Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Galway Plate preview

thetote.com GALWAY PLATE
2m6f Handicap Chase

by Sam Preen, @sampreen, originally published here

So for today’s post, I’ve decided to jump ship, away from the fashion-infested week of Glorious Goodwood, to Glorious Galway. By the time you’re reading this, Kingman will have probably beaten Toronado by about four lengths, and all eyes will be on the Galway Plate, which has attracted a hefty field, as usual. Here’s the line-up…

Kid Cassidy
Form; 7/177-. Jockey; Jody McGarvey (5). Trainer; Christy Roche.

Aside from his exploits over fences, including claiming the notable scalp of Sire De Grugy last November, Kid Cassidy will forever be known as one of the horses to be electrocuted at Newbury, way back in 2011. He’s only been seen once on the course this year, in the Champion Chase, when a detached seventh behind old foe Sire De Grugy, in what was to be his final start for Nicky Henderson. It’s interesting to see if Christy’s got him primed for this, having being off since March, but looks up against it stepping up to this trip.

Form; 1213P/4-. Jockey; AP McCoy. Trainer; Thomas Mullins.

This would be some training performance to get Alderwood back in the winners enclosure. Last year’s Grand Annual winner, he hardly lost anything in defeat the following month at Aintree, but was no match for Arvika Ligeonniere at Punchestown, in ground which would have suited him perfectly. He’s been off since a disappointing fourth at Naas last October, and missed previous engagements, including Cheltenham, and with all the market support, he’s an interesting runner despite being off such a long time.

Road to Riches
Form; 13P41-2. Jockey; Shane Shortall (7). Trainer; Noel Meade.

Still fairly lightly raced, Road to Riches hasn’t lived up to his early expectations of his hurdling days, but has found his form in novice chases, especially when he gets the right ground. Second at Punchestown on his last start under the promising pilot Ger Fox, he finished ahead of The Romford Pele, who has since boosted the form with a smashing Listed win. He should have no problem tackling this extra furlong, and remains of interest.

Spring Heeled
Form; 28015. Jockey; Davy Russell. Trainer; Jim Culloty.

Cheltenham Festival winner Spring Heeled didn’t live up to his name in the Bet365 Gold Cup, when he could only manage a detached fifth (staying on past beaten rivals). He takes a significant drop in trip to tackle this, and although beaten favorite over course and distance last August in a beginners chase (won by Golden Wonder), he won his racecourse debut here way back in 2011. Has conditions to suit, but must prove his Cheltenham win wasn’t a fluke.

Form; 001-11. Jockey; Noel Fehily. Trainer; Charlie Longsdon.

Continues to run over both hurdles and fences these days, which saw him fire off a hat trick of wins this year, starting at Stratford. Caught the eye when staying on strongly under Ger Fox when upped to 2m4f, though the form hasn’t worked out as good as one would hope. Warrants respect for the connections he represents, but probably remains best watched as he heads back over fences.

Form; 0F/F1-4. Jockey; Andrew Lynch. Trainer; Henry De Bromhead.

Done most of his running for Willie Mullins, but was moved to Henry De Bromhead’s yard last July, and didn’t make an appearance until February the following year. Showed promise at the end of 2012 in Novice Chases, twice finishing second in Graded events, but went on a downward spiral since then, twice falling, before landing a minor event at Clonmel in horrific ground. Stayed on well enough in a valuable handicap at Punchestown at the end of April, and looks dangerous on potentially better ground.

Art Of Logistics
Form; 40-211. Jockey; Mark Enright. Trainer; Dessie Hughes.

Bidding for the hat-trick is Art Of Logistics. Won a handicap chase well enough in the middle of May, reversing the form with Mallowney, and followed that up with a comfortable victory in a four runner event in June. Struggled in a Novices’ Chase at the Festival back in March over 21 furlongs, but was earmarked for this after his last run. Will have being trained for this, and could run a big race now upped in trip once more.

Caid Du Berlais
Form; 21532-. Jockey; Sam Twiston-Davies. Trainer; Paul Nicholls.

Another British raider, this time coming from Ditcheat. Had useful form in France, but never won over hurdles on these shorts, although he did finish a length and quarter second to Ruacana in last year’s Future Champion Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow, and finished runner up to Jezki at Down Royal, before making a winning debut in a novice chase. Flopped when dropped in trip to Valdez at Doncaster earlier in the year, but bounced back when upped to 21 furlongs when staying on to close in on Thomas Crapper in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham, and capped off his season to finish runner up in a Grade 3 hurdle, sacrificing his lead by idling close home. Remains of interest considering the connections, especially as he’s still only had two races over fences.

Form; 2030-4. Jockey; Barry Geraghty. Trainer; Enda Bolger.

Hasn’t won since the end of 2011, when in training with Nicky Henderson, but showed a spark of old form when runner up in this last year. Failed to follow that up in the Kerry National, and after finishing third in a point to point, he was a disappointing runner in Cheltenham’s Cross Country at the Festival, having seen out the race in the rear, but showed some promise over Punchestown’s cross country race last time out. Warrants respect after finishing runner up last year, but remains to be seen if he can repeat that feat again this year.

Rum And Butter
Form; 20-111. Jockey; Richie McLernon. Trainer; Jonjo O’Neill.

Much better since the application of cheekpieces, finishing out of the money only once in 9 starts, and has “won all” three starts over fences (awarded race at Stratford). Stays this trip well enough, and probably would’ve finished closer at Newton Abbot last September on his sole start over this trip, had he not blundered the last. Faces his first real test over fences, but not one to rule out entirely.

Form; 5U/0P9. Jockey; David Casey. Trainer; Willie Mullins.

Fairly promising when landing a Grade 2 in the mud on his chasing debut, but failed to follow up in the RSA behind future Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere, and tipped up at Punchestown, before finishing tenth in last year’s plate, wearing cheekpieces. Pulled up when upped back in trip at Listowel, and hardly disappointed when ninth in last year’s Hennessy. Has been off since then, but he’s been known to go well fresh, and now dropping in trip, with good ground looking likely (3-4 on good), he looks capable of springing a surprise, especially coming from Mullins’ stable.

Golden Wonder
Form; 12542. Jockey; Roger Loughran. Trainer; Dessie Hughes.

Foul crisps, but a nice horse to keep on side. Won a beginners chase over course and distance last year, beating Spring Heeled by three and a half lengths, and proved himself a useful handicapper, which he showed when he was desperately unlucky not to win the Irish National, going down three quarters of a length to Shutthefrontdoor. Takes a fair drop in trip for this, but ideally would prefer slightly softer ground, having previously missed an engagement due to good ground.

Away We Go
Form; 3/9-61. Jockey; Paul Townend. Trainer; Willie Mullins.

Became a useful stayer last year, finishing runner up in the Irish National, and third to Quentin Collonges in the Bet365 Gold Cup. Hardly disgraced himself in this year’s Irish National, considering he’d been off for nearly a year, and did well when dropped to this trip at Punchestown, showing real guts for an 11 year old. Warrants respect on the back of that, and not ruled out if capable of repeating his Irish National run.

Grandads Horse
Form; 08-528. Jockey; Kielan Woods. Trainer; Charlie Longsdon.

A fair hurdler, and useful chaser in his day, he’s often struggled in Listed company, showed a hint of old promise when fitted with blinkers at Market Rasen in June, but failed to follow that when upped back into Listed company over this trip. Certainly wouldn’t fancy him as my main hope, and looks difficult to recommend for each way punters.

It’s A Gimme
Form; 2-211. Jockey; Alan Crowe. Trainer; Jonjo O’Neill.

Landed a listed event over this trip, and will have a special place in AP’s heart, after the gelding was the horse to topple Martin Pipe’s record of wins. Fairly versatile when it comes to the ground, but has done most of his winning on good to soft. Deserves his place in this, but this is far tougher than a Market Rasen Listed event.

Lord Ben
Form; 32-811. Jockey; Brian Hayes (3). Trainer; Henry De Bromhead.

Been a hit and miss horse, but came to his own over shorter distances, winning both at Listowel and Wexford. Much improved now he’s allowed to bowl along in front, and knuckled down to win well on his latest start. Should get to dictate things from the front, but unlikely he’ll run them into the ground.

Burn And Turn
Form; 2553-1. Jockey; Robbie Power. Trainer; Jessica Harrington.

Beat the ironically named She’s Got Grit last time out at Punchestown, and showed that the wind operation she had last year is paying off well enough, finishing third in a Grade 3, and she was earmarked for this after her win in May. Will certainly appreciate the step up in trip, and has the ground to suit. Likely player.

Form; 3441-P. Jockey; Johnny Burke (5). Trainer; Willie Mullins.

Notched his first win in a year and a half over this trip at Thurles last October, before a few creditable efforts in defeat. Won a shade cosily in April over this trip, but pulled up in a novice handicap chase at Punchestown in May (Road To Riches second, The Romford Pele third). Warrants respect on the back of his Gowran run, back in January, but could find a few too good.

Golden Kite
Form; 21P-41. Jockey; Kevin Sexton (5). Trainer; Adrian Maguire.

It would be some feat to get the 12 year old into the winners enclosure, but having only raced twice this season, he looks up against it. Has raced over a variety of trips in his time, but held on by three quarters of a length at Roscommon over 24 furlongs. Trainer Adrian Maguire said it’d be an ideal race, but the ground would be too well watered, so fairly surprising to see him in the line up.

Form; 31568-. Jockey; Paul Moloney. Trainer; Charlies Byrnes.

Has his ideal good ground, which he is unbeaten on, but leaves a lot to be desired having being winless in nearly a year. Off since January, where he jumped without any spark and finished 50 lengths behind the winner, and although likely to have being aimed for this, he’s very difficult to recommend.

Count Salazar
Form; 33-942. Jockey; Brian O’Connell. Trainer; Eoin Doyle.

Won over course and distance in the mud last October, and ran some creditable efforts back over hurdles, since. Unlucky not to land the spoils at Limerick after running out of steam close home, and should have no trouble stepping back up in trip. Only won once on good-ish ground, though.

Wise Old Owl
Form; 2229/8. Jockey; Mark Walsh. Trainer; John E Kiely.

Sneaking in near the bottom is useful chaser Wise Old Owl, who didn’t make his racecourse debut until he was 6. Desperately unlucky not to fire off a hat trick in 2010, and only ran twice in 2011, which saw him finish as a runner up twice, including in this race. Finished ninth after over a year off in the 2012 running, and was off until April of this year when running a moderate eighth at Punchestown. Claims on his old form, but hard to recommend against more race-fit rivals.

Orpheus Valley Form; 0B20-1. Jockey; Reserve 1. Trainer; Thomas Gibney.

Notched his first win in a year and a half at Punchestown on soft-ish ground, when running in a fair handicap chase, claiming the scalp of many of these. Has a potential prep run for this at Killarney when running way down the field on the flat, but will need to run things his way from the front if he’s able to win this. RESERVE.

Form; 0P08-1. Jockey; Reserve 2. Trainer; J P Dempsey.

Notched a win over course and distance yesterday (or today, if you’re reading on Monday) when getting the better of Cailin Annamh, her first win since Boxing Day 2012. Almost certainly won’t run, and will definitely need a break after her win. RESERVE.

Usuel Smurfer
Form; 3441-3. Jockey; Reserve 3. Trainer; John Joseph Hanlon.

A surprising winner over this trip at Fairyhouse, but failed to follow that up when seeing out most of the Killarney race at the back, and was already set for third, despite a dodgy jump at the last. A fairly infrequent winner, but has his ideal ground, should be make the cut. RESERVE.

Plenty of runners with lively chances, and last year went to the favorite, and JP McManus, who has SEVEN runners in this year's race. Rum And Butter makes a bit of appeal on his handicap chase debut, as does Vulcanite, who runs back over fences. I’m siding with the “home team”, and Henry De Bromhead’s AUPCHARLIE gets the nod. Followed up a minor event with a creditable effort in a fair race at Punchestown, staying on for fourth, and despite connections reaching for cheekpieces, he should run a huge race.

Lightly raced over fences, the British raider Caid Du Berlais remains of interest for Paul Nicholls, and it would be foolish to ignore any Willie Mullins sends in, too. Away We Go makes the most appeal, but for those who are tempted for an each way price, Terminal could run better than he did last year, when he finished tenth. He’s been off since finishing ninth in the Hennessy, but has gone well fresh in the past, and no doubt Willie will have him primed for a big run. Road To Riches heads here having run well in a similar event, beating main hope Aupcharlie, who finished fourth, back in May. He beat home The Romford Pele, who boosted the form with a Listed win, and providing Road to Riches can handle the extra furlong, he could live up to his name.

Aupcharlie @ 25/1 E/W
Terminal @ 25/1 E/W
Road To Riches @ 16/1 E/W

Vintage Stakes preview

Veuve Clicquot Vintage Stakes
Group Two, 7f
Glorious Goodwood

Preview by @twoyearoldtips, originally published here.

Ahlan Emarati- Ready winner on debut at Bath and has followed that up with two creditable placed efforts in Group company since, his second to Kool Kompany having been well franked by that horse taking the Papin on his next start. As likeable as he is, he is no megastar and it would a touch disappointing were he to prove good enough. Looks short enough in the market, and opposable.

Chadic- Won impressively from the front at the third time of asking at Ayr but the form is modest in the context of this race. Jockey bookings suggest he is the weaker of the Johnston pair and looks to have it all to do.

Dr No- Richard Hannon-trained individual who was all the rage on debut before running disappointingly at Nottingham. Has proved that form to be all wrong since however, firstly when besting the July Stakes runner up at the same venue and then with a solid 7th in the Coventry Stakes. That form has a solid look to it, but it must be significant that he has been passed over by Richard Hughes. Another who looks tight at the current prices.

Faithful Creek- Bushranger Colt who is a half brother to last years useful juvenile Peter Mac. Has been improving for the experience and won in decent style last time out. However he will need to take another massive leap forward to take this.

Highland Reel- Aidan O Brien raider who arrives here with a massive reputation following a twelve length romp at Gowran Park on his second start. That performance was visually impressive and the third has since downed his highly rated stable mate John F Kennedy. The drop in trip is a slight concern, he hails from a family choc full of top grade middle distance performers in Australia, as is the fact he takes up his engagement here. This isn't a race that O Brien targets very often and Duke Of Marmalade was the last top class horse he ran here in 2006. He was beaten before proving himself a superstar and it would be no surprise to see this horse follow a similar path. May well prove a class above but all things considered he cannot be a play at the odds.

Pallister- Improving son of Punctilious, who comes here searching for a hat trick. Both of those wins were over six furlongs and very likely the extra distance today will bring out further improvement. He done plenty wrong when winning last time and he will need to be less green if he is to prosper over this course. However looks to have plenty of latent talent and looks overpriced for a trainer who targets this meeting and won this with the brilliant Shamardal in 2004.

Room Key- A winner at Salisbury on debut before finishing second in a Novices Stakes on his second start at the same venue. The winner of that contest has since been well beaten in a listed contest and he will need to improve plenty to take this.

Tupi- £100k son of Tamayuz who looked a colt with a bright future when winning on debut at Sandown. The form of those in behind has been mixed but he is still unexposed and is the choice of Richard Hughes, who is looking for a fifth consecutive win in this contest. Looks to have been saved for this contest and rates a big danger to the favourite.

Verdict- A race that revolves around Highland Reel, who looked every inch the Ballydoyle superstar when romping home be a dozen lengths on his second start. It is therefore quite surprising he ends up here with his trainer having never won the race and not having had a representative since Cornish in 2008. The team that have farmed this race of late, winning the last four renewals, appear to have the main danger in the unbeaten Tupi. He has only won a maiden, but was well fancied for that race and won it in impressive style. He looks a great chance of making five in a row for the East Everleigh outfit. Pallister is bred to be useful and hails from a stable who make good at this meeting and he looks overpriced and could reach the frame

1 Tupi
2 Highland Reel
3 Pallister

Monday, 28 July 2014

Bet 365 Lennox Stakes preview

Bet365 Lennox Stakes
Group 2, 7f
Glorious Goodwood

by Sam Preen, @sampreen, originally published here

Form; 28-191. Jockey; Adrie de Vries. Trainer; Peter Schiergen.

I tried so hard not to make an “Is This The Way To Amarillo” pun… Making his fourth trip to the UK to tackle a Group race, he heads here with a stylish Group 3 win under his belt (6f, good). The step back up to 7f will go in his favour, as with the current ground conditions, but if the rain should fall, he’s best left alone, as he last won with soft in the going back in 2012.

Boom And Bust
Form; 225-96. Jockey; Martin Dwyer. Trainer; Marcus Tregoning.

Not the force of old, Boom and Bust heads here after running in a Listed event at Chester, which saw him finishing a staying on sixth, two lengths behind Glory Awaits. A Betfred Mile winner in his prime, he’s been winless for nearly two years, and has been running over a variety of distances as of late. Fairly interesting that connections have opted to reach for cheekpieces so late in his career.

Es Que Love
Form; 23903. Jockey; Adam Kirby. Trainer; Clive Cox.

Started life for Mark Johnston until March of this year, but since his Kempton win over a year ago, he’s racked up a handful of places, but no win. He showed a hint of his old self when third int he Hackwood Stakes, a short head third behind Heeraat (6f), but usually finds a few too good over this trip of 7 furlongs. Certainly warrants some respect on the back of that run, but must show it’s not a fluke now stepping back up into Group 2 company.

Form; 63-542. Jockey; Ryan Moore. Trainer; Richard Fahey.

Last year’s winner, Garswood, teams up with last year’s winning jockey, Ryan Moore. After winning this last year, the pair ran some creditable races, including when third to Moonlight Cloud (looked set for second, but we all know how stunning Moonlight Cloud was in last year’s Prix de la Foret). Most likely needed the run on his comeback at Sandown, but ran much better when dropped in trip at Haydock, and again when second to Gregorian in the Group 3 Criterion Stakes on his ideal soft ground. Connections have opted for a visor to replace the blinkers seen last time, and still warrants much respect on his attempt at making it back to back wins.

Glory Awaits
Form; 46-071. Jockey; Jamie Spencer. Trainer; Kevin Ryan.

Glory Awaits once came second in a Classic, once upon a time, you know? Unfortunately, that was just a one off, and he was last seen winning a more realistic target of a Listed event at Chester over two weeks ago. This is a race that isn’t completely out of his reach, and looks capable of running into a place, especially if his last run is anything to go by.

Form; 86-153. Jockey; William Buick. Trainer; John Gosden.

Surprisingly, Gregorian drops down back into Group 2 company, after finishing a creditable length and a half behind Slade Power in the July Cup. Last seen over this trip when coming out on top in a battle between himself and Garswood in the Criterion Stakes, but has yet to win on two visits to Goodwood. Certainly does look capable of changing that, particularly if some significant rain should fall between now and then.

Here Comes When
Form; 40-150. Jockey; Jim Crowley. Trainer; Andrew Balding.

Made a promising return to action, when smashing Abseil by five lengths at Chester, but has twice been put in his place since then, by Penitent in a Group 3, and was terribly disappointing under Oisin Murphy in the Royal Hunt Cup. He’s never fared well in Group races, and definitely looks up against it here.

Form; 432201. Jockey; Sean Levey. Trainer; Richard Hannon.

Yet again, Hannon saddles three, and Professor looks an interesting runner, despite jockey bookings. Useful rider Sean Levey gets the leg up, and the pair ended up in the winners enclosure last time out, landing a fair Class 3 at Haydock. A dual Listed winner in his prime, his standout race is second in the Wokingham, when a length and half behind Baccarat, but first in his group of nine. Warrants respect on the back of that run, and looks capable of sneaking into a place if he’s capable of repeating that under Sean.

Form; 114-50. Jockey; Paul Hanagan. Trainer; Richard Hannon.

Won his maiden at Beverley last June, before following up with a stunning effort in the July Stakes, before capping off his season with a fair fourth in the Dewhurst, over this trip. No match for stablemate Toormore in the Craven, and was soon beaten in the Jersey Stakes when last seen. Faces a terribly stiff task now upped to a Group 2, and very hard to fancy.

Form; 11-176. Jockey; Richard Hughes. Trainer; Richard Hannon.

Followed up last seasons hat trick with a comfortable win in the Craven, beating future Group 1 winner The Grey Gatsby by two lengths, but twice flopped at the highest level, in the 2000 Guineas, and the St James’s Palace Stakes. Drops down to a more realistic level, and having won over course and distance last year, it’d be very disappointing to see him out of the placings.

Conclusion; Toormore should take some beating dropping down to a more realistic level, but it’s hard to look away from last year’s winner Garswood. There’s plenty to pick from for each way punters, and I’ll be siding with PROFESSOR over last year’s 2000 Guineas runner up Glory Awaits. The former has a good record with jockey Sean Levey (two wins and a third in three starts), and is fairly versatile when it comes to ground. He comes here off of the back of a win, and wasn’t far away in last year’s race when rallying close home after being blocked off close home. That and his run in the Wokingham should see a bold effort at a potentially nice price.

Professor @ 10/1

Bet 365 Molecomb Stakes preview

Bet 365 Molecomb Stakes
Group 3, 2yo, 5f
Glorious Goodwood
Preview by @twoyearoldtips, originally published here.

Beacon- Highclere-owned colt who arrives here bidding for a four-timer. Was very impressive when slamming today's rival Mukhmal by four lengths in a listed event last time and Team Hannon have been responsible for three of the past five winners of this race. Looks the one to beat, but is priced up accordingly.

Burning The Clocks- Three race maiden who is rated 79. Needs to improve a couple of stone if he is to take this.

Cotai Glory- Finished last at 50/1 in a moderate Nottingham maiden on debut but now finds himself rated 104 after four starts. Got within 1.25 lengths of the mighty Limato last time and although that likely flattered him, it was still a highly commendable display. The main threat to Beacon on ratings and appears the value play at the current odds.

Dougal- Son of Zebedee, winner of this race in these colours in 2010, who has won two of his four starts to date. However he was outclassed in the July Stakes last time and even with the assistance of Ryan Moore he looks to have it all to do in this company.

Fast Act- Earned some decent prize money in the Super Sprint when third to runaway winner Tiggy Wiggy. Although only officially rated 88, this race lacks depth and he may well be good enough to reach the podium.

Mukhmal- Impressive winner on debut at Musselburgh, before defying the widest draw in the Lily Agnes on his second start. That marked him down as a colt to follow, but the wheels have fallen off somewhat on his two most recent starts. Four lengths behind Beacon last time and no reason why that form will be reversed here.

Union Rose- Second in the Windsor Castle at Ascot on her penultimate start but firmly put in her place by Beacon last time. Unlikely to be good enough.

Spirit Of Xian- Expensive daughter of Kodiac, who won on debut and ran with credit on her next two starts. Could only manage sixth in a French Group Three last time and looks up against it.

Summary- This looks a weak renewal and in Beacon has a short priced favourite. He is well worth his place at the head of the market, having rattled off a hat trick and readily dismissed todays rival Mukhmal in a listed contest last time. However he has been well found in the market and makes minimal appeal at odds on. Cotai glory is also rapidly improving and ran into a very useful tool last time over six furlongs. He rates the value play to upstage the short priced favourite. Of the rest in a field lacking depth Fast Act could replicate his finishing position from the Super Sprint.

1 Cotai Glory
2 Beacon
3 Fast Act

Friday, 25 July 2014

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes preview

(3:50 ASCOT – SATURDAY 26TH JULY 2014)

by Sam Preen, @sampreen, originally published here

Running through the field:

Leitir Mor
Form; 9-6825. Jockey; Ronan Whelan. Trainer; Jim Bolger.

Only has two wins to date, both times in Group 3 company, but has been the shadow of his former self since then. Ran a personal best for some time in a Listed event in June, and kept on to finish a fair fifth in a Group 3 a week later. Needs a personal best if he’s to hit the frame upped in class and trip. Presumably only here for pacemaking duties for Trading Leather.

Form; 1-6122. Jockey; Joseph O’Brien. Trainer; Aidan O’Brien.

Bidding to get back into the winners enclosure is Magician, who flopped when favourite in less than ideal ground at the Curragh, before finishing behind The Fugue at Royal Ascot, sporting a tongue tie for the first time. Previously won over this trip, and has the ideal ground, so no surprise to see him running a big race.

Form; 15-241. Jockey; Dane O’Neill. Trainer; William Haggas.

Yet to win in four starts at Ascot, but was a different horse when routing his rivals at Sandown in the Coral-Eclipse (Trading Leather second). Though he’s not run beyond 10 furlongs, he’ll have the ideal ground, providing we’re not hit with rain of biblical proportion, and although his Ascot record is slightly offputting, he warrants respect on the back of his Sandown effort. Regular partner Hanagan prefers Taghrooda.

Form; 21-221. Jockey; Ryan Moore. Trainer; Sir Michael Stoute.

Twice turned over by Noble Mission on soft this season, but got back in the winners enclosure when smashing his rivals over course and distance in the Hardwicke on his ideal firm ground. Steps into the unknown on his first (belated) start at the highest level, but warrants plenty of respect with conditions to suit.

Trading Leather
Form; 223-32. Jockey; Kevin Manning. Trainer; Jim Bolger.

Racked up a string of places after landing last year’s Irish Derby, most recently when finishing runner up to Mukhadram in the Coral-Eclipse last time out. Was no match for Novellist when he was runner up in this last year, but following his gutsy effort at Sandown, and the step back up in trip to 12 furlongs, he looks a tasty each way chance.

Eagle Top
Form; 141. Jockey; William Buick. Trainer; John Gosden.

Brightening up punters on Monday was the news that the King Edward VII winner Eagle Top had been supplemented for this race. The course and distance winner smashed his rivals with breathtaking ease at the Royal meeting, and it’d be of no great surprise to see the lightly raced colt running a huge race if he can repeat his last run.

Form; 3123. Jockey; Unknown. Trainer; John Gosden.

Winless since landing a Kempton maiden, he’s ran some awesome races in defeat, and followed up his nose second at Chester to finish four and a half lengths behind Australia in the Epsom Derby. Notably, he beat Western Hymn (who finished sixth), who went onto land a Group 2 last weekend. Certainly warrants respect on firmer ground on the back of his Derby run, but looks likely to struggle against some more experienced, high class sorts.

Form; 1-11. Jockey; Paul Hanagan. Trainer; John Gosden.

Connections will be hoping that Taghrooda will get her head in front, as they opted against doing the English-Irish Oaks double. Visually and physically impressive in all three of her starts to date, she’s been off since winning the English Oaks last month, but came in for heavy support before the Irish Oaks before connections opted to send her here instead. Paul Hanagan has obviously sided with her over Hamdan’s other runner, and getting weight from older rivals, that should see her running another huge race.

Conclusion: Certainly a wide open race at first glance. Classic winner Taghrooda warrants plenty of respect facing the boys for the first time, as does Telescope, who finally dips his toe/hoof into Group 1 company for the first time, but preference would be for EAGLE TOP. He smashed his rivals over course and distance on his last start, and providing that wasn’t a one off, a big run should be on the cards and looks a nice bet if you’re looking away from the market leaders. Starting to get more places than Forpady is last year’s runner up, Trading Leather. Though unlikely to reverse placings with Mukhadram, the step back up in trip can suit, and can still be backed at a tasty each way price.

Eagle Top @ 7/1
Trading Leather @ 12/1

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Weatherbys Super Sprint preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 11 July 2014

Night Two - Queensland Winter Trotting Carnival

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Durban July preview

2014 Vodacom Durban July Betting Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three is the magic number?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Girl power?

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

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

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

Four love nor money?

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

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

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

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

Older but wiser?

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

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

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


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

Louis The King
Cherry On The Top
Capetown Noir

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

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

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

Friday, 4 July 2014

Vicbred Super Series preview - Saturday

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Tour de France preview

Wheeliebets Yellow Jersey preview

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

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

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

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

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

So if not Froome, then who else ?

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leo Konig – good, but out of his depth here

Coral Eclipse preview

Coral Eclipse preview
by Chris Day, @chrisday100

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Vicbred Super Series preview - Friday

Vicbred Super Series Finals preview Friday July 4
by @thepunter80

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sir John Monash Stakes preview

Sir John Monash Stakes preview
By Mitch Fenton

Twitter: @weekndkngracing
Facebook: /weekendking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm keen to play here though!

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