Sunday, 31 March 2013

Irish Grand National preview

Easter Monday traditionally means Irish National Day at Fairyhouse, so up steps Ben Homans, @blue_bajan, with the preview. It's a National, so it goes without saying it's mighty hard to narrow it down. Currently on Betfair, it's just over 10/1 the field.

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Irish Grand National, 16.50, Fairyhouse, 3m5f.

Just six days before the English Grand National, we have the running of the 143rd Irish Grand National, which is a gruelling 3m 5f. Previous winners have included Desert Orchid, Numbersixvalverde, Butlers Cabin and Niche Market - some top staying chasers indeed, you have to admit! Questions Answered has been pulled out and won't run in the race. Here we look at the 29 runners which will contest the start line for the 2013 Irish Grand National:

I'm a firm believer of trends, with weights in staying chases being so key. The only thing is this year, Junior, takes top weight of 11st 12lbs, leaving the rest of the runners off less than 11st. He will do ever so well to win with such a weight and he isn't getting any younger. With that in mind, it will be hard to whittle the field down!

Jadanli's win in the Goff Thyestes chase is a good form line throughout the recent years. His run at the festival behind Golden Chieftain wasn't that bad. You would think he has had a long and hard season this year and could find this a bit too much after what he has been up to. You Must Know Me looks badly handicapped of late, with his mark being a tad too high for what he has achieved. Muirhead has been a great servant in recent years, his form for me however isn't eye-catching and I'd be shocked if he was to take victory. Our Victoria is ideally suited over a shorter trip and she could just be making up the numbers today.

Imperial Shabra is a big price and you can see why. Apart from a cheeky win at Stratford last year, he just isn't interested anymore. Whodoyouthink's OR has risen dramatically for what he has achieved. I'm shocked to see why he has been creeping up the weights and I think the handicapper has got him out of this now. Cootamundra, Carloswayback, Blazing Beacon and He'llberemembered have both been campaigned over shorter trips this year and look up against it with this seasons form lines. Romenesco has been a likeable horse this year, with encouraging runs at Cheltenham twice this season, but the ground is a worry for me. The two recent 'poor' runs have come on heavy ground and tomorrow he is on running on soft. The ground could have cut up by the start of the race and I would have ground worries. If the ground isn't too bad, a well waited run will be delivered and he wont be too far away. Liberty Counsel has contested much lesser races and as with Romenesco, the ground is a major worry. Start Me Up is one of just five Gigginstown runners and looks like he will be one of their lesser chances. In and out of form this season and the profile for me isn't right for this race. Magnanimity looks exposed and this years form isn't nothing to note. If his run in the Hennessy was better, he could have been considered. Looking back at Paddy Pub's 4th in the 2012 running as not too bad, but his overall record over such longer distances makes you wonder. Only 22 days since his last run too. Quietly Fancied could easily be fancied to take the prize home. Some spins over hurdles lately, he has relished the longer trips he has contested. This distance is an unknown, it could be all ok until half a mile out and that's the worrying sign.

Previous winners' form usually has a few strong form lines and Away We Go of Willie Mullins has better hurdles form than his chase form, even though he has a much higher OR. With larger fields he hasn't been seen to run at his best and I'm unsure the nature of the race will suit. Carlingford Lough is still unexposed over fences and he is one for the future. Challenging Nationals after only this season contesting Beginners Chases to me is something of a dream. On Cross Appeal's earlier promise a few seasons ago, he would be a worthy favourite in this line-up. Since his attitude has taken a dip and he hasn't been the same horse of late. He pulled up in last year's running of the race and a place is what he can achieve at best! Rapidolyte De Ladalka has been running this side of the Irish Sea and has been running over shorter trips. This race should be too tough for him in my opinion. Rich Revival has knocked up a treble after over 623 days off and is improving. He has shown creditable form over three miles and the question is whether he will get the trip. I think he could run well but there might be a few more in the race that could put the question up to him. Jacksonslady is another who is contesting a much longer trip for the first time and she has shown more speed than stamina to make you believe she is the sort of race winner. Competitive Edge to me looks like he been poorly placed throughout this season in the preparation leading up to this, never looking top class and a stayer too, I'm not the biggest Edge fan! Marasonnien is shorter than I expected for what he has achieved this season. Easily brushed aside by The Westerner Boy and also he was behind Home Farm too. With Home Farm, his form with White Star Line is reasonable considering White Star Line got third at Cheltenham last month. Although the win against the Cheltenham third was in a Beginners Chase. Panther Claw is a gutsy horse who could relish the trip. He does take some time to get going and it could be too late when everything clicks. Paul Nolan does think a lot of him. Goonyella and Sweeney Tunes are the two horses which I think could take the prize. The reason being Goonyella's performances under rules around right handed tracks have been much stronger than those around left handed tracks. Point winner who jumps well and could run a sound race. As with the former, he is a good jumper too, which will have him in going longer than many of the others. Goonyella looks like he might relish the trip more but Sweeney Tunes has been prepped for the race nicely and hopefully they can run well.

Main Selections: Goonyella and Sweeney Tunes
Potential Frame Fillers: Romonesco - Paddy Pub - Panther Claw

You can read more of Ben's work on his blog

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Tour of Flanders preview

The Tour of Flanders is one of the great cycling races on the circuit, a one-day classic combining stiff hills and nasty cobbled surfaces. And from a purist's point-of-view, EPO is virtually useless for a one-day race (although if they've had a busy recent schedule with all the races now on the circuit, I suppose it's not hugely different to a long tour). Avid cycling punter and SBB columnist, Ghislain Hofman, @gghofman, lines up with the preview.

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Tour of Flanders preview

Peter Sagan, Fabian Cancellera, Tom Boonen all lead a strong field for the season's second classic, and the single biggest day in Belgian racing this season.

The Route:



As is usual the first 50km plus are very easy going letting the legs warm up and the break of the day get up the road. 256km over some of the hardest terrain that the Flanders region has to offer, thousands of passionate fans camped on the route's historic climbs seeking just a few seconds of their heroes fighting up the hill. cycling here isn’t a hobby, it's a bloody religion, welcome to Flanders. This race is a different challenge to anything else, it mixes rough terrains with steep hills. Over the years the battles have been between Cancellara and Boonen, but that hasn’t given the winner they have just four titles between them, noticeable however is since 1999, Belgium has nine titles in all. Italy next best managed three, the Swiss and Germans have a win each. Last year Boonen just held on over the last Berge and was then too strong in the finish for Pozzato and Ballan. With 17 climbs in the Flemish Ardennes and seven cobbled sectors, the final battle of the true contenders should come on the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg climbs, which each feature three times in the race’s hectic finishing circuits which we got to see in last year's route.

Form in the warm-up events is important, not since Steffen Wesemann’s win in 2004 has a rider won Flanders without finishing in the top ten on either DDV or E3 that year. In fact in four of those years a rider has won both (Boonen three times and Cancellara once). The betting suggests that the feeling is this comes too soon for Boonen, and it's Cancellara in the way of Flanders crowning a new winner.

Peter Sagan (5/2 Paddy Power) – the strongest form on offer here as he has blown 2013 to pieces, two wins in Oman and Tirreno a second at Strade Bianche and E3 as well as Milan San Remo. In the build up to this Sunday he has won Gent Wevelgem, a stage in Three days of De Panne, a podium finish seems to be pretty much a sure thing for the Slovak this season.

Fabian Cancellara (11/4 Coral) The winner back in 2010 he's had issues since but will be keen to get his second Flanders title while Bonoen is weak and Sagan still has the pressure of trying to get off the mark in the Monuments. He crashed out last year causing him major setbacks, in 2011 he created the winning move but was sold into doing the most of the work losing the sprint to fresher legs in Nuyens.

S.Chavanel (11/1 various) The Frenchman comes in haven been dominant in the Three Days of de Panne. He's had an excellent season, he's currently on course for his best season since moving to the Belgian team five years ago. He has a whole host of top fives this season but seems to find few too good but did win the sprint in Paris-Nice.

Tom Boonen (16/1 PaddyPower) Last year's champion and multiple winner but his build-up can have hardly have gone worse, an off-season elbow infection set him back from the off, and he has had an illness which halted his racing, add to that a crash last Sunday in GW and the worry is that he isn’t right just yet with his rivals haven had much more proven form for the season coming in.

F.Pozzato (20/1 various) The Italian was inches from gaining the title last year as Boonen just hung on over the day's last Muur, he did not have enough in the sprint to overcome the local favourite. He prefers warmer weather, he's always lacked the will to win in the wet and cold. Add to that how easy his head can go down when first place is out of sight, his best showings have come in domestic races but none raced as hard as Flanders will, and he is missing the help of Gatto since coming back to Lampre.

G.Thomas (30/1 bwin) Last year saw him focus on the track, but this year he will target the classics. He's placed highly in Roubaix but has not had much of a record in Flanders as he did not get to race it last year but he was 10th in the 2011 edition. He looked strong in the Tour Down Under getting involved with a stage win and a fight for the overall. So far he is on for his biggest season as a pro. Fourth in E3 and Omloop bode well for his chances here.

G.Van Avermaet (50/1 Ladbrokes) 22nd in 2011, he was best of the rest last year winning the sprint for fourth, ahead of some of the biggest names in one day cycling. This course suits him down to the ground and with both Gilbert and Phinney out of the picture, this is the man BMC should be getting behind. The signs are their for him acting as main man in Gent he came third there, a perfect sign his form is right.

Edvald Boassen Hagen (50/1 Paddy Power) The boss is slowly going down the Sky pecking order this season, but his talent can not be doubted, he came in 19th with the group last year. He has been their about in most of his recent races bar him pulling out in San Remo but improvement is needed to push for a victory here.

N.Terpstra (50/1 various) Terpstra comes in without a win in any of the Belgian races when he has picked up a win before, he was held by teammate Chavanel as usual in the Three Days of de Panne. He did well here last year but in my view he was in much better order last year to challenge this year he will be more useful committing to Chavanel's chances.

L.Paolini (50/1 Paddy Power) The Italian has surprised with a strong season for Katusha, normally quiet until further into the classics season. He was a strong 7th here last year. His win in the Omloop showed how tough he is and he should be able to show something in a race that should suit his qualities. He did well in E3 and San Remo but was a bit down the field in Gent Wevelgem.

H.Haussler (50/1 various) Haussler has been good for the move to his new team IAM, and has seemed to find some sort of form that means 2013 could see some of his best form. He was 30th in the bunch last year, 61st year before. He has shown signs that he may be returning to near the form of his Cervelo days when he was second here. His fourtth in his last race was his strongest showing so far as he put in digs and got involved in creating the winning break. His 11th in E3 and 13th in San Remo leave little doubt that he has a card to play.

S.Langeveld (66/1 Boylesports) 5th in this in 2011, he failed to make the finish in 2012. however 2012 was not a good one in general and things are looking much brighter this season for the Dutch rider. His 23rd in San Remo was improved on with a noticeable fifth in E3. But again the non-finish at Gent will put off some people but again conditions were far from ideal.

Ja Flecha (66/1 Bet365) Unlike many of his fellow countrymen he excels in the Belgian classics, 20th here last year as a member of a strong Sky line up, his best was a third in 2008. A move away from Sky to allow him to race more for himself and while he had been bit quiet he showed face with his fifth in Gent coming into this.

I.Stannard (80/1 Paddy Power) Considered more of a strongman who can be the ultimate helper to his team, he was gifted the chance to show what he could do in the horrible conditions in San Remo, he duly obliged and got away with Chavanel and played a part in how the finish turned out. He's super strong and could well cause some trouble to bigger names if allowed to make a late move. He was 57th here last year but given more of a leaders' role he could fare much better.

Noticeable others:
T.Voeckler (80/1) It's surprised me but he is pretty strong on cobbles and muurs and he can certainly play a part as one of the best attackers in world cycling. His eighth here last year shows it can suit his skills, he was just denied in DVV when caught 30 metres from the line. His form is there and the climbs won’t be an issue he just needs to get in the winning move. Gatto (80/1) comes in with his win at DVV, he came in last year at the rear of the group, but now he is the team leader and should have more focus on getting himself to the finish with a chance. Iglinskiy (80/1) has come on for his break out win last year, he was also out of the group last year. Maxim has been decent with top 20s in DVV and E3. Other notables are Lars Boom (100/1) who has the skills and power go well here, and Turgot (200/1) was 26th here last year has handful of good top 20 results that show he won’t be out of this.

Outright Bets:

Both Van Avermaet and Haussler could trouble Sagan
0.1pt G.Van Avermaet 50/1 Ladbrokes
0.1pt H.Haussler 50/1 Ladbrokes
0.05pt Turgot 200/1 Paddys (320 betfair)

You can find a list of Ghislain's matchbets on the original article posted here.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Haydock meeting preview

Not long left for the jumps season in the UK but there's a decent card at Haydock tomorrow. It's BetVictor day, so it's only fair I give them a plug in the form of regular contributor Jack Milner, @jjmsports, one of their content guys. And you can read plenty of his work on his blog.

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Haydock hold a fantastic National Hunt card on Saturday, with the twilight phase of this sphere still producing quality cards, with BetVictor Day proving to be a treat.

Handy Andy will be a warm favourite in the first, a three and a half mile handicap chase, not for the faint hearted, but he is vulnerable up 10lb for his win over Chartreaux last time out. Monsieur Cadou and Captain Americo are lightly raced sorts that can improve but the form selection looks to be Rhum for the in form team of Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies. The eight year old was back to his best last time out, winning cosily at Wincanton over an extended three miles, and looked better the further he went. He is up only 3lb, despite good form in behind through Big Occasion and Alderluck, and with the stable flying, he looks a confident pick.

The two and a half mile handicap hurdle is a very strong renewal, with a bumper field of twenty runners competing. Veloce could be a player for leading connections if he has his act together, but looks fairly temperamental, as does Landscape of Paul Nicholls. Brian Ellison has five, David O’ Meara has two, but the one stand out entry is Leader of the Gang for AP McCoy and David Pipe, who was a narrowly beaten favourite last time out at Sandown. He is still extremely unexposed, only ever having run in five hurdle races, and his mark of 121 still looks fairly lenient. It’s not flashy given he is likely to be a short price, but he is the clearly well handicapped pick. Any money for a Brian Ellison runner has to be taken very seriously indeed.

The feature race is a class 2 two and a half mile handicap chase, where Pepite Rose of Venetia Williams has been well backed in the week, and the mare should be a leading player if turning up on her best form. Cloudy Too and Shoegazer look harshly treated at the weights, and it could be those at the bottom of the handicap who can take advantage. One such horse could be Triptico for Evan Williams and Paul Moloney, and the unexposed seven year old could prove something of a shock. He was a good second last time out, given not the best ride by claimer Adam Wedge, staying on late, when the bird has seemingly flown. His previous best effort was over the same trip, when routing a field at Chepstow in December, and there have been plenty of winners in behind. He has only had four runs over fences, and is entitled to improve. Brunswick Gold would be another fancy at a price, being too big at around the 14/1 mark.

Another potentially trappy handicap chase in the 3.50, with sixteen runners going over two and three quarter miles, and Ballinroab is expected to make the market for Jonjo O’ Niell and AP McCoy. The form of his last win has worked out well, but a stiff 10lb rise could hinder him, although further improvement would be no surprise. The two top weights make most appeal, both winning last time out over similar trips. Frontier Spirit defied top weight over the same trip at Newbury last week, and only up 5lb, the stable form is something to make note of, and he is fancied. As is Rouge Et Blanc for Oliver Sherwood and talented claimer Thomas Garner, who takes off a valuable 7lb. Wins at Huntingdon have seen him up 23lb in the handicap, and that may scupper his bid of the hatrick.

Another difficult handicap, and although Moscow Presents could be a very unexposed animal for the McCain team, the way Tornado In Milan won last time out after being absolutely smashed up suggests he is extremely well handicapped for Evan Williams and Paul Moloney. His win at Plumpton sees him raised 8lb for a 5 lengths win, he has form tied in with Home Run, Mr Mole and other 130 rated handicappers, and looks absolutely chucked in. The step up in trip should suit on pedigree, and the ground will pose no problems. I’ve followed Big Society off a cliff in recent runs, so him hacking up would really hurt.

14.05 Haydock – Rhum

14.40 Haydock – Leader of the Gang

15.15 Haydock – Triptico

15.50 Haydock – Frontier Spirit

16.25 Haydock – Tornado in Milan (Nap)

Full list of Dubai previews

Plenty of Dubai World Cup night previews, so to save you scrolling through to find them all, this might come in handy!

Dubai World Cup

Dubai Duty Free

Godolphin Mile

Golden Shaheen

Al Quoz Sprint

Sheema Classic

I haven't printed previews of the Gold Cup or the UAE Derby, but a couple of my regular contributors have covered these races briefly in their full card previews - Calum Madell and Jim Gilchrist.

Time analysis and the Dubai Sheema Classic preview

It's been a while since sectional analyst Steve Lines contributed on the blog, so not only do we have a preview of one of the features from Dubai World Cup night, but also an editorial on recent developments in the racing industry. You can follow Steve on Twitter via @sjlone1.

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I missed the Brocklesby – what price did Rory Jiwani quote the winner for the 2015 Triumph? I didn’t see the reams of advertising highlighting so-and-so tipping multiple winners so I presume Cheltenham was a tough gig for those who get paid whether their selections win or lose. Forget getting your kids into law, medicine or computer programming; racing journalism is the job. Nepotism with an ability to continually comment about the cold weather seems the best way to secure a position – and don’t get me started on The Morning Line! Just who in hell is the new format aimed at? I shamefully admit I tuned in for a second time with a ‘car crash' fascination but I felt acutely embarrassed for Timeform Jim so switched to the lesser of two evils - Man v Food.

As a follower of race times I was interested in the use of Cheltenham sectionals but without James Willoughby not much of use was gleaned; although without a database of past times comparison is difficult. Comparing the times against my database shows Our Conor is a very smart animal – shhhhh I don’t think anybody else noticed…..Initially the time seemed slow but when adjusted for the going – he’s the real deal, although he still has to overcome 5 year olds poor showing in the Champion hurdle. There are two less obvious revelations from the sectionals. Simonsig did remarkably well to win (and must have had a tough race) after pulling so hard against fast early fractions; overall he was still slightly slower than Sprinter Sacre. I see the strategy to keep them apart is already being implemented with SS being entered in the 2 ½ miler at Aintree. Most would have expected Simonsig to stretch out but NJH may have a problem getting him to settle – run them more often I hear you shout. That aint going to happen while kudos is more important than prizemoney! Incidentally this is now the close season for owners and trainers to complain about prizemoney as they shirk good money and easy pickings for a jolly at Aintree, Punchestown et al. The open season begins after Whitbread day….alright Betfred day if you must.

The ‘sexy’ horse going into the Festival is now the forgotten horse. I think My Tent Or Yours originally snuck under Mr Henderson’s radar. Rushed to get a handicap mark to compete in the Schweppes…alright Tote Gold Trophy if you must; this is not the preparation to win a novice race at Cheltenham. Don’t believe me? Find a wet afternoon and check the record of last time out handicap winners in novice events at the annual tweed ’n’cords fest. Trained for the race and coming off a fast pace set by Overturn, yes Overturn, 10/1 seems a good price for the 2014 Champion. The only F in the O (fly in the ointment) (Luck & Willoughby 2012); the RUK preferred colloquialism to Paul Morrison’s N in the W, is that he’ll be 7 next year - ideal Arkle age. No problem, somebody will be NRNB shortly…..

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The Dubai World Cup meeting can be tough punting with Group 1 animals shipping in to mix it with lesser but acclimatized, race fit rivals. The Dubai Sheema Classic is no different with Group 1 winners Shareta, St Nicholas Abbey, Gentildonna, Girolamo and Dunaden all making their seasonal debut.

I like Dunaden. Since 2010 in races over 12f in fields of 12 or less he has the form figures 5,6,2,3,3,2. Compare that with larger fields figures of 5,1,1,1,1,1,2,3,2; as a Melbourne Cup winner stamina is his strong point and although Royal Diamond and Await The Dawn should ensure a good pace - I’m out.

Former maiden hurdler Royal Diamond’s wins have all come over 14f. Next.

The other pace in the race is Await The Dawn. Originally with A P O’Brien he has so far come up short in Group 1 company; although Mike De Kock regularly improves his new inmates, and he is playing in his own backyard, it’s difficult to believe something won’t pick him off.

Prince Bishop’s last win came as 11/8 favourite in a handicap, the only time he’s managed a win before July! Jockey Mickael Barzalona’s halo has slipped; it’s been rumoured Godolphin share the same recruitment agency as Chelsea….

The other Godolphin runner Sharestan steps up in trip but has shown nothing to suggest a Group 1 is imminent.

Good luck with Trailblazer’s Japanese form! Closely matched with St Nicholas Abbey and Shareta on Breeders Cup Turf running if the cards drop correctly he could well fall in but at 0-7 in Group 1 company – each way appeals.

The other Japanese entrant, and likely favourite, is Gentildonna. Priced up on her win over Arc second Orfevre in the Japan Cup she had been previously beating up the same horses. Although Orfevre is an extremely talented animal he is slightly scatty so the form may flatter. As a filly on the back of 125 day layoff on her first race outside Japan should she be 6/4? I think not.

Very Nice Name has appealing form figures and has won a ‘Local Group 1’ in Qatar – whether that increases his local stud fee I’m not sure but the price of 100/1 shows his chance!

Girolamo looked unsuited by Goodwood’s undulations in the Gordon stakes but then went on to win a Group 1 in his native Germany. A short-round action it is no surprise to see he has yet to encounter the fast conditions he will meet here.

Over 12f, good or faster going on a left-handed track ST NICHOLAS ABBEY has form figures 3,1,2,1,1 with his defeats coming in this race last year behind Cirrus Des Aigles and in the Breeders Cup Turf behind Little Mike. He is a bit soft in the fact he needs everything to be in his favour and prefers a strong pace but he has a good turn of foot under these conditions, I would have him a 5/2 shot rather than 7/2.

Shareta has yet to win on her seasonal debuts. Add this to the fact she has yet to win in 5 attempts outside her own sex group then 6/1 looks decidedly skinny.

Advice:
No doubt St Nicholas Abbey will find some way to get beaten but at 7/2 he has to be in the portfolio. Trailblazer makes most appeal as an each way saver.

Al Quoz Sprint preview

The 1000m dash at Meydan is called the Al Quoz Sprint and it's worth a cool million USD. Casting a close eye over the field is regular contributor Jon da Silva, @creamontop.

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Al Quoz Sprint

Straight 5f, some suggestion high numbers preferable.

Shea Shea has the highest Official Rating and Racing Post Rating by three and two pounds respectively (source RP) however he is 5/4 in a 16 runner international race with several Group 1 winners and not every horse fully exposed. I think he has to be opposed. He did beat several of these last time in an impressive demolition but the price is too short.

Eagle Regiment comes here a multiple grade 1 winner in Hong Kong which gives him strong claims almost anywhere Black Caviar is not. With time out he may be ever so slightly unexposed. There is an injury scare but it is hoof problem and whilst he may have missed a breeze at the track it's not something that is definitely a problem. Draws 1 hole which certainly @jeremygask wanted to avoid for Medicean Man say.

Monsieur Joe Group 3 winner beaten by Shea Shea but could come on for that. 4th in this last year.

Ganas Appears to be handicapped to the hilt and has only a maiden win on turf.

Dux Scholar gave the Distance Schmistance brigade a boost when winning a handicap here. Was tried over 10 furlongs on slow ground in England. Race probably set up for him last time but did beat Medicean Man and Russian Soul who've scraped paint three times so far this Carnival. Conceivable he could be the one to benefit if the pace collapses.

Spirit Quartz won four of five then none from last 14. He has the form if Shea Shea and Eagle Regiment fail for some reason. Just denied by last year's heroine Ortensia in the summer in England. Finished between Medicean Man and Russian Soul behind Shea Shea on prep.

Varsity US sprinter who has the usual jaw-dropping running start times of 5F in 54.17. He beat the other US hopeful Great Attack nicely that day. Can't say they won't win but not heard any vibe from the US and they face a straight 5f here, something never seen Stateside.

Russian Rock another between Medicean Man and Russian Soul behind Shea Shea on prep having won at Jebel the day before! He's 40/1 which seems steep for a horse with his 5 furlong form. Rated higher on sand but not exposed at the minimum on turf.

Russian Soul been knocking on the door all winter. Beaten by Shea Shea and Sole Power last time when race-fit. Prior beaten by Dux Scholar and Medicean Man. Can see him placing as appears to have few quirks and normally gets a run.

Starspangledbanner even in his pomp was beaten by Sole Power in the Nunthorpe over a fast 5F. Flashed speed at Santa Anita but straw clutching to say he has a big chance here.

Joy And Fun third in this last year but they've said this is likely his last race and rarely is that a positive about a 10 year old gelding.

Invincible Ash since beating Sole Power here last March has not shown much.

Medicean Man My fella Trending is Padawan to The Man. The Man opened his account with a good win in a handicap. Missed a gallop and maybe hit the front too soon when Russian Soul collared him and Dux Scholar got em both. Then had nowhere to go next time. That is Medicean Man's career held up behind waiting for a gap? Here he has a wide draw and hopefully can get clear. He's a 7yo but was fourth behind Sole Power and Little Bridge at Ascot (ahead of Spirit Quartz). Despite his age there is just a nagging feeling that he could be better than he's shown if things break his way. The Dubai runners have bashed each other about and arguably maybe one should favour the less exposed but I will be hoping this is The Man's day.

Sole Power Bar the Nunthorpe last year he's been pretty consistently in the best two or three UK five-furlong horses.

Mr Big is probably not quite big enough. Does not have much collateral form I can collate but seems short.

Conclusion

As a punter the odds make this an easy call. 11/2 Sole Power when you can get 6s about a top Hong Kong speedster even if you consider the draw of some significance. If I save aside from some sentimental hope for The Man it might be on Dux Scholar if the race falls his way indeed he is unexposed as a sprinter so we cannot be certain that is the only way he can win either. Russian Rock appeals most of the rags.

I'll be betting Eagle Regiment Win Only -> slight chance of injury affecting is almost same risk at 6s as 6/5 the place. If he missed the race Dux Scholar to a smaller stake.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

IPL 2013 Side Markets Preview

The sixth edition of the Indian Premier League starts next week, delivering 76 matches of high-tempo T20 action, always brilliant for trading. Cricket trading expert, Stephen Maher, @gamblerfalls, has put the magnifying glass over the exotic markets to find the extra angle. You can read more of Stephen's expertise on his blog - gamblerfalls.com or his outright preview published yesterday.

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IPL 2013 Side Markets Preview

Finally, some side markets! Only a handful of bookies have priced them up and I’m sure there will be plenty of different ones when every bookie has markets but all I wanted was highest/lowest scores and top team batsmen markets so I’m happy to crack ahead – there;s no point betting on markets that are too crazy (like six 6s in an over or something like that). You can read my teams/squads preview here from earlier this week. I’ll start with the ones I fancy most and work down.

Lowest Team Tournament Score – Over 81.5 at 5/6 with Paddy Power.

Paddy Power are first up and they've set the line at 81.5 5/6 either side. You’d have to go back to April 2011 for the last time a side came in under 82 when Kochi Tuskers Kerala were bowled out for 74, they are thankfully not around anymore, but Rajasthan Royals also got bowled out for 81 in 2011 too. Last year however the lowest score was 92 by Mumbai Indians, after that 92 the second lowest score was 100, miles away from 82 – I really think as more and more top quality overseas batsmen come to the IPL and the locals gain more exposure that the scores will only go up, you also have to factor in team tactics these days, teams are happy to give away singles once they’ve done major damage now that they know they would easily chase 130-ish on any pitch unless its a minefield and turning square – but sure the IPL pitches wont be like that you’d imagine – you’d have to think most pitches will be good for batting. I really think this line is wrong and I’m happy to back overs.

Top Chennai Batsman – Faf Du Plessis at 20/1 with Paddy Power. (IGNORE - see comments)

OK so a bit of guess work here in the sense that I cant tell you for sure whether or not he’ll open the batting – all I can say is that he did open the batting last year.. and that on that basis 20/1 is massive, even if he wasn't opening the batting, should he be 20/1 after the year he has had? SkyBet go 5/1 and I think that's more reflective of his chance should he open the batting, if he doesn't I think he would be a 10/1 – 12/1 shot. He's Saffer T20 captain and given the strong core of Indian players at Chennai he's bound to get a game, he's had an excellent year and if he strides out first game to open 20/1 will look absolutely massive.

Top Mumbai Batsman – Rohit Sharma at 7/2 with Paddy Power and Ricky Ponting at 4/1 with SkyBet.

I knew Sachin would be favourite here! Head in hands. He's been on the decline for a while and even though he’ll get a few dodgy LBW calls his way because he's Sachin I still cant see him being consistent enough to top score. In 2010 Sachin scored 618 runs, in 2011 553 and in 2012 I actually cant find how many he scored but it was lower than 336 as that's the last named highest scorer on the IPL list I have – you see the pattern anyway, he's getting less runs every year. Rohit Sharma top scored for Mumbai last year with 433 runs and Ricky Ponting has had a good year in domestic cricket in Australia. Obviously one will lose and whether or not its wise to back both we will have to see, but I expect the two of them to be the most important batters for Mumbai and because Sachin is so short in the market I feel there's plenty of value in the other options against him so I’m happy to back both.

Those are my main three markets, but there are other markets of interest I’m gonna run through without feeling that strongly to have a bet on. Paddy Power also have a highest team total to go with the lowest team total – its set at 223.5 5/6 either side – this line has only ever been covered four times in IPL (in three IPL years) and wasn't covered last year, with the top score being 222/5. Bar maybe RCB, Chennai and Delhi I’m not sure any other team can cover it, and I think I’d lean towards unders if pushed, but not enough to back it – Chris Gayle might cover it at Bangalore and Chennai have a strong lineup and sometimes their pitch can be a belter. One to leave alone I think.

Speaking of those teams, Chris Gayle heads up the RCB top batsman at 8/11, no value there although I think he’ll win. Shane Watson is of a small interest at 9/4 top Rajasthan Royals, but I think there is better value on Mumbai and Faf bets to get involved. I’d back David Warner top Delhi batsman if I could get 4/1+ but at the moment the best on offer is 3/1, Mahela Jayawardene actually looks big at 9/2 with Paddy Power given its only a three horse race there and he will probably be the most consistent out of the three, only thing you have against you is the top two will blast runs quicker than Mahela. Hat-trick bowled I thought was a bit skinny at 1/2 with Paddy Power, and at the moment they are the only markets the bookies have up, I’m sure there will be more but I’m fairly happy with my bets and that will do me. Hopefully everyone has a good tournament, good luck!

SUMMARY (on a 3pt to 0.25pt scale):

Lowest Team Tournament Score: 2pts win over 81.5 at 5/6 with Paddy Power.

Top Chennai Batsman – 1pt win Faf Du Plessis at 20/1 with Paddy Power. (IGNORE - see comments)

Top Mumbai Batsman – 1pt win Rohit Sharma at 7/2 with Paddy Power and 1pt Ricky Ponting at 4/1 with SkyBet.

Golden Shaheen preview

Now we get serious in the Dubai World Cup night previews with the sprints and some Aussie representation! For the last of his previews, it's back to David Haddrell from Star Sports ... @davidhaddrell.

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Golden Shaheen

The Golden Shaheen is a 6f Group One run on Meydan's Tapeta track and it's a real test of speed. After a couple of below par years with Rocket Man attracting all attention, we've got an open contest with candidates from all corners of the globe lining up.

1. Frederick Engels - Former UK sprinter who won the Norfolk and July Cup as a two year old for David Brown before being sold to Hong Kong. Really took a while to adjust to life in the former British colony but has recently been thriving and was recently touched off by top HK sprinters Eagle Regiment and Lucky Nine. It'll be interesting to see how Eagle Regiment gets on in the Al Quoz as a handle on this fella's form on a world stage and they could even be worth a small double. Connections claim that Fred has been loving the Tapeta surface and they seem pretty bullish. Drawn against the rail and whilst he's been held up in HK, he was a prominent racer in the UK and I think that'll be the way he'll be ridden here. Very interesting runner and would be dangerous to discount him.

2. Gordon Lord Byron - Improved beyond all recognition in 2012 having run in a handicap off 88 less that twelve months ago. Touched off in the Haydock Sprint Cup before winning a soft Prix Foret on Arc weekend at Longchamp. Has handled the synthetic surface very well at Dundalk so got to presume he will handle this too. Travelling is no problem for him, he finished fourth in Hong Kong at the end of last year and he's had a prep for this. My issue is he's thrown in against hardened worldwide Group One sprinters here and on a surface he's not run on before, he's worth opposing at his relatively skinny price given the opposition.

3. Trinniberg - The US champion sprinter having taken the Breeders Cup Sprint at Santa Anita on dirt in November. He's got a nice draw for one that likes to get on with things but the big problem I have with him is that he's never run on synthetics and that's a huge question mark for a horse travelling here at single figures for me. If he takes to the surface, he'll probably win but it's a big ask given how many American horses have struggled here in recent years.

4. Reply - Decent two year old for Ballydoyle but barely did a jot in 2012 and returns here fresh as a four year old on a surface he's never encountered before after looking like he didn't train on last year. Couldn't have him at all and if he was trained by anyone else, he'd be 100/1.

5. Reynaldothewizard - There must be something in the water at Mr Seemar's gaff as this one and a couple of others from there have improved beyond all recognition this winter. He is a Meydan legend and has been round more times than the tractor and he somehow won the trial for this race last time out by four lengths. On that form, he'd have a shout but his performances on the clock haven't backed them up and I suspect he will struggle here against some serious sprinters and there's not really much juice in his price.

6. Balmont Mast - Irish raider who has been running well here but bumping into horses like Mental and Reynaldothewizard. Not really much to put in his favour regarding why he can reverse those places but he wasn't given the best of rides and he is one that I think will outrun his 40/1 price, probably without getting paid.

7. Kavanagh - Finished behind Mental on Tapeta before beating Ballista on turf. That is't Group One sprinting form but he does look like the type of De Kock horses which just keeps on improving when on a roll and he was only beat a length by Mental despite it looking like it could be more. The time of his turf win was sensational, one of the best ratings of the carnival and I have a feeling he could improve again and give Mental something to think about. 11/1 is a big EW price for me.

8. United Color - Former Italian horse who's got a soft Italian Group 3 and a Meydan handicap to his name. Unbeaten on the track but that's as he was beating handicappers. Hard to see him taking a hand in this.

9. Kaisei Legend - Japanese sprinter who has a couple of listed dirt sprints on his CV out there. Started this year with two shockers round Tokyo in better class over further and was put in his place. Extremely unlikely winner.

10. Mental - Top class Australian sprinter who showed them all how it was done in his only Dubai run beating Kavanagh over C&D comfortably. Clearly a very talented sprinter and one they'll probably take to war at Ascot. Deserves to be favourite but I'm not rushing to take 3/1 with Barzalona onboard from the 10 box.

11. Tamaathul - Solid handicapper in the UAE but well beaten by Kavanagh and Mental this year and that won't be changing here.

12. Private Zone - Well backed at the start of the week and his American connections are apparently bullish of a big run despite the wide draw. Certainly has the form and has handled synthetics in the States. Pedroza has a job getting to the front from 12 though and whilst I can see why he was backed at 20s, I'm not sure if I'd be so keen to take 12. Dangerous to rule out though and potentially the surprise package but not for me at the price.

13. Krypton Factor - Last year's winner comes into this in lesser form than last year having seeing the rear of both Mental and Reynaldothewizard. Fallon gets on with him very well but he's going to have to produce something special to get the boy's 2012 sparkle back in a stronger race than last year from the outside stall.

A fascinating race and whilst Mental is the one to beat with all the ticks in most of the boxes, the half ticks in the draw and jockey boxes are enough to put me off in a race this strong. I was torn between something new in Frederick Engels and something to reverse the form in Kavanagh. Mike De Kock's charge looked like he was an upward curve last time out and whilst all the attention has been on his sprinter in the turf race, this lad could spring a surprise and he'd be my bet at 11s.

Advice: Back Kavanagh EW at 11/1 but perhaps have a saver with Frederick Engels

Dubai World Cup preview

Now it's time for the headline act - the Dubai World Cup. Once again, expert analysis from international form guru David Haddrell, @davidhaddrell, who appears courtesy of "the gentleman's bookmaker" StarSports.

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Dubai World Cup

This is a weak renewal of the world’s richest race and it scarcely resembles a Group One. Either way, there are some decent American runners along with the usual local Godolphin mass entries, and it’s an interesting race nonetheless.

1. Treasure Beach – Irish Derby winner two years ago but has struggled to land a blow in most races since that Summer. Finished sixth in the trial for this race behind Hunter’s Light and ran a big race in the Sheema Classic last year. I can’t see him winning this but I think he’ll come on for his prep and if he runs to his best, he won’t be far away.

2. Red Cadeaux – Globetrotting star who’s been beaten a short-head in a Melbourne Cup and won a Hong Kong Vase. Had a good record on synthetics in the UK and has the class to win this but the step back in trip is a worry but I still think 25/1 underestimates his chances in a weak renewal.

3. Dullahan – If Dullahan was coming here off the plane, I’d think he would be close to favourite given his sensational record on synthetics in the US. However, he ran over a mile here on Super Saturday and got stuffed and showed absolutely nothing. Very hard to recommend him after that despite his record on other synthetic surfaces.

4. Hunter’s Light – Improving Godolphin colt who’s won his two starts in Meydan after a blossoming Autumn European campaign. Impossible to find fault with him having won both races in Dubai impressively and he’s well drawn and more than a worthy favourite in my opinion. Will be tough to beat.

5. Capponi – Not ran since coming second in this race last year and has a phenomenal record on Tapeta. If he runs a race like he did twelve months ago, he’ll be very hard to beat but has to be a concern that he’s coming into this without a run and always the danger with ones from these connections that he’s been ruined.

6. Side Glance – Encountering Tapeta and 1m2f for the first time but can’t blame connections for having a go at this race. However, despite having strong European form, it’s a big ask to be thrown in here with two brand new variables for him and I couldn’t recommend him from a betting angle.

7. Planteur – 3rd in the race last year and then came second to Golden Lilac and wasn’t disgraced in the Prince of Wales. Granted he’s not the horse he was when sent off a fancied runner for the Arc but he won’t need to be to win this. The time of his Lingfield prep was fantastic and the rumour was he needed the run and it will have bought him on a lot. This is a weaker race than last year and he’s had a prep this time and 14/1 vastly underestimates his chances in this race. I’ll be amazed if he’s out of the frame.

8. Royal Delta – American mare which smashes fillies only races for fun in the States but came out here last year and was tailed. I see no reasons why that will change this year despite her being a fancied runner and having bits of synthetics form.

9. Meandre – Andre Fabre colt who’s had a career of mixed fortunes having won the GP De Paris in 2011 but hasn’t gone on since then having winning soft Group races in Europe. Got stuffed in his prep on his first run on synthetics last time at Chantilly and has a huge task on his plate here.

10. Monterosso – Last year’s winner but was unfancied and found a lot of improvement out of nowhere and has been stuffed in two runs since. Think he’ll need to get given whatever he had last year to make it back to back wins….

11. African Story – Redirected here from the Godolphin Mile as this is a soft renewal and he loves Tapeta. I can see him having no problems with the 1m2f trip and it’s hard to find many faults with him. The draw and trip are very slight concerns but they are negated by the price IMO.

12. Animal Kingdom – Kentucky Derby winner two years ago and only won a claimer on his return to racing but second in two Grade Ones but they were on turf and weren’t strong races. Encounters Tapeta for the first time and given the poor record that Americans have had on it so far (admittedly a small sample size), it’s hard to recommend him at around 5/1.

13. Kassiano – Proved a revelation in handicaps around this track and stepped up to Group One company last time but put in his place by Hunter’s Light last time. Was a bit unlucky there but hard to see him turning the tables in this race from the outside stall.

Hunter’s Light has a massive chance in this and I really cannot find a fault with him but 4/1 is the right price for him and I can’t back him at the right price. I can’t have the American horses at all at the prices with question marks over them all for different reasons. Kassiano, Treasure Beach and Red Cadeaux all have small EW value at double figures. P

Planteur is one of my strongest antepost bets in a while, he ran a huge race in this last year when Marco Botti hadn’t had him for long without a prep. He’s ran a very strong time in his prep for this and even just a repeat of last year’s run will see him in the frame at the very least. Ryan Moore is onboard, he’s got a good draw, he handles the track and surface and this renewal is weak enough that you don’t need to be an International Group One horse to win it. 14/1 is probably twice the price he should be and it’s an all in bet for me to bring the curtain down on the Dubai carnival.

Advice: Have the absolute lot on Planteur EW at 14/1

Dubai Duty Free preview

Another preview from the fascinating Dubai World Cup night card from international form analyst David Haddrell, @davidhaddrell, who appears courtesy of "the gentleman's bookmaker" StarSports. Watch out for the Kiwi runner is all I'll say....

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Dubai Duty Free

The Dubai Duty Free is ran over the unusual distance of 1m1f on Meydan’s turf track. It has often been targeted by European trainers and last year saw a runaway winner in Cityscape. This year’s renewal is a strong renewal with lots of different form lines represented. Let’s run through the field….

1. Aesop’s Fables – Ex-Andre Fabre trained colt who won a very weak Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly last year. Has had two runs in Meydan, one over C&D when finishing fourth behind The Apache. Has since got beaten a long way on Tapeta and hard to recommend him here when plenty of others have better Dubai form.

2. I’m A Dreamer – British trained Globetrotting filly who had a spell Stateside last year winning a Grade 1 at Arlington. That was a weak fillies and mares affair and whilst she’s a good filly I think this test is a bit tougher than she’s used to, especially first time up.

3. City Style – Ultra consistent Meydan performer who’s never unplaced at Meydan. Third in this race last year and ran two good races in Group races this year. Would be dangerous to rule him out at 16/1.

4. Little Mike – US raider who won the Breeders Cup Turf over 1m4f. Had a prep for this race on the Tapeta over 1m2f, only came 8th but wasn’t disgraced on a new surface. He’d be dangerous to rule out but prices have him about right for me.

5. Sajjhaa – Extremely talented mare who ran in the Oaks on only her second run as a three year old. Has thrived in Meydan this winter winning all three races, the last twice when unfancied against flashier types. Cannot fault her in any way; unbeaten at the track, has won the trial for this race and has Silvestre onboard again. Should be at least joint favourite for me.

6. Igugu – De Kock talking horse who battered everything in sight in South Africa but has been turned over as favourite on two runs out in Dubai, put in her place by Sajjhaa on both occasions. De Kock says she’s shown signs of being in season and not adjusting to Meydan but even so, cannot see how she can possibly turnover the four lengths Sajjhaa has had on her in two runs.

7. Ocean Park – Definitely the most interesting runner in the race. Coming all the way from New Zealand having won the Australian Cox Plate in October. Has since won a New Zealand Group One as a prep for this race and whilst it’s hard to compare his form with the UAE/European runners, it looks strong enough to take a hand in this. Murtagh is an eye catching booking and he is a fascinating runner but I think the market has spotted him and not taken any chances, I am not rushing to take 6/1.

8. Fulbright – Another consistent Godolphin horse who’s not unplaced in three starts at Meydan but was put in his place by Trade Storm and UK form is a fair bit short of the standard in this race. Will give his all but can pass him over.

9. Giofra – French mare who won the Falmouth last year and placed in the Opera and the Hong Kong Cup. On a line through Alcopop, that puts her close to Ocean Park, if not in front of him as rough as that calculation is. She travels well, won first time up last season and will go on the ground. Another female who’s very very hard to find any faults with.

10. The Apache – Mike De Kock trained colt that’s won and placed in his two starts out in Dubai. Beat City Style first time up and then ran second to Sajjhaa last time after hanging left. Find it hard to see why or how he’ll reverse the placings with her in this race though.

11. Mushreq – Won two of his five starts out here, both wins coming on the turf track over 1m and 1m2f. Those wins were incredibly impressive on the clock and would take most renewals of this race. Hanagan will have his work cut out in this stronger field from stall 11 but he is a very strong candidate and I think he’s been underestimated in the betting as he’s not got top class European form and won lesser races in Dubai. Certainly the value in the race.

12. Wigmore Hall – Admirable globetrotter who has run in this race for the last two years without winning. I see no reason why he’ll improve on his fourth and fifth placings in those years, especially when Little Mike took care of him out in Arlington last Summer. One that’s easy to pass over from a wide draw.

13. French Fifteen – Chased Camelot home in the 2000 Guineas last year but gone backwards in three starts since and got beat in a Chantilly polytrack conditions race as a prep for this. Will really have to regain his sparkle to land this, and probably even improve on that given how poor last year’s three year old crop were.

14. Trade Storm – The sexy horse in the race. Progressive handicapper in the UK who showed what he was really made of over C&D in a handicap on Valentines Day before winning a Group 2 easily from Musir earlier this month. He can be dropped in so his wide draw isn’t a concern and he’s been backing his visually impressive performances up on the clock but he lacks the group form of some of these and he’s far too short for me at 4/1 in as field this strong.

A fascinating renewal of this race with three very strong candidates with Meydan form alone in Trade Storm, Sajjhaa and Mushreq who really are hard to fault but given Trade Storm is half the price of the other two and has the wider draw and less Group race form, he’s just no value at all. Ocean Park and Giofra have very strong claims too; I feel the Kiwi has been spotted as a potential fly in the ointment by the bookies though and 6/1 is certainly no gift in my opinion. That leaves Sajjhaa, Mushreq and Giofra and I find it very hard to split them; if the race was ran at Longchamp, I’d say Giofra but I feel I have to side with the local pairing here as they have done nothing wrong at the track and look top class. Mushreq has a smidgen more value in him at the price but I couldn’t let Sajjhaa go unbacked at 8s either so I’ll be backing the both of them.

Advice: Sajjhaa EW at 8/1 and Mushreq EW at 10/1

Godolphin Mile preview

It's World Cup night on Saturday in Dubai but don't be fooled into thinking that the headline event is the best race on the card. There are some great races on the programme, the Cup is just one of them. I'll be covering most of the races here on the blog, and one of the contributors drafted in is international form expert David Haddrell, @davidhaddrell. First up, the Godolphin Mile....

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Godolphin Mile

A very competitive renewal of this Group One over a mile ran on the Tapeta track to kick off the card for the proper horses and not the pantomine Arab-breds. Last year's winner African Story swerves this assignment for the World Cup which probably is no tougher than this but has a higher purse and prestige so the local mob are keen to divert equine resources to that race in order to keep their mitts on the big prize.

Anyway, even allowing for his absence, we've got a strong field of 16 runners going to post for the race and I'll briefly summarise each of them here...

1. Alpha - Ex US horse which has had one run in the UAE which was a disaster finishing last. Got smashed in the Breeders Cup Classic before that too. Drawn on the inside and interesting that Godolphin only rely on this, Time Prisoner and Moonwalk In Paris but it still has a hell of a lot to find to land a blow in this. I made it the complete rag of the field.

2. Mufarrh - Ran second in this race in 2011 and didn't return to the track until just before Christmas last. Slowly got back to form and won a handicap last time out but beating the likes of Banna Boirche a nose there is a long way off what's required to win this and he's not shown he's got the class he had two years ago. I'd be in no rush to take 12s despite the draw and Fallon up (who's been riding very well out in Dubai this Winter).

3 Red Jazz - Contested this race in 2011 and 2012, getting placed in both renewals coming straight here. This time he's had a prep, finishing 10th of 14 in the trial for this race. Concerning that he could place straight off the plane in those races but ran no race fresh this time. Also a bit older and European form is no better than in previous years so couldn't recommend him to make it third time lucky out here.

4. Time Prisoner - Ex French horse which has had 5 runs out in Dubai, winning 2 handicaps. Came 4th in weak G2 sprint last time out on Tapeta but best runs prior to that were on turf and another one who's form looks a touch short of the required here.

5. Zazou - German raider who took the scalp of Cirrus Des Aigles just over a year ago on the polytrack at Chantilly. Not won since and beaten in that race this year. Can see no signs why he'd take a hand at the shorter trip here despite coming 5th in the World Cup last year. Suspect he had his chance in 2012 and unlikely to trouble less exposed rivals.

6. Surfer - Local runner who should be respected having chased the World Cup fav home the last twice. Drops back to 1m here which he's won over C&D at before and he's ultra consistent. Would be dangerous to rule out but already been nibbled at in the market over the last few days.

7. Sarkiyla - French filly who showed a liking for quick ground she rarely encountered in Europe last year. Wasn't beaten far behind superstar Moonlight Cloud in the Moulin at Longchamp on ground she wouldn't have enjoyed. I suspect Tapeta will suit her down to the ground and whilst her jockey has put some erratic displays in over the past 2 years, he's very good when at his best and at 14/1, she looks the bet of the race to me. Unexposed, likely to enjoy the surface and has good European form to bring to the table. Connections rarely travel their dud fillies and I think she'll give you a good shout for your money.

8. Master Of Hounds - Consistent Meydan performer that's plied his trade mainly on the turf track in Dubai. Looked a bit below his best this season and last Tapeta run in last year's World Cup was probably tilting at windmills. Ran well on the surface before that in the 2012 season but will need to be right back to his best to land this but one that's hard to put a line through.

9. Rerouted - Very consistent handicapper for Mike De Kock, formally with Barry Hills and used as Frankel's defunct pacemaker! Put in some nice handicap performances out in the desert and won his last two races on the surface but this is quite a step up from the challenges he's been facing. Easy to skip by in favour of other runners.

10. Haatheq - The rag of the field I'd want to be with. 50s with the firms but only beaten 4L by Moonwalk In Paris and came 5th in this last year. Form coming into this is no worse than last year and this is probably a weaker renewal. Will probably outrun his price without getting paid but if you like a rag, he'd be one to side with.

11. Penitent - Improved no end since joining David O'Meara but has mainly been winning weak group races in Europe. His wins last year came when he was handy and the talented Danny Tudhope's options are limited from the 11 box. Never ran on Tapeta before and whilst he's an admirable horse who you couldn't fault, you wonder whether sending him here when there will be soft ground group races at home in coming weeks was the right idea. Not for me as second favourite in the race.

12. Capital Attraction - Champion UAE trainer sends this one here which ran second to last years winner of this race last time out and yet it's 20/1 for the race. The draw and jockey aren't huge positives but he's consistent and loves the surface and 20/1 definitely underestimates his chances in this race.

13. Soft Falling Rain - Your standard sexy Mike De Kock horse. Won all five starts including two on the Meydan Tapeta track, one of which was over C&D, both wins here very impressive so what's not to like? Well he's only a 3/1 shot drawn out by the Burj and he's facing older horses for the first time. The price kills it.

14. Saamidd - Once touted as a rival to Frankel but firmly put in his place by him in the Dewhurst. Had the usual Godolphin setback campaign involving getting beaten by Paul Midgely trained animals in Yorkshire but showed a glimmer of his old self back in his owners back yard the last twice behind Moonwalk In Paris and African Story. Buick up and whilst drawn in 14 isn't ideal, I can see him outrunning his 33/1 price for sure and he starts slowly and can be dropped in so 14 isn't as worrying as it would be for some.

15. Moonwalk In Paris - Seemed to enjoy Dubai and Godolphin obviously sent him here as a replacement for African Story. A few have said he's overpriced at 11/1 but drawn out in 15 with Ajtebi up? Clearly talented and goes on the track but 11/1 is about the right price taking everything into consideration.

16. Barbecue Eddie - Eddie is a legend around Meydan having dotted up in numerous conditions and minor group races at the track, especially in the Autumn. He's often come up short when the big boys and girls from Europe come out to play from January onwards and I think that will continue to be the case here despite having the assistance of a hugely under rated pilot in Patt Dobbs onboard.

This race has lost its star favourite in African Story and I think that's one reason why De Kock has sent Soft Falling Rain here instead of the UAE Derby but I can't have him at the prices. Capital Attraction is a model of consistency on the surface and ran a lovely trial for the race having progressed dramatically from the Autumn handicaps that they hold here but I think he's going to struggle to take the prize home for his local in form trainer. Haatheq also should give a very good account of himself and out run his ridiculous 50/1 price but he's another local horse that will make the odds compilers look a little silly without bagging the No.1 spot. I have often said that backing unglamorous local horses at this meeting is the most profitable strategy but that seems to have corrected itself in recent years and in this race, I'm siding with one of only two horses in this race that have never flown into Dubai before. Sarkiyla brings strong European form to this race and her very shrewd trainer wouldn't be lobbing her in an all sex race like this on a whim and given she seems to like a sounder surface back in Europe, she should go on the Tapeta here and 14/1 is a big price for such an unexposed horse from a world class yard like hers.

Advice: Sarkiyla EW at 14/1 with small EW savers on Capital Attraction and Haatheq.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

IPL 2013 Preview

The sixth edition of the Indian Premier League starts next week, delivering 76 matches of high-tempo T20 action, always brilliant for trading. I've drafted in a cricket trading expert, Stephen Maher, @gamblerfalls, to go through the betting options in detail. First up, a look at the main markets, and there'll be another one as more bookies price up exotics over the next few days. You can read more of Stephen's expertise on his blog - gamblerfalls.com

IPL 2013 Preview

Well, the madness is nearly here! I thought I’d do a quick run through the squads before I start finding bets, but most of my bets will be on side markets anyway. Throughout the tournament this year my plan is to get involved in the markets as late as possible, I usually wait until after the first innings to start but this year I think I’ll be waiting even longer, five maybe ten overs into the chase – so many games went to the final few overs last year and that's where the best opportunities/value really was. But who knows how this year will turn out, as always with the IPL, expect the unexpected!

Chennai Super Kings – best priced at 9/2.

Really solid team, and even though being favourite obviously implies this, the most likely winners for me – bound to make the semi-finals so 9/2 is probably a decent enough long term position even with a trade in mind, theyve won it in 2010 and 2011 and finished runners-up last year – a real clutch team, will probably sleep-walk through the league then then become a different animal in ‘need-to-win’ games – I’d personally have them shorter. I suppose what makes them so strong is the core of top-class India players they have, Dhoni, Ashwin, Raina, Jadeja and then you also have Murali Vijay who has done well in the India team against Australia recently, its such an advantage to have those players and not trying to pick four overseas players from ten top-class ones and then having to play the local mugs to make up the numbers, like other teams below. Their overseas players are solid too, you’ll have Michael Hussey recently retired from Test cricket so should be in a good place coming into this, Dwayne Bravo who can bat and bowl, Albie Morkel who can be a match winner (at times!), Francois Du Plessis new Saffer T20 captain and in amazing form this year and the recent addition of Dirk Nannes is a positive, while Ben Hilfenhaus is very decent at this level. That is a seriously solid squad, by far the strongest on paper and it’ll be hard to beat them.

Full squad: Akila Dananjaya, Albie Morkel, Anirudha Srikkanth, Ankit Singh Rajpoot, B Aparajith, Ben Hilfenhaus, Ben Laughlin, Christopher Morris, Dirk Nannes, Dwayne Bravo, Francois Du Plessis, Imtiaz Ahmed, Jason Holder, Michael Hussey, Mohit Sharma, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Murali Vijay, Nuwan Kulasekara, R Karthikeyan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ronit More, Shadab Jakati, Subramaniam Badrinath, Suresh Raina, Vijay Shankar, Wriddhiman Saha.

Kolkata Knight Riders – best priced 9/2.

Last year's winners, before that they always looked like a good team on paper but somehow never managed to do well. The problem I see looking at the squad on paper is too many good overseas players and not enough good Indian players, there aren't many match winners past Gambhir and Pathan and even then I wouldn't be relying on them. Obviously the overseas players look a good bunch and it’ll be tough enough to pick four that can carry some of the locals – four from Haddin, Lee, Morgan, B McCullum, Kallis, Pattinson, McLaren, ten Doeschate, Narine, Shakib Al Hasan and Senanayake is the problem. You also have to factor in losing B McCullum some time in May depending on when the New Zealand squad decide to meet up before the tour of England (1st Test 16th of May – I also dont see Morgan being in the England squad so thats less of a problem). Narine being amazing last year was such a positive for them, I wonder will teams have found out a way to see him off this year. I would just have them a bit bigger in the betting based on their lack of Indian talent and I’d want to see how Narine goes this year too.

Full squad: Brad Haddin, Brendon McCullum, Brett Lee, Debabrata Das, Eoin Morgan, Gautam Gambhir, Iqbal Abdulla, Jacques Kallis, James Pattinson, Lakshmipathy Balaji Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Manoj Tiwary, Manvinder Bisla, Mohammad Shami, Pradeep Sangwan, Rajat Bhatia, Ryan McLaren, Ryan ten Doeschate, Sachithra Senanayake, Sarabjit Singh Ladda, Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Yusuf Pathan.

Mumbai Indians – best priced 5/1.

Sticking my neck out a bit here, but I hate their batting on paper. Sachin is well past his best now and he's bound to chew up balls, you then have a problem of who opens with him because hes bound to put pressure on them, Levi was useless last year and has been shipped off. Blizzard and Franklin have also failed opening with Sachin – I would imagine Dwayne Smith will open which may work. You have the overseas nearly packed with Aussies (seen how well they went against India!) Maxwell isn't worth the money (1M+), Hughes seemingly can't play spin, Coulter-Nile lived off one good innings in the BBL, Mitchell Johnson is well, Mitchell Johnson, don't know what's coming with him and Ricky Ponting is getting on a bit although he may turn out to be the best buy. Then you have Oram who gets injured but plays on nearly every game and obviously we know how good Malinga and Pollard are at this level – although they really have to start sending in Pollard earlier. Too often they’ll end up wasting balls at the start and send in Pollard needing 12+ an over. Obviously Malinga is a huge plus and will take plenty of wickets, and the Indians are OK, Ojha stands out as does Rohit Sharma – the team I would play has five overseas in it which is a problem, if you don't get Smith to open with Sachin – you then have to drop one of Ponting, Maxwell, Pollard and Malinga, maybe they’ll get Ponting to open? I just can't see the team gelling together at all, after the money they spent on Maxwell and Ponting they probably “have” to play.

Full Squad: Abu Nechim Ahmed, Akshar Patel, Aditya Tare, Aiden Blizzard, Ambati Rayudu, Amitoze Singh, Dhawal Kulkarni, Dinesh Karthik, Dwayne Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Harbhajan Singh, Jacob Oram, Jalaj Saxena, James Franklin, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Mitchell Johnson, Munaf Patel, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Philip Hughes, Pawan Suyal, Pragyan Ojha, Ricky Ponting, Rishi Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Suryakumar Yadav, Sushant Marathe, Yuzvendra Singh Chahal.

Delhi Daredevils – best priced 11/2.

Before the tournament has even started they're off to a poor one with the news Kevin Pietersen is out, and they swapped Ross Taylor for Ashish Nehra already because they had too many batsmen, although I suppose with New Zealand having a Test series in between the IPL its not that much of a loss, just with no KP now you’d want to ring and get Taylor back! Much like KKR Indian talent isn't aplenty here, you have such a strong top order batting but the middle order will more than likely collapse after they're gone. Sehwag (what Sehwag will turn up) will open with Warner and then you have Jayawardene who is obviously the most reliable – compared to previous years you would have KP or Taylor walking in next, which you dont now and that's a massive blow – the top three fail and theyre up shit creek without a paddle. Along with Warner and Jayawardene the other two overseas I would go with are obviously Morne Morkel, and I’d play Andre Russell as a batsman who can bowl you a few overs (they'll probably play him as a bowler but he's a much better batsman than bowler, I think anyway), but they'll probably have to play Botha for the middle overs spin or Jeevan Mendis to strengthen the batting. I would imagine Morkel and Yadav steaming in will pick up early wickets and that can possibly keep the scores down and paper over the cracks in the middle order for them.

Full squad: Ajit Agarkar, Andre Russell, Arisht Singhvi, Ashish Nehra, CM Gautam, David Warner, Gulam Bodi, Irfan Pathan, Jeevan Mendis, Jesse Ryder, Johan Botha, Kedar Jadhav, Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene, Manpreet Juneja, Morne Morkel, Naman Ojha, Pawan Negi, Roelof Van Der Merwe, Royston Dias, Siddarth Kaul, Sujit Nayak, Shahbaz Nadeem, Umesh Yadav, Unmukt Chand, Varun Aaron, Venugopal Rao, Virender Sehwag, Yogesh Nagar.

Royal Challengers Bangalore – best priced 11/2.

Personally I’d have them a little shorter, certainly shorter than Mumbai and Delhi anyway, but they are somewhat unlucky (not sure if unlucky is the right word here) that they play at a ground that is 3,018ft (or 920m) above sea level, obviously scores are going to be very high and sometimes that turns the games into lotteries – but you’d still have to have a slight fancy for them making the top four. Chris Gayle will open the batting which is quite handy isn't it? He's not a bad T20 player. Hopefully Dilshan opens the batting with him (they have had problems picking four overseas in the past) as if they pick a local mug to open the batting he’ll more than likely put pressure on Gayle. Pujara at three, Kohli at four and AB de Villiers at five is a powerful line-up, its such a plus to have Pujara as before they’d have to add the extra overseas batsman but the form he's in he solves that problem. Hopefully they (although they probably wont) drop Muralitharan as he looked well past it last year I can only imagine he's worse this year, that leaves picking an overseas from Ravi Rampaul, Daniel Christian, Daniel Vettori and Moises Henriques (there are others but I don't think they'll get a look in). They'll probably have to pick someone for their bowling as that looks light, if Zaheer Khan gets injured that leaves a big hole – but again you know playing at that ground where nearly 200 is par the bowlers nearly turn into bowling machines, but away from home they probably will struggle in that department.

Full squad: AB De Villiers, Abhimanyu Mithun, Abhinav Mukund, Andrew McDonald, Arun Karthik, Cheteshwar Pujara, Chris Gayle, Christopher Barnwell, Daniel Christian, Daniel Vettori, Harshal Patel, Jaidev Unadkat, K P Appanna, Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal, Moises Henriques Murali Kartik, Muttiah Muralitharan, Pankaj Singh, Prasanth Parameswaran, R Vinay Kumar, Ravi Rampaul, Rudra Pratap Singh, S Aravind, Sandeep Warrier, Saurabh Tiwary, Sheldon Jackson, Sunny Sohal, Syed Mohammad, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Vijay Zol, Virat Kohli, Zaheer Khan.

Pune Warriors – best priced 12/1.

Dark horses for me, and I might look at having a bet that they get into the top four. A shame the outright market only pays 1-2 for E/W when there's a third place playoff game too. Only CSK have better Indians, but they'll have to pick well from Mendis, Mathews, Luke Wright, Marlon Samuels, Steve Smith, Ross Taylor and Tamim Iqbal. If you're backing them pray Wayne Parnell doesnt get a look in, and knowing IPL teams' obsession with Aussies they'll probably pick Mitchell Marsh and Smith without thinking twice. Theres a real problem picking the four here, my four overseas would be Mathews and Samuels certs and then two from Wright, Taylor, Mendis and Smith. They will probably go for Taylor in there on name alone though, its a huge positive for them Michael Clarke is injured as hes not a T20 player and they probably would have picked him. You then have Yuvraj Singh leading the Indian players, hopefully they make him captain. The main reason why I like them is the T20 specialists really, and they can all bat/bowl/field.. Mathews, Wright, Samuels, Smith, Yuvraj are decent players at everything then you have Taylor, Uthappa and Iqbal to add to the batting, also Rahul Sharma and Dinda should help the bowling. I’d give them a decent chance if everything clicks, on paper it looks like they could be awesome or they could be crap, it just depends on how the team gels together, and obviously their four overseas picks – probably that decision is the most important here out of all the teams.

Full squad: Abhishek Nayar, Ajantha Mendis, Ali Murtaza, Angelo Mathews, Anustup Majumdar, Ashoke Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dheeraj Jadhav, Eklavya Dwivedi, Harpreet Singh, Ishwar Pandey, Kane Richardson, Krishnakant Upadhyay Luke Wright, Mahesh Rawat, Manish Pandey, Marlon Samuels, Michael Clarke, Mitchell Marsh, Mithun Manhas, Parveez Rasool, Rahul Sharma, Raiphi Gomez, Robin Uthappa, Ross Taylor, Shrikant Wagh, Steve Smith, Tirumalasetti Suman, Tamim Iqbal, Udit Birla, Yuvraj Singh, Wayne Parnell.

Kings Xi Punjab – best priced 14/1.

Can't see them doing well at all. Will be led by Adam Gilchrist who looked well passed his best last year so I can only imagine he'll be even worse this time around. Shaun Marsh and Azhar Mahmood will be their best players and they should win them a game or two in fairness, I just can't see them not being in the bottom three. They're scraping the barrel for Indian talent and they have to choose the final spot of their overseas from Hussey, Miller, Harris, Pomersbach and Mascarenhas. They'll probably have no choice but to pick Harris or Mascarenhas for their bowling, and not playing Miller will be a big blow as he's a very good T20 player. Probably a better team without Gilchrist, but we all know he'll play. Paul Valthaty has been decent in the past and he'll probably open the batting too.

Full squad: Adam Gilchrist, Aniket Choudhary, Azhar Mahmood, Bhargav Bhatt, Bipul Sharma, David Hussey, David Miller, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Gurkeerat Mann Singh, Harmeet Singh Bansal, Luke Pomersbach, Manan Vohra, Mandeep Singh, Manpreet Gony, Nitin Saini, Parvinder Awana, Paul Valthaty, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, R Sathish, Ryan Harris, Sandeep Sharma, Shaun Marsh, Siddharth Chitnis, Sunny Singh.

Rajasthan Royals – best priced 16/1.

The original winners when lead by Shane Warne in 2008, they haven't done much since. They actually don't have the worse team in the world but for some reason just struggle to do well, again lack of Indian talent past, Dravid (who isn't a T20 player obviously), Sreesanth and Rahene who both are hardly the first Indian names you’d pick anyway. They do have the best named man in the whole tournament though, he is a local called ‘Sachin Baby’ no really, that's his name. Awesome. Decent overseas players in fairness with four coming from Watson, Hodge, Hogg, Shah, Faulkner, Edwards, Cooper, Tait, Kusal Janith Perera and Badree. Talk about an Aussie love-in. I find it hard to pick four there to be honest, obviously Watson is the first name down, then Faulkner really impressed me against the Windies, probably Shah and Hogg – then I’m leaving out Hodge which I don't want to do. They'll probably pick Tait on his name too. Again, can't see them out of the bottom three and selection has got to be a huge worry, Aussies getting tonked 4-0 against India and this team basically being Rajasthan Aussies has got to be a huge worry as well!

Full squad: Ajinkya Rahane, Ajit Chandila, Ankeet Chavan, Amit Singh, Ashok Menaria, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Dishant Yagnik, Fidel Edwards, Harmeet Singh, James Faulkner, Kevon Cooper, Kusal Janith Perera, Owais Shah, Pravin Tambe, Rahul Dravid, Rahul Shukla, S Sreesanth, Sachin Baby, Samuel Badree, Sanju Samson, Shane Watson, Shaun Tait, Shreevats Goswami, Siddharth Trivedi, Stuart Binny.

Sunrisers Hyderabad – best priced 16/1.

Formerly the Declan Chargers, who collapsed nearly every game. They don't look awful, but they don't look like they'll be out of the bottom three either. Again the overseas look OK, four from Steyn, Sangakkara, N McCullum, Thisara Perera, de Kock, White, Sammy, McKay and Lynn. Probably Steyn and Sanga are the first names on the teamsheet. Then I would add Sammy for his batting and bowling, and I’d make him captain as I think he has done wonderfully for team moral being captain of Windies, and de Kock has done well in the Saffer domestic T20, although they'll probably pick White or McKay on their name. Shikhar Dhawan, Ishant Sharma and Amit Mishra stick out as the main Indians. I hope they don't do too badly and I would certainly have them as a better team than the other two outsiders, however they need to prove they have left the Deccan collapses behind them.

Full squad: Akshath Reddy, Amit Mishra, Anand Rajan, Ankit Sharma, Ashish Reddy, Biplab Samantray, Cameron White, Chris Lynn, Clint McKay, Dale Steyn, Darren Sammy, Dwaraka Ravi Teja, Hanuma Vihari, Ishant Sharma, Jean-Paul Duminy, Karan Sharma, Kumar Sangakkara, Nathan McCullum, Parthiv Patel, Quinton de Kock, Sachin Rana, Shikhar Dhawan, Sudeep Tyagi, Thalaivan Sargunam, Thisara Perera, Veer Pratap Singh.

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Before I do the top batsman and top bowler I must say that at the moment (an exact week away from the start) we only have two bookies pricing things up, so I think there is a chance you’ll get bigger prices but I’m going to go off the prices on offer at the moment. I will be doing another piece on further side markets, top team batsman and highest/lowest scores, batsmen match bets, those type of markets if we do get them so keep an eye out for that – I thought it best to put this up as I think we'll have to wait until one/two days before the tournament to get a decent amount of side markets and if I do put everything together it would probably be too big/long anyway.

Top Batsman

This is hard in betting terms, if there was no betting we’ll all say “Chris Gayle will win” and go make a cup of tea, but sure life would be boring without betting wouldn't it. In all seriousness, it is seriously hard to see Gayle not going very close, he has won it the last two years – and last year he got off to a bad start and still absolutely tonked everyone else, he finished 143 runs ahead of Gambhir in second place. To be honest I think Gayle will win and I would take 5/1+ if I could get it, but I'll try have a few guesses at finding someone past Gayle.

Main things I want are: Don't miss games (especially at the start as pitches will be at their best then), bat in the top three and score quickly. That rules out the second and third places from last year, Gambhir and Dhawan as they both have injuries and will miss the first week (probably more with Dhawan?) and it also rules out B McCullum which is notable because he has been in supreme form against England, in fact hes in the best form of his life, but hes going to miss the second half of the tournament with New Zealand playing England and you have to ask yourself will he score more runs than everyone else in only 60% of the time. Others at the top of the betting I'm happy to take on are Kohli who finished second in 2011, I think he’ll be a side show to Gayle to be honest. Michael Hussey, can't have him at the odds as he's likely to play the glue role around all the biffers at CSK. I can't rely on Sehwag so hes out, and Vijay, Pujara, Kallis, Ponting, Sachin, Sangakkara and Jayawardene don't score quick enough in my opinion.

I do like Warner and Watson both at 25/1 (Paddy Power) – OK both didn't look great against India but this will be a different level and they'll both get soft runs against the lesser local seamers at the top of the order.. both score quickly and can hit a long ball, so should accumulate runs quickly plus at some stage you’d imagine they'll cause carnage and score 100 or so. To be honest I think its unfair to rate them on the Tests anyway, both are T20 batsmen and you don't have to look back too far to the World T20 in Sri Lanka where Watson top scored.

The others I like, although admittedly I don't know at what number they'll bat at, are Marlon Samuels at 50/1, Faf du Plessis at 75/1 and Yuvraj Singh at 80/1 (all Paddy Power). Marlon Samuels actually scored more runs than Chris Gayle at the WT20 last year batting lower in the order, he can score quickly and hit a long ball, the only problem is I don't know where he’ll bat, he could be anywhere between three, four and five, but he's top class. Faf Du Plessis could actually open the batting for CSK which maybe some bookies haven't thought of, he's been in amazing form this year and he has to be feeling great lately being full-time Saffer T20 captain. And Yuvraj Singh coming back from cancer, probably a good bit of a guess this one, but anytime I've seen him lately he's looked in good touch and he still has that big hit hitting power, again the same problem as with Marlon (they're both in the same team), who will come in to bat first – probably Marlon so Yuvraj is probably only worth a token bet at 80/1, but someone with his talent is worth a token bet at 80/1.

Top Bowler

Going to be very boring here, but I can't see past those at the top of the market at all. Except for Ashwin, he doesn't pick up that many wickets and will be focusing on keeping runs down rather than wickets, Dhoni also likes to open the bowling with him too which is difficult for a spinner. Morne Morkel won it last year with 25 wickets in 16 games, obviously with his pace/height/bounce he will have the local boys scared shitless and he's bound to be up there but can he go as well as last year? Narine is an imponderable, how will he bowl.. surely teams will have set plans in how to see him off after he was such a match winner last year, he'll still surely pick up plenty of wickets from the locals though – but since the IPL last year he hasn't looked that good. Again, like Morkel, he's bound to be up there but I'm not sure if I’d want to back them at the odds. And Steyn should do better this year than last, he was basically a one man show at Deccan last year and still picked up 18 wickets in 12 matches.

I said I was going to be very boring and I am, I really can't see past a Malinga E/W bet at 5/1+, you get four places and 1/4 odds. He finished top in 2011 with 28 wickets from 16 matches and third last year with 22 wickets in 14 matches – two matches less than Morkel and who's to say he wouldn't have picked up three wickets, he is the king of the IPL and every time he bowls he’ll have batsmen attacking him in the final overs, and he'll also get plenty of the local mugs out if he bowls early or midway through the innings – I just find it so hard to see him out of the top four. I don't think anyone can win it outside of Malinga, Narine, Morkel and Steyn really (although I have picked two names below) – Narine and Morkel have to carry on their good form from last year and Steyn has to find seven more wickets to catch the leaders. Whether or not 5/1 is a bet in this type of market, that's down to personal opinion, its just hard to see Malinga not being up there once he doesn't get injured. Its the type of thing that, if Gayle was 5/1+ I’d back him too, but he's coming in under that.

Another two worth a mention are James Faulkner at 30/1, I thought he bowled fantastic when Australia played West Indies, he's bound to pick up wickets bowling that line and length to the locals, big question is how will he go in India and to be honest maybe with that in mind he should be a little bigger if one was to get involved. And Ajantha Mendis at 40/1, some people say he's shit and he just bowls straight, but he still absolutely bamboozles the lessor players and he seems to have gone under the radar, he's bound to pick up a few handy wickets, he claimed top wicket taker at the WT20 and who knows maybe he could be this years Narine.

SUMMARY (on a 3pt to 0.25pt scale):

Outright Tournament: 1pt Chennai at 9/2 and 0.5pts Pune at 12/1.

Top Batsman: 0.25pts Watson at 25/1, 0.25pts Warner at 25/1, 0.25pts Marlon Samuels at 50/1 and splitting 0.25pts between Faf Du Plessis at 75/1 and Yuvraj Singh at 80/1. Hard to get Gayle beaten to be honest but sure we’ll have a go.

Top Bowler: 1pt E/W Malinga at 5/1 and 0.25pts E/W Mendis at 40/1.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Coolmore Classic previews

This great mares race from Rosehill proved so popular with my guest writers that two of them had a crack at it, making it a little tough to decide which one to use! My hand was forced by the different formats they used, so I'm not doubling up on text...

First up, the document version from Premium Punting, @premiumpunting - with a speed map and a comparison table, it's easier to let you read this in the original form, text on the blog can't do it justice.



And from Wally Gisik, @gisikus

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Coolmore Classic

Historical

Last 20 years 3yo Fillies 8x; 4yos 6x; 5yos 4x & 6yos 2x. All but 1 of the 3yo fillies were placed in the Surround Stakes (other filly Typhoon Tracy beat mares in the Frances Tressady). 3 fillies (Skating, Bollinger & Regal Cheer) won the Surround/ Coolmore double. Older mares through a variety of races though Chlorophyll & Ofcourseican both won the Liverpool City Cup.

Overall 15 of last 20 placed previous start (10 wins, 4x 2nd, 1x 3rd)

Candidates

Streama (Walter/Bowman) Two fair runs back from a spell, history not kind to higher weights here (unless you’re called Sunline). Won the Tea Rose at Trk/dist. Beaten 3L as a 3yo in this last year with 55kg. Can’t pot Bowman. $17

Red Tracer (Waller/Brown) Had 4 attempts at winning at F&M G1 level for 0 placings so bit stiff with 57.5kg for mine. Any rain assist. $15

Steps In Time (O’Shea/Rawiller) been flying over shorter in a carbon copy of last year’s autumn prep. Once again I have doubts over the distance and her ability to lead all the way here. Nash a plus but not keen $6

Pear Tart (Thompson/Reith) Her Queensland winter form of 2012 was looking a mirage, did improve last start but best suited heavy ground. $31

Appearance (Walter/Shinn) G1 Mares winner gets in with 55kg. Will be much better suited if the pressure goes on than she was last time out. Goes in the multis $15

Dear Demi (Conners/Cassidy) Iron filly having 18th career start, she tends to get better as her prep gets longer. Drawn midfield and history suits the filly. Must have in multis $6.50

Norzita (JB Cummings/McDonald) travelled like the winner last start before getting bloused by Flying Snitzel. G1 Flight winner she should be primed 3rd up for the master. Has a 2-0 record over Dear Demi with 6L between them in those 2 runs. Top Pick $5.50

Zurella (Ritchie/J Collett) Won her Aust debut at Flem in the spring but that seemed to bottom her for the rest of the prep. Fair return in G1 at Te Rapa last month. Looks a value hope. Specked $31 into $21

Star of Giselle (Ellerton/Dunn) Not sure what to do with Melbourne form, but she has been flying against her own sex with 2x G3 wins and a listed. $21 looks about right.

Driefontein (Waterhouse/Berry) Won her first four as a 2yo but has been unable to win during her ‘teen’ years. Fought on well in the Surround so fits the profile as Gai looks for win number 5 in the race. Could end up being the bunny but $17 worth thought

Flying Snitzel (Ryan/Williams) I’m not sure what to do after the flashing light win especially when she returns to Sydney where she appeared well covered by the fillies up here. In the end the betting says she is well found at $9 so I’ll probably pass

Bennetta (Begg/Boss) logical conclusion is that she hit the end of her prep last start…and who am I to stand on logic. Given those thoughts I would want better than the $8.50 on offer

Risk Aversion (Lakey/McMahon) scary runner as our only sighting down south was a close run 2nd on the heavy behind Red Tracer. What else to say. No shock if this was the target. $31

Irish Dream (Quinton/Clipperton) can safely put the line through this one. $101

Top Pick: Norzita. Would like to get $6+ though.

Savers: Some obvious tips behind her but I want some value so Appearance $15 running on late whilst Driefontein $17 could give a sight. I only looked at Sportsbet & Centrebet so you may get even better your fancy.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Canterbury Stakes preview

The Sydney Carnival hits top gear this week with three Group 1s and three Group 2s at Rosehill Gardens. The first of the previews comes from regular contributor Kieran Fitzgerald, @kjob85, and it is an absolute gem of a race.

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Canterbury Stakes (1300m)

Running on the first day of the Sydney Carnival, this is the first year that this race has been run at Group 1 level and the field that has been entered does not disappoint, with a field of black type winners including a showdown between the two stars of last Autumn: the great mare More Joyous and exciting young colt Pierro. On a cracking day of racing at Rosehill Gardens, the Canterbury Stakes should be one of the day's highlights.

Happy Trails Resuming for his first run after a successful spring campaign that culminated with a win in the Group One Emirates Stakes. In his favour, he has run okay the Sydney way before, has the champion jockey Glen Boss on board who raced him to victory in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes in September, and runs reasonably well fresh. However, he will need to have that career-best form from spring with him here if he is to match it with this field.

Rain Affair After a strong Sydney Carnival last year, Rain Affair was spelled and raced twice in the spring with mixed results. However, he is a quality horse and should not be underestimated, having beaten and placed against strong opposition in the past including beating Shoot Out and running second to Atlantic Jewel while carrying 4.5 kilos more than her in last year's All Aged Stakes. I would keep an eye on Rain Affair but a win might be too much to ask for.

Moment of Change Moment of Change is in very good form at the moment, having run a strong second to Black Caviar in the Lightning Stakes and then just being edged out in the Newmarket Handicap by Shamexpress. His sectional times this prep have been excellent and the distance suits him well. While he has drawn an outside barrier in a race that should have a quick pace, he is running fit and fast at the moment, and has experience going the Sydney way. He could be a definite surprise here and I wouldn't rule him out.

Solzhenitsyn Another horse resuming after a successful spring campaign. After racing out of Queensland, Solzhenitsyn performed well in Melbourne although his campaign ended disappointingly when he ran out of puff running to the line in the Emirates Stakes. He is a quality horse and is up to performing at Group One level, however his first up form is mixed and against this field he should be outclassed. I would look for a solid performance to build up his fitness and keep an eye on him over the Sydney carnival.

Fontelina While a proven black type performer, Fontelina has been found wanting at this kind of elite level, with disappointing performances in the past in the Newmarket, the Patinack and the Australian Guineas. His second-up form is mixed and while a drop in class may suit, he will find it too tough here.

Aeronautical He likes Rosehill and recently finished third in the Newmarket, but Aeronautical is out of his depth here. Although he has drawn well, has Craig Williams on board and has form at Rosehill, this is a strong field and he does not have the depth that you want to see here.

More Joyous Seeking to become the first horse to win this race 3 years in a row since Holdfast (1930-32). More Joyous was a star of last spring, winning 3 Group One races and, despite the cries of some critics, cementing her place as a legend of the turf. She is racing first up after mixed results last spring, however she flies first up and is unbeaten at this track. The question with More Joyous is whether she is past her prime or not and there is no way of knowing this. Although her age comes into question in this field, she has delivered in the past when people had written her off, and in a race, track and distance where she has proven herself amply it would be foolhardy to dismiss her.

Secret Admirer A horse that tends to place but has trouble breaking through. I like Secret Admirer but see her winning above this distance, at a mile and above. She should have a good prep this autumn but this distance is too short for her against a field better suited to it.

Mid Summer Music The perennial surprise packet. She has strong second-up form and likes this distance. A look at the form indicates that Mid Summer Music is outclassed here but she has beaten or run second to very good horses before and to write her off here would be folly and she represents good value for a place bet.

Pierro Pierro is, quite frankly, the most exciting young racehorse of the last twenty years. If not longer. It is simply a pleasure to watch this horse race. His record is outstanding for a horse of his age – 11 starts for 9 wins, with a second place in the Caulfield Guineas against proven performer All Too Hard and a third place in Australia's greatest race the Cox Plate. With the blinkers back on after his first-up win at Warwick Farm last start, Pierro will be right up there and should be hard to take on.

Suggested Bet
It seems romantic to suggest that More Joyous and Pierro will battle this out but this should be the case. This will be a cracking race run at a fast pace, and no one is out of contention. The wildcard in the race is Moment of Change, with the other potentials being Mid Summer Music and Secret Admirer. However, the more proven performers should get the better of them on the day. In a very tough field, for me it will be Pierro taking the honours from Moment of Change, with More Joyous edged out for third place and Rain Affair behind her. Be cautious with your betting but enjoy the show, it will be a cracker.

Pierro
Moment of Change
More Joyous
Rain Affair