Weekly Eye-Catchers – Horse Racing

horse racing

Hi all,

Jump racing has this cruel habit of managing to spoil a big race with a tragedy. We saw evidence of this again on Saturday at Cheltenham as the David Pipe-trained Starchitect, who had run such a good race to finish second in the BetVictor Gold Cup at the last meeting, had jumped his way to the front and gone seven lengths clear of his field in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. He had the race at his mercy and only had to jump the last two fences but he suddenly suffered a broken leg which proved fatal for the six-year-old.

Sadly these things do happen in racing but still it must have been horrible to watch from the stands and our thoughts have to go out to the trainer, the owners the Rooney’s, jockey Tom Scudamore who looked pretty distraught after the race and of course the stable hands who had cared for the horse during his career.

I hope you have been enjoying and profiting from the recent innovation of the Eyecatcher Trainer Comments Section and I have to say they have been doing rather well since I introduced them for the winter jumps season:

Starchitect – 10/1 – BetVictor Gold Cup – 2nd

Misterton – 20/1 – Greatwood Hurdle – 2nd

Highland Lodge – 16/1 – Becher Chase – 3rd

Politologue – 7/2 – Tingle Creek – 1st

Kings Odyssey – 16/1 – Caspian Caviar Gold Cup – 3rd

I will probably have jinxed them for next Saturday but I have a couple more horses that will hopefully run well in forthcoming big races.

Eyecatcher Trainer Comments:

I have trainer comments for two horses, with my additional notes, that we may see running in the two big Saturday’s big handicaps at Ascot, as ever both comments come courtesy of the Racing Post Stable Tours:

Air Horse One – Harry Fry“Very progressive over hurdles last season, apart from his last outing which we can forget as it was one run too many. Ran a career-best to be fourth in County Hurdle and we’ll stick to hurdles for the time being. Will probably reappear at Ascot in a valuable 2m Listed handicap on November, after which there are options like the Greatwood. A strongly run 2m would be perfect; he won over 2m3f at Ascot so we know he stays and he can be ridden aggressively”.

Since that Racing Post quote, the six-year-old has finished 4th in the C&D handicap hurdle that was won by Elgin who has since gone on to win the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham. Air Horse One was only 2 1/4 lengths behind Elgin that day and gets a 5lb pull in the weights in Saturday’s Grade 2 Racing Welfare Handicap Hurdle. Granted the winner has improved since but so has the Harry Fry horse who has since gone onto finish 3rd at Newbury over 2m 4 ½ f. The drop back to a strongly run 2m race shouldn’t be any problem for the gelding especially if there is plenty of juice in the ground. His trainer won this race in 2015 and his only other runner finished 3rd in 2014. The 12/1 available with William Hill looks decent each way.

Yala Enki – Venetia Williams –  “He’s a smashing horse. He’s made the running in a lot of his races but he’s not as keen as he was as a younger horse and it’s probably not necessary for him to do that now? certainly trying to do that in the Badger Ales on Saturday was quite a hard task. We might try a change of tactics now. There’s a lot of good 3m handicap chases around for him and I’m sure he’ll have another genuine season”.

The 7-year-old returned to form with a 3rd placing in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle, 21 days ago, under top weight of 11-12. He was ridden with more restraint at Newcastle and seemed to settle well enough. He is only 3lb higher than for his last win back in March at Kelso and is more than capable of winning a race like Saturday’s Lavazza Silver Cup Handicap Chase off his present mark if he runs.

The only negative about his chance would be his trainer’s current form with her handicap chasers. Since October 1st she has had just 4 winners from 45 runners 9% -22 13 A/E 0.60 13 placed 28% in such races and one of those came on Saturday at Hereford. At around 16/1 with Coral & Ladbrokes, I am more than happy to take an each way punt on him running in the race and going well. I doubt he will be anywhere near that price on the day particularly if the ground remains on the soft side.

This Weeks EyeCatcher’s

Just the three for your trackers this week but as ever extra ones will be added exclusively for Eyecatcher Pro subscribers.

Friday 15th December


Carlos Du Fruitier – Ben Pauling – The 5-year-old was making his handicap hurdle after winning a novice hurdle at Wetherby last month. He was ridden but making headway when falling three out. He would probably have preferred softer ground and he looks capable of winning a handicap hurdle when he gets his favoured underfoot conditions.

Saturday 16th December


Bun Doran – Tom George – The 6-year-old was making his seasonal reappearance and his first run since finishing a good 3rd in a valuable 2m handicap chase at Aintree in April. He looked before the race like he’s improved further and remains open to further progress over fences. Travelled like the winner for most of the race and if he had jumped the last two fences as well as the eventual winner he might well have made a winning return. He should stay further and although he has won on soft he might be a slightly better horse on a sounder surface.

Sunday 16th December


Kilfenora – Edward Harty – The 5-year-old was making his handicap debut in the 2m 1f handicap chase. He hadn’t shown much on his first four starts over fences but he clearly looks a nicely handicapped horse off a mark of 124. Made a few jumping errors but was staying on well enough at the finish to grab 3rd on the run in and was only beaten 1 ¾ length at the line. Given he seemed to stay 2m 6f, when 4th in a handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse, he should improve for step up in trip over fences. He won a maiden hurdle at Punchestown earlier in the year on heavy ground and showed here that deep winter ground holds no terrors for him.

It will be interesting to see if his shrewd trainer aims him at one of the Christmas handicap chases at Leopardstown. There is a good handicap chase in the gelding if he can cut out the mistakes.

Finally, make sure you check out this week’s micro angles & stats article, as I will be looking at the weekend’s big racing at Ascot & Haydock and providing some more interesting and hopefully profitable trainer tracks stats for you.

There won’t be an eyecatcher column next week as its Christmas but I will be back in two weeks.

All that’s left now is to wish you a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.


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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