Weekly Eye-Catchers – Horse Racing

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I love it when a plan comes together in horse racing and a trainer plots a horse to win a big race. That’s what happened on Saturday over at Leopardstown as the Liam Cusack trained Who’s That won the mares handicap hurdle.

This is what I wrote for Eyecatcher Pro subscribers after the mares run at Leopardstown over Christmas:

Who’s That -“stayed on nicely from off the pace at a track she likes. It would make sense to target the mares´ contest she won here earlier in the year!”

The mare duly turned up at the weekend and won at lovely 12/1, I had backed here early in the day at 14s but I believe 16s was available with some firms. It’s winners like that pay for the Eyecatcher Pro subscription!

All in all it was a good week for the eyecatchers column with another three winners at 15/2, 4/1 & 9/4 for a very healthy profit after a quiet run for us in the past few weeks. Hopefully were about to go on a run like we did on the flat last year and it’s a perfect time to do so with the Cheltenham Festival just five weeks away.

As ever before looking at this week’s eyecatchers I will have a brief look at the weekend’s action and see if there were any pointers for Cheltenham in March.

Weekend Review: Mullins Steals The Limelight Again!

There were four Grade 1 races at Leopardstown on Saturday and once again it was Willie Mullins who stole the show by taking three of the races and should have taken the 4th but for a faller at the last in the Irish Gold Cup. But for punters it wasn’t good news as two of the Mullins Grade 1 winners weren’t stable first choices and came home at 14/1 & 11/1.

Carlingford Lough won the Irish Gold Cup for the second year running but for most of the race it had seemed very unlikely outcome as he was under pressure in and in the rear three out. As connections feared before the race Road to Riches wasn’t at his best on the heavy going. It seems likely that the Ryanair Chase will be his target at Cheltenham now rather than the Gold Cup. The unlucky horse was clearly the Mullins trained Valseur Lido who was travelling like the winner when blundering and falling at the last. This was a welcome return to form for the seven year old who had disappointed in the King George at Kempton. He will surely now go for the Gold Cup in March and is a best priced 20/1 for that race now.

The biggest surprise on day of surprises at Leopardstown was the defeat of the ante post favourite for Triumph Hurdle Ivanovich Gorbatov in the juvenile hurdle. The Aiden O’Brien trained four year old had been an impressive winner on his hurdle debut at the track over Christmas and was heavily backed to make it 2 from 2. He was never really travelling through the race and was beaten just under 10 lengths at the finish. A disappointing run clearly for connections but the bookies clearly overreacted to this performance and pushed him out to a generous looking 8/1 for Chelenham. Given he won on quick going on the flat it’s probably fair to assume we will see a different horse in March. Money came in for him and he was once again backed into favouritism for the Triumph with most books.

Not sure we saw any other potential Cheltenham winners at Leopardstown although Blazer was a good winner of the handicap hurdle on the card and the J P McManus owned five year old could well be aimed at the County Hurdle for which he is now a best priced 12/1. The eight year old Outlander took the Novice’s Chase in decent style despite idling on the run in. He could go for either the JLT or RSA and would have a chance in whatever race Willie Mullins should aim him at.

Over this side of the Irish Sea we saw Le Reve win the big handicap chase at Sandown that he had won last year with the first time blinkers doing the trick. The Lucy Wadham trained horse travelled with more fluency than he had done in previous races and if the headgear continues to work then he could win a big pot. He won’t be winning at pot at Cheltenham though as he is clearly a much better horse going right handed.

Nigel Twiston-Davies will have been happy with his Saturday as he took the two big novice Chases at Sandown and Wetherby. Bristol De Mai took the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novice Chase at Sandown, to complete a hatrick over fences. He is now around 5/1 for the JLT but he is suited by being able to make the running. As good a jumper as he is, he won’t find that easy to do at Cheltenham. His main market rival Tea For Two ran below his best and the drop down in trip by a half a mile was isn’t in his favour either. A return to three miles will be ideal and after the race connections suggested the Pendil Chase at Kempton or the Betbright Handicap Chase on the same card could be on the cards for him. The latter race would be a very interesting race given how well he won the Feltham Chase over C&D.

Blaklion made it a notable double for the trainer when out staying his rivals in the three mile Grade 2 Towton Novice Chase at Wetherby. Useful but just below the best as a novice hurdler, the seven year old is now progressing over fences and by winning here he paid a nice compliment to my RSA ante post bet Seeyouatmidnight who had beaten him on his previous start at Cheltenham. Is now 3rd favourite for the RSA and actually ahead of Seeyouatmidnight in the betting. This suggests that race will be his target come March and not now the four mile National Hunt Chase which I think would be a better race given stamina is clearly his strong suit.

Cheltenham Eyecatchers

As like previous weeks here is the section where you will find my Cheltenham Festival notebook horses if there are any.

Just the one that I have added to my Cheltenham ante post betting portfolio this week and its Ivanovich Gorbatov who I think will be a much better horse come March in the Triumph Hurdle. Sadly the 8/1 has mostly gone; although at the time of writing it is still available with Racebets. In a race which I won’t be having to much of an interest he will do for me now until the day of the race.

This Weeks Eyecatchers

I have got four eyecatchers this week for you but if you’re an Eyecatcher Pro subscriber I have also added two horses from last Thursday’s Meydan meeting that look capable of winning races in the coming weeks at the Carnival.

Wednesday 3rd February


Bramshill Lass – Amanda Perrett – The Amanda Perrett trained seven year old was having her first start since finishing 4th at Lingfield back in June 2014. The mare whose last two wins came over 2m not surprisingly found this all happening to quickly for her over 1m 4f but she was staying on at the same pace to take 4th beaten 4 ½ lengths at the line. All four of her career wins have come at either Kempton or Lingfield and she is now races off an 8lb lower mark for her last win back in 2013. The dreaded ‘bounce’ has to be feared given her long absence off the track prior to his run but a return to further will be ideal and she is handicapped to win another modest handicap in this sort of Class when stamina is once again at a premium. It’s worth noting two of her career wins have come when racing within 8 to 15 days of her last run.

Thursday 4th February


Unique De Cotte – David Pipe – One of the most unlucky of horses last week. The eight year old hasn’t been the easiest of horses to train as this was only his 12th career start. He unseated his rider on his chase debut at Kempton and he was unfortunate in the run again here. Travelling really well in the first time hood behind the leader he was badly hampered when the equally as strong travelling Stiletto, another worth putting in your notebook for a handicap chase as he looks on a decent mark in this sphere, fell three out and if he hadn’t have been hampered he would surely have won this race. A top class handicap hurdler who last year was beaten less than 2 lengths in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He also won a big field handicap hurdle at Cheltenham back in November 2014. Cheltenham clearly suits the horse as he has put up some of his best performances at the course. Big fields hold no terrors for him and all his career wins have come with soft in the going description. On the evidence of this run he looks on a good handicap mark and given his owner is J P McManus it’s not hard to think this horse will be targeted at a nice race.

Friday 5th February


Rummaging – Michael Halford – The eight year old had been right out of form since winning a couple of handicaps on the turf in mid-summer. Prior to last year he had never won on the turf and all his six career wins had come on the synthetics at Dundalk. Had showed on his previous start that he could be returning back to form to form when a 1 ¼ length 4th here. His neck second here was a further step in the right direction and he has dropped down the handicap and is now 15lb lower than for his last win on the all weather in March 2014. It’s worth mentioning that six of his career wins have come when running within 15 days of his last start and he is clearly better suited to a smaller field as seven of his wins have come in single digit fields. Clearly still retains ability to win a handicap or two when he gets his optimum field size.

Saturday February 6th


Joshua Lane – Edward Harty – The seven year old had looked to have a good future over hurdles when finishing 3rd in the Champion Bumper at 2014 Cheltenham Festival. It hasn’t quite worked out that way for the Edward Harty trained horse and he has yet to win on his six starts over hurdles. He had shaped better on his previous start at Naas and this was a further improved from him. He had travelled well for most of the race and when taking it up before two out looked the most likely winner but the really testing ground just found him out after he was headed on the run in and he had to settle for an honourable 3rd at the finish. As he has showed in the past he handles good going and is one to have on your side when he gets better going. Despite being a maiden over hurdles he has the capability to win a decent pot.

All that’s left is to wish you a profitable week and see you all next week.

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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