Weekly Eye-catchers – Horse Racing

horse racing

What a weekend of horse racing in Britain, Ireland and on Sunday over in France with Arc Trials Day at Chantilly. The “race of the decade” took place on Saturday at Leopardstown with the Irish Champion Stakes and the St Leger at Doncaster provided plenty of drama and a big priced surprise winner.

Plenty to look at then and, indeed too much to cover in one short article like this, rather than doing a review of last weeks top class racing I will highlight what I consider to be the best performances at Doncaster St Leger meeting and also look at those at Leopardstown on Saturday. I haven’t had a chance to look at Sunday’s action from the Curragh and Chantilly yet but if there is anything interesting I will add thread to the Race Advisor website. There are three eyecatchers this week and I will also add a couple of two year olds, who made promising debuts last week, exclusively for Eyecatcher Pro subscribers.

Doncaster St Leger Meeting Review

Day 1 – The meeting opened on ground that was officially good to soft. The feature race was the 6f Listed Scarborough Stakes over 6f. The race was won by the Clive Cox trained Priceless. The three year old filly continues to improve and beat Thesme who had finished 5th in the Group 1 Nunthorpe. It may have been the case that runners found the ground just a little bit too soft but I think the winner is a filly on the upgrade and probably would beat Thesme if they meet again.

Eyecatcher of the Day

Seve – Tom Dascombe – The final race of the day provided us with the only horse that took my eye all day. The four year old is only 1lb higher than for his last win back last December on the tapeta at Wolverhampton. The gelding has also run well in handicaps off higher marks this year and had run well in Class 2 handicap at Chester on his last start. Came into this race looking on a winnable mark in Class 4 company but found racing on the near side not ideal in race where low number dominated the finish. Easily beat his rivals on the stands side but had no chance with those who finished in front of him. Ran much better than his final position of 6th, beaten 4 lengths, suggests. Both his two turf wins have come on good ground so the underfoot conditions may have been a shade slow for him. This is class and there is a handicap in the horse off this sort of mark when he gets good ground. The gelding has also won on the all weather so he is one to watch on the synthetics as well.

Day 2 – The ground had dried out and was mostly good on Day 2 of the St Léger meeting. The feature race of the day was the Group 2 Park Hill Stakes for fillies and mares over the St Léger distance and it was won by a returning to form Simple Verse. Last years St Léger winner had disappointed on her last start at Royal Ascot but the break has done her good as she stayed on to strongly for her rivals here. But it would be unfair to just see her as a stayer as she had to show a good turn of foot, when making her effort from not the most promising of positions and won a shade cosily at the line. The 1m 4f Filles & Mares race that she won last year on Champion’s Day looks a logical target although the 2m Long Distance Cup could also be an alternative race for her. I know the trainer still thinks she can run well at Group 1 level against the colts at 1m 4f so I would like to see her have a tilt at the Arc a race that will hopefully be run at a solid gallop which would really suit her.

Eyecatcher of the Day

Shipyard – Michael Appleby – Another sprint race where it paid to race on the far side. In the circumstances the seven year old put up a good performance when finishing 5th after racing on the stands side. This was a good run from the gelding who deserves to win another handicap and is suited by some juice in the ground. Trainer hasn’t been exactly been on fire in recent weeks so in the circumstances this was a good effort by the gelding, Probably will head up to Ayr for one of the big sprints next weekend but whatever his fate up there, when he gets his going and the cards fall right in regard to the draw he can go close in one of these 6f handicaps. Another horse to note for a handicap before the season ends is Misterioso who was staying best of all to take 4th at the finish unlike Shipyard he’s better on a sound surface but when all the cards fall right and he gets a strong pace to chase there is also handicap in him too.

Day 3 – The stayers took centre stage on the Friday with the latest running of the Group 2 Goodwood Cup over 2m 2f. The race witnessed a cracking finish as the David Simcock trained Sheikhzayedroad who just got the best of Quest for More on the line. It was hard on the runner up who had attempted to make all as he had done on his previous run at York but it was a deserving success for the 7 year old who had finished 3rd in the Goodwood Cup and in the same position in the Ascot Gold Cup.

Day 4 – The St Leger might not be the race it once was in terms of the class of horse that now runs in it but there is denying that the final British Classic of the year still provides plenty of drama. This year was no exception. With the honours this year going to Harbour Law from the Laura Mongan stable. The three year old had plenty find on official ratings but he was an improving stayer who had finished 2nd in the 2m Queen’s Vase a Royal Ascot so the trip was not going to be a problem for him and he needed every yard of the Leger distance to get up just before the line. Given a really good ride by George Baker, who had to be at his strongest on the winner, who was trying to hang left inside the final furlong. Idaho 3rd in the Epsom Derby went off the strongly backed odds on favourite at the off for Aiden O’Brien but stumbled five furlongs out when still going well, It was to early to say that he would have won the race given the stamina doubts about the horse but given he had beaten his stablemate the 3rd home (Housesofparliament) at York, then there is good chance he would have won but for his mishap. Not to take anything away from Harbour Law who is a better horse with some ease in the ground and looks like a horse that will no doubt be aimed at the Cup races next year.

Eyecatcher of the Day

Argus – Ralph Beckett – Was progressive as a three year old and won on his final start over C&D last October. He was then one of the favourites for the November Handicap on the back of that win but didn’t take his chance in that race. Made his seasonal reappearance at York in July and ran well enough for a long way. This was the colt’s first start for 64 days ago and it looks like he is set for a decent autumn campaign. He is 2/3 on good to soft and would probably have preferred more rain to have fallen overnight. Has only had seven career starts and is capable of more improvement on an easy surface. The November handicap back at Doncaster looks a good target for the horse who can win a handicap or two before the turf season ends. Definitely one to note when the November Handicap ante post market is formed!

Allez France In Irish Champion Stakes!

Zukhova put in an excellent performance to win the 1m 4f Group 3 beating Epsom Derby 2nd US Army Ranger in the process. A race that trainer Dermet Weld has won with Free Eagle and Fascinating Rock It looks like Dermot Weld has an improving four year old filly on his hands. A winner of her first two starts in the spring at the Curragh and Naas. Both those wins came over 1m 2f on soft or heavy going. The step back to 1m 4f clearly suited her well as she stayed on to strongly from US Army Ranger who does continue to disappoint me. The winner is ground versatile and looks set to win more races in the autumn and if she stays in training as a five year old. The Group 1 Fillies and Mares race on Champion’s Day looks an ideal race for her.

On what wasn’t he best of weekends for Aiden O’Brien the three year old Alice Springs did the business for him in the Group 1 Matron Stakes over a mile. A winner of the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting, the filly had disappointed at Deauville on her last start but that clearly wasn’t her true running. The Galileo filly showed a tremendous turn off foot to quicken clear of here rivals when making her effort inside the final furlong. The John Gosden trained filly Persuasive who started the season in handicap company to progress with her step up to Group 1 level. Indeed she looked the likely winner when getting to the front at the furlong mark but she had no answer to the winner’s change of gear. French raider Quemah was made favourite and had beaten Alice Springs in the Coronation Stakes and at Deauville but her chance wasn’t helped by a tardy start although I doubt she would have beaten the winner in this race. Alice Spring’s best form has come on quick ground but she showed here that yielding going also hold no terrors for her. The Breeders Cup Mile at Santa Anita looks a natural target for the filly.

On paper the Irish Champion Stakes looked the race of the year and it lived up to expectations with another winner showing a tremendous turn off foot to win his race. The winner Almanzor who won the French Derby showed a real change of gear when making his effort out widest of all to beat the consistent filly Found by ¾ length. The colt has improved well this year and has been a credit to his trainer Jean Claude Rouget. The Arc would seem the race to go for but the trainer indicated after the race that the Champion Stakes will be his next race. Found was 2nd for the fifth successive race all in Group 1’s. Her performance gives the form a solid look. Well suited to this time of year and she thrives on her racing and will continue to go close in the big autumn 1m 2f to 1m 4f Group 1s like she was last year and will no doubt be aimed at the 1m 4f Breeders Cup Turf, a race she won last year when beating Golden Horn. Of the rest Minding ran well enough in 3rd but maybe didn’t quite match the form of her wins in the Oaks and the Pretty Polly Stakes. New Bay last years French Derby winner had his ideal trip and was a good 4th. Of the rest My Dream Boat’s 5th placing will have delighted trainer Clive Cox with the four year old keeping on well all the way to the line. On breeding he shouldn’t stay a mile and half but the way he raced her suggest he might be worth a go at it. Disappointment of the race was double Derby winner Harzand who was sent off the 2/1 favourite at the off but could only finish 8th. Not sure the drop to 1m 2f was the main reason for his poor run, as his performance just seemed flat and it could be that something was amiss with the colt. Was thought of as ideal type for the St Leger before he won the Derby maybe that’s the race connections should have gone for a race that would seem to have been at his mercy if anything like his best.

Well I hope you enjoyed the slightly different format of the column. Ayr’s Western meeting begins later in the week and will offer plenty of betting opportunities and I will no doubt start a thread on the forum for the meeting. Whilst on the subject of Ayr watch out if Frankie Dettori has a ride in Ayr Gold Cup, as he is 2/2 in the race in the past 8 years.

That’s it for now, and now all that’s left is to wish you a profitable weeks betting.

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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