Author Archives: John Burke

Bethall & Durcan Are A Combo To Follow At Wolverhampton….

Good morning all,

I could have written about the excitement of Saturday’s Shergar Cup but I won’t. I can see the point of the event, it probably does bring people to the races that wouldn’t normally attend a fixture at Ascot and the jockeys seem to enjoy it, as it’s something different to their day to day routine.

A ‘Girls Team’, now what’s that all about? Are they all 13-year-olds? Hayley Turner and Emma Jayne Wilson, are not girls they are both in their 30s, so hardly girls. That casual sexism isn’t even in the spirit of these international jockey challenges. Yes, I am a Shergar Cup killjoy and proud of it. The event bears no resemblance to what horse racing is about, it’s not a team game! It’s meaningless rubbish and not for me as a betting option.

Right, that’s me off the old soap box. Now let's celebrate a real racing achievement.

Time to Salute Spencer

Jamie Spencer is a jockey who really divides punters like no other. You either like him or you don’t there is no halfway house when it comes to Jamie, I am firmly in the former camp by the way.

On Saturday, ironically in the Shergar Cup, the jockey had his 2,000 winner. A champion jockey on both sides of the Irish Sea, he won his first classic, the Irish 1.000 Guineas, as a 17-year-old. He even won the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in 2002. The supreme big race jockey and in a big field handicap there is no better sight than seeing him weaving his way through the field to pull off an unlikely win. Yep, he makes more mistakes than Ryan Moore but he has won races on horses that other jockeys wouldn’t have.

He might be a great exponent of the hold-up ride but as we saw on Sunday at Deauville, he is a fantastic rider from the front too, as he made all to win on the Luca Cumani trained 3-year-old filly God Given. The 37-year-old has plenty of years riding still ahead of him and racing will be a poorer when he does finally hang up his riding boots.

One For The Tracker:

Juliet Foxtrot trained by Charles Hills caught my eye on her racecourse debut at Newmarket on Saturday. The daughter of Dansili didn’t make the best of starts and in a modestly run race, she did well to finish within three lengths of the winner. She showed enough promise to think that a maiden can come her way this season either on grass or all weather. Her full brother Cartago won twice as juvenile both over a mile, so a step up in trip should help, as will a sounder surface than she faced here.

Stat Corner:

In last weeks Stat Corner, I suggested you watch out for Richard Fahey and Tony Hamilton when teaming up over 7f & 1m at Redcar. They had two runners there on Saturday, one of them is still running, I think, but the second Rashford’s Double ran a cracker to finish second at odds of 11/1.

This week I am turning my attention to a trainer who I mentioned earlier Luca Cumani and his record at Doncaster, which incidentally race on Saturday. Since 2014 the trainer had 20 winners from 73 runners 27% +14.01 A/E 1.3 41 placed 56% at Doncaster.

An excellent strike rate but if you had focused, on his 3 & 4-year-old’s, racing over distances between 1m 2f to 1m 4f the profit and strike rate would have been even better with 18 winners from 45 runners 40% +31.1 A/E 1.84 27 placed 60%

N.B. Luca Cumani trained 3 or 4-year-olds, racing over middle distances at Doncaster

Trainer James Bethell and jockey Ted Durcan are a combination worth noting when they team up at Wolverhampton. Since 2014 they have had 7 winners from 20 runners 35% +11.75 A/E 1.82 12 placed 60% +15.82 at the track and they team up for one on this evening’s card.

6:50 – Plage Depampelonne – The 3-year-old returns from a 56-day break but ran well enough after an even longer lay off when finishing 2nd in a maiden over 1m 4f here back in May to think she will be fit enough today. Ran well enough on her handicap debut when 2nd again behind Dominating at Nottingham over today’s 1m 6f trip to think she is capable of winning a modest handicap at around this distance. She ran too bad to be true at Wetherby on her last start but the absence from the track, suggests that something wasn’t right with the filly on that occasion. A mark of 66 looks workable and trainer James Bethell is among the winners.

Monday Selection:

6:50 – Plage Depampelonne – 15/2 or better

All that’s left now is to wish you profitable weeks punting.

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Charlie Hills Has Ayr Gold Cup Glory In Sight….

Good morning all,

Modigliani Adds To O’Brien’s 2018 Classic Contenders

Well, it’s hard to believe but there’s is only one big summer festival left of the 2017 flat season, York’s Ebor Meeting at the end of this month. Last week we had the Qatar Goodwood Festival or as it’s more colloquially known ‘Glorious Goodwood’. The ‘Glorious’ part was more to do with the weather that the meeting was supposed to have been held in.

This year’s festival was run in less than glorious weather, in particularly day two which saw rainfall of biblical proportions and in all truth if it hadn’t have been part of this festival I doubt they would have completed that day’s card, the weather and visibility being so bad.

Plenty of horses didn’t act on the rain softened ground and even those like Winter, who was winning her fourth Group 1 when taking the Nassau Stakes, won not because they enjoyed the soft going but because they handled it better than their rivals and in her case, more importantly, she is a class head of all the other fillies at 1m/ 1m 2f.

To be frank, apart from Winter’s win and the first-day victory of the Sir Michael Stoute juvenile Expert Eye, this is one festival that won’t live too long in the memory, even though a profit was made on the betting front by myself and subscribers.

It’s always worth keeping an eye on Aiden O’Brien’s juvenile runners at the Galway Festival and it looks like he could have a really smart one on his hands, after the win by the once raced Amedeo Modigliani who showed the benefit of his Curragh debut with a very decisive win on Saturday. You don’t often see a two-year-old accelerate away from his field like he did inside the final furlong on such testing going, to put over 5 lengths between himself and the runners up with the 3rd home a further 11 lengths behind. Last years race was won by the Aiden O’Brien trained Capri who won this year’s Irish Derby. Granted it might well turn out he beat nothing in taking this 1m maiden but he looks an exciting colt for next year. Along with Gustav Klimt & The Pentagon, his trainer already has a strong hand for next year’s classics.

One For The Tracker:

The good thing about the Goodwood Festival you can always be sure about is there will be plenty of unlucky horses in the big field handicaps and with the lower drawn horses, after all the Wednesday rain, being favoured there were plenty of high drawn horses who might as well have stayed in their boxes. In the Qatar Stewards Cup there were a fair few runners who can be excused poor performances.

One horse that ran really well and ironically was well drawn was the Charlie Hills' trained Shanghai Glory. The four-year-old was well beaten in the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot on his one run this season but, the ground was far too firm for him that day as he really needs some juice in the ground. He got his ground here but he didn’t get a run clear passage two furlongs out and without this loss of momentum at a crucial time of the race, he would surely have gone close to winning. In the end, he was staying on nicely at the finish to take 5th, beaten just 1 ¾ length by the winner. The gelding now has a career record of 4 wins from 14 runs and 4 wins from 5 runs when racing over 6f, on ground from good to yielding to soft and running 11 to 45 days since his last start. He will head into the autumn fresher than most and when he gets his conditions will win a nice pot before the season is out. The Ayr Gold Cup next month would be an ideal race for him on suitable ground!

Stat Corner:

Redcar is racing on Saturday and one trainer/jockey combination worth following is Richard Fahey and Tony Hamilton. Since the start of 2014, the pair have had 23 winners from 81 runners 28% +41.26 40 A/E 1.5 40 placed 49% +47.90. That strike rate can be improved if you focus in on their runners racing on the straight course between 7f & 1m, as the pair have had 14 winners from 39 runners 36% +37.58 A/E 2.03 22 placed 56% +46.27.

N.B. Richard Fahey and Tony Hamilton when teaming up over 7f & 1m at Redcar

Monday Selections:


Jockey David Allan’s record in handicaps at Ripon since 2014 is 19 winners from 112 runners 17% -15.18 A/E 1.05 49 placed 44% but if you look at his rides between 1m 2f & 1m 4f he is 13 winners from 29 runners 45% +26.32 A/E 1.79 23 placed 79% +40.76 and he has a ride over that distance today.


Ralph Beckett is a trainer who seems to place his three year old runners in all aged handicaps between 1m 4f and 2m in distance and if you just look at his runners with the following criteria:

Trainer Ralph Beckett
Race Code: Turf only
Race Distance: 1m 4f to 2m
Headgear: None
Handicap Runs: 0 to 4

He has had 21 winners from 39 runners 54% +37.16 A/E 1.89 25 placed 64% and he has a qualifier running at Salisbury this afternoon.


4:15 – Breakwater Bay – 8/1


5:00 – Harebell – 7/2 or better

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Godolphin winner at Wolverhampton…

Good morning all,

Enable Puts in Diamond King George Performance

After her win in the Oaks at Epsom, I said that the filly Enable should take on the colts in the Irish Derby. It was never likely to happen and she went the more conventional route taking in the Irish Oaks. After her win in that race she had been expected to race next in the Yorkshire Oaks but connection's decision to take on the males/older horses in the King George VI at Ascot on Saturday paid dividends.

The rain that fell in the lead up to Saturday's race was a bit of an unknown for the good moving filly but underfoot condition all come alike to her. Once she took up the running two furlongs out none of her rivals were going to catch her as she quickened away from a good field of middle distance horses.

The second home Ulysses, came into the race having won the Group 1 Coal Eclipse over 1m 2f, who was beaten 4 ½ lengths at the line wouldn’t have liked the ground and probably doesn’t stay 1m4f on rain softened ground. He was travelling as well as the winner but had no answer for the change of gear the winner showed inside the final two furlongs. Idaho who had won the Hardwicke Stakes over C&D at Royal Ascot wasn’t good enough on this occasion. Meanwhile his brother and stablemate Highland Reel definitely a better horse on a faster surface could only finish 4th. It was just impossible for last year’s winner or the other two horses to give a stone in weight to top class three-year-old filly.

If she comes out of the race well she will still take in the Yorkshire Oaks and then head off for the Arc and it will take an exceptional performance by an older horse to give her 10lb in the Arc. If she turns up in this sort of form then she won't be beaten! I am little surprised that she is still available at 9/4 or 2/1 for the Arc, as she could easily be odds on for it.

Her performance on Saturday will have brought back memories, for those old enough, of those great fillies of the 1970s Dahlia and Pawneese. The latter had won the Epsom Oaks, the Prix Diane and the King George VI but was well beaten in the Vermeille and Arc before retiring to the paddocks at the end of her three-year-old career. Let’s hope Enable trains on better in the latter part of the season than that Champion three-year-old filly did

Little did the small number of punters attending a cold Newcastle evening meeting back in November realise they would be seeing such a top class filly making a winning debut at odds of 7/2.

One For The Tracker:

Tommy Taylor trained by Kevin Ryan had finished a head second at Newmarket on his previous start returned to C&D for the big three-year-old 6f handicap on Saturday and despite going up 5lb for his previous performance was well backed before the race to defy his rise in the weights going off one of the 5/1 co favourites. The colt was making good headway a furlong out when badly hampered and had no chance after that incident. He eventually finished 13 of 14, beaten just over 6 lengths at the line. If none the worse for this he can win a valuable sprint handicap, for a trainer just getting back into the winning groove after the virus.

Stat Corner:

The weekend just gone was the beginning of a weeks top class racing action with the start of the Galway Festival today and ‘Glorious’ Goodwood tomorrow. In the case of the latter, I don’t think the weather is likely to be too ‘glorious’. Given many of you will be looking for an angle or two, this week’s Stats Corner will focus on an angle for Galway and a trainer whose flat handicappers need to be kept onside at the meeting.

Tony Martin likes to target a runner or two at the meeting and looking at his flat handicappers has been the way to go in recent years. Since 2012 he is 11 winners from 35 runners 28% +28.63 23 placed 59% +49.35 (Profit to Betfair SP +53.41) in flat handicaps at the Galway Festival and with those runners aged 3 to 5-years-old that record is – 11 winners from 29 runners 38% +38.63 A/E 2.09 18 placed 62% +54.55 (Profit to Betfair SP +63.41)

He has two qualifiers on the first day of the Galway Festival:

7:40 – The Graduate – Trainer won this race in 2013 and 2014 with today’s jockey Steven Clements in the saddle who is 2 winners from 4 runners +18 4 placed, form figures 1132 when teaming up with the trainer in the race. The four-year-old was useful on the flat when trained by Andrew Balding last year. Will need plenty of luck in running like this but can go well on his first start on the flat for the trainer.

8:10 – Acclamatio – Looks a stronger win contender after his decisive win at Killarney 13 days ago and if he handles the softest ground he has encountered so far looks capable of defying his 8lb rise in the weights. Trainer has an exceptional strike rate with his 3 to 5-year-old runners at the festival which had finished first in one of their last three starts – 8 winners from 9 runners 89% +33.13, form figures of 111111511.

Monday Selection:

Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor has an excellent win strike rate in Wolverhampton handicaps being 16 winners from 41 runners 39% +16.07 A/E 1.42 26 placed 63% since 2014 and his runners going off at odds of 7/1 & under are – 16 winners from 36 runners 44% +21.07 A/E 1.49 26 placed 72% and of those which had finished first or second in one of their last three races are – 15 winners from 29 runners 52% +24.57 A/E 1.61 25 placed 86%. Trainer provided us with a winner two weeks with Desert Rain and hopefully, he can provide another one today.


8:30 – Dubai Elegance – The filly returns from a 259-day break but as we know the trainer is adept at winning with horses returning from a 60+day break.Of more concern would be the three-year-old's draw out wide in stall ten. If she can overcome that she has the potential to progress as this will only be her 4th career start.

Dubai Elegance – 4/1

All that’s left is to wish you profitable weeks punting.

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Spencer set to enhance excellent strike rate…

Good Morning all,

Plenty of racing last weekend but in truth most of it was pretty mediocre for Saturday. Indeed what a contrast to the previous week when there were three really top class cards. The action wasn’t helped by plenty of rain at two of the meetings; Newbury and Newmarket where the ground turned soft during racing.

All in all not much to say about last weeks racing and hence this week there is no horse for your notebooks. Still there were a fair few talking points to come out of the weekend.

Tragedy Highlights Racing's Unsung Heroes

The sad incident that led to the death of stall handler Stephen Yarborough at Haydock on Friday, not by horse but what looks a freak accident, has put the spotlight on the unsung work that stall handlers carry out day in, day out during the year on the turf and all weather. Sadly it takes a tragedy like this to highlight the hard work and indeed bravery that they put into their job each day. We punters tend to forget about the work the stall handlers do in this game, I doubt we will now. Your heart has to go out Steven’s family and friends at a time like this, no one expects a loved one to go to work and not come back at night.

Horses Are Not Machines

The defeat at Arrogate at Del Mar on Saturday at odds of 1/20, once again showed that horses are not machines, they are living, breathing animals, they can have an off day and however far ahead they maybe on the ratings, even the best can lose. The race provided the shock of the racing year as the world’s top rated horse ran no sort of race to finish 4th of 5, with the only horse he beat home having had his jockey lose his irons early in the contest. It underlines how good and well trained Frankel was to go through his career unbeaten. I am sure Arrogate will be back and whilst he remains a Champion he is no legend of the turf

Frankie’s Back

It wasn’t Frankie Dettori’s biggest success but his ride on Magical Memory on Saturday to win the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes at Newbury showed us that racing's most well known personality is back, after his recent shoulder injury. Granted he had already guided Enable to a facile win in the Irish Oaks last weekend but this ride showed he is well and truly back and with Goodwood and York to come in the coming weeks it will be great to see Frankie riding at both festivals.

Constable Comes into Champion Hurdle Picture

When John Constable won his first two juvenile hurdles in the early part of 2015 I think most of us would have expected him to have taken top rank as a hurdler but for almost two years he had become a very disappointing horse. Things began to change in the spring when the six year old fell at the last when he would have won a valuable handicap hurdle at Aintree. He then stormed home to win the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock a month later and continued his upward curve with a decisive win under top weight in Market Rasen’s Summer Hurdle. Officially rated 150 before Saturday’s win, he will no doubt go up 6lb or 7lb for this win but who’s to say he can’t win the Galway Hurdle even when reassessed. He is clearly a spring and summer horse who is at his best on good ground and if he hadn’t have fallen at Aintree he would have been 3 wins from 6 runs 4 placed on good ground. Obviously there will be talk of next years Champion Hurdle after this performance but he has to progress a bit further to be up to that level and he also has to prove that Cheltenham is his track, as he remains 0 wins 3 runs 0 placed on an undulating track. Maybe he will prove up to the task but I remain to be convinced.

Stat Corner:

I mentioned last week the record of jockey David Allan in handicaps at Ripon, in particular over 1m 4f, he had a winner at odds of 4/1 on Saturday with Mukhayyam to take his record to 9 winners from 15 runners 60% +12.69 13 placed 87%. Hopefully plenty of you were on!

Profiting From Franny Norton At Chester

I said I would look this week at Franny Norton’s record at Chester to see how you can profit from his rides there and with Chester racing next Saturday it’s the perfect time.

I will look at his record in handicaps: Since 2014 he is 24 winners from 142 bets 17% -34.72 A/E 0.88 55 placed 39% with his rides in such races.

Focusing on his rides going off at an SP of 8/1 and under and his record is – 24 winners from 105 bets +2.28 A/E 0.98 51 placed (0 wins 35 bets 4 placed over 8/1). Half of those wins have come when combining with trainer Mark Johnston 12 winners from 57 runners 21% -14.05 A/E 0.82 28 placed 49% – but there is no value in backing the pair blind!

The two micro angles to concentrate on are:

Jockey: Franny Norton
Odds SP: 8/1 & under
Horse Wins At Track: 1+

7 winners from 17 runners 41% +16.71 A/E 1.86 11 placed 67%

It may also pay to look at his rides in handicaps over 5f, especially those drawn in the first three stalls:

6 winners from 9 runners 67% +9.02 A/E 1.77 7 placed 78%

Monday Selections:

The Monday selection came off the cold list courtesy of a win by Desert Rain at odds of 3/1 to enhance trainer’s Saeed Bin Suroor’s excellent win strike rate in handicaps at Wolverhampton. Like last week I am going for a couple of selections both from Windsor’s evening card.


Jockey Jamie Spencer is 13 winners from 53 runners 22% +26 25 placed 43% with his rides in Windsor handicaps in the past three years but that good win strike rate is improved further when you focus in on his rides over 1m 3f & 1m 3 ½ f, he is 6 winners from 13 runners 46% +28.98 A/E 1.76 7 placed 54%. He rides last time out winner Jive Talking in the 6:45 for trainer Michael Bell who is 5 winners from 24 runners 21% in the past 14 days.

Trainer Roger Varian has had 28 winners from 81 runners 35% +37.79 A/E 1.37 39 placed 48% at Windsor since 2014. That impressive set of stats are improved further when you look at his 3-year-old + runners in Class 5 races at the track – 18 winners from 42 runners 43% +24.66 A/E 1.86 24 placed 57% with those ridden by jockey Andrea Atzeni being 9 winners from 18 runners 50% +15.46 A/E 1.77 12 placed 67%. The pair combine on Fujaira Prince in the 8:15.

6:45 – Jive Talking – 7/2

8:15 – Fujaira Prince – 5/1

All that’s left is to wish you a profitable weeks punting.

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