Weekly Eye-Catchers – Horse Racing

horse racing

Hi all,

As I mentioned in the last column we saw some excellent horse racing at Newmarket and Newbury and it’s the first week of the new flat season where I had a decent number of horses for you to put into your trackers with future races in mind. Before looking at this week’s horses for your notebooks I will take a look at two of last week’s classic trials winners and a horse that can win a Group 1 sprint when he gets his optimum conditions. So without further ceremony let’s get started.

Classic Clues at Newmarket & Newbury

Last week saw the first of the Classic Trials although I am not sure we saw a 1,000 or 2.000 Guineas winner amhongst them. The two who impressed me most were Daban who took the Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket well enough to suggest she has decent places claims in the first fillies’ classic. The John Gosden trained filly was only having her second career start and her ability to handle the course and quick going will stand her in good stead next month.

On Saturday Barney Roy was a taking winner of the Greenham Stakes at Newbury. The Richard Hannon trained colt was only having his second career start, had previously won over 1m at Haydock last September, and the drop back to 7f was not an inconvenience to him. The return to a mile will be in his favour and although he has to improve again to win at Group 1 level there is every chance he can. He heads to the first colts classic next month a solid contender.

My performance of the week didn’t come in the classic trials but was produced by the Kevin Ryan trained Brando when winning the Abernet Stakes over 6f. The 5-year-old had started last season winning a class 3 handicap at this meeting off a mark of 88 and he ended last season but winning the Ayr Gold Cup carrying 9-10 off a mark of 110 before proving up to Group 1 level with a 1 length 3rd on Champions Day. Granted the weights in this Group 3 contest suited Brando and he didn’t have to run up his Ayr Gold Cup form to win this but it was a really good start to the season on ground that would have been plenty quick enough for the gelding. I am not sure he can win a Group 1 on ground as quick as this but on easier ground I really think he can. Worth remembering that he is 4 wins from 9 runs 7 places on good to soft or soft ground. One to follow for the season!

This Weeks Eyecatchers

This week I have six horses that are worth putting in your trackers.

Tuesday 18th April


Sacred Act – John Gosden – Was beaten on his seasonal reappearance when favourite for the Spring Mile at Doncaster once again attracted market support and was sent off favourite for this 1m handicap. The 6-year-old has only had 7 career starts so there could still be a bit more to come from the gelding. He raced on the stands side here but was no match for the 1st & 2nd home who raced in the larger group more toward the middle of the track. He travelled well enough on the quick ground to suggest that he can win on it. Could be a ‘cliff horse’ but hopefully, he can remain competitive in the good 1m handicaps like the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot.

Wednesday 19th April


Natavia – Roger Charlton – The filly was making her racecourse debut in this mile maiden and was well backed to make it a winning one too being sent off at odds of 4/1. The 3-year-old probably came up against a decent John Gosden filly here and so to run her to ½ length at this trip might look a good performance later in the season. By Nathaniel she also has plenty of stamina on the dam side so should improve further for a step up to 1m 2f and maybe further in time (Has an Oaks entry).

Abdon – Sir Michael Stoute – The trainer often does well with the older horses he keeps in training and Abdon looks set to continue that record. The 1m 1f of the Earl of Sefton Stakes looked like it would be a bit short for the four-year-old on his seasonal reappearance and so it proved. The colt wasn’t given a hard ride and hopefully, that kindness will repay connections on his next start. The return to 1m 2f will be very much in his favour and he looks like he can make up into a decent 4-year-old this year.

Thursday 20th April


Victory Angel – Roger Varian – Improved with each of his three runs as a juvenile ending last season with a win at Doncaster in November on good to firm ground. The colt looked like he starting this season on a handy mark off 81 and so it proved in this 6f handicap. Given a confident ride by jockey Silvestre De Sousa the three-year-old came through with a winning run between the final two furlongs and won with a minimum amount of fuss at the line. The handicapper will no doubt put him significantly up in the weights for this win but even after he is reassessed he should still remain competitive and can win more races as the season goes on.

Saturday 22nd April


Fastnet Tempest – William Haggas – The four-year-old looks set to win a decent handicap this season. Lightly raced for his age this was just he is 8th career start and he looks on a handy mark based on his 3rd place in the Spring Cup. Looked like he had come with a winning run between the final two furlongs but was just run out of it in the shadow of the post, this was his first run since August so he should benefit from it although it’s worth pointing out he has run well off a lay off in the past.

Call to Mind – William Haggas – Could H M Queen have a runner in the 2017 Derby if she does it will be with this Galileo colt. Making his racecourse debut the three-year-old was well backed before the race but the 1m distance was a bare minimum for him and he had to work hard to get his head in front. He is entered in the Dante and the Derby and it will be interesting to see where his next race is. Looks a worth following over 1m 2f+ as the season progresses and should win more races.

All that’s left is to wish you an enjoyable 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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