Weekly Eyecatchers

On what wasn’t the best of weeks for the column it has to be said. Chill The Kite was the standout performance, when winning at 20/1 at York and even if you had been backing all last weeks tracker horses blindly that win would have given you a healthy profit on the week.

I have to say that I gave Chill the Kite one last chance after a couple of disappointing runs as the likely strong pace set up would suit his hold up style.

This week’s notebook horses are mostly from last weeks Ebor Festival and include one horse that is already in the tracker.

Wednesday 19th August

Bogart – Kevin Ryan – I won’t go into detail on this one as I have mentioned him before. Trainer Kevin Ryan didn’t have a winner this year at his favourite meeting which will have disappointed him. The six year old was well beaten here but the good to soft going wouldn’t have been in his favour and he was drawn on the stands side when the draw bias was helping those drawn low to middle. This race and next months Portland Handicap at Doncaster have been his targets all season. He was second in that race last year when beaten two lengths by the well handicapped Muthmir and will go into this year’s renewal off a slightly reduced mark after this run. Connections will be hoping the ground is no worse than good.

Whitman – Mark Johnston – The two year old had won his previous two starts on good to firm. Like the rest of the field he was no match for the clearly well handicapped winner but still ran a great race to finish third under his top weight. The rain prior to the meeting didn’t really suit this speedy sort and he looks worth another go on quicker going. He is entered in some good Group races in the autumn so is clearly well regarded by connections but there could well still be a nursery in the horse off his present mark.

Thursday 20th August


Extremity – Hugo Palmer – In a race where a handful caught my eye, I settled for this one. The trainer’s horses weren’t really firing at the Ebor Festival and the four year was never really put in to the race here from his wide draw, in first time blinkers. Frankie Dettori said after the race that the horse was unsuited by the going and given connections felt last year that he was best suited by quick going and I am happy to accept that excuse on this occasion. He is only 1lb higher than when winning at Thirsk last September so his present mark is workable and he is worth another chance when the ground is better than good. The Cambridgeshire could be an option for this normally strong traveler although it’s over a furlong longer than he has gone before.

Spangled – Roger Varian – In what had looked a tough fillies handicap on paper. The Roger Varian filly was really well backed pre-race. A winner on her previous two starts she went off 3/1, very slowly away from the stalls she stayed on well to take 4th beaten 1 ½ lengths at the finish. Both her wins were achieved on good to firm going so the ground may not have been ideal on this occasion and she remains a filly with plenty of improvement. Has the potential to be a listed maybe Group class filly and it will be interesting to see if she is kept to handicap company or is upped in class for her next race.

Friday 21st August


Sahaafy – Barry Hills – The three year old had been a very impressive winner over a mile at Newmarket back in May but had disappointed on his next two starts. His 4th here was a welcome to return to form by the son of Kittens Joy on ground that would have been plenty soft enough for him. The short break seemed to have freshened him up and he was a little keen in the early stages of the race. A strong traveller it would be interesting to see him dropped back to 7f/. A strongly run race at that distance on good to firm going could really suit him!

Saturday 22nd August


Al – Luca Cumani – In a race run at a very strong pace where it paid to be held up off the pace. The three year old was a bit keen on the outside, without any cover, and was up with the pace for most of the way. He had looked between the final two furlongs that he would fade away but he stayed on well on take 7th and in the circumstances his performance can be marked up. He was put up 12lb for his last win and up several notches in grade so he still has the potential to be a decent staying handicapper. Looks at his best with a bit of juice in the ground and he is the right hands to progress further.

Earth Drummer – David O’Meara – Was a consistent handicapper for connections last season and had run a really good race on his return from a break in the Shergar Cup mile handicap two weeks earlier. The 1m 2f trip had looked like it would suit the gelding and he came with what looked like a winning run down the stands rail but the effort was short lived and he faded inside the final furlong. Maybe the run came too soon or maybe he didn’t get the trip? He certainly looks like he is a bit of a “thinker” and maybe some headgear and a drop in trip will suit him. He is on a winnable mark and his shrewd trainer will surely place him to advantage before the season is out.


Green Light – Ralph Beckett – Backing unlucky horses can be a quick way to the poor house but I am sticking him in my tracker. The four year old hadn’t got the clearest of runs on two previous starts and once again here he didn’t get the best of runs here when making his effort two furlongs out. He had been held up off the pace here, its not the best of tracks to make ground from behind and his backers including me knew their fate when his jockey was trying for a run on the inside and ran into trouble. He has run well on good to firm but his winning form at Nottingham came on soft and being a son of Authorized that could be his best surface. Off his present mark there is a decent handicap in the horse but he clearly needs all the cards to fall right.

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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