Weekly Eyecatchers

Eccleston was a well backed winner at 5/1 at Thirsk for the column last week on what was a fairly quiet week for the Eyecatchers.

I am going to start by answering a couple of popular questions that I have been sent in recently by readers:

1. Do you have a view on how best to utilise your ‘eyecatchers’? –

The best way to utilise these horses is to take early prices with the BOG firms as these horses inevitably get backed, Eccleston is a good example of this. Well backed into 5/1 before the race but there were bigger prices available overnight and in the morning.

2. When don’t you back the ‘eyecatchers’ next time out? –

I don’t back them under 5/2 and usually avoid them above 28/1. I also tend to back them when their running in the same type of race that they were eyecatchers in i.e. handicappers in handicaps. This is not a hard and fast rule though and each has to be taken on its own merit.

3. Do you have you any stats on the Profit/Loss of the selections? –

As this isn’t a tipster service and because I don’t back the eyecatchers blindly I don’t keep a record of all the horses running. I do however keep records of the horses that I have backed personally.

Remember many of these horses will be racing in the same races i.e. the big sprint handicaps, so it provides an opportunity to short list possible contenders for these ultra competitive contests and you can add them to your betting portfolio for those races

Usually a horse will become a tracker horse because he is deemed to have been unlucky, or the conditions he raced in were not ‘ideal’ or he was unsuited by the way the race was run and I believe that the horse will win in his next few runs.

Always remember these horses on their own wont provide you with the ‘golden key’ or any short cut to success in your betting and they are just part of many tools that you should have as part of your selection methodology.

This week’s column is slightly shorter than normal. There are six eyecatchers but a couple of these are horses I will only be interested in backing in specific races.

Thursday 27th August


Green Howard – Rebecca Bastiman – The seven year old was a very unlucky horse here. He only finished 5th but was beaten less than two lengths and didn’t get a clear run two furlongs out when making his effort. He had to be switched out left and was staying on well at the finish. He is in good form at present and although still 2lb higher than his last winning mark he looks on a winnable mark. This is his time of year and he is best suited by some give in the ground and a strongly run race over 7f or 8f.

Friday 28th August


Johara – Chris Wall – The four year old filly was having her first start since last August when winning at Kempton and ran a very good to race here to finish 4th in this competitive looking handicap. She didn’t get the clearest of runs when making her effort and would have finished closer. When last seen she had looked an improving sprinter and it looks on the evidence of this run that her progression can continue. Well suited by some ease in the ground and there should be plenty of options available to her in the autumn. Looks set to head to Ayr for the Western Meeting and could line up in one of the big sprint handicaps there.

Saturday 29th August


Shared Equity – Jedd O’Keeffe – In a race which will be worth looking at, as there are a couple horses that can win races in the coming weeks, I am singling out Shared Equity who has been a model of consistency this season but keeps going up in the weights without winning and this close up third place means he will likely go up in the weights again a 1lb or two. He didn’t have the best of draws out in stall 14 but still managed to get into a decent position, albeit caught out wide for most of the way. Soft ground really suits the four year old and a strongly run 7f looks his optimum distance. Connections still think he can take one of these valuable handicaps and he is another who could be aimed at the big sprint handicaps at the Western Meeting. For me he would want the ground to be pretty testing if he was to win over 6f there.


Abbey Angel – Richard Fahey – The filly made a welcome return to form here and ran better than her final position of 4th suggests. Held up at the back she didn’t get the best of runs inside the final two furlongs but was staying on well at the finish. On the evidence of this performance a step up to a 1m 4f might well suit her. The three year old was in good form at this time last year winning at Pontefract and Beverley in August and September and she has returned to a winning mark being a 1lb lower then for her last win in September. I am sure she can be placed to advantage over 1m 2f. Seems to be best suited by a sound surface although did finish second on good to soft last year. Another race which should be looked at again as the form looks reliable and could provide a winner or two.

Finally a couple that interest me for specific races in the coming weeks.


Karaka Jack – Jim Goldie – The eight year old doesn’t hold any secrets from the handicapper but he was a good second here and is 6lb lower than when winning the final of this series last year. He will go up a little for this run but the twice C&D winner looks like he will be aimed at that race again. Worth bearing in mind that 6 of his 7 wins have come on good or good to firm going and he is 1-22 on good to soft or worse. I will be keeping him in mind for the final of the series in October but hoping the ground is no worse than good to soft if he is to be a bet.


Beautiful Romance – Saeed Bin Suroor – First went into my notebook when finishing third in the 7f Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket back in April. The trainer doesn’t normally have many runners in those early Guineas trials and given she is bred to be most effective over 1m 2f + she was clearly held in high regard by connections. The three year old clearly has had training problems after that as she wasn’t seen again till finishing last of six at Deauville at the beginning of August. As her breeding suggested she relished the step up in distance here as well as the rain softened ground, both her wins have come on good to soft. She quickened up well a furlong out and won impressively beating some useful sorts. This was only her 4th career start so she is capable of more improvement over middle distances. After the race her trainer stated “she doesn’t like fast ground and will go to Ascot for the filly and mares´ race on Champions Day” She is worth keeping in mind for that race and will be a bet for me if she gets her going and the price is right!

Hopefully there are some more winners amongst the above when they get their optimum conditions.

As ever if you have any questions leave a message and I will reply to them in next week’s article.

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.


  1. Is there an easy way of finding when the eyecatchers are running? A list of horses scheduled to run in the next 1-2 weeks or whatever or is it a case of checking every day?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Hi George B

    Thanks for your reply.

    For now for most people its a case of making a note of the horses and then checking each day to see if they are running Will have to see if we can help people like yourself who want an easy way to find out when the eyecatchers are running.

    Will keep you updated.

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