Andy Gibson's Eyecatchers: Three interesting performances from Wetherby's Boxing Day card

A week on from Boxing Day's busy racecard, horse racing analyst Andy Gibson offers some retrospective insight into three runners that caught his expert eye at Wetherby.

Andy Gibson's Eyecatchers Service

There is usually more upside to noting an interesting performance when you believe the majority are more likely to have missed it. 

Andy Gibson's Eyecatchers Service considers horses that may go under the radar for many, some obvious ones, and a few interesting performances from horses that might be better opposed on another day. 

Spotting winning and losing efforts that may be underestimated or overestimated in the future can be key.

Amoola Gold and Karl Philippe can benefit from defeat

Two horses that caught my eye in Wetherby's 2.45pm handicap race on Boxing Day were the the second and third to finish, each of interest for different reasons.

Thankfully, the winner, The Paddy Pie, beat them by a large enough distance for them to be possibly spared by the handicapper.

Certainly, the third horse to finish, Amoola Gold, is unlikely to be penalised, and might even be dropped a pound or two, while it is possible that the runner up, Karl Philippe, may be raised by a pound or two, if at all.

Karl Philippe's mistake five out was very costly as he lost ground and momentum, and I think we can forget about the winner here as he just happened to be on a going day from his low weight.

That said, the presence of the all-the-way winner should save this runner-up from another hefty rise.

Karl Philippe beat the rest easily and made up a lot of ground from his wide position in the home straight; nonetheless, he was still beaten easily enough for him to get away with a two-pound rise at worst.

He had won impressively at Wetherby on his previous outing, and his continued progression may be slightly hidden after this defeat.

The horse to follow him home was the Dan Skelton-trained Amoola Gold, which was encouraging as this was his first positive performance in quite a while, and thus makes him an interesting prospect.

He tends to be at his best on soft ground when competing at Ascot, and has not raced in his ideal conditions for a long time.

I am hopeful rather than confident that we will see more from him back at Ascot in the new year, providing he gets his ideal conditions.

Two reasons to keep Aye Right on the right side

At Newcastle in late November, Aye Right suffered due to racing prominently in a race where there were several front-runners vying for the lead, and consequently, his overall performance was better than it looked in the finish.

Although Aye Right managed to lead over the first few fences, the lead was a very busy one which made life difficult for him.

A slow leap at the fifth set him back and he then lost further ground with another slow jump at the last fence with a circuit to go.

From there on, he seemed to be going a stride faster than he was comfortable with, and by the 14th fence he had begun to lose touch with the field.

He has previously been a consistent horse and I felt post-race that I would prefer to keep him on side for when he tackles a similar race without so many pace setting horses in opposition.

On Boxing Day's Rowland Meyrick Chase, Aye Right was easily the third best horse in the race, and may have finished much closer to the front two horses with a kinder trip round.

His jockey kept him to the inside throughout which was not in his favour and may have been quite a disadvantage, as the eventual second and third horses to finish went past him after being switched wide in the home straight.

Aye Right could be dropped another couple of pounds after this fourth-placed finish and will presumably be heading for the Ultima again in March, followed by the Scottish National at Ayr in April.

He finished third in the Ultima off 154 in 2021 and could be competitive again off a similar mark in 2023.

Where next for Aye Right?

Prior to Cheltenham, Aye Right could easily turn up at Doncaster for the Sky Bet Chase at the end of January.

Wherever he goes next, I would suggest we have two pieces of evidence to support the notion that he has performed better than has appeared of late.

At Newcastle he was disadvantaged by the busy lead, whilst at Wetherby he struggled late on due to being kept close to the chewed-up ground on the inside of the track.

Aye Right has performed well at Cheltenham in all four chases he has contested there, boasting figures of 5 3 3 9 around that course.

Those numbers disguise the fact that he has faced impossible tasks on two occasions, and finished a close up third in each of the other two races in the sequence.

Aye Right also performed well in the 2021 renewal of the Sky Bet Chase, so we have plenty of reasons to think he may be of interest at Cheltenham and/or Doncaster in the coming weeks.

Follow AG Eyecatcher Service in 2023

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