Weekly Eye-catchers – Horse Racing

horse racing

Well after the previous Saturday’s racing ‘overkill’ this weeks fare was more key, plenty of it but not much in terms of quality or big race flat handicaps. However, we have plenty to look forward to with the King George at Ascot on Saturday quickly followed by Glorious Goodwood and the Galway Festival.

Those who like the summer jumping were more than catered for on Saturday as Market Rasen held its most valuable meeting of the year with the feature race being the Summer Plate Handicap Chase and over the Irish Sea it was Irish Oaks Day at the Curragh.

I will begin this week’s column by looking at the big races held at Newbury, the Curragh and Market Rasen on Saturday.

Weekend Review


The feature race of the day on the Flat in Britain was the Wetherby’s Super Sprint for two year olds. The race provided a big winner at 9/2 for trainer Johnny Portman as his Mrs Danvers followed up her wins at Lingfield & Windsor with a clear cut success under a fine ride from Luke Morris off 8-0. The filly is thought to be capable of gaining some black type according to her trainer. Certainly she is a very speedy sort and has a good attitude to her racing. Given both her previous wins came on soft ground it was good to see she could also handle the good to firm ground she faced here. The winner enhanced the great record of fillies in the race with the fairer sex having won 10 of the last 18 renewals of the race.

One to note: The one to take out the race is the Philip McBride trained Spiritual Lady. The filly came into the race less experienced than many in the field having only had the one run previous when winning at Newmarket, on soft ground over 6f. Well fancied in the betting before the race, going off only a 6/1 chance she faced much quicker going this time around and was dropping down to 5f for this race. Despite being hampered at the start she ran fine race to finish 5th, beaten just 3 1/4 lengths by the winner at the line. Still has scope for improvement and I wouldn’t be surprised if she beat the winner if they were to meet again. Certainly she can win again this season!


Mecca’s Angel put behind her a very poor run in the King Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot with an authoritative win in the 5f Group 2 Sapphire Stakes and is now back on course for the season.

The Irish Oaks looked like it was heading back to Ballydoyle and so it turned out but it wasn’t the Aiden 0’Brien, 4/5 favourite, Even Song that took the fillies middle distance classic but the second string Seventh Heaven. The Daughter of Galileo had won the Lingfield Oaks Trial back in the spring, beating subsequent Epsom Oaks 2nd Architecture by a neck. She beat that filly again into 2nd but even further this time. Had run poorly at Epsom but connections didn’t think she handled the Epsom undulations and was much better suited by this more conventional track. The favourite Even Song ran no sort of race and could only finish a well beaten 7 of 11. Surely this was not her true running. The winner is on the upgrade and her trainer nominated the Yorkshire Oaks at the Ebor meeting as her next target.

Market Rasen

It was Summer Plate & Summer Hurdle Day at Market Rasen on Saturday and a big crowd was in attendance to see trainer Dan Skelton train a notable double as he took both these two valuable handicaps.

Red Tornado won the Summer Hurdle and the four year old hurdler showed he continues to progress nicely making it 5 from 6 over the smaller obstacles. He travelled and jumped well and stayed on too strongly for the rest of his rivals. He looks to need good ground to be at his best as he is now 3/3 on such going.

Long House Hall took the Summer Plate. The 8 year old had looked on a potentially good handicap mark over fences, based on his second in the Coral Cup handicap hurdle at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, and so it proved as she was to strong for his 15 rivals. There was drama at the last with several horses’ falling when still in with some sort of chance. Although I doubt they would have beaten the good winner. After the race it was interesting to hear his trainer nominate the Coral Cup as the target for the horse once again. Is now 5/12 on good ground which seems to be his favoured surface and he showed at Cheltenham he seems to run best fresh.

One to Note: Monsieur Gibraltar – Trained by Paul Nicholls the five year old had looked on potentially workable mark in the Summer Plate. Held up at the back presumably to get the trip, he was making steady headway and seven lengths down on the leader when falling at the last. Would probably have placed but for that fall. Given the trainer I think he can be placed to win when he gets a bit softer ground to race on. All his three hurdle wins have come on ground ranging from good to soft to heavy. This was only his 6 start over fences so he is open to bit more progression in the sphere.

This Weeks Eyecatchers

There are two further horses for your notebook besides Spiritual Lady and Monsieur Gibraltar:

Saturday 13th July


Lester Kris – Richard Hannon -.The juvenile son of Ascot Gold Cup winner Fame and Glory had run green on his debut over C&D on soft ground but was slowly getting the idea and was finishing off that race nicely at the finish and with a bit further to run could well have finished 2nd. Was well backed before the off but didn’t get the best of runs and had to settle for 5th. A good looking colt, his pedigree is all about stamina not only his sire side but two of his half brothers were winners over 1m 4f & 1m 6f. Has been doing well over 7f but he will be seen too much better effect when he goes over a lot further. Needs one more run to get a handicap mark and has yet to race on ground better than soft!


Hors De Combat – James Fanshawe – Came into the race on a long losing run and indeed hadn’t won since May 2014 at Newmarket before finishing an excellent 3rd in the Britannia handicap at Royal Ascot. Had been running mainly in group and listed contests since then without any success although had run well in plenty of them. Returned to handicap company at York in May and looked a shade unlucky in the run that day. The five year old didn’t handle the soft ground in the Hunt Cup when well beaten so the return to good to firm going he faced here was very much in his favour. Beaten 6th lengths by an improving horse in this mile handicap but this was a much better run from the gelding that is now being given a chance by the handicapper. Both his career wins have come on good to firm and his record on that surface is 2/9 7 places. Not the easiest of rides but there is surely a handicap in him off this sort of mark when he gets his going.

As ever I will be adding a couple of further horses to the software for Eyecatcher Pro subscribers.

If you are a subscriber to the Eyecatcher Pro software I will also be doing some purging of the tracker horses in the next couple of days, work which I wasn’t able to do last week

That’s it for now, and now all that’s left is to wish you a profitable weeks betting and look forward to some great racing on the horizon.

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.
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