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Showing posts from December, 2013

Ryanair Hurdle preview

The Lexus Chase was a mouth-watering contest but the Ryanair Hurdle has to trump it. The best hurdler we've seen since Istabraq with a serious challenge on his hands from the newer kids on the block... Taking the reins is another new contributor - welcome aboard Andrew Humphrey, @ashsh . ----------------------- Ryanair Hurdle Leopardstown welcomes a gathering of the best two mile hurdlers in the world as it hosts the Ryanair Hurdle tomorrow at 2:00pm. The undulating nature of the course is both a test of stamina and speed, much of the form seen here is translatable to the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. The magnificent Hurricane Fly has amassed two Champion Hurdle trophies after winning this race and the great Istabraq completed the feat three times between December 97 and March 2000. It is what some might call, an Irish Champion Hurdle Trial. The 2013 running of this race could be one of the best races, not just of the year but in the recent history of the race.

Topaz Novice Chase preview

The Christmas Festival at Leopardstown continues tomorrow with a couple more Grade 1 races. The obvious choice for new contributor Andy Stewart would have been the Ryanair Hurdle but he's gone for the lower profile contest instead. You can follow him on @redofpurple . ------------------------- Topaz Novice Chase With Ballycasey being taken out of the race it has lost a little bit of its intrigue, but the race still has some high class horses involved and it means Ruby Walsh is available to keep the ride on the favourite Morning Assembly. Morning Assembly - Has won his last three races on the spin, including a Grade 1 Novice hurdle at the Punchestown Festival at the end of April where he comfortably beat the current RSA Chase favourite (and absentee from this race at 48hrs decs) Ballycasey by seven lengths. After this he started his chased career, winning over 20f at Punchestown, beating Si C'Etait Vrai by 3 3/4 lengths before beating the same rival again by 22 lengths whe

Welsh National preview

It's gonna be mighty wet again tomorrow at Chepstow, seems pretty normal for this time of year. Taking the reins to preview the time-honoured Welsh National is another blog debutant, Adam Webb, @adamwebb121 . You can also read more of his work on his blog . ----------------------- Welsh National Chepstow’s showpiece of the entire year takes place tomorrow at 2:35 with the gruelling Coral Welsh National over three miles five furlongs. Previous winners of this race have gone on to even greater successes including the Cheltenham Gold Cup with the likes of Cool Ground, Master Oats and more recently Synchronised all taking this race before going on to land the blue riband of steeplechasing. This race has also shown potential clues towards the Grand National itself with Earth Summit doing the double in the 1997/98 season whilst Silver Birch took this in 2004 before going on to Aintree glory in 2007. This year’s race looks a competitive renewal especially with the top class Tidal B

Lexus Chase preview

The focus may have been on Kempton for the last couple of days but the Christmas Festival at Leopardstown is similarly high in quality. The King George shone the spotlight on the UK's best Gold Cup hopefuls, and the Lexus Chase does the same for the Irish contingent. Making his debut on the blog is the astute Nick Palfrey, @8palfrey8 , and you can read more of his work on his blog . ---------------------- Lexus Chase Saturday's Lexus Chase from Leopardstown is a high class renewal that features three top class chasers at the head of the market who all have something to prove after disappointing starts to the campaign. Bob's Worth makes the trip from Nicky Henderson's yard at Seven Barrows hoping to makes amends after a terribly lacklustre effort in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month. He's a formidable contender on his best form but how likely are we to see that tomorrow? On the one hand Haydock is a very flat left handed track that plainly didn't su

Christmas Hurdle preview

It's not just the King George at Kempton on Thursday, it's a quality card all round including a mouth-watering contest in the Christmas Hurdle. Yet another new contributor, Andrew Downes, @17forlife has put sharp thoughts onto 'paper' for this one... ------------------------------- Christmas Hurdle When you talk about Boxing Day in the horse racing world, most people think about the King George and rightly so, it’s a fantastic race but this year it could easily end up playing second fiddle to a mouthwatering Christmas Hurdle. Two outstanding English Champion Hurdle contenders in My Tent Or Yours (MTOY) and The New One (TNO) who lock horns for the first time since their Aintree champion bumper battle two years ago. This Grade One hurdle is of course, according to the race card at least, not a two horse race. It says all you need to know about the two market principles that the other four runners only get a small mention in this race preview. They include a Grade

King George Chase preview

If Xmas bores you to tears, then you'll probably be straight into the form while the rest of the family crowd around the telly watching some old grey-haired bird ramble on. The King George VI Chase will probably be run at Kempton on Thursday afternoon (I say probably because the weather is awful in south-west London tonight with worse to come apparently), and it's a cracking field. Another new contributor, @tenembassy tackles the big race head on... ------------------------- King George Chase – Boxing Day, Kempton Incredible to think that over the last nine years that only three horses have won this event, thanks mainly to Kauto Star giving no-one a look in between 2006-2009 and then regaining his crown in 2011. Long Run in 2010 and 2012 and Kicking King 2004-2005 are the other winners. Since Edredon Bleu in 2003 no winner has been bigger than 9-2. Recent winners had just the one seasonal run before coming here, although Kicking King needed two and three runs respectively

WTA Fantasy Tennis competition for 2014

After gathering a list of 34 entrants on very short notice last season, it's time to start again for 2014. Ten quid to enter, lowest score counts from choosing players in 11 groups. The more that enter, the bigger the prize. For more details, visit the WTATennisComp website .

Long Walk Hurdle preview

It might be Christmas time with racing winding down until it gets serious again on Boxing Day, but there's a decent G1 at Ascot tomorrow in the Long Walk Hurdle. Regular contributor Jon da Silva, @CreamOnTop , is never afraid to have an opinion.... -------------------------------------------- WESSEX YOUTH TRUST LONG WALK HURDLE Assuming the Wessex Youth Trust did not put up money it does show the power of Ascot to fund a Grade 1 race. Of course the Youth Trust is the official charity of the renamed Prince Edward now the Duke of Wessex - one assumes for similar reasons to Windscale being renamed Sellafield, nuclear mishap after nuclear mishap still at least he did not marry Fergie or that mentalist Spencer. I believe this race is the most stamina sapping Grade 1 in the calendar more so than the Stayers AKA World Hurdle which cut from 3m 2f to 3 miles when it changed courses at Cheltenham and some dodgy stayers have won/nearly won that. Ascot's last mile whilst not as stee

Recent media work

With the recent football match-fixing arrests in England, the phone has been rather busy. You may have caught me on Sky Sports News, ITV News (shocking edit in the national version!), a Radio 5 Live panel on the day it broke, but this piece published in the esteemed journal, New Scientist, of which I am most proud. We have the tools to keep sport free of match-fixing The advent of rapid, global online betting could make match-fixing rife. But technology to spot it is better than ever, says betting-industry expert Scott Ferguson Sporting history is littered with allegations of match-fixing. There are any number of reasons why people attempt to rig the outcomes of contests, including politics, personal pride and for the benefit of both sides. Read the full article here. It may even go into print in a January edition.

this week's BC3/Ponzi/Vlahos update

The scandal is well and truly exposed now and with every new article published, we learn how much of a conman Bill Vlahos is. No degree from La Trobe Uni, no Westpac bank account containing millions, more and more ties with the shady element of society, more bills unpaid.... Bill Vlahos claims The Edge owes him $32m Apparently the fund owes Bill money. Yeah, that excuse will fly... Not surprisingly, Vlahos has declared himself bankrupt. David Hayes admits victims stung in Bill Vlahos punting club scandal must move on As someone who has been caught in a Ponzi scheme ruse before (the Michael Bastion share market con), David Hayes has some pertinent advice for victims of Vlahos and The Edge. Bill Vlahos company ties to underworld figure Well, there's a shock. He's been accused of laundering tens of millions of dollars of bikie money through the scheme, so it was long odds-on there'd be strong personal ties identified somewhere. Debts may force The Edge investors to s

Villiers Stakes preview

As the calendar year draws to a close, for Australian thoroughbred fans, that usually means the Perth carnival and the Villiers Stakes at Randwick. Well, usually it's at Randwick, this time they've elected to race on the controversial Kensington track which is inside the main course at NSW racing HQ. Providing the insightful preview for the race are those smart fellas at PremiumPunting . Check their site for details of their ratings, or follow them on Twitter via @premiumpunting . ------------------- Villiers Stakes at Kensington 1550m G2 QUALITY 3YO+ Race 6 run at 4:30pm Speed Map: Likely to be an even speed with the leaders ticking along at a better than average clip. Listen Son will pounce from an inside draw leading a pair who will have to cross the field – chance for either Limes, Taxmeifyoucan or Monton to decide to either force the pair wide or to settle behind Listen Son in a more prominent position. Midfield settler Alma’s Fury will have a lovely opportunity

Victoria Cup preview

One of the elite races on the Australasian Harness Racing calendar is the time-honoured Victoria Cup. Not a flashy sprint over a mile, nor a long standing start staying race, but a race at a standard distance under standard conditions, with only the very best invited. Making his debut on the blog is another of the Krahe family, this time's it Luke. You'll soon work out that astute knowledge of the harness game runs strong in this family. Read more of Luke's witterings via @LukeKrahe . -------------------------------------- The Victoria Cup 2240m mobile start. Saturday Dec 14, 2127 AEDST, 1027 GMT. The last Grand circuit event for the calendar year provides us with one of the more open in recent memory. Betting shops have come up with Miracle Mile winner BEAUTIDE as the favourite, although from Barrier 11 I dare say that the $4.40 on offer at the moment is gross unders. The draw is not as bad as it seems, I can see there being a 3 wide line the entire race, making hor

Friday update on racing's Ponzi scandal

The fallout from this one isn't going to stop anytime soon - more victims will emerge, more details will be revealed in court, and we still have heard very little about the health of 'Jimmy', the $5m half-brother to Black Caviar. Today's revelations guarantee a special series of the high-rating TV show Underbelly. Links to the underworld run a little deeper than Bill Vlahos buying Pillar of Hercules for $1.8m when Racing Victoria decided Horty Mokbel was not a suitable person to be owning racehorses. It is alleged that a key member of the BC3 staff has dated "Freddie the Bear" , a suspected drug trafficker, for several years. D'Amico regularly attended the races with his brother-in-law, the nephew of Melbourne gangster Mick Gatto. Coincidental? The Age is leading with a story today that BC3 was a vehicle to launder money for criminals and bikie gangs. Hardly a surprise after reading the previous paragraph. Tens of millions of dollars is the figure quoted

today's Vlahos/Ponzi/BC3 update

Another day, another roundup of the Vlahos debacle... Racing identity Bill Vlahos' emails reveal fear of attack, and warn of club collapse It seems Billy has had troubling paying out for many months, since the start of 2013. Apparently this came from boasting about exorbitant returns (46% profit) in the last quarter of 2012. Rather than serving as a great advertisement to the scheme to bring in more members, all it did was encourage existing members to start enjoying the benefits of their new-found wealth, thus creating a major cash flow problem for the fund. And then the slow pay went on, and on, and on, throughout the year. One of his many excuses was they were now 'having difficulty placing their bets' and 'big mouths have made it hard for us again'. No wonder he moved to Singapore for several months - in a top end luxury hotel no less! Then Billy got desperate, the ego couldn't be stopped. He had to find the missing money, so he was in discussions with

the Vlahos/BC3/Ponzi scheme update

There's at least one series of Underbelly in this saga - or perhaps there isn't? After revelations earlier in the week that the man behind the multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme Bill Vlahos had been bashed and his ute torched.... it appears that he did it all himself! Very flimsy witness statements and evidence which just doesn't add up.... Police have task of unravelling puzzling tale of Bill Vlahos and his punting club The house apparently had virtually no furniture in it, Vlahos hadn't been there for months and the 'thugs' just happen to find him there. Plus they managed to find the fuel can in the shed to torch the ute. Not just any fuel can, but the one with diesel in it rather than petrol, because the latter might cause an explosion and injure the person igniting it (cheers to @chyde33 for that tip out of the arsonist's handbook). All the paperwork (if there actually was any) just happened to be in the ute and probably any laptop too. Investigatin

Fixing 'epidemic' in the UK

The media are abuzz today with the weekend allegations of spot-fixing in the lower leagues, as captured on a hidden camera by the Sun on Sunday. I've been interviewed three times so far, with at least one more to come. You can discount the ITV News (nationwide version) of having any credibility, they edited my responses completely out of context and the bloke before me from some Business Centre had zero idea on the topic! Sky Sports News interview came across well - it was live, I know what I said! Let me start my tirade with a disclaimer - based on the evidence presented SO FAR by the Sun on Sunday, I believe the Sam Sodje story is more likely to be fiction than fact. This view could completely change if more evidence is released to establish a clear link to betting. Right now, it makes little sense. Sam Sodje is a dictionary definition of the term 'journeyman', having played for 11 different clubs, and only just over 100 games in the past seven years. His career has pet

The Ponzi scheme fallout is underway

What do you get when you have a individual fronting a Ponzi scheme with anywhere between $200-500m in funds that have disappeared, links to Melbourne's underworld and potentially thousands of investors who have lost anywhere from a week's takings in their own business, to their entire savings and nest egg for retirement? A bloody mess which soon turns nasty. Vlahos bashed, car torched as BC3 Thoroughbreds turns ugly Syndicate leaders bashed as investors face huge fleecing You bet 600 Yarrawonga residents are angry at losing $74 million in punting club Racing Victoria to investigate BC3 Thoroughbreds, alleged assault at Bill Vlahos property Leading bookmakers in the dark over Bill Vlahos' alleged punting scheme A lot of people have woken up to the stark realisation that if something seems too good to be true, it invariably is. The global financial crisis killed off strong returns from the stock and property markets, so people went looking for other 'easy'

Hong Kong Cup preview

Another classy feature at Sha Tin, this time the Hong Kong Cup, featuring some top echelon middle-distance horses. Once again, it's over to Dan Munn @ chalkbeater with the preview. ------------------------ Hong Kong Cup Once more unto the the breach, dear friends, once more, and Cirrus des Aigles is bidding once again to enhance his consistent, determined record from Europe in this year's renewal of the Hong Kong Cup. As expected, concerns are being propelled from many corners on just whether the star gelding will handle the supremely fast conditions of the Sha Tin track and, like many, I want to take him on again in this race. Endowing enters the race as the trial winner, but failed to impress me last time in the manner of his victory, but the performance of Akeed Mofeed when running from way off the pace was one key performance to note. Formerly with John Oxx, Akeed Mofeed has slowly been coming to hand but is starting to improve with every start and figures to be

Hong Kong Sprint preview

They say the best sprinters in the world usually come from either south-east Asia or Australia. There are no Aussies in this one, so it must be left to the home team surely? Taking the reins for this race is international form guru, Dan Munn. Follow him on Twitter at @chalkbeater and read more of his work on his blog . ------------------------ Hong Kong Sprint Pace often proves key in races up and down the grading levels across the world, and this year's renewal of the Hong Kong Sprint is no different. Go Baby Go , a prolific five furlong straight track star in Hong Kong, is a standing dish in these top level contests, but despite taking the lead on every occasion he has race over six furlongs, he is yet to hold on for the top prize. However, whilst his chances of victory are somewhat minimal, he proves key to the chances of the 'Hong Kong Elite', a large number of late-running charges who's hopes of victory seemingly lay in the hands of Go Baby Go continuing hi

Racing has a Ponzi scheme - and the fallout will be enormous

When the term ' Ponzi scheme ' is mentioned these days, the names Bernard Madoff and Allen Stanford instantly spring to mind. The pair of them ran multi-billion dollar frauds (US$60bn and $8bn respectively) that destroyed the lives of thousands of investors who had put their life savings into a 'wonderful' investment strategy. How so many people were sucked into the scheme is baffling to those on the outside. The lifestyle, the sales pitch, the success stories of the early investors - I suppose it all adds up. So where does this link to racing you ask? A prominent Australian 'racing identity' this week has been reported to have lost access to a bank account with punters' club funds of $194m in it. Firstly - is there a worse term for anyone to be labelled with that 'racing identity'? It ALWAYS ends up meaning shonky crook! Secondly - who the hell has a punters' club with an active bankroll in the tens of millions? It simply can't be done. T