My Stable: Weekend eyecatchers
Matt Brocklebank picks out his main eyecatchers from the weekend's action that could be worth following adding to your My Stable tracker.
Anibale Fly (second left, white cap): Looks one to follow when sent handicapping
Gary Moore fired his two best bullets at Saturday's Tingle Creek and although he came away beaten, the trainer was clearly extremely proud of how his two runners performed. Sire De Grugy, seeking his third victory in the race, measured the Railway fences in his typically assured manner and went down bravely in defeat, but it was fourth placed Ar Mad who Moore singled out as "the one to take from the race" and I'd be inclined to agree. He led at a frantic pace, as we're used to seeing, but made some really bad jumping mistakes and it was to his great credit that he was eventually only beaten three and a half lengths by Un De Sceaux. It was his first public outing since February so the run was entitled to be needed and Moore suggested he may now move up in distance. The six-year-old was a winner over two and a half miles in his novice hurdle days and could be absolutely lethal over the trip if he genuinely does stay. The suggestion he could now be supplemented for the King George may not be the right move, but he's a classy performer and should be campaigned accordingly.
Consul De Thaix showed immense promise in a couple of outings last season and made a really encouraging start to the campaign when narrowly denied by stablemate Brain Power at Sandown on Saturday. He's going to be hit quite hard by the handicapper for this effort but a rise to somewhere around the 140 mark (competed off 132 at the weekend) will ensure he can make the final field for some of the biggest two-mile handicaps, starting with the Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle at Ascot (formerly The Ladbroke). He's likely to meet his stablemate again there but the way he moved into contention at the business end of proceedings was really striking. He made an early jumping mistake which he might not get away with in the heat of a race like his next assignment, but the four-year-old is still learning and looks to have loads of potential to land a decent winter prize on this form, especially given his apparent preference for ease underfoot (only real disappointment came on good ground in the Triumph Hurdle). The Betfair Hurdle at Newbury could be the principal target for JP McManus' gelding.
Another one with the Betfair Hurdle as a possible future target is Charlemar, who looks a real gem for Harry Whittington. Owners The Hennessy Six sadly lost Grade One-winning novice chaser Arzal but have a lot to look forward to with this rapidly-improving four-year-old. He was a bumper winner in France and made a winning start for his new connections with a narrow verdict in a maiden hurdle at Chepstow, but appeared to take a big step forward when defying a penalty in grand style at Aintree. He settled nicely on the front end, jumps really well and just looks a thoroughly professional athlete who has speed to burn. Runner-up Minotaur was possibly a little bit disappointing with his hurdling on his UK bow but he was a Listed winner on the Flat in France and was brushed aside quite stylishly by the winner. The publication of his handicap rating is something to look forward to.
The Bar One Racing Handicap Hurdle was one of the more eventful races on Sunday's Fairyhouse card (which is going some) but it should produce a few future winners. Campeador is the obvious one having crashed out at the last with the race seemingly at his mercy, but it's stablemate Mick Jazz who caught the eye from those who managed to complete the course. He was ridden with restraint by Jack Kennedy and didn't get much luck after turning into the straight. He made a bad mistake himself two out and then was hampered by the fall of Campeador but he was flying home at the finish on the stands' side rail and looks well capable of landing a big one for Elliott. He was sent off joint-favourite for the Greatwood Hurdle when trained by Harry Fry last season only to suffer injury and miss the rest of the campaign. He landed a Clonmel maiden on his first outing for his new handler before chasing home classy and quirky stable companion Labaik in a Grade Three event at Navan. He's another entered in the Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle, which is a race Elliott has won twice before, and should go there with live claims.
Anibale Fly's chasing debut form is already working out well, with runner-up Martello Tower going one better at Fairyhouse on Saturday, and Tony Martin's gelding produced a really encouraging display in defeat at the same meeting on Sunday. He filled the runner-up spot behind the well-backed Coney Island and was closing in on the winner at the line. He has top-level options over two miles, one furlong and three miles at Leopardstown over Christmas, and given the way he travels the drop back in distance looks like the way connections may opt to go. However, we may not see the best of this six-year-old until sent handicapping in the spring as he took a major step forward when landing a big-field handicap hurdle at Punchestown back in April. There's definitely an engine under the bonnet and he's one to keep a close eye on.