Weekly Eye-Catchers – Horse Racing

horse racing

More excellent horse racing over the jumps with top class cards at Wincanton and Aintree and the curtain finally came down on the turf flat season although I suspect for many in the racing hierarchy the season ended a couple of weeks earlier on Champions Day.

The last big race of the season was won by the Ian Williams trained Saunter who didn’t look like he would win two furlongs from home but came with a good run on the stands side of the field and just outstayed his rivals at the finish. He was on a competitive mark on his best form and showcased the talents of his trainer who also won the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton with London Prize.

Saunter’s jockey Jim Crowley ended the season with a Doncaster hat-trick. He may not have been Champion Jockey this year but he must be delighted with the way the season went and the big races he won.

Another jockey in the headlines on Saturday was 5lb conditional jockey Bryony Frost who is attached to the Paul Nicholls yard who won the Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton on the Paul Nicholls trained Present Man. The young jockey gave the horse a great ride and still had enough left after the last to hold off the eventual runner-up Final Nudge.

In my stats preview for the race, I had highlighted the trainer’s record in the race with runners in the race returning within 25 days of their last run.

“Paul Nicholls is 2 wins from 4 runners 50% +15 with his runners in the racing within 25 days of their last start”.

Present Man last raced 20 days previously so hopefully, some of you took the hint and backed yourselves a nice 8/1 winner.

Star Rock was a good win for Eyecatcher followers at Doncaster on Saturday a 4/1, although 8/1 was available on Saturday morning with a few firms. The 4f drop back in trip wasn’t an issue for the Hughie Morrison trained filly. The soft ground clearly helped bring her stamina into play here and the progressive 3-year-old could improve further for 1m 4f if she stays in training next season.

This Friday see’s the start of three days of top-class racing a Cheltenham with the highlight being the BetVictor Gold Cup on Saturday. I will be taking a look at some trainer stats for that meeting in my Race Advisor stats/trends article later in the week, so don’t miss it!

If you are a subscriber to the Eyecatcher Pro Service you will also be getting my selections for the three days of the Cheltenham fixture all for free!

Eyecatcher Trainer Comments

This week’s significant quotes from connections, courtesy of the Racing Post, with my additional notes, are from last Tuesday’s meeting at Exeter.

Politologue – Paul Nicholls“I was slightly nervous Politologue might just need this on the soft ground but he has put up a very pleasing performance. He is learning to settle a lot better as he gets older and he will now head to Sandown for the Tingle Creek Chase at the beginning of next month”.

The six-year-old jumped superbly throughout on his seasonal reappearance the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter last Tuesday. He looked like would win more comfortably than he eventually did when taking the lead four from home but lack of a recent run and the rain-softened ground were probably the reason he idled after the last and allowed his race fit stablemate San Benedeto to get within 2 ¼ lengths of him at the finish. He was value for a lot bigger victory. He is now 4 wins from 4 runs going right-handed and is at his best with give in the ground. He goes to the Tingle Creek with a great chance of a win in Grade 1 company especially if he gets his favoured underfoot conditions.

Dancing Shadow – Victor Dartnell“I am pleasantly surprised that Dancing Shadow has won as he is a better chaser. We left the cheekpieces off this time over hurdles as it was a prep and he will now go for the Borders National at Kelso over four miles”.

The 8-year-old was back in hurdling company for his seasonal reappearance and connections were clearly delighted that he could win over the smaller obstacles and over a distance of 2m 5 ½ f. The last time the gelding went to Scotland he won the Edinburgh National at Musselburgh back in February and the Border’s National looks an ideal race for the stayer who has another staying handicap chase in him this season.

This Weeks EyeCatcher’s

I have four jumps horses for your trackers this week and like last week I also have an all-weather tracker horse which is exclusive to EyeCatcher Pro Subscribers.

Thursday 9th November


For Good Measure – Philip Hobbs – The six-year-old was a useful staying handicap hurdler at 3m and a full brother to Grand National runner-up Balthazar King, so it was a bit of a surprise to see the gelding make his chase debut over Ludlow’s sharp 2m track. Not surprisingly he wasn’t able to go the pace in the early stages of the race but he stayed on to finish a never nearer 4th at the line. A 137 rated hurdler he has the potential to improve over fences when he gets more of a stamina test than he got on his seasonal reappearance. He should get 2m6f + over fences.


Closing Ceremony – Emma Lavelle – The trainer’s horses have been needing the run this autumn and the 8-year-old was no exception. Having his first start since January 2016 the gelding went off in front from the start and only gave way three from home. The lack of a recent run told on him and he eventually finished a well-beaten 7th. The performance was an encouraging one with the future in mind. Three of his four career wins have come at Haydock, with form figures 1116, and all four wins have come on soft or heavy ground and over around 3m.

His optimum conditions seem to be; soft or heavy ground, 3m + and racing between 21 & 60 days since his last run – 4 wins from 6 runs +19.41 5 placed 83% which have produced the following form figures 311121. He is a well-handicapped horse going forward and will appreciate even softer ground than he faced here and given his front-running style a smaller field would be ideal or one where he doesn’t face too much pace for the lead.

Saturday 11th November


Forza Milan – Jonjo O’Neill – The five-year-old has only had six starts under rules, winning a Chepstow 2m 3 ½ f maiden hurdle back in February on soft ground. He built on the promise of his Worcester seasonal reappearance, on good ground, with a good 2nd over 3m ½ f on return to a rain-softened surface. Plenty of scope for more improvement and he can win more races this winter.


Theatre Guide – Colin Tizzard – The 10-year-old was as good as ever last season winning at Cheltenham in December and ended last season with a great weight-carrying performance when finishing just ½ length into 3rd in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April under top weight of 11-12. He had a wind operation over the summer and made an excellent start to the season finishing 3rd in the Badger Ales Trophy. He was never really in contention but made steady headway at the end of the race to finish 3rd. Looked in need of the run and although he is 5lb above his last win he will remain competitive in these big field handicap chases over the winter.

The second home Final Nudge has really taken to fences. He was in the process of running a big race the Midlands Grand National when falling four out and he looks capable of winning a nice staying handicap chase over the winter. This race might just have been needed and all his seven career wins have come on soft or heavy.

All that’s left now is to wish you a profitable week’s punting.


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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