Weekly Eyecatchers – Horse Racing

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After a frustrating run it was good to see Entihaa win at Wolverhampton on Monday. I got on at 4/1 this morning and the value of taking early prices was reinforced as the horse was well backed into 9/4 at the off. As I said in last weeks column he “can win again on his favourite surface”

Last weekend we had Newbury’s three day Hennessey Meeting. It’s traditionally a strong meeting with plenty of nice horses running and the form can usually be followed over the winter months in horse racing. This year’s renewal look like it will provide more of the same.

Four of this week’s six eyecatchers come from Newbury and they should provide you with plenty of fun in big races in the coming weeks.

Bet On A Cheltenham Whiteout !

I mentioned in last week’s column that I would tell you about an Irish rained mare that looks like she will be aimed at the Mares Hurdle at that Cheltenham Festival. It’s at this time that I start to work on my Cheltenham Festival ante post betting portfolio and from today and I will pass on any horses that have caught my eye for next years Festival.

Willie Mullins likes to win the Mares Hurdle. Since the race first started in 2008, he has won all but one of the eight renewals and indeed has he taken the last seven and it’s likely that Annie Power will go for this race rather than the World Hurdle. However, there is another mare that has been catching the eye and it’s Whiteout.

Whiteout – The German bred four year old, is 4/8 over hurdles but she is most definitely on the upgrade in the hurdling sphere. Two starts back she was second to last Saturday’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle winner Identity Thief and last time out she won a mare & fillies listed race at Punchestown. What impressed me that day was the way she quickened up between the final two hurdles. A winner on good ground she showed here that soft ground isn’t a problem and indeed it could be her ground. I have had a nibble on her for Cheltenham at the 25/1 available with Bet365. If she does get to the Festival she won’t be a 25/1 shot and if Annie Power doesn’t run then Whiteout would be close to favouritism in my opinion.

If your with the Eyecatcher Pro Software, I have to apologise as I did say last week that I would be adding notes to the tracker horses to let you know If I was backing the horse on the day it was running. Unfortunately time caught up with me and I wasn’t able to get it done. It will be up and running this week! As ever for subscribers I have added a couple of extra horses for your trackers.

Sunday 22nd November


It’s not often that you see a couple of novice chasers at Exeter having their first start over the large obstacles that could well be competitive at the spring festivals but we did last week when Onenightinvienna trained by Philip Hobbs took on the Harry Fry trained Fletcher’s Flyer. Both look worth following but I have concentrated on the former for now.

Onenightinvienna – Philip Hobbs – During a recent stable tour Philip Hobbs had said that he thought the six year old could well be an RSA Novice Chase horse. Twice a winner in novice hurdles at Hexham and Perth in the spring ending the season has a 144 rated hurdler. His trainer has always felt that this would be his game. Said to have improved physically over the summer and he was impressive on his seasonal reappearance. The first two pulled well clear of the rest of the field. His undoubted stamina came into play on very testing ground and he took up the running after the last and stayed on too strongly for his rival. Given his stamina it’s no surprising that the four mile National Hunt Chase was mentioned after the race. I would want to see the son of Oscar get more experience over fences before I would be thinking about a Cheltenham ante post bet but I wouldn’t rule him out going for the RSA as his trainer hopes. One to follow over fences this season!

Thursday 26th November


Russe Blanc – Kerry Lee – Trainer has made an excellent start to her training career and Russe Blanc almost made it another winner when finishing a 1 ¼ length second in this 3m 2f handicap chase. The eight year old was having his second start of the season, had ran poorly on his seasonal return, but showed the benefit of that run here. Well suited by a stamina test, he won over 3m 2f at Carlisle last winter, and testing going all four of his wins have come with soft or heavy has appeared in the going description. Running off 3lb higher than for the Carlisle win, he will be nudged up a bit more by the handicapper but can win another staying handicap chase off this sort of mark. Is entered in the Welsh Grand National but there is a big doubt as to whether he will get into that race.

Friday 27th November


Colin’s Brother – Nigel Twiston – Davies – Was having only his second start over fences so lacked the experience of some in the field. The five year old is still a maiden over rules after 11 starts. The switch to fences has brought improvement in him. He was outpaced halfway and had to be pushed along but the further they went the better he went and although he was eventually well beaten into third, this was another decent run which he can build on. On the evidence of this run 2m 2f is to short for him and given he seemed to stay 2 m 5f over hurdles he probably needs an extra two furlongs over fences. Can win races over a longer probably in slightly lesser company than he faced here.

Three Musketeers – Dan Skelton – There were some really good performances at the meeting but I think this was the best. The five year old was only having his fifth career start and had been well fancied to make a winning seasonal reappearance at Huntingdon, He left that 3rd place well behind here as he travelled powerfully through the race, taking up the running five out and staying too strongly for his rivals. His trainer purposely avoided going to last years Festival with him as he felt he wasn’t ready for it. He did run in a Grade 1 novice hurdle at Aintree when 3rd to Nichols Canyon. That Aintree run was on good ground but all of his three career wins have all come on soft going. Looks like he will be aimed at the JLT Novices Chase at the Festival rather than the RSA Chase and is a best priced 20/1 with Ladbrokes for that race. I think those odds look good value even at this early stage. It is however its worth bearing in mind that his sire Flemensfirth whilst being a top class chasing sire his progeny have a poor record at the Festival and since 2009 they are 3/72 4.1% -50 A/E 0.61. His last winner at the Festival was Imperial Commander in the 2010 Gold Cup and has gone 48 runners since that win. Make no make mistake he looks a top class chaser in the making and maybe he can emulate a couple of past winners of this race Denman and Coneygree by winning at the Cheltenham Festival

Saturday 28th November


Full Shift – Nicky Henderson – Was making his seasonal and chase debut today and not for the first time was well backed before the race. On his hurdle debut he had beat Clever Cookie and he also won a handicap hurdle at Kempton, before disappointing when favourite for the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Wasn’t seen until the same race this year when once again he ran down the field. In the Racing Post Stable Tour his trainer had said he “is a chaser through and through in size and physique”. He was well behind here and although he jumped reasonably well in the main but he was never really travelling like the 7/2 favourite should. Granted the two mile trip would have been on the short side for the six year old given he had won over five furlongs further over hurdles at Kempton. A mark of 130 could be potentially very lenient over fences and he is not one to give up on just yet. I am sure there will be a few wins in this sphere when he steps up in trip again.


The Last Samuri – Kim Bailey – The seven year old was having his first start for his new trainer and he ran well to finish 3rd in what looks like it could turn out to be a race where the form is worth following. The Last Samuri was held up and was making nice headway when getting a bit outpaced five out. After that he was never going to be close enough to attack the eventual first two but stayed on well at the finish. The hood he wore when winning two chases last season was left of here. A winner over 3m 2f last season at Kelso, this trip looks a bit on the short side these days, all his career wins have come with soft in the going description and he is now 3-6 over fences. Given he is still unexposed over the larger obstacles there should be more to come from the horse and there could be a nice staying handicap in him this winter.

Later in the week I will probably have a bit of a cull of my eycatchers so keep an eye on the Eyecatcher Pro software.

Good luck with your betting this week and as ever if you have any questions or comments about the eyecatcher horses leave a message and I will reply to them when time allows.

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. Good luck with the German bred Whiteout possibly running in the Mares Hurdle at that Cheltenham Festival. It should come with a warning sign, loud air horns going off and flashing lights.

    In case you and readers didn’t know, German bred horses have a really poor record at Cheltenham.

    Since 2003 they have managed just 19 winners from 257 runs (7.4%). Even taking out those that are 50/1 or bigger in the betting leaves 19 from 225 (8.4%).

    Those 19 winners have come in October, November, December, January and April. Note no March. That’s right, since 2003 NO GERMAN BRED HORSE HAS WON AT THE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL. The present tally is 0 from 82 (under 50/1 in the market). And it’s not all at big prices. They are 0 from 26 at 12/1 or less with just 6 filling the places.

    1. Hi Derek,

      Thanks for comment and its always good to get a bit of discussion going.

      I am big stats fan and they play a big part in my everyday betting. I know that Ben Aitken has pointed this out before and I do respect his knowledge and as I do yours in regards to working with trends stats, etc.

      Those stats on the face of it are dire and the did create a little unease in mind but since the Mares Hurdle was first run in 2008 there has only been one German bred runner in the race

      2010 – United – Trained by Lucy Wadham – 2nd

      I am not sure how many German bred Fillies & Mares have run at the Festival in the past ten years I could only find two since 2009, now maybe wrong and I am happy to be corrected on this latter point

      Its a long way off who knows maybe she wont even end up running but at 25/1 I can happily take a chance on her although if she was a short priced favourite that would be different.

      Maybe the German mares could prove to be made of stronger stuff than their male counterparts. Given so few of them have run at the Festival the jury is still out in that regard and as with all trends they do change.

      In hindsight I should probably have added the note of caution that you have pointed out as I did with
      Three Musketeers sire Flemensfirth



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