Weekly Eye-Catchers

The last two weeks have seen some top-class Championship performances from Bristol De Mai and Buveur D’Air on their seasonal reappearances.

This week it was the turn of Altior at Sandown.

There have been some great winners of the Tingle Creek Chase over the years, like Moscow Flyer, Kauto Star and Sprinter Sacre, and this year’s victor is up there with them all.

On paper it looked an intriguing race even though just the four went to post. Altior, Un De Sceaux and the young pretenders, Sceau Royal and Saint Calvados.

As expected, Saint Calvados set-off in front with the old warrior, Un De Sceaux, pressing the leader. The race seemed to be run at strong pace. Saint Calvados couldn’t really match the Willie Mullins 10-year-old, and was starting to back-peddle three out and ended-up a well beaten third. The 5-year-old wasn’t disgraced, but has plenty to find if he’s to win a Group 1 in top company.

Top class novice chaser was Sceau Royal. As expected, although he held up well, he could never really get into a challenging position, and was a beaten horse three out. Of the four runners he was probably the one most inconvenienced by the ground, which was probably closer to heavy than soft. He wouldn’t be one to give-up on just yet when he gets a sounder surface to race on.

The two best horses came to the fore, and the two young chasers were put in their place. Coming to the second last, Un De Sceaux was challenged by Altior, and after the last his jockey only had to shake the reins at his mount to see him go clear of the eventual runner-up.

Ruby Walsh had made it a real test of stamina on Un De Sceaux. The Irish Legend’s jumping was excellent and it’s what got him so close to Altior at the finish. He ran his heart out, but he had came up against a very special horse in the winner.

Altior is one of the classiest chasers we have seen in recent years, and once again his strength at the finish of a race was in evidence. This win means the 8-year-old is now a perfect 10 from 10 over fences. What a magnificent horse he is. Can anyone beat him?

Weekend Eyecatcher

This week’s horse for the tracker is Noble Endeavor, trained by Gordon Elliott.

The 9-year-old was returning from a 600-day absence in the Becher Chase at Aintree on Saturday. The 2016 winner of the Paddy Power Handicap Chase at Leopardstown, who went on to finish a close-up third in the Ultima Handicap Chase at The Cheltenham Festival.

Starting the season 2lb lower than at Cheltenham. Not surprising after such a long break he raced like the run was needed, indeed, he has no great record after a break and all his five career wins have come when racing 16 to 60 days since his last run.

It was a very promising reappearance from the gelding, who got a good first sight of the Grand National fences. He was never really got into the race and finished 9th , but didn’t have a hard race and could drop down a few pounds after this run. You can see why Gordon Elliott is wanting to return the horse to the course for the big one in April. Whatever his fate there, he can surely win another big handicap chase.

Saturday Big Race Trends

Last week’s big race trends came up with Vieux Lion Rouge for the Becher Chase who relished the rain softened ground to finish runner-up, and managed to land the column the each-way money at 20/1.

Next weekend’s big betting race is the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham, and it’s that race that provides this weekend’s big race trends.

Cheltenham – Saturday 15th December

1:55 – Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) – 2m 4 ½ f

The 2008 renewal was cancelled. So, on this occasion I have looked at the last nine renewals of the race from a trend’s perspective. The results below contain 9 winners from 128 runners with 31 placed.

Here are a few of the more interesting ones.

Age: 4yo to 8yo
9 winners from 102 runners with 29 placed

4-year-olds are 2 wins from 2 runners both trained by Paul Nicholls.

Odds SP: 18/1 & bigger
0 winners from 42 runners with 3 placed

Days Since Last Run: 21 to 45 days
9 winners from 84 runners with 27 placed

Best In Five Runs: 1st
9 winners from 95 runners with 26 placed

Distance Move: Down in trip
0 winners from 37 runners with 5 placed

7 winners from 45 runners 17 placed were stepping up ½ f.

Last Race Track: Cheltenham & Ascot
8 winners from 70 runners with 20 placed

Trainer: Paul Nicholls

4 winners from 17 runners

Strike Rate 24%

SP Profit +28

6 placed

Trends Verdict: 
It’s been a good race from a trend’s perspective in recent years. I know… famous last words!

If you take the first four trends and add-in runners stepping-up in distance between ½ f & 2f from their last run, it has produced:

9 winners from 33 runners

SP Profit +63

16 placed

All the last nine winners from just 26% of the total runners.

It could also pay to lookout for runners carrying 10-2 or less, starting 16/1 & under, and aged 4 to 8. Runners with those three traits have produced:

3 winners from 8 runners , PS Profit + 19.5 with 4 placed .

All Paul Nicholls’s four winners had the following traits:

Age: 4yo to 7yo

Odds: 16/1 & under

Distance Move: Up ½ f

Last Race Track: Cheltenham

Producing: 4 winners from 9 runners

Strike Rate 44%

SP Profit +36

5 placed

The BetVictor Gold Cup at the last meeting here has been an excellent guide to finding the winner of this race, with six of the last nine winners of the race having run in that race.

The first three home in the BetVictor, Baron Alco (15/2),Frodon (10/1), the 2016 winner & Guitar Pete (12/1), last year’s winner of this race, are all entered. Happy Diva (14/1) and Rather Be (6/1) were both still going well enough when bought down four out.

The Paul Nicholls trained Movewiththetimes (16/1) came down at the last, but was probably booked for the third at best, even if he had stood up. Despite being 0 wins from 6 runs over fences, he’s got plenty of ability and can surely win a nice pot when he puts it all altogether.

Another Nicholls runner who goes well here is Le Prezien (20/1). He won the Grand Annual at the Festival over shorter, he finished 3rd in last year’s BetVictor but was only 8th in this last year, although it has to be said he was down on his nose three out when still going well, and didn’t recover from it.

Aso (16/1), trained by Venetia Williams, jumped really well to win on his seasonal reappearance at Newbury. An easy, 13 length winner, that day he does have 8lb more to carry here and fails the days since last run criteria, but he can’t be ruled out as he was runner-up to Frodon in the race in 2016, beaten by just ½ length, and there shouldn’t be much between the pair again. If the Newbury race isn’t too quick, he has to be a major contender. He is 1 from 1 when racing within 15-days of his last start.

It has the makings of a renewal of the race if all the above eight horses were to take their place in the line-up.

This Weeks Key Stats

Here are some trainer stats that are worth noting should they have runners at certain tracks this week:



Chris Gordon (Handicap Chases)

4 winners from 11 runners

Strike Rate 36%

SP Profit +4

6 placed

Place Strike Rate 55% since the start of 2015.



Ian Williams (Hurdles)

5 winners from 7 runners

Strike Rate 71%

SP Profit +12

7 placed

Place Strike Rate 100% since the start of 2015



Ruth Jefferson (Hurdles)

4 winners from 11 runners

Strike Rate 36%

SP Profit +58

7 placed

Place Strike Rate 64% since the start of 2015.



Philip Kirby (Handicap hurdles)

4 winners from 8 runners

Strike Rate 50%

SP Profit +6

5 placed

Place Strike Rate 63% since the start of 2015.

Friday & Saturday


Rose Dobbin (Handicaps)

6 winners from 12 runners

Strike Rate 50%

SP Profit +28

8 placed

Place Strike Rate 67% since the start of 2015.

Good luck with this week’s punting

Until next week.

All the best,
John Burke
for The Race Advisor

John Burke

I have a MA in International Politics and having spent a number of years working in political campaigning but I eventually I realised that politics was not the world where I wanted to work I had been interested in horse racing since the late 1980s but in the early years I was merely just betting and watching racing like most people as a bit of fun and a hobby, then the hobby becomes a passion and that’s what happened to me with horse racing. I soon realised that to make money from my hobby I had to learn as much as I could about the sport and betting in general. The whole process took time but after a number of successful years of betting, I decided in 2011 to take the plunge, gave up my full time day job and decided to bet on horse racing as a part time business and I haven’t looked back since. I like to specialise in the better class of races and I love to solve the puzzles posed by big field handicaps the latter races often provide punters with great value betting opportunities. Whilst most of my time is spent reviewing previous races I like to keep things as simple as possible as even the biggest field handicaps can usually be pruned down to half a dozen strong contenders with the right sort of approach.


  1. Hi john i have been following your weekly eyecatchers report for a while.The last one i got was from 17th dec which said you were off for two weeks and your next post would be new years eve.I havnt seen anything on the site since the one on 17th.Just wondering if problem at my end or are you still off

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