Author Archives: John Burke

Windsor Selection Looks Spicy!

Morning all,

It’s been steady profits over the last couple weekend’s for Victor Value subscribers. Saturday was one of those days when everything goes right with Waldpfad (33/1), Casablanca Mix (11/1) and Indeed (6/1) doing the business to give us one of the best Saturday’s of this flat season.

Saturday’s racing looked low key compared to ‘Super Saturday’ but far from it and there are plenty of good performances to look back on.

You'll find my thoughts on Saturday's racing and Monday's tip inside.

Lazy Fox in Newbury Win

Fox Chairman, had looked unlucky on his last two starts behind Circus Maximus and Sangarius. He finally got into the winner’s enclosure when victorious in the Listed race that opened Newbury’s Saturday card.

Dropped in, off a fairly steady pace, he was one of the first to come under pressure.  Responding well, he took up the running two out and held on. Despite not doing much when hitting the front.

Fox Chairman doesn't make his jockey's life easy but the odds-on favourite has plenty of ability as he showed here.

The step up to 1m 4f suited the son of Kingman and he may stay further. Given how lazily he races he would surely benefit for the addition of some headgear.

Charlton Enhances Excellent Course Record

It’s not been the best of seasons for Roger Charlton. But Withold’s win in the Marsh Cup showed what a good trainer he remains. The classy stayer hadn’t been since finishing 8th of 15 in the Geelong Cup in Australia last autumn.

Withold has had a wind-operation, since returning from his aborted trip down under and the procedure has certainly worked.  Sent into the lead, coming to three out there were plenty of challengers but he brushed them off and ran out a good winner.

To win this, off a mark 107, means he’s a pattern class stayer.  The 6-year-old has got an entry in the Goodwood Cup, that race will probably come to quick, and also holds an Ebor entry.  If he comes out of the race sound he will surely be able to hold his own in better class races.

The trainer had a handicap double at the track on Saturday which means he's now 10 winners from 28 bets 36% +33.7 16 placed 57% with such runners in the past 5-years.

Don’t Underestimate the German’s

German horses have had plenty of big race success in Britain in the past, so it was surprising to see Waldpfad sent off at 33/1 for the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes.

As I told my subscribers on Friday evening:

“He comes into the race after winning a German Group 3, 17-days ago. The drop back to 6f suited the 5-year-old and there could be more to come from him over sprint trips”.

This was only the 5-year-old's second start over 6f. A big strong sprinting type, he was always travelling well and once he hit the front he was strong all the way to the line.  There was no fluke to this success either.

The Tin Man was the big disappointment.  The 7-year-old was dropping in class and getting 3lb from the eventual winner but never looked like he would win. 

Millman’s Dare to Dream

Newbury's Super Sprint, is a race is designed to give cheaply bought juveniles the chance of winning a big pot.

Betty’s Hope, trained by Rod Millman, cost just £3,000 as a yearling and she came with a late thrust in the hands of Silvestre De Sousa to win on the nod.  Not unbacked, she takes home £122,925 for winning the race.

The favourite Ventura Rebel could only finish 4th and looked like he needs 6f.

Frankie’s Not For Catching In Irish Oaks

Now the place to be in this years Irish Classics, has been to be out in front.  Frankie Dettori soon had recent Royal Ascot winner Star Catcher out in the lead and his opponents allowed him to dictate the pace.  The filly held off the late run of Fleeting to win by a ½ length, with 5/2 favourite Pink Dogwood back in third.

It was a riding masterclass by Frankie Dettori to win, but the other jockey’s including Ryan Moore need to take long hard look in the mirror and ask themselves how they could allow Frankie to dominate the race in the way he did.

Maybe I'm being too harsh on Ryan and the Coolmore jockeys, as they ride exactly to instructions and improvisation doesn't seem to be encouraged.

Henderson Wins The Plate

Finally, a quick mention for Nicky Henderson who landed his first Summer Plate at Market Rasen with Casablanca Mix.

The filly has plenty of ability but has been unlucky in a few of her previous races over fences. Coming into the race on the back of a confidence boasting Aintree win.  Nico De Boinville always had the 7-year-old in a handy position behind the leaders. Taking it up three out, she never looked like she would be caught as she stayed on well to give her trainer a first win in this valuable summer jumps prize.

Crystal Can Sparkle In King George

Next Saturday we have the mouth-watering prospect of Enable taking on the likes of Crystal Ocean, Defoe, Waldgeist, Anthony Van Dyck & Sovereign at Ascot. 

Let’s hope all the big names stand their ground as it could be one of the races of the season.

Crystal Ocean, gained his breakthrough Group 1 win at Royal Ascot last time, putting in a career best on RPR’s in the process. An improved horse, if he’s ever to beat the mare it will be on Saturday.

Monday Selection:

Windsor

5:45 – Spice Of Life, ran well enough when 4th on her handicap over C&D, three weeks ago. She gets the first-time blinkers today, which will hopefully eke out some improvement and trainer Ralph Beckett's record with handicappers in the first-time headgear is 12 winners from 55 bets 22% +30.49 A/E 1.42 22 placed 40% since the start of 2015, including 5 winners from 18 runners 28% +27 with fillies.  Granted, the trainers runners are a bit in and out at present but she will do for me.

Spice Of Life

Until next week.

It’s Friday At Wolverhampton

The caravan of top-class racing rolled into Newmarket for the July Festival last week and on Saturday it was “Super Saturday”. That day in the racing calendar when the action comes so thick and fast that you barely have to time to take a breather.

You can find my thoughts on Saturday’s action, including a couple of horses for the tracker and Monday’s tip inside.

Bookies Taken For More Than Ten Sovereigns

Ten Sovereigns, was one of the best backed horses of July Festival and he didn’t let his backers down. Putting in an impressive performance to win this years July Cup.

On paper it looked a wide-open renewal and the recent retirement of Blue Point meant the sprint crown was up for grabs.

From the start, the field divided into two groups. Glorious Journey broke quickly to lead the group on the stands side. Meanwhile on the far side Ten Sovereigns was up the with pace. At halfway it seemed like the stands side group were ahead. But that all soon changed. As the runners approached the final furlong, it became clear that the larger far side group held sway. As his rivals came to challenge, Ten Sovereigns fought them off, before skipping away for a decisive win.

He finished 2 ¾ lengths ahead of Advertise who had no answer to his powerful finish. The winner’s stablemate Fairyland ran on nicely into third but in all truth, they were no match for the winner.

For the first time this season the colt reproduced his high-class, two-year-old form. He didn’t stay the mile in the 2,000 Guineas and although he was a shade disappointing at Ascot, there was enough promise in his performance in the Commonwealth Cup to make him a contender here.

The return to quick ground suited the colt. As did the change in running style. As he clearly enjoyed the forward ride he got on Saturday

Johnston Lands Bunbury

The big betting race of the July Festival is arguably the Bunbury Cup. This years race went the way of the punters with Vale Of Kent, landing a bit of a touch, to give trainer Mark Johnston a second win in the race.

Frankie Dettori got the gelding into a good rhythm out in front on the far side.  He was briefly headed two out, by Admiralty but battled back, to take the lead once more and wasn't to be denied.

The favourite Solar Gold led the group down the middle and stayed on to get within ½ length of the winner. Admiralty managed to hold on for third, just ahead of the consistent Spanish City.

Bunbury Cup Eyecatcher

Not many of the hold up horses managed to get into the race. One who did was Ripp Orf who stayed on into 6th, beaten just under two lengths at the line.

He’s now dropped down to his last winning mark and must be a big player in the upcoming International Stakes, back at Ascot, on King George Day.  A race he finished third in last season and a track he goes well at.

Osin’s Got The Power

With Silvestre De Sousa going to Ascot, Osin Murphy came in for a winning spare ride on Mystery Power in the Superlative Stakes.  A decent horse normally wins this Group 2 contest and this year’s victor looks up to the race standard. However, they did go very hard in front in the first four furlongs of the race and that played into the hands of the first two home.

The son of No Nay Never built on the promise of winning racecourse debut at Haydock and you had to admire the colt's battling attitude at the finish, as he held off the late challenge of the equally progressive Juan Elcano.

It was a notable big race double for stallion No Nay Never who also sired Ten Sovereigns.

Balding Takes The Beer Money

Up at York, it was John’s Smith’s Cup Day and the 60th anniversary of the Tadcaster Brewery’s sponsorship of the race, the longest sponsorship in horse racing.

Twenty one runners went to post for the race which was won by the Andrew Balding trained Pivoine.

Big Kitten went into an early lead but didn’t seem to go very quick in the early stages. He was headed two furlongs out. But still managed to hold on for sixth at the finish.

The winner could be seen making good progress on the inner and showed a good change of gear to lead just inside the final furlong to hold on by a length.

Pivoine is now 2 from 2 over C&D which underlined the importance of course form in these big field York handicaps.

John Smith's Cup Eyecatcher

If there is one to take out of the race for the future, it could the William Haggas trained My Lord And Master. The 4-year-old was having his first start for 225-days and first run since a gelding operation. He was well fancied in the pre race betting but never get competitive after a sluggish start.

His best RPR had come when runner-up over C&D last October, albeit the ground was soft that day. He looks on a competitive mark and probably found the ground too lively on Saturday.

RIP Beat The Bank

I have to end this look back at the Saturday action on a sad note. Andrew Balding came face to face with the good and bad side of the sport on Saturday

Beat the Bank had just bravely beaten Zaaki to win the Group 2 Summer Stakes. But as he crossed the line, he sustained a severe leg injury and had to be put down.

The 5-year -old wasn’t the classiest miler we have seen but he was a real battler, as he showed on Saturday. It was a cruel way for the horse to end his life and a sad day for the trainer who lost his stable star.

Monday Selection:

Wolverhampton

6:30 – Black Friday – Lightly raced for his age; this will just be his 9th career start. We last saw him in action finishing a neck second at Catterick, 279-days ago off today’s mark.  

We have to take his fitness on trust but he'd been off the track for 103-days prior to that Catterick run, so we know he goes well fresh. And trainer Karen McLintock proved she could bring a horse back off a long layoff with Dubawi Fifty’s recent effort in the Northumberland Plate.

David Probert is an interesting jockey booking for the gelding who looks on a competitive mark.

Black Friday – each-way

Until, next week.

Ripon Runner Looks Well Handicapped!

The holiday’s over, and I am back in the Monday hot seat.  It’s great to be back and I wouldn’t wanted to have missed what I witnessed on Saturday.

You can read my thoughts on Saturday’s action and find out why I fancy a well handicapped horse running at Ripon.

Ready, willing and Enable

July is the month of the season when the classic generation meet the older horses at Group 1 level. It all began on Saturday with the Coral-Eclipse. Sadly the 3-year-old presence in the Eclipse was poor with just Telecaster racing for the classic generation.

Dual Arc heroine Enable made her long-awaited seasonal return in the Coral Eclipse on Saturday. Enable looked magnificent in the parade ring. All good horses have a presence in the paddock, they have poise and balance, and she has both of those in spades.

Hunting Horn as expected set a good gallop for his stablemate Magical, with Enable chasing him in second. Taking it up two furlongs from home Enable only had to be shaken up to hold off Magical and the staying on Regal Reality. Her final margin of victory over the runner-up was just ¾ length but that doesn’t reflect just how dominant she was at the finish.

Telecaster was a bit keen on the outside without cover but even so never looked like he would threaten. He needs to be dropped back in class to get a bit of a confidence booster.

The goddess of racing

Owner Prince Khalid Abdulla has arguably had the best colt in the past 30-years, in Frankel, and now he’s got the best filly that I have seen racing. Yep, she's that good and what a straightforward ride she is? That's why she’s such a great horse.

It’s important for any sport to have its Champions and flat racing has it with Enable. After the race the crowd stampeded to see her come back into the winner’s enclosure. Granted there was an element of the “Frankie Factor” to some of the crowd’s reaction, but in truth most had come to worship their goddess.

It’s been a low-key flat season so far but hopefully Enable has now lit the fuse to this summer of racing.

John McCririck RIP

John McCririck, sadly lost his long fight against lung cancer on Friday.

Opinionated, dinosaur and misogynist are some of the words that were used to describe McCririck during his life and they were probably accurate descriptions of the man.

No one can deny that Big Mac, as he was popularly known, was a larger than life character, certainly in public, although in private he a was more insecure and shyer person.

For over 30-years he was one of the few figures in racing recognised by people outside the racing bubble. When the non-racing mainstream media wanted a view on a big racing or betting story, he was the man they went to.

The deerstalker wearing, cigar smoking persona was the face of Channel 4 racing’s coverage for three decades. However, by the end of his time with the broadcaster his eccentric act had run its course.

Love him or loath him, there is no doubt he was on the side of the punter and of course it’s worth remembering he was an award-winning investigative journalist when he worked on the Sporting Life.

No one could ever describe McCririck as politically correct but ironically when it came to the use of the whip his views differed from most in the sport. He had long been an advocate of banning jockeys from hitting horses with the whip.

For many years he was also a patron of the Greatwood horse charity, alongside wife Jenny aka ‘The Booby’.

There won’t be another John McCririck in our lifetime that’s for sure.

RIP Big Mac.

Newmarket July Cup Thoughts

We have three days of racing on Newmarket’s July course to look forward to this week. The feature race of the meeting is the Group 1 July Cup on Saturday. Looking at some of the key trends:

Nine of the ten winners were 3yo or 4yo 9 winners from 74 runners. Whilst those aged 5yo+ are 1 winner from 60 runners.

Eight of the last ten winners ran at Royal Ascot on their last start.  Of those 8 winners 7 of them were aged 3 or 4 7 winners from 52 runners. Whilst those aged 5yo+ are 1 winner from 46 runners. The sole older Royal Ascot winner was Slade Power in 2014.

Digging deeper into the stats. Those horses who were dropping back from a mile at Royal Ascot are 2 winners from 7 runners 3 placed. The two winners were US Navy Flag in 2018 and Dream Ahead in 2011. There is one possible runner who fits that profile in Pretty Pollyanna.

Ante post favourite Advertise, deserves his place at the head of the market and looks value at around 4/1.

Fairyland was doing her best work at the finish when 5th of 12 in the King Stand Stakes and will be suited by the step up to 6f.

Pretty Pollyanna was well down the field in the Coronation Stakes but could be suited by the drop back to sprinting and she did win over C&D here 12 months ago.

Both Fairyland 16/1 and Pretty Pollyanna 33/1 look at generous odds.

Hopefully this year’s winner will be one of the above three horses.

Monday Selection:

Today’s tip runs at Ripon this evening.

Ripon

8:10 – Granted Benadalid ran poorly in the Cumberland Plate 12-days ago but there’s no denying that the 4-year-old has dropped to a tempting handicap mark, 3lb lower than his last win.

Hopes of a bounce back to form rest on a return to Ripon, a track where his form figures are 313 and the fact that all three of his career wins have come when racing between 11 and 25 days since his last run.

It looks like he will be one the outsiders of the field but if all eight stand their ground he can hopefully run into the places at the very least.

Benadalid – each way

Until next week.

Royal Ascot Eyecatchers + Curragh Tip

Morning all,

The final part of my Royal Ascot debrief. Inside you will find an eyecatcher from each of the five days and a Thursday selection from the Curragh. Which hopefully can go one better than Groveman did yesterday.

Tuesday – Day 1

Fairyland, trained by Aidan O’Brien, hadn’t been disgraced when 5th of 15 in the 1,000 Guineas. She failed to see out the mile that day and at the Curragh in the Irish version. Last years Group 1 Cheveley Park winner was dropped back to 5f in the King Stand Stakes and she shaped with in finishing 5th, beaten about three lengths by Blue Point.

The drop back to the minimum trip was always going to be a big ask for the 3-year-old and she was a little outpaced but she made some notable headway in the final furlong or so. She just didn’t have the pace of the likes of Blue Point and Battaash. It’s worth noting she was only ¼ length behind the third. The step up to 6f will suit the filly and next month’s July Cup could be an ideal race for her and the 25/1 available with Paddy Power would look value if connections decide to send her to Newmarket.

Wednesday – Day 2

Almost Midnight, trained by David Simcock, was a winner on his racecourse debut back in January before finishing runner-up at Newcastle. The 3-year-old returned from a short break to win a minor 1m 4f race at Thirsk last month. He was thrown into the deep end in the Group 2 Queen’s Vase but wasn’t disgraced in finishing 7th.

Sent off an unfancied 50/1, hold up tactics weren’t suited by the way the race panned up and his effort can be marked up.

The colt’s run hasn’t been ignored by the handicapper who put him up 5lb for this effort. If he returns to handicaps, he should remain very competitive even off his new mark. He should have a nice pot in him before the year is out.

Thursday – Day 3

Roseman, trained by Roger Varian, ran well in finishing 5th in the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes and I think the form of the race will stand up as the season progresses.

The 3-year-old was only having his 4th career start.  A winner at Nottingham on his second start back in April.  He had run well to finish runner-up to subsequent St James’s Palace Stakes second King Of Comedy at Sandown last time.

Slightly impeded at the start. He then seemed to struggle in the rear in the early stages of the race, out a bit wider than you would like. The son of Kingman still seemed a shade green and was doing all his best work at the finish of the race. This was a better effort than his final position suggests and there was enough in his performance to think he could be a decent horse by the end of the season.

Friday – Day 4

Fujaira Prince, trained by Roger Varian, had put in an excellent performance when finishing 2nd in a valuable York handicap on his previous start and arguably put in just as good an effort in finishing third here. He didn’t get the best of passages through the race and had to be switched twice in the straight when trying to make his effort.

Lightly raced for his age. The 5-year-old the gelding is now 3 wins from 6 starts and he might not have finished his progress just yet. I will be disappointed if there are not more wins in him this season.

Saturday – Day 5

Perfection, trained by David O’Meara, had won a Newmarket Listed race on her final start for John Gosden back in October. Owners Cheveley Park kept the filly in training as 4-year-old but moved her to David O’Meara.

A promising second in a Group 3 at Lingfield on her stable debut, before running poorly 14-days later at Haydock. That race probably came too quick after a hard race on soft ground.  A much better effort from her in finishing in 7th of 26, finishing less than two lengths off the runner-up. Indeed with a clearer passage would surely have gone close to finishing second.

There’s a good sprint handicap in her when all the cards fall right which they didn’t here. 

Thursday Selection:

Curragh

6:45 – Ming – The 4-year-old remains open to improvement over today’s 1m 4f distance. Twice a winner at Gowran Park and Navan last year. He returned from a 113-day break to finish 6th of 18, here over 1m 2f. He was doing his best work at the finish last time and looks worth a go at today’s distance. His best form so far has come on good to firm ground so the sounder the surface the better his chance.

Ming – 11/2 @ Bet365 & Paddy Power

Cheers

John

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