Weekly Eyecatchers

More winners flowed out of the notebook last week with Bashiba winning at Doncaster on Thursday at 9/2 and Kimberella winning ay York on Friday at 7/1, there was plenty of 10s around in the morning for that one and I got on at 11/1.

There was so much quality racing around from last Thursday that it’s been difficult to keep up with it all, so for the purpose of this column I have concentrated on the meetings at Newmarket and York. All of today’s eyecatchers ran in the big handicaps at each of those meetings.

I have been asked, as to why I only seem to put up horses that have run at the big meetings and haven’t given many horses running in the lesser class of race. There is a simple answer to that. I tend to concentrate my betting on the big races and in particular those tough big field handicaps. That’s not to say I don’t look at any other races and indeed usually do find an average of one runner each day from the lesser meetings to add to my tracker.

In next weeks column I will concentrate on the lesser class of race and will hopefully identify a runner each day from the ‘minor’ meetings for your trackers.

Thursday July 9th


Awesome Power – William Haggas – Was backed like defeat was unthinkable in what looked a competitive handicap and not surprising given the way the three year old had won at Sandown on is handicap debut when beating Saturday’s good winner Western Reserve. He pulled to hard in the early stages and was beaten two furlongs out. This was clearly not his running and connections said after the race that he had been unsuited by the ground. The ground had been quick at Sandown but a look at his pedigree suggests he will be suited by some cut in the ground. Worth another chance on easier ground to show he is better than this run.

Friday July 10th


Outer Space – Jamie Osborne – The four year old hasn’t won since winning at Kempton 6f handicap last August and indeed hasn’t won on turf since his two year old debut. He arguably put up his best ever turf performance when staying on strongly to beaten a 1/2 length into 4th at the finish. He stays 7f but shouldn’t be inconvenienced by a return to strongly run six either. Plenty of ability and handicapped to take a handicap on the evidence of this run!


Bogart – Kevin Ryan – A win record of 4-32 isn’t great but the six year old showed here, when finishing third, that he is capable of landing a decent pot when all the cards fall right. He was drawn on the stands side and was making what looked like a winning effort two furlongs out but faded in the final few yards. The two that finished ahead of him came down the middle and if had been closer to them I think he would have gone close to winning. He is 2-5 in August, has won twice at the Ebor meeting and was a decent 6th last year before going on to finish second to Muthmir in the Portland Handicap. Now 4lb lower than his last winning mark in August 2013 he looks one to look out for in the 5 ½ f handicap at the Ebor meeting, which he won two years ago, and the Portland at Doncaster!

Barreesh – Richard Hannon – Hadn’t looked on a generous handicap mark on the basis of his workmanlike win in a Nottingham maiden but he was a decent winner of what looked a competitive handicap on paper. He is one of those three year olds that the handicapper has difficulty with as he just seems to do enough to win his races. He only won by ¾ length here so the handicapper shouldn’t be too harsh on him and he can win again. The way he raced suggests a step up in trip to a 1m 4f could bring out even more improvement. He is clearly suited by a left handed galloping track but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him turn up at Goodwood or return here in August if a suitable handicap can be found.

Saturday July 11th


Great Park – Martyn Meade – Not so much an eyecatcher, as he was an excellent second to the useful Western Reserve in this mile handicap. The three year old is developing into a very useful handicapper. He was staying on well but was just unable to catch the winner inside the final furlong. A winner on soft as a two year old the ground would have been plenty quick enough for him here. Connections are going to target it him at the Cambridgeshire and the extra furlong of that race will suit the colt on the evidence of this run. He would go there with a big chance if the ground isn’t too quick!

Heaven’s Guest – Richard Fahey – The 7f Bunbury Cup was as competitive as ever and last years winner ran a cracker to be beaten less than 1 ¼ lengths into third. This performance can be marked up as he wouldn’t have been suited to the quick going as many in the field (4-7 on good to soft with another win on soft. No doubt the handicapper will put the gelding up another 1lb or two so he is going to be handicapped up to his best no doubt he can still be competitive in these big field handicaps between now and the end of the season but will probably need some ease in the ground if he is going to get his head in front! He would be an interesting candidate in the Ayr Gold Cup on such going!


Basateen – Richard Hannon – Was having his first run since being beaten by the smart Dutch Connection in a Group 3 at last years Ebor meeting in this one mile handicap. He was entitled to need the run but was strong in the pre race betting for the race. The three year old made nice headway from the rear and was staying on in good style to take 8th, beaten less than six lengths at the finish. Given such a long absence there is the danger of the ‘bounce’ factor on his next run but this race was promising enough to suggest that there is a race or two in him in the coming months.

Mount Logan – Luca Cumani – Was an eyecatcher for me at Royal Ascot when finishing 4th at Royal Ascot over 1m 2f and ran well again when third here in the John Smith’s Cup over the same distance and was once again staying on at the finish. Well suited by a galloping track with a long straight, this is his sort of track as he takes a bit of time to hit his stride. As I said after his Ascot run, a return to 1m 4f is what he needs. Not the biggest of horses he is better suited by carrying smaller weights according to connections and doesn’t really want any soft in the going. He deserves to win a good race!

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. I have obviously missed quite a few of these “Eyecatchers” in the past.

    Are they retrievable from previous weeks ?

    failing that, is an update of current “still to run” horses available ?


  2. Hi Norman,

    Thanks for your reply and I am glad you find them interesting!

    We are going to put them all in one section for you, which will hopefully happen either today or tomorrow!


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