Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Manikato Stakes preview

Moonee Valley's great raceday has been split into two now, in a move doesn't sit well with too many of the traditionalists (like me). The headline act on Friday night is the Group 1 Manikato Stakes, amassing a tremendous field of sprinters. With the preview, it's Mitch Fenton.

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2014 MANIKATO STAKES PREVIEW
Group 1, 1200m WFA
Form guide

By Mitch Fenton

Website
Twitter: @weekndkngracing
Facebook: /weekendking

1.BUFFERING – 4 – D.BROWNE / R.HEATHCOTE
ODDS: $6.50 (early TAB prices quoted)

Qld champion who finally broke his Group 1 maiden in this race 12 months ago when beating Hong Kong star Lucky Nine. Amazingly he now has four Group 1 wins to his name after claiming another one last start in the Moir Stakes at this track and trip.

Was allowed to lead and dictate in the Moir when Newitt decided to take the sit on Lankan Rupee, and after being beautifully rated by Browne in front he was too tough and staved them all off again!

He was at his most vulnerable being first up against quality horses that had the race fitness edge and they couldn’t beat him. Will be further improved by the run and I personally don’t think any of those that finished behind him in the Moir can turn the tables now he’ll strip fitter for this race.

Goes into this race following the exact same program as 12 months ago, and he’s going every bit as well as he was then, probably better.

There is some new flesh on the scene in the form of Terravista, Not listenin’tome and Bounding, but they haven’t proven themselves against the tough battle hardened Gr1 open sprinters at WFA level.

Will lead them up and it’ll take a good effort to get past him as it looks as though he’ll be able to dictate terms again out in front. Has the heart of a lion!

2.LANKAN RUPEE – 9 – C.NEWITT / M.PRICE
ODDS: $4.20

After an all-conquering autumn campaign that saw him win the Oakleigh Plate, Newmarket Handicap & TJ Smith Stakes, he was rightfully touted as the world’s premier sprinter.

But his bubble has burst somewhat this campaign being beaten at both outings the McEwen & Moir, albeit by a very slender margin on both occasions. He’s not going as bad as some pundits might be suggesting though, because in reality he’s only been beaten by about a cumulative total of 10 inches in the two defeats.

But he’s simply not going anywhere near as well as he was during the autumn! The Lankan Rupee we saw in the autumn would have blitzed the fields he has been beaten in this prep.

Thought Newitt made a blunder last start with his tactics, he jumped out a length in front but handed up the lead to Buffering without a fight. That suggests to me that the horse might be slightly amiss or it was just a poor split second decision. Cast your mind back to the TJ Smith, Lankan lead Buffering and thrashed him, which only three horses have ever done to Buffering and they go ok – Sepoy, Hay List & Black Caviar!

Price cited a hoof issue as the potential problem, so if that was the only issue and it’s been remedied he can definitely bounce back!

Write him off at your own peril.

3.TEMPLE OF BOOM – 8 - T.GOLLAN / MS. T.HARRISON
ODDS: $26

Evergreen Qld sprinter who is as honest as the day is long.

Has run in this race the past two years, finishing unplaced on both occasions (beaten 2.8 and 3.1 lengths). They have been his only two Moonee Valley runs.

Had a terrific Qld Winter Carnival when, culminating in a terrific secnd in the Stradbroke beaten very narrowly by River Lad who had the pull in the weights. (Group 1 record - 17 starts: one win, two seconds, one third).

Both runs this time in have been as honest as ever, both down the Flemington straight, that he loves so much, in the Bobbie Lewis & Gilgai. Both times he’s bumped into the very promising Hawkes sprinter Chautauqua, who blitzed all-comers in devastating fashion.

Has raced against his statesman Buffering nine times during his career and Buffering leads that head-to-head 7-2.

Will give an honest account, but prefer him down the straight.

4.MOMENT OF CHANGE – 10 - C.SCHOFIELD / PG.MOODY
ODDS: $19

Triple Group 1 winning sprinter who has been freshened up since flopping in the Memsie won by his stablemate Dissident back in late August.

Chased Buffering home on four occasions last Spring, including a heart-breaking nose margin in Perth’s 1200m Gr1 Winterbottom Stakes.

Was an absolutely luckless fourth in this race last year behind Buffering, he missed the start and was flushed wide on cornering but ran the fastest closing 600, 400 and 200m times to get within a half length of the Qlder.

Has a terrific fresh record, so the big each-way odds on offer are fairly generous for mine. Watch out for him launching late!

5.REBEL DANE – 3 - C.WILLIAMS / G.PORTELLI
ODDS: $9.00

Hasn’t won in over 12 months, with his latest win coming in the 2013 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes. Showed last start when third in the Moir behind Buffering that he’s getting back to something like the form that saw him claim a Group 1 crown.

Will probably try and settle closer to the speed to this around if possible, he just can’t afford to be giving Buffering to big a start and expect to beat him. He was 3.3L off Buffering in the Moir and did close him down to a short neck, but settling closer is the key to his chances of beating Buffering around the Valley.

Good chance.

6.FAMOUS SEAMUS – 5 – T.CLARK / N.MAYFIELD-SMITH
ODDS: $26

Beat Buffering and Temple of Boom to claim the 1200m Gr1 BTC Cup during the Brisbane Winter carnival to leave punters on the floor.

Two runs this time in have been terrific. He was third first-up behind Terravista in The Shorts but he was really chewing up the ground at the end of the 1100m and got within 2L of that winner. Second up he overcame an average run in transit, posted three deep, to tough it out and win the 1200m Gr2 Premiere Stakes at Royal Randwick.

He’s super honest and deserves a crack at Australia’s elite sprinters, wouldn’t be surprised to see him up filling a place.

7.TERRAVISTA – 7 – J.PRIDE / H.BOWMAN
ODDS: $3.75

Up-and-coming sprinter who boasts an impressive career record of eight wins and a placing from just 11 starts.

Has won both starts this campaign; first up in the 1200m Gr3 Show County back in August he was far too good for last week's Listed sprint winner at Caulfield, In Cahoots, in what was a soft 2L win.

Second up on the 20th of September in 1100m Gr2 The Shorts he again proved to strong. He won the race by 2L on the line but against the slightly better class of opposition, it looked like he was all out on the line.

He’s been kept fresh for his first crack at a Gr1 sprint, which has worked well for him in the past.

I just can’t have him though and think he’s THE LAY OF THE DAY!

He’s untried at Moonee Valley, he’s untried the Melbourne way and he rises exponentially in grade from a weak quality Gr2 handicap to a Gr1 WFA against not only Australia’s best, but some of the world’s best!

Those are all very big queries for me, especially the class rise.

Absolutely ridiculous odds. That’s not to say he couldn’t win, but you’d want at LEAST double what they're offering now!

Leave me out!

8.ICONIC – 1 – N.HALL / T.McEVOY
ODDS: $61

Was a slashing run in the Gr2 1000m Schillaci Stakes on Guineas Day.

This is a bridge too far though, and he represents a big risk in my eye over the 1200m, which he’s had two tries at for two failures.

Think he needs an 1100m race in lesser company.

9.NOT LISTENIN’TOME – 1 - T.BERRY / G.MOORE
ODDS: $21

Twice Gr1 placed as a three year-old when in the Hawkes stable – in the 1200m Coolmore Stud Stakes when second behind Zoustar last spring and was also second in the Canterbury Stakes behind gun mare Appearance.

Simply found the 1000m of the Schillaci too short and they were too nippy for him but he still got to the line in good fashion.

This is the acid test for him meeting our best sprinters at level weights now as a four year-old, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him measure right up. Whether or not this is it I’m not sure, but I’m confident he’s a Gr1 type.

Nice each way bet, can win!

10.PLATELET – 12 – B.MELHAM / D.WEIR
ODDS: $21

Dual Gr1 winning mare, who also comes here through the Schillaci Stakes on Guineas Day.

She won those Group 1s at successive outings back in early 2013 in the Sangster and Goodwood both run over 1200m at Morphettville.

Deserves a crack at this grade no doubt, but I think as genuine as she is, this will just be a bit too much for her. Melbourne Gr1 WFA is worlds apart from Adelaide Fillies and Mares & handicap races.

11.BOUNDING – 11 – M.DU PLESSIS / K & B KELSO
ODDS: $34

Kiwi sprint mare with a terrific career record of seven wins and five placings from 12 starts, having never missed the placings.

One of those wins was a Gr1, the Railway Stakes, NZ’s premier sprint race held on New Year’s Day and three of the others have come at Group 3 level.

The form isn’t terrific by any stretch out of those wins though. The fourth horse in that Railway Stakes was Durham Town, he was 2L behind Bounding. We saw him over here in Qld in 2012. He was unplaced and uncompetitive in four Qld runs, and they were only in Gr3 / Listed company.

Think this will be too rich for her.

12.ANGELIC LIGHT – 6 - R.GRIFFITHS / D.OLIVER
ODDS: $17

She was the giant killer second run back this campaign toppling the ‘world’s best sprinter’ Lankan Rupee in a shock upset result in the 1000m Gr2 McEwen Stakes at Moonee Valley.

Has returned from that 12 month injury layoff in great order, going better than she ever has!

Last start she was fourth in the Moir beaten just under a length behind Buffering, in a race he controlled from the front. He proved her win over Lankan Rupee was no fluke and that she genuinely belongs at this level.

She’s big odds for a horse that beat Lankan Rupee fair and square two back and was under a length off a horse who is a whole lot shorter in the market for this race, last time out.

Wouldn’t shock me one bit to see her win again!

SELECTIONS (BASED ON GOOD/DEAD)
#1 BUFFERING
#2 LANKAN RUPEE
#9 NOT LISTENIN’TOME
#5 REBEL DANE
#4 MOMENT OF CHANGE


There looks absolutely no natural speed runners in the race that would be capable of going serving it up to Buffering out in front…UNLESS like they did in the TJ Smith they let Lankan Rupee run, as opposed to taking hold like they did in the Moir! But considering he’s had issues of some description I’d be surprised if Newitt’s tactics were to lock horns with Buffering. That said I can see this race unfolding a lot like the Moir Stakes, and a lot like last year’s Manikato, in which Buffering led on his own, controlled the race and toughed it out at the end while horses flew at him from left, right and centre.

SUGGESTED BET:
• 5 UNITS WIN / 10 UNITS PLACE
#1 BUFFERING @$6.50 & $1.75

Big profit if he wins, but still make a small profit if he gets beaten and runs the place.
Can’t see him possibly missing the top 3!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Geelong Cup preview

With the Caulfield Cup been and gone, the stayers on the cusp of getting into the Melbourne Cup field will be doing everything to scrape into the field. One of the options is Wednesday's Geelong Cup. It might not have the quality of the years it was won by Media Puzzle, Americain and Dunaden, but it's still an important race of its own.

It's been a while between drinks but Mitch Fenton returns to the blog with his preview of one of Australia's strongest provincial races.

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Geelong Cup
Group III, 2400m Handicap.
Form Guide here

By Mitch Fenton

Website
Twitter: @weekndkngracing
Facebook: /weekendking

MORE SUCCESS LIKELY FOR ANOTHER IMPORTED STAYER

1.SERTORIUS. R.MALONEY – J.EDWARDS
Terrific old tough, staying horse trained in the bush and as tough as teak.

Has twice placed at Gr1, in the 2014 Futurity at Caulfield over 1400m when second behind Moment of Change (no doubt should have won race!) and then backed it up with a third to The Offer in the Sydney Cup later in the Autumn.

Career highlight though was a totally dominant Zipping Classic (Sandown Classic) win last Spring over this trip of 2400m under weight-for-age conditions.

His three runs this time in have been very respectable considering they’ve all been at Gr1 WFA level against Australia’s elite in the Memsie 1st up, followed by the Makybe Diva then the Caulfield Stakes at his latest outing.

He drops a LONG way in class back to Gr3 handicap level and gets out to his pet journey of 2400m. That means he does get the top-weight of 58kg, which sounds a lot but in reality it’s pretty cheap considering the class he has. It’s also 1kg under WFA and he’s only conceding the bottom weight 4kg. So in essence of it all he’s very well in at the weights.

His 2400m stats are by far and away his best of any race distance.

He’s had three goes at the mile and a half for two wins – last year’s listed Bendigo Cup & the Gr2 Zipping Classic at Sandown.
His miss was a terrific fourth in Sydney’s annual premier staying race ‘The BMW’ at WFA.
He was beaten 2.5L behind Silent Achiever, It’s A Dundeel was 2nd with Melbourne & Australian Cup champion Fiorente in 3rd.
Fiorente, who would go on the be named Australia’s Champion Stayer was just half a length in front of him in the end……at level weights!
A repeat of that kind of effort by Sertorious and he’d win this with a leg in the air…His lead up racing suggests he’s going just as well as he was in the Autumn when he pulled out that run!!

Comes up with gate 11 of 13 but Ryan Maloney, who is very underrated , should be able to overcome that with the aid of having the best horse in the field under him.

The one to beat!

2.SHOREHAM. C.SYMONS – S.HASAN
Very honest staying type who was terrific last time out in the Gr1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington running the second fastest last 600m in the race and the fastest last 400m in the even. The only horse to run a faster last 600m was Saturday’s Caulfield Cup placegetter & Melbourne Cup fancy, Lucia Valentina….she ran the second fastest last 400m, being eclipsed by Shoreham. So the form is as good as it gets!!

In that race he settled down in last place 12L off the lead, which was 5L behind Lucia Valentina in the run and was beaten in the end by 5L so he ran every bit as well as the horse that was so gallant in the Gr1 Caulfield Cup.

The further he gets out in trip the better, he’s a genuine stayer who posses a more than handy turn of foot.

Hasn’t won in 13 months though and that’s a concern with him, he certainly doesn’t win out of turn. He’s only saluted the judge three times in 25 race starts.

A repeat of his last start effort and he’ll be terribly hard to beat, I just won’t be rushing into take 5/1 about him, or any horse, that has a 12% career winning strike rate, essentially meaning he wins one in 10!

3.WISH COME TRUE. C.SCHOFIELD – P.MOODY
Irish bred import who joined the all conquering Moody stable last year after a second placed effort in the Italian Derby. Has only won one since arriving on our shores, a open 2040m at Moonee Valley mid-winter on a soft track, beating the less than champion stablemate Voila Ici home.

Good in the Newcastle Cup when third, whacking away til the end, but never looked a winner. Flopped last start when up in grade in the Gr1 Metrop, without excuses!

In the year 2014 the Geelong Cup is one of the spring’s feature staying races and is always a good pointer the higher quality races over the carnival, so in saying that I’m more than willing to risk this horse who hasn’t shown enough to suggest he’s up to winning a race of this calibre.

4.ZANBAGH. M.PAYNE – P.PAYNE
Talented staying mare, formerly trained by the late Guy Walter, who ran second in the AJC Oaks, splitting last week's Caulfield Cup placegetters Rising Romance and Lucia Valentina. That’s an amazingly good form reference for a race like this!

Was also runner-up in the VRC Oaks last Spring, beaten ever so narrowly by Kirramosa, despite it being just her seventh start in a race.

Has had three runs back + a trial this campaign since joining Patrick Payne and none of her four efforts seen publicly could give you any type of confidence about her.

She put in an improved sort of effort last time out in the Benalla Cup when third beaten two lengths, but the form out of that race hasn’t stood up at all, with seven horses having subsequent runs and not one of them even placing.

Gets weight relief here..which is a plus!

I’m loathed to dismiss her chances entirely, as we’ve seen how good she is…..at her best. Signs this campaign suggest she’s racing a fair way below that mark, but it wouldn’t shock me if she turned it all around in a big way out to 2400m now. The Caulfield Cup result alone is reason enough to include her in all multiples.

5.MORE THAN SACRED. G.BOSS – R.SMERDON
Emphatic winner of the Gr1 3200m Auckland Cup in NZ back in March, who after that win was transferred to Melbourne to be prepared by leading trainer Robert Smerdon.

Has had two runs in Australia and both have been very good efforts. First up here he was 2.5L fourth in a 2000m race at Caulfield behind Longeron and he improved dramatically from the run… finishing second narrowly beaten by Mourinho in the Cranbourne Cup second up. That form line is very strong with Mourinho having twice placed behind leading Cox Plate fancy The Cleaner in Group races at Moonee Valley. Arguably unlucky not to have won at Cranbourne with the winner hampering him somewhat in the straight, despite no protest being officially lodged.

As proven by his NZ form he gets better the further he runs! 2400m third up suits perfectly, a distance he’s won at three times… he’s down on the minimum weight with 54kg and gets the ‘Spring King’ Glenn Boss’ services again.

Bit of a sticky draw in barrier 13, but it’s not a huge field, and G.Boss is the perfect man to overcome such an obstacle.

Good value, good bet!

6.LIKE A CAROUSEL. C.NEWITT – K.KEYS
Beat Saturday’s Randwick listed winner Mulaqen & Unchain My Heart (a long way back in Caulfield Cup) in the Harry White Classic on AFL Grand Final Day at Sandown.

Deserves a shot at this level of race during the Spring, we all know how good the stable is going, but I’d be surprised if he’s up to this type of grade.

Place at best for mine.

7.MARKSMANSHIP. K.MCEVOY – C.MAHER
A well-beaten second last start in the 2500m Bart Cummings at Flemington, behind a horse that was well fancied by many in the Caulfield Cup, Who Shot Thebarman….Didn’t measure up to the top level that horse but he did run admirably beaten only 4L in Australia’s premier mile and a half race.

I’d suggest he’d need a slow to heavy track to be competitive here, having never won a race on good or dead ground.

8.CARAVAN ROLLS ON. C.WILLIAMS – D.O’BRIEN
Talented import and winner of last year's Sandown Cup over 3200m in the Spring time. Gun jockey C.Williams rides, but still needs further to produce his best I feel. Not completely hopeless but I do very much prefer others.

9.CORREGGIO. D.HOLLAND – M.JOHNSON
Very, very rough First Four hope. Doubt he’s up to it.

10.OMINOUS. D.DUNN – N.BLACKISTON
Outclassed on his very best form, and is terribly out of form. Couldn’t have him.

11.ALI VITAL. D.GAUCI – R.LAING
OK in the Cranbourne Cup, but that was a career best effort. Hard to see him making the massive improvement he would need off that run to bother these.

12.PRETTY BLONDE. D.YENDALL – K.HEALY
Outclassed.

13.WALTZING TO WIN. B .CLARIDGE – D.HUXTABLE
Outclassed.

SELECTIONS
I’ve assessed it as a race with 4 winning chances engaged.
#1 SERTORIOUS $7.00
#2 SHOREHAM $10
#4 ZANBAGH $7.00
#5 MORE THAN SACRED $5.50

SUGGESTED BET: I will be backing all four of them, and playing it safe with a flat stake on each (ie. $25 etc..)…meaning any of the four winning would produce a profit.

In order of preference I’d rank them…..
#5 MORE THAN SACRED, very well weighted for a Gr1 winner and on the upward spiral. Pull in weights against Sertorious decisive factor. Gets 4kg!

#1 SERTORIUS, Is the proven class runner in the race. In good form, but does give the other main hopes good chunks of weight.

#2 SHOREHAM, coming in off a terrific run in a great form race the Turnbull. Poor winning strike rate off-putting.

#4 ZANBAGH, would win and win easily on her best. Hasn’t shown much since transferring stables though, taking on trust after Caulfield Cup result.

If you only want to back one I’d suggest MORE THAN SACRED!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Champions Day Long Distance Cup

It might have been rather wet this week, and a rather soggy track to race on, but it's still British Champions Day at Ascot. Based on the quality available for the respective races, it's hard to argue against the opening race being the strongest field of the day. Up steps Adam Webb, @adamwebb121

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Long Distance Cup
1.45pm, Group 2, 2m

QIPCO British Champions Day begins Ascot’s final flat card of the year with the stayers in the Long Distance Cup and with the persistent deluge of rain that has hit the Berkshire track this week, we are in for National Hunt style ground. To win this race you will need a thorough stayer who gets every single yard of the two mile trip.

Leading Light has proved to be one of the best stayers on either side of the Irish Sea this season. Last year’s Ladbrokes St Leger winner started his season with a bloodless success at Navan in the Vintage Crop Stakes over a mile and six furlongs beating Royal Diamond and Pale Mimosa. He then went off odds-on in a competitive field at Royal Ascot in the Gold Cup where he only just doing enough to see of the disqualified Estimate and Missunited. The consensus of jockey Joseph O’Brien was that he hadn’t seen out the distance however his class got him through the closing stages.

He then came out and won easily at the Curragh in the Irish St Leger Trial before being given a poor ride in the Irish St Leger itself as the whole field bar Eye Of The Storm allowed a strong stayer in Brown Panther too much rope on the front end and when he kicked for home the race was all but over for the chasing pack. Softer ground here shouldn’t be a concern having won his maiden on heavy ground plus his running style will definitely help as he only does what is required of him.

The young pretender in the staying division scene is Dermot Weld’s four year old Forgotten Rules who has looked devastating on two starts to date including in a Punchestown bumper where he won on the bridle by … lengths. He then made his flat debut at Galway in a maiden and again visually was impressive before missing the Irish St Leger due to the fast ground. This is by far his toughest task to date and he will need to confirm the visual impressions of both starts so far plus the testing ground is an unknown for this son of Nayef.

Estimate has had a much busier campaign than last season. Her return to action this year was a career best when second to Leading Light in the Ascot Gold Cup however was subsequently disqualified due to a prohibited substance found in her urine sample. She then disappointed in the Goodwood Cup behind Cavalryman with jockey Ryan Moore suggesting she was in season which could have explained the poor run.

She then showed a return to form when second behind Pale Mimosa in the Lonsdale Cup before gaining her first success of the year in the Doncaster Cup when beating Whiplash Willie who reopposes here. From all her runs over the last year, Estimate has looked an out and out stayer and potentially the way for her to win the race is by going from the front and stretching her rivals. Ryan Moore is no stranger to this tactic having used it to great effect in the Prix du Cadran a week last Sunday on High Jinx and with there looking to be a lack of pace, it could be that Moore uses his initiative and tries to get the fractions spot on from the front.

Having mentioned Whiplash Willie above, it’s best to mention him next. For those who read this blog on Arc day, he was my fancy for the Cadran for the simple reason that you need a strong stayer and he was the strongest. However, David Probert became a victim of the French ruling as he allowed himself to get trapped on the rail and when he wanted to make his challenge, he simply couldn’t with a weakening horse in front of him and another keeping him in. Once he got the gaps it was far too late and he was a never nearer fourth. The distance is no issue here and the ground should be fine so he has every chance of running into a place but the concern would be whether he is over his Longchamp excursions.

Pallasator is a fascinating contender here and has been running consistently well all year. His return in the Old Newton Cup off top weight was a strong comeback effort when second to De Rigueur before winning on the Sunday of the King George meeting in a twelve furlong handicap beating Double Bluff. He then got a four pound penalty and went off a short priced favourite for the hugely competitive Ebor Handicap at York in which he was drawn in the car park in 22. Despite that, he was dropped in and ran another solid race in defeat when fourth to Mutual Regard having made up plenty of ground from the back of the field.

His run in the Irish St Leger when sixth behind Brown Panther can be forgiven for two reasons. Firstly for a rare bad ride from Andrea Atzeni although it wouldn’t be fair to just point the finger at him and his behaviour pre-race was a huge worry with him not handling the preliminaries at all. His last run at Newmarket however showed Atzeni in a different light as he gave the horse a superb ride to beat Flying Officer when making all the running. He has already won on soft ground before and goes in with a big chance but I doubt the mix of the ground and distance will be to his advantage.

Flying Officer has been lightly raced for John Gosden and only seen twice this year. He won at Nottingham before his second to Pallasator at Newmarket. It will be interesting to see how he gets on as he is in the Horses in Training Sale at Newmarket towards the end of the month but the feeling from his last start was that Pallasator was always going to hold him off and it just could be that two miles stretches his stamina.

Big Orange has improved markedly as the season has progressed. He was only beaten three and a half lengths by Hartnell over course and distance in the Queen’s Vase but has since gone on to win twice, including when beating Whiplash Willie at Chester two starts ago before performing a career best when winning at Ascot in the Noel Murless Stakes beating Marzocco over a mile and six furlongs. He is still unexposed as a stayer but I feel he will be one for next year and this is a very stiff task.

Marzocco has ran consistently enough in Group One company this season including when fifth behind Kingston Hill in the St Leger but will hate the ground and isn’t good enough to win a race of this quality.

The outsider of the field Biographer is definitely interesting. He has been trained for this race and with Estimate around the 5/1 mark, he could be overpriced at 25’s. He was disappointing earlier in the season before coming back to some sort of form last time in the Doncaster Cup behind Estimate and he is one who won’t mind the ground here.

Conclusion

It’s hard to oppose the market leader LEADING LIGHT who we knows act on the track and the ground shouldn’t pose any issue to him. If given a positive ride then Estimate must go very close on what will be her final start before going to stud whilst Forgotten Rules could easily win this but the ground is a major unknown. Pallasator is definitely interesting but one at a price that I can see easily running into the frame is BIOGRAPHER who has been trained for this race and his trainer David Lanigan seemed sweet on his chances when on Racing UK the other day.

Win – Leading Light
E/W - Biographer


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Caulfield Cup preview II 2014

Race 9 - 5:40PM G1 Caulfield Cup (2400 METRES)
Preview from Premium Punting - @premiumpunting

Speed Map



This map provided is pre-settling, so you can see what each runner faces to get to their desired position and how much early energy will be exerted in doing so. It also shows the problems faced by some runners if they choose to run to their previous historical pattern.

As the majority of speed maps show with a big field, there does look to be very genuine speed in the race with Japanese horse Bande going to take the lead from Lidari and Renew (if he gets a run). Brambles will then be attempting to find cover in the 2nd-3rd pair. Highly doubt connections of Big Memory will be taking the risk of going forward and expect he will shuffle back through the field.

Few horses drawn wide like Sea Moon & The Offer have early decisions to make to prevent from being trapped very wide past the post the first time.

PrePost Market:
As always, our markets are set to 100% with every runner rated >$25 eliminated. Premium Racing Services clients get a market <100% to gain a wagering edge and to help find the stronger overlays to be wagered upon.

The Japanese runners
There has been a lot of airplay about the Japanese horses since they have confirmed they would be participating in this year’s spring carnival, and that is for good reason as their racing is the best in the world. But what must be factored in is that they will never bring their best horses down due to the fantastic prize money on offer on their home soil, so we will only ever see their horses the level below the elite. The question is how do you compare Japan’s ‘B’ grade stakes horses to our ‘A’ grade stakes horses? This is where our collateral ratings significantly help do the work for us.

On our collateral Japanese figures, Bande has a similar profile to Pop Rock, who came second behind his fellow Japanese raider Delta Blues in the 2006 Melbourne Cup. Pop Rock in his Caulfield Cup run prior was forced out very wide straightening up and closed very strongly and finding it tight for room last 50m. He was posted a Melbourne up favourite after the run and eneded up being the $6 SP favourite on the day. Bande’s figures are very similar to that entire when he came down, but his racing style isn’t as he is a fast rolling leader with excellent stamina compared to Pop Rock who enjoyed being around 6-8L off the leader. His win at Listed level last start was dominant and his run three starts back in particular in a G2 rated highly when comparable to G2 rating in Australian handicaps. In Australia, when seeing bandages on it is generally a major concern, but the training regimes are different in Japan and we have been advised that it is not of as much concern as it would be for an Australian trainer. He is more than capable of holding on but is a slight underlay on our market.

Four runs back over this trip Admire Rakti was fourth in the Japan Cup, one of the more lower rating editions in recent times but is still one of best races in the world. Craig Williams was on board that race. What was surprising was that he has been appointed as the topweight for the cups, as he was SP $88 in the Japan Cup. Run prior rated solidly also at G2 level, very similar to Japan Cup figure. He likely settles off-midfield/back and will be looking to get to the outside and run on. It will be very tough for him with the large weight as on our analysis he is not worthy of that title. Is rated just outside $25+ on our market.

Junoob
Advanced again fourth up in very tough G1 Metropolitan win. Jockey Shinn went too early and was left in front a long way out but he was very tough to win well. It was a very high rating race which was run in very fast time, over 2.7 seconds faster than average when including the daily variant, as the times were very fast that day at Randwick. Maps in a good spot around midfield three wide with cover. Receives a large jockey bonus with HK champion Douglas Whyte to take the ride. Will only need to replicate a similar rating to last start to be the one to beat and currently looks excellent value.

Lidari
Had every chance when running a brave second in G1 Turnbull Stakes. Gets 1.5kg weight swing to winner Lucia Valentina and maps well again to exert very little early energy to find an on pace position. Major query is whether he can at least hold his PB rating. In saying this two starts back when 4th in the Underwood Stakes he produced a PB rating and then obviously achieved another one 1L superior last start. Currently a backable overlay as we have him rating similarly to last start.

Brambles
Brave in defeat last run in the Turnbull Stakes, is back to his best after terrible tendon injury a few years ago. Proven in winning QLD Derby back in 2012 that 2400m isn't a worry, if anything he is one of those rare on pace runners that thrives on the extra distance due to his stamina and toughness. Drops 1kg from the Turnbull meaning he only gets a 0.5kg weight swing to the winner and current favourite in this race Lucia Valentina and even though we have him rated behind her he is left to be the much better value in current markets. Is one that wouldn’t surprise of was backed into a shorter quote.

Who Shot Thebarman
Well placed to win Bart Cummings easily last start at headquarters, proved his dominance on the race in the last 150m when he pulled clear. Talented gelding who is capable of reeling off a fast split when required. This was proven in particular in NZ in his 3200m G1 Auckland Cup victory which was run a crazy 5.4sec faster than par. Clearly honest winning 8/14 and expect that from the rear he will have one of the sharpest sprints when they peel out in the home turn. Also a backable overlay onwards to a hopeful Melbourne Cup start.

The Offer & Seismos are also overlays on a market but due to their large odds and with many other overlays present we will be only playing them in multiples.

Recommended Bets:
As with every horse race no matter what grade it is, value must be present to wager on them. Back the current overlays on our market JUNOOB, LIDARI, BRAMBLES & WHO SHOT THEBARMAN.

Read more about their services on the Premium Punting website.

Caulfield Cup preview I 2014

2014 Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup
2400m Group 1
Track- Good 3

Preview by Lachie Brown, @LBrownTweet

While not the strongest Caulfield Cup it’s sure to be an intriguing contest especially with so many planning to go onto the Melbourne Cup. Lucia Valentina is clear favourite at around $4 however it does look like a fairly even race.

Speed
Definitely won’t be the fastest edition of the Caulfield Cup. The runners yet to be seen in Australia are Bande, Admire Rakti and Seismos. Bande will lead from his middle gate, Seismos up there and Admire Rakti midfield. The early speed map suggested a wall of horses behind Bande, among them are Lidari, Gris Caro (now scratched) and Sydney horses Big Memory and The Offer (doubtful). From inside gates Green Moon and Stipulate are sure to get good runs while the likes of Junoob, Rising Romance and Who Shot Thebarman may be out very wide as they leave the straight. Lucia Valentina will also be midfield judging from her last run. Sea Moon and Dandino (now scratched) will go right back from their outside barriers.

Runners

1. Admire Rakti- Japanese runner carrying top weight. Fourth in the Japan cup over 2400 four starts back, finishing ahead of 2012 Caulfield Cup winner Dunaden (fifth). Classy galloper and for what it’s worth has reportedly been running well at Werribee. First up last campaign finished second over 3000m. Deserved topweight, but would prefer to back it in the Melbourne Cup. Can’t back at price.

2. Dandino- Scratched.

3. Green Moon- Was good late when resuming over 1600. Like many others in the race was very disappointing last start in the Turnbull. His second to Fiorente in the autumn tells me he can still run well. Has ran second in this race before and has a solid third up record, six starts for two wins and two seconds. Still has a good run left in him and is at the odds to find out whether Saturday is the day he produces it.

4. Sea Moon- Off International form would be going very close but has offered very little outside of the Bart Cummings stakes and the Herbert Power. Last start ran fifth of nine when first up was disappointing and being beaten home by the likes of Anudjawun and Waltzing To Win isn’t exactly Caulfield Cup form. Could pull out a big run… Probably won’t.

5. Bande- Last start won by five lengths when exploding around the turn. Hasn’t run poorly in a long time, his form especially over 2400 is exceptional, albeit below pattern class in Japan. Should get the lead with out doing to much work and is sure to give a massive sight. Has the better claims of the two Japanese horses and at his best will run a massive race. The $8 or $9 is very tempting in an even race.

6. The Offer- Has been disappointing this prep, all three runs have been overrated. The gelding does however get to 2400, a distance he prefers and one where he will be able to hit top gear. Three of his four Australian wins have been on Heavy 9s the other a Dead 5, so the Good 3 track he will face will not be to suit. His peak race is the Melbourne Cup and that’s the race I’d rather bet on him. Injury doubt at time of publication, vet inspection in the morning.

7. Seismos- Was a solid winner last start over 2700m. Will want every metre and some on Saturday. Trained by Marco Botti (trainer of Dandino) so knows which horses to take out, his first-up record is good, two wins and a second from five. Don’t think he will have the turn of foot to keep off the run on horses. Will be better suited to Melbourne Cup but don’t be surprised if he runs a big race.

8. Hawkspur- Good win in the Chelmsford when third-up. Has had the exact same prep as he did last year when running on strongly late for 7th (when drawn wide). Going well, but not quite as well as last year. If he gets luck in-running he is a big chance. Won’t be backing him unless his odds double ($15-$30)

9.Junoob- Chris Waller trained gelding who is unbeaten away from heavy tracks this campaign. Was impressive when beating Criterion in the Hill Stakes and followed it up with another win in the Metropolitan, albeit a weak edition of the race. From a wide barrier he won’t be getting any favours in the run. Don’t think the form from the Metropolitan will be overly good going forward. Happy to risk.

10. Moriarty- Previous attempt in the race, when tenth, was very solid making up good ground from the back while never looking like he was going to threaten the placings. Form has only been ok this prep until a good win in the Craven Plate last start. Won’t be winning and is only a small chance to be running into the placings.

11. Who Shot Thebarman- Took a while to get past some horses who would struggle to do anything in this race before eventually getting clear to win comfortably as an odds-on pop last start. Start be. Won the Auckland Cup before racing in Australia. Has only had 14 career starts so with improvement still to come he has to be considered a chance.

12. Dear Demi- Has had a really good campaign, she flashed home first- and second-up before beating Commanding Jewel in the Stocks Stakes. Was only fair last start when seventh behind Fawkner, on the occasion failed to sprint like she had previously. If she brings her A-game she can definitely match her efforts in the race last year when third. $6 the place looks tempting.

13. Stipulate- Established himself as a Caulfield Cup player when winning the Heatherlie (now known as the Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock Stakes) three starts back, following start was disappointing when beaten into seventh without making up ground better than any other runner. Really liked his run last start in the Turnbull when fourth to Lucia Valentina. Gets to 2400, a distance which he should appreciate for the first time in Australia and is at the right price. Should run very well.

14. Lidari- Has been super honest this prep and form guide says the same thing, fifth, fourth, fourth, second. Ran out of his skin last start in the Turnbull, the race was run to suit the horse, if given a similar run can match his performance, or maybe go one better. Does meet Lucia Valentina 1.5kgs better at the weights. Was super keen on the horse at 30 and 40 to 1, current price not so much. The way the race is run should benefit the horse but the price is too short. Luke Nolen jumping ship to Brambles isn’t exactly confidence boosting either.

15. Lucia Valentina- Sensational in winning the Tramway first up when she flew down the middle of the track, got home nicely second up when sixth. Pretty much the only horse to make up ground in the Turnbull, a race she won very impressively. Well weighted, having to carry 53kg. Deserves to be favourite but query is where she will be in running, midfield or better and she wins or goes thereabouts, but has to be a massive concern if she goes back. Huge chance but happy to risk her on the fact that she may go back and have to do much late.

16. Rising Romance- A Group 1 Oaks winner over this distance, but hasn’t been going so well this campaign. Was a decent fourth first-up in the Tramway, and OK second up she was disappointing last start when beaten by Moriarty as a short price favourite. The 4yo now gets to her preferred distance with her record standing at a win and a second from two starts. Wide barrier no help and fairly short. Won’t be carrying my money.

17. Big Memory- Has been racing really well in the last year. First up honest second to Brambles, settled midfield in the JRA Cup but still ran ok. Nothing wrong with his win last start to get into the race but is yet to face a field that has anywhere near the sort of class he faces on Saturday

18. Gris Caro- Scratched

19. Brambles- Gets into the field because of scratching, pre injury was a Queensland Derby winner, G1 2400m, who looked like one of the most exciting horses in the country. Was off the season for over a year and a half and it wasn’t until three starts ago where he showed anything running third in the Heatherlie (ATB Stakes), very good the following start when winning. Last start third in the Turnbull shows he truly is getting right back to his best. Should enjoy the extra distance and the race will be run to give him every chance.

20. Araldo- 7yo who has only had 14 starts who has been racing well. Last spring the horse won a Bart Cummings and placed in a Lexus. Was a very good third in the Metropolitan however he will be to far back around the turn to be in with a chance of winning this. Can’t see him turning the tables on Junoob and hence can’t encourage betting on him.

21. Unchain My Heart (EMG)- Good mare but won’t be figuring in the finish. Races best at 2 miles, a distance where her last two wins have been at. Completely outclassed and can’t imagine she’ll be going past many in the straight. 200 to 1 is unders.

22. Renew (EMG)- Leader with one Australian start which was terrible, sat right on the pace and was struggling a long way from home, dropping out from the 600. Overseas form is nothing special. Won’t matter if he gets a run or not, off his previous run he won’t be in the finish.

Suggested bet(s)- Not a high play race. The OTI pair (Brambles and Lidari) are big chances but are now very short. Back Bande, Hawkspur to win the same amount and have a penny on Green Moon at $40.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Hayne to NFL – What does it mean for Parramatta and Jarryd Hayne?

A bombshell dropped in the NRL today as the epitome one-man team, Jarrad Hayne of Parramatta has announced he's heading to bright lights of the NFL. But will it work? Regular rugby league contributor Chris Ryan, @imdabomb82 has his say on today's hot topic.

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Hayne to NFL – What does it mean for Parramatta and Jarryd Hayne?

Wow. That’s the word on every rugby league fans lips right now, especially Parramatta fans, although the f word follows for the Eels faithful. The out of the blue news has hit this morning that Jarryd Hayne is leaving rugby league and the Parramatta Eels to pursue his NFL dream. So beyond all the shock and hyperbole, what does this actually mean for both the Eels and what are the realistic chances for Hayne?

First of all a little about me, I’m a Parramatta Eels member and lifetime supporter. I’m also a professional punter who analyses rugby league religiously, watches all 201 NRL games every year, some twice for research reasons. And I also happen to watch and wager on almost as many NFL games. A few college games thrown in too. So what of Hayne chances in the NFL?

Well firstly what position would he play? For those not familiar with the NFL, the positions in the NFL are much more rigid than in rugby league, and the roles much more defined and narrow. I can’t imagine Hayne wants to play anything but on offence with the ball in his hands, so that rules out playing Corner or Safety. And naturally he isn’t big enough to play offensive or defensive line. The 2 most obvious positions for him are Wide Receiver or Running Back. The talk about RB I think is misguided. RB’s tend to be nuggetty, surprising small (usually under 6 foot, and some as short as 5’6”), and have explosive speed off the first step. Hayne is much taller than that, has an upright running style, and whilst he has great long range running speed, he doesn’t necessarily have explosive off the mark speed. As a WR he would be slightly undersized at 6’2”, but not too much. His speed would be near the mark, if a tad short. And would ultimately be the position that he would covet. Learning the routes to run, and a seemingly never ending playbook would be incredibly difficult for someone who has never played the game. EVERY single player he would be competing against for a spot would have been playing American Football for their entire lives, and have already played at high level and under scrutiny at college level. As supremely talented as Jarryd Hayne is, as freakish an athlete as he is, every single one of the current WR’s on NFL rosters, and those competing for spots would have been described as a ‘freakish athlete’ at some point in their careers. I doubt he can get on an NFL roster as a WR within a year.

In my opinion (and also alluded to by Hayne in his press conference) his best chance is as a kick/punt returner on what is known in NFL as ‘special teams’. The role is somewhat similar to fullback in rugby league. You stand out the back and field punts and kickoffs, and SOMETIMES run the ball back. The role of kick returner has greatly diminished in recent times, with far more often than not the job being purely to make a clean catch on the ball (which Hayne excels at!) and not run back at all. For those not familiar with the NFL you would be astounded at how limited this role is. You could quite comfortably be the no.1 kick returner on the team and touch the ball only a handful of times in a game, and actually run the ball back only 1 to 3 times a game. And on many occasions ZERO times a game. Given how clean his hands are, Hayne may have a legitimate shot at this role. His speed and ability to break a tackle or side step give him a chance. This would be his best shot at finding his way onto an NFL roster. And from there you may be given the chance to have a few snaps at training at WR to possibly play the position down the track. And even then you may be only the 4th or 5th choice WR on the team, and perhaps play only a few plays a game.

I’m a big Jarryd Hayne fan, have seen every 1st grade game he has ever played, and have huge respect for his ability. Do I think he can make it in the NFL? Probably not. It is extremely cut throat and competitive over there for roster spots. I think at this stage it’s next to no chance of him being a star/big time player in the NFL, but concede he could make it onto a roster as a special teams player. Whilst in the AFL the likes of code hoppers Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau have been signed purely for a marketing perspective, I highly doubt that will happen in the NFL. They don’t need it. The fact he is a ‘project player’ with some additional marketing clout for a broader audience MAY help him if he is borderline for a spot. But it really is an IF.

And what of Parramatta? After making a big step forward last year after back to back spoons, it can’t be denied that this is a MASSIVE blow to Parramatta. No single player in the game is more important or influential to their team than Jarryd Hayne is to Parramatta. Not Johnathon Thurston, not Cameron Smith, not Sam Burgess. Parramatta has often been called a one player team, and whilst cruel, it’s not far off the mark. Fortunately there are a few high level fullbacks possibly available this late in the recruiting piece. Josh Hoffman has been granted a release from Brisbane if he can get a gig elsewhere, Brett Stewart is trying to get a release from Manly, there has been talk of Brisbane letting go of Ben Barba with their glut of fullbacks. And even talk of Israel Folau or Kurtley Beale leaving union, and Izzy has previously been linked to the Eels, almost signing, and his younger brother currently plays in the under 20s team, so it may not be so far-fetched.

Parramatta MUST get one of these high profile players to be a chance next year. Josh Hoffman seems the most likely as he has already been granted a release if he wants it, he would come the cheapest of all those mentioned as he comes off an ordinary season (which was purely because Anthony Griffin played him in the wrong position at 5/8th) and is unwanted. He would be a good bet given his price, youth and upside. Plus the difference in his salary v Hayne’s would be massive so Parramatta could bring in other players to sure up other areas of weakness. Brett Stewart is coming off a fantastic 2014, and an underrated one too. He would be a great pickup, but is closer to the end of his career and would come with a higher paycheck. Ben Barba is coming off a horror year, which is purely his own making, and unless you can get him at a discount rate or have real strong belief that he can return to previous highs, he should be avoided at all costs. Izzy is a completely different proposition, as the ability to get him is probably very low, but to rebound from the loss of Hayne with a player of almost the same stature would be a massive coup. Beale is a greater risk, a problem child with no guarantee he would be a success in rugby league. News has come through this morning that Parramatta has signed Canberra winger and occasional fullback Reece Robinson, and whilst a handy player, he isn’t the answer in the fullback jersey. I can imagine some talk of Corey Norman returning to the fullback role he played at Brisbane, but coming off an ineffectual first year for the Eels, he needs to keep his current spot first, rather than switching.

Either way you slice it, it’s an enormous blow to the Eels, and knocks them down several pegs for 2015. They need to grab a high profile fullback as replacement and look for the silver lining of using the excess funds to add a quality player in another position to ease the Hayne blow.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Cesarewitch preview

As the British Flat racing season winds down, it doesn't get any easier to find a winner. The Cesarewitch is renowned as one of the toughest races of the year - hats off to Sam Preen, @SamPreen for this epic preview of the 34 runner field.

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BETFRED CESAREWITCH
3:50 NEWMARKET
Class 2 Heritage Handicap
2m 2f, £250,000
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Saddler’s Rock
A race which jump trainers like to enter, it’s no surprise to see Saddler’s Rock being entered on his first start for Jonjo O’Neill. Not been at his best since a comfortable winner of the 2012 Goodwood Cup, he was disappointing when bidding for back to back wins last year, and though he had an eyecatching performance in the Irish Leger, that proved to be a fluke, having disappointing on all starts this year, including when finishing eleventh (promoted to tenth) in the Ascot Gold Cup, “won” by Estimate. Difficult to fancy now his best days are safely behind him.

Brass Ring
Became a useful stayer in time, having previously finished third to Pique Sous at Ascot, and plugged on past knackered horses to finish a distant fourth in this year’s Goodwood Cup, and was hardly disgraced at the Doncaster Cup, when finishing a short head sixth, three lengths behind winner Estimate, on ground softer than ideal (first run on good to soft). Better ground an obvious plus, as is the drop back down to handicap level.

Suegioo
Has his moment back in May, landing the Chester Cup, from Angel Gabrial, the latter who reversed the form when landing the Northumberland Plate, a 1-2 for the good Dr Koukash, and was a staying on ninth in York’s Ebor, under Paolo Sirigu. Bounced back in the Mallard Stakes in the rain softened ground at Doncaster, keeping on for third, and doing enough to hold of Mick Channon’s Elidor. Fairly versatile when it comes to the ground, and stamina is assured, having picked up the Chester Cup over half a furlong further.

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For the rest of his detailed runner-by-runner preview, read the original article here on his blog.

Caulfield Stakes preview

The open class highlight of tomorrow's great raceday at Caulfield is the weight-for-age Caulfield Stakes. Another talented blog debutant with the preview, please welcome Lachie Brown, @LBrownTweet

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2014 Cathay Pacific Caulfield Stakes
Group 1, 2000m

What an edition of the Caulfield Stakes! With four of the top five in Cox Plate betting running around it’s a high class race. There will be no excuses, the track expected to be a perfect Good 3.

Speed

While it won’t be an overly strong gallop, there are potentially three horses who will want to lead. It looks as if Crackerjack King and Side Glance will be up there, but don’t be surprised if Dissident is as well. Fawkner and Sertorious won’t be far away. Sacred Falls and Happy Trails will be next in running and the likes of Kirramosa, Dear Demi, Criterion and Foreteller will be settling near the rear.

Runners

1.Sacred Falls- Coming off a good win in the Group 1 George Main Stakes. Trained by Chris Waller he steps up to 2000m for the first time this campaign and his record at the trip is very good with two starts for two seconds, both to It’s A Dundeel at group 1 level. Is yet to race at Caulfield however if he finds cover from his wide barrier (12) he has to be included as one of the better chances.

2. Side Glance- After a winless campaign overseas, Side Glance returns to Australia. His form here has been good, a respectable sixth in the Cox Plate and a Group 1 win in the Mackinnon Stakes. Like Sacred Falls he is yet to race at Caulfield but that should be no concern. The gelding will be partnered by British jockey Jamie Spencer who was onboard when winning the Mackinnon. The stable plans to go to the Mackinnon again this year and he will probably be better suited there.

3. Fawkner- Was brilliant when returning over 1600m going down a head to Dissident. The Caulfield Cup winner now runs at a preferred distance where he is certain to get a good run from barrier 4. To be ridden by Nick Hall the 7yo will be better second up, where his record is 5 starts for 3 wins and a second. Looks extremely well placed here, should go very close and will shorten in Cox Plate markets after the race.

4. Happy Trails- Luckless when second up in the Turnbull Stakes and because of it (Ed. - harshly) Michael Rodd has been replaced by Damian Oliver who has previously won the Group 1 Emirates Stakes on the gelding. Before that he was impressive, going down in a photo to Foreteller in the Underwood. After four starts this preparation he should be able to give this race a shake.

5. Foreteller- Three-time Group 1 winner, who has done all his racing in Melbourne this prep. Usually gets back in the field but has run home strongly in all three starts this campaign. Won last start when sitting fourth so while stable may want to sit midfield, barrier 10 may prevent that. Will run well but may struggle to make up the lengths required in the straight.

6. Sertorius- Would be great to see Sertorius win a Group 1 but not likely here. Million dollar earner and is extremely honest but is a couple of lengths of this strong field. If racing in Group 2s and 3s there is nothing stopping him winning another million but can’t have here in such a high class race. Will try hard.

7. Crackerjack King- Was a solo leader last start in the Underwood but jockey Michael Walker had him well fof the rails the trip, good third. Scratched from the Turnbull last week. Australian form prior Underwood was terrible albeit in races to short for him. International form says 2000m is his best trip and he steps up to it for the first time in Australia. Depending on Side Glance and Dissident, Crackerjack King may be given the lead in which case he is a chance.

8. Massiyn- Showed promise when second in the Bendigo Cup, Australian form either side of that has been poor, until a sound run first up this prep in much lower grade. Would have to improve drastically to win this but not completely out of it.

9. Criterion- Rosehill Guineas and ATC Derby winner who is having his first run in Victoria this prep. Has a brilliant turn of foot but is yet to show it this campaign despite a third to Tiger Tees first-up and an honorable second to Junoob last start. Right price and can go close if he brings his best.

10. Dissident- Has three Group 1s to his name all over distances shorter than what he competes in on Saturday. Being trained for the Cox Plate he was superb in winning the Memsie Stakes first up, beat key chance in this race Fawkner second up and was very good going back to 1400m last start. Has been almost flawless this campaign, only doubt is the 2000m, with one previous start at the distance when sixth in the Rosehill Guineas, keep in mind the race was run on a heavy 9. Is favourite and obviously a massive chance.

11. Dear Demi- Flashed home first up over 1200m and a win over Commanding Jewel last start is proof that the mare has come back in terrific order. Hard to tell what her best distance is, but a good second in the Mackinnon last year and her form this campaign means she is a good chance.

12. Kirramosa- Not sure how well the Crown Oaks-winning mare is going this time in, runs have been average finishing mid-field in both her starts. Won a Wakeful over this distance last year, but this field is a lot tougher. Can’t see her winning, or running into the places.

Suggested Bet

Keen on Fawkner here and think price is generous. Only other horse I could back at the current odds is Criterion.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

A-League season preview

The winter codes of football are over for another year in Australia, now it is time for the other sport claiming title to that description to take the spotlight for the next few months - at least in on-field action. Making his debut on the blog is Daniel Daly, a keen A-League analyst and punter. Read his season preview below and give him a follow at @danielddaly

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A-League 2014/15

The tenth A-League season kicks off this Friday night Australian time. Competitions dominated by only a handful of clubs has become the norm across Europe, however this years edition of the A-League is definitely for the punter or fan jaded by such occurrences as it promises to be as open as any previous edition of the competition.

For those new to Australian football, the competition is comprised of nine Australian teams and one from New Zealand, the Wellington Phoenix. The season is 27 matches long, culminating play-offs featuring the top six teams. Defending champions Brisbane Roar are out to win their fourth title in five years, albeit a bit weaker after losing key striker Besart Berisha to fellow title aspirants Melbourne Victory. Their main rival in recent years has been the recently formed Western Sydney Wanderers, who have finished first and second at the end of the regular season in their only two years.

Last year only two wins separated third-placed Central Coast Mariners and seventh-placed Newcastle Jets. This year promises to be more of the same with most teams either consolidating promising squads or strengthening in the off season. I think this season will prove even closer. The bookmakers have the field wide open so I think there is value to be found.

The Contenders.

Western Sydney Wanderers (WSW)
Last season: 2nd (lost grand final)
Prediction: 1st


Only in their third year, the Western Sydney Wanderers (WSW) have proven a force to contend with in just a few short years. The WSW are attempting to become the first Australian team to win the Asian Champions League after qualifying for the final to be played at the end of the month. In just two seasons Tony Popovic has proven himself to be one of the best managers the A-League has seen. Key departures of crowd favourites Shinji Ono and Youssouf Hersi has seen their attacking stocks dwindle but they have responded to every challenge yet in their short history. Vitor Saba, the key big name recruit, has the challenge ahead of him to play make WSW the way to the ultimate success.

ACL games and international call ups for some key players in the Asian Cup could tire some key players which could see a fall in form late in the season but with a great track record who would argue they can't win it in their third year.

Look for: Western Sydney to be as defensively strong as ever.

Recommended bet: Outright Winner at 6.

Sydney FC
Last season: 5th
Prediction: 2nd


The return of Alex Brosque, who has slotted straight back into the captaincy is not to be underrated. In Bernie Ibini, Shane Smeltz and marquee man Austrian Marc Janko will help the Sydneysiders overcome any hiccups in dealing with the loss of the great Alessandro Del Piero. However, the biggest signing for Sydney FC is the former Socceroos manager Graham Arnold, who returns to the A League after an unsuccessful year in the J.League. Arnold managed the Central Coast Mariners to a Championship and were runners up twice in a three year spell from 2010 to 2013. That period of success was after overtaking a side that finished eighth the season before his arrival. Sydney finished fifth last year without setting the world on fire. While the loss of Del Piero will hurt ticket sales in Sydney, they will be a more rounded outfit for his departure. Definite contender.

Recommended bet: Outright Winner at 6.

Brisbane Roar
Last season: 1st (won grand final)
Prediction: 3rd


The powerhouse team that just keeps winning. Apart from the obvious of Berisha’s defection to the Victory, there is not too much to investigate in the off season for the Roar. The champions have had time overcome their star leaving but there is still a question mark on who will step up in the big games now he is gone. To win Thomas Broich must continue be the supreme creator, and it will be interesting to see if Mensur Kurtisi can step in and bang home a double figure tally of goals his team will need to stay ahead of the pack.

The big question: Have they done enough to strengthen to stay ahead of the chasing pack?

Melbourne Victory
Last season: 4th
Prediction: 4th


Contrary to most media opinions, I think the Victory have had an up and down off season. It's all about defence for the Victory. They are very shaky at the back for a championship aspirant. The original Melbourne teams last clean sheet was in round ten last year. Almost twice as many Victory games have gone over 2.5 goals than under since Kevin Muscat took over as manager from Ange Postecoglou early last season. Furthermore 50 % of his games last season went over 3.5 goals as opposed to the capable defences of WSW and the Roar, whose games only went over 3.5 goals 19% of time in the last two seasons.

Victory have lost two of their best defenders from last season, club player of the year Adama Traoré moving to greener pastures and Pablo Contreras retiring. Victory were a stronger side with these two in the side, with the Goals Per Game Conceded (GPGC) rising to 2.0 with Contreras in the side, from just 1.35 with him out. For Traoré GPGC increased from 1.4 when in the side to almost a goal more with 2.38 when missing. To overcome this Victory have recruited strongly over the offseason, picking up a handful of players with strong European pedigrees. Defensively the have added former Vfb Stuttgart captain Matthieu Delpierre who joins Victory after a spell at Dutch side FC Utrecht and Daniel Georgievski from Romanian Champions Stuena Buceresti, in which he played in eleven Champions League matches last season.

The other big recruit is former Brisbane Roar star Besart Berisha who was the second top goal scorer in the league last season. There is no doubting his ability to score a goal in the big moments and he has an an impeccable 48 goals from 76 A-League games, however it must be noted in the last two seasons the Brisbane Roar played 54 regular games of which he played 37 and missed 17. The Roar actually were a better team without the Albanian, as their points per game and goals for per game increased with him out of the team.

On paper they have recruited well but they are going to challenge for the title then their defence needs to gel quickly.

The Others

Central Coast Mariners
Last season: 3rd
Prediction: 5th


Another consistent season last year which saw them only goal difference away from second place. Lost a few names in the off-season, but they did the before also.

Final word: Solid. The team with financial troubles continues to defy the odds with consistent performances from season to season. No reason to doubt they will play finals again, but I doubt they will they have the class to go much further.

Adelaide United
Last season: 6th
Prediction: 6th


Last year United got of to a winning start their first game before taking nine games to follow up that win before a mid season purple patch saw finals spot secured. Popular belief is that they finished the year strongly and whilst winning 5 their last ten games of the season, their season petered out losing the last game of the season 2-0 and the elimination final 1-0.

Josep Gombau's Spanish influence has had another year to develop and he has added yet another countryman in Pablo Sanchez Alberto, to assist his side with the loss of last year's top scorer Jeronimo. While they play entertaining Football, being the team with the second greatest goal difference last season, I want to see the reputations turn into results from this Barcelona-inspired revolution.

Expect: Consistency to be the issue again.

Melbourne City
Last season: 10th
Prediction: 7th


The much talked about franchise club with massive marquee loanee, David Villa, it is hard not to get sucked in by the excitement. Let's be honest, if he is even half fit anything short of a goal a game average from Villa will be disappointing. No doubt he is the biggest name closest to the top of his game to play in the A League's history. Expect him to put in a blinder or two come the end of the spell. However, and it is a big however, Melbourne City first team wont have changed that much from the disappointing last-placed finish last year. Once the hype dies down and Villa is wowing the crowds Stateside, I see a big drop off.

Wellington Phoenix
Last season: 9th
Prediction: 8th


The sole New Zealand outfit in the A League, the Phoenix did not put the long visiting road trip to their home country advantage, only winning three games at home last year. Stronger form at home will see great improvement from the Phoenix as they weren't woeful travelling.

Perth Glory
Last season: 8th
Prediction: 9th


Seven managers in nine seasons and a new look squad, Perth Glory are a bit of a mystery outfit. Keeping in tune with the theme of squad member musical chairs in the league, Glory have turned over large amounts of their first team from last year. The recruiting of proven A-League performers Mitch Nichols on loan and Youssouf Hersi from WSW, Glory have found themselves a strong attacking platform to support Irish striker Andy Keogh.

Only won 1 of 14 at home last season, so a stronger showing at home would yield a higher ladder position but unfortunately I think Perth are still a team on the up and might be better for a season of growth and managerial stability.

Betting option: Expect a double figure goal tally from Irish striker Andy Keogh with strong support from fellow new recruits Hersi and Nichols. Back him to be the clubs goal scorer at 2.4

Newcastle Jets
Last season: 7th
Prediction: 10th. Last.

Controversial owner. Tick. Most talented player leave. Tick. Bad start to the 2014/15?

Like their namesake in England, the Newcastle Jets will be praying the tough times away as they already look very unsteady before the season has even started. Highlights of last year's finish of seventh included supplying the golden boot winner Adam Taggart, now at Fulham, and beating Champions Brisbane Roar 3 times. The down side is their squad is completely different, with massive changes to the roster, the challenge is on the new manager Phil Stubbins to get the team playing good football from the get go.

Positive: Not paying Emile Heskey massive money to score one goal in a season.

Negative: Losing your captain? Having the Golden boot winner leave or being owned by a bankrupted former mining magnate? You choose.

Betting options: 4.33 on Jets to finish bottom looks big.

Recommendations
For latest market prices, use Oddschecker AU

Andy Keogh Perth Top Goal Scorer at 2.4
Newcastle to finish bottom at 4.33
Split stakes on Sydney FC/WSW to win out outright at 6 and 8 respectively.
A few shillings on a Sydney derby Grand Final at 19.


If the A-League is a competition you seriously you want to look at for betting, then you'll be pleased to know it is one of the many leagues covered in depth by Football Form Labs. Take a look at what they have to offer here.

Caulfield Guineas preview

One of the great racedays on the Australian racing calendar, packed with four Group 1s and every race on the card being black type. If this doesn't get you excited, better check you've still got a pulse!

Once again, the professionals have been called in, the fellas from Premium Punting, @premiumpunting. Find out more about their work on their site.

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G1 Caulfield Guineas
Race 9 - 5:40PM
1600 METRES


Our clients are already going into the race with three valuable tickets as advised to the public afterwards in our September 17 article. These runners are now the second, third & fourth favourites in the race, with all of them <50% of the price they were wagered upon then.

Speed Map



As our profile shows there are four on-pace runners that need to find their positions. Of these, Lucky Tom has the potential to dig up and take the outright lead.

The map also shows some particular problems for some runners. Our Vespa’s connections must decide whether they push onto lead or sit outside of it or restrain and be ridden upside down off midfield. Almalad’s position is also very dependent on what threats Shooting To Win & Looks Like The Cat do. If things go to plan he will be able to cross and sit just off the speed; but he may have to concede to settle midfield with a trial from one of them.

Caulfield with the rail true does have the capability of playing advantageous towards the on speed runners, so early races must be monitored.

Key Historical Factors:
There are six interesting historical factors been identified in this race:
- 10/19 winners had first attempt at 1600m.
- 15/19 winners last start <1600m.
- 15/22 drawn gate 4 or inside.
- 4/22 won from double-digit gate.
- 1/22 has finished further back than 4th at previous start.
- 11/22 last start winners.

PrePost Market:
As always, our markets are set to 100% with every runner rated >$20 eliminated. Premium Racing Services clients get a market <100% to gain a wagering edge and to help find the stronger overlays to be wagered upon.



Rich Enuff
Very impressive once again in the prelude, had to work a bit early to cross and sit in second and then bolted clear once in the straight for an easy win. Certainly a deserving favourite off three impressive time ratings.

Although the mile will not be as beneficial for him when comparing to other runners, his ability to find his on-pace position and then relax is so beneficial when coming up to this trip fourth up.

Like majority of other is expected to advance again and can understand his current public price. It is simply difficult to get him down lower to a 100% market.

Almalad
Messy race with a massive mid race squeeze but was too good for them third up in Stutt Stakes when extremely well backed. Very talented gelding as second up last campaign winning the high rating G1 JJ Atkins.

Map is an little issue. Tommy will need to be astute early as he is very dependent on what others drawn inside of him do.

More than capable of advancing again and if finds cover, even if it’s three wide, he is capable of advancing and producing a winning rating at a backable price currently.

Shooting To Win
Won well in Stan Fox, raced clear showing good sprint on the good track.

Does have a capability of dwelling at the start and struggling to muster early which means he could find himself if he does it badly settle towards the back of the field like he did in the Golden Rose when he settle 7L off the pace.

Gets good rider bonus with McDonald riding and him drawing inside Looks Like The Cat & Almalad is a significant advantage as he will exert less energy in the early and middle stages.

Is capable of ‘bouncing’ as high off his last start rating as the other major chances but can still improve enough to win. Also a current overlay.

Looks Like The Cat
Rated down second up when running home well behind Rich Enuff. Did the same thing 1st up in a higher rated affair due to its Group 2 status. Third up last preparation fired when running very well behind Almalad in G1 level. Can he turn the tables on the favourite? He will not only require a much superior ‘spike’ to Rich Enuff but will likely also need the favourite to struggle in the last section of the 1600m trip, where he will flourish.

Looks to have found about his right price and is a small overlay in some public markets.

Moveovermanhattan
Advanced just below 2L when running an unlucky second in Stutt Stakes. If Newitt did not hand up the lead early then he wouldn’t have been blocked at 500m and then shuffled back badly in home turn.

Maps ok rolling forward, hopefully this time holding his position outside of Lucky Tom. SP profile doesn’t read well but outside of his unlucky first up run he has had no reason to have a profile.

Again has come up a big price where he is capable of advancing again and running a top three finish. $7.00+ can be found at some places.

Recommended Bets:
As stated above, monitor the pattern of the day. We should get a good handle on it by 5.40PM.

IF PLAYS FAIRLY: Back overlay ALMALAD, SHOOTING TO WIN & LOOKS LIKE THE CAT again.

IF PLAYS ON-PACE ADVANTAGE: Don’t wager against the favourite.

Either way, do have a place ticket on MOVEOVERMANHATTAN.