Weekly Eye-Catchers – Horse Racing

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Hi all,

Bristol De Mai Blows Away Rivals But Won’t Win A Gold Cup!

Bristol De Mai is one of those horses not only does he handle the mud he relishes it. His win in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase now means he has produced his best two performances on Racing Post Ratings at Haydock on testing ground. His trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies still believes the gelding can produce a level of performance like that on better ground and a different track but I am not so sure.

If the Gold Cup was switched to Haydock and was run on soft ground then he would win it. Sadly for connections, the race will be run on an undulating track on good or good to soft ground at worst. In all likelihood, he is probably just a stone better horse on a track like Haydock. He beat Cue Card by 57 lengths into second but Cue Card is not the horse he was as age has caught up with him and the holding ground wouldn’t have been in his favour either.

So a great jumping and travelling performance form Bristol De Mai and maybe the best performance we will see from a chaser this season but he won’t win the Gold Cup and I am not sure he will reproduce this running in the  King George on a sounder surface either. I will be more than happy to eat lashings of humble pie if the 6-year-old bolts up in the King George and pulverises his field to take the Gold Cup in March but somehow I don’t think I will be.

Eyecatcher Trainer Comments

This week’s significant quotes from trainers, with my additional notes, and it’s something slightly different this week as I look at trainer comments for two horses that we may see running in races this weekend at Newbury. Both comments come courtesy of the Racing Post Stable Tours:

Bigmartre – Harry Whittington“I really rate this fellow. We got him from France in 2015 and he’s won four times for us, most recently on his British chasing debut at Ludlow last month. We were absolutely thrilled with that performance because, although we knew he jumped well, it isn’t until they do it in a race that you see the real horse. I think that bodes very well for the future and the plan is to take him to Newbury next week for the 0-140 novice handicap we won two years ago with Arzal”.

The 6-year-old put in a great round of jumping to win at Ludlow over fences on his seasonal reappearance and the fact that his trainer indicated after that win in October that the Newbury race on Friday would be a target and remains so after his recent interview with the Racing Post is significant. The trainer has ambitious further targets for his horse like the ‘Kingmaker’ at Warwick in January, maybe even the Grand Annual Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in March which shows how highly regarded he is. One to note for the rest of the season.

Calipto – Venetia Williams – “We bought him out of Doncaster sales and he had to have a wind operation last autumn, which is why he didn’t come out for us until the Cheltenham Festival. He hadn’t run for nearly a year by then but he ran a cracker to finish sixth in the Grand Annual. Although he was beaten quite a long way at Ascot the other day he ran an encouraging race, but we’ve got to step him up in trip because it was all happening a bit too quick for him. Even at Cheltenham it was only late on that he was closing”.

Another horse we could see at Newbury at the weekend. With the Venetia Williams horses starting to hit form I can see a win in the horse when he steps up to 2m 4f. His seasonal reappearance run was full of promise given the trainer’s runners were not going that well when he ran at in the Ascot race. He looks on a competitive mark and he has entries for races at Newbury & Doncaster on Friday.

This Weeks EyeCatcher’s

Another four horses for the trackers this week

Friday 24th November


Brandon Hill – Tom George – The 9-year-old was having his first start since his switch the trainer. He gave an excellent jumping display from the front and was only headed between the final two fences and although he was no match for the easy winner he stayed on to take 2nd. A winner twice in four starts over fences last season both on soft ground, incidentally both his hurdle wins also came on soft too. His record in December and January when racing between 16 to 45 days of his last run is 4 wins from 4 runs +20.5. The handicapper hopefully wont put him up much for this run and he looks capable of winning a handicap chase of this sort of mark and a bit higher.

Ffos Las

Black Narcissus – Alexandra Dunn – The mare ran much better in this Ffos Las handicap chase than she had done when pulling up on her seasonal reappearance at Chepstow 16 days earlier and was beaten just over 6 lengths into 3rd in this Class 5 contest. The 8-year-old showed that she still retains ability to win a handicap this winter when the mud is flying and at this moderate level. She is back down to her last winning mark and her best five performances according to Racing Post Ratings have come on soft or heavy going. Four of her five career wins have come on soft and heavy, the other on good to soft, and she is 5 wins from 13 runs 38% +27.5 6 placed 46% when racing within the last 30 days of her last start.

Saturday 25th November


Russe Blanc – Kerry Lee – The 10-year-old had shaped with promise when 4th on his seasonal reappearance at Carlisle and was well backed before his Haydock run to add to his win record in the hands of Richard Johnson. He was hampered by a faller at the 9th which put him on the back foot but was still close up when blundering and unseating the jockey at the 15th.

He is loves a slog in the mud being 3 wins from 9 runs on heavy ground with his two other career wins coming on soft and three of his five career wins have come when racing 16 to 30 days since his last start. The veteran goes well a Carlisle and his last five form figures at that track are 32124. He is also 2 wins from 4 runs at Warwick which is where he won his last race back in January 2016.

Despite his age he remains unexposed over 3m 2f+, on soft or heavy ground and when racing 21 to 45 days since his last run – 2 wins from 4 runs 3 placed producing form figures 1192. Hopefully he will be none the worse for this mishap and he can win a race off his present mark when he gets his optimum conditions.

Minella Awards – Harry Fry – Was making his seasonal reappearance in the valuable Stayers handicap Hurdle over 2m 7f. Despite this being his first run since April he was well backed before the race going off at odds of just 6/1. He was travelling well enough in midfield in the back straight but soon weakened and was wisely pulled up by his jockey. He has won on spring soft ground but he couldn’t handle this winter heavy ground he faced here. He can be forgiven this run and will be a different when he gets a sounder surface to race on.

Very much an improver over hurdles last spring winning the valuable EBF Handicap Hurdle a Sandown over 2m 4f and improving further to win a 3m Handicap Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival a month later. This 6-year-old should make into a decent staying chaser when he goes over the larger obstacles but he remains unexposed over hurdles with this being only his 6th start under rules.

Make sure you check out this week’s micro angles & stats article, as I will be looking at the weekend’s big meeting at Newbury, featuring the Ladbrokes Trophy (former Hennessey Gold Cup) and other interesting and profitable stats.

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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