experience; winning on debut is not the be all and end all for him.

Therefore, it often pays to keep his runners on side when having their second start in a bumper and I am hoping that this is the case with Diamond Egg, who shaped with a significant amount of promise in this listed race, fairing much the best of the debutants.

Having travelled powerfully in midfield, he was still going well as those around him began to struggle. He was disputing second as they entered the final two furlongs without Tom Cannon asking him for his effort. Given what I previously mentioned about the trainer’s bumper runners, it was not surprising to see him fade slightly into fifth but he left enough of an impression in the way he went through the race to suggest that he has a good future ahead of him.

Owned by the Henrietta Knight Racing Club, she bought him from Costellos who supplied the likes of Best Mate in the past (not that I am making comparisons!) and Diamond Egg certainly has a strong jumping pedigree. Keep an eye out for him next time out in a bumper while I am sure he will make a nice hurdler next season. 

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