Saturday, 27 September 2014

Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes preview

It's rare to have a Sunday feature race meeting in Australia, but on Grand Final weekend in Melbourne, it's a wise move. The sharp blokes at Premium Punting, @premiumpunting, have chipped in with a brief preview of today's big race, the Bendigo Bank East Malvern Sir Rupert Clarke Charity Cup. It's a long name but as of this year, it's a huge charity day with many good causes set to benefit from it.


Bendigo Bank East Malvern Sir Rupert Clarke Charity Cup
Race 7 - 4:40PM, Caulfield
Group 1, 1400 metres

Speed Map

As our map shows there is good, genuine speed expected here with both Sweet Idea & Sistine Demon wanting to lead. Of these I expect Sistine Demon to be the likely one to cross and lead outright. The others should be able to lob into their positions besides outsider Alma’s Fury, who if he goes forward will be trapped wide facing the breeze. Dissident looks the get a great map finding the 1x1 box seat with cover.

Key Historical Factors:
There are four interesting historical factors been identified in this race:
- 16/30 started from double digit gate, with 10/16 of those being from barrier 14 or wider.
- 1/13 (Toorak Toff) have carried more than 55.5kg.
- 2/13 have won on minimum weight
- 5/7 have come off top five placing in Bobbie Lewis Handicap at Flemington.

Points 2 and 3 both almost eliminate themselves with this weights scale, with only three horses (Speediness, Sweet Idea & Alma’s Fury) not qualifying for one of the factors.

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.

Two runs to date have been excellent including a tough win in G1 Makybe Diva last run. Win prior here over same distance in Memsie was simply outstanding. Back to 1400m third-up interesting as top weight. Although the weights scale suggests that he could be unfairly weighted on our figures he is actually entitled to carry 1.5-2kg more. Third-up last campaign was when he won his first G1 and with the excellent map all he is required is to produce a similar rating to last starts win against a superior field to be difficult to catch again and make it 3/3 this preparation. Excellent overlay for a proven performer.

Sweet Idea
Two performances so far rated very similarly. Was brave in both efforts and did well 2nd up to fight off challengers behind the impressive Dissident. Freshened, has the capability of springboarding third up like she did last campaign when winning Group 2 at Randwick. Will want to lead again but it isn’t a major disadvantage if she gets crossed. Has been in the quinella in 12/15 races and with her dropping 3kg from WFA in last two runs she will be difficult to run down also. Can also be backed.

Recommended Bets: Back both DISSIDENT & SWEET IDEA. Expect both to firm late in betting.

Visit the Premium Punting website here.

Cambridgeshire preview

One of the autumn's great handicaps, as previewed by Chris Day, @chrisday100.


The Betfred Cambridgeshire
9f, Track Good.
Newmarket Rowley Mile course

One of the great Autumn flat handicaps, the Cambridgeshire, run over the unusual distance of nine furlongs, has thrown up some top class performers over the years.

A couple of years ago, Mukhadram was beaten into 5th from a mark of 101, almost two stone below the rating he achieved this year and, back in the mid 90s, Halling made a mockery of the race before going on to prove a Group 1 performer over 10 furlongs.

So the question is, do we have a Mukhadram or Halling in Saturday’s renewal or will the race go to a hard knocking handicapper, the type who can show his best in a fast run straight 9 furlong big field handicap?

John Gosden, who trained Halling before he went to Godolphin, houses the favourite, Cornrow, who after making all over a mile, dropped back in trip at Ascot and almost got back up in the dying strides off his current mark of 94. My concern is whether that form as it stands warrants prices around 7-1 and I sometimes feel you have to take a shorter price because of the trainer’s reputation.

Luca Cumani, who trained Dallas to win this race the day before Dancing Brave won his Arc, fields Velox, who did me a favour in early July by easily taking a Sandown handicap from a 9lb lower mark. He had a tough task from a poor draw at Goodwood but stayed on nicely at Doncaster over a mile, enough to think he’ll be in the places here. 10-1, though, is tight enough for me to let him run unbacked.

Next in the betting is Niceofyoutotellme, the hope of Ralph Beckett now that the handicap good thing, Air Pilot has missed the cut. He won a handicap over course and distance at the Guineas meeting and has had legitimate excuses on his two subsequent runs. Best fresh and on top of the ground, he has proven stamina over 10 and 11 furlongs and looks very solid around 16-1.

Queensberry Rules, third in last season’s Britannia, returned to form in a decent enough contest at the Ebor meeting. Britannia type horses are often Group race performers as their careers progress but we have to decide whether that is the case or if he is just a very good handicapper. I’d say the trainer knows but he won’t be telling us.

2012 winner, Bronze Angel, has had another excellent season with victories at Newmarket and York. Tregoning has booked a top claimer, which means he effectively runs from a 1lb lower mark than two years ago and is another who looks primed to run to his best.

Last season’s winner, Educate, is only 6lb higher after running in some unsuitable small field pattern races and proved with a fine 4th in the John Smith’s Cup that big fields undoubtedly show him in a different light. Having backed him last year, I’m loathe to desert him but it will be a cracking effort to once again defy a huge weight.

Tenor won an eight-runner Listed Sandown contest from a rival rated 7lb his superior but pattern and handicap form do not travel well and I can’t see much evidence of big field form in this ex Roger Varian trained four year old’s profile.

Gabrial’s Kaka was in top form in the spring, following a sixth in the Lincoln with victory in Newbury’s Spring Cup but, despite good runs at Goodwood and York recently, appears to be in the handicapper’s grip.

Hugo Palmer has his string in red hot form and, in Extremity, I feel he has a horse who still has significant improvement in him, having been placed in three and won three of his six visits to the track in 2014. He has a 4lb penalty for his Thirsk victory after being inconvenienced by a steady pace at York. I feel the likely strong pace and extra furlong here will certainly play to the strengths of this strong travelling three year old and expect him to show up well.

However, for financial recommendations, I’m going to side with two seemingly exposed contestants who’ve both proven their mettle over course and distance.

First up is Michael Appleby’s Bancnuanaheireann, available at 40-1 in a place. He’s not had his favourite big fields to run in this year but is only 5lb higher than when victorious in last season’s consolation race and finished fourth behind Bronze Angel at 50-1 in 2012. He was the same price earlier that season when second of 22 in a Goodwood handicap and appears to show his best form from nowhere when faced with his optimum conditions.

Tiger’s Tale was third in the aforementioned consolation race from a mark of 85 but carries a 4lb penalty for a convincing victory in a 16 runner Kempton handicap last time (Ed -that knocked me out of the Scoop6 that day...bastard!). There’s some 50-1 available and that’s too big to resist.

I’d have small each way stakes on these two but, if forced to pick from the fancied horses, I think Extremity offers the best value at 16-1.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Football Form Labs weekend preview

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PREVIEW: Liverpool v Everton (Sat, 12:45)

The Merseyside Derby kicks off the Premier League weekend and if last season’s meetings are anything to go by we’ll be in for a cracker. Liverpool won this fixture 4-0 back in January while the first derby last season was a 3-3 at Goodison and Sturridge and Suarez scored in both matches.

With Liverpool having lost three of their last four matches and Everton coming off a shock defeat at home against Crystal Palace this is a crucial game as both teams look to get some momentum and move up the table. Liverpool have won 17 of their 21 home games since the start of last season but the sale of Luis Suarez and the injury to Daniel Sturridge has clearly weakened them significantly in attack while their defensive vulnerabilities remain.

Everton have scored first in four of their opening five games so a return of just one win will be a huge disappointment as they’ve conceded 13 times already. However, their away form since the latter part of last season is good with five wins and just one defeat in their last eight away games. Furthermore, in the past two seasons their record away to teams that finished 3rd-7th is W1-D4-L3 and they look perfectly capable of avoiding defeat at Anfield, as they’ve done in two of the past four seasons. With that in mind the 3.9 for the draw looks well worth taking, particularly as Liverpool have a crucial trip to Basel on Wednesday to think about and so may not risk the recovering Sturridge.

With these two defences ‘overs’ will definitely be popular and it’s hard to argue with. 15 of Liverpool’s last 18 home games have had at least three goals with 12 having four or more strikes. However, six of Everton’s eight trips to last season’s top nine had fewer than three goals and we could be in for a more cautious derby than in recent meetings. It’s worth waiting for the team news before getting involved in the goals markets but Liverpool have played just two games since the start of last season without Sturridge and Suarez - their last two matches – and they’ve scored only once, so Under 2.5 Goals currently looks some value at 2.38.

PREVIEW: Arsenal v Spurs (Sat, 16:00)

Arsenal are one of only two teams to be unbeaten after five games but with three draws they are already four points off the pace and have been unimpressive so far. Spurs, meanwhile, have picked up just one point from their last three games and now face a very busy couple of months with Europa League alongside domestic commitments.

The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 20 home games and while they’ve rarely beaten the very best in recent seasons they’ve been superb against teams just below the top level. Against teams that finished 5th-10th in the past two seasons they’ve W7-D4-L1 with six wins by more than one goal.

Spurs, meanwhile, lost at each of the top four last season, including two 4-0 losses and a 6-0, and failed to score at any of the five teams that finished above them. Pochettino has been bought in to improve their performances in these games but Southampton lost eight of their 12 matches last season against the top six whilst conceding 2.17 goals per game. At 1.8 Arsenal are worth backing here, particularly given their superb home record in the derby, and they are also worth supporting on the -1.5 Asian Handicap at about 3.0.

North London derbies have a history of goals in recent seasons and both sides have been more ‘overs’ than ‘unders’ so far this term. Six of Arsenal’s last eight home games have had at least three goals as have eight of Spurs’ 10 trips to top-six finishers in the past two seasons. While Pochettino didn’t enjoy much success against the big boys last term his Southampton side were not afraid to attack in those matches and Over 2.5 Goals is a good price at 1.8.

Dirty Derbies Dirtier in Serie A:

The Premier League is not the only league featuring major derbies this weekend as Schalke take on Dortmund in the Bundesliga and Genoa face Sampdoria in Italy. Out of the Big 5 leagues, Serie A comes second only to La Liga for the worst disciplinary record. In the past 11 years, there have been 4.49 yellow cards per game and 0.30 sending offs, accumulating 52.4 booking points. So if regular Serie A matches are this fiery, how dirty must their derbies be?

Well it turns out very. In the three biggest Serie A derby matches (Milan derby, Genoa v Sampdoria, and Lazio v Roma), there have been, on average, 83.5 booking points per derby (56 derbies in last 11 years). That is the equivalent of more than three extra yellows, every derby match. The average Premier League derby game saw 42.7 booking points – less than one extra caution more than the average Premier League game. English derbies seem a bit timid in comparison.

Probably the most famous Italian derby is the ‘Derby della Madonnina’ (AC vs Inter), played at the iconic San Siro. On average, this game produces 71.8 booking points, as well as a red card nearly every other match. This, however, is the ‘tamest’ of the biggest four derbies, despite having over 14 more booking points than the Premier League’s dirtiest derby.

Without doubt, however, the most ill-tempered and fiery Italian derby in recent years is Genoa v Sampdoria. A recent encounter in the 2009/10 season, reached a staggering 200 booking points, involving four red cards, and ten bookings. This isn’t an anomaly either. The season before, the derby produced 175 booking points. In the last six meetings where Genoa have been the nominal home team (they share the ground), five of the games have generated over 100 booking points and involved at least eight bookings and one red card, with an average of 130 booking points from the six derbies. A sending off this weekend can be backed at 2.6.

The other major derby is in the capital, between Roma and Lazio. This, like the Genoa v Sampdoria derby, produces a tremendous amount of ill-discipline. In the last 11 years, none of the 22 Rome derbies have had fewer than 50 booking points. Moreover, in the last six seasons, the 12 derbies have averaged 104 booking points, with seven totals of over 100. 10 of these 12 games have seen a red card, and five have seen more than one player take an early shower.

Player Analysis:

Using Form Lab Black’s player analysis tool we’ve looked around Europe and found three teams who will be missing important players in this round of matches and without them they look set to struggle.

N.B. Appearances mentioned below relate to starting and completing an hour unless otherwise specified.

Birmingham v Fulham
Lee Novak, Forward, Birmingham

Novak has missed 21 of Birmingham’s 54 matches since the start of last season and without him they’ve lost 13 times including picking up just two points from their last nine home games in his absence. Fulham might be at the foot of the table but they might be worth backing to take three points here at 2.75.

Nottingham Forest v Brighton
Andy Reid and Chris Cohen, Nottingham Forest

Forest are missing two key players in Reid and Cohen and it’s been a familiar story as both missed much of the second half of last season. In the 18 matches that both have been missing for since 2013/14 Forest have W3-D5-L10. This compares to a record of W11-D6-L2 when both have been playing. With that in mind the 1.75 for Brighton the Double Chance looks a good bet.

Visit Football Form Labs to turn your gut feel into proper, profitable research.

Silver Cambridgeshire preview

Newmarket at the end of the season means big, nasty handicaps such as the Cambridgeshire and the Cesarewitch. This weekend it's the former and Chris Day, @chrisday100 starts his weekend work with the consolation race.


The Silver Cambridgeshire (Shadwell Farm Handicap)
1700 Newmarket 1m1f

The Silver Cambridgeshire is the most recent of the consolation races devised to accommodate horses not rated high enough to get into Saturday’s main race but would grace most Saturday afternoons such is the quality of runner the race now attracts.

Favourite looks like being William Haggas’ Mange All, an improving three year old who appeared to find 10 furlongs stretching him slightly when second from a 5lb lower mark behind a progressive horse last time. Previously a winner over a mile, this intermediate distance could suit him nicely and he’s sure to go well but the market hasn’t missed him and I’ll give him a swerve on that basis.

John Gosden has a great record in these end of season contests and Gm Hopkins, under only a 4lb penalty, must be a major fancy after sluicing in after a five month layoff last time at Sandown. Once again, at single figure prices, I’m prepared to let him run.

Clive Cox runs the least exposed runner in the field, Lacan, who comes here after just three runs at Nottingham. A maiden winner last time, it’s impossible to know how good he is but you’d think he could take races from this mark.

Last year’s runner-up, Sheila’s Buddy limbered up for this contest with a third at Newbury last week, but has been on the go for a while and 10lb higher in the weights than last year. Obviously suited to a race of this type, he should be in the firing line but I’d be very surprised if something better treated does not emerge.

Desert Ranger is a progressive horse but has never contested a race of more than 10 runners, Ree’s Rascal has been running well but is 13lbs higher than his lowest winning mark and I’m loathe to suggest any of the outsiders due to them needing to be a bit above their ratings in terms of ability to win this and they do appear very exposed.

The one I’m siding with, though, is Stoute’s Munaaser, a facile midsummer winner at Newmarket from 82 and not obviously well treated from his new mark. He did, however, go off 11-4 favourite for a muddling but traditionally strong three year old handicap at the Ebor meeting where he went all round the houses but stayed on in a slowly run affair. I had my eye on him for the Cambridgeshire where Ladbrokes always had him on their side (not sure that's as useful as it once was), favourite for a while and think he’s well up to winning this at early quotes of around the 10-1 mark.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

JRA Cup preview

Another feature race preview from Moonee Valley night racing on Friday, not with one of the black type 3yo races but with a traditional spring riches lead-up race, this time featuring the new people's horse, The Cleaner, who just jumps to the front and runs his rivals ragged, bringing back memories for my favourite ever horse, the one who got me hooked on racing, the mighty Vo Rogue.

Enough reminiscing, it's assignment number two for Mitch Nicholls, give him some support via @MitchNicholls1.


Alternate Railway JRA Cup
Moonee Valley 2040m G3
Race 6 9:15pm

Fantastic race! The speed comes from out wide with The Cleaner pushing forward from barrier 10. Mourinho will come across and settle somewhere close to the speed from 12 then I’d suggest Lord Durante will hold his spot from gate 4 perhaps with Big Memory close behind.

1 The Cleaner $3.60 (TAB fixed-odds prices quoted): This bold-front running gelding is in career-best form, stringing together two wins a row (three on the trot here) with his last success being the best of the lot, the Group Two Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes over 1600m. The Dato’ has so far proven to be a strong form reference, with the third horse Foreteller going on to win the feature Group One Underwood Stakes on Saturday, and the seventh-placed Gris Caro claimed the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes. Steps up 440m on last start but has been victorious seven times from 2000-2200m. He is a $3.60 favourite and will be the one they’ll have to run down. And on-course punters will be cheering him on - the race club have promised half-price schooners until the next race in all bars if he wins!

2 Precedence $14.00: This nine year old gelding is on another Cups campaign. He comes into this race second-up off a fair run first-up, where he was doing his best work late. He’s a bit of a smokey each-way chance in a fairly open race. He’s won five out of nine career starts at Moonee Valley and won this race way back in 2010! He’ll get back and run on from a good tempo set by The Cleaner.

5 Mourinho $4.50: Has been in very good form of late, winning here first-up then was brave running second to The Cleaner where he was posted wide, but still hit the line strongly, beaten under a length. Should be at his peak third up and is unbeaten this track/distance. My only concern is his draw, barrier 12. He might be posted wide in a race that is sure to be run at a fast pace. Meets The Cleaner 2.5kgs better for a 0.75L defeat last start.

8 Big Memory $5.00: This former French gelding arrives in good form, being beaten a nose a fortnight ago at Flemington by the injury-plagued Brambles. He has had one start for a win at Moonee Valley. This is without a doubt his toughest test yet, and I feel he’s a risk at $5.00. Yet to win second up, and is likely to be better over 2400m.

11 Signoff $5.00: Has the boom on him, being trained by Darren Weir, wearing the same colours as last year’s spruik horse Puissance de Lune, and having won six of his first nine starts, including two from two here. The lightly-raced five year old gelding comes into this race with an eye catching third behind Brambles and Big Memory. A proven middle distance/staying type with two wins over 2000m, he is drawn well in barrier two and shouldn’t get too far back over this sort of distance. Expect him to be hitting the line well.

Suggested Bet: Happy to have The Cleaner on top, he’ll be hard to catch and I believe $3.60 is an attractive price. Good luck, and hopefully we all find a winner!

Rosehill preview

The early spring pace of Sydney racing continues with three feature races at Rosehill on Saturdday, leading into next weekend's Epsom and Metropolitan at Randwick. We've drafted in some more new blood to preview the meeting, The Punters Show, a Sydney-based group of experts who provide plenty of content and numerous options for all levels of keen punters. Follow them via @puntersshow or visit their website PuntersShow.


Punters Show Preview
27th September Rosehill


At the time of writing this (Thursday afternoon in Sydney) we were told there would be light showers for most of today and then maybe some drizzle until Saturday. All in all that should still give us a perfect racing surface.

Track: Predicted Good/Dead Rail +3m

We were at Rosehill two weeks ago for Golden Rose Day where the rail was in the “True” position and the fence was a no go zone! The normal ‘reposition’ has been done seeing the rail moved to the +3m mark. This is the ‘fairest’ rail position for Rosehill. Generally most runners will end up in the right spot for Rosehill. Hard fence is no good but the channel of the next five or so metres is the most likely source of winners with most of the runners naturally ending up there

Race 5 - Stan Fox Stakes
1500m Set weights
3YO Group 2

As has been the norm in Sydney, another small field (8) with only a handful of winning chances presents itself in the Stan Fox.

Pace: (AVERAGE TO SLOW) There doesn’t look to be a great deal of tempo in the race with Valentia and Shooting To Win to lead them up.

Scissor Kick is the current favourite @ $2 after a strong performance in the Golden Rose. Scissor Kick sat four wide on a limb throughout the entire race and put in a herculean-looking performance to only go down by a head. We were worried Scissor Kick may have been over the top for that race however we were proven wrong but we think surely now this horse is due to put in a flat run. When we peeled it back in our reviews it was less of a ‘herculean effort’ than it looked as he was in the perfect zone and found the golden out-wide lane at Rosehill; still very good but not as astonishing as it looked.

Shooting To Win also comes from the Golden Rose. On that occasion he jumped slowly and was forced to settle at the rear of the field and make his run with the eventual winner and runner up. On Saturday assuming he jumps well, we have him right there on pace and looks to get a much more suitable race. He has more upside than the favourite in our opinion.

The fly in the ointment is Valentia. He missed the Golden Rose which was the logical lead up to this race but did meet both Shooting To Win and Scissor Kick in the Up & Coming Stakes (only beaten 0.5L) and then put in a sub par performance in the Ming Dynasty beaten 4L. Valentia has been on wet tracks those first two starts and gets a dry track here but whilst we prefer to see him to not turn the tables on Shooting To Win who is also a dry tracker, he does look to get the easy lead and that is always dangerous when you are trained by Gai!

Our Picks:
1st Shooting To Win
2nd Scissor Kick
3rd Valentia

Race 6 - Shannon Stakes
1500m Quality
3YO+ Group 2

Pace: (SOLID) Looks to be a genuine tempo here with Ninth Legion coming across from the outside gate to take it up. Excess Knowledge resumes and raced on speed last time in as well as the Queenslander Epic who has been taking it up in some much easier races. Tougher Than Ever appears likely to be scratched (as Waller has also booked Tye Angland on Vilanova) and Liberty’s Choice with the Blinkers Off probably goes back again.

Rock Sturdy has put together two impressive wins this preparation, followed by a forgive on a bog and a much-higher-rating-than-you-would-think second to Manawanui seven days ago. The issue we see here is the far from ideal preparation and in-run situation! His last five runs have been at 1400m, the run prior was 1350m. That makes this 5th run between 1350 and 1500m in as many starts. We think he’s crying out for a mile, which he may get next week in the Epsom but we’re more worried about Saturday. He looks the horse to beat.

Ninth Legion has been fairly consistent in his career but lacks an X Factor. Perhaps he won't need it though as he’s been beaten by the likes of Cluster, Terravista and Sacred Falls in his last three races. Third-up is perfect. He finished next to Jetset Lad who is currently third pick and his form in Queensland is only average at this distance so we are happy to go away from him. Mr Chard was slow to jump in the Cameron Handicap at Newcastle, which was run at a farcical pace. He was never able to get in the race, neither was Vilanova, both of those horses can be forgiven. The second pick in the market is Excess Knowledge who did good things in his only two runs in Australia. Gai has given him one trial where he was an impressive winner and presents here first up for 105 days. It’s certainly not a long spell and he is the wild card.

We can’t go past Rock Sturdy who has been doing everything right this time in. As long as he can overcome the ‘Brown factor’ (Corey Brown – his jockey) he could just pull out too much here. The worry is unlike Terravista last week Brown actually has to do something to win and that isn’t an easy thing for the 2014 version of Corey.

Our Picks:
1st Rock Sturdy
2nd Ninth Legion
3rd Vilanova

Race 7 – Golden Pendant
1400m Set Weights & Penalties
3YO+ Fillies and Mares Group 3

Pace: (AVERAGE) Catkins jumped well in the Sheraco (the main lead-up to this) and was able to settle behind two horses that won’t be here today. In fact there’s a very good chance Catkins leads this; whatever the case she will be very comfortable. I’m In the Money should be thereabouts with My Sabeel and Lorna May. Not much else doing in front.

Catkins dominated the Sheraco two weeks ago and we thought she was a touch vulnerable that day due to the additional race pressure that some of the ‘speedsters’ like Maroon Bay and Echo Gal would provide. She took the sit and ran away to win in a hand canter. On Saturday those two leaders won't be here so we think she gets it her own way this time and will relish the trip up to the 1400m. Neena Rock made a nice Australian debut when sprinting from the back of the field into third beaten 2.8 Catkins but she’s probably going to find this a little tougher due to the lack of pace. The X factor horse is Arabian Gold who always trials well (and she has) and always runs a nice race first-up. However, whilst she looks a clear second pick to Catkins we see it very hard for her to run the sectionals to be able to chase down Catkins. My Sabeel has been running out of her skin but she must be right at the peak of her campaign. That leaves us with Fine Bubbles whose city Saturday form was just fair however put on quite an impressive turn of speed to dominate the Tibbie Stakes at Newcastle.

Unfortunately for punters no spoils here

Our Picks:
1st Catkins
2nd Arabian Gold
3rd Fine Bubbles

We hope you enjoyed The Punters Show Preview of the three feature races from Rosehill on Saturday. Our Race Speed Profiles for this meeting as well as Mounting Yard Mail and much more are all available from Saturday morning Australian time.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Moir Stakes preview

The Melbourne spring is starting to get serious now with the Group 1 Moir Stakes being run on Friday night at Moonee Valley, to keep out of the way of Saturday's AFL Grand Final.

Making his first appearance on the blog is budding young writer, Mitch Nicholls, @mitchnicholls1. Welcome aboard!


Moir Stakes preview
G1 1200m
Moonee Valley 8.15pm Melbourne time, 11.15am UK

Speed Map

Only a small field of five to contest the 1200m Moir Stakes. What it lacks in size, makes up in class! Every horse should get a good run, and we all but rule out horses getting blocked for runs, so every horse gets there chance.

Lankan Rupee: On the surface he was very disappointing here first-up beaten a head by Angelic Light, when he started 1.22. He went hard in front (outside the leader), and was brave to the line, whereas the mare got the soft run in behind and managed to nab him in the closing stages. He’s always been a horse who excels over 1200m, with wins in the G1 Newmarket Handicap and the G1 TJ Smith Stakes, Australia’s most premier sprint races. Second-up last prep he won the G1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m), beating a top class handicap field, within a streak of six straight wins last prep. He should be able to dictate this race up on the speed and show his explosive turn of foot around the bend.

Buffering: Is without doubt Australia’s second-best sprinter behind Lankan Rupee. He had a disappointing autumn, but he flies first-up winning the G1 Manikato Stakes (Track/Distance) last spring beating home star Hong Kong sprinter Lucky Nine.

Angelic Light: Caused a huge boilover beating star sprinter Lankan Rupee. Had the run of the race, and a fitness edge on the day. She’s flying, and strips fitter third-up 1200m. She’s more than capable over causing another boilover here, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on her over the spring.

Rebel Dane: Is a smart type who ran second to Lankan Rupee in the G1 TJ Smith Stakes. He’ll really improve when he gets to 1400m, expect him to be running on strongly as usual.

Unpretentious: Out of his depth, rated 16 points below the favourite. Then again, Angelic Light is only rated one point higher...

Suggested Bet: Win bet Lankan Rupee. The price is short but he'll be able to dictate terms here, and in a small field, he wins this more than two times out of every three. That makes the price of 1.5 worth taking.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Underwood Stakes preview

The smart chaps at Premium Punting, @premiumpunting, website, have finished their analysis of this week's Group 1 race in Melbourne.


Underwood Stakes
Race 7 - 4:00PM G1, 1800 METRES

Speed Map

As our map shows, a lack of speed is evident in the race with Star Rolling the only on pace runner in our grid. This of course has the potential to be identified and taken advantage of by the astute jockeys in the field, with Lidari the likely one digging up from his inside gate to make company on the speed. Don’t be surprised if a horse is ridden completely against their historical pattern and previous pace ratings and take up the lead. Look out for race tactics notifications from the stewards before the race.

Key Historical Factors:
There are only three interesting historical factors been identified in this race which have been categorised into two groups:
- No mare has won since 1985 (and was run at 2000m back then).
- Past four winners been 2nd up after resuming in a 1400m G1 three weeks earlier (Silent Achiever).
- 6/30 Melbourne Cup winner participated in this race, with last one being Viewed (2008).
- 13/30 Caulfield Cup winners participated in the race, with the last one also being Viewed (2009).

Pre-post 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.

Silent Achiever (NZ)
First up effort ok in Memsie when held up late so margin was slightly affected. No mare won this race since 1985 but has right historical form pattern into this second up off a 1400m G1 run. Won 3/5 second up including G1 over 2000m in NZ last campaign. As our WFA scale is different to the official handicappers, the 2kg lighter weight to the rest of the field is very beneficial and is more than capable of advancing enough to win.

Foreteller (GB)
Was super strong late in the G2 Dato, not many horses can make up the ground he did between straightening up and through to the winning post. Third up last preparation hit a very large figure in the Australian Cup that would easily win this race. Unlikely to ‘bounce’ high enough this preparation to hit that level again and the lack of speed on the map is of concern. Is still capable of producing a strong last furlong and has the potential to swamp them down the outside late in an expected tight finish.

Star Rolling
Inevitably rated down off PB rating win 1st up in the PB Lawrence, had to chase a tough leader in The Cleaner which is no easy task. In two runs this preparation has taken some damage, has producing two tough, grinding runs. Map on paper does help and could get an easier time of it at the front. Has found his correct price in the current marketplace.

The Offer (IRE)
Very good first up, went to line very well and am confident the connections would’ve been very pleased with the run onwards to bigger things. Second up previously has advanced between 2-3L. Map could be a little query, if intends to settle midfield could be trapped early but due to the long run to the first corner Berry has plenty of time to find cover either handy or off-midfield. With the expected advancement is certainly capable of winning this race onwards to the cups. Like all our chances, is just a slight underlay.

Recommended Bets:
As our system is very accurate with the elite horses in particular, it can sometimes lead to our markets on our race looking very similar to the public markets.

We will be advising our clients to pass on the race. There are some other good wagering opportunities on the day.

NFC South preview

More from Ian Steven, @deevo82. Apologies, these should have gone up last week and thus prices may have changed.


NFC South

Carolina Panthers

Carolina surprised many people last season by winning the NFC South. The Falcons and also the Saints were perceived by many to be the better football team going into 2013 but tough defense and some good quarterback play from Cam Newton who has started to display some maturity propelled Carolina to the top of the division. Head coach Ron Rivera, much maligned for being conservative and perceived to be on the hot seat, turned himself into a riverboat gambler as the conservative coach displayed an aggressive style of play calling which the fans took to in Charlotte.

Newton has started the season with some sore ribs and on the bench and needs to get himself fit and healthy as the Panthers have a powerful running game, including the large quarterback into the mix. Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams are a powerful one-two combination and the Panthers need to rely on their running game because their wide receivers lack talent and depth. Especially since Steve Smith, a 13 year player for the franchise, has left for Baltimore. Kelvin Benjamin was drafted from Florida State University, a tall and physical player, but he is still raw and learning his trade.

The big success story for Carolina has been the play of their defence. They were superb last season and were able to shut down teams, providing victories even though the offense did not put up a lot of points on the board. Middle linebacker Luke Keuchly is one of the rising stars of the game. He is the quarterback of the defence and he inspires others around him – and is one of the best tacklers in the NFL. Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy are quality defensive lineman in a front seven that are very solid.

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta were expected to push on from the great season in 2012 but they struggled last year. Injury seemed to curtail them and then confidence dipped. Owner Arthur Blank speculated that his team were soft which lit a fire under head coach Mike Smith – who preached toughness in training camp – caught on the HBO documentary Hard Knocks. Defensive tackle Jake Matthews was drafted in the first round to add some solidity to the offensive line in order to protect quarterback Matt Ryan. Jake is the son of former all-pro guard Chris Matthews. Yet another member of the Matthews family to make the NFL.

Steven Jackson remains at running back but I thought that Atlanta would have ditched him. The former St Louis Ram is permanently beset by injuries and spends a lot of the season in the training room.

At wide receiver Atlanta seem set with Roddy White and the Julio Jones - the best duo in the NFL. Devin Hester was brought in to add some spark on special teams but will also play wide receiver. Tony Gonzalez has retired and he leaves a large hole to be filled in the middle of the field. He was the safety blanket for Ryan and could be the difference between winning the division and missing the playoffs.

The defence needs to step up from the other well last season, especially with the New Orleans Saints in the division who can put points on the board for fun. Pressure on the quarterback has been Atlanta's biggest problem in recent seasons and will hope that Kroy Bierman can return to pass rushing form after injury last year.

New Orleans Saints

I believed that New Orleans would win the division last season but Carolina came from nowhere to pip them to the crown. Drew Brees remains one of the top quarterbacks in the league, with an all-star cast backing him up.

Mark Ingram has started to find some form which has sparked the running game for the Saints. They are often thought of as pass first offense but head coach Sean Payton loves to mix in the running game. Marquees Colston remains a safety valve for Brees but it is the rookie wide receiver from Oklahoma State, Brandin Cooks, who has made a lot of people sit up and take note. He seems to be the preferred choice for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Jimmy Graham is back at tight end after struggling with a foot injury last year and if he is fit and healthy, he can dominate.

The offensive line could be below standards that the Saints have set in the past and will be a key factor in the season. They need to keep Brees clean and protected if the fences to have any success.

On defense, Cameron Jordan is turning into a very good defensive lineman. They still have holes on D however and can be exploited in the secondary. The Saints will be an excellent team to watch on television this year because they will put up a lot of points and also concede quite a lot of points as well.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay were the sexy pick for the dark horse to conquer conventions and push their way to the top of the division. There's always a team in the NFL that does well that nobody expects. In the second year of Lovie Smith's tenure at the franchise, the signing of Josh McCown to play at quarterback and the drafting of Mike Evans at wide receiver looked like it could push Tampa Bay over the edge on offense.

Doug Martin returns running back and he can be a deadly weapon if he is able to stay healthy. Vincent Jackson joins Mike Evans at wide receiver, for possibly the most physically imposing pair of starting receivers in the NFL although Chicago would beg to differ.

The problem for Tampa Bay on offense is the fact that their offensive line is not very good. Despite trading for Logan Mankins, there is a lot of holes. The need to protect their quarterback if they are to have any success this season.

On defense they have a lot of young talent with Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Mark Barron. Defense is Lovie Smith's speciality. They will become an elite unit in the next couple of years as the players mature but I think this is a season too early for them and I am not convinced that McCown is not just a flash in the pan after a stretch of good games last year in Chicago in relief of Jay Cutler.


I am leaning towards Atlanta for the division but it is too close to call. The Panthers vs Falcons game in week 17 could have massive playoff ramifications. I don’t think the Panthers will repeat as division champions – a feat that no team has managed in the NFC South in what is historically the most competitive division in the NFL.

NFC North preview

More from Ian Steven, @deevo82. Apologies, these should have gone up last week and thus prices may have changed.


NFC North

Green Bay Packers

This is going to be a tough division this year as there are three teams with a lot of talent that will keep things very competitive. The good news for Green Bay is that they have the best quarterback in a bunch of good signal callers. Aaron Rodgers is judged just outside the elite Manning/Brady level and has already demonstrated his worth with a league MVP season as well as a Super Bowl ring.

Whilst Rodgers has a quick release and quick feet – his biggest knock is his durability and that is where the Pack’s season lies. The Cal graduate went down last year with a broken collarbone, missing seven games and coming back for the week 17 clash with Chicago to win the division with a touchdown pass to Randall Cobb with under a minute remaining.

The good news for the Wisconsin franchise is that they have finally found a featured back in Eddie Lacy. The powerful running back from Alabama allows Mike McCarthy to rely on the run more to move the chains than he has done in the past. Cobb and Jordy Nelson will remain the main targets for Rodgers.

As much as Rodgers is the talisman on offense, Clay Matthews is the standard bearer on the other side of the ball -and much like Rodgers – durability has been the outside linebacker’s problem. When fit, Matthews is almost unblockable and is a certified playmaker. To aid Matthews, Julius Peppers was brought in from Chicago to man the other outside linebacker spot opposite Matthews. Whilst the former Tar Heel may lack some burst, he is still a force to move out of the way.

Ha-Ha Clinton Dix (real name Ha’Sean) looks to be an ideal fit at safety after coming out of college from Alabama in a secondary that has some talent.

If the key players can stay fit then Green Bay have a great chance of repeating as division champions.

Chicago Bears

This has to be Chicago’s year. They have brought in too much talent to be afforded any patience from the fans in the Windy City.

Green Bay snatched the title away from the Bears last season who then loaded up on weapons to help out Jay Cutler who is starting to exasperate the Solder Field faithful. Two interceptions against the Bills in week one this season typifies his inconsistency, as Cutler displays flashes of dominance before some bad decisions undoes all the good work.

Matt Forte remains at tailback and will feature heavily in both the running game and the passing games thanks to some soft hands. Gargantuan wide receivers Alsohon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall are joined by Santonio Holmes who can be a bit of a diva but is also productive when focussed.

The offensive line is not the greatest but that is nullified by the fact that Marc Trestman’s offense allows for a lot of quick passes that neutralises the pass rush.

On defense, Jared Allen replaces the departed Julies Peppers at defensive end and lines up against alongside Lamar Houston who many experts considered the most talented player available as a free agent in the offseason.

John Bostic and the evergreen Lance Briggs shore up the linebacker positions ahead of a secondary that are weak at the safety positions and could be exploited during the season.

Detroit Lions

It is unlikely that any name other than “Jerry Rice” would be offered if you enquired as to who was the best ever wide receiver to play in this league. That could well change as Calvin “Megatron” Johnson continues to rack up the yards for the Lions. Almost unplayable at 6’5”, 235 lbs and with a 4.35 40 yard dash time, Johnson has already broken Rice’s regular season receiving record and now has more help at the receiver position with Golden Tate joining the Lions, taking some of the focus off of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket.

Matthew Stafford would already have a big grin on his face with Johnson and Tate confirmed on the roster before the Michigan franchise drafted Eric Ebron out of North Carolina. The speedy tight end was a physical marvel at the college level and joins Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria in a talented cluster of the roster.

Reggie Bush and Joique Bell share the load in the backfield behind a sub-par line that are the weak link on offense. The Lions like to take a lot of deep shots and need to keep Stafford upright if they want success. The Georgia grad is under-rated as a signal caller but he consistently passes for a lot of yards – although interceptions are a bit of an Achilles’ heel.

The front seven on defense is loaded with talent. Ezekiel Ansah looks to have progressed well in his second season and is a force off the edge. Ndamukong Suh is a force in the middle as always whilst Nick Fairley has had a fire lit under him by Coach Jim Caldwell by benching the former first round draft pick in the pre-season.

The secondary is not the best and this is an area where the Ford-owned franchise will stumble facing good passing attacks in Green Bay and Chicago.

The Lions should remain a threat for most of the season but consecutive visits to Soldier Field and Lambeau in weeks 16 and 17 in what will be harsh conditions will be the ultimate undoing of a roster set up to compete indoors. They capitulated in the snow against the Eagles last season – in what was the game of the year in my opinion – and it will be even colder in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings enter a new era under head coach Mike Zimmer and the former Bengals defensive co-ordinator is in the enviable position of having some established talent to work with.

Quarterback is king for success in the league and Teddy Bridgwater was drafted with the intention of becoming the face of the franchise but was unable to beat out Matt Cassel in the pre-season.

Whoever lines up under centre should expect to hand the ball off to stud workhorse Adrian Peterson. The running back was arrested last night for assaulting his son and will miss this weekend’s clash with new England. You would normally expect Paterson to re-join the team quite swiftly but fall out from the Ray Rise spousal assault could lead to an extended punishment for Peterson by a league skittish over recent criticisms of leniency.

As you run through the roster on offense you can reel off names such as Cordarrelle Paterson, Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph, Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt and you realise how close they are as a franchise for having a special offense.

Defense is Zimmer’s speciality and the Vikings will be a lot more disciplined and physical under their new head coach. Anthony Barr was drafted high with a view to being a force off of the edge but he is still raw.

The most intriguing thing about the Vikings this season is that a new stadium is being constructed and they have moved out of the Metrodome and will play at the University of Minnesota’s TNF Bank Stadium which is outdoors and there can be some harsh winters in that part of the world. That is exactly how football should be played in my opinion with the week 17 clash with a playoff chasing Bears team looking particularly enticing.


Aaron Rodgers will be the difference in this division – but it will be very close. He is the elite quarterback in the NFC and with the added help of Eddie Lacy and a fit Clay Matthews, Green Bay will win the division but it could go down to the very last week. Their loss to the Seahawks has worked out in our favour as their odds have lengthened.

2 pts on Green Bay @2.00 with Bet 365.