Friday, 28 February 2014

InterDominion Super Sunday preview

The highlight of southern hemisphere harness racing is the Inter Dominion Championship. Historically it has been a three-week series of heats and final, now after a set of regional heats, the grand finale is a final with a stunning support card. The shrewdest offshore harness punter, Ben Krahe, casts an eye over the whole day's programme.

---------------

Preview of Super Sunday at Menangle Paceway 2 March 2014 by Ben Krahe - @benkrahe

A great day's racing awaits us for what is dubbed Super Sunday, and rightly so to. Seven Group 1s will be held and three Group 2s – surely enough to wet any racing enthusiast’s appetite. The headline act – the Interdominion is still Australasia's biggest race and the winners are only the elite – four-time winner BLACKS A FAKE, three-time winners IM THEMIGHTYQUINN and OUR SIR VANCELOT, dual champions GAMMALITE, HONDO GRATTAN and CAPTAIN SANDY, and other champions such as WESTBURN GRANT, VILLAGE KID, SHAKAMAKER and the list goes on. Accompanied by the Chariots of Fire, the NSW Derby and Oaks, The Glenferrie Farm Challenge for the square-gaiters, The Ladyship Mile for the mares, and the Bohemia Crystal FFA, which is a consolation for the big race. Below is a preview of the 10 race card. If you are heading out to Menangle on Sunday, it’s a great day and a wonderful track, and I’ll be watching from the cushy confines of my villa overlooking the clear blue seas of Thailand.

Race 1 – Young Drivers Championship
A great way to start off the day with my best bet for the day MAGICAL TELF. A noted sit sprinter with a devastating burst, Sam Ottley will be have to be very patient and not go for home too early on this horse, but even with her inexperience I expect MT to be storming down the outside and early on in the day, you will be able to double your bank balance and go to the beer tent very happy with the 1st race. For exotic players, TEO ENTEO is flying since it came to Menangle racking up 2 wins and 2 places from 4 recent starts. CONDAGEN which is drawn the pole, will also be flying home and is another noted sit sprinter. Others to consider are ON THE RAZZLE and POACHER.

Suggested Bet – MAGICAL TELF to win (Best of the day)

Race 2 – Lady Drivers Invitational
Another good thing to keep the momentum going is FRANCO NORIEGA. Danielle Hill from SA will spear this gelding straight to the lead and if it can run its usual 1.53 mark it will be extremely hard to beat. Those in the pack running for 2nd and 3rd will include the well drawn MEDAL OF HONOUR, WINDINHERHAIR, the bookies friend WESTERN ROCKSTAR and LETTUCEFIB.

Suggested Bet – FRANCO NORIEGA to win (2nd best of the day)

Race 3 – NSW OAKS
A great clash between former Kiwi trained NIKE FRANCO (now in the hands of Dean Braun) and Kiwi raider MY WILLOW (trained by Mark Purdon). Also in the mix are former champion juvenile MINDARIE PRIDDY, up and coming very good horse QUICK DRAFT, and NSW very nice horse SPICKY STRIDE. I think this is actually a terrible draw for race favourite NF. MW crossed it easily last time and the proceeded to hand up. If this scenario happens again the MP will be first to take the lead off MW which could lead NF 3 pegs. While all this goes on, QD may also be heading forward into the breeze. A great race, where I expect MW will get a split at some stage and may prove to solid.

Suggested Bet – My WILLOW to win

Race 4 – LADYSHIP MILE
Champion Kiwi ADORE ME steps across the Tasman here in what should be a procession for it. Those running for placings include former Miracle Mile winner BABY BLING (although not in quite as scintillating form), STEAM WASHED (flying in Melb and can run on), ELUSIVE CHICK (going for a hattrick of wins at the track), VANSUMIC and TACT HAYLEYS DELIGHT (both well drawn). As AM will be about the 4s on mark the suggested bet will be a F4.

Suggested Bet – 11/1,2,4,5,7/1,2,4,5,7/1,2,4,5,7,9,10

Race 5 – NSW DERBY
Expect YAYAS HOT SPOT with Lauren Panella on board to come out humming from near the outside barrier and then to put the handbrake on and look to take a trail. First there might be BLING IT ON, who took YYHS into the race last time. ALL BLACK STRIDE had a soft lead last time but wont get such a good run this time , and the other logical danger is Kiwi ISAIAH who looked much better last week around the big Menangle track. MAJOR CROCKER ran a huge race last week , I don’t expect it to be holding out YYHS though , and will be nicely positioned 3 pegs. IAM MR BRIGHTSIDE is the big surprise horse of this bunch and is currently airborne. I expect though that BIO – who has consistently been the best of his age this year to hold out a fast finshing IS and YYHS.

Suggested Bet – BLING IT ON to win

Race 6 – CHARIOTS OF FIRE
GINGER BLISS looks to get the early lead here. BORDER CONTROL should come to the death seat and be able to control the race from there. ELIOS went good 1st up from the Shaky Isles last week and is a definite place chance. MAJESTIC MACH hasn’t lived up to the early spruiks for mine and is a bit overrated as its not being gifted the lead anymore it’s the bigger races. The run of the heats arguably though came from GUARANTEED who stormed down the outside to win its heat. CHILLI PALMER actually beat GUAR last time but will need a miracle and plenty of speed on to win from the carpark. NOWITZKI won some big races in the west last time in but was only ok here 1st up against a much weaker lineup. FRANCO NELSON is an obvious danger from what will be a cushy barrier draw but I’m just a bit concerned about him. All in all a fabulous race in what no doubt will be a great formline leading into next years Grand Circuit races.

Suggested Bet - BORDER CONTROL and GUARANTEED to win

Race 7 – Interdominion Final
What a race. The only obvious omission is 3 time champ Quinny but for those that are presently racing we have the best that’s available.
1- IM VICTORIUS ($4.60) – Best of the west at the moment and although barrier 1 may look a good draw.. it will be 3 pegs at best for mine. This isn’t a bad thing though in these marathon races and if given an opportunity it will be storming home at the finish. 7/2 is filthy odds however. Should be double those odds at best.
2- LIVINGONTHEINTEREST ($61) – Ran 2nd in its heat after leading around the tight GP circuit. Wont be leading here or winning either. Unders - should be 500/1
3- SEEL N PRINT ($41) – If you told me a month ago this guy would win a heat then a lead up a week out I would’ve asked you what you have been smoking. However facts don’t lie and both weeks there’s been high speed on its races and this sit sprinter has won both last starts fair and square. The 3000m will suit but still only a rough place chance.
4- KEAYANG CULLEN ($18) – Good win after very soft run in track record time in the heat. Wont be behind the leader here and near impossible to see it winning. Think it will start a lot longer than the $18 on offer atm.
5- FOREVER GOLD ($151) – Won by far the weakest heat in QLD beating a bunch of walkers. The $151 is missing a zero.
6- MACH BEAUTY ($31) – I owned an ill-fated horse once by the name of The Hayne Train. Last January we decided to take it to Tamworth for a lowly rated final called the Golden Guitar. Guess who won it? Future ID heat winner and finalist Mach Beauty. FML. What’s the chances ? Anyway a year on and this guy has Scintillating gate speed and will cross to the markers first. Then he should be handing up to whichever of the favoured runners comes to the chair first. A good place chance but not convinced he can run a strong 3000m
7- WARTIME SWEETHEART ($151) – If this guy wins I’ll walk from Hua Hin (where I currently reside) to Bangkok – yes its 250km….
8- SMOLDA ($5) – Could be the horse to take the lead of MB. This guy is flying and a MASSIVE chance to win this race.. He is a freak, and if he wins I’m sure Australia will claim him as his own. Mark Purdon has this guy spot on at his 3rd run from a spell. His win first up had to be seen to be believed then ran an easy 2nd in what was a 400m race up the lane at Addington in absolutely unbelievable sectionals. I think he can win.
9- CARIBBEAN BLASTER ($11) – is there a more consistent Grand Circuit horse at the moment? Won a Chariots of Fire here as an outsider but has taken all before him since. Won the SA Cup, 3rd in a Ballarat Cup, 2nd in a Hunter Cup and 4th in an ID heat in his last 4 starts. If this guy gets the right run into the race he is absolutely capable of winning this. Will be probably be about 5/2 a place is a great ew bet in the race.
10- THE GOLD ACE ($15) – Not the worst $15 chance in a Group 1 I’ve ever seen. If Smolda isn’t the one to wrestle the lead of Mach Beauty this guy might be. Has great gate speed and from the outside of the front I can see him heading forward into a nice spot. A model of consistency lately which includes a 6th in the Victoria Cup, 1st in the Shepparton Cup, 6th in the Ballarat Cup, 3rd in the Hunter Cup and 3rd in the ID Heat , I can definitely see this guy in the first 4 or so.
11- RESTREPO ($12) – Previously a great sit-sprinter , he opted to try and lead all the way in the heat only to be run down by Keayang Cullen who had the much better run in track record time. Is obviously flying , and although I wasn’t sure this horse was Grand Circuit material a year ago, he has proven me wrong. The draw isn’t ideal and may be 4 pegs , but if the heavens open up he can storm home into a place. Will get better than $12 on the day if you fancy him
12- BEAUTIDE ($3.80) – Tassie and Miracle Mile champ BEAUTIDE deserves favourtism but its not all cut and dried. I thought it was a tad disappointing last week, and is also suspect at the championship distance of 3000m. Decisions will have to be made with it on whether to go forward early or whether to come with a withering burst – the way it won the Miracle Mile. I tipped him in the MM but today I think this may be beyond him and am happy to lay him at under 3/1
13- FOR A REASON ($7) – Comeback horse Frank the Tank loves the circuit and has won its only start over this distance range. Expect champion reinsman Luke McCarthy to position this guy up in the back half of the field and get a tag into the race. If they “go like the clappers” in the lead , then there isn’t a runner that can match him down the lane. He will come storming home and has explosive speed when left for one run. Won the Victoria Cup at huge odds, expect him to be in the finish. Definitely include in the multiples
14- TERROR TO LOVE ($11) – Was ready to tip the Kiwi Champ until the horror draw. Not sure where he gets to now.. Does he go early and get a forward position? I think its his only chance. Menangle record on paper doesn’t read well but has won 6 from 11 over the 3000m. Surely that’s important? Menangle form suspect? Well it has run 2nd in a Miracle Mile 4th in an Interdom final and 2nd in a Cordina Sprint, so its definitely not a mug around this circuit as some may suggest. I think this guy can run a huge race even from the visitors draw and leave this guy out of your multiples at your own peril
15- FRANCO NELSON – SCRATCHED
16- PUB BLITZ ($151) – 1st emergency that probably wont get a start. Better suited to the later FFA. Can’t win even with 50m head start
17- ARDGHAL ($151) – 2nd emergency. Kiwi Import that got beat in a c2-c4 at Maitland 4 starts ago. In an ID final now? Please…Tab… come on I know your system allows more than 150/1
SUGGESTED BET – SMOLDA to win
TRIFECTA SELECTION – 8-14-9-13
SUGGESTED F4 – 8,9,12,13,14/8,9,12,13,14/1,8,9,10,11,12,13,14/1,8,9,10,11,12,13,14

Race 8 – Bohemia Crystal FFA
The consolation for the ID brings together a capable group. JIVIN CULLEN is current favourite and probably deserves it after a good run in its heat. At the shortish quote though happy to bet around it. IM CORZIN TERROR finally got the win it deserved last time in the Terang Cup and will be in the firing line from the get-go. MAH SISH has been disappointing of late but did well last start when 5th in the Brian Hancock Cup in 1.50.2.

Suggested Bet – IM CORZIN TERROR to win

Race 9 – Glenferrie Farm Challenge
The trotting event for the day brings together the best from Australia and NZ. MY HIGH EXPECTATIONS is airborne at the moment stinging together 6 wins in a row. The obvious leader in the race, I expect it to be winning this race. MASTER LAVROS probably wont appreciate the barrier 1 draw. He is arguably NZ’s best trotter but will need luck from there. VULCAN isn’t quite going as good as when it won the Great Southern Star last year, but hinted it was back to something like its best last start. I SEE ICY EARL is flying and with speed on and the right run can figure in the placings. STENT is another extremely smart Kiwi who is in form. If FLYING ISA gets a start (2nd em) it will definitely be in the mix too. KEYSTONE DEL is 10/16 at the track and 5/6 at the distance including a 1.54 mile rate so obviously is no mug but today is the big league.

Suggested Bet – MY HIGH EXPECTATIONS at around the 6/4 mark looks good.

Race 10 – Allied Express Carnival Stakes
I’m sure the pockets (and the belly) is full by now, so it wont be the get-out stakes but the fill-up stakes for us today. Arguably the toughest race of the day so if you’ve had enough get out after backing the last trot winner. If you must have a bet then maybe today is the day for PACHACUTI. Has been a little disappointing recently but there is speed galore here. SHIPWRECK, GOD SEND, SATELLITE ACE and BETTOR BET BLACK will be all searching for the lead. With this speed battle going on, PACHA, could be left with the gun run from the barrier and be too good for them. As I said though, if you are already way in front (as I suspect) then be happy and enjoy what has no doubt been a fantastic day's racing.

Suggested Bet – Something small on PACHACUTI each way

Congratulations also must go to HRNSW on their marketing for this day and to again gain access to Free-to-air TV coverage for the final. The more people that see this spectacle the better and hopefully will get a new audience.

My tips (and rants) can be found on twitter - @benkrahe.
BEST OF LUCK FROM SUNNY THAILAND

Rosehill R8 preview

On most feature race days, you'll have one or two lesser quality races programmed to fill the card. The owners mightn't win as much, but there's no reason punters can't take home as much they could on the highlight of the day.

Making her debut on the blog is Colleen Goth, @colleengoth, with her look at the last race on the Rosehill card, always an important one if you're chasing, or still in the Quaddie, no matter what the standard (RM75). She's afraid to avoid the favourites, and if you think she is completely barmy going by her tip... the last blog debutant who tipped a horse at triple-figure odds was @calumswanlaw - and he landed it!

Welcome Colleen!

------------------------

Rosehill Gardens Race Handicap 2000m
1720 EST (0620 GMT)

Good Evening Punters

When Scott suggested that I “have a go” at giving you my thoughts on a race at Rosehill tomorrow I just had to choose the “have a go” last race, that final fling on the card that lets you go home a winner – or at least go home!”

You see, I have had some luck before on the last race on a wet Autumnal day at Rosehill. Curiously around this time last year I was on track welcoming the turn of the season with rains from heaven– as the weather pundits predict that we will do so again tomorrow. Then I was watching the track deteriorate along with the winnings in my purse. With nothing much to lose I decided to throw my last on the last in the form of a suitably dour Kiwi stayer who I figured had been going around in more wretchedly muddy fields at home and as often happens with a visitor had been sent out at dismissingly high odds. And he looked tough in the ring!

As I had hoped, he galloped relentlessly into a place and I jumped puddles all the way home as a winner. Strangely enough there is a horse running in the last race tomorrow who bears some similarities to my previous placegetter at odds. He also comes from far flung muddier fields - and he has been given the same sort of price. I am suggesting that he, too, might be worth a last final fling – but more of that later.

I am going to take you through the horses lining up for this race and give you my thoughts to ponder. Why should you listen to them you might ask? Who is this woman who is having a go at tipping like a pundit?

I guess you will be able to make an assessment after the race – remembering that if I am right I am a pop up genius and if I am wrong the track bias at Rosehill is to blame! But suffice to say here, I am an avid follower of racing and thoroughbred breeding who wins often enough to be plausible and may hold some different insights into what makes what horse good on the day. So, with nothing further to lose but my plausibility, here are my thoughts on this race:

1. Black Jag. The top weight is trained by Chris Waller with the steely jock Nash Rawiller on top. This horse is tough and seasoned and it won its last start on 19 February on a slow track at Warwick Farm. His dam is by Thunder Gulch who seems to transmit strength and this 5 year old gelding has won up to 2200m. But he will carry 59.5 kgs and in his last race he came from behind to pass a small field. Much harder to do that tomorrow on this track and in a bigger field. He will need all the ‘excitable’ energy that his well-named sire seems to transmit to his stock to push out to the finishing line.

2. Forever Crazy. Another Waller runner looking to be part of a typical Waller quinella although her name does not inspire me with confidence! Her jockey does though, as Hugh Bowman is a reliable winner and this 4 year old mare has won or placed in her first five races since resuming this year. You would be crazy not to respect that form and the reliable breeding cross of Encosta De Lago over a Danehill mare.

3. Tamariz. The Favourite, as Gai Waterhouse runners often are, this 4 year old Tiger Hill gelding brings a solid recent race record and ability to lead and win to this race. His sire is very well regarded in Europe for his stayers that improve with racing and jockey Tommy Berry is riding in superb style.

4. Ultimate Gaze. A 7 year old gelding by “tough as nails” sire Intergaze out of a dour New Zealand mare, this fellow will slog it out to the line and should not be underestimated. Nor should his young trainer Michael Costa who teams up Blake Shinn who is prepared to work for every win.

5. Diamond Jim. This 6 year old gelding is a favourite of mine who looked like winning last Saturday at Randwick without my money on him for once! He only managed fifth but it was a good run and he owes me! I started following him because I followed his dam Tarcoola Diamond and the match with sire Encosta looked great on paper. Nathan Berry has beaten twin Tommy in the marriage stakes and he appears even more determined now to catch up with him in race wins on the track!

6. Dophi’s Boy. This 7 year old gelding has pulled surprise wins on us punters before and he could do so again! If it does turn out to be good weather for ducks tomorrow then this son of a Dolphin Street should swim well enough. His sire Half Hennessy produces tough progeny though we don’t see many of them going around now.

7. Dormello. I have to say that I love this horse on looks and parentage. He is out of one of my favourite race mares in Cinque Cento who was constantly under rated and delivering winnings to prove it. Her own sire Nothin’ Leica Dane is remembered for his dourness but he could also transmit that turn of foot essential for getting to the line in staying contests. His sire More Than Ready has put a little pizzazz into the genetic mix. This 4 year old gelding keeps improving every run with his last two wins in a row at the provincials. The pedigree should work – after all, he is named after the famous Italian stud farm where Tesio, the ‘wizard of Dormello’, pioneered modern breeding principles and superb race horses such as Ribot.

8. Empress Elect. This 4 year old mare takes on the older males but carries only 55 kg. Her sire Holy Roman Emperor is producing winners and her mother is by the consistent broodmare sire Hurricane Sky. Her win last Friday night at Canterbury was remarkable not for the smallness of the field but for her determination in beating what was there. She could surprise again.

9. Rhyno Chaser (Scratched)

10. Retort Courteous. This 5 year old gelding looks outclassed with only its provincial wins on the board but it has a few important things in its favour: a consistent jockey, only 54kgs in weight to lump and the Zabeel factor. Never to be underestimated, the Zabeel blood comes to the fore with care and patience and these in turn are factors which trainer Steve Englegbrecht has in his favour.

11. Albana. I saw this horse win at Goulburn on 14 February after missing the start and I thought it showed tremendous resilience to win. With the apprentice claim it comes down in the weights and it is better than its current 30-1 odds suggest. Magic Albert horses are winning a lot and this one could sneak in at nice odds.

12. Lucky Liaison. This 5 year old gelding is getting better with racing but I can’t find enough reasons to put him into my selections – except for the latter statement which may well in the way of such things come back to haunt me. I don’t know enough about him or his bloodlines to say more except that I hope he lives up to the promise of his name.

13. Zutero. Now at last we get to my ‘have a go’ horse. Before you dismiss this Nowra trained gelding too quickly you have to cognisance of a few interesting factors. Firstly, this horse came to the South Coast by way of Germany where he won well – admittedly on a good track but then Europeans tend to have heavier tracks than we recognise on paper. Secondly, this 5 year old gelding is steadily improving under the astute care of trainer Robert Price who doesn’t bring horses up from the beach for a look at the city lights. I have learnt over the punting years to always take a very hard look at long priced, seemingly outclassed horses that Robert Price brings to town. And at odds of around 200-1 when I last looked, I can’t think of a better omen bet for me for my first have a go at a blog.

My Selections:

13. Zutero (each way)
7. Dormello
3. Tamariz
11. Albana

Hobartville Stakes preview

As autumn kicks off in Australia, that means two things for Sydney - bring the washing in, it's raining; and the quality of racing is sharply improving. This year's Sydney carnival has been reinvigorated by the creation of The Championships - also known as "spending a shitload of money to attract largely the same horses". An early lead-up to the Derby is traditionally the Hobartville Stakes, and there's quite a handy field going around. Contrary to the standard for Sydney racing, there are even more than nine horses lining up (well, at least before final scratching time anyway...).

Anyhow, enough of the piss-taking, it's time to welcome a new contributor to the blog, Andrew Capelin, a full-time betting analyst who focuses on Sydney and NSW Provincial racing. He provides markets to a select group of clients and will have a website available soon. For now, the bet place to find him is via Twitter, follow him @farlad. Welcome aboard Andrew!

------------------

Hobartville Stakes

The Hobartville Stakes is a Group 2 race run at set weights for three year olds over 1400 metres. Previously run at Warwick Farm, now at Rosehill. The race is the traditional first step towards the ATC Derby. Past winners include sires Thorn Park, Lonhro, Arena and Nothing Leica Dane as well as champions Pierro, Marscay, Baguette and Todman.

11 colts and geldings make up this year’s field with New Zealanders ATLANTE and EL ROCA adding to the intrigue of the up and running sprinters taking on the stayers on a derby path.

With rain falling in Sydney I am expecting a slow track. The rail is six metres out which puts it near the crown meaning the inside can hold up ok but by Race 6 it might be inferior.

1 Dissident J Cassidy – Peter Moody (6)
The winner of only one race comes here second up after an admirable first up run behind EL ROCA in the leadup. Best ever performance was a very tough second placing to $20 million colt ZOUSTAR in the Group 1 Golden Rose at this track and distance. Won’t settle too far away from the speed. Has some chance.

2 Romantic Touch T Berry – Gai Waterhouse (5)
Finished fast first up and has a Group 1 scalp over Zoustar (albeit the worst Group 1 race in Australia, JJ Atkins 2yo at Eagle Farm). Has failed on wet ground and seems to be racing further back this time. He might find a few of these too zippy for him.

3 Atlante G Schofield – Murray Baker (3)
The query runner. New Zealander with impressive record and a Group 1 win in NZ (they do count don’t they). Has trialled very well and will race up front. Has a hungry South African born jockey up back from enforced holiday for going too fast! Definite chance but I will risk him

4 Savvy Nature J McDonald – John O’ Shea (9)
The boom horse of last spring who came unstuck in the VRC Derby as $4 favourite. Has won first up and has an impressive SP profile in similar races. Untried on anything other than good ground. He won’t be wound up for this and I want to risk him.

5 El Roca H Bowman - Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young (10)
Avenged his unlucky Caulfield Guineas run with first up impressive win in listed 1200 this track 14 days ago. He’s an impressive individual who will go forward from the wide draw and probably sit handy and off the fence in the perfect spot. Unbeaten on dead ground ( I’m still allowed to call it dead, right?). Looks to have really developed and will be closer to his peak than most of these. Has the speed figures to win again. Really hard to beat.

6 Koroibete B Avdulla - Gerald Ryan (7)
Current Derby favourite. First try in Group company here but I feel he can measure up. A lovely horse with a graceful action who builds momentum beautifully. Probably gets too far back and will be better later on

7 Hooked N Berry – John Thompson (4)
Second up here after an acceptable first up effort in the lead up (beaten 4.1len). Will get back near last. Has been thereabouts in this company in the spring but I feel he is a rung below the better ones. A wet track advantages him slightly but not for me.

8 Liberty’s Choice T Clark – Gai Waterhouse (2)
First up. Impressive in two trial wins. Will race on pace but possibly in inferior ground near the fence (by Race 6). Is very consistent and should handle the ground ok. I just feel there might be too much pressure early as his best performances have been when dictating in front.

9 Woodbine N Rawiller – Gai Waterhouse (8)
Well-bred colt with an impressive record and SP profile in restricted races. First go in first grade. Is third up into this so has a fitness edge on the field which could come to the fore in the wet. Soft ground would be a query but he can race in the first half and get to the centre of the track. If he handles it, could be right in the finish.

10 Takewing B Shinn – Jason Coyle (1)
Maiden runner outgraded here. Failed last start on heavy at Warwick Farm and I have him well back on the fence. I couldn’t back it with Monopoly money

11 Swiggin S Clipperton (a) – Anthony Cummings (11)
Trainer likes to shoot for the stars and occasionally hits one. I liked his first up run at Wyong but it was at Wyong. He is a big type who might struggle to get momentum in the going. No thanks

Summary: I am keen on the favourite EL ROCA here. He maps well, is unbeaten on dead ground and looked to just be warming up late first up. Most of the others are in the wrong race or have their eyes on other prizes. WOODBINE for second and DISSIDENT third.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Australian Guineas preview

The 3yo feature of the Melbourne autumn/Festival of Racing/Relaxed Racing/ schedule is the Australian Guineas over the metric mile. As Manny says below, it's had a chequered run as to how prestigious the race turns out to be each year, but it is that all-important Group 1, and on paper, this is quite a decent field.

Returning after his assessment and tip last week were spot on, is astute form analyst Manny Galouzis, @mannygalouzis.

--------------------

Australian Guineas

G'day punters! All eyes on Flemington this week as we are treated to another edition of the Group 1 Australian Guineas. I hope some of you followed me in at the 9/4 on Moment of Change last week; fingers crossed we can make it two in a row! But first, a little bit of history on the great race.

Inaugurated in 1986, the Australian Guineas has been won by some decent horses over the years. That being said, in recent times, many of the winners have not gone on to do much else later in their careers. No Guineas winner since 2007 has gone on to win an open class Group 1. Enough history, time to find a winner.

1. Shamus Award

First-up after the strangest Cox Plate I've ever seen, my eyes were firmly planted on Shamus Award in the G1 Orr Stakes. Not from a financial perspective, but just to see if he is the real-deal, or if it was a fluke win. After the Orr, I'm not totally convinced either way. It was a decent enough run for a horse wanting further, but his inclination to lay-in and the fact he was only a few lengths behind Moment of Change on a slowish pace makes me want to risk him here. From barrier 9 he should be pressing forward and more than likely settle outside the leader. I think he is a place chance but I can't see him winning this.

2. Criterion

Quite a slashing first-up run for a horse who is going to be best over a minimum of 10 furlongs. I really like the way he finished off in the G3 CS Hayes Stakes, but I couldn't see him winning here. He will settle closer to last and storm home in a similar fashion to last start. Rough place chance but he won't be winning.

3. Eurozone

Unlucky not to have won first-up in the G1 Orr Stakes, Eurozone's credentials have been further confirmed after Moment of Change came out last week and won the G1 Futurity in impressive fashion. His last 100m was very encouraging and that says to me that this horse is cherry ripe going into Saturday's race. Bart came out a few days ago and said that he wasn't sure how Hucklebuck was favourite over Eurozone and I have to say, I agree with the great man. Eurozone should be the clear favourite for mine and I am all but declaring him in this race. The one to beat.

4. Thunder Fantasy

A very nice win first-up in the G2 Autumn Stakes, however he did have an absolute dream run in transit. He should get a similar run again here and could give punters a decent sight for the money at the 13/1 available. One of the chances.

5. Hucklebuck

The pre post favourite for the race for a while now, Hucklebuck will be out to try and give trainer Phillip Stokes his first Group 1 victory outside of Adelaide. This horse has built up a very impressive record of five wins from seven starts, never being out of a place. After his win last start, he cemented his favouritism for this race, but I am going to risk him. I am slightly worried about barrier eight, taking into consideration that the horse is usually in the first three pairs in running AND the Flemington 1600m start almost immediately goes into a large turn until they hit the home straight. This, in conjunction with Eurozone's last run being more impressive (in my humble opinion) means I think he is unders at the 11/4 currently available. He is obviously a massive chance of winning the race, but I'm taking him on.

6. Prince Harada

Tony Vasil has had massive wraps on this colt since day dot. He clearly has a ton of ability, but has trouble putting it altogether. I thought he stuck on very nicely last start. I don't think he can win, but if he has no issues then I can definitely see him running a place.

7. Rock Hero

David Payne has instructed that he will be ridden much quieter than last start here and based on that alone, I'm putting a pen through him. You won't see this horse's best until the ATC Derby, which has been the plan all along. Watch out for him finishing nicely down the outside, but he shouldn't be fighting out the finish.

8. Surge Ahead

Would have to improve 10 lengths to beat this lot, not for mine.

9. Teronado

I thought he finished off nice enough in the CS Hayes, but he will be giving them a very big start on the home turn. Pass.

10. The Quarterback

I liked his run last start, finishing off well enough to be beaten 2L. Barrier 11 makes things tricky. Could run a place, don't think he can win though.

11. Late Charge

See The Quarterback. Nice run last start, beaten 2L. Barrier 12, goes back and runs on. Can't win.

12. Alpha Beat

Not sure what Anthony Cummings is doing here; back in distance from the 1800m of the G2 Autumn Classic. He is 66/1 and that's probably a fair price. No.

13. Bardem

Only beaten 2.2L by Thunder Fantasy last start. I've probably seen worse 66/1 shots. That being said, can't have him here.

14. Artie's Shore

Beaten in a BM70 and then next start wins the Australian Guineas? Didn't think so. If he can run 8th and pick up $10,000 for connections, he's done well.

Surge Ahead will probably do just that and utilise its inside draw to take up the running, Shamus Award coming across from barrier 9 to sit outside of it. Prince Harada and Thunder Fantasy are likely to be the next two in running, and then Eurozone slotting in one off the fence outside of Bardem. Hucklebuck and Criterion next, with the rest of the field bringing them up. I'm not expecting a overly fast tempo. Horses settling in the first half of the field will be much better off than the rest of them. Eurozone and Thunder Fantasy should get the best runs in the race I think.

I've marked Eurozone a $2.60 favourite in this and given that as much as $5.00 is currently available with some corporates, he is a big bet for mine. Barrier 8 or not, Hucklebuck is in this up to his ears. I just can't get excited about the price. Thunder Fantasy could be a nice place bet at odds of about $3.75. He will lob in a handy spot and should be somewhere thereabouts in the home straight. Finally, if they go overly slow in front, Shamus Award could have a nice little kick left and take us all back to that fateful day at the Valley.

Selections:

3. Eurozone
5. Hucklebuck
4. Thunder Fantasy
1. Shamus Award

Recommended Bet:

Back EUROZONE the win.

Good luck punters, and as always, there is no such thing as the last race.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Foxhunter Trial - Fontwell 4.20 preview

Ut's not often I have a preview for Sunday racing but Cheltenham caters for many different classes of race, and while the Foxhunter Chase mightn't be blue deemed as blue riband, it still goes down as a Festival winner!

Kieran Kenneally, @kierankenneally chips in with the preview of this 3m2.5f Hunter Chase which will be a tough slog in the expected heavy going.

---------------------------------

Foxhunter Trial - Fontwell 4.20

I've always looked at the Kempton meeting at the end of February as the last piece in the Cheltenham jigsaw puzzle, and it has thrown up many a winner over the years. Having said that and with some top class racing all over the world this weekend, it can sometimes pay to look at the smaller meetings for value or a smaller stables "Gold Cup!"

The 4:20 at Fontwell on Sunday is one such race. Sally Duckett sends Radetsky March here for his second run of the season. His record for the last five years on his second run is Won 25/1, 2nd 28/1, Won 20/1, Won 10/1 and Won 11/10! Early prices this year suggest he may be available at 7/1. This two-time course winner, including this race last year can keep up a remarkable sequence and put up a stout defence of this race. (Ed. - bizarre stat on this horses - last 10 starts, three wins, seven times pulled up!)

The likely hot favourite this year Richard's Sundance on early showings at 1/2 is in my opinion way too short and worth taking on. On a line through Le Beau Bai he has little in hand, if anything on the selection.

Adept Aproach is a course winner in a fast time and as a younger horse may be the biggest danger!

Arkendale last won on the track on the 27-10-09 and would appear to prefer better ground.

The other two runners, Behind The Scenes (never won on the track) and Man From Moscow would have little chance on ratings!

In conclusion for a horse with a return of over £50+ (including p2p's) to a £1 stake in his career and a strike rate of around 25% Radetsky March rates a maximum bet from me to continue a six year love affair. I have won close to €3,000 on this horse in that time with a biggest bet of around €50. For those of you worried about taking on a short favourite, there is still each way value in a 7/1 price for two places!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Eider Chase preview

Getting this close to Cheltenham, we start to see the stars put into cotton wool and held back until the Festival. But a few weeks later, the attention moves to Aintree and this field is certainly more suited to the Grand National than the Champion Chase. This will be one very long slog in the heavy ground, regular contributor Jon da Silva, @creamontop returns with his unique style of analysis....

-------------------------------------

Newcastle's Eider Chase
4 miles 1F
Going Heavy


I worked in Newcastle for 14 weeks which in British Airways language was 14 Business Returns and 560 tier points. That is one week from becoming a Silver Card holder with 600 tier points. Put simply I almost had enough tier points to get a smile when I checked in. Not to mention to hear those words middle aged men dream of from attractive uniformed 20 somethings "would you like an upgrade, Sir".

Sadly Tier points are like 80s stallion prospects and disappear just as their youthful promise blooms. All one is left with is loads of miles and 0 Tier points which brings us neatly on to the stayers with less class but lots of miles lining up in a four mile chase on deep ground.

Form 125P434, Horse Junior, Days Off 21, Age 11, Weight 11-12b, Trainer D Pipe, Jockey Mikey Ennis (7), OR 145, Odds 20/1
Junior romped away with a handicap at the Cheltenham Festival, winning by 24 lengths in the Kim Muir. Since then has been tried in big field long distance races and come up short. Did beat four lessers off 155 only 14 months ago here and that was on heavy ground. Decentish performance last time but long distance record does not suggest mark is low enough yet even with 7lbs off for the apprentice here. Not forlorn but odds seem fair enough.

2PP-P151 Relax (FR) 21 9 11-6 Miss V Williams Callum Whillans(5)139 7/1
Relax announced his plod-dom with a grim staying performance at Ffos Las one of those places where the ground becomes very holding. He then followed up at Sandown and whilst he has a mile further here he is Venetia's who had a 1,2 in last week's staying race. Chances. Up 14 pounds for those two wins.

3U0F311 Sun Cloud (IRE) 44 7 11-2 J M Jefferson B Hughes 135 6/1
Sun Cloud Up 22 pounds for two recent wins seemingly relishing the extra distance in an 11 length romp at Catterick 30 furlongs on the heavy. After only five chases can't rule out more progress either. Question does he have one more hike in him?

4103-99P Wyck Hill (IRE) 56 10 11-0 t1 D G Bridgwater T Scudamore 133 16/1
Main claim is JP McManus threw a ludicrous amount of money for you or I to acquire this horse, for J P the rounding error from a day's trading no doubt. Beat Katenko on the heavy prior to that one's two facile handicap wins on similar ground - suggestion would be the ground was uncommonly deep and maybe Katenko improved after. Now two pounds below that mark. Pulled up at Chepstow in the Welsh National and could be worth chancing down 7lbs for that given if he can run to 130+ it will be in this kind of contest. Can Scu ride a waiting race and pick them off when the slow down begins? Also consider trainers here and look at the resurrection of the trainer's best horse The Giant Bolster the other week. First time tongue tie and from personal experience that can work too.

5110-617 Chavoy (FR) 7 9 10-11 t Rebecca Menzies Tony Kelly(3) 130 25/1
A winner of two of 29 chases in France. However has only raced over hurdles in England and this seems an extreme point to start. Does have stamina based on a hurdles win but not having jumped an English fence (even if they are getting lower and easier each year) hard to fancy strongly. Races off 130 here having won a hurdle off 118 as well. Rebecca Menzies is either a crazy wisdom genius or this is an odd entry.

6124328 Seven Woods (IRE) 29 8 10-9 t T R George A P Cawley 128 12/1
Eighth of nine last time in a hurdle race and whilst he hints at stamina as his long suit not sure he's backable here against more proven types. i.e. clearly has a chance but class and ability to compete for a valuable prize look questions. Most valuable race contested was the hurdle he was well beaten in last time.

72-1F313 Financial Climate (IRE) 38 7 10-7 O Sherwood Thomas Garner(5) 126 12/1
7 year old stepping up in trip. Won at Newbury over 3 miles 2.5 on soft ground. Well beaten 3rd behind handicap snip Restless Harry next time. Another who it is hard to quantify. Sire Exit to Nowhere does not fill me with confidence staying this distance on this ground will be his bag - of course they would not be here if breeding were an exact science.

811-3114 Swatow Typhoon (IRE) 27 7 10-5 b1 D McCain Jnr Brian Harding 124 12/1
First time blinkered for McCain is a killer stat when stable pilot Maguire is in the saddle (H/T to Ben @ www.narrowing-the-field.co.uk). Thus one can conclude this is a stable whose use of head gear is not ignorant even allowing Harding is the driver here. However he is a novice who's never faced more than five runner fields over fences whose handicap mark even while winning has dropped! Now eight pounds below his hurdling mark. 3rd behind Mendip Express in the Ginger McCain Memorial only beaten 4.5L. Smells of plot?

911P-3P6 Safran De Cotte (FR) 42 8 10-3H D Daly Jake Greenall(3) 122 14/1
Down eight pounds from his novice wins and deservedly so. No match for Shotgun Paddy in sixth in first attempt at a big staying prize. No obvious reason to think this is more than maybe he's a dour stayer dice throw by the stable for me.

1064/2-623 Smoking Aces (IRE) 21 10 10-3 b Jonjo O'Neill Maurice Linehan(5) 122 8/1
Fans of Poker who hate bad beat stories ignore the next few sentences... I waited two years. He ran in a 2m4f race and finished a fence behind and was entered on Boxing Day 28 deep furlongs at Ffos Las 8/1 against trees... Sadly meeting abandoned and since then beaten twice. Far too one paced to handle Fontwell's twists and turns and out speeded in a slog by humour-less stayer Emporer's Choice Ffos Las last time - winner second in a more valuable race last week. The evidence of the last two races and with 16 runners here have to feel he will have to come from a long way back even if he overcomes his usual mistake laden fencing to finish. If he's not pulled up with a circuit to go might be worth £2 @ 70+ in running. Personally my strategy with this Cliffer is to wait for him to be fresher in a smaller field on a galloping track so at least two more years to wait!

1121-U4P3 Ballypatrick (IRE) 52 8 10-3 M R Channon G Sheehan(3) 122 16/1
Pulled up in his one attempt at four miles plus. Decent 3rd at Cheltenham last time behind then progressive Mendip Express and just behind "over mentioned horse" Alfie Spinner. Not forlorn but only one win in 14 starts under rules. Not for me.

12227913 Royale Knight 42 8 10-3 Dr R D P Newland Joshua Moore(3) 122 8/1
Third to Shotgun Paddy at Warwick which requires some sort of ability. Has won over four miles at Kelso (Good to Soft). One of those who might be selectable as a low weight in conditions which arguably disproportionately favour low weights but some very likely staying types above. Some quibble from me about how far he will get in this ground too which at single figures is a No.

138-P078P Tarquinius (FR) 30 11 10-1 pt G Elliott K Renwick 120 20/1
Actually 8th in last year's National. Been out of form but of course sometimes they bounce back. Just gives the impression whilst a stayer, over three miles of deep stuff any further is beyond him. Canny trainer mind.

14355-754 Our Island (IRE) 52 9 10-0 p Tim Vaughan D C Costello 117 7/1
Two pounds out of the handicap. 4th in the Mendip Express race behind Royale Knight. Beaten in other staying contests prior with some useful form without seemingly threatening to win. Down in the weights off a seemingly promising run last time but for me that's where the positives end.

15PP-2121 Presented (IRE) 30 7 10-0 p B Ellison 111 10/1
Presented is amazingly a son of Presenting. Been running well of late but out of the handicap and with little evidence a long slog is what he needs. Can we call that a not likely?

168-P4323 War On (IRE) 49 7 10-0 C Grant Diarmuid O'Regan (7)107 33/1
Maiden chaser 12 pounds out of the handicap who did get within 9 lengths of Swatow Typhoon once and I am only writing this much about him so if he were to somehow win it would not look so bad as if I merely wrote No Chance. Very little chance.

Conclusion

16 runners so it's 1/10 that there is a non runner possibly late so the EW types get denied at the last. Also with two drying days seemingly 1/5 cliche about drying sticky ground being worse than fresh deep ground.

I tend to under rate the lightly weighted progressives and will naturally do so again. If there is a plot horse here it might be Swatow Typhoon McCain's choice for a race named after his father and down 8 pounds with first time blinkers applied by a canny fella for whom that is not a mark of desperation - even if the 'stat' requires Maguire to be a winning one. Deserting Smoking Aces is like disowning a brother but must be done at least until he hits the appropriate odds in running.

Sun Cloud appears very progressive running a decent field (for Catterick) into the ground last time and I just prefer him to Relax of the recently hiked horses. Wyck Hill also appeals as arguably this is what he wants.

.1pt Box Exacta Wyck Hill Sun Cloud
1pt Wyck Hill 16s


EW if you have too but wait to see if 16 runners or bet it early and whine on Twitter when there is a non-runner about how this always happens when 16 are declared - remember the #disgrace.

Blue Diamond Stakes preview

The Blue Diamond Stakes - the first Group 1 of the season for the juveniles, a strong field and a contest made all the more intriguing by the barrier draw. As you'll see from the historical analysis provided earlier in the week, the last three favourites have won but five of the previous six winners started double-figure odds (in the decimal format).

A G1 race calls for G1 analysis, so I've drafted in Racetrack Ralphy for his comprehensive assessment of the big race. Visit his site for regular expertise or follow him @rtralphy for form discussion and not-always-serious commentary about the Australian racing industry.

--------------------------------

The Blue Diamond Stakes



1 Boomwaa Noel Callow • Robbie Laing (13) 57kg
Has race experience, tactical speed and a 1200 run advantage over the opposition and that could take him a long way. Couldn't sustain a mid-race surge last week against the elite older Group 1 sprinters, and he could run a very bold race from the front at monster odds.

2 Rubick Brenton Avdulla • Gerald Ryan (10) 57kg
$2:35 Freak galloper who had no right to kick away from the murderous early pressure in the Blue Diamond Prelude where all the other leaders collapsed. Did that run bring him on or gut him? If it's the former, then this could be a space job, and if it's the latter will he be flat or fall off the cliff? Only time will tell, but I'm a believer that he is going to win this.

3 Mohave Chris Symons • Peter Snowden (6) 57kg
Was part of the RUBICK pressure last start and unsurprisingly couldn't cope. Is drawn to get the gun run and will probably look to get some cover early, he previous win in ok time though suggested he is in the second tier and I'll risk.

4 Chivalry Stephen Baster • Mark Kavanagh (5) 57kg
$17:00 Was a hard-closing third behind RUBICK or was the reality just one of the least tired after everything was spent early? Either way his run was sound and if the blinkers and a likely good run from the barrier improve him, he's a wider chance.

5 Nostradamus Glen Boss • Michael, Wayne & John (11) 57kg
$10:00 Could be the one set to explode. Proven multiple Grand Final winning trainer and jockey and has clearly been set specifically for this. Couldn't get going early behind RUBICK after they appeared to concede from the barrier, before a monster mid-race surge of speed which told late. Is drawn next to RUBICK and possibly ends up right behind him with EARTHQUAKE wide and/or back. Second pick.

6 Jabali Damien Oliver • Mick Price (3) 57kg
Showed good speed from the right position first up behind RUBICK before running second. Was that his best or can he spring off that? The former probably won't see first half finish, while the latter sees him a strong place chance.

7 Cornrow Luke Nolen • Mick Price (4) 57kg
Didn't do enough behind RUBICK to interest here.

8 Zululand Mark Zahra • David Hayes (7) 57kg
OK first up behind NAYELLI but not close enough to consider a strong chance here.

9 Francesco Vlad Duric • Gai Waterhouse (8) 57kg
Very strong debut when losing 2nd on protest at Rosehill, but then didn't really progress in the Prelude behind RUBICK. The lack of market support was interesting. Was he disappointing or in need of the run prior to his Grand Final?

10 Malaguerra Brad Rawiller • Wez Hunter (1) 57kg
Very fast country horse who found a new level of speed behind RUBICK and wasn't up to it. Happy to risk.

11 Stratum Star Craig Newitt • Rick Hore-Lacy (12) 57kg
The least credentialed runner in the field but not the least talented. Was respected in the market without public information behind NOSTRADAMUS on debut, but got his tongue over the bit. Right back to last from wide behind RUBICK and while entitled to close as the leaders tired to. Further improvement could see a cheeky run.

12 Earthquake Damian Browne • Peter Snowden (15) 55kg
$4:25 Boom filly who LOOKED more impressive than RUBICK and ran the same time, but from there it's open to interpretation as to the respective merits of the wins. The facts are that she spread her speed throughout and didn't have to go very fast early. Can she if needed? The next layer of challenge is the wide barrier, which looks a tough ask on paper. The big positive away from her talent though is what brilliant Grand Final trainers the Snowdens are.

13 Nayeli James McDonald • Gai Waterhouse (9) 55kg
$17:00 Showed a terrific turn of foot when asked here three weeks ago off a moderate mid race position. Will she be as strong with better horses sharing or dominating the speed at the end of 1200?

14 Golconda Dean Yendall • Robbie Laing (2) 55kg
Should give the owners a terrific thrill pre-race among the excitement of competing in Victoria's preeminent Group 1 race. When the barriers open? She may beat a couple home.

15 Top Dolly Craig Williams • Tom Hughes (17) 55kg
Was quite brilliant on debut when a hard-closing 2nd to one of the best early season 2yo's OAKLEIGH GIRL. Resumed just $11 behind EARTHQUAKE but was wide and pulled up sore. Williams has stuck, so the excuses may be legitimate, but is she good enough?

16 Piacenza Michael Rodd • Tony McEvoy (14) 55kg
Was an ok run here behind EARTHQUAKE after being beaten in a very fast Adelaide race. Maybe she was flattened by the run? Blinkers go on, gun Grand Final trainer and star jockey riding at his minimum suggest she can improve off that, but of course needs to.

Race Overview
(For a full race by race professional analysis of every runner and every run they've ever had, check Vince Accardi's Blue Diamond blog elsewhere on the website or App under the futures section. Note should you purchase it, you'll get the Golden Slipper free.)

Basic numbers: 2-12-5-4-13
Best roughy: 1

Are you a RUBICK believer or not? For a yes/no answer $3:00 seems good value. Those odds say he would be beaten 2 out of every 3 times these went around I can't subscribe to that.

SUGGESTED BET: 27 win units RUBICK locking in $3:00 IAS/Sportsbet. 3 saving units NOSTRADAMUS taking the $11:00 freely available. I expect EARTHQUAKE to ease.

Staking note - Ralph's standard spend per race in 20 units, often spread across more than one runner. 30 units represents high confidence and a larger than normal outlay.

Apollo Stakes preview

As Melbourne racing hits its straps, Sydney is just getting warm in the lead-up to this year's big shebang, The Championships, with truckloads of cash on offer. One of the early features of the Sydney 'autumn' is the Apollo Stakes at Randwick and with the preview, returning after a long absence, is aspiring young writer Tom Stewart, @tstewcav26.

------------------------

The Apollo Stakes

Held under weight for age conditions, the Apollo Stakes is a Group Two event run over 1400m. It is traditionally a lead-up race for the chipping Norton stakes and also provides a platform for stayers resuming and heading towards the later autumn feature races. Lonhro and Sunline are a couple of star gallopers that have taken out this event in the past and this year will be no different with the likes of Boban and Appearance going around.

#1 Boban (7) Nash Rawiller
– Coming off a disappointing first up run there is no doubt that all eyes will be on Boban. Whether the distance was too short or the horse wasn’t fully wound up, he was disappointing first up considering his outstanding spring carnival. I’m confident that he will bounce back here and make amends for his average first-up run. Barrier seven will suit this horse as opposed to barrier one first up. From the barrier I expect that Nash will settle midfield or just worse than midfield one pair off the rail. This will give him the opportunity to get the horse wide, track into the race and build some momentum. If he can show the same turn of foot that saw him win the Epsom and Emirates double last spring, he will be the horse to beat. If there is a query in the race for Boban, it is the speed. Howmuchdoyouloveme is likely to lead and could get an easy time of it, which would not be beneficial for Boban. He is a proven Group One galloper who has the ability to become a star, if he brings his A game then he should be winning this.

#2 Moriarty (8) Corey Brown
- Another Waller runner who will be better over longer distances than this. His first up run was excellent. For a horse that will be a lot better over 2000m plus, he hit the line very strong. His second up record reads a lot better than his first up record and suggests that he will run a cheeky race here. I expect he will be travelling at the rear of the field and making a late run over the last 200m of the race. The projected slow speed of the race doesn’t do him any favours, especially over the 1400m. I cant see Moriarty winning this race but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if he finished in the placings.

#3 Pinwheel – SCRATCHED

#4 Speediness (4) Jim Cassidy
– Consistent horse who always runs a good race. His first up run in the same race as Boban and Appearance suggested that he needs further and this looks like a good race for him. Second-up last preparation he was horribly unlucky in the Sir Rupert Clarke and arguably should have won the race. If he can reproduce a similar run with better luck in this race he might be one that could out sprint Boban and Appearance. Having drawn well in barrier four I expect Cassidy to look to settle midfield and use the leaders to drag him into the race. If he can pinch a break in the Straight similar to what he did in the Emirates last year, the others might find it hard to chase him off a slow tempo. My only concern with Speediness is that he can often find himself tangled up between horses and it has cost him on more than a few occasions. He’s a very honest horse and one that you would love to own, if things go his way than he is a big player in this race.

#5 Howmuchdoyouloveme (5) Jason Collett
- Speedy galloper who likes to roll along in front over the sprint distance. I have two concerns with him in this race. Firstly, I don’t think that he can run out a strong 1400m. Secondly, I think this horse is better suited to handicap races than under weight for age conditions. I could only see a horse like this beating Boban if he had a significant weight advantage, which he doesn’t receive here. The one positive however is that he is the likely leader in a race that is devoid of speed and he may be able to get away with some cheap sectionals. I can't see him figuring here and struggle to see him finishing in the top four.

#6 Sizzling - SCRATCHED

#7 Rain Drum (3) Tommy Berry
- Progressive horse who improves with every preparation. Last preparation he showed that he was capable of mixing it with quality horses when he won at Group 2 level second up and continued to be competitive throughout the spring at group and listed level. Having trialed twice before this first-up run, Gai will have him fit and ready to win first up. From barrier three Berry will be positive and most likely sit outside Howmuchdoyouloveme or slot in behind him and pounce around the turn. Whether he is up to the class of Boban and Appearance remains to be seen. Considering the conditions of the race I believe he can run a big race and maybe cause a bit of an upset.

#8 Alma’s Fury (10) Tim Clark
- A horse that doesn’t win out of turn. He can be quite a precocious horse and sometimes he looks like he just doesn’t want to race. However when he does turn up he can win a good race at odds. Which was evident when he won this very race at 20-1 last year. Didn’t set the world on fire with his first up run and unlikely to do so here. From the widest barrier I think he will settle at the rear of the field and remain there towards the finish. He is a horse that needs good pace to build momentum into a race and he just doesn’t have the class if the race isn’t put on for him. I just can't see him being competitive here.

#9 Tremec (1) Nathan Berry
- Another stayer resuming here who will be doing his best work late. First up and over 1400m I cant imagine that he will be featuring here. Considering that he has never won first up and is much better over longer distances this is not a winning race for him. However he has to resume somewhere and no doubt John Thompson will be looking for a strong finish and not expecting him to win. If this was a race over 2000m I would expect him to lead from barrier one but over this distance he will be left flat-footed and somewhere towards the rear. This isn’t a winning race for Tremec but one he’s likely to gain improvement from.

#10 Appearance (2) Blake Shinn
- There aren’t many superlatives I can use to describe her win first up. She was electrifying! Guy Walter has a huge opinion of this mare and she is sure to figure in a race like the Doncaster later in the autumn. Her first-up run suggests that she is spot on and if she repeats that run than she is going to take a power of beating. From barrier two I can see Shinn having her in the top four or five horses and ready to pounce around the 300m mark. Despite how good her win first up was, I'm worried that she may be a bit flat here and her second up record suggests that may be a trend, having never won second up from five attempts. She is a quality mare and if she reproduces that first-up run she will be extremely hard to beat.

Summary

Boban and Appearance stand out head and shoulders above this field and I want to bet around these two. I think Boban is the better horse and will recapture his spring form here. I much prefer him over this distance as opposed to 1200m and also like the fact that he has drawn wide. If he can get a nice run, relax and build momentum into the race I think he will win. Then again if Appearance can defy her second up record and replicate her first up win then she will be with Boban all the way. I think the best way to play if you're going to have a bet is to quinella these two and load up. They stand out clearly in this field and I'll be very surprised if they don’t run the quinella.

#1 Boban
#10 Appearance
#7 Rain Drum
#4 Speediness

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Futurity Stakes preview

The Futurity Stakes is a traditional feature of the Melbourne Autumn Carnival, this year promoted as '#RelaxedRacing' with later starting times in the warmer weather, and in some places, more relaxed dress codes. A quality field will go to post, considering the huge carrot Sydney has thrown out this year for its showpiece, The Championships.

No longer restricted by a bookmaker, at least in the free speech sense, it's a welcome return to astute Aussie racing analyst Manny Galouzis.
In his words "If you wouldn't mind, tell the readers to direct all praise/hate-mail/death threats to @mannygalouzis on Twitter haha!".

---------------------------

Caulfield Race 6 - Group 1 Futurity Stakes

Greetings punters! What a fantastic day of racing we have this Saturday at Caulfield. Three Group 1s, all high quality fields and big prize money up for grabs. We kick things off with the first race of the quaddie, The Group 1 Futurity Stakes.

Run over 1400 meters, this weight for age contest has often been the starting point for middle-distance horses and stayers kicking off their Autumn campaign. That being said, the Futurity has a rich history of quality sprinters on it's honour roll. In more recent times, this race has been won by the likes of All Too Hard, Typhoon Tracy and Fields of Omagh. If we go back a bit further, you will see names such as Schillaci, Vo Rogue and of course the four-time winner of this race, Manikato. But enough about the past, let's look forward to the future and try and find a winner.

1. Sizzling

A decent run resuming in the Expressway at Randwick, got home nicely enough to finish 3rd. It will be interesting to see how this horse goes this prep now that he has been transferred to Chris Waller. He might get a bit cluttered up from barrier 2 but with any luck he could run into a place. I dare say this will be an indication of better things to come in the future.

2. Moment of Change

A string of near misses and bad luck over the last 18 months have made this horse a very expensive one to follow. Running placings in multiple Group 1s over 6 furlongs, his last start win in the CF Orr has now confirmed that 1400m is his ideal distance (especially at Caulfield!) He was the benefactor of a very soft lead last start, only getting there by the barest of margins, but Nolen might find himself getting away with a similar tempo here. He is clearly the one to beat.

3. Pinwheel

As honest as the day is long, Pinwheel's first up run in the Expressway was a decent return to racing, running 4th just behind Sizzling. His second-up stats read very nicely, but he's not getting any younger this boy and I have a feeling his best days are behind him. It wouldn't shock to see him run a place, but I can't see him winning here.

4. Sertorius

Last year's Spring campaign was huge for this guy, winning the Bendigo Cup and Sandown Classic. He will use this race as a launching pad for bigger things to come over longer distances. Won't be troubling the judge in this one.

5. Smokin' Joey

Well, they say a change is as good as a holiday, and after Smokin' Joey was transferred from Mick Price to Wez Hunter, he appears to have found a few lengths! First up for his new stable, he won a 1400m Group 3 at the luxurious odds of 40/1 and then proceeded to run arguably the best horse in Australia to a nose in the Emirates Stakes (after being 3 wide the entire trip). If he can slot in no worse than midfield, I wouldn't be surprised to see this horse run a very cheeky race. With odds of 20/1 available at some corporates, you could do worse than have a few dollars each-way on him.

6. Clear For Action

It would be foolish of me to waste more than a few lines here. He's 250/1 and for good reason. Beaten 6L last start at Sale, he'll be running closer to last than first.

7. Lidari

An impressive, if somewhat short lived Spring campaign; Lidari kicked things off winning in very impressive fashion at Caulfield and then went on to run .3L behind subsequent Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente in the G2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes. His first-up record is very good and if he shows a glimpse of what he was capable of last Spring, he could be very competitive in this. The only thing going against him is a lack of pace in the race. He could get too far back off a slow tempo and find it hard to make up ground. Place chance.

8. Polanski

Arguably the story of last year's Spring Carnival. A $4000 purchase, Polanski showed that purchase price doesn't mean anything in racing, winning three races in a row, culminating in a very impressive win in the Victoria Derby. He's got stayer written all over him, so I can't see him making too much of an impact here. If he does come out and run a big race though, I think he'll be just about winning anything he runs in afterwards.

9. Bull Point

The colt has already been the subject of good support in pre-post betting, being backed in from 5/2 into 2/1 at most corporates. He won nicely first up in the G3 Manfred Stakes, beating other Guineas chances like The Quarterback and Prince Harada, however I think the step up in class might be too much for him here. Going from three year old races up to G1 open class is a very different story. He will more than likely sit outside Moment of Change, so he will have every opportunity, but at the price I think he is short enough. Happy to risk.

Moment of Change should go straight to the lead with Bull Point outside of him. Pinwheel and Sizzling should both get very nice runs in transit with the rest of the field bringing them up. There isn't a lot of speed in this race on paper, so horses any further back than midfield will find it difficult to make up ground in the home straight.

I marked Moment of Change about a $2.30 chance in this and with odds of $3.00 available, I think he represents good value. If you're not interested in backing favourites, I think the 20/1 about Smokin' Joey is a great price, maybe a small bet the win and more the place. I'm risking Bull Point, but due to the fact he will be up on pace, I have to concede he should be in this for a long way.

Selections:

1. Moment of Change
5. Smokin' Joey
9. Bull Point
7. Lidari

Good luck punters, and remember, there's no such thing as the last race!

Blue Diamond Historical Analysis

A tremendous weekend of racing ahead, spread around the globe, and headlined by the AUS$1m Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield. I'll have a full preview of the race available tomorrow, but to provide some background on the race, here's some historical analysis from the experts at Premium Punting. You can read more of their work via @PremiumPunting.

-----------------------------

Blue Diamond Historical Analysis

In what looms as the most fascinating race of the Melbourne autumn carnival, the battle between top 2YOs Rubick and Earthquake will cause debate between racing fans.

Although our early opinion is not yet decided, below is some historical analysis which could help identify which winning patterns could be correlated to one of the two undefeated horses.

17/31 winners ran in the preludes the fortnight before
11/30 of these won their prelude races
22/30 winners won their previous start
14/23 winners started from barriers 1-5

Below is a table of the last 15 winners with some relevant statistics that can be analysed:



Some key points that can be brought out of this include:

10/15 were from the colts division
12/15 had a PB rating last start
As expected, majority of winners hadn’t had a run at 1200m beforehand
Average position in running (PIR) is around midfield

Visit the PremiumPunting website on Friday for their extensive analysis...

Friday, 14 February 2014

Black Caviar Lightning Stakes preview

The great racing is underway again in Australia, last week we had the G1 Orr Stakes, this time it's the Lightning Stakes, the first leg of the Melbourne sprint triple crown, and the only WFA event amongst them. These days it's probably a better stepping stone towards heading to Royal Ascot than chasing the triple crown.

Making his blog debut to preview this race is 'King' of @weekndkngracing. Follow him for more insight and advice on Aussie racing.

--------------------

2014 BLACK CAVIAR LIGHTNING STAKES

1-SHAMEXPRESS.

1st up.
Class sprinter who excels down the straight course of Flemington, his home track. Proven Gr1 WFA performer.

He won the Newmarket at this venue last Autumn defeating last weeks Gr1 winner Moment of Change in a red hot form race.

Has never run a bad race at Flemington in 6 starts - bolted in by 4L on debut (1200m), 5th behind superstar All Too Hard (1400m), 3rd in the Gr1 Coolmore Stud (1200m), sixth behind the legend Black Caviar in this race last year (1000m), won Newmarket (1200m) & a fast finishing second to Buffering in the Gr1 VRC Sprint last Spring.

All those runs have been very good - against not only Australia’s but the World’s best sprinters. 1000m probably is short of his best trip but O’Brien will no doubt have him ready enough to win.

Will camp off what looks to be a blistering tempo and be charging home late. Quiet possibly right over the top of them.

A key player.

2-PAGO ROCK.

1st up.
Honest campaigner who never seems to run a poor race.
Flies fresh - with five wins from six attempts and was amiss the only time he failed.

Has only once run over 1000m (last Spring) when a very narrow second to quality sprinter Unpretentious in the Schillaci at Caulfield.

Boasts a straight course Flemington win as well as a nose second behind Autumn big gun Speediness over 1400m at this venue.

Hasn’t won in seven attempts at group level and only has one minor placing out of those runs. This is his first attempt at Gr1 level.

Class looms as the biggest obstacle, and despite being very lightly raced for a six year old, it’s hard to imagine he’s got the necessary improvement in him to measure up in this.

3-AERONAUTICAL

1st up.
Won the Razor Sharp fresh in December at Randwick defeating Heart Testa & Pampelonne on that occasion. However despite his record showing only one win from six goes first up, he’s placed three times and has always been hitting the line well.

Only 1000m run was on debut where he clearly found it too short.

Can’t see him being in the finish of the race, but I do think he’ll be working home well late on target for his main aim the Newmarket where he’ll be well suited out to 1200m and down in the weights under handicap conditions.

4-ESPRIT DE BULLET

1000m specialist (9 wins) who has been in training right throughout the summer months.

His form in much lesser class has been patchy at best and he looks completely outclassed stepping up to the top level.

Great for connections of the old boy to have a runner in such a famous race but that’s where the sentiment ends. Pass.

5-UNPRETENTIOUS

1st up.
Very interesting runner. He definitely has talent and being so sparingly raced (12 starts / 5 year old) its hard to imagine that his best is behind him.

Won the Schillaci fresh in the Spring at WFA level then tackled the elite class in the VRC Sprint, when far from disgraced in his first go at that level, finishing 6L off tearaway winner Buffering.

Has won three of his four first up races, and trialled very well in preparation for this behind Oakleigh Plate fancy Lankan Rupee.

Represents very good each way value at the price & is a genuine knockout chance.

6-AFRICAN PULSE

Very lightly raced stallion who at 5 has only had 12 career starts to date.

A winner of five races, all at 1000m, but everyone one of those wins came first run back from a spell. Winless from three goes second up, with only one minor placing amongst those runs. That's a major concern for his hopes.

Has won twice over the Flemington 1000m from three starts and was 2nd at the other.

Group 1 performed, he was most unlucky in an Oakleigh Plate beaten only 2.5L and the start after he was just 3.5L off Hay List in the Newmarket.

Has enormous talent but has constantly be plagued with setbacks throughout his racing career. On his best form he’d be a great hope in this, but judging on his first up effort at Caulfield in the listed Adams Stakes, he does look well below his top.

7-SAMAREADY

1st up.
Super star mare who is undoubtedly one of the top few sprinters currently racing in Australia. Only constant injury and health issues have stopped her from reaching dizzying heights.
Still maintain she should have beaten Pierro in their Golden Slipper clash and that’s speaks massive volumes about her class levels.

She was breathtaking winning the Gr1 Moir Stakes 2nd up last prep (off the back of a dominant 1st up win) thrashing Buffering by 4L & the 3rd horse by 6.5L. After that race Buffering had three more runs in his campaign and won Gr1s at each them. Terrific form!

One of those wins (for Buffering - Manikato Stakes) was over Samaready but the mare came out of the run with internal bleeding & never looked comfortable at any stage of the run. Although she was only 1.5L off the winner. After that she was immediately spelled in preparation for this campaign.

Easily won her only run at Flemington, over this track and distance, as a two year old. So the straight holds no fears.

Will settle in behind a hot tempo and be finishing right over the top of them.

If at her best, she’s simply levels above any of her rivals here and will win.

8-SNITZERLAND

1st up.
Speed machine who only knows it one way, flat out! Makes her own luck out in front and always gives herself every possible hope. Was poor in the Moir last Spring, carving up badly after leading to finish well back behind Samaready but was found to have a poor post race recovery rate, so excusable.

Bounced back to her best on Oaks Day over this distance down the straight getting beaten a nose by Lankan Rupee, despite conceding the older male 2.5kg in weight.

Her Rosehill trial in preparation for this was astonishing - winning by 6L and smashing the clock in the process. Her time of 52:30 for the 900m was the fastest 900m trial time in the past 7 years.

Looks to be in peak condition, flies first up and proven down the straight, she ticks all the boxes.

Very tough to lead all the way down the straight and win, but one thing’s for sure she’ll run the 1000 right out. If they chasers are right at their peak, she might just be too speedy.

9-THERMAL CURRENT
SCRATCHED

10-BERNABEU

1st up.
The boom horse. Set tongues wagging last week with a brilliant jump out down the Flemington straight.

Many people are getting carried away with the horse but I’m very reserved in my judgement of him.

His last start win over this track and trip was totally dominant, but it must be remembered that race was a three year old handicap race that lacked depth. Yes, his time was terrific in winning but fast times don’t win Gr1 races alone. He steps up of open Gr1 WFA tomorrow, which I view as the equivalent of a high school track sprinter going from racing his classmates to going to the Olympics. It’s an enormous step! One which undoes so many good horses particularly this early in their career. Only the very very best can make the progression.

He might be a superstar?? But looking at his runs prior to the Flemington win, nothing suggests he’s a superstar yet. He was beaten at Kembla Grange two starts ago in a 1000m Class 2 race, getting run down after hit the front. The winner Biloxi then went to a NMW race in town and was thrashed.

11-BRILLIANT BISC

Very talented sprint filly whose five career runs to date suggest she’s got a very bright future. Beat Guelph on debut in the Gimcrack & has a minor placing behind Overreach.

Ran well 1st up when third in the Adams at Caulfield behind Shamal Wind.

Has plenty of scope and if she has improved can run a bold race.

12-BOOMWAA

Good reason two year olds don’t run in WFA races….It’s a mammoth ask on such a young animal!

Not even in the top calibre of 2 year olds amongst his crop. So cannot entertain him steeping up to open Gr1 and winning.

13-BUGATTY

Good reason two year olds don’t run in WFA races….It’s a mammoth ask on such a young animal!

Not even in the top calibre of two year olds amongst this crop. So cannot entertain him steeping up to open Gr1 and winning.

SUMMARY:

Looks very little depth in the race and I’ve narrowed it down to three winning hopes.

Samaready, Snitzerland & Shamexpress…..The only proven Gr1 / WFA performers in the field. Concede a chance to Unpretentious because I have a very high opinion of the horse and a huge improvement wouldn’t surprise at all.

Samaready though is classes above this field & if she is 100% (which reports out of Caulfield suggest she is) she’ll be too good. She’s a very special mare! Currently around the $3 mark which is getting a bit skinny, but id be surprised if she didn’t go off at $3.20 or better.

BACK: SAMAREADY
LAY: BERNABEU

Other bets on the day;
Rosehill
Race 3 - 3 TWIRL. Terrific debut behind the speedy Rubick who subsequently won the Diamond prelude last week. Was taking ground off the winner late and will relish the rise in distance. Looks top shelf, really think he’s a genuine Slipper horse.

Race 6 - 3 CATKINS***. Classy mare who flies fresh. Really came of age in the Spring when she was Gr1 placed & she’s ready to show her very best now after being given time to fully mature. If for a big prep & this looks a great starting point.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Inter Dominion heats preview

The Inter Dominion has traditionally been the jewel of Australasian harness racing and its toughest test. More recently the format has changed from a three-week series of heats and finals at one venue to a spread of heats across the two countries and one premium final. Debate rages as to which format is better, but one things for certain, heats night with all the qualifying races conducted within 90 minutes across five different tracks makes this Saturday one hell of a night for harness racing fans!

Analysing the fields between bottles of Singha is Aussie harness racing expert Ben Krahe. Follow him @benkrahe to read more of his wisdom on racedays.

-------------------------------

Preview of the heats of ID14

This year’s edition of harness racing’s greatest prize – the Inter Dominion starts on Saturday with the running of six heats all in the space of 90 min around Australia and NZ. The final will consist of horses that qualify from Menangle, Melton, Albion Park, Gloucester Park and Addington. Like or love it, this format WILL provide excitement for an hour and a half with a great final expected at Menangle on March 2nd. Below is a preview of each heat:

Heat 1 – Addington (NZ) – TWO qualifiers
A small but quality field of Kiwis contest the first heat. TERROR TO LOVE and SMOLDA look the obvious two to qualify here. I can see TTL leading with Smolda taking the trail on its back and from there it should be a procession. Unfortunately I can’t see this race being a great spectacle however the best two horses should be crossing the Tasman for the final. The winner WILL come from whoever can sprint best from the pair.

Heat 2 – Menangle (NSW) – TWO qualifiers
Currently Australasia’s best horse and Miracle Mile champ BEAUTIDE contests this heat. He is currently airborne and has progressed a long way from his FFA days in the Apple Isle. I can see him coming over and taking the lead pretty easily as the others won’t want to hinder their chance to qualify. He will be winning this without too much drama. Although drawn the carpark THE GOLD ACE is the second best horse in the race and could be the best chance to race in two weeks' time. Others with a chance of a place include TWO EYE SEE (well drawn) and TERRORWAY (expect big improvement).

Heat 3 – Melton (VIC) – THREE qualifiers
Good race this with RESTREPO looking guaranteed to run top three from the coveted pole position. A noted sit sprinter also with gate speed he can choose whether to lead or which horse to take a sit on and zoom up the sprint lane for an easy place and qualification to the final. CARIBBEAN BLASTER, on the contrary has drawn outside the second row, however this won't hinder this superstar who has run places at its last five starts including the Victoria, South Australian, Ballarat and Hunter Cups. Is there a more consistent horse in Australia at the moment? Those fighting for the third qualifying spot will include BITOBLISS (disappointing horse at this level), KEAYANG CULLEN (soft run behind Restrepo) and ABETTORPUNT (huge in the Hunter Cup last week) and IM CORZIN TERROR (although I’m not convinced with this horse yet at the very top).

Heat 4 – Menangle (NSW) – TWO qualifiers
Interesting race this with FOR A REASON currently about twos-on in pre-post markets. I’d be happy to risk him at this price. Yes, he won the Victoria Cup three starts ago, and two starts ago demolished an average field in the Goulburn Cup. However last week he was very plain when forced to do work. The obvious leader tonight is MACH BEAUTY who has come a long way from winning the Golden Guitar at Tamworth this time last year. He has abundant speed and with Lauren Panella back on board has the choice on whether to hold the lead or hand up for a trail. Either way , MB looks set to qualify for the final. The question mark is Kiwi FRANCO NELSON who has opted for a NSW campaign. He ran a creditable sixth in the Hunter Cup and that form is good enough to see him at least contend for a place here tonight. MAH SISH (again drawing the coveted pole) looks to be able to be behind Mach Beauty the whole way so will be getting a very soft run and a big place chance. The rest are FFA horses at best and can't contend.

Heat 5 – Albion Park (QLD) – ONE qualifier
By far the weakest heat, I’d be surprised if the winner can even run a place in the final. FOREVER GOLD will have the chance to either lead or be behind the leader and will have its chance to head south for the final. AVONNOVA was only an average horse in NSW but has grown a leg against inferior opposition up north . It is however flying at the moment and will be attempting to grab the lead and stave off the others. FIELD OFFICER is going ok. Having run some good races south but will have to make a mid race move in my opinion to have a chance. The rest are really making up the numbers and even if there is an upset here, I can’t see any of them bothering the big guns in a fortnight's time.

Heat 6 – Gloucester Park (WA) – TWO qualifiers
Unfortunately, the West’s heat is missing its champ and three-time ID winner Quinny (Imthemightyquinn). Nonetheless, this heat should provide plenty of interest although I doubt the winner of the final will come from it. DAVID HERCULES has been the medium of strong support in both the heat and final, however from the draw it may have its work cut out. LIVINGONTHEINTEREST looks well placed from the two draw and will be in the firing line the whole way. IM VICTORIOUS ran some very good races at Menangle earlier in the year and will be a worthy finalist should it make it. This heat looks to be the most even of all, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see an upset around this tight circuit. I won’t though be backing the winner of this heat to win the final.

SUMMARY
Looks a great 90 min of watching the best standardbreds in the country however not too sure about betting on these races as most of the faves should salute at fairly short odds. If you want to have a punt on the final however I think CARIBBEAN BLASTER ($12 available) is well worth a punt.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Ante-post preview of the Grand National

I don't usually post early previews of races, would rather wait until final fields are declared, but with not a lot on for National Hunt racing until Cheltenham now, and the weights being released... well, regular contributor Jon da Silva, @creamontop, felt like bashing the keyboard for a few hours to come up with this early look at the field.

-------------------------------

The National

Used to be easier than working for a living the National - look for back class and a weight of 10 stone to 10 stone 7lb - now sadly it requires work and luck. Race is run on a flat circuit of just shy of four miles four furlongs and comprises 30 fences. Slow horses even ones who on most tracks would be favoured by the distance can get a long way behind on even softish going. Class even back class important for me even if last year's winner was marginal.

However once again I question why unsound old horses are entered notably a few owned by J P McManus entries and trained by Paul Nicholls or David Pipe. To me this is not a day out race and soundness, big field and distance form helps.

Unless you strongly fancy something, 66/1 appears to be the Bookies' price about horses who are 400s on Exchanges as well as genuine 66/1 shots. Check prices before betting.


Order of Entry - Form - Name - Age-Imperial Weight - Ownership - Trainer - General Price

1) 121-1532 TIDAL BAY (IRE) 13-11-10 Andrea & Graham Wylie Paul Nicholls 20/1
Stays longer than all those things things stay longer than. I've had wine stains in my carpet stay less well. Not known as Idle Bay for nothing.

Issues are not weight as nothing slows him down or should that be quickens him up? Ground could be an issue as on faster he may finish like a relative train but not get there with all the traffic and carnage and his slower jumping. Tends to get well behind and whilst has his own way of fencing he does take care of himself. De facto back to Welsh National mark of 161 and arguably had that race been truer run or Chepstow not a downhill finish or maybe his jock moved sooner he might have won. Does not need slow ground but most Nationals they do not always come back to the slower stayers so I'd not bet on anything but slow ground on the day. As someone approaching 50 I feel a git but have to mention he's 13 and maybe could decline a little before the race. Each way chance even on better ground. A worry would be if thrown into a heavy ground Gold Cup say in advance albeit he will take care of himself.

2) 132-54U LONG RUN (FR) 9-11-09 Robert Waley-Cohen Nicky Henderson 25/1
Seems to be evolving into Tidal Bay without the character - Rallentando. Even finishing ahead of Tidal this year off levels. Still has some class and off 160 here chances. Unseated last time but that was in a Grade 1. Not out of the question but amateur rider and not the best jumper.

3) 13-6060 HUNT BALL (IRE) 9-11-07 Atlantic Equine Nicky Henderson 66/1
Henderson is a great trainer as much as I loathe him but if he gets Hunt Ball to stay two miles further and run to this mark off his recent form I shall personally never crib Henderson again (OK I am lying). Non zero chance as in 0.000001%.

4) 1-F21P20 ROI DU MEE (FR) 9-11-06 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE 66/1 Pulled up behind Cue Card and hence Tidal and Long Run and since then has had some handy National weight dropping performances. Whilst not as classy as top two at nine may still have some surprises. Most wins in Ireland are on heavy but form on good does not show a lack of pace or ground preference in the context of a 4m+ race. Lost all his double figure field chases including a striping in the Irish National. Not for me.

5) 301-131 TRIOLO D'ALENE (FR) 7-11-06 Sandy & Caroline Orr Nicky Henderson 25/1 Good ground horse who won at flat galloping Newbury over 3m2.5f and has won over the National fences. Contender. Likely needs quicker ground so not an Ante Post for me albeit Aintree has generally been good but climate change and half the country under water makes me hold off.

6) 1113-22 ROCKY CREEK (IRE) 8-11-05 The Johnson & Stewart Families Paul Nicholls 25/1 Second in the HENNESSY GOLD CUP to Triolo (gave 4lb) so if that is a contender he is. Goes on any ground. Only had 10 runs under rules so I am skeptical he's experienced enough or stout enough stayer for many scenarios.

7) 211-F443 KATENKO (FR) 8-11-04 Andrew Brooks Venetia Williams 40/1 Big horse seems to need deep ground or alternately is taking forever to get fit. As we all know when she's not streaking if we say Venetia's will win they don't and vice versa so I'm staying quiet on this. Ok, can't win! Massacred at Newbury so likely better ground & greater distance is not bet compelling for this giant boat.

8) 11FF-16 BOSTON BOB (IRE) 9-11-03 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE 50/1 Poor Boston Bob really does not have the experience and is not good enough even to deserve this weight. Another horse whose profile exceeds his achievements cos people fancied him for a Cheltenham Novice hurdle once.

9) 5-10661 ON HIS OWN (IRE) 10-11-03 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE 25/1 18 races under rules, seven wins. Fell in last two Nationals and sixth in the Becher Chase over the course. For some reasons connections won his last race popping his mark up so hardly well handicapped. Was 8/1 last year so clearly considered the right type. Given profile and nothing in his form to suggest to me he's well handicapped a pass for me.

10) 3/F1115- BOG WARRIOR (IRE) 10-11-02 Gigginstown House Stud Tony Martin IRE 66/1 Switched back to hurdles last year and normally a tear-away front runner. Has health questions and distance questions on top of temperament. Indeed since tailing off and falling he has not run in a chase and yet is entered here. I hope unless some evidence emerges he is right for this or he does not run here. This would seem cruel and unusual punishment to a horse with a Last Fell record in two chases outside novice company? Did he ask to fly Aer Lingus once? No, can't see what O'Leary has against the beast to enter him here personally.

11) 13/230-6 SEABASS (IRE) 11-11-02 Gunners Syndicate Ted Walsh IRE 40/1 Came into the race on a roll two years ago and finished third. 13th last year and no run for eight months easily passed over and again one hopes some evidence emerges he can still run to this mark or he is withdrawn.

12) P0P-553 KAUTO STONE (FR) 8-11-01 Robin Geffen Paul Nicholls 66/1 Hard to weigh up Graded winner with likely stamina issues and seems on the decline as well as not ideal physically for this. Other than that a likely winner.

13) 2U11-11 MOSSEY JOE (IRE) 11-11-01 Barry Connell Enda Bolger IRE 33/1 Won his last four Hunter chases including a striping of decent marker Chapoturgeon. Not out of it but not in it either. A wild card for me but handicapped like a good horse. This is tougher.

14) 145-F405 QUITO DE LA ROQUE (FR) 10-11-01 Gigginstown House Stud Colm Murphy IRE 66/1 Fell in early season affair over 2m4f and has been shown as short of top class since winning the staying novice at Aintree. Ran well for a long way last time in a 3m5f handicap and for me one who could be better in here. Winner of seven of 18 chases but only 10 years of age. Mark peaked at 169 but off 152 here. It could be he has declined but I take view he was too high off 169 and this year's campaign is about this. He handles any ground and the fact he is better on Soft Heavy for me says stamina is there.

15) 110-012 CANTLOW (IRE) 9-11-00 J P McManus Paul Webber 50/1 Quirky non-stayer by looks of it.

16) 1U-03U0 COLBERT STATION (IRE) 10-11-00 J P McManus Ted Walsh IRE 25/1 Won a couple of big field races in Ireland and seems very appreciative of deep ground. Unseated in this last year. No real evidence he's well handicapped having been stuffed up for his last win. Nonetheless one with a chance.

17) 30-3626 RUBI LIGHT (FR) 9-11-00 Bill Hennessy Robbie Hennessy IRE 66/1 Threatened to be a top class 2.5 miler and was second to the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner in the 3m Lexus once. Seems to have been entered here as what do we do now kinda thing or he bit a major owner in the yard.

18) 1112212 TONER D'OUDAIRIES (FR) 7-11-00 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE 66/1 On a roll of good performances and form up to just short of three miles (assume he needs a top four at three miles to qualify?). Pulled up in his one big field chase (11+ runners). Pass.

19) 22P52-U4 WALKON (FR) 9-11-00 McNeill Family Alan King 66/1 Slow non-stayer a deadly combination.

20) 20P-111 BALTHAZAR KING (IRE) 10-10-13 The Brushmakers Philip Hobbs 33/1 19th last year and most of rating stems from Cross Country races at Cheltenham. Odds suggest some connection between XCountry races and National which is not borne out for me. The last time I visited Prestbury Park me and 50000 others of the 50000 crowd all had the same idea to get a drink when that race was on and the bar would not be 10 deep, doh.

21) P-21221U CARLINGFORD LOUGH (IRE) 8-10-13 J P McManus John Kiely IRE 40/1 Novice who won Galway Plate. Whilst not laid out and likely aimed at conditions races would not be beyond connections to casually throw him in a race 10 or 20 of his competitors had been laid out for. Just not the target for this horse. Maybe next year....

22) P06-52P WAYWARD PRINCE 10-10-13 John & Mrs Hilary Parrott Hilary Parrott 66/1 Beat Quito de la Roque at Aintree once and as well as ever in second behind Harry Topper earlier. Pulled up in 3 of 3 big field chases. Nope.

23) 155-P03 CAPE TRIBULATION 10-10-12 David Abell Malcolm Jefferson 50/1 Small field stayer who is no longer winning in small fields but maybe he's been campaigned for this mark. Either way not for me in a 40 runner cavalry charge and might need slow ground to be competitive as well.

24) -450311 MR MOONSHINE (IRE) 10-10-12 Douglas Pryde, Jim Beaumont & David van der Hoeven Sue Smith 50/1 Third in the Becher and has won last two over 2.5 milers to get his mark up. Clearly not forlorn and his Becher hints at stamina just not enough for me. However could argue similar profile & same trainer as last year's winner. All chase wins single-figure fields.

25) 06203-0 TEAFORTHREE (IRE) 10-10-12 Conyers, O'Reilly, Roddis, Zeffman Rebecca Curtis 25/1 Not as slow as I have joked and good runs in Welsh National and here last season. Dropped a handy four pounds due to this year's Welsh National. Fairly priced and only one of last year's top three coming back.

26) 010-501 ACROSS THE BAY (IRE) 10-10-11 Scotch Piper Syndicate Donald McCain 50/1 14th last year and eighth in the Becher this year. Best form in small fields but classier than some off this mark.

27) F11111 DOUBLE SEVEN (IRE) 8-10-11 J P McManus Martin Brassil IRE 50/1 Won five on the spin last summer and autumn. Mark gets him in here. Could make point better ground saw him in better form. Off since so could be a plot job. I just don't know enough to chuck but equally to back.

28) 2131-5P GODSMEJUDGE (IRE) 8-10-11 Favourites Racing Alan King 25/1 Scottish National winner who handles any ground. Pulled up last start but stable under a cloud. I just don't think he's quick enough or his form strong enough.

29) 0/530P-1 PLANET OF SOUND 12-10-11 Charles Lloyd-Baker Philip Hobbs 40/1 Finally found a race weak enough last time. Had lots of ailments and whilst track may suit beaten 91 lengths two years ago and rising 12 I can't see this as an entry connections should take up unless he's been a bad boy of course.

30) 11-1PRP BATTLE GROUP 9-10-10 Jolly Boys Outing Johnny Farrelly 50/1 Loves the Aintree track, sadly the Mildmay Aintree track not the massive National track. A frivolous entry for a horse PRP as its formline.

31) 65-0510 BUCKERS BRIDGE (IRE) 8-10-10 Ann & Alan Potts Partnership Henry de Bromhead IRE 66/1 No evidence he will want the distance or the large field. Another day out entry for connections?

32) 11/PP-501 LION NA BEARNAI (IRE) 12-10-10 The Lock Syndicate Tom Gibney IRE 40/1 Irish National winner who has had issues. Only strike I have is this is an end-to-end 4m4f gallop and soundness may count.

33) 12-3004 PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE (FR) 11-10-10 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE 33/1 Best form gives him a chance but does not quite make my list. No huge negatives just quibbles on jumping and in big fields.

34) 5/3/1/P1/ MASSINI'S MAGUIRE (IRE) 13-10-09 Alan Peterson Tim Vaughan 66/1 Not run for two years so quite why he would be allowed in this race is beyond me. It's still not a race for unsound old horses. 509/1 BF!

35) 13P-341 MONBEG DUDE (IRE) 9-10-09 Oydunow Michael Scudamore 20/1 consistent staying handicapper likely at about his proper mark. Not especially well in with Teaforthree on Welsh National and that one has course form. At 20s I think there are better bets. Respected but not liked.

36) 00PU-20 QUANTITATIVEEASING (IRE) 9-10-09 J P McManus Enda Bolger IRE 66/1 Has single handedly handed money to the rich... oh the horse not the economic shit ummh second to Carlingford Lough at Galway. Failed to win a point recently and has distance issues. Owner loves to challenge his horses doesn't he.

37) 2/5PU-01 SUNNYHILLBOY (IRE) 11-10-09 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill 33/1 Second beaten as far as the difference between the Labour and Conservative Parties or a Rizla split down the middle for the non political. Lightly raced since and not without a chance. However again would worry about soundness.

38) 1/F0211-2 BIG SHU (IRE) 9-10-08 H Duffy/R J Robinson/Miss C M Woods Peter Maher IRE 40/1 Another obstacle racer (XCountry) which with its jumps and twists and turns hardly prep for a National. Prior to that a Hunter chaser. Not for me.

39) 42/-500P BURTON PORT (IRE) 10-10-08 Trevor Hemmings Jonjo O'Neill 50/1 Once a really good one but a small horse who was never the fluent jumper that's needed here. Bang out of form for too long to be a plot. Being backed but never won a big field chase. (Trainer said has had a wind operation)

40) P-25P434 JUNIOR 11-10-08 Middleham Park Racing LI David Pipe 100/1 Bolted up in a Cheltenham handicap and one I had in mind for a National on good ground. However record looks mixed since involving letters and seems exposed even down a few pounds.

41) 0P/124-0 OUR FATHER (IRE) 8-10-08 The Ives & Johnson Families David Pipe 40/1 Had four chases and whilst Hennessy was not awful it was not good either. Hard to fancy on many grounds.

42) 203-061 SIRE COLLONGES (FR) 8-10-08 Angela & Bill Tincknell Paul Nicholls 50/1 Another XCountry winner probably falsely in here.

43) 12/034/-P MON PARRAIN (FR) 8-10-07 John & Barbara Cotton Paul Nicholls 66/1 One run in two years and may lack stamina what's to like? Why enter him? Pacemaker for something else?

44) 241-3315 MOUNTAINOUS (IRE) 9-10-07 Walters Plant Hire & James & Jean Potter Richard Lee 40/1 Welsh National winner. Worse off with Tidal Bay but more than that it did not strike me as a strong race prior or after. Not exactly laid out or well handicapped now.

45) 4UP-261 THE RAINBOW HUNTER 10-10-07 May We Never Be Found Out Partnership Kim Bailey 40/1 Came back after a wind op and if he gets in will be near bottom weight. Horses with wind issues may prefer to be fresh so if kept fresh a chance. Not quite enough evidence of stamina for me. However I like winners at Donny or the big tracks for this. Nearly.

46) 2P-1262 VINTAGE STAR (IRE) 8-10-07 Trevor Hemmings Sue Smith 40/1 Decent sort but short on class and experience. Whilst it is a handicap generally speaking the winners have gone close in valuable races prior, he has not.

47) 0400-1P CHANCE DU ROY (FR) 10-10-06 Miss I D Du Pre Philip Hobbs 40/1 Becher winner which clearly entails some sort of shot at this race. Seems to reserve his best for big tracks (This, Donny, Newbury, Chepstow). Pulled up last time on the Heavy at Haydock but that was a grim day's racing. Not without hope assuming nothing wrong last time.

48) 212P-42 HAWKES POINT 9-10-06 Graham Roach Paul Nicholls 33/1 Second in the Welsh National so a chance. Hard to read but again notwithstanding my love of Tidal Bay the Welsh National appears shy.

49) P513-35 HOME FARM (IRE) 7-10-06 Chris Jones Arthur Moore IRE 40/1 Six chase veteran from a former top trainer. Third in Irish National. Inexperience my main knock here.

50) 2-44110 KRUZHLININ (GER) 7-10-06 Paul & Clare Rooney Donald McCain 66/1 Well beaten by The Rainbow Hunter at Donny and appears best on tight tracks and long way up the handicap. 599/1 BF!

51) 35F201 PINEAU DE RE (FR) 11-10-06 J A Provan Dr Richard Newland 50/1 Fell in the Becher. On highest mark at age 11. No value.

52) 3-20116 WHITE STAR LINE (IRE) 10-10-06 Exors of the late Patsy Byrne Dessie Hughes IRE 66/1 14 chases two wins and one of those in a novice and one in a handicap off 130. Some hints at back class but wins in turn. Not quite.

53) 01R03/3- GOLAN WAY 10-10-05 W R B Racing 58 Tim Vaughan 66/1 Most evidence suggests a single figure field horse on the decline. Or No in a word.

54) 421-0102 MIDNIGHT APPEAL 9-10-05 David Sewell Alan King 66/1 Some decent form but no valuable race form. Better chances out there.

55) P0-FP13P PETE THE FEAT (IRE) 10-10-05 G J Larby & P J Smith Charlie Longsdon 66/1 Seems handicapped to his hilt. Good jumper but slow between them. Not ideal.

56) 125010 TWIRLING MAGNET (IRE) 8-10-05 Gay Smith Jonjo O'Neill 66/1 A novice who appears to be fully handicapped. Not for me.

57) 302-FU0 VESPER BELL (IRE) 8-10-05 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE 50/1 FU9 hardly encourages. Not well handicapped.

58) 400123- AWAY WE GO (IRE) 11-10-04 O'Gorman Partnership Willie Mullins IRE 66/1 Second in Irish National, third in the Whitbread and not run since but assuming a pipe opener of interest albeit may lack some class.

59) 01631P MART LANE (IRE) 9-10-04 Jim Stewart Dr Richard Newland 100/1 Another whose last win puts him on his highest mark with little hint of head room.

60) 001140 RENARD (FR) 9-10-04 ROA Arkle Partnership Venetia William 100/1 Seems a frivolous entry on class and distance grounds so given my usual picking of Venetia's means get your house on it.

61) 612-00P SAME DIFFERENCE (IRE) 8-10-04 Mrs R Vaughan Nigel Twiston-Davies 40/1 Arguably well handicapped as handicapper quickly drops a Cheltenham runner up and Whitbread second back to 141. However since his mark has put his participation in doubt recent performances not encouraging if this the aim.

62) 5/4/14PP-0 THE PACKAGE 11-10-04 The Johnson Family David Pipe 66/1 Formerly useful his unsoundness is clear and hence hard to see the thought behind this entry. At his best chances.

63) 11P-03P WELL REFRESHED 10-10-04 Patrick Wilmott Gary Moore 50/1 Bad jumper with a bit of class. Like the weight not the jumping in a race with 40 runners and 30 fences.

Conclusion I think a number have chances and accept even something I dismiss could win. My selection is Quito de la Roque who has back class and to my eyes has been well handicapped - issue would be is he intended to run and has he been handicapped or declined? I would take some 66s and better on exchanges. It seems the logical race for a staying horse just shy of Gold Cup standard off UK 152 (Tidal Bay's 161 - 9 = 152).

Rest of Entries who I don't fancy or need a lots out.

I gave up the horse by horse after 63. I don't like any of the next 10 or so I did not do and consider the rest unlikely to run - Alfie Spinner 33s shortest I left out.

64) 15211-P0 RAZ DE MAREE (FR) 9-10-03 Dessie Hughes Dessie Hughes IRE
65)114P-01 ROSE OF THE MOON (IRE) 9-10-03 Middleham Park Racing XXXIII & Partners David O'Meara
66) 0/11220/- SHAKALAKABOOMBOOM (IRE) 10-10-03 Liam Breslin Nicky Henderson
67) 606F0-12 TATENEN (FR) 10-10-03 The Stewart Family Richard Rowe
68) 6R3-51P ALVARADO (IRE) 9-10-02 William & Angela Rucker Fergal O'Brien
69) 356-24P HIGHLAND LODGE (IRE) 8-10-02 The Unusual Suspects Emma Lavelle
70) 51433-0 LAST TIME D'ALBAIN (FR) 10-10-02 Fontstown Syndicate Liam Cusack IRE
71) 1P-130P LOST GLORY (NZ) 9-10-02 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
72) 20-2553 MERRY KING (IRE) 7-10-02 F Gillespie Jonjo O'Neill
73) 23-F3P4 ONE IN A MILAN (IRE) 9-10-02 Paul Langford Evan Williams
74) 1/P10//02-6 PANDORAMA (IRE) 11-10-02 B Mellon/P McBride/Michael D Muldoon Noel Meade IRE
75) 3P1-250 GOONYELLA (IRE) 7-10-01 Ann & Alan Potts Partnership Jim Dreaper IRE
76) 1162-0P GOULANES (IRE) 8-10-01 Roger Brookhouse David Pipe
77) 3400-10 IKORODU ROAD 11-10-01 W J Odell Matt Sheppard
78) 16-060P LIBERTY COUNSEL (IRE) 11-10-01 Neale/Murtagh Partnership Dot Love IRE
79) 14406-5 SWING BILL (FR) 13-10-01 Halewood International Ltd David Pipe
80) 113/04P-0 QUEL ESPRIT (FR) 10-10-00 Jackie Mullins Willie Mullins IRE
81) B/0010-54 SOLL 9-10-00 Derrick Mossop Jo Hughes
82) 66/3124/-0 UP THE BEAT 9-10-00 Mrs A M Varmen/R J D Varmen Willie Mullins IRE
83) 121114 MINELLA FOR VALUE (IRE) 8-9-13 Maxilead Limited John Butler
84) 1-2301P NIGHT IN MILAN (IRE) 8-9-13 Richard Collins Keith Reveley
85) 3000-04 SAINT ARE (FR) 8-9-13 David Fox Tim Vaughan
86) 22/0-P50P OUT NOW (IRE) 10-9-12 Dermot Cox/Nelius Hayes Edward O'Grady IRE
87) 62-5023 TRANQUIL SEA (IRE) 12-9-12 No Dramas Partnership 1 Warren Greatrex
88) 13/304-4 ALFIE SHERRIN 11-9-11 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
89) 1P0-332 COURT BY SURPRISE (IRE) 9-9-11 Nick Mustoe Emma Lavelle
90) U20441 ROCKYABOYA (IRE) 10-9-11 P W Mullins Willie Mullins IRE
91) 03F-000 ROMANESCO (FR) 9-9-11 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
92) 2B6-P51 THERE'S NO PANIC (IRE) 9-9-11 The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls
93) 62P-0B20 ORPHEUS VALLEY (IRE) 11-9-10 No Horse Box Syndicate Tom Gibney IRE
94) 6050F-03 QUISCOVER FONTAINE (FR) 10-9-10 J P McManus Enda Bolger IRE
95) F11110 STANDING OVATION (IRE) 7-9-10 The Bravo Partnership David Pipe
96) 103-00P WYCK HILL (IRE) 10-9-10 J P McManus David Bridgwater
97) 0-33412 BAILE ANRAI (IRE) 10-9-09 Massive Dan Skelton
98) 2110F0 GULLIBLE GORDON (IRE) 11-9-09 Karen Bowen Peter Bowen
99) PP/4-P05 QUINZ (FR) 10-9-09 Andrew Cohen Philip Hobbs
100) 1-24003 UNDERTHEBOARDWALK (IRE) 8-9-08 Independent Syndicate Tony Martin IRE
101) 6-1FF11 WRONG TURN (IRE) 8-9-08 John Breslin Tony Martin IRE
102) 0-P5325 ANY CURRENCY (IRE) 11-9-06 Cash Is King Martin Keighley
103) P023-42 REAL MILAN (IRE) 9-9-06 Diana Whateley Donald McCain
104) 6-5U024P SIR DU BEARN (FR) 8-9-06 Mickey Bowen Peter Bowen
105) F-04654 SOLIX (FR) 8-9-06 Paul Vogt Ian Williams
106) 3313F65 STORM SURVIVOR (IRE) 8-9-06 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
107) 013444 VICTRIX GALE (IRE) 8-9-06 Badgers Syndicate Tony Martin IRE
108) 000035 WHODOYOUTHINK (IRE) 9-9-06 Redgap Partnership Oliver McKiernan IRE
109) 004-26P TOUR DES CHAMPS (FR) 7-9-04 Raymond Mould Nigel Twiston-Davies
110) 13-2520P BOB FORD (IRE) 7-9-03 The Bob Ford Partnership Rebecca Curtis
111) 104F0U LIVING NEXT DOOR (IRE) 8-9-03 John Breslin Tony Martin IRE
112) 4-22112 MERLIN'S WISH 9-9-02 Miss R Toppin Martin Keighley
113) 121300 SERGEANT PINK (IRE) 8-8-11 Andrew Sayer Dianne Sayer
114) 0-P000P TARQUINIUS (FR) 11-8-11 Richard Gilbert Gordon Elliott IRE