Saturday, 19 July 2014

Weatherbys Super Sprint preview

I hadn't planned on doing a race preview this weekend but I do love the format of this race, so it'd be wrong of me not to promote it. A race for 2yos sold publicly for £50k or less(ruling out virtually all of the Coolmore and Godolphin stables), it's an allowance race where weights are allocated based on their sale price. It's nigh on impossible to have a high-grade handicap for the juveniles as most of them would be too unexposed, I love this format. With a 15lb spread in the weights, in theory they've all got a chance!

One complaint though - it's run over the ridiculous distance of 5f34yds. Why not a round number? How the hell are you supposed line up times over such a stupid journey in their form in future months?

1. Tiggy Wiggy - the obvious one to beat. Trained by the son of the man who helped devise this race and won it a record seven times, and this is clearly the best of his quintet. this filly has run five times for three wins and two narrow defeats in classy black type races. She's won on soft, beaten 1/4L in the G2 Queen Mary on good-firm and on official ratings, is 9lb better than her rivals. Also has big field experience (second in field of 21 at Royal Ascot). Against her is that only one horse in 22 editions of the race has won with more than 8st12lb, Elhamri in 2006.

2. Harry Hurricane - maiden from four starts, beaten twice as favourite, only thing he has going for him is by the same sire as the topweight. 100/1 is unders.

3. Midterm Break - finished just ahead of Harry Hurricane at Royal Ascot, beaten 9.5L with no obvious excuses, but was a third of the price. Two wins from four, but against much weaker opposition in small fields. No appeal.

4. Roudee - seemingly going backwards, at least in the form figures, since winning on debut (over Midterm Break). Third to Tiggy Wiggy in the National Stakes on a soft track, conceding 5lbs but beaten just under 5L. Further back at Royal Ascot, seems to be regressing and in need of a spell, but owners fancy a roll of the dice at a big sales race. Not for me.

5. L'Etacq - at least third string in the Hannon posse, a narrow winner on the all-weather last time out, can't see him troubling the better ones.

6. Magical Memory - behind Roudee on debut but stepped up at his next appearance to run second to Ivawood, winner of the G2 July Stakes last weekend. Won over 6f last start in a maiden, drops back a furlong here but has a premier jockey aboard in Buick. Some chance but drawn 24 - one to look at more closely if a track bias develops perhaps.

7. Tachophobia - decent northern colt but hasn't done enough yet to be seriously considered here.

8. Grey Zeb - beaten in a four-horse race at Musselburgh a month ago after running last at Catterick on debut, owners here for a day out.

9. Haxby - fifth in the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot, and nice formlines through Justice Good and Kool Kompany. Strong trainer and jockey, each-way chance.

10. Pillar Box - owned by 'the Super Sprinters' so you can guess what his target has been this season. Won well at Bath last time out, giving away over a stone to the runner-up but that's a decent way off the Royal Ascot form of others.

11. Be Bold - only 33/1 because he's Hannon trained. Should be longer.

12. Brazen Spirit - beaten last start by another Hannon 2yo rated over 20lb inferior to Tiggy Wiggy. Nope.

13. Eastern Racer - closely matched with L'Etacq on form, and that one has no hope either.

14. Fast Act - Kevin Ryan-trained, always one to watch for in juvenile races, and stable seems to be in much better form of late. Poor debut (against several of these) but last start won nicely against Bahamian Sunrise who was runner-up to Haxby on the same terms. Spencer aboard, must consider.

15. Spirit of Zeb - 20/1 last start in a maiden at Nottingham, ran second, here for a day out.

16. Prince Bonnaire - beaten out of sight in the Windsor Castle, won a rubbish maiden at Redcar but has a formline throug Haxby on debut back in May. Oisin Murphy aboard is his best asset.

17. Secret Spirit - two runs here for minor placings. The better of the Clive Cox pair but has a formline connecting to Be Bold whom I don't rate.

18. Flyball - third in the Brocklesby in March, beaten a minute in the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot after a two-month break. Like a toddler in a diving pool, way out of his depth.

19. Captain Colby - disappointed as favourite in a Novice race during the York May Festival, and those formlines haven't proved strong. Would be double the price if not trained by Kevin Ryan.

20. Parsley - only two runners are rated close to Tiggy Wiggy on the allotted weights, this is one of them. Backs up quickly after running fourth in the race formerly known as the Cherry Hinton last Friday. That was a G2 race, she backs up here because this race is worth over three times more. Will the soft track last week take anything out of her? Missed her chance at a Pattern win in the Empress Stakes when trumped by a 25/1 shot. Will she back up, and can she win with a jockey who was ridden just one winner this season (from 29)? A chance, but I'd be prepared to take her on.

21. Diamond Creek - also backs up from the Cherry Hinton, where she finished last at 25/1. Form via several no-hopers here, can't see her troubling the cheque writers. Hanagan aboard, but he can't ride any lower.

22. Bond's Girl - won her first two starts off light weights but beaten ten lengths in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot. One of three runners for Richard Fahey in the bottom pound of the weights.

23. Charlie's Star - smashed by Tiggy Wiggy on debut at level weights, hasn't shown the progression since to be a factor.

24. Harry's Dancer - bought by Al Shaqab Racing after an impressive debut win, ran eighth in the Queen Mary, 6L behind Tiggy Wiggy at level weights. Meets her 15lb better here and must be a real chance based on that alone. From the same stable who have The Wow Factor, so they'll have a strong guide as to how quick she is. Jimmy Quinn aboard is a worry though - just three wins from 122 rides this season.

25. Realtra - a lively bottomweight with one win and three seconds from four starts, from a top stable and probably the best lightweight jockey going around. Highest Racing Post Rating of the field too. Strong formline through Sarista when beaten a nose at level weights back in April. That filly has gone on to finish fourth in the Windsor Castle, and run three lengths behind Tiggy Wiggy at level weights. Massive chance, but concerned that she has only hit the finish line ahead of the rest once.

It's a big field but not that many winning chances. Tiggy Wiggy is the benchmark but can she overcome the weight is conceding to the fast fillies down the bottom? Not quite.

1. Realtra
2. Tiggy Wiggy
3. Fast Act
4. Magical Memory
5. Haxby

Friday, 11 July 2014

Night Two - Queensland Winter Trotting Carnival

Night Two - Queensland Winter Trotting Carnival preview
by Darren Clayton, Racing Queensland handicapper, @dashman01

Night Two of the #qldwinterracing carnival from Albion Park has bought together a cavalcade of stars. Across three different races fans will have the opportunity to witness Australia's best horse Im Themightyquinn, best mare Forever Gold and best 3YO Bling It On.

The @AlbionparkHRC have two great initiatives related to Quinny and Yank (Bling It On) where the opportunity for two people to win a percentage ownership with full owners privileges for the final night of the Albion Park component of the carnival exists. With the two horses being aimed at the Group 1 Blacks A Fake and Group 1 Queensland Derby respectively, this is an outstanding prize. Head to the Albion Park website for details.

This Saturday’s action sees four Group races on the program. At Group 3 level will see the running of the Gold Coast Derby, the Fleur De Lil Ladyship Stakes and perhaps the best race of the night, the Four & Five Year Old Championship. It will also see the first Group 1 race of the carnival with the Queensland Oaks.

4 & 5YO CHAMPIONSHIP

The barrier draw makes this a very intriguing affair. Majestic Mach draws the best for a few starts, however it would be fair to say he has been a touch disappointing to what we have come to expect from the Grant Dixon trained superstar. He looks the leader in this race and may well be able to take them all the way.

Mach Beauty who set the tempo in last weekend’s track record breaking run in the Sunshine Sprint has drawn 13. Lauren Panella will most likely have to drive him tough again and will circle the field at some point, probably sooner than later to serve it up to the leader. The chances of many in this race will depend on how much pressure is exerted or whether she will be able to wrestle the lead away. American Legend could end up smoking the briar in the fence trail and has to be given a big chance to sprint lane to the prize and at each way value can be a big knockout.

Chilli Palmer was a scratching from the Sunshine Sprint but comes up with gate 11 here. Provided the reason for his scratching was not too big an issue he is more than capable to score a minor upset in this, as in his brief 20 start career he has already claimed such notable scalps as Smoken Up and Guaranteed and finished close up behind Lennytheshark in the Vicotrian 4 & 5YO Champiionship at Group 2 level. He can trail the hot pace and a victory would not be a surprise.

GROUP 1 QUEENSLAND OAKS

Freedom Is will be looking to break her feature race hoodoo following several placings in the big ones and from the one gate holds all the aces. She was a good winner from the front end in good time last week and may look to take them all the way here.

The royally bred Nike Franco took out the Gold Coast Oaks in fine style before beating the open age horses last week. With an imposing record that has seen her record 10 wins from 12 starts in Australia this filly can stamp her class in this event. Last week she was the only horse who made ground wide on the track in the race. If she hasn't been flattened by that run she may be the litmus for the other fillies, however the current quote of $1.25 appears too short and there may be more value around her.

Charming Allie draws wide in the second row but with a fast win last time out she will probably be saved for one shot which may suit her. Milly Perez must be respected especially considering the Puppet, 5000+ win driver Chris Alford is flying up from Victoria to take this drive, which perhaps is a fair gauge on her chances. Having put together five on end before making her Qld debut in the Gold Coast Oaks, she was a luckless 5th in that event, after being too far back in the field and making her run when the speed went on. She may well turn out to be the knockout runner who represents solid each way value at double figure odds.

GOLD COAST DERBY

Bling It On has an absolute stranglehold on this race and will be continuing on his Queensland swathe of destruction which has seen him win his last five starts in Brisbane.

Interest will be in the other podium finishers. Yayas Hot Spot will lead them up early and may well be the best of the others from the front end or behind Bling It On if he presses forward.

Alleluia is a talented type who will definitely win his share of races in time and has been impressive in his three Queensland starts. Currently $2.05 a place looks real value on the back of his last start second behind Bling It On in the G3 Futurity last week.

FLEUR DE LIL LADYSHIP STAKES

This race has had many incarnations with varying names, distances and calendar placements. This year it sees it sit as a genuine part of the Winter Carnival and has been raised in distance to 2138m. The change appears to have paid dividends with the best across the board field assembled for many years.

Forever Gold is arguably Australia's best mare and she comes into this race fresh. That should be no problem as she has been tuned up for this with a third in Im Themightyquinn's impressive trial here 10 days ago and then followed that up with an arrogant trial victory on Monday. She can go back to back in this without too much trouble, after taking this event out last year.

Missing Letters continues to deliver and having drawn the ace can step up again, however she may find herself three back the marker line. Either way, if she ends up behind Forever Gold or three back the pool noodles**, this mare looks to be an improving type and has the scope to finish ahead of the others.

If Forever Gold is not pressured and allowed to roll to the top easily, it could turn out to be a peg dominated affair which would see Ideal Tact be a trifecta chance as she is a big chance of being first down to the inside, with the likelihood that she will then trail Forever Gold.

Valiant Sue likes to rattle home at the end of her races but has shown previously if allowed to find the front she is hard to beat. While there would be no lead here in this event, it may eventuate that no one will want the position outside of Forever Gold. So if there is no pressure to the leader, she may be set alight early to get up close to the action and that scenario could prove a better chance of running a place.

Shez All Magic is one of the many visitors to the carnival and showed plenty in her first Queensland start last week that she is more than capable of filling a podium position in this event.

If night two is anything like the first of the carnival, Queensland trotting fans are in for a treat. The overall depth and quality of this race card surely whets the appetite for the main event next weekend.

** Pool noodles = the rubbery pegs which form the inside 'rail'

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Durban July preview

2014 Vodacom Durban July Betting Preview

Written by Alan Moscrop, @alanmoscrop
Courtesy of Goodforthegame.za


The 2014 Vodacom Durban July takes place at Greyville on Saturday, and Alan Moscrop previews all the runners and shares his selections on this years big race.

The KZN winter racing season is in full flow and excitement will reach fever-pitch come Saturday as the field line up for the Grade One Vodacom Durban July, to be run over 2200m around the Greyville track. Twelve months ago history was made when leading rider S'manga Khumalo became the first black jockey to ride the winner of South Africa's biggest race, partnering the Sean Tarry trained Heavy Metal to success with a powerful run up the Greyville run-in. Khumalo, or 'Bling' as his nickname goes, again takes a ride for the Tarry yard and will be bidding to land the race for the stable for the third year running, with the yard having been successful in 2012 with Pomodoro.

The draw was made last week and it was mixed fortunes for some of runners topping the betting. Daily News 2000 winner Legislate didn't fare that well with stall 14 going his way, while main market rivals Louis The King and Rakes Chestnut, from the Geoff Woodruff Yard, fared better with draws of 10 and 5 respectively. The Brett Crawford trained Futura, who just made the final cut, has drawn very well is gate number 3, just outside Mike de Kock's sole representative Espumanti, who jumps from gate 2.

The full field, with jockeys, trainers and draw, is as follows:

Last week the official gallops took place at Greyville, and for those who like to take something from the event you can read up on the gallops report in this article from Gold Circle. Personally I completely ignore these as over the years the race outcome and how the runners have fared in the gallops have little correlation, and last year's winner Heavy Metal wasn't even present, with punters only having a video of a gentle workout up the highveld to gauge his well-being. For the record the expert pundits at the track last week liked the look of a few of the three year olds, Legislate especially, and of the older horses Punta Arenas was a popular pick.

But let's waste little more time and move on to this years field, starting with the crop of promising three year olds:

Three is the magic number?

In recent years punters have often split the field into the top up and coming three year olds versus the more experienced and proven older horses, and that appears no difference again this year, although the crop of younger sorts do look well above average this current season. Leading the charge is the Justin Snaith trained Legislate, who's seeking to land the Daily News 2000 / Durban July double and give his handler a second July success, after he won the race jointly with Dancers Daughter in 2008. Legislate has won three on the bounce in impressive style, including two Grade one's in the Derby and Daily News over 2000m, with a facile KZN Guineas victory over the mile sandwiched in-between. He possesses that all important smart turn-of-foot that winning the July is often about, demonstrating that last time out when coming from well off the pace while racing wide to get to the front in a matter of moments. A big run is expected and Snaith will be hoping to go one better than his runner up finish with Run For It twelve months ago.

Topping the betting at around 9/2, at the time of writing, is the triple crown winner Louis The King, who will aim to expand on a remarkable career that has seen him earn over R3.5 million for his connections in just 8 starts. Out of unfashionable sire Black Minnaloushe, who has produced some good sorts in the past that have cost very little at the sales, Louis The King is a gutsy type and showed in the SA Derby over 2450m that there's no concerns over his ability to see out the trip. He looked a touch undercooked on his provincial debut in the Daily News 2000 when being out of his ground early on, before finishing with a rattle for a 1.3L third behind Legislate, but he did have a tough campaign on the highveld and may have been given a little bit of time to freshen up before the race. He ran the fastest 400m to finish time that day and trainer Geoff Woodruff has commented that he's looked very well in the last week and like Snaith, he too expects a huge run from his stable star.

From the same yard comes the lightly raced Rakes Chestnut, who's been the subject of waves of betting support since his cracking run in the Daily News behind Legislate, when he flew up for a narrow second in his debut in graded company. His merit rating was hiked up from 90 to 109 on that run and the general feeling was that had it not been for some crucial traffic problems encountered 200m out, he would surely have overhauled Legislate. It was a stunning way to announce his credentials as a serious contender in this years July and some shrewd punters are surely sitting on some tasty looking ante-post tickets. Anton Marcus keeps the ride and is looking for a record 5th July success, which would come 21 years after his first win back in 1993 on Dancing Duel.

Another trainer with a pair of promising three year olds is Brett Crawford, who suffered disappointment in this race 2 years ago when warm favourite Jackson was unable to live up to expectations. This time around he has the highly rated Futura, who's generally around a 7/1 fourth favourite, and the Captain Al colt Captain America, who's near double the price at around 12/1 to 14/1. The latter was quicker to make his mark in racing circles when starting his career a couple months earlier, picking up a big cheque in the Ready to Run stakes at Kenilworth in just his fifth start. He then stepped up to the 3yr old feature races and performed admirably with a a pair of runner-up finishes in both the Cape Guineas and Cape Derby, although he was a beaten favourite on both occasions. Captain America's two runs in KZN haven't quite had the sparkle from his earlier career form and he lacked a strong kick when needed most up the short Greyville straight. Concerns over his keenness when racing will make many look to his stablemate more so, however at 14/1 he'll have plenty supporters, especially given he was the early July favourite a few months back.

Stablemate Futura has the joint lowest Merit Rating of the male horses in the field and was the last runner to make the final 16, however his current price of around 7/1 gives evidence that the stable and punters alike are expecting a big showing from the son of Dynasty, who won the July back in 2003. Futura has shot up the ratings thanks to some eye-catching performances on his way to winning his first two starts in KZN, including when showing a devastating change-of-gears to take the Betting World 1900 consolation race in May. He was expected to follow up with victory in the Cup Trial but was found out by a slowly run race and finished a disappointing third, which almost cost him the chance to appear in the July. But he's here and stable-jockey Glenn Hatt has chosen the ride over Captain America, which could be an indication of where the stable expect their biggest chance of the win to come from. A plum draw, light mass and bags of scope for improvement make him a huge runner.

The last of the 3 year olds is one of the females in the race, the beautifully bred Jet Master filly In The Fast Lane, a second runner in the race for Justin Snaith and around 12/1 in the betting market. She flew through the divisions in style as an early 3 year old and took the GR1 Cape Fillies Guineas in emphatic fashion back in December, before showing up well amongst older horses when running on strongly for second behind the brilliant Beach Beauty in the in Paddock Stakes in Queens Plate day. Her next outing in the Majorca Stakes was a completely out-of-sorts display and is the first time In The Fast Lane has ever finished out the money, but she's since showed her well-being with two excellent efforts at Greyville, her last run being an ideal prep when taking the Grade 1 Woolavington over the 2000m. Only Snaith will know how close she is to the boys on a line through their work at home with Legislate, but three year old fillies have popped up in the July before, with Do You Remember grabbing a a surprise third last year. The 12/1 odds for In The Fast Lane suggest bookies won't be making the same mistake of underestimating the Grade one form of the fillies.

Girl power?

Aside from In The Fast Lane, the fairer sex are represented by three other runners in the race, the most fancied of these being the de Kock trained Espumanti, who's currently around a 5th favourite at 10/1. Having been born sired in the northern hemisphere she's a lot younger than other 4 year olds, but she's really picked up her game this second half of the season and it's quite obvious Espumanti has now caught up to her counterparts, after going through a poor patch over the summer. She did impress as a three year old and has shown real versatility with wins from 1160m thru to the mile, before landing one of the big qualifying races for the July, The Betting World 1900, under a smart ride from Anthony Delpech, who was impressed in the post-race interview with how this filly has strengthened up. Winning the July with a female horse is old-rope for Mike de Kock, having done so with Ipi Tombe and more recently Igugu, and with a perfect inside draw and a liking for the course, it would be little surprise to see de Kock train his fifth Durban July winner.

Last season Cherry On The Top looked unstoppable at one point and looked firmly on course for a big run at the Durban July, before she flopped in her first run away from Turffontein when only finishing fourth when odds on for the Woolavington. Her trainer Ormond Ferraris subsequently gave her a 4 month break and she just didn't retain the sparkle of her previous form in three runs amongst Grade 1 and Grade 2 company, before being given another spell on the sidelines. Her displays the last couple months have been more encouraging, getting the better of Espumanti over 2000m in April, and how meets her on 1kg better terms. It was the her next and final run which does leave me scratching my head a bit, where she had to be worked on a bit before staying on for third behind Kilua Castle. I expected her to win the day and will well, but she looked a touch undercooked and may have needed the run. Ferraris is a master at getting his horses right for the big races so it's would be prudent to expect some significant improvement from Cherry On The Top on that last effort, although the wide draw is a concern. I do have a soft spot for her this weekend as she has been my main ante-post bet for the July and am hopeful she can find her best form.

The final filly in the race is the Glen Kotzen trained Jet Belle, who's the big outsider in the race at around 66/1. She has shown some form in graded company, notably when a fast finishing third in the last seasons Woolavington at Greyville, but there still looks to be question marks around her stamina and ability in this sort of class. A handy galloping weight does give her some sort of chance, but being drawn in the sticks counters that and it would be a shock to see her finish in the money.

Four love nor money?

The male four year old contingent is made up of the quartet Capetown Noir, King of Pain, Tellina & Wylie Hall, and although four year olds have the most wins in the history of the July at 43, they've only won 35% of the last 20 years versus the 55% of wins that have gone to three year olds in the same period. However Heavy Metal proved it could be done when winning 12 months ago and the respective trainers will have their charges spot on for Saturday. Capetown Noir is the most fancied in the betting at around 14/1, and his trainer Dean Kannemeyer will be hoping his colt will find his best form in blinkers for the first time. The headgear has been called for after a below par effort last time out, and there's still some lingering concerns over his stamina, although his trainer feels he's got the trip in him. His form over the mile is bullet-proof and he should have won the Grade 1 Horse Chestnut at Turffontein in March when suffering interference at a crucial stage. His last two runs did have a 'prep' feel about them and he's another in the field with a smart turn of foot, although like last year he's been unlucky in the draw and will jump from stall 15.

King of Pain won the Rising Sun Challenge in June to cement his place in the field, but it was a race run at no pace whatsoever and it's questionable how that result will stand up over the next few outings. But he's certainly got class and has won back-to-back races since being fitted with the blinkers. He does carry top weight and also races around the right-hand-turn for the first time, both factors that for me throw up some big question marks, although if there's no pace on King of Pain could be one of the outsiders to take advantage.

Geoff Woodruff's third runner in the race is the Silvano colt Tellina, who at one point was fancied for the Durban July last year when taking the Gauteng Guineas, but he put in a very poor run in the Daily News 2000 and was given some time off the track thereafter. Returning to his favourite Turffontein track he's shown consistent form with a win and a number of placed efforts in graded company, although his final prep race was a worryingly lacklustre display. His sire Silvano had a 4 year old winner last year with Heavy Metal which is a good omen, but Tellina does look unsuited to the track and is another who would be a surprise to see him troubling the judge.

Wylie Hall represents the Weiho Mawing yard and was 10th in the race last year, coming back for another crack this time around as a four year old. He has shown a liking for the track before when flying for a 0.25L fourth in the 2013 Daily News 2000, and he should perhaps been closer last time out in the Champion Challenge when eased at the 350m mark before running on for fourth. Oddly that was his last outing and is the one runner in the field who comes into the contest with no real prep race. Wylie Hall has won returning from a break in the past but that was in a pinnacle stakes race, and the Durban July is simply another ball-game. He's a gutsy sort and I wouldn't completely rule him out, but does need to produce a massive career best effort to trouble those higher up in the betting.

Older but wiser?

The final few runners of the field to run through are those who've got experience in their side, being 5 years old or above. Sean Tarry is going for a third July in a row and obviously deserves the utmost respect, and his two runners are Halve The Deficit and Whiteline Fever. The former looks like the possible dark-horse in the race, not just because of Tarry's recent record in the big one, but due to his excellent form this season and the added bonus of having Pierre Strydom on board, who's sure to get the most out of the son of Right Approach. Halve The Deficit has won 3 of his last 6 starts and placed in the other 3, and Tarry sent him down for some experience at Greyville when he finished 2.3L third behind Espumanti in the Betting World 1900. He was pipped in his final prep by Kilua Castle in the Jubilee Handicap last month, and it's worth noting that Heavy Metal was runner up in the same race before going on to win the July last year, so clearly Tarry likes this route to this weekend's race.

From the same yard comes the talented but sometimes inconsistent Whiteline Fever, who with 34 runs under his belt is the most experienced campaigner in the field. It's his third shot at the July and he finished 8th in 2012 behind Pomodoro when just 2.75L back, and 6th last year. He's since shown some excellent form here and there but always over much shorter trips, and he remains once who just seems to lack a finish in the final 200m. His run in the J&B Met was promising when staying on well for 4th, but at a third time of asking he doesn't look a likely winner here, but with Tarry's form and 2013 winning jockey S'manga Khumalo in the irons, he'll still have his supporters on the day.

Last but not least is the Stan Elley trained Punta Arenas, who is bidding to become the first 6 year old since 1980 to win the July. He was a well-beaten 12th in 2013, despite being the subject of decent betting support on the day when backed in from 45/1 into 18/1. Punta Arenas hasn't won since April 2013, which must be of concern to his chances, but has performed more than adequately in Graded company this season, with his Met third place finish a stand-out effort. He does tend to do his best work late these days and reportedly looked in excellent condition at the recent gallops, but with a wide draw to contend with he does need a few things to go his way on Saturday to be a contender.

SUMMARY & SELECTIONS

With no clear firm favourite and a field blessed with some talent across both age and gender, this year's Durban July looks to be one of the most competitive in many seasons and most of the field have some sort of winning claims. But as always we need to narrow down the field for selection purposes and my opinion is that the winner will come from the following 4 -

Louis The King
Cherry On The Top
Capetown Noir
Legislate

I have two 3 year olds in my short-list, with both Legislate and Louis The King at the top of the betting, while I have a gut feel that Cherry On The Top will make a bold bid and will be the best of the fillies, while my final selection Capetown Noir is from a stable I respect massively when it comes to the July and I have to include him in my top 4.

I'll be placing my staking plan around the above four runners, but for the win I'm going to go with Cherry On The Top and Capetown Noir as my headline selections.

BET: Cherry On The Top win @ 25/1, Capetown Noir @ 14/1 (prices generally available at time of writing)

Friday, 4 July 2014

Vicbred Super Series preview - Saturday

Vicbred Super Series Finals preview Saturday July 5
by Trent Orwin, @themightytrent3


Race 2 – EMPIRE STALLIONS VICBRED SUPER SERIES (2YO COLTS & GELDINGS) FINAL (Group 1) (2240m)

This is a really tough race to decipher. I am not the greatest fan of betting on two-year-olds as they are still learning the caper.

Ricimer ($5.50) should have enough gate speed to hold out Captain Bronzie ($61.00) and Waves Of Fire ($5.00) early on. Waves Of Fire and Feeling Arty ($17.00) are most likely to be looking for the front and it will be interesting to see whether the lead is on offer.

Show Me The Bling ($3.10) looks extremely talented and may be the horse that has to face the breeze once again. The ever consistent Wemen Sporty ($21.00) continues to finish in the placings from wide-front row draws and he is a chance once again to fill a top 3 placing.

Iceobar ($3.40) is too good to ignore despite the poor draw, while Morior Invictus ($13.00) and Virgil Hilts ($15.00) are both last start victors.

In an open race, I have settled on Feeling Arty each-way in the hope it can either find the lead or settle handy. Wemen Sporty is the other I would also consider on an each-way basis.

Tips:
1. Ricimer (#1), 2. Show Me The Bling (#7), 3. Feeling Arty (#4), 4. Waves Of Fire (#5)
Suggested Bet:
Feeling Arty each-way – 30% stake win, 70% stake place

Race 4 – EMPIRE STALLIONS VICBRED SUPER SERIES (3YO COLTS & GELDINGS) FINAL (Group 1) (2240m)

Messini was a runner up in the two-year-old final behind Major Secret last year and will be looking to go one better this time around. The New Zealand import with his distinctive head down pacing style had been racing against New Zealand’s elite three-year-olds in the likes of Locharburn, Our Sky Major and Tiger Tara a few months ago.

Messini ($2.50) looks the likely breeze horse in the race with Smokey Quartz ($15.00), Major Crocker ($7.00) and Business In Motion ($21.00) all likely to fly the gate in their bid to find the lead.

Smokey Quartz led in the 2nd semi-final of this series and knocked up late. If he finds the pegs first, he will most likely hand up to Major Crocker not long after.

There are only a couple of winning chances in my mind and they are Major Crocker, Messini, Young Modern and Hectorjayjay ($3.20). I would have been keen on Hectorjayjay if he had drawn a front-row draw and looked the leader in the event. From the car park draw, I still rate him as a winning chance, but the $3.20 is not the price I would be hoping as he is going to have to do his fair share of work.

For wider exotics, include Jedi Mind ($18.00), Smokey Quartz, Business In Motion, Bryce Cooper ($26.00) and Epaulette ($12.00).

Tips:
1. Messini (#7), 2. Hectorjayjay (#13), 3. Major Crocker (#5), 4. Young Modern (#3)
Suggested Bet:
Trifecta: 7,13/3,5,7,13/3,4,5,6,7,9,11,13 $36 for 100%

Race 5 – EMPIRE STALLIONS VICBRED SUPER SERIES (4YO MARES) FINAL (Group 1) (2240m)

Im Smouldering has a terrific record across the Vicbred Super Series for trainer John Yeomans. She was the victor in the three-year-old final when cruising to score by 10 metres. A year prior, in the two-year-old final, she was beaten 2 metres by Our Femme Fatale.

There isn’t a great deal of speed off the front line here. Mcrita ($9.00) should have enough speed early on to decide which rival to take a sit on. Courageousnquick ($3.80) should be the first mare to challenge Mcrita for the lead and will most likely glide on by to find the top.

Gavin Lang will be looking to find the top himself and might ask the question of either Courageousnquick or Mcrita (whichever mare is leading at this stage). Hopefully the lead isn’t up for grabs for Im Smouldering ($2.00) who will be much too powerful if she were to be gifted the lead.

Sophies Ideal ($8.00) has drawn perfectly in barrier 2 to be within striking distance throughout and Nathan Jack will be hoping that Im Smouldering does sit outside of Courageousnquick. He should be camped one-one or one-two and from there will attempt to gun down the leaders in the concluding stages of the straight. I don’t think there will be too much pace on and her task will be very difficult if they do go along at only a moderate tempo.

The best of the rest are Brite Spark Lombo ($10.00), Union Belle ($16.00), Here And Now ($26.00) and Pressplay ($15.00). These can be included in exotics.

While I have tipped Im Smouldering on top, $2.00 looks a little short and I am willing to back Courageousnquick who appears to be at her right price and Sophies Ideal who is slightly better than the price I rated her.

Tips:
1. Im Smouldering (#6), 2. Courageousnquick (#5), 3. Sophies Ideal (#2), 4. Mcrita (#1)
Suggested Bets:
Courageousnquick (70% stake) & Sophies Ideal (30% stake) to win.

Race 6 – EMPIRE STALLIONS VICBRED SUPER SERIES (3YO FILLIES) FINAL (Group 1) (2240m)

Distant Memory defeated Mindarie Priddy by a half-head in the two-year-old final last year.

Mindarie Priddy ($2.40) will be looking to make amends for trainer-driver David Miles this time around and has drawn more favourably in comparison to her main rivals.

Beginning from barrier 5, she will be pushing forward at the start in a bid to relinquish the lead from either Kiss Kenny ($61.00) or Tallulah Bay ($35.00) as they will be looking to find the pegs first and get a favourable leaders back run in transit.

Mindarie Priddy has an excellent record of 17 starts for 11 wins and 4 seconds. It would be a surprise not to see her run in the top 3 and rates as the one to beat.

She is not over the line though and her main danger will come in the form of the Dick Eaves-trained Barynya ($3.20), who will follow out Kiss Kenny and should find a forward position in the moving line from the start.

Quick Draft ($11.00) will need to restrain from her inside second row draw and may look to work around the field to find the breeze, with My Bella Starr ($8.50) or Berisari ($4.40) the other likely candidates to find the breeze.

Rounding out the hopefuls of claiming Group 1 glory is Bettor Downunder ($15.00). Forget the rest as they will be going around for the $1,100 pay cheque for running 6th-12th.

There should be a few moves during the race and there really are a number of winning chances. If Mindarie Priddy is back at her best from the lead, then it is her race to lose and Bettor Downunder looks over the odds to me.

Tips:
1. Mindarie Priddy (#5), 2. Barynya (#9), 3. Berisari (#11), 4. Bettor Downunder (#10)
Suggested Bets:
Mindarie Priddy (85% stake) & Bettor Downunder (15% stake) to win.

Race 7 – MELTON CITY COUNCIL SPRINT (1720m)

This race looks to be another of the highlights on the card as eleven-year-old Smoken Up returns after a six week freshen up. He is one of the greatest pacers of the past decade and it would be no surprise to once again see public support for this champion. His task will be very difficult from the car park draw, but you can never write off this grand campaigner.

The scratching of Amajorjo pretty much ensures that the Lance Justice-trained Im Barney Rubble will be leading this event initially before taking a sit on a more suitable rival. The most likely scenario is that Keayang Cullen will find the top though with Im Barney Rubble behind him. Cold Major should be 3 back along the pegs with Inky Cullen sitting 4 back.

Lance Justice will be on the move early with Smoken Up as he will get up outside of Keayang Cullen. He has won just 1 of his last 5 and is a shadow of his former self. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Smoken Up open at around the $3 mark. I am happy to be wrong on this, but he is closer to a $7 chance then a $3 chance in my mind.

Glen Craven will pilot the Margaret Lee-trained Keayang Cullen who should and will most likely be the race favourite in this event. You would need to see around $2.50 or better to be backing him though.

Scott Stewart trains and drives the one-trick Bitobliss who will be hoping that Smoken Up puts the pressure on to Keayang Cullen. He has a devastating turn of foot and if they go hard enough early, he will be the horse flying down the straight late. Anything around the $4.00 mark looks about the right price for this horse.

David Aiken’s duo of Wartime Sweetheart and Cold Major are capable of providing a knockout blow if things don’t pan out for their more favoured rivals, along with Teo Enteo.

Lovable Larrikin, Catch Your Breath, Im Barney Rubble and Inky Cullen will find this too difficult.

Tips:
1. Keayang Cullen (#7), 2. Bitobliss (#10), 3. Smoken Up (#11), 4. Cold Major (#8)
Suggested Bets:
Keayang Cullen at $2.50+ and Bitobliss at $4.00+.

Race 8 – EMPIRE STALLIONS VICBRED SUPER SERIES (4YO ENTIRES & GELDINGS) FINAL (Group 1) (2240m)

Two future Grand Circuit stars clash with the David Aiken-trained Lennytheshark set to battle the Emma Stewart-trained Guaranteed, who is looking to make it a clean sweep of the Vicbred Super Series after claiming both of the finals as a two and three-year-old. On both occasions, Guaranteed was able to defeat New Zealand star Border Control by a half-head and half-neck respectively.

Lennytheshark ($1.45) will be able to amble to the lead in the early stages of the event and from there he will take a stack of beating. The one and only danger to his quest for more Group 1 glory will be Guaranteed ($2.75) who will be given time to settle into stride before working around the field to sit parked. From there, expect Guaranteed to be applying the pressure in a bid to wear down his more favoured rival.

These two should be able to put a space on the remainder of the field into the home straight, with Ginger Bliss ($15.00) the only other horse that comes close to this pair in terms of class and ability.

This speedy beginner drew the worst barrier possible during the week and his only chance of claiming victory appeared to be from him drawn the front row. With that out of the question for the John Nicholson-trained chestnut gelding, he will have to restrain at the start and hope that the two favourites beat up on one another just enough, for him to fly late in a bid to claim the Group 1 trophy for himself.

The best of the rest look to be Boyz Torque ($101.00), Valley Of Diamonds ($41.00), Hes Kinky ($41.00) and Smart Major ($71.00) for those looking to play exotics.

Tips:
1. Lennytheshark (#4), 2. Guaranteed (#9), 3. Ginger Bliss (#8), 4. Boyz Torque (#1)
Suggested Bet:
Quinella: Lennytheshark & Guaranteed.

Race 9 – EMPIRE STALLIONS VICBRED SUPER SERIES (2YO FILLIES) FINAL (Group 1) (2240m)

The Kari Males-trained Niki No No was huge in the 1st semi-final of this series. She looked like a sit-sprint filly but proved that wrong when working hard out three-wide for the first 600 metres in a fast 44.3 second lead time (faster lead time than most of the three and four year old semi-finals on the night). She then had to breeze for the remainder of the event and proved too strong as she held out the Gary Quinlan-trained Yankee Showgirl.

Niki No No ($3.00) has won 3 of her 5 career starts to date. Both defeats have had some excuse as she was held up early in the straight when suffering a flat tyre and flying home for 5th behind Lovelist, while on the other occasion she had to give Viva Safari a head start in a very slow 2:06.1 mile rate, where the first half was in 67.1 seconds. Yankee Showgirl ($9.00) has been beaten a combined 3 metres in her 2 career starts and looks a great chance at odds with Chris Alford in the sulky.

Lovelist ($3.00) was beaten as a $1.20 favourite when she led in the 2nd semi-final. From barrier 12, I am not prepared to forgive her and I am happy to watch her go around despite her evident talent, even with the all-conquering combination of Emma Stewart and Gavin Lang.

Outside of these three, Miss Condoleezza ($21.00), Our Star Dust ($35.00), Missed By Red ($21.00) and Diamond Castle ($3.80) appeal.

Our Star Dust in particular, looks the best place roughie for the card at $7.47 and I am more than happy to have Rebecca Bartley in the sulky.

Tips:
1. Niki No No (#3), 2. Yankee Showgirl (#10), 3. Lovelist (#12), 4. Our Star Dust (#4)
Suggested Bets:
Niki No No (60% stake win) & Yankee Showgirl (20% stake) to win
Our Star Dust to place (20% stake)

Tour de France preview

Wheeliebets Yellow Jersey preview

Bismarck Froome & Contador, look elsewhere for Maillot Jaune
Posted here JUN 30, sent to subscribers earlier.
Posted by Bryan Geary, @wheelie1977


This time 12 months ago no one would have considered backing against Chris Froome for the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France even though he had but the bare Grand Tour experience. After a Spring and early Summer campaign which netted wins in Oman, Criterium International, Romandie and finally Criterium du Dauphine, few were surprised at his odds-on tag one week before the Tour start. His backers had an armchair ride from the first real mountain test to Ax 3 Domaines, putting 1 minute 45 into Contador and Quintana with ease, the platform provided for a runaway opening two weeks. Some may have been concerned how he seemed to wilt in the final week as Quintana proved the star climber but with so much in hand, his victory was never really in doubt.

One year on and Froome has questions to answer. Patchy early season form did not deny him a resounding win in Oman but when Contador, Rodriguez and Van Garderen put it to him in Catalunya there were visible difficulties explained away by a back-ache. Some measure of form was noticeable in Romandie where a final time trial win was enough for a GC win but again in the harder Dauphine a crash torpedoed his GC aspirations having failed to dislodge a dogged Contador on the earlier climbing stages.

Froome’s performance after his crash has been put to the side while the TUE issue took centre stage yet and you can point to the fact that he was leading the race having beaten Contador when it mattered. The marked difference to the previous year was the improvement of Contador but the inability to sustain that pace when the opening devastating effort wasn’t enough and others were let off the hook, allowing riders so far beneath his 2013 form like Talansky, Vandenbroeck and a Kelderman, just finished a Giro, stay with him. Visually fantastic spinning crazy gears for 30 seconds but in a 3 week Tour, has he got a full training winter behind him with adequate racing for the difficult final climbing week in the Pyrenees?

For me, the most surprising aspect is the fact he sits a shade above his 2013 mark at Even money (Ladbrokes) in spite of all evidence to others form and his own failures, not to mind the withdrawals from some of the early season targets like Liege Bastogne Liege. Two Pyrenean stages in Week 3 as well as a time trial on the penultimate day make for a finale that might prove a little beyond him, certainly as an Even money shout, looking at how he found Quintana too hot to handle in 2013, backing him at that price woulde seem nonsensical. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a back to back winner of Le Tour; you have to go back to Contador’s 2009/2010 to find the last double up, the 2010 version expunged because of the Spaniard’s doping infraction.

So if not Froome, then who else ?

You could go straight to Alberto Contador and make a case for him. He’s won it before, he’s back in form, matched Froome, won Tirreno, Basque Country, should have won the Dauphine, has a far stronger team than before, (Hernandez, Roche, Rogers are all good domestiques), he looks hungry and his time trialling, the key performance indicator, is back to a competitive level. I nominated him at 18/1 in January speculatively but his current price is very uncompetitive for me to nominate now bearing in mind he’s now down one lieutenant in Romain Kreuziger.

Vincenzo Nibali must be looked at very seriously. It would be unwise to use his performance in the 2012 Tour de France as the only benchmark for this year’s Tour. Nibali lost 3 minutes 54 seconds in time trials to Chris Froome, a year in which Froome was immense; only actually finishing 2 minutes 58 behind Froome overall. This despite his sole efforts alone in the mountains being countered daily by the incredible SKY train, you would have to take it that Nibali was fantastic taking the fight to SKY. It needs to be remembered how bad he was in the Dauphine in the lead up to that 2013 Tour – you wouldn’t say he was that far off form this time around and since 2012 he’s won a Giro and podiumed in a Vuelta. I am almost certain the Pyrennees will suit him to a tee and his final week record is quite good.

Of the trio out top of the market, Nibali makes all the appeal at 12/1 with BET Victor

UPDATE : VINCENZO NIBALI WINS ITALIAN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

TJ Van Garderen was my tip last year. Following injury in Romandie he was only finding his feet in the Dauphine and was down the field in 13th but I was really happy with that effort. I would have been shocked if he was back to his best so soon after recovery from a hairline fractured hip. Go back to earlier in the year and he was on a par with the best climbers, outperforming everyone bar Froome in Oman and following up with even better form in Catalunya with a fine stage win at altitude ahead of Contador, Froome and co.

Why is he so far down the favourite list again? It is probably fear arising out of how his Tour unravelled when favoured last year, looking a shadow of himself in some of the stages and only briefly offering us glimpses of his brilliance in heartbreaking fashion on Alpe d’Huez. I think he is the real deal, I’m certain he’s good enough and am willing him to a podium place at the expense of some of those more favoured.

Of the outsiders, he stands out at 66/1 with BET Victor & Paddy Power and touches of 75s on BETFAIR.

Advice

1pt e/w Vincenzo Nibali @ 12/1 BET Victor
1pt e/w Tejay Van Garderen @ 66/1 BET Victor
The Outsiders to consider

Alejandro Valverde – His record in the Tour is 3 stage wins and a 6th place GC finish is his highlight. Easy to pass over despite his early season form

Chris Horner – How he managed to win the Vuelta is anyone’s guess but it’s dangerous to assume he’s passed it. The cobbles might tell their story about him.

Bauke Mollema – Was going so well until he cracked (through illness) in the final week – can see the exact same being repeated

Andrew Talansky – The Dauphine was won more by good one-day tactics than star quality and unfortunately he may just not have the touch (yet)

David Navarro – A gutsy climber and can potentially make Top 10 again if others are off form but he’s way behind what’s required for a top finish.

Richie Porte – Annus Horribilis to date ; is he a Plan B - there’s always one poor day in him but he’s good enough if consistent

Jurgen Vandenbroeck – Consistent but unlucky. He has what it takes for Top 6

Rui Costa – He looked a little chunky in Switzerland for a 3 week attempt as team leader. Maybe Top 10 is goal and stage win

Joaquin Rodriguez – Always a danger. If he gets through week 1 and 2, he’s a live contender in Week 3

Thibaut Pinot – What goes up must come down unless you’re Thibaut who would hail a taxi rather than cycle down the descents of the Alps. If he’s scared there, he’ll be petrified by Week 3 in the Pyrenees

Romain Bardet – Improving and a fantastic prospect but maybe just a little short of podium class. Looking at the Young Rider comp for him against Kwiatkowski

Simon Spilak – Everyone says he’s not Tour class. I think he is but must get over the inconsistency on the very hot days in July

Michal Kwiatkowski – He’s just brilliant and now we’ll see how brilliant he is. He can make Top 10 and probably will win Best Young Rider

Mikel Nieve – SKY’s trump card in the mountains – if only he could time trial. Where Porte will fail, Nieve will still be there. SKY sees something in him other than a domestique, I’m certain

Pierre Rolland – the Giro was tough and he’s unraced since. He’ll make a tilt for the Polka Dots but as mentioned yesterday, that’s tough too.

Leo Konig – good, but out of his depth here

Coral Eclipse preview

Coral Eclipse preview
by Chris Day, @chrisday100


The Coral Eclipse Stakes, run over 10 furlongs at Sandown in early July is undeniably one of the Premier Group 1 races in the calendar and this year’s renewal, the 40th in total, promises to be as good as any to have gone before.

My personal favourite was Muis Morris driving Mtoto down the outside to beat Steve Cauthen on that year’s Derby winner, Slip Anchor in 1987 but Giants Causeway’s never say die effort to deny Kalanisi in 2000 will take come beating from the point of view of class and guts in a thoroughbred race horse.

Anyway, on to Saturday’s renewal and, at this stage, the potential ground conditions are as big a conundrum as finding the winner itself. As usual, this is the first opportunity at Grade 1 level for the classic generation to take on their elders at middle distances and the 11lb they receive from their elders, 8lb from fillies, is a generous incentive for trainers to pitch their best 3 year olds into battle, which fortunately Richard Hannon and Roger Varian have taken up with a Guineas winner and Derby second respectively.

Hannon runs Night Of Thunder, who finished like a train, if a little erratically to win the first colts’ classic at Newmarket, in doing so beating subsequent Irish Guineas and St James Palace winner, Kingsman, who reversed form in no uncertain terms at Ascot, and Derby winner, Australia. In anyone’s book that form is top class and most Guineas winners stay well, a requirement for a stiff mile in the May of their 3 year old career. If anything I think Fallon’s style suits him better but Hughes is no negative and he’ll be right there in the last 100 yards when his 3 year old allowance could prove crucial.

Similar comments apply to Varian’s Kingston Hill, who won over a mile on soft ground as a 2 year old in the Racing Post Trophy and was clear 2nd best to Australia at Epsom on ground he’d have found lively enough. He has no stamina doubts and is another who must run really well with the stiff uphill finish also likely to suit. If Australia is as good as they say, his Derby run was huge and, as they were keen to take on the winner again in Ireland if the ground had ridden softer, you have to think they believe he’s a top class 3 year old.

Favourite for the race is Gosden’s star filly, The Fugue, who was stunningly impressive in The Prince Of Wales at Ascot and probably ought to have more Group 1s to her name, having been an unlucky in running second to Magician in The Breeders’ Cup Turf and then going on to fill the same place in The Hong Kong Vase. There is a suspicion that Treve didn’t run up to her best at Ascot but the form as it stands entitles her to be favourite and she is a thorough stayer having won last year’s Yorkshire Oaks impressively. The one blot on her copybook is that she finished 7th of 7 in last year’s edition but possibly wasn’t in the same form as this season and must be right there.

Verrazano follows a path of previous O’Brien winners of this race, starting off in The Lockinge then running well over a mile at Ascot and his American form and grinding style mean Ryan Moore should be the ideal partner for him on Saturday.

Of the others, War Command stayed on well in The St James Palace but may be a few lbs below the best, True Story looked great at Newmarket but recent displays at York and Epsom have cast doubts over his ability at this level and Mukhadram seems to regularly run well in the grade without quite having enough at the business end.

The one who may have some juice in his price from a betting point is Trading Leather, who followed his Irish Derby success with a second in The King George and International at York in his 3 year old season. First time up this season, in The Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket, he was heavily backed into 4-6 but pulled hard and possibly didn’t get the best of rides and the market may have over reacted by offering him at 20-1, tempting for us each way thieves. Simply put, he’s just behind the best of these, but could easily reach a place in a race which should suit his grinding never say die style.

Summary

I couldn’t really be dogmatic about my choice of winner here but, if pushed, would take Night of Thunder on quick ground and Kingston Hill on good or slower although there could easily be four horses within half a length running towards the line, and courage could be the deciding factor.

Vicbred Super Series preview - Friday

Vicbred Super Series Finals preview Friday July 4
by @thepunter80

Race 2: 2yo trotting colts and geldings
A no bet race for me but should be a good clash between two top quality juvenile trotters here. Eljaykay Phoenix and Illawong Armstrong have both been super impressive in their short careers to date. The barrier draw has advantaged Eljaykay Phoenix so that probably makes it the top pick, but I don’t really have an opinion either way as to which one is the better horse. Neither of them are foolproof, so don’t look enticing betting propositions to me. Black Valley is still a maiden after eight starts but has been racing really well and will be thereabouts at the finish. Fabrication has only had two starts but has good gate speed and could put itself into the race early.

Race 3: 3yo trotting colts and geldings
A more open race here, but the favourite Spidergrace is still probably the horse to beat. Has got good gate speed and looks the likely leader, but I don’t want to be taking the short odds with Laura Crossland on board. Imamenace has only had one start, but ran a ripping race and looks to have plenty of ability. He lacks experience and will need a soft run, but could be very dangerous at big odds if things go his way. Savannah Jay Jay also ran a super race at its first start in the same race as Imamenace and then backed that up with another excellent performance behind Spidergrace. He also has a good chance at odds. Tiavons Dream has the ability to win and can improve on its first up run for the Lang stable. Asdenro, Guiltless and Drunken Maniac can all be competitive.

Race 4: 4yo trotting mares
From a punting perspective this is a complete non-event. Spidergirl is a top class trotting mare who should win this by a big space at prohibitive odds.

Race 5: 4yo trotting entires and geldings
To me, this is the most interesting race of the night. Six months ago Blitzthemcalder was being heralded as the next big thing in trotting, but things have changed recently. He has had three runs back from a spell for a new trainer and although winning the first two, proved very little. Last start he did plenty of work in the run and never looked likely to be prominent in the finish. He doesn’t possess much gate speed so he won’t be in front and probably can’t do too much work in the run so his best chance of winning might be to be driven cold. His best would win the race easily, but on his recent form he would struggle to win. I don’t really know what to make of him. The Boss Man struggled last start after sitting outside Blitzthemcalder, but his previous form was excellent and he might be the leader here, although Lance on Invasive might also want to charge across and try to find the front. Vincennes was given no possible chance to win as an odds-on favourite last start, but it’s previous second to Blitzthemcalder was excellent, and she could win this with the right run in transit. Glenferrie Dreamer, Lord Liam, Steal A Sixpence and to a lesser extent Invasive, Bellmac Kody and Basil Knight can all be competitive, but are probably not good enough to win. Should be a really good race.

Race 6: 3yo trotting fillies
Claudy’s Princess is a top class filly who has won her last eight starts for part owners @joshblackmarket and @spiderh2311 and will again go around as an odds-on favourite here. However, I think that she might have to produce a career best to win this. I can see Illawong Helios handing up the front to Illawong Moonshine and then getting the cosy run behind the leader. Claudy’s Princess will probably need to do some work in the run at some stage, whether going forward to the death early, or going back at the start and then coming three wide in the last lap. If this scenario unfolds and Illawong Helios gets the run at the right time I think she might be the winner. Four Lillies won impressively last start and could also be competitive with the right run in transit.

Race 7: 2yo trotting fillies
This is the race that I am most keen to bet in. Hard Done By is only a one-paced battler but gets a massive driving change here. Gavin Lang takes over the reins from hobby trainer/driver Tom O’Shea and I can see this horse improving big time. Currently $18 with Tab which seems a good price to me. Hush Your Majesty galloped at the start in its heat and made up a lot of ground to finish third. Currently $26 with Tattsbet which seems big overs to me. All The Way Mae made up good late ground from back in the field in a slowly run race in its heat, and could be a rough chance at massive odds. The favourite Endsino has got a good chance, but I don’t want to be on it at the current price. Donski won well at its first start and has also got a chance here.

Best value bets:
Race 3 no 8 Imamenace
Race 7 no 10 Hard Done By ($18 Tab)
Race 7 no 11 Hush Your Majesty ($26 Tattsbet)


Sir John Monash Stakes preview

Sir John Monash Stakes preview
By Mitch Fenton

Website
Twitter: @weekndkngracing
Facebook: /weekendking

Group racing action returns to Melbourne town on Saturday with the running of the Group 3 Sir John Monash Stakes, over 1100m at Caulfield under weight for age conditions.

It's typically not a hotly contested race, by Group 3 standard, with most horses either in form 'winter warriors' stepping up for a crack at stakes grade or 'B & C grade' sprinters kicking off early to try and pinch a nice cheque before the real stars return to action.

This year's race fits a similar bill, with a field of just nine accepting to contest the 'time-honoured' Caulfield Sprint.

The short-priced early favourite for the race is three year old Danerich colt, LORD OF THE SKY, trained by Robbie Laing at Cranbourne. And straight from the off I'm willing to say the fact this three year old is $2.25 is early markets makes it an attractive betting race, because I simply don't have that high an opinion of the horse.

I've got him pinned down as a one dimensional "speedy squib" who if he doesn't get the favours up on top of the speed, can't win. Maybe I am being too harsh when appraising the horse? But it's certainly not from a 'wallet' perspective.

I went head first into him at $1.50 1st up last prep around this venue, and whilst he won, he was far from impressive beating average opposition.

On the 1st of February he stepped up to Open Listed company in the listed Adams Stakes at Flemington, and against quality opposition was thrashed, never in the race with a hope at any stage.

Last time out he was too slick over the 1000m around Caulfield winning an open handicap & defeating Elite Elle in the process. But there are two knocks on the horse out of that win, both major in my opinion.

It was 1000m - his only try past 1000m was over 1118m on debut at Werribee where he finished 4th in behind some very poor opposition, when viewed from a Gr3 perspective.

He carried a tiny 51.5kg last start with the claim and rises an enormous 7.5kg, whilst rising steeply in grade. In fact the most he's carried in any of his 4 wins has been 55.5kg in a 3yo Bm78 win.

Simply can't have him even though it does look like he maps well out in front. 1100m - no. Up hugely in weight - no. WFA - no. Class - no. $2.25 is crazy and I'll be laying him on Betfair for plenty!

My clear top pick in the race is horse 6. AFRICAN PULSE.

Just look at his 1st up record. Six starts, five wins. He's that good first up I remember the stable having a plonk on him to beat Sepoy fresh, although he was subsequently scratched.....he did still come out and win first up when produced.

His only first up miss was intact last time out, when a very gallant fourth behind Shamal Wind in the Adams.

Here's where I'm at even more of a loss to explain the prices, because as mentioned Lord of the Sky ran in the Adams. He was 13th beaten 7.7L. African Pulse in the same race was fourth beaten 3L. African Pulse beat Lord of the Sky 3.7L that day AND carried 3.5kg more than him.

So under the Winter WFA scale, he meets the short-priced favourite 3kg better at the weights having beaten him nearly 4L at their last clash. Just doesn't add up. Maybe I'm missing something? But it's Africa all the way for me. Very confident he'll run well fresh as per the programme!!

The real and definite danger to African Pulse comes in the form of South Aussie galloper RIZIZ.

He was Group 1 placed two starts back in the Goodwood at Morphettville behind Smokin' Joey who subsequently was nearly the run of the race in a hotly contested Stradbroke Handicap in Brisbane. That form is top grade!

He's won once and placed once from three goes at 1100m so the journey is no problem, nor is the weight fro age scale of the race. His problem MAY well be Caulfield. It's a very very tough track to negate, especially the first time a horse races on it. There's a long run down the side into what is almost a 90 degree corner leading into the straight. The old adage 'got lost around Caulfield' is very easy to understand!

He'll be spotting African Pulse a start and there doesn't look to be too much tempo in the race, but if he can balance up within a length or two of the leaders he can finish all over the top.

The others to make up the nine are;
READY TO RIP- who is a definite chance in the race. By no means hopeless and is in the best barn!
MORANT- Making up the numbers
LE BONSIR- Gr1 placed but struggles around Caulfield, in actual fact, make that struggles away from Moonee Valley.
MR MAKE BELIEVE- Needs it very wet, older, not sure any wiser.
GOOD VALUE- Bit of an unknown but would need to go to another level to get near them
JOHANNAPINE- Has lost any resemblance of form.

I'm keen to play here though!

AFRICAN PULSE straight out.....with a saver on the Exacta RIZIZ / AFRICAN PULSE.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Garrards Sunshine Sprint preview

2014 Garrards Sunshine Sprint preview
by Darren Clayton, Racing Queensland handicapper, @dashman01

As the #qldwinterracing carnival wraps up for the thoroughbreds and greyhounds, it is time for the trotters to take centre stage. Whilst there has been some lead up events heading into this Saturday night, the official Winter Trotting Carnival begins with a two-week window over three successive Saturday nights of action @AlbionParkHRC.

The highlight on Night 1 does not get any bigger than Im Themightyquinn.

As many frequent flyer miles as both Quinny and trainer Gary Hall Snr may have, this is one journey that neither has experienced. With over 1,800 training wins to his name, he is yet to saddle up a race starter in Queensland. Amazingly, son, Gary Hall Jnr has over 1,900 race wins as a driver and only ever had three race drives in Queensland which came last year in an Invitational driver series.

Hall Snr just loves the sport and he has embarked on this journey to showcase his amazing horse to the fans from Queensland. “I love the industry and that is one of the reasons why I am in Brisbane because I want to give people the chance to see him,’’ he said.

So far so good with the exercise from a publicity perspective as well, with his arrival achieving mainstream media coverage, an all too rare occurrence these days for the sport, not only in Queensland but Australia-wide.

Im Themightyquinn had a look at the Albion track on Tuesday in an official trial. A nice casual stroll to stretch the legs after the trip across the Nullabour and familiarise himself with the 1019m oval that is Queensland pacing headquarters, Quinny went with 0.1 sec of the track record.

Pete McMullen, a rising star of the Queensland ranks was handed the opportunity of a lifetime to pilot the great horse in the trial.

“That was the greatest two minutes of my life, or more precisely, the greatest 1:51.9 of my life. To be given an opportunity by Gary and the owners to drive a horse like this is an amazing privilege and honour. That was the greatest thrill I’ve ever experienced.” A rather glowing endorsement for someone who is fast closing in on having driven 1,000 race wins. Closing in on Blacks A Fake record as the highest money earner of all time, Quinny, would appear to have this race at his mercy. However with a tricky barrier to contend with in six and noted speedsters on either side of him, it certainly won’t be presented on a platter to the champion. This is reflected in the betting market, where despite the fact of his imposing career stats, he only holds narrow sway in the market at $2.50.

So back to the race.

The 2014 Garrards Sunshine Sprint has gathered arguably the strongest field in the race’s history. Trying to deny Quinny his first Queensland triumph will be last year’s winner and track record holder Suave Stuey Lombo.

Having drawn the extreme outside of the front line, the task looks difficult from there, although his win last year came from the second row barrier 10. In his favour is his high speed and stamina, as not only is he the Albion Park 1660m track record holder, he also holds the Newcastle 2550m record. He is also only one of three pacers to go inside 1.50 in Australia, when he went 1.49.6 at Menangle just 2 weeks ago.

Stuey’s stablemate, Mach Beauty landed the coveted ace marble at Tuesday’s all important barrier draw. From there, the lead looks to be his. Having led this race last year from barrier 6, having done all the work in setting the tempo, he was only just collared on the line.

Avonnova is unique in many facets. He races free legged (for those unaware that means he does not race in hopples), he has a name that is a palindrome and he was purchased from a claiming race in late 2013. Trainer and part owner Ian Gurney is on the crest of a wave, not only with Avonnova, but with two, 2 year olds, Smooth Showgirl and Birdy Mach he part owns that look to be potential stars.

Since being claimed, Avonnova has won 11 from 17 for his new connections, including 8 from his past 9. Included in that 9 was close-up 2nd in the G1 Len Smith Mile to Beautide back in April. Starting in barrier 2 in the Sunshine Sprint, the tactics employed at the start will be interesting. While he won’t have the speed to test Mach Beauty off the arm, whether any other runner pushes forward to try to gain the position outside the leader will be all important in the decision process. If he occupies that position, or relinquishes it, the tone of the race will be decided by these 2 runners.

Im Themightyquinn has gate speed, however it is unlikely to be used in this race, and Jnr will be looking to find a position in the running line without having to restrain to far. It appears that he will be driven ‘cold’ and saved for one last finishing burst. The kind of brilliance he has displayed so many times in his career will need to be on show. If this is the scenario, the 197m of the home straight at Albion Park will be reminiscent of a Road Runner cartoon, as there will be flamed scorch marks left on the surface.

Sign To Inverell will follow out Mach Beauty at the start and with a cosy run in transit, he may well be able to offer some challenge once he sees the passing lane in the home straight.

Field Officer took out the Gold Coast Cup on this track in October last year with a barnstorming finish and is another who may be able to sit off the expected hot tempo and finish with a flurry.

They appear to be the main players in what is shaping as the best Sunshine Sprint in the 31 year history of the event. For those searching for an historical angle, there are only 3 drivers competing who have previously won the race. Lauren Panella who will hold all the aces with Mach Beauty, was at the controls of Suave Stuey Lombo in his win last year. Luke McCarthy will drive the talented but inexperienced Chilli Palmer (Only 20 career starts), Luke’s only win in this came aboard Mr Feelgood in 2010. The only other to taste success in the Sunshine Sprint is Peter Greig, who was aboard Lucky Camilla in the 1995 edition. Greig will partner Devil Dodger, who has drawn outside the second row in unlucky (or perhaps lucky) 13.

Top Pick is the champion Im Themightyquinn. Champions find ways to win and that is what this guy has done time and time again. The pre-post $2.50 seems to be value.

Placings look to be fought out between Mach Beauty, Avonnova, Suave Stuey Lombo and a sneaky chance to Sign To Inverell following the pool noodles home.

One thing is for certain, it will be handlebars down at the start, middle and finish. The chances of the track record being lowered looks more like a formality than a possibility. Strap yourself in, this should be a cracker!

Friday, 27 June 2014

Glasshouse Handicap preview

KIWI MARE: COULDN'T GIVE A SPIT WHAT BOOKIES SAY
By Mitch Fenton, @weekndkngracing
www.weekendking.com.au


The Sunshine Coast’s annual feature sprint race, the listed $175,000 Glasshouse Handicap over 1400m, is our focus this week as the Winter Carnival heads to lovely Caloundra, where weather “experts” are predicting fine sunny conditions and racing on what should be a good to dead rated surface. Some good horses have won this race back over the years... including most recently Group 1 winner Woorim, who went back to back in the event.

As has been the case with most of this years Winter Carnival, the feature race again lacks any depth at all and bar a couple, it’s a case of the ‘usual suspects’ - Billy Aucash, Steel Zip, Startsmeup, Phelan Ready….

The traditional lead up race to the Glasshouse is the Eye Liner Stakes run on Ipswich Cup day over 1350m. The rise is distance is only 50m but the main difference is going from a tight, turning, short run home, track at Ipswich to a wide open track at the Sunshine Coast with a long straight that see’s almost every horse get it’s chance.

The rail goes into the true position, but jockeys just don’t want to get within cooee of the fence - wet or dry - with the crown of the track right down the middle usually the best spot to be. But all in all it’s one of the fairest & best tracks in Australia and hands down the best track in Queensland.

Nine of the runners out of the Eye Liner are engaged here;
Alma’s Fury - 1st
Playitsraight - 3rd
Jetset Lad - 4th
Billy Aucash - 5th
Steel Zip - 6th
Startsmeup - 7th
Ellawisdom - 10th
Black Cash - 12th
Phelan Ready - 13th

Class shone through in the end with Tony Gollan’s Alma’s Fury narrowly holding of Masthead trained by Chris Waller - who has a decent opinion of his galloper. Alma’s Fury was second up that day and certainly looked like he would derive plenty of improvement from the run. He meets all those behind him worse off at the weights but the one’s he does face again here, he did beat soundly. Drawn awkwardly but veteran hoop Jim Byrne is in near career best form and the 1400m start at Corbold Park isn’t to disadvantageous to those drawn out. The stable is flying, no doubt he’ll be right in the mix.

Jetset Lad was terrific closing off, late in the piece, after finally getting into clear galloping room. And the way he ran right through the line suggested he’d be spot on come this race. Although the run was very good, it was fairly typical of the horse, who has only won 5 of his 47 career stars - an unflattering win strike-rate in anyone’s terms. He’s some hope but I’m risking him at the $6.50 quote currently on offer.

Forget Black Cash ever went around in the race, he ran into severe trouble on two occasions and featured heavily in the stewards report & their was money for the horse (an astute punting yard) to suggest it’d run a race. In fact you can ignore all three of his runs this campaign, in his first and second up runs he never got on the track from bad barriers but still managed to run well. He’s run a race at Flemington Melbourne Cup week (albeit the restricted grey race) so class isn’t an issue. He gets a good gate here so he’ll go a soft run and is very capable on his best form, down on the minimum weight.

As for the usual suspects out of the Eye Liner, (Phelan Ready, Startsmeup, Billy Aucash, Ellawisdom, Playitstraight) well they’ll be running on again - like they always do. Wouldn’t shock me if one of them did something stupid and lobbed at a price, but honestly how could you tip a horse like Phelan Ready, as grand an old warrior as he is, to win his first race in nearly six years? I’d love to see him add to his tally of two wins - the Magic Millions & Golden Slipper - before he’s done!

As for the runners coming here through different form lines, they are;

Belltone who comes here off the back of three average runs, albeit in tougher grade - the latest in the Stradbroke…But he’s been poor and the stable can’t buy a winner this Carnival. There’s more than a little whisper around Eagle Farm (where Kelso Wood trains) that his stable has been struck down by a mystery virus. Results support that rumour undoubtedly.

Muir is having his first run back for 433 days & prior to that he’d had a 700 day+ lay-off. Is 200-1 should be 2000-1. All I can hope is he doesn’t get in the way of a winning hope….Although ditto Phelan Ready, he’s a Gr1 winner - the 2011 Adelaide Cup.

Escoffier is on a quick back up after running 3rd last week. Solid enough form. But outclassed here. That’llbgood, Auguste & Noogurra Burr are all simply out of their depth and are only here to stake a claim at the minor end of the prize money scale.

That leaves Kiwi mare Spitfire Lady, who ran in the Gai Waterhouse Classic, 1350m on Ipswich Cup day as well. It was her first run in 4+ weeks after coming across the Tasman where she’d been running fairly well. Was wide, wide then wider but still ran home gamely behind Jazz Song - who was far from disgraced when backing up in last weeks Gr1 Tatts Tiara at Eagle Farm. Very interesting to note that in the Gr1 Easter Handicap in NZ on the 12th of April, when she finished 9th beaten 2L. She beat home Jetset Lad by a length. In this race one is $17 and one is $7. No sense in that for mine!

I’ve narrowed it down to three hopes. But I can’t split them.
BLACK CASH
ALMA’S FURY
SPITFIRE LADY

With a gun held to my head and made to pick one I’d go Alma’s Fury, purely on his class & with the in form yard. But I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that.

My betting strategy off a $100 bank is;

$30 win ALMA’S FURY $4.00
$25 each way BLACK CASH $7.50 & $2.50
$10 each way SPITFIRE LADY $17 & $4.40

My best bets for the day (28/06) are;

SUNSHINE COAST
R4 - 3 MISS COVER GIRL*. Filly who has won 3 from 3 in explosive fashion. Her last start sectionals in winning at Doomben where astonishing for a 2 year old.

ROSEHILL
R1 - 3 WINX. Just wins. Extremely talented, was enormous winning on debut and the form out of that race is super!

FLEMINGTON
R4 - 5 SACRED FLYER. Great effort last start to win overcoming traffic in the straight. Looks a similar task here.