Weekly Eyecatchers

It’s the ninth eyecatcher article. How Time fly’s when you’re having fun. Last week was a good week for the column as we had five really good priced winners. On Monday it was Slip Sliding Away 6/1 at Windsor, on Thursday it was Disclosure at 11/2 at Doncaster. Great Park added to the profit on Friday at Ascot at 4/1. The week ended with Heaven’s Guest winning the big handicap at Ascot on Saturday at 7/1 with bigger being available on that one in the ante post market and Postponed taking the King George at 6/1. It’s worth reminding what I said regarding Heavens Guest after his excellent run in the Bunbury Cup:

“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 got the ease he needed on Saturday and was a very easy winner and I am sure some of you had a play in the ante post market when you knew the heavens would open for the Guest!

I often get asked if I back all the eyecatchers when they run next time. My answer is simple, usually but I wish it was a simple as that! Heaven’s Guest is a classic example of a horse that I wouldn’t have had a bet on if the ground had been quick. You have to delve into the formbook and see if the selection is getting their optimum conditions; in particular ground, track, size of field, distance and trainer form etc. The horse also has to be right from a price perspective! Yes I do miss the odd winner by doing that but it does lead to maximisation of profit over the long term and that’s whats were in the game for.

One of the key things when you are keeping horses in your trackers is to know when to to delete them. It can be frustrating when you delete one and it goes onto win on its next start but once again in the long term you will profit by taking such action. Next week if I don’t forget I will let you know which of the recent eycatchers I have deleted from my tracker and the reasons for the decision.

There are fair few eyecatchers entered at the Qatar Goodwood festival so it could be a very busy week. The one I am most looking forward to though is running at Redcar where Big Storm Coming hopefully runs on Wednesday. Even a quick glance at the form book will show you why I think he will have a big chance in his race.

Onto this week’s eyecatchers and it’s back to normal as I look at some of the week’s big handicaps as well as a couple from lower grade handicaps in search of future winners!

Thursday July 23td


Especial – Bryan Smart – The winner of this 6f handicap The Tin Man is likely to go onto bigger and better things in the coming weeks, so the Bryan Smart three old did well to get as close as he did when a strong finishing third. A winner of a poor maiden at Ripon over 6f on his seasonal reappearance, he then flopped on his return there on his handicap debut. He left that form well behind and looks capable of landing another handicap in this grade in the north. He seemed to handle the quick ground fine here but his Ripon win was on soft going so he maybe slightly better with a bit of juice in the going.

Friday July 24th


Bop It – Geoff Oldroyd – The six year old gelding is a very well handicapped horse at present and was running of a 12lb lower mark when winning at Newcastle last August. He was always up with the pace as he usually is and this was a welcome return to form after five disappointing runs so far this season. The ground would have been quicker than he would have liked as all his five of his wins have come on good or good to soft so he doesn’t want extremes of going. Four of his wins have come in Class 4 races and he is 4/17 when running between 16-30 days from his last run. There is a handicap in him before the season is out.

Saturday July 25th


Lincoln – Mick Channon – Was a fast finishing second in the Victoria Cup over C&D back in May before not running to that form over a mile in the Royal Hunt Cup. The four year old is 7f specialist and the change to hold up tactics earlier the season seemed to have brought a bit more improvement in the horse. He was poorly drawn here on the stand side and jockey Richard Hughes had to move the horse to the middle of the track very early on which didn’t help the horse in the final stages. He was eventually well beaten but his jockey eased up the horse well inside the final furlong when he realised his mount had no chance of getting into the places. Despite his career high mark there could still be a valuable pot in him. Three of his four wins have come in September and he looks worth noting in any 7f big field handicap on good ground till the end of the season.

Kakatosi – Mike Murphy – The eight year old was another inconvenienced by his high draw where it paid to be drawn closer to the far rail. His hold up tactics probably didn’t suit him either as the pace in the early stages wasn’t strong but he was making headway when the race was over. He is 2lb higher than when winning on soft going over 7f at Newmarket last August. It’s worth noting six of seven wins have come between June and August so I will be dropping him from my tracker after August. With horses like this there is usually a bit of a profile about them and the strongest for me are; he is 6 from 26 in fields of 11 or less but 1 from 23 in 12+ fields. He is also 5 from 18 when running between 16-30 days since his last run.


Withernsea – Richard Fahey – Only finished 5th in this 7f handicap but he was staying on nicely despite been slightly hampered inside the final furlong. The ground would have been plenty quick enough here as both is wins have come when there is soft in the going description. The relatively lightly raced four year old had caught my eye when staying on strongly, despite not getting the clearest of runs two furlongs out, to take 2nd at Newcastle back in April. That run showed he is capable of taking a nice pot when there is juice in the ground.

Shore Step – Mick Channon – I backed this one and he ran a cracker to take second in this valuable 6f handicap. He was only beaten here by an improving horse who could be Group class sprinter by the end of the season. The five year olds saddle slipped in the final stages which didn’t help the horse’s chance but I doubt it made any difference to his result. He was a winner twice last year at Ascot and Doncaster both over 6f. This was only his 3rd start of the season and he has shaped better with each run. He could be aimed at Goodwood at the weekend and if he gets quick going he would be a major player. Off his present mark he can be competitive in 6f handicap as long as he gets quick going..


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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