Brendan Duke: My tips for huge races in the north, south, east and west

With a quality racing from all over the world coming up, Brendan Duke’s head is spinning. But, we’ve managed to grab him just long enough for his picks…


A new low last week, backed two horses early in the week and neither were declared.

Nicky Richards stated that Guitar Pete was heading for the Old Roan Chase, but evidently changed his mind. That was frustrating, but paled in comparison with the agony of Stormwave’s non-appearance in the Futurity at Doncaster.

He had been supplemented at the cost of £15,000 after all. Surely, he was going to run – no, he wasn’t.

The strange thing was that the horse got no further mention. He was all set to run on Wednesday, but not declared on Thursday. What happened?

My ire led me to becoming a private detective this week. The case of the disappearing Stormwave consumed me for days.

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Turns out detective work is hard. When starting any new job, I like to channel my inner Roy Keane. ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ is sage advice from the combustible Corkonian.

I purchased a trench coat. Columbo and Inspector Gadget never failed to get their man after all. I tried that memory palace craic that Sherlock Holmes and Hannibal Lecter swear by.

Finally, in homage to Inspector Morse, I developed an obscure interest. A crash course in Baroque Revival architecture seemed just the ticket.

Fully prepared, I set out to solve the mystery.

Didn’t get very far though. I’m not great at confrontation and prefer not to ask awkward questions.

I did tweet Ralph Beckett, but even then he was tagged in a query rather than tweeted directly.

Turns out sleuthing isn’t for me. There is of course a chance that among my dozens of readers, is someone connected to the stable.

Any information would be gratefully received and treated with the utmost discretion. Without a break in the case, I’m afraid the mystery will endure.

My hunch is that it was an administrative error and nobody wants the boo-boo made public. That is verging on conspiracy theory talk though.

Now about those moon landings.

What a week for racing fans this is. Does a man look north to see Samcro? West for the Breeders Cup?

East for some decent NH action in England or very far away south to the race that stops a nation in Australia? I will be heading to Down Royal for the weekend.

The chance to see Samcro take his first steps on the road to Champion Hurdle glory proving irresistible. I will of course keep my eyes on the American action in the evening.

In terms of recommending a bet, I quite like the look of Lost Treasure in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. He’s a very talented, somewhat wayward horse. He wouldn’t be one to play at short odds.

Luckily, we’re getting a double figure price. Recent rain won’t do his chances any harm and the prospect of a big field race, run at a torrid pace, looks the ideal set up.

Keeping up the international theme, my second tip comes in the Melbourne Cup.

The betting tells a story here, seven of the top eight are trained in Europe. These are interesting times for an iconic race.

I’ve seen some local trainers voice concern about the future if foreign raiders continue their dominance.

Rekindling led home an Irish 1, 2, 3 last year. I never really understand this argument. I suppose it comes down to the importance you place on the horses relative to the connections.

I don’t really care who owns, trains or rides. However, I may be in the minority there.

In a sport for animals, the human angle seems important to some. Perhaps tales of Australasian heroes have stirred the Antipodean soul and made the race what it is.

The locals may be less interested in the narrative of foreign runners. I’m sceptical though, surely the Australians are bursting with pride that the world is cottoning on to how special their favourite race is.

Anyway, a tip. Marmelo went off favourite for last years renewal. That was off the back of a massively eye catching effort in the Caulfield Cup.

Interestingly, Hughie Morrison has eschewed the warm up option this time round.

Marmelo has been very solid this season and comes here fresh, on the back of just four starts.

He will likely travel on or close to the pace. That’s usually an advantage given the Australian style of racing. He’s not short of speed either judged on the finishing kick he showed in Caulfield. Perhaps that race took too much out of him. At 16/1, he looks a decent e/w bet.

Wait until the final field is declared on Saturday around lunchtime to back him. He won’t be any shorter and I’d be surprised if Paddy doesn’t provide an extra place.

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What do you think?