Weekly Eyecatchers

A couple of nice winners last week at Goodwood in Mount Logan 8/1, So Beloved 10/1 the latter being backed in from much bigger odds in the morning and Baraweez at Galway on Sunday.

I have been asked do I back my tracker horses blind or do I set out some qualifying criteria? The simple answer is yes but with three caveats and here they are:

1. I don’t back under 5/2 – Since I have been giving you these eyecatchers there have been four qualifiers that I haven’t backed due to price. Interestingly three out of four of them lost!

2. I don’t back over 25/1 in the betting – As Michael pointed out in another article one per cent of races are won by horses 28/1 and above in the betting. Good enough reason to swerve most big priced runners unless they are running a big field handicap and even then there have to be very compelling reasons to have a bet on them. I do my own tissue prices so if I have them at over 25/1 then it’s a no bet for me.

3. I don’t back them if they are running outside of the type of race they were eyecatchers in. – For example: Sharp Sailor was an eyecatcher in a Chester handicap and in his next engagement was in a listed race so was no bet for me! Another one Steps was moving from a handicap into Group 1s on his last two runs and so wouldn’t have been a bet for me. Incidentally he wouldn’t have been a bet on price grounds either!

I don’t normally second guess trainers in regard to going or distance. Trainers such as John Gosden and Luca Cumani train for some very wealthy owners. They’re not laying out horses to land a “touch” so I back their judgement when it comes to going and distance etc and it usually works. Very occasionally I will oppose an eyecatcher if I feel that the horse is clearly not running under his optimum conditions but that’s when your own judgement comes into play.

If you have been following them since the start you would have probably given up in the first month, as it had over 20 plus losers on the trot. Since the 28th of June the opposite has been the case with the winners flowing out of the notebook with an excellent profit being made even to Industry SP. If you were backing them at early prices with the BOG firms like I do, then the profit would have been even bigger!

I said in last week’s article that I would look at some of the eyecatchers I have deleted in the past few weeks there are a fair number of them, indeed to many to go into in any detail here.

There are three main reasons why I delete them:

1. They have won a race – Recent examples would be Disclosure and Bashiba – Very occasionally I will keep a winner if I think they can win again on their next start or two.

2. They have disappointed in their recent runs – Orvar and Secret Look have been deleted for such a reason.

3. I have put them in for a specific race – Eye of the Storm, for last weeks Goodwood Cup is an example of such a horse.

If you have any other questions or comments in regard to the above just leave a message and I will get back to you.

This week’s article is shorter than normal and I have concentrated on a few that caught my eye from the Goodwood handicaps.


Tuesday 28th July

Top Tug – Sir Michael Stoute – The four year old hasn’t won since May 2014 but he is lightly raced for his age and had shaped with promise on both his two starts. He was unlucky not to finish closer than 5th here. He was slowly away and didn’t get the clearest of runs when trying to make his effort on the inside a furlong out. He wasn’t knocked about when his jockey realised his chance had gone and he was only beaten 2 ½ lengths at the finish. There is a decent handicap in him off his present mark. He looks like he needs a bit of cut in the ground as his two best runs have come on good to soft going and he should also appreciate a step up in trip to 1m 4f.

Wednesday 29th July

Can’t Change – David Simcock – A winner last year over 7f, on soft going, the four year old was very unlucky here. Held up, he was making good headway when he didn’t get a clear run on the inside a furlong out. He had to be switched to get a clear run and was finishing with plenty in the tank to be beaten just 1 ½ lengths into 5th. His trainer has had a quite summer so could be due a good autumn. The easier the ground the better for this son of Verglas and if he gets it at York or Doncaster at their upcoming Festivals he can win a handicap I am sure.

Thursday 30th July

Patrick – Richard Fahey – The three year old looks to be progressing nicely for his trainer. He improved on his recent Carlisle win to take 4th in this 5f handicap. Only beaten ¾ length here, no horse was staying on as strongly at the finish. Well backed before the race he probably found the 5f a little short here. A winner over an easy 6f last year, he is effective over 5f & 6f and looks like he is well suited to good ground, as yet unraced on softer than good. He has only had 8 career starts so there looks to be more to come from him as long as the handicapper isn’t too harsh on him.

Friday 31st July

Rhythmical – Mark Johnston – This looked a decent handicap and the winner Tashaar was one of the easiest winners of the week with some shrewd pundits hoping he is aimed at the St Léger. Mark Johnston filly came into the race with only one career start when winning a maiden at Leicester in the middle of July. She showed her inexperience here and couldn’t get clear runs, when making her effort, several times in the straight. Finally the three year old got into the clear on the outside and was finishing strongly taking second to the very easy winner. With a clear run she would have got much closer. A half sister to the stables smart 1m 4f/1m6f handicapper Notarised there should be plenty to come from filly who could well turn out to be listed or group class. Not one to take to short a price about next time but she looks a filly worth following over middle distances.

Saturday 1st August

Two from Saturday that look worth looking at in specific races in the coming month or so.

Dartmouth – Sir Micheal Stoute – The three year old is improving well and followed up his recent Ascot win with another win in a better class race over 1m 4f. Didn’t look like he would get a run two furlongs out but when he got in the clear he quickened clear of a useful field to win by an easy two lengths. Racing off a mark of 89 he should go up to 96 but he will still be competitive of his new mark. The Melrose Handicap over 1m 6f at the Ebor Festival could be his next target and he will take all the beating there. There is plenty of stamina in his family and he looks capable of more improvement over that longer trip. When I watched this performance he struck me as a possible for the St Léger. He is not entered in the final classic of the season and the bookies haven’t priced him up yet but a win in the Melrose and the final classic would have to come into connections thoughts– A possible outsider for the St Léger as he looks a potential Group horse in the making?

Jack Dexter – Jim Goldie – The six year old was beaten less than 4 lengths into 8th in the Stewards Cup on ground that would have been plenty quick enough for him. His trainer would love to win the Ayr Gold Cup with him. He was a 2 ¾ length 3rd in the race in 2013 and last year was drawn on the unfavoured far side but still ran a good race to finish a 4 ½ 8th. Both these runs were on drying or quick going (2014) both those runs can be marked up given the going. He might need the handicapper to drop him a further 1lb or two but if he gets genuinely soft ground at Ayr in September he will go very close to achieving his trainers dream!

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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