Weekly Eyecatchers

A quiet week but some nice winners including the Portland winner Steps at 12/1, Babyfact at 2/1 and Ribbons at 3/1. It’s worth looking at the Portland in a bit more detail as it shows the power of putting horses in your notebook and backing them when they get their optimum conditions!

There were three tracker horses running in the race: Bogart, B Fifty Two and Steps.

The first two weren’t suited by the loose ground but what a great win by Steps. Back at the beginning of June I put the horse up as an eyecatcher after a really good run in the “Dash” at Epsom. This is what I wrote:

“A hold up performer he needs all the cards to fall right if he is to get his head in front. Has now finished fourth in the last two renewals of the race and once again was staying on well at the finish despite not getting the best of runs. The harder they go up front the better for the seven year old and he is at his best on slower ground than he faced here”

As I have mentioned in the past I tend to back a horse when it’s running in the same type of race as it was an eyecatcher in. I haven’t backed the horse in its last three starts as I have waited it for it to run in handicap with some in ease in the ground. The rain that fell overnight meant the horse got his ground on Saturday and was he was also guaranteed the strong pace he needed to go close.

As we enter the final weeks of the flat turf season I thought I would add a couple of horses this week who should win races on the artificial surfaces in the coming weeks.

Monday 7th September


Emjayem – Ed McMahon – Might be a five year old but this was only his 12th career start. Clearly he hasn’t been the easiest to train but his close up second place was a nice return having being off the track since his seasonal reappearance in May. Well suited by quick going on turf there probably wont be many opportunities on that going in the coming weeks but he is still unexposed on the synthetics where he has only had two starts and was last seen on such a surface, in August last year, when winning over 5f at Wolverhampton. Probably needs a fast run race, as he seems to do his best work at the finish but certainly looks up to winning another small handicap.

Tuesday 8th September


Rememberance Day – Les Eyre – The filly was having her first start since March and really should have won this race. She stumbled at the start, was then soon behind but was making relentless headway inside the final furlong and was only beaten a length at the finish. She was running well on the all weather last winter, including a win over 7f at Kempton. The four year old handles quick going and has now twice run well at this track. There should a handicap in her off this present mark.

Wednesday 9th September


Ancient Cross – Michael Easterby – The 11 year old is in the veteran stage and hasn’t got into the winners enclosure since winning the Ayr Silver Cup two years ago off a mark of 97, now racing off 72. He probably isn’t up to winning in that grade company now (is entered in the Ayr Bronze Cup) but has showed up well this year and ran a good race here in the first time visor staying on nicely in the final couple of furlongs to be beaten a length into 5th at the line. Effective over 5f when he gets plenty of give in the ground, he probably needs 6f on better ground these days. Despite his age he shown enough to suggest he can win off his present mark.

Friday 11th September


Horsted Keynes – David Simcock – The five year old went over to race in the USA last autumn and then returned to the UK at the start of the year for his new trainer. A couple of disappointing runs at Meydan and he didn’t fare much better when running down the field in the Bunbury Cup. This run down to an extended 6f was much more encouraging. Not surprisingly he wasn’t quick enough down in trip but was staying on to finish a 3 ½ length 4th. He has become a well handicapped horse and is now 3lb lower than when a ¾ length 2nd in a big field 7f handicap at Royal Ascot last year. A return to that trip will suit but its worth bearing in mind he is a much better horse on good to firm going or on the all weather. The trainer is in much better form now and should be able to place the horse to advantage.


Frantical – Luke Dace – Highly regarded by his trainer as a two year old. The gelding made a satisfactory return on his seasonal reappearance at the end of June but then pulled two hard on his next start at Lingfield. He was once again a little keen in the early part of this race and also made his effort out very wide three furlongs out. He possibly made his move to early and paid for it in the final stages but still ran a race full of promise to be beaten only 2 ¼ lengths into 4th . There are races to be won off his present mark but needs to settle better!

Saturday 12th September


Gabrial’s Kaka – Richard Fahey – The five year old is on a long losing run and his last win was back in April 2014 but there is no denying that he has become a very well handicapped horse off a 7lb lower mark. He ran well here to take third despite making his effort out much wider than the winner and runner up. This effort can be marked up as he was also running on ground that would have been plenty soft enough as all his four wins have come with good in the going description. There is surely a handicap in the horse sooner rather than later.


Highland Acclaim – David O’Meara – Caught my eye when finishing second at York’s Ebor meeting but then disappointed when running at Ascot a week ago. Weak in the market that day and held up his jockey seemed to give the horse too much to do and he only got into the race when it was all over on a day where it was hard for horses coming from behind. This was a better performance as he was staying on strongly to take 5th at the finish of this 5 ½ f Portland Handicap. I have a suspicion that he is better horse on quicker going than he faced here although he did run well at York on good to soft last October. Handicapped to win a valuable 6f handicap he will pop up when all the cards fall right. Will likely be going to Ayr for the Gold Cup, which he was 9th last year, a race which I think has been his target all season, He would have a decent chance with the right draw and on ground no worse then good to soft. The four year old need a few to drop out though if he is to get a run and is a best priced 20/1 at the time of writing.

Good luck with your betting this week and as ever if you have any questions or comments 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.

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