Friday, 31 October 2014

Breeders Cup overview

Wider coverage of the Breeders Cup two-day meeting, this time from world traveller and international racing enthusiast, Jon Thompson.

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Breeders Cup Overview
Friday 31st October and Saturday 1st November
Santa Anita


The Breeders’ Cup is not only a spectacle for horse racing fans it also presents a golden opportunity for serious players to make a gambling profit. These huge wagering Breeders Cup pools are filled with ‘square money’ making the payoffs, especially for exotic wagers, often incredibly high.

There are some that will confess to not being a fan of the extended Friday/Saturday format but with 13 races instead of the original ‘Great Eight’ this is what we are faced with. It presents an enormous task in trying to comprehend all the global form on offer as well as the changing circumstances of those racing on Lasix against those not.

This is not a guide on every horse, and in fact it is not a guide on every race, but it is an attempt to point out some apparent value on runners that should be included when looking for those priced higher that will add value to exacta, trifecta and other exotic payoffs.

I would like to acknowledge the input from my ‘US Insider’ Pete Mitchell.

Friday 31st October:

BC Juvenile Turf:
#5-Hootenanny is quite the world traveller at the ripe old age of two and he’s done rather well for himself along the way, leaving 23 rivals gasping in his wake at Royal Ascot before missing by just half a length in the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville to the highly-regarded The Wow Signal. The Wesley Ward-trained colt won on his career debut at Keeneland so he’s effective turning left and the bigger question is probably whether Frankie Dettori can settle him in the early stages. The dynamite Aiden O’Brien/ Ryan Moore combo looks lively with #7-War Envoy who has put up Racing Post Ratings of 110 and 111 in his last pair and will receive Lasix for the first time on his North American debut. The other U.S.-based runners don’t look like they can threaten the Coolmore-owned pair.

BC Dirt Mile:
The rail draw could be the clincher for speedy favorite and defending champ #1-Goldencents. If he breaks sharply he should be gone. He’s in excellent form and continues to train impressively for fill-in trainer Leandro Mora who replaced the banned Doug O’Neill. He looks to be the single NAP of the night in multi-race wagers and a key on top in exactas, trifectas and super’s.

BC Distaff:
The two favorites in this event are marooned in posts 10 and 11 with plenty of speed to their inside. #10-Untapable will have to tuck in somewhere in mid-pack before hitting the first turn while #11-Close Hatches may find herself in the pace scramble and lose ground early. Close Hatches has a latest flop to forgive and it’s on that basis the 3 year old Untapable is the selection. Brilliant in the Kentucky Oaks and the Mother Goose Stakes back in June she came undone in the Haskell in a race won by front running Bayern who seems to have a huge impact whenever he races – win or lose. Untapable then had a nice comeback win from a two-month layoff and Steve Asmussen reports her in rare form.

Saturday 1st November:

BC Filly and Mare Turf:
In a race where the European fillies head the market #4-Dayatthespa could be the value in this race. She’s a multiple Grade 1 winner in career form and looms as the lone speed in a race devoid of that commodity. The 1 ¼-mile distance is a question but she has won a Grade 1 at 1 1/8 miles and could get away with soft fractions. #3-Dank heads the market but last year’s winner really needs to be taken on trust having had just 2 outings since and off the track since Royal Ascot. The Qatar owned pair #2-Just The Judge and #5-Secret Gesture would both require career bests to be good enough and the US trained #10-Stephanie’s Kitten has to be ridden to receive all the luck in running which is so often not the case at the top level.

BC Juvenile:
With the unfortunate scratch of the brilliant American Pharaoh, Todd Pletcher’s duo of #9-Carpe Diem and #12-Daredevil will receive tons of support. However the unbeaten (3-for-3) and untested #8-Souper Colossal could be the answer. This son of War Front fetched $350K as a yearling and trainer Edward Plesa has been raving about him. He absolutely blazed through his local 5-furlong work on Monday and did it effortlessly with a huge gallop-out. He looks one to take a chance with to upset the big two and the Irish raider #4 The Great War.

BC Turf:
#9-Hardest Core scored last time when he won the Arlington Million at 11-1 and had been mightily impressive in his initial stakes win at Delaware Park two runs back. This lightly raced 4 year old could be inflated once again in the betting due to taking on rivals from ‘sexier’ stables! There can be no denying that #7-Flintshire’s run in the Arc was eye catching but that race is a notoriously hard race to recover from and he is by no means a frequent winner at the top level. #1-Telescope has been a ‘talking horse’ all of his life and also races at the highest level in his career to date. #13-Big John B could also be interesting at a huge price if his last run can be forgiven and with the benefit of BC legend Mike Smith in the saddle.

BC Mile:
The favourite #5-Toronado has been a top-class performer in Europe and he’ll receive Lasix for the first time but there is some question about how he’ll handle the sharp left-handed turns. He also has to overcome the torrid record of the Hannon stable at this meeting over the years. #13-Tourist can go well here at a big price dropped back to a mile after running a huge second to Adelaide in the Million at Arlington. There is no question that Tourist will not be able to dominate as he did on that occasion but the form is strong and Adelaide has probably been the most underrated horse in Europe in 2014.

BC Classic:
#13-California Chrome appears to be rounding back into top form and got the outside draw his connections were looking for. As mentioned earlier #7-Bayern requires matters all his own way at this distance and against this level of competition. With a horse like #4-Moreno to his inside challenging him for the early lead in honest fractions his job is only made harder! The undefeated #6-Shared Belief could be the horse that America has been waiting for. Injured for the Triple Crown season he has been gradually stepped up by his master trainer and showed true class last time in overcoming a rival that attempted to carry him six wide throughout the race! He showed a new dimension last time out…that of a horse with a powerful will to win and should round off the meeting with a worthy performance.

Breeders Cup Distaff preview

It's Breeders' Cup weekend at the fabulous Santa Anita racecourse in California. Regular American racing contributor Jon da Silva, @creamontop, attacks the Distaff. Which to people outside the inner circle of the racing industry, means it is restricted to female horses.

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Breeders Cup Distaff (& others snippets)

At the Breeders Cup it's frustrating that the state of the track enters the picture. On Turf when the clerk is not inbred or a drunk this is obvious from the going description. However in addition to going changes Dirt tracks can be speed favouring i.e. front runners never come back or closer favouring or even fair. The appearance of these biases can also be an illusion based on of cognitive failure - "my bet lost because of a speed-favouring track" feels better than "I backed that nag with no speed who closed slower than Per Mertesacker"

Last year when Goldencents led all the way in the Mile it was said to be a "Golden Highway" albeit closer Golden Ticket was 2nd and they crawled home in plodding fractions. A front runner favouring track does not necessarily mean it will produce fast times of course just to confuse further. However by day two of the meeting anyone backing biases would have been skint. Point is that some things are beyond previews and control. The track will also be watered and raked during the meeting. I would marginally favour speed or more accurately prominence and accept I might be wrong or perceived as wrong - also Santa Anita is a relative express way even by US standards on turf and dirt.

Distaff Field 1m 1/8 -> 9 furlongs to us Brits
(1800m for those not stuck in the Dark Ages with imperial measurements!)

L'Amour de Ma Vie
Turf horse Turf bred. Probably has a price to win, your guess as good as mine. Handles synthetics. This is dirt. Toss.

Tiz Midnight
Brisnet have as a pure front runner with early tap. Timeform suggest Close Hatches will out run her early. Ran Beholder the reigning champ to a 3/4 length last time rallying when passed after leading at the early calls. Iotapa was third 3L+ back. Only seven lifetime races. If they rate Close Hatches interesting.

Iotapa
Ran a big figure three runs back when allowed an easy lead but with Tiz Midnight and Close Hatches that will probably not happen.

Belle Gallantry
Won five of last seven. Lost the two where she faced Close Hatches. Her big figures [Brisnet] have been when leading all the way which she has little chance of here.

Unbridled Forever
Not won a graded race and barely got within 10 lengths of Untapable twice earlier in the year. Toss.

Stanwyck
Finished behind most of the field and has not won for seven starts. Toss

Don't Tell Sophia
Mopped up after Close Hatches stopped at Keeneland in the Spinster. Does not have the figures of some but if they die up front the most likely beneficiary especially with 11 wins from 22 with that style on dirt. Won 4 of 5 this year only beaten on Wet Fast dirt by Close Hatches.

Valiant Emilia
Peruvian horse. Good horse in Peru. Your guess as good as mine. OK, according to Timeform US ran 10 furlongs on fast dirt in 2:09, unless they ran up the Eiger I can pass. Toss.

Ria Antonia
In Blinkers last time harassed Close Hatches till that one blew up and still got second. More in piece on Close Hatches.

Untapable
The queen of the first half of the year. Since then beaten against colts in a race handed to Bayern long before the end like the Bundesliga title. Then a win in the Cotillion which could be viewed as a prep or mildly disappointing off a perfect trip. Not raced outside 3yo company.

Close Hatches
The obvious horse but for her run last time out. If you read Timeform US she battled through unbelievable fractions and ran a decent figure. Brisnet suggest she ran a poor-un. The presence of Ria Antonia make me favour latter view. That does not rule her out here but makes a bet problematic.

Conclusion

At UK best price of 9s Don't Tell Sophia is my bet. If people start talking golden highways and front runners paradise then Tiz Midnight at 10s would be a bet. However assuming a fairish track Don't Tell Sophia it is. You may like to put her under and over Tiz Midnight and Close Hatches in exotics. Me I am a straight win man....

1pt win Don't Tell Sophia.

Also

For those less than happy to wait for 2335 GMT for their bets I also like

Ring Weekend in the Twilight at 20:10 Impressive at Belmont and 7/2 General

War Envoy who I wanted to hate but had he won a couple of noddy Dundalk races to a similar rating rather than going close in Group races I doubt you'd see the 11 in 11/2 Juv Turf 21:25 SA

Dirt Mile is really a race to watch to see how the closers get along for Sophia but if they have a prayer Tapiture best of the closers here and Golden Ticket big price for exotics. 22:05 SA

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Victoria Derby preview

Eponymous race of the day is the AAMI Victoria Derby. Every year we have the debate about whether a Derby so early in the season should be shortened. Nothing's changed over the past few decades, we're still not breeding great stayers, but perhaps, just perhaps, the penny is finally dropping with local breeders and the strength of the Derby might start improving as the likes of Americain, Fiorente and others start adding to the breeding mix.

Back to this year's race and it revolves around one horse. Let's ask the shrewd gents at Premium Punting which side of him they want to be...

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AAMI Victoria Derby
G1, 2500m, for 3yo
Race 7 - 3:45PM local time (0445 London)


By Premium Punting
Website
Twitter: @premiumpunting

Form link

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 most Derbies are, expect it to be genuinely run. The query is whether connections of The Mighty Jrod intend on attempting to cross and lead with only a 200m run to the first tight turn out of the home straight. He will cross Gouldian & Lotion who will push on and be in the first few. Connections of Moonovermanhattan also have a decision to make as he could be trapped three wide around the first turn with favourite Hampton Court likely going to make it difficult for him to cross him.

The likes of Royal Standing & Magicool will likely have to concede settling further back than desired.

PP Market:



As always, our markets are set to 100% with every runner rated >$21 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.

It’s all about Hampton Court

Very talented colt who raced clear in the G1 Spring Champion to win very well. Beat home the very talented First Seal and also Sweynesse who ran well in the Cox Plate last week. Extremely good time rating on the race being rated 12L above the benchmark, with the first 400m time being one of the fastest ever recorded on our database. Stable has stated will go back to his usual racing pattern of settling near the speed which will be advantageous as he will keep danger Moonovermanhattan caught deep around the tight first turn.

The critical variable factored into this horses short prices quote on our market is that at set weights he is not only 12 Official Handicapper Points (OHR) to the second runner, but a massive 31 OHR to No.3 Prentice whose rating is off inferior races in Perth.

We advised Premium Racing Services clients on Monday to back the colt at $3.00 on Monday and we do expect him to continue to be backed, particularly late when all the heavy money is laid down.

Be more than happy to accept the current prices on offer.

RECOMMENDED BETS
Confident in backing HAMPTON COURT strongly.

Mackinnon Stakes preview

There is simply nothing finer than Derby Day at Flemington. You can have your Royal Ascot, Breeders Cup, Arc day.... Derby Day beats them all, and it's rare that the Derby is actually the best race of the day! Group races from go to whoa, there's nothing finer.

Taking the reins to preview the WFA feature of the day is long-time contributor, Kieran Fitzgerald, @kjob85

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Longines Mackinnon Stakes
Group 1, WFA, 2000m
3pm Melbourne time (0400 London)
Form guide link

1. Side Glance - scratched

2. Happy Trails (13) 59kg
A 7 year old gelding purchased for just $11,000, Happy Trails has been a great success for his trainer Paul Beshara, having amassed over $2m in prize money including Group One wins at Flemington in the Turnbull Stakes (over this distance) and Emirates Stakes, as well as a close second in last year’s Cox Plate. His best result this prep has been a second place in the Underwood to another runner here, Foreteller. His other runs have produced midfield finishes, although he had excuses each time, being caught up and unable to break through. He was amongst the close finishes in the Cox Plate, a good indicator for this race, and I rate him as one of the better chances here. He has been hitting the line strongly and performs well at Flemington.

3. Foreteller (10) 59kg
One of the most consistent performers from Chris Waller’s stable, Foreteller should never be written off. He was a huge fifth in the Cox Plate, and had strong runs prior to that in the Dato (third) and a win in the Underwood where he showed his trademark strong acceleration to edge out Happy Trails. This distance is perfect for him and his work this prep indicates he will be right in the finish here. Like Happy Trails, he has been up since August however, which may start to tell following a big, fast Cox Plate. At big overs in early markets.

4. Hawkspur (8) 59kg
Another runner from the mighty Waller stable, Hawkspur scored a tough win this prep in the Chelmsford Stakes at Randwick, a race he also won last year. Whilst often going out as a favoured chance (he was favourite for last year’s Caulfield Cup, finishing seventh), Hawkspur is quite inconsistent, and his Melbourne form has not been impressive, with his best finish a fifth in last year’s Turnbull. His runs in this year’s renewal of that race, and of the Caulfield Cup, were not strong and I can’t see him making amends here.

5. Moriarty (3) 59kg
Another one of Waller’s runners, Moriarty tasted success recently in the Craven Plate at Randwick over this distance. His subsequent run in the Caulfield Cup was poor – he simply ran out of puff in the straight. Moriarty usually performs strongly without quite getting there, but then pulls out a win – his run in the Craven was impressive, ridden cold at the rear of the field before running home strongly and just edging out Rising Romance (subsequent second place getter in the Caulfield Cup). However, I would say that run was his peak this prep and I won’t be backing him here.

6. Brambles (9) 59kg
A Peter Moody-trained gelding who is running on Derby Day before backing up three days later in the Cup, hoping to repeat the double of some champions of the turf including Carbine, Phar Lap, Rising Fast and most recently, Rogan Josh. While Brambles has yet to prove himself as being in that class of thoroughbred, he has been in strong form of late and is being talked up as a real chance here. He won a minor race at Flemington three starts back, followed by a third in the Turnbull and a fourth in the Caulfield Cup, with both producing strong runs to the line. This would be his biggest win yet, but he is probably outclassed here and given the ultimate target is three days later, I would be surprised if he was pushed all the way, as he would need to be, to win here.

7. Mourinho (11) 59kg
Mourinho’s spring campaign has produced some excellent results, including a thrilling get out stakes at Moonee Valley where I took him at $19 (after a shocking day on the punt) and he edged out his stablemate Hvasstan to get the chocolates. He followed this up with a second place in the Dato to the people’s champ The Cleaner, then a third in the JRA Cup to the same horse, followed by a win in the listed Cranbourne Cup. After being unfairly left out of the Cox Plate (while unqualified 3 year olds were allowed to run), Mourinho’s connections are racing him here. You could do much worse than take an each way bet here, with huge odds on offer.

8. He’s Your Man (5) 59kg
A French-bred entire running here with the Waller stable, He’s Your Man has had an impressive prep, with 3 wins (including the Epsom Handicap) and two third placings. He raced at Flemington in summer this year for two placings, so the trip down to Melbourne should not trouble him. The markets have him at or near the top early on, and justifiably so. His form of late, and over this distance, makes him a very attractive prospect here and I rate him as a red hot chance.

9. Farraaj (15) 59kg
Irish-bred horse having his first run in Australia here. His form over in England has been strong and this distance suits him well. As always when an international is having their first run here, it is hard to say how they will take to Australian racing, how the trip will have affected them and so on. He races well first up which helps, but he is running in quite a competitive field so I rate him as one to watch, but can’t take him this time.

10. Star Rolling (6) 59kg
At his first run this prep, Star Rolling won the G2 Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield, but has struggled in subsequent runs. His barrier draw here should make it easier for him to get out in front where he needs to be – if he gets back he will probably struggle based on his last few runs. Even if well placed, the field here is probably too strong for him, with a number of Group One winners running. He has been found wanting against similar competition previously.

11. Spillway (14) 59kg
First run this prep produced a second place to Star Rolling in the Lawrence, but subsequent runs have been weaker. While the Hayes stable have been flying lately, Spillway has not quite lived up to expectations – he could only manage a ninth place in a weak The Metropolitan at Randwick at his last start. His form has not been strong enough to suggest that he will be competitive here.

12. Amralah (4) 59kg
First run in Australia for this Irish-bred entire brought out to Australia by the Lloyd Williams stable. Amralah’s form in England has been impressive, with his last run producing his biggest win yet in the Rose of Lancaster Stakes. As with Farraaj above, the usual caveats apply with international horses running first up in Australia. The Williams stable have had mixed success over the last couple of years bringing horses out here and it will be interesting to see how Amralah goes. I am putting him on my watch list but won’t be backing him in a competitive field.

13. Criterion (1) 58.5kg
A horse many predicted to win the Cox Plate, Criterion ran home strongly in that race for 7th after running into some interference early on. Prior to that race he was second to a barnstorming Fawkner in a strong Caulfield Stakes, and second to Junoob at Randwick before that in the Hill Stakes. This horse has been in great form and is justifiably being favoured by the early markets. He can run home hard and fast when called upon, and could well do so down the Flemington straight. With the inside barrier, he should be well placed to be right in the finish.

14. Costume (2) 57kg
A New Zealand mare having her first run here. Her last start was a win over 2040m (at big odds), which should be a good preparation for this race. Whilst her career record has produced decent success in New Zealand, she has not performed at this level before and it would seem too much to expect her to be in the finish.

15. Rising Romance (12) 56.5kg
Another Kiwi horse, this one with a proven track record in Australia including a win in the ATC Oaks in the Autumn and a second placing after a beautiful run in the Caulfield Cup, with only a huge run down the straight by the Japanese winner (and now Melbourne Cup favourite) Admire Ratki preventing Rising Romance from saluting. She seems ideally suited here and I rate her as one of the top chances, with a good price on offer to boot.

Verdict
As you would expect in a Group One race (especially one providing automatic entry into the Melbourne Cup), there are a number of live chances here. FORETELLER is on top for me, being well suited here and coming out of the Cox Plate (a good indicator for this race), as does CRITERION who is a red hot chance. RISING ROMANCE is difficult to overlook, and I would never leave out HAPPY TRAILS. Finally, MOURINHO is a good roughie who has been in top form.

1. Foreteller
2. Rising Romance
3. Criterion
4. Happy Trails

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Sports Trading Fund exposed as a scam

This one had all the signs of an utter scam. Unfortunately, the persons behind the fund are incredibly shady people and others who tried to expose them were threatened with violence and law suits, in no specific order, so it had go unchecked for a while.

With thanks to The Age...

Peter Foster implicated in international betting scandal

Hundreds of investors in an international gambling syndicate run by notorious conman Peter Foster could lose millions of dollars following his dramatic arrest at a luxury property near Byron Bay on Tuesday morning.

Foster is believed to have operated the Sports Trading Club while hiding from the Australian Crime Commission and other law enforcement agencies on the NSW north coast since September last year.

...

"It doesn't matter what they claim on their website, Fosters' home in Byron Bay was the headquarters. This is another massive scam that is only coming to light now. It will collapse like a house of cards," the source said.

Foster's role with Sports Trading Club is expected to trigger an investigation into the structure of the highly secretive business, which uses a Panama-based "privacy protection service" to conceal the identity of the company behind the online gambling scheme.

Sports Trading Club, also known as STC Sports Trading Club and The Sports Trading Club Partnership, takes investments between $50,000 and $250,000, which is punted on international sporting events.

The company's UK communication manager, Patrick McMahon, claimed in June that Australian investors had received a 1900 per cent return since January 2013.

"We don't gamble, we trade. We make money out of other people's mistakes. When one side gambles and the other trades, it is like owning the casino," Mr McMahon said in a media statement.

In July, Sports Trading Club claimed to have reaped $150 million by backing Germany to win the World Cup in Brazil, while betting against favourites Serena Williams and Novac Djokovic at the 2014 Australian Open also earned a "multi-million-dollar win".

A source said the company had received more than $10 million from private investors over the past month alone.

Want to read just how ridiculous their claims were - click here to download the prospectus and ask yourself why everything is focused on the legal status and nothing is mentioned about what they actually do. Why are they focusing on completely irrelevant people (who have since sued them in order to distance themselves from such 'endorsements'), why do they highlight two female lawyers as being behind the fund (women are obviously more trustworthy). Type 'Sports Trading Club' into Google and see what you find on their website. I'm not going to give them the honour of a link.

The Moral of the Story - if you expect to get rich quickly via a miracle, then it had better be with a lottery ticket. There are some genuine sports investment funds out there (get in touch if you would like to know more), but like any successful pro punter, their long-term yield will be single digits. Anyone can fluke a couple of wins for a great week or great month, but long term, those figures are pure fantasy. It's a hard grind and that's the reason most people won't do it - it is a very hard grind, no shortcuts, and definitely not a champagne, caviar and fast cars lifestyle.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Cox Plate preview II

And the alternative angle from Mitch Fenton. Certainly a few contrasting opinions to the previous post!

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Sportingbet Cox Plate
Group I, 2040m WFA
Form Guide here

By Mitch Fenton

Website
Twitter: @weekndkngracing
Facebook: /weekendking



1.SACRED FALLS (NZ) – 9 – C.WALLER / Z.PURTON
ODDS: $6.50 (early fixed-odds prices from TAB)

The term champion, as many old-timers will tell you, is one bandied around far to often when it comes to modern day racehorses. But in my humble opinion this horse is a champion, if he can win the Cox Plate I believe it becomes an undoubtable fact.

Only champions can win back to back Doncaster Handicaps, Australia’s premier mile race, and he’s done exactly that. Add to that another Gr1 Randwick mile win in the George Main, plus the Gr1 NZ 2,000 Guineas when trained in New Zealand and you see one hell of a resume.

He’s had a terrific preparation for the race which has been Chris Waller’s target for the horse since his slashing second behind It’s A Dundeel in the 2000m Queen Elizabeth in the Autumn.

He was sound resuming in the Warwick Stakes when fourth beaten a length and a half on a heavy track, then second-up he finished fourth beaten 1.5L also on the heavy.

He exploded to his brilliant best third up crushing a quality field in the Gr1 George Main over the Randwick mile. He travelled perfectly the whole way, but struggled to get a run on straightening, but the world class riding skills of Zac Purton came to the fore and he angled back inside to get a clear run. Once he did get clear the horse exploded and put the race to bed in an instant. He won officially by 1.5L but Purton eased him down to a trot on the line. Despite that he still ran faster last 400m and 200m sectionals than Caulfield Cup placegetter Lucia Valentina who was flying home late herself.

Last time out in the Caulfield Stakes he was terrific again. From barrier 12 of 12 Purton snicked him straight back and across to last on the fence, where he settled down some 10-12L off the leader Side Glance. The lead time was very modest, some 2.6L slower than the class benchmark, so the fact the Sacred Falls was able to still run on so strongly from the tail and get within 2.5L of the winner, was very impressive. He clocked the fastest last 600m in the race and had the second fastest 400m and 200m splits – with Purton looking after him late when no chance of winning. He was 21 days between runs in the Caulfield Stakes, so no doubt that run would have tightened him right up to be peaking on his ‘grand final’ day.

He won’t get so far back this time around but from gate 9 Purton will need to weave a tiny bit of magic to get him into a good trailing roll midfield, although this task could be aided somewhat by the likely cracking hot tempo The Cleaner will set and likely string them out a bit. Should have beaten It’s A Dundeel in the Queen Elizabeth, and that horse is by far and away the benchmark of 2000m horses in 2014 in Australia. Handles the Valley no problem, will be very hard to beat!

2.FAWKNER – 4 – R.HICKMOTT / N.HALL
ODDS: $4.80

Last year’s Caulfield Cup winner who has proven in his two runs back this spring that he is a genuine WFA superstar!

Speaking of champions, the last horse the win the Caulfield Cup and then back up 12 months later and win the Cox Plate was the great Might and Power, who lead all the way to win the 1998 edition after scoring in the 1997 Caulfield Cup. In between those two wins Might and Power won the Melbourne Cup though, Fawkner tried valiantly last year but could only manage a game 6th. You’ll never see another horse quite like Might and Power but that fact that you can draw some parallels between the pair speaks volumes about Fawkner’s quality. If he can win this, which he has a massive chance of doing, he too would fall into the rarefied ‘champion’ class.

First up this campaign he was beaten a nostril by the high-flying Dissident in the Gr 1600m Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington. Dissident was coming off a devastating win in the Gr1 1400m Memsie Stakes, so he had the fitness edge but Fawkner still managed to get within the barest possible margin of winning the race.

Last start in the 2000m Gr1 Caulfield Stakes, he was able to go one better and salute the judge. Nick Hall gave him an absolutely charmed run in transit juts behind the speed and he managed to get the job done, beating Criterion by a long head. It was a solid sort of win but I thought given the run he had in transit he was entitled to win easier. But maybe that’s not so much a knock on Fawkner but a glowing endorsement of how well Criterion ran?

Put into perspective, Criterion was 3L off Fawkner at the 400m and got beaten a head. Sacred Falls was 5L behind him at the 400m only to be beaten 2.5L in the finish eased down.

He’s again drawn to get the perfect run from gate 4, and there’s no doubt he’ll be peaking here, but I think at the current price he’s a touch of ‘unders’.

He’s very good, and I may well end up being totally wrong but I’m leaning towards others.

3.SIDE GLANCE (GB) – 7 – J.SPENCER / A.BALDING
ODDS: $51

Globe trotting, English trained gelding who returns to Melbourne after snaring last year’s Gr1 Mackinnon Stakes on VRC Derby Day at Flemington. After the week before having finished a fading 6th in the Cox Plate beaten 4L behind Shamus Award.

He ran in the race last year having come off a 3rd placing in the Gr1 Arlington Millios in the USA beaten 2L, and he follows the same path this year, having again run third in that same race beaten 2.5L this time around.

He’s run honestly in big races all around the world including; two fourth-placed finishes in the world’s richest race, the Dubai World Cup at Meydan – fifth in both the Hong Kong and Singapore Cups and as previously mentioned two places in Gr1 races in the USA. But despite all those good runs he’s only won the one Gr1 in 17 attempts, which was last year’s Mackinnon, which is always at least two or three levels below the Cox Plate.

Typically honest in the Caulfield Stakes where he led at modest fractions, before battling on to finish third beaten just 2L.

Strikes a much stronger Cox Plate than the one he failed in 12 months ago, and arrives here in virtually identical form. Hard to see him improving enough the challenge the placings.

4.HAPPY TRAILS – 2 – D.OLIVER / P.BESHARA
ODDS: $11
Enormous effort in this race last year when finishing second, steaming home from well back to just miss Shamus Award on the post who lead all the way and had the huge weight pull 3yos receive under the WFA scale.

Has raced with next to no luck this campaign, never getting a clear passage in the Memsie or Turnbull.

The only two runs you can assess him of are his terrific second in the Underwood Stakes beaten a nose by Foreteller and his latest run when fifth beaten 2.8L in the Caulfield Stakes.

The Underwood run was terrific, it was a glimpse of the form he was showing us 12 months ago when he nearly win the Cox Plate.

His last run in the Caulfield Stakes however wasn’t the run of a coming Cox Plate winner. Whilst he still ground home well, he lacked that zip that saw him get within an inch last year. To me he just doesn’t seem to be going as well as he was 12 months ago.

Will get a good run and Oliver takes the reigns from gate 2, but I rate him a place chance at best.

5.FORETELLER (GB) – 1 – T.BERRY / C.WALLER
ODDS: $21

Was the run of the race when fourth in the race last year (and I’m not just saying that because I backed him…!), he ran the fastest last 1200m – 1000m – 800m – 600m & 400m sectionals of the race, but Newitt just set him to big of a task from so far back in the field.

Is certainly going every bit as well as he was 12 months ago when he ran so well. He was the run of the race 1st up when fourth in the Lawrence behind Star Rolling. Again ran a huge race second up when fourbehind The Cleaner in the Dato at MV. That day he spotted the tearaway Tasmanian 10L at the 800m mark and got within a length in the finish, peeling off the fastest last 600,400 & 200m sectionals of the race.

Broke through to win in the Gr1 Underwood when he just nosed out Happy Trails, flashing home late.

Only fair last start in the Caulfield Stakes, finishing 8th well beaten by 5L. That run probably sums him up in this grade, he’ll run home very well but usually find one or two better.

That being said he’s the best each way value in the race at $21, if he got the breaks go his way, a win wouldn’t completely shock me.

6.THE CLEANER – 14 – S.ARNOLD / M.BURLES
ODDS: $10
The horse they call “The Lion of Longford”…The ‘feel-good’ story of the 2014 Cox Plate.

He arrives here off the back of a hat-trick of Moonee Valley wins – an open handicap carrying 60.5kg, the Gr2 Dato Tan Chin Nam and the Gr3 JRA Cup last start over the Cox Plate distance of 2040m.

He only knows one way the race, go to the front, roll along and say catch me if you can!

He’ll have to work across from the outside gate of 14, which no horse in some four decades has successfully done to win. He’ll ensure the tempo is genuine, but judging by his JRA Cup win, I think this class will be too hot for him, as much as I would love to see him win the race from a sentimental standpoint. There’ll be a lot more pressure on a lot sooner, and it’ll be the genuine best horses in Australia and a couple from overseas chasing him down this time around, not Mourinho, Sangster, Mr O’Ceirin ect….

Hope so, but I can’t have him.

7.GUEST OF HONOUR (IRE) – 10 – C.WILLIAMS / M.BOTTI
ODDS: $81

I honestly have to question what this Pommie trained entire is doing even getting a run in our nation’s premier horse race!

He has one Group race win to his credit, which came at Gr2 level over a mile in Britain, where he beat home Mull of Killough…just!

Mull of Killough for some crazy reason was admitted into last year’s Cox Plate field where he finish 11th beaten nearly 9L. He then ran in a listed 1800m race on Derby Day and the best he could manage was 3rd! So needless to say anymore, that form is useless for a race of this calibre. He’s had one 2000m run where he flopped, with all his best runs being over the mile.

I won’t turn this political, but why the MVRC let a horse like this in the field instead of a local horse like Mourinho or Chivalry (who were both balloted out), who would have more chance of winning than this slug, I can’t answer.

Hope he stays out of the way!!

8.CRITERION (NZ) – 6 – J.MCDONALD / D.PAYNE
ODDS: $10

4 year old gelding that was dominant in Sydney’s Autumn carnival once he got out too a suitable staying trip.
Thrashed a quality field in the Gr1 Rosehill Guineas in March, winning by an ever widening 3.5L. Treating a field full of stars with disdain…including;

~Cameron Handicap winner and Epsom placegetter HOOKED,
~winner of 2 Group 1’s this Spring and leading Cox Plate hope before bleeding last start DISSIDENT
~2013 Cox Plate winner SHAMUS AWARD

He then backed up that effort with a gutsy AJC Derby win on a bottomless Randwick track, it appeared more that class got him home that day, rather than him being an out and out stayer!

He’s had four runs this prep and he’s progressed terrifically and looks set to peak here.

First up he was a length and a half of Tiger Tees in the Warwick Stakes over 1400m.

Seventh beaten 5L second up in the 1600m Chelmsford where he ran right of the track and didn’t see himself, but was vetted and cleared of any issues.

Third-up he got out to 2000m Hill Stakes, which I firmly believe is his ideal trip – in four goes at the 2000m trip he’s won once and had three seconds : won the Gr1 Rosehill Guineas, runner up in last year’s Gr1 Spring Champion, runner up in the Gr2 Hill Stakes and then last start runner up in the Gr1 Caulfield Stakes behind Fawkner.

His Caulfield Stakes run was the run of the race for mine! He settled back worse than mid-field on the fence. Was held up passing the 600m mark. Ran up behind leader in the early stages of the straight, before finally hooking around the heels of eventual winner Fawkner around the 200 mark and charging to the line to just miss out. He clearly ran the fastest last 400m and 200m sectionals of the race, his last 200m when he finally got clear was ultra impressive.

James McDonald, Australia’s form rider, takes the mount off Hugh Bowman who is suspended, so that’s definitely of no detriment to the horse's hopes.

He’s a horse who can take a while to wind up, so a Cox Plate should suit him down to the ground as jockeys take off early and the pressure goes on sooner than it would in any other 2000m race. Having won over 2400m, you can rest assured a high pressure 2040m race won’t be an issue for his staying capacity.

Massive chance!

9.SILENT ACHIEVER (NZ) – 11 – N.RAWILLER / R.JAMES
ODDS: $13

The forgotten horse this spring really after starring during the Sydney Autumn carnival where she rounded out a hat trick of Gr1 wins by taking the 2000m Ranvet Stakes and 2400m BMW, beating home It’s A Dundeel on both occasions.

Has only been fair in her three runs this campaign although it does pay to remember that all her best form is from 2000m – 2400m, so you can’t read too much into her first two efforts over 1400m in the Memsie and 1800m in the Underwood….But that said you would have liked to see her finding the line better than she did in those race still.

Last start in the Turnbull again she was only very average. Oliver got her into clear air at the top of the long Flemington straight but she only plugged away. Shoreham was 3.3L behind her at the 400m mark and beat her home. No knock on Shoreham, he was a top hope in the Gr3 Geelong Cup during the week. But I say HOPE and GROUP 3. This is the Australasian WFA Championship!

My assessment of her is simply she’s not as effective the ‘Melbourne way of going” as she is the “Sydney way”! In 18 anti-clockwise / Sydney way run she’s had 8 wins and 5 places – a win strike of 44% and in the placings 72% of the time.

In 11 clockwise / Melbourne way runs, she’s won twice and been unplaced on all other nine occasions for a win strike rate of just 18% and a place strike rate of 18%. It’s a big discrepancy.

All told I can’t see her figuring in this!

10.ROYAL DESCENT – 3 – G.BOSS / C.WALLER
ODDS: $11

Hasn’t been the ‘punters pal’ this prep having had four starts and finishing second on all four occasions. In two of those runner up efforts, the Gr2 Chelmsford and the Gr1 Epsom, she’s gone down by the very narrowest of margins, a nose! You’d love to own her though because she gives her all each start and inevitably comes home with a decent cheque.

It’s been 18 months and 13 starts now since she last won a race, which amazing was the Gr1 AJC Oaks over 2400m, which she won by a whopping 10L. Her three other wins have also been very dominant, the Gr3 Adrian Know (2.5L), Rosehill 3yo BM75 (3L) and a Canterbury maiden (2.5L).

What these stats suggest to me is that when she’s locked in a dog fight, in a driving go to the line she’s not at her best. She shies away from the fight….

I don’t think she’ll be at all suited by the high-pressure ‘cauldron’ which is the Cox Plate.

On form she’s a great hope. She gave Epsom winner 3kg in weight last time when beaten a nose and was gallant chasing home Sacred Falls in the George Main the start prior.

However when a horse is racking up so many placings I regard it as something psychological with the horse, not a continued run of bad luck! Might run 2nd??? She seems to love doing it -- Very much doubt she can win!

11.ADELAIDE (IRE) – 13 – R.MOORE / A.O’BRIEN
ODDS: $7

All-conquering Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien has prepared this colt, with the horse to be transferred to Chris Waller and prepared locally following this run.

Very much disadvantaged under the WFA scale because by northern-hemisphere standards he’s still only a 3 year old, but southern hemisphere he’s classed as a 4 year old. That means he carries 56kg, 6.5kg more than our local 3yo colts and geldings are asked to carry (Ed. - half a year older matters a lot of 3yos). That’s a pivotal factor.

Hasn’t missed the placings in his seven start career, with three wins and four minor placings to his name. However all seven of those runs have been in races restricted to 3 year olds. He’s yet to tackle the older horses. Given the fact he does meet seasoned, tough and classy older horses here minus the weight relief I really don’t rate him a winning chance at all. At $7 he’s the best lay in the race.

I’ve watched him race abroad (even backed him during the Royal Ascot carnival when a well beaten second) and while he has ability and is a lovely looking colt, he hasn’t shown himself to be any world beater. If he were I very much doubt he’d be sent to Australia, with a race like the Arc having just been run.

LAY OF THE DAY.

12.ALMALAD – 8 – C.NEWITT / G.WATERHOUSE
ODDS: $41

Looked like he could be a star at two when he won three from three including the Gr1 JJ Atkins on Stradbroke Day at Eagle Farm, but hasn’t found that next gear needed to go on and be a dominant 3yo.

Whacked away in the Run to the Rose (ninth) first up before showing improvement to finish fourth in the Golden Rose beaten 1.6L. Was never going to win that day but did box on like a horse looking for further.

Sure enough next start over a mile in the Stutt Stakes at Moonee Valley he impressed winning the Gr3, but the form to come out of that race has proven to be second or third class.

Took on the cream of the three year old crop last start in the Caulfield Guineas and crumbled under the pressure. He went forward and parked outside Rich Enuff but was quickly beaten passing the 600m and dropped right out to finish the race 8th beaten 7L. Rich Enuff was able to keep running and only get run over late.

This will be another high pressure race and with The Cleaner engaged, it’ll be nothing short of trench warfare up the front where it’s likely Almalad will head, with just 49.5kg on his back.

The 49.5kg 3yos carry is always a huge factor, usually because they can roll forward and make the older horses with their much bigger weights have to chase from a long way out. However with the expected tempo, to be a hot one, I think we’ll see a repeat of the Guineas from this Waterhouse horse where it was just too much acid.

Don’t fancy!

13.SWEYNESSE – 12 – C.SCHOFIELD / J.O’SHEA
ODDS: $26

Lovely looking 3yo colt by Lonhro who won his first four starts including the Spring Stakes and Gloaming Stakes both at Group 3 level.

Ran third last start in the Gr1 Spring Champion, in what many dubbed a match race between Sweynesse and Gr1 Flight Stakes winning filly First Seal. McEvoy and Collett rode as though it was a match race themselves taking of before the turn and matching motors, only for Hampton Court to pounce and finish right over that top after the fancied pair had run each other into the ground.

Poorly drawn out in gate 12 so I assume they’d have no alternative than to roll forward into what will be a suicide speed set by The Cleaner. But he might be able to slot in just behind them.

On what I’ve seen of him he’s not brilliant enough to win a Cox Plate, although I could be wrong, but he’s a definite place hope and I’d be including him in multiples most definitely.

14.WANDJINA – 5 – D.YENDALL / G.WATERHOUSE
ODDS: $41

Started 100/1 in the Caulfield Guineas and had it not been for the fact he’s trained by Gai, he probably would have been 500/1 on form! Going into the race he’d had eight starts for a solitary win, which came in a 3yo NMW at Warwick Farm in February this year. His three runs in Melbourne had been very ordinary.

But as Gai’s can so often do, he pulled out an enormous run on the big day! He sat back in 12th position and rattled home posting the fastest last 600,400 and 200m splits of the race to just nab third placing. It was a good run, but given the fact that the leader Rich Enuff ran along 9L faster than average it was set-up for backmarkers to make ground late. (Just shows how good Rich Enuff is!!!)

The horse Wandjina made his run in the home straight with and beat home by a nose, Kumaon, came out and flopped last Saturday, so that’s not the best sign.

Clearly looks like the further he goes the better he’ll get. Definitely lean his way out of Gai’s pair. If it weren’t for her training I’d give him no hope of winning, but Gai has the magic touch and she’s produced plenty bigger upsets than what it would be if Wandjina won here off such a good Guineas run.

I’ll throw him in first 4s.

SELECTIONS (BASED ON GOOD/DEAD)
#1 SACRED FALLS
#8 CRITERION
#2 FAWKNER
#5 FORETELLER
#13 SWEYNESSE

SUGGESTED BETS:
• 5 UNITS EACH WAY @ $7 #1 SACRED FALLS
• 3 UNITS EACH WAY @ $11 #8 CRITERION
• Trifecta; 1,2,8 / 1,2,8 / 1,2,5,8,13,14 ($54 = 100%)

Cox Plate preview 1

The weight-for-age championship of Australia takes place every spring at the quirky Moonee Valley racecourse. No superstars this year, just a field of very good horses and thus it looks like being 7/2 the field.

Two previews to post for the great race - first up, the pros from Premium Punting.

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Sportingbet Cox Plate
Group 1 WFA 2040m
Race 8 - 5:40PM (0740 UK time)

By Premium Punting
Website
Twitter: @premiumpunting

Speed Map – No queries on who leads



As stated above, there is no doubt that The Cleaner will be scooting across as they past the post the first time to lead from Side Glance, Almalad with Royal Descent & Fawkner to get excellent runs on inside just off the speed, exerting very little energy to lob into those spots. It is sure to be a very genuine gallop well above the historical benchmark. The map reads very awkwardly for international raider Adelaide, who does have the capability as proven last start to go back, but if he intends to settle just off the speed he will likely be caught 3-4 wide facing the breeze.

Key Historical Factors:
There are three interesting historical factors that have been identified in this race:
- 5/23 editions been won by the SP favourite.
- 10/30 winners come from Caulfield Stakes prior. With all of them finishing in top four that run.
- 5/62 3YO runners in the race have won.

Prepost Market:
As you can see, as what can commonly occur with our WFA probabilities, is that our market looks very similar to the current public markets. Below is a short comment on all the runners we have priced in our 100% market:


1. Sacred Falls: Forced well back from outside gate and closed strongly in the Caulfield Stakes. Proved two runs back in winning G1 George Main Stakes that more than any horse in the country he is capable of pulling out a world class rating. Will park midfield off the fence in a good position. In only ever fifth-up run advanced in last year’s Emirates. More than capable and if becomes an overlay is worth backing again.

2. Fawkner: Advanced 2nd up winning Caulfield Stakes, brilliant effort once again. Fantastic horse that is capable at any distance. Advanced 3rd up last spring in Turnbull when up to 2000m. Maps very well exerting little energy to park just off the speed. We have him replicating his last start rating which leaves him as a deserving favourite in the race. Is drifts to $4.70+ is worth backing again.

3. Side Glance: Did well in Caulfield Stakes to battle on well for third. Did have all favours though at the front which is becoming a tradition in that race. Won't lead this time with The Cleaner crossing, two things could occur, he will hate it and be beaten off early or he will show his toughness as he has shown in his UK runs and box on. Second up last spring 2000m won McKinnon in a tough, grinding performance. Am respecting of him and he isn’t worthy of that massive quote.

4. Happy Trails: Had awkward run last time, had runner annoying him whole trip in Crackerjack King. Never clear run prior also in Turnbull. Same gate as last year when huge 2nd. Hasn’t had a better lead up than last year and he will need to be 2-3L superior this time as that was the lowest rating Cox Plate in the last 20 years. Wouldn’t fully surprise but will need to be super.

6. The Cleaner: What a warrior! Looked gone as always in home turn in JRA Cup but just kept fighting. Will scoot across and lead from the outside alley, not a major concern. Although it is unlikely he can improve on last start rating, he will certainly test his superior rivals by settling +10L above the benchmark and really leave it down to the tough horse behind him.

8. Criterion: Huge effort running new PB performance last run when closing strongly in Caulfield Stakes. Will settle in similar position to that run here around off-midfield/back. Bowman being suspended isn't ideal but does not lose too much with McDonald replacing him. Do still expect him to rate down on that PB performance as he did last preparation when winning Rosehill Guineas. Found about his right price like a lot of these.

10. Royal Descent: What a frustration for connections this preparation with four seconds. Best of those last start in very quickly run Epsom Handicap. Maps well settling off pace to the inside of the favourite. Losing Bowman not ideal to her also but Boss has had plenty of recent success in this race. Could not blame anyone for not trusting her anymore but she is an overlay on our market. Could be the one to give Waller his first major.

11. Adelaide: Freshened. Travelled the Atlantic a few times already as a 3YO. Was a tad unlucky up to 2400m at Longchamp last run when veering off racing line. Lugged out win prior at Arlington but was too good for them in the end. Has one of the best jockeys aboard and he will need all his brilliance to figure out where he settles on this map as if he parks in his desired position he will be wide. Market slightly over rated him but it is understandable that the bookmakers fear an Aiden O’Brien raider.

12. Sweynesse: Spiralling figures to date even though was surprisingly beaten by Hampton Court last run, jockeys on him and First Seal too focused on their ding-dong battle too much? Up in distance expect will go back again as it looks like he appreciates building into a race no matter the distance. Won 4/5 and is a worthy 3YO participant as it is expected he will continue his spiralling pattern here and be reasonably competitive. Expect he will at least be the first 3YO over the line.

RECOMMENDED BETS
Current overlays are ROYAL DESCENT and SIDE GLANCE (each-way). Outside of that our market is very similar to the publics so we will be advising clients to bet late to hope more overlays arise.

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