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Monday’s Weekly Roundup – Horse Racing

As promised this article primarily looks at the upcoming Yorkshire Ebor Festival which starts on Wednesday. However, I will begin with a look back at last week’s racing action.

Towcester must focus on the horses, not the dogs

The most interesting story of the week took place off the track rather than on it with the announcement that Towcester racecourse had entered administration. It’s a great shame as the course once offered racegoers a fantastic view of the sport and the climb up the hill to the line had to be seen to be believed. 

The origins of this shambles go back to 2014 when Towcester gave up seven racing fixtures, including its prime Boxing Day meeting and decided to concentrate on greyhound racing.  The decision to put in a greyhound track wasn’t a popular one. For the regular racegoers, the introduction of a dog track meant an impeded view of the horse racing.  

Granted owner Lord Hesketh managed to lure the Greyhound Derby to the track but the more day to day fare wasn’t as popular. Which wasn’t that surprising as Towcester was always a traditional country race track. A world away from the more urban-based sport of dog racing

I am sure Towcester will find new owners, Betfred are said to be interested, so I doubt we have seen the end of horse racing at the course. Whoever takes over its management they can’t continue with the present split identity. For me, it only has one future and it doesn’t involve greyhound racing. 

Last Week’s Eyecatcher

History Writer, trained by David Menuisier, up 7lb for a good win at Sandown the 3-year-old wasn’t suited by the way the race unfolded. He got behind early in the race and wasn’t suited to the way the track was riding, as it was hard to make up ground from the rear. In addition, he was caught out wide with no cover throughout. In the circumstances, he did well to finish as close as he did in 5th. The way he finished his race a step up in trip could be what the colt now needs. Still lightly raced, this was only his 6th career start, there should be more to come from him. 

Welcome to the Ebor Festival 2018

There’s no doubt that the Ebor Festival gets bigger and better each year. With the track once again offering record prize money.

My favourite race of the flat season the Sky Bet Ebor Handicap which is now the joint richest flat handicap in Europe with prize money of £500,000 which of course will be increased to £1 million for 2019. 

The race of the meeting in terms of class is, of course, the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes which is the richest race held on the Knavesmire, with a £1 million on offer for the horse bidding to follow in the hoof prints of the likes of Sea The Stars and Frankel.

The meeting is full of Yorkshire hospitality, fashion and of course top-class racing action. All combining to make it my favourite of all the Summer racing festivals. 

Let’s hope the warm summer weather returns and we get largely fine & dry weather for the four days.

Concentrate on the two-legged competitors 

My approach to the Ebor Festival as to most racing festivals is a simple one. I will be concentrating on the two-legged competitors rather than the horses. 

Top trainers win the most races and most of the top races. The best jockeys get the best chances and they respond with winners for the trainers who put them on the horses.

You won’t go far wrong if you start at the top. The best solution is a top jockey on a top trainer’s horse. This doesn’t mean we can forget about doing our homework but it’s a great starting point. 

In all truth, I could write 5000 or more words on trainer stats. Well mercifully for you I am restricted on the words front. So, here are just a few nuggets for those of you who like your stats. 

Ebor Festival Stats

For the purpose of this research, I have looked at trainer stats from 2008+. 


  1. William Haggas Ebor Festival Juvenile King

There have been 65 juvenile winners from 797 runners in the period under research. The top trainer in terms of numbers is William Haggas with –

10 winners from 28 runners

Strike Rate 36%

SP Profit +33.13

A/E 2.05

16 placed

Place Strike Rate 57%.

Punters who followed the Haggas juveniles at the meeting last year were out of luck with 0 winners from 3 runners & 1 placed. 

Hopefully, normal service will be resumed in 2018 and the Newmarket trainer will be having a juvenile winner at his favourite track. 


  1. Aidan O’Brien’s Mixed Ebor Festival Record

The Ebor Festival is arguably the Irish Maestro’s worst summer festival. Since 2008 he’s had just

6 winners from 80 runners

Strike Rate 8%

SP Loss -52.47

A/E 0.49

27 placed

Place Strike Rate 34%

So, is there a way to profit from his runners this week. Well apart from Idaho’s win in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes in 2016 all the trainer’s wins have come in Group 1 races –

5 winners from 35 runners

Strike Rate 14%

SP Loss -9.3

A/E 0.96

12 placed

Place Strike Rate 34% – which is a good starting point for an O’Brien micro angle.

All his winners have been well fancied in the market with those sent off at single-digit odds (9/1 & under) producing –

5 winners from 17 runners

Strike Rate 29%

SP Profit +8.7

A/E 1.11

12 placed

Place Strike Rate 71% (+16.31).

A nice profit there for each-way punters. 

Those who ran in Group 1 race on their last start are –

5 winners from 15 runners

Strike Rate 33%

SP Profit +10.7

A/E 1.4

11 placed

Place Strike Rate 73%

Digging a bit further all his winners ran at either the Curragh or Goodwood on their last start –

5 winners from 7 runners

Strike Rate 71%

SP Profit +18.7

A/E 2.92

6 placed

Place Strike Rate 86% (+24.22)


  1. Handicap Trainers

Here are a group of trainers who have interesting strike rates in handicap races. They may not have any qualifiers this year but if they do you need to take note:

  • Michael Dods (5f & 6f) – 3 winners from 9 runners
    Strike Rate 33%
    SP Profit +17.25
    A/E 4.55
    5 placed
    Place Strike Rate 56% (+29.38)
  • David O’Meara (7f) – 3 winners from 7 runners
    Strike Rate 43%
    SP Profit +18.5
    A/E 4.17
     
  • Sir Michael Stoute (1m 4f & 4-year-old) – 2 winners from 5 runners
    Strike Rate 40%
    SP Profit +18
    A/E 3.13
    3 placed
    Place Strike Rate 60% (+22.88)
     
  • Hugo Palmer (3-year-old only handicaps) – 2 winners from 6 runners
    Strike Rate 33%
    SP Profit +17
    A/E 3.08
    4 placed
    Place Strike Rate 67% (+23.38)

Good luck with this week’s punting

Until next week. 

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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