Dan Overall’s Horse Racing Eye-Catchers: Five for the notebook

Dan Overall has picked out two eye-catchers from the racing at Wincanton last week
Dan Overall has picked out two eye-catchers from the racing at Wincanton last week

Racing TV Tipstar champion Dan Overall is back for his weekly eye-catchers column, and he picks out five horses that have caught his eye over the last seven days...

Monday 21st March – 14:20 Wincanton – Ballyblack (3rd)

While favourite backers would have been disappointed by the performance of Ballyblack, who was subject to strong support throughout the day, I suspect it may pay to keep the faith.

Held up last of all, Rex Dingle made a sweeping move on the outside as they began to turn towards home but you could tell that he was never entirely happy with how his mount was travelling. Still, he was only half a length down as the front three began to pull clear upon jumping the second last but he couldn’t find the extra gear when necessary and was eventually beaten by the best part of five lengths.

This was his handicap debut having only made his rules debut eighty-two days ago and perhaps the slow pace didn’t suit given he looks a thorough stayer over an intermediate trip; by Shirocco, his dam is a half-sister to Grand National winner Ballabriggs so a sterner test of stamina seems likely to suit.

Given he’s had four runs in fairly quick succession, and the jumps season is very much at an end, it wouldn’t surprise me if that was Ballyblack’s last run of the campaign. Still, he remains one to have in your trackers and given his point-to-point experience and the way he jumps his hurdles, he’s one to note in novice handicap chases down the line.

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Monday 21st March – 4:40 Wincanton – State Crown (4th)

Having been given a mid-season break in order to avoid soft ground, State Crown returned to the track here for his first run in over four-months; and despite failing to beat a rival, there are reasons to suspect that can produce better in the coming months. 

With his two wins being the result of positive tactics, it’s worth noting that he was ridden patiently on this occasion. This wasn’t missed by the stewards, who enquired about the tactics, with Isobel Williams reporting that her mount was outpaced and could never reach a prominent position, as was intended.

Another factor to consider is that State Crown was not wearing cheekpieces on this occasion, having worn them on his last five starts (including his two wins under rules).

With the cobwebs blown away, I suspect we will see the reapplication of his usual headgear next time out as well as the adoption of positive tactics. His two wins came off marks of 110 and 112; he ran off 115 here and while at the time of writing his new mark has not been published, it would be of no surprise were he to be dropped close to his last winning mark. If his next run comes at Newton Abbot, where he is two from two, I suspect he will go close.

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Tuesday 22nd March – 3:20 Market Rasen – Sirobbie (4th)

Admittedly, a horse with twenty-two starts over hurdles to his name won’t exactly appeal to all as an “eyecatcher” to put in your trackers, but Sirobbie has shown signs that another win might not be far away now he’s dropped to a workable mark.

Having hit a peak of 130 when trained by Harry Whittington, Sirobbie has been blowing hot & cold in seven starts for David Bridgwater but, interestingly, he’s yet to run at Uttoxeter for his new trainer; the track where all five of his wins have come. As we head into the summer months, he will be of interest when returning to the midlands course.

The first-time visor seemed to have a positive effect on this occasion but whether that will last is a slight concern of mine.

Grand National Odds

Saturday 26th March – 1:35 Kelso – Bak Rocky (5th)

Making a quick reappearance having failed to beat a rival at Newcastle seven-days-ago, Bak Rocky faired far better here for all that he never threatened the leaders.

Last for a large part of the race, Ryan Mania was having to niggle his mount along at a relatively early stage and while it never looked like he would play a hand in the finish, he could be spotted making quite notable late headway towards the finish.

Perhaps he was just passing tired horses but this was a notable step in the right direction following a couple of poor runs since the turn of the year. If you go back to his second at Hexham back in December, he looks quite well handicapped and a step up in trip could well suit on recent evidence.

He’s still lightly raced and this was just his fifth start for Sandy Thomson, who also owns him. Sandy is superb at placing his horses and I’m sure there will be a day in Bak Rocky in the not-too-distant future.

Sunday 27th March – 2:10 Ascot – Mahler’s Promise (3rd)

Dropping back in trip, Mahler’s Promise ran a strange but highly encouraging race given the circumstances. 

Having jumped well from the front for the most part, he made a truly awful error at the eight fence; he hardly took off, thrusting Micheal Nolan forward over his head. Having rewatched the race a few times, I still can’t comprehend how he stayed in the saddle – it was truly a remarkable recovery.

While that completely ended his chance of winning, he did keep on quite nicely to snatch third, closing on the front two at the finish over a trip that looks too short for him.

Assuming his mark remains unchanged, he will remain on his last winning mark and given how he’s acquitted himself in deeper races over the winter, there are more races to be won with him should he be given a summer campaign.

Grand National 2022
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