Author Archives: John Burke

Progressive Podemos Looks The Part

Quick Ground Leads To Wetherby Non-Runners

I bet Wetherby Clerk of The Course Jonjo Sanderson wished the rain that hit Churchill Downs prior to the Breeders Cup had arrived at Wetherby.

Sadly, it’s been very dry in West Yorkshire and despite plenty of watering on the A1 course prior to the Charlie Hall Meeting. The going was good, good to firm in places on Saturday. That sort of going description was always likely to provide plenty of non-runners over the two days.

Inside I have some key trends for Saturday’s key trends for the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton. A future winner from Ascot for your trackers and Monday’s tip….

Red Lands Charlie Hall

Defections by the likes Bristol De Mai and Thistlecrack meant that just four went to the post for the historic Charlie Hall Chase. Despite the small number of runners, the race provided plenty of drama.

Firstly, the second favourite the Tom George trained Double Shuffle came down at the first fence. Then just two obstacles later the well backed favourite Black Corton made a bad mistake at the ditch almost unseating jockey Bryony Frost who made a miraculous recovery to maintain the partnership. Somehow, she managed to grab hold of the reins and even jumped the next fence with one foot out of the irons. If you have seen it, you’ll know exactly what I mean. It was an incredible piece of horsemanship. Black Corton made another mistake at the 7th and never managed to regain the lead from Definitely Red after that. The 8-year-old was still very much in contention coming to the last but he never really looked like he would catch the eventual winner.

The winner was given a suitably aggressive ride by jockey Danny Cook Definitely Red jumped better than his two other rivals. Unproven on going as quick as he faced on Saturday. The 9-year-old handled it really well. The gelding is now 13 wins from 26 runs 19 placed. A small field clearly suit him, as his form figures in a single digit field are now 11121122131311U1.

On the subject of the dry ground the Haldon Gold Cup is due to be run at Exeter on Tuesday. There is some rain in the forecast but the going description at the time of writing is good to firm. So, it’s looking likely there will be a small field for the race.

Notebook Horse:

Larry, trained by Gary Moore, came into the race looking for the hat-trick after win over hurdles at Fontwell & Plumpton in the spring. This was the 5-year-old’s first start over fences and he ran well for a long way. Given this was his first start since April it was a pleasing return to action.

Had no chance with the easy winner but would probably have finished if he hadn’t had made a mistake at the last. His best form over hurdles came on soft or heavy so in the circumstance he did well on this much quicker surface.

There are handicap chases to be won with this Midnight Legend gelding.

Badger Ales Handicap Chase & November Handicap

On Saturday Wincanton host’s one of its biggest racing days of the season. The highlight of the card is the Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase. Like Exeter and other parts of the South West the track hasn’t seem much rain in recent months. The going description is firm, good to firm in places so they really need a good downpour between now and Saturday to ease the ground.

Also, on Saturday it’s the final day of the flat turf season at Doncaster. The highlight of the Town Moor card is the November Handicap. When I first started getting involved in horse race betting this was one of the betting races of the autumn with a lively ante-post market. How times have changed and although most bookies have priced up the race. The race just doesn’t have any of the old excitement that it used to.

Badger Ales Trophy Trends

Looking at some of the key 10-year trends for the Badger Ales Trophy. Horses with the following traits:

Odds SP: 14/1 & under
Handicap Chase Wins: 1 to 3
Days Since Last Run: 11 to 30 days

Have produced the following set of results – 8 winners from 28 runners + 48% 11 placed or 80% of the winners from 21% of the total runners.

Monday Selection:

Plumpton and Hereford provide the jumps action this afternoon and Kempton continues with an all-weather twilight card. Today’s selection come from Kempton and the listed race at 6:00. Last weeks Monday selection finished second. Here's hoping we can go one better this week.


6:00 – It could worth siding with the improving Podemos in this 1m 4f listed race. Granted the 3-year-old has plenty to find on official ratings. But he’s in form. having won his last two starts here over a furlong shorter. Taking his Kempton form figures to 211. Looks to have solid each way claims for trainer Ralph Beckett whose 8 winners from 29 runners 28% in the past 14 days.

Podemos – 8/1 – each way

Until next week

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Breeders Cup Preview + Monday Tip

Morning all,

This week I am looking at the mighty Winx, the Breeders Cup and this weekend's Charlie Hall Chase.

But I have to start on a sad note….

Racing Mourns Death of King Power Owner

The blue and white silks of King Power Racing have been seen on plenty of racecourses this season. King Power Racing was owned by the Vichai Srivaddhanaprabh, who also owned Leicester City football club. Sadly the businessmen died in a horrific helicopter crash, on Saturday, just after he had watched his team against Everton.

I was talking to a Leicester City fan on Sunday who described Mr Srivaddhanaprabh as an “unassuming man. A man who hadn't just brought unprecedented success to the football club but had also put the city of Leicester on the map.

It’s not only the football world that has been saddened by his death. It has also hit the horse racing community hard too. King Power Racing was starting to establish itself as one of the leading owners in British horse racing.

Indeed they had another two winners on Saturday, including the Andrew Balding trained Morando, who landed a Group 2 at Newbury.

It’s a personal tragedy for his family and also the families of the two crew members who lost their lives. Our thoughts should be with all those  involved in this accident.

The Mighty Winx

The mare Winx is some racehorse that’s for sure. On Saturday morning British time she made it 29 straight wins, and 22 Group 1 races when making racing history to win the Cox Plate for a 4th time.

If you were at Moonee Valle, I doubt you will ever forget the roar that went up as Winx made her move 600m from home. Once in the straight she simply breezed past Benbatl to win by a comfortable 2 lengths. In all truth she hardly came off the bridle.

After the race co-owner Peter Tighe said, “She’s not only won the race but she confirmed she is the best horse in the world and honestly, I think she's the best horse we'll ever see”.

It’s a bold statement by Tighe. The daughter of Street Cry, whose win took her career earnings to over £12 million, has yet to race outside of Australia and taken on the best that Europe has to offer.

We will never get to see her run in the UK but I suspect if we had she would have proved her doubters wrong and beaten the best in the Northern Hemisphere.

Actually, these things work both ways and there was nothing to stop our best from going on down under to run against her in the Cox Plate.

There are no rules that say a horse has to run on a different country or continent. The best horse in my lifetime Frankel never raced outside Britain.

Lets’ celebrate that an amazing horse has won 29 races on the trot. That’s an incredible achievement and should be applauded by all. Connections have looked after the horse and not cared what other people think she should do.

Fair play to them!

The Breeders Cup

There’s sure to be some great racing at this Weekend's Breeders Cup which this year is being held at Churchill Downs.

Trainer John Gosden will bid for a unique double with Enable in the Turf and Roaring Lion in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on the dirt. Given that dirt track isn’t to severe Roaring Lion must have a decent chance in the Classic if he handles the kickback and didn’t leave his season at Ascot.

Apart from the Classic it’s the turf races that interest me from a betting perspective.

Four For The Weekend

If Enable is in the same form as she was in the Arc she should win the Turf. For those looking for one at bigger odds you will do worse than have a nibble on Magical who showed a nice turn of foot to win the Fillies & Mares race on Champions Day. She was behind Enable in the Arc but is improving at the right time and can go well.

The Turf Mile looks bound for Europe. The Freddie Head trained Polydream got no luck in running in the Group 1 Prix De La Floret. Granted a decent draw the 3-year-old will be tough to beat here.

Lilly’s Candle caused a shock when winning the Prix Marcel Boussac at 28/1. The strong pace suited the juvenile who came from behind to snatch victory on the line. Maybe she was flattered at Longchamp but she goes into the race a contender who could surprise again in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

The Aidan O’Brien trained Sergei Prokofiev came from behind to win the 5f Cornwallis Stakes at Newmarket A strongly run 5f suits the son of Scat Daddy who looks a live contender in the Breeders Cup Juvenile sprint. Behind him in 5th at Newmarket was the Robert Cowell trained Pocket Dynamo who looked a shade unlucky in the run that. With a clearer run he would have finished a lot closer. I think he could be the surprise package in the race granted a decent draw.

Charlie Hall Chase

On Saturday it’s Charlie Hall Day at Wetherby. Now for plenty of Northern punters the Charlie Hall is the start of the winter jumps season.

The Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase doesn’t normally attract a big field of staying chasers. Indeed, the average field size in the past decade is around seven runners.

Last year’s winner was Bristol De Mai, who went on to win Betfair Chase on his next start.

When it comes to big race trends I am very much in the less is more camp. Here are three that are worth noting:

Horses Age: 6yo to 9yo
Official Rating: 151 to 165
Wins in November: 1+

9 winners from 26 runners + 35.88 13 placed – 90% of the winners from 38% of the total runners.

Sadly time has beaten me so I don't have a notebook horse for you this week. Normal service will resume next Monday.

Monday Selection:


Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor might have missed out in the Cox Plate with Benbatl but he might have better fortune at a more modest level today.

Volcanic Sky gets the first-time hood today and the trainer has an excellent record with his runners racing in the first-time hood. Since 2014 he’s 20 winners from 54 runners 37% +34.42 A/E 1.51 30 placed 56% with such runners.

The 3-year-old has yet to race on soft but if the colt handles it can give us a good run for our money.

2:15 – Volcanic Sky – 5/1 or bigger

Until next week

Is Oisin Murphy Jockey of the Year?

Morning all,

I have to confess to something, I am a member of the Oisin Murphy Fan Club. What a season he’s had! At the beginning of the year he hadn’t had a British Group 1 winner. Now with one race to go for the season, he's tied at the top of the Group 1 League table with Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori on five wins.

His five wins have come courtesy of three different horses Roaring Lion, Lightning Spear and The Tin Man. The latest of his Group 1 successes came on Champions Day with Roaring Lion. More on that and a couple of winning strategies inside….

Champions Day Is A Roaring Success

When Champions Day was launched seven years ago, plenty questioned it's longevity. There's no doubt it’s now become a rare successful initiative by British horse racing. Its future secured as the rightful end of season finale.

It’s just a shame the flat season doesn’t end next week at Doncaster. Instead of the flat season going out with a bang, with a two-day meeting at Doncaster, including the Group 1 Futuruty. The flat season limps along for another two weeks.

Apart from three days at Newmarket which do play host to a number of two-year-old maiden races. The rest of the flat fare is in truth pretty poor. Roll on the jumps!

The Lion is King

What this time last week looked a sub-standard Queen Elizabeth II Stakes turned into anything but, as Roaring Lion's connections allowed let him take his chance in the race rather than go for the for the Champion Stakes over further.

It was brave move to drop the colt back to a mile and run him on soft ground. Two furlongs from home Century Dream hit the front and it looked like he would hold on for a surprise win.

However, Roaring Lion was making steady headway under strong pressure and finally collared the eventual runner-up in the final few yards. There was still time for I Can Fly to come out of the pack to throw down one final challenge but the line came in time to allow Roaring Lion to end the season the Champion 3-year-old.

Roaring Lion didn’t enjoy the rain softened ground and that turn of foot he showed to win the Irish Champion Stakes couldn’t be produced on this sort of ground. What he did show was plenty of class and heart without those two attributes he wouldn’t have won.

He now heads for stud but there’s still a chance he could have a final swan song at the Breeders Cup. If he does I hope connections go for the turf over 1m 4f rather than the Classic on dirt.

No joy For Laurens or Recoletos

Laurens who looked well in the paddock before the race was probably feeling the effects of a long season. She was disputing the lead two furlongs out but quickly dropped away. The filly stays in training as a 4-year-old.

My fancy in the race Recoletos was travelling like the winner two furlongs out but he didn’t find as much as expected and had to settle for 5th. Maybe he found the ground a little bit too soft.

It looked a good race on paper and the finish didn’t disappoint either.

Jumps Are Back

The National Hunt winter season is about to hit top gear as Cheltenham hosts its’s first jumps meeting of the season. Is it really only six months since the last one? If previous years are any guide a few future jumping stars will be in action.

Whilst all the focus was rightly on Champions Day. It was Welsh Champion Hurdle Day at Ffos Las. The 7lb rise in the weights Silver Streak got for winning the Swinton Hurdle back in May proved no hindrance as he ran out a comfortable three length winner.

It will be interesting to see how the handicapper reacts. If he doesn’t go over the top, there's another nice race in this progressive young hurdler.

Since Silver Streak joined trainer Evan Williams he’s 5 wins from 6 runs 83% +24 6 placed 100%, with form figures of 11121, after a 60+ day lay off. Meanwhile he’s 0 wins from 3 runs 0 places when racing within 60 days. Mind you to be fair to two of those runs did come on soft ground and he looks a far better horse on good or good to soft going at worst.

Evan Williams Last Time Out Handicap Hurdle Winners

I thought I would share some stats on trainer Evan Williams and last time out handicap hurdle winners. Since 2014 the trainer has had 29 winners from 86 runners 34% +115.68 48 A/E 1,68 placed 56%.

He's one of just six trainers to have a 30% win strike rate with last time out winning handicap hurdlers.

Notebook Horse:

This week’s horse for the tracker ran on Saturday at Market Rasen.

Romain De Senam, trained by Paul Nicholls, was having his first run since a summer wind-op. The 5/2 favourite was held up at the back before making steady headway coming to three out. However, his effort flattened out between the last two and he had to settle for 4th at the finish. Beaten less than six lengths, with this run under his belt he will be sharper next time.

Another tilt at next month’s BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham looks likely. A race he finished 5th in last year on unsuitable going. If the ground is no worse than good to soft he looks capable of getting much closer this time around. All four of his career wins have come on good or good to soft.

Monday Racing & Selection

Its flat turf action at Pontefract and Windsor this afternoon. There’s also a jumps card at Plumpton and an evening meeting at Kempton on the polytrack. It’s the latter meeting that provides today’s selection.


5:40 – Roy’s Legacy has been a grand servant to connections over the years and, the 9-year-old’s recent 4th placed effort at Lingfield suggests there is another race in him off his present mark. The return to Kempton isn’t a problem as he’s 3 wins from 3 runs over C&D in Class 6 handicaps.

He comes up against a couple of last time out winners in Broughton Excels and Carlovian but he shouldn't be far away if this is a going day. Trainer form is a concern as Shaun Harris has gone 199 days and 37 runners since his last winner.

Roy’s Legacy – 7/1 or bigger


Until next week

It’s Time For Security!

Morning all,

Sadly, no ante-post winner to report this week. However, if you followed my each-way suggestions for Saturday’s Cesarewitch; Cleonte and Theglasgowwarrior, you made a tidy profit on the race. As they finished 3rd and 5th respectively.

Plenty to cover this week. As I take a look back at Future Champions Weekend at Newmarket on Friday. Before taking an early peek at Champions Day. You can find all this and my Monday tip inside..

Joseph's Surprise In Fillies Mile!

Lets begin with a few reflections on Future Champions Weekend.

Iridessa, caused a bit of a shock when landing the Fillies Mile on Friday at 16/1. The Joseph O’Brien trained filly beat Hermosa trained by father Aidan. There was a very strong headwind and the winner got plenty of cover during the race. The runner-up was ridden more prominently and in the circumstances did well.

Pretty Pollyanna ran much better than she had done in the Cheveley Park, in finishing 3rd. The filly had been ante-post favourite for next year’s 1000 Guineas prior to her Cheveley Park run. She has now been pushed out to as big as 33/1 with Ladbrokes and Coral which looks a bit of an overreaction, given she wasn’t totally disgraced.

Norway Could Be Classic Contender?

The Zetland Stakes was won by Norway. Not the country. The horse.

Trainer Aiden O’Brien had won last years race with Kew Gardens and he has another future middle distance horse on his hands. Norway showed he already has excellent reserves of stamina to win this 1m 2f contest. Given his full brother Ruler Of The World, won the Derby you couldn’t rule him out for the Epsom Classic but he already has the look of a St Leger horse.

Persian Takes Centre Stage!

I suggested a couple of weeks ago that you grab the 25/1 available about the Andre Fabre trained Persian King for next years 2000 Guineas. He’s now as low as 10/1 for next year’s first colt’s classic after his win the Group 3 Autumn Stakes.

The son of Kingman looked really well in the paddock before the race and took the preliminaries in his stride. He has plenty in his favour and I really like him. He’s a good stamp of a horse and looks open to even more improvement as a 3-year-old. I was impressed with his attitude in the finish. His jockey had a hard time pulling him up after the race which suggests there was plenty in the tank.

Hot Winner Of Dewhurst!

I don’t have much to say about Too Darn Hot’s performance in winning the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes. Apart from the fact he put in a fantastic one. He’s clearly the best 2-year-old around and looks an exceptional horse.

The further they went the better he looked. You can see why he’s now a best priced 7/4 for the 2000 Guineas. The juvenile colts look a very strong bunch this year, so let's hope they all train on. As it looks like we could have a vintage crop.

Notebook Horse:

This weeks tracker horse is the first of the 2018-19 jumps season.

Carole’s Destrier, trained by Neil Mulholland, has dropped down the weights since finishing a ½ length second to Native River in the 2016 Hennessey Gold Cup at Newbury off 12lb higher.

The 10-year-old ran well for a long way in the Veterans Chase at Chepstow yesterday.This was his first start for 169 days and he was outpaced three out. Not surprisingly he tired but at least his jockey didn’t subject him to hard race after the last.

The 2m 7f would also have been a bare minimum for the horse who has won over 3m 5f.  There are races in him if he can build on this performance, which is by no mean certain.

For reference. The gelding is 5 wins from 12 runs +16.63 7 places when going right handed, 1 win from 15 runs 5 places going the other way. He’s also 6 wins from 13 runs +17.25 when racing 21 to 45 days since his last run.

He could well head for the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton next month.

Champions Day

It’s Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday. The end of season finale is the richest days racing held in Britain with £4.35 million on offer.

The highlight could be the Champion Stakes if Cracksmen, possibly in first time headgear, takes on stablemate Roaring Lion and Crystal Ocean.

My only bet so far is Hydrangea to win the Fillies & Mares race for the second year running. Hydrangea hasn’t run since finishing last of seven in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. She showed improved form when winning last years renewal and it looks like Aiden O’Brien has trained her for the race.

Granted her three runs this season haven’t reached that level but she is almost three times the price of Bateel, the second favourite behind Lah Ti Dar. Hydrangea beat Bateel by a fairly comfortable 2 lengths in the race last year. The 16/1 available with Paddy Power looks great each way value to me.

Balmoral Handicap 

The final race on Champions Day is the Balmoral Handicap over the Hunt Cup mile.

I like Flaming Spear (11/1). He will be suited by any ease in the ground and mile now looks his trip. Hopefully the trainer's horses will have returned to form by the weekend.

Fire Brigade (16/1) has run well on Ascot’s straight track in the past and he should get the easy surface that suits. He ran really well at Ayr on his last start and this race could well have been a target for trainer Michael Bell.

The Ralph Beckett trained Mitchum Swagger (20/1) likes some ease in the ground. He ran disappointingly at Haydock last month but that was his first start since finishing 3rd in the Lincoln back in March. Just behind Addeybb and Lord Glitters that day.

The 6-year-old clearly hasn’t been the easiest to keep sound but if produces his best he looks on a competitive mark. He ran well over C&D when 3rd in the Hunt Cup back in 2016, for his previous trainer and now races off a 4lb lower mark.

Monday Selection:

Mr Reckless provided the column with a much-needed winner last Monday at 4/1.

Gowran Park

Today’s selection is Art Of Security who goes in the 5:30 at Gowran Park. The winning hurdler remains lightly raced on the flat. This is his first start since finishing 6th of 20 to Low Sun over hurdles at the Galway Festival. The rain softened ground is in his favour and if he’s ready to roll after his short break looks on a competitive mark here.

5:30 – Art Of Security – 11/1 or bigger

Until next week

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