Friday, 28 November 2014

Miracle Mile preview

A jewel of harness racing in the southern hemisphere, the Miracle Mile. You'll find plenty of replays of Miracle Miles of yesteryear from the home of NSW trotting, the tight Harold Park circuit in inner Sydney, on YouTube, enough to keep you busy for hours. Now the race is held at the spacious Menangle and the gentler bends and longer straights lead to incredibly fast times.

Taking the reins once again to preview the great race is aspiring journalist and harness racing fanatic Tommy Hudson, @tommyhud9.


The Miracle Mile
Menangle, 1609m
Saturday, Race 7. 2140 local time (1040 UK)
Form link Iform Pace Map and Comments

One of the highest-quality fields in recent memory will score up behind the mobile at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night, as the 2014 Miracle Mile is run and won. The final eight-runners were decided upon last weekend as Suave Stuey Lombo won the Cordina Sprint, while Guaranteed and Easy on the Eye were also given invitations.

Betting markets (quoted prices from TABCorp) and many harness racing enthusiasts believe the race is Beautide's to lose, but winning this event will be no easy feat, with the calibre of other runners meaning last year's champion will have to be at his absolute best. Here's a look at each horse and their chances;

1. Easy on the Eye NZ ($31)
D: David Morris/T: Shane Tritton

This former New Zealand pacer has had just two runs in Australia this season since joining the Tritton stable, but has still managed to score and invite to the $750000 event. The 7yo Gelding was very impressive in the Group 1 Coca-Cola Sprint, where he led for the majority before finishing third behind Beautide in a slick time. If trainer Shane Tritton's words on Twitter are anything to go by, we can expect this horse to lead early on, but whether or not he will give in to the pressure to his outside is unknown. Given the friendly draw, Easy on the Eye is a key runner in the race and should be in it for a long way.

2. Avonnova ($18)
D: Shane Graham/T: Ian Gurney

Since moving to Queensland, the improvement by Avonnova has been nothing short of incredible. Virtually unbeatable in his home state, the 8-year-old established himself as one of the country's best with victory in the Newcastle Mile in record time, a win which earned him entry into this race. Blessed with great gate speed, Avonnova will be gunning for the lead early, but he may not be able to get across the horse to his inside. The good draw however, leaves driver Shane Graham with plenty of options, so the horse should have every chance to finish in the money.

3. Beautide ($1.70)
D: James Rattray/T: James Rattray

The horse to beat. After taking out this race in 2013 with a great burst of speed, Beautide's win in March's Inter Dominion was incredibly dominant, and recent wins have many believing that Beautide is close to unbeatable. Trainer/Driver James Rattray will be aiming to settle in the first-half of the field, with the aim of over-powering his rivals in the final 400m. No matter where he is in the running, Beautide will be there at the finish, and it will take a mighty horse to beat him to the post. You'll get a better price by shopping around.

4. Christen Me NZ ($4.20)
D: Dexter Dunn/T: Cran Dalgety

With two wins and a placing from just three starts at Menangle, there is no doubt that star New Zealand pacer Christen Me relishes racing at this track and in this country, an important attribute for horses coming from overseas. As tough as he is fast, driver Dexter Dunn can either go forward or back with this versatile gelding, so it would be a very brave punter to write him off.

5. For A Reason ($7.50)
D: Luke McCarthy/T: Belinda McCarthy

The ultra-consistent For A Reason draws gate 5 for the Mile and comes off two very strong runs in the past month. A victory via the sprint-lane in $200000 QPC was followed up by a very tough 2nd in the NZ Pacing Cup, so there is no doubting that the 8-year-old is in supreme condition ahead of this race. Luke McCarthy may look to head to the marker pegs early on, saving him up for his trademark sprint in the final 400m. For A Reason placed in the Miracle Mile last year and he definitely has place claims again this weekend.

6. Chariot King *EMERGENCY 1*
D: Jim Douglass/T: John Tapp

7. Guaranteed ($10)
D: Gavin Lang/T: Emma Stewart

Despite being the youngest and least experienced competitor in the field, it is very hard to fault the record of Vicorian pacer Guaranteed. With six wins at Menangle, including a Chariots of Fire, and over $600000 in prizemoney, there is no doubting the class of this 5-year-old. With plenty of speed to his inside though, it will take a great drive and even some luck to see him winning.

8. Suave Stuey Lombo ($16)
D: Lauren Panella/T: Shane Tritton

Shane Tritton's main chance in the race scored an invite with a comfortable victory in last Saturday's Cordina sprint. Suave Stuey Lombo was able to lead all of the way, but this luxury may not be afforded to him this weekend. With the wide draw, a lot of work will need to be done early by this gelding to get into a forward position. Despite his class and recent domination at this track, it will take a career-best run to provide the Tritton/Panella combination the win they so strongly desire.

9. Bettor Bet Black *EMERGENCY 2*
D: Darren McCall/T: Darren McCall

10. Terror To Love ($26)
D: Ricky May/T: Graham Court

Just three weeks ago, Terror To Love had the hopes of a nation on his shoulders as he aimed to win his fourth NZ Pacing Cup. A disappointing fourth placing led many to believe that Australia would not get to see the famous horse this spring; however an invitation was still extended. A terrible draw and an unimpressive record on our shores (has had a shocking run of draws at Menangle) leave 'Terror' as an outsider with bookmakers, and given the class and form of all other runners, it is hard to argue. While a win for the New Zealander would be a great story, one feels he would need a small miracle to take out the mile.

Verdict: I cannot go past Beautide. He meets the strongest horses that Australasia has to offer on Saturday, but the Tasmanian's incredible toughness, coupled with his blinding speed, is enough to suggest he can win. The field is extremely tight and it is very hard to decide just who will fill the placings, however Christen Me is ultra-consistent and it is impossible to leave him out, while Avonnova has been brilliant in the past 12 months and with the good draw can run a mighty race.

Tips: 3-4-2

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Spotlight on the Hennessy

My favourite National Hunt race of the year, the highest class handicap race of the season, the Hennessy. Prove you're the best by taking on the world and giving them weight where necessary, not just sticking to set weights/weight-for-age races. There's no stud value to be precious about in the jumping world!

Stepping in with an early trends-based preview of this week's big race is astute punter Steve Mullington, @mulldog. You can read plenty more of his work on his Mull It Over blog.

Spotlight on the Hennessy Gold Cup

The Hennessy Gold Cup takes place this Saturday at Newbury and once again it has attracted a high class field. Last Saturday’s Lancashire Chase winner trainer Paul Nicholls holds a strong hand with Rocky Creek, Black Thunder and Unioniste whilst lady of the moment Venetia Williams saddles Houblon Des Obeaux.

The Hennessy is a Grade 3 Handicap Chase run over a distance of 3m 2½ furlongs. In the past ten years two winners have won this race on route to then winning the Cheltenham Gold cup namely Denman and Bobs Worth.

Trainer trends (past ten years)
Nicky Henderson (3-3-12) trained the winner in 2005, 2012 & 2013.
Paul Nicholls (2-7-24) trained Denman to win in 2007 and 2009 and has won the race three times in all.
David Pipe (1-3-10) has had the winner once in the past ten years.
Philip Hobbs (0-3-10) has never won it in the past ten years. His last winner in this race was back in 2001.

Age Trends (win-place-runners)
5-y-o: 0-0-2
6-y-o: 3-9-27
7-y-o: 5-8-59
8-y-o: 1-2-24
9-y-o: 1-5-42
10-y-o: 0-3-16
11-y-o+ 0-1-7

As you can see a combination of all the 6 & 7 year old winners over the past ten years has yielded eight race winners in all, more than any other age group.
Diamond Edge in 1981 is the only horse aged over nine to win in the last forty years.
Over 8s haven’t fared that well either over the past ten years with only Denman bucking that trend when he won the race for a second time.

Price Trends
Eight of the last ten winners were sent off 10/1 or shorter.
The winner has come the first four in the betting seven times out of the last ten renewals.

Other Race Trends
Highest placed RSA finisher to run in this event: 161P22P18 (3-2-9)
UK Jump Jockey & Trainer Partnership Trends (past 14 days)
R.Johnson/PJ Hobbs 10-26 (38.5%), S.Twiston-Davies/P.F Nicholls 10-32 (31.3%), T.Scudamore/D.Pipe 5-25 (20%), A.Coleman/V.Williams 5-26 (19.2%), B.J Geraghty/N.J Henderson 3-14 (21.4%)

Previous Winners

(Graphic courtesy of

Given their impeccable record in this race in recent times it is very difficult to get away from backing a Nicholls or Henderson trained horse. Six and seven year olds look to be the order of the day and my own personal selection is the seven year old Smad Place (e/w). Although Alan King’s name is not particularly synonymous with this race his grey gelding ticks plenty of the trends boxes for me.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Football Form Labs weekend preview

Excerpts from the Football Form Lab Weekender email.


Not getting enough of your football betting? Put some stats behind your gut instincts and work out when to really lump on. One of the very best in the business is Football Form Labs who have shared their wisdom with a preview of some of this week's action. You can also follow Football Form Labs on Twitter, @footballformlab

PREVIEW: Arsenal v Man Utd (Sat, 17:30)

The past few years have seen Arsenal fail to perform against the best teams in the league time and again, and their record against Man Utd is no exception. Arsene Wenger’s men have won just one of their last 14 games in all competitions against the Red Devils. They even failed to score in either game against David Moyes’ United last season.

The Gunners have gone 23 games without defeat at home while United haven’t won in their last seven away matches. However, Arsenal have been struggling almost as much as United this season as they’ve both won only four times and Arsenal have failed to win any of their five matches against teams currently in the top 12 (W0-D3-L2).

Only twice since the start of last season have Arsenal failed to score at home and those were against Chelsea and Man Utd last term. Given United have lost five of their last eight away matches (W0-D3-L5) when conceding, and are suffering a major injury crisis in defence, this looks a perfect chance for Arsenal to improve their record in this fixture. Their main are of concern, though, is their own defence as Burnley are the only side to fail to score here this season. Over-goals is tempting given the two defences on show but 15 of Arsenal’s last 19 home games against top-half teams have finished with fewer than three goals.

United’s list of absences grew over the international break as Danny Blind injured his knee and David De Gea – their player of the season so far – dislocated a finger, although the keeper may yet be fit. They could be missing as many as six or seven first choice players and with Angel Di Maria’s dip in form and Robin van Persie’s general lethargy they are in poor shape as they head to the capital.

Last season United failed to win at any of the top nine, losing five times, and they remain winless on the road this term despite four of their opponents being currently located in the bottom eight. Depending on the full extent of Man Utd’s injury list Arsenal should win here but they are almost as hard to trust as United at the moment and it’s worth taking some cover on the draw and backing them at 1.88 on the Asian Handicap -0.25.

PREVIEW: AC Milan v Inter Milan (Sun, 20:00)

Much like the Premier League’s big clash this weekend the Milan derby comes around with both teams struggling to rediscover their title winning form of a few years ago.

Milan have won only two of their last nine games, despite facing just two sides currently sitting in the top nine. Inter, meanwhile, have won only two of seven matches including three defeats to sides currently in the bottom half. That run of form has meant the end for Walter Mazzari’s management and the return of Roberto Mancini.

Milan’s problems are clear in that they’ve kept just one clean sheet this season and that was against goal-shy Chievo as only six teams have conceded more often. Their attack has also started misfiring in recent weeks which has contributed to their last four home games all having fewer than three goals. Things get even worse when we look at Milan’s record against top-half finishers last season as they won only three of 18 matches whilst losing 10 times including a W2-D3-L4 record at home.

Inter have been inconsistent in defence this season as they’ve kept five clean sheets but have also conceded at least twice on five occasions. Four of their five away games have had fewer than three goals as they’ve scored just twice – against newly promoted Palermo and Cesena – and they must improve going forward if they are to challenge for a European finish this season. Their record away to top-half finishers last season was very similar to Milan’s home stats as they went W3-D2-L4.

Given the nature of this derby the head-to-head records are arguably more important than in most match-ups. Milan won the most recent encounter but prior to that had lost four of five derbies. However, the most significant stat is perhaps that seven of the last nine games between the pair have had fewer than three goals with five of the last eight, including three of the last four, having fewer than two.

The most significant bit of team news is Gary Medel’s suspension for Inter. The two games he’s started and failed to complete at least an hour in this season have seen Inter concede six times and pick up only one point. Similarly last season at Cardiff he missed just six matches and they lost them all while conceding 3.17 goals per game. And in the two previous years when at Sevilla they conceded 56% more goals per game in the 18 games he missed compared to the 58 he played.

Under-goals is tempting but the absence of Medel means Inter are less able to protect their suspect defence and so is best avoided. Instead the draw looks a better bet, particularly with Mancini being a relatively cautious manager who is likely to be happy to avoid defeat in such an important opening match. Milan have drawn five of their last eight matches and it’s 3.3 they get another one here while it’s 2.05 if you wish to cover the draw with a Milan win.

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Nice v Reims
Eric Bautheac, Forward, Nice

Since the start of last season Bautheac has missed 20 of 51 games for Nice has he’s suffered several injuries and this time he’s suspended. While they’ve averaged 1.1 goals per game with him they’ve managed just 0.65 per game without him as they’ve failed to score 10 times. They’ve also lost 12 of the matches he’s missed, including eight defeats to nil and five 0-1 scores as 11/20 of matches have had fewer than two goals. Reims have conceded only two goals in their last five games and it's 3.1 that this match has Under 1.5 Goals.

Marseille v Bordeaux
Nicolas Nkoulou, Defender, Marseille

Nkolou has missed just two games in the past two seasons and since 2011/12 he’s only missed 10 of Marseille’s 127 matches. They’ve lost seven of those games and their only win came against Auxerre, who finished last that season, and they’ve conceded 65% more goals per game than when he’s been playing. With both managers encouraging positive football it could be a good time to back Over 2.5 Goals at 2.0.

Napoli v Cagliari
Marco Sau, Forward, Cagliari

Sau has been an ever present for Cagliari this season but has missed 13 games since the start of 2013/14. Without him Cagliari have lost eight times and won only twice, with seven of the defeats being Loss/Loss doubles and six by more than one goal. Napoli are in good form and are 2.1 to record a Win/Win double.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

McInerney Ford 4YO Classic preview

Western Australia is the place to be for great racing this weekend - Friday night at Gloucester Park (the trotting venue you always see across the road from the WACA during cricket telecasts) and across to Ascot for Super Saturday for the gallops.

Jumping into the sulky for a crack at the 4YO Classic is harness guru Trent Orwin.


McInerney Ford 4YO Classic
Gloucester Park 2536m
R7 Friday, 20:45 Perth time
(2345 Melbourne 1245 London)

Preview by Trent Orwin
Twitter: @themightytrent3
Website: BettingPro

Group 1 racing heats up at Gloucester Park on Friday night with the running of the McInerney Ford 4YO Classic (2536m) with the winner of the $125,000 feature exempt from the ballot for the Group 1 Golden Nugget (2536m) at Gloucester Park on December 5.

Although leading trainer Gary Hall Snr does not have his best two four-year-old pacers in the form of Machtu and Elegant Christian (Machtu has a virus and Elegant Christian is injured), the stable should dominate the event and look a legitimate $1.10 chance of winning the race.

The barrier draw has been favourable for the stable also with their two leading chances in Soho Lennon and Waylade drawing barriers one and two respectively. Another runner in A Boy Named Rosie has drawn barrier eight and will enjoy a soft run on the pegline.

When the green light goes on there is two likely scenarios that could occur. The first, and most likely, is that Soho Lennon will hand up to his stablemate Waylade who is aiming at a hatrick of victories after taking out the Group 2 4YO Championship (2130m) in emphatic fashion last start after sitting in the breeze and scoring by 3.1m ahead of VC Manoeuvre and Bettor Offer.

A Boy Named Rosie would then be three back along the pegline with the Greg & Skye Bond-trained stablemates Jumbo Jet (barrier four) and Bettor Offer (five) pushing forward from their draws with the latter likely to face the breeze and the former sitting in the one-out-one-back position. Hugh Victor (three) is likely to look for the cheapest possible run and will likely ease back and look to find the markers as soon as possible. Mista Rush (six) and WA Derby winner Three Blind Mice (seven) are two runners that will likely restrain in a bid to get into the running line towards the tail of the field.

Ohoka Cooper (nine) has a decision as to whether he will head behind A Boy Named Rosie or follow Waylade through and potentially land just better of midfield in the moving line. Ultimate Major (10), Classic American (11) and VC Manoeuvre (12) will settle towards the tail also with the latter potentially searching for the pegline just as Nathan Turvey did last week when getting off the pegs and flying down the outside of the straight to grab second.

The second scenario is that Soho Lennon holds the lead which will force Waylade to either hold the breeze which should ensure early pace in the race and may force Soho Lennon to hand up when either Jumbo Jet or Bettor Offer comes searching for the breeze.

Waylade is my top selection in the race based on the fact he should be leading and his victory in a 1:57.1 mile rate last week was very good and he also won the start prior over this distance in a leisurely 1:59.6 mile rate for this calibre of a field. He will certainly go faster than that in this event from the lead and it is hard seeing him being beaten. With that said, he is far from a moral and the $1.80 with most bookmakers looks about right. Bet365 initially offered $2.40, the sharper minds got hold of that quickly and now he has been slashed into a more accurate $1.70.

Soho Lennon is the next best chance in the race and with the potential to either lead or trail Waylade, he will have every opportunity to run past the favourite if he sees daylight in the home straight. He won in a 1:58.4 mile rate back in July when forced to race three wide without cover in a last half of 58.4 and is capable of quicker with an easier run. $4.80 was his best price with Bet365 and could be entertained at that price, but with the flood of money for the favourite, he's out to $6.50 and even more appealing.

Bettor Offer looks to be the third best chance in the race and this gelding has some toughness about him. He was three wide without cover last start in a 57.0 half and was only beaten 5.4m by Waylade. He is racing in terrific form and has chased home the likes of Elegant Christian when beaten 5.5m when sitting outside of him and did defeat Waylade by 7.1m as a $1.40 favourite two starts back. Now out to a best price of $6.50, he still looks under the odds as he will either be breezing throughout the staying trip or could get shuffled back if they decide to make any moves from the back of the field.

A Boy Named Rosie has been good in his past two behind Waylade and will appreciate the soft run on the pegline here. He is also a winner of three of his five starts over the distance range and the $21 to win and $4.50 to place with Ladbrokes looks excellent each-way value, in particular the place.

The draw really hurts the chances of both Classic American and VC Manoeuvre but they will likely come with one run in the final circuit and have plenty of ability.

VC Manoeuvre has very similar ability to Waylade and Soho Lennon and from their draw he would be a major player in this. If they go hard throughout, then either he or Classic American can fly late. Both are around $31 to win and $7 to place with Sportsbet and look the best of the knockout hopes.

Mista Rush is in excellent form but the draw hurts as he would like to find the breeze himself but Bettor Offer may not oblige and he could be forced to restrain anyway. Has won eight of 16 starts and could be the x-factor in the event at around $26 but I couldn’t be on him either way. Third or fourth placing appears best for him.

Three Blind Mice loves to lead as he did when winning the WA Derby but he won’t be afforded that luxury in this and will have to make a searching run late. His form is also below par and while you have to respect his ability, this looks too hard but for those looking for an absolute blowout then $81 to win and $17 to place with Sportsbet may appeal.

Hugh Victor will be looking for a cheap run and he is outclassed in this event. Most bookmakers are betting $26 for him and they could be missing a zero as he looks almost no hope of winning the event. Could sneak into fourth for first four players.

Ohoka Cooper led last start and got a stitch late to finish 14.9m away in ninth place. From a worse barrier, four pegs or the moving line means he is playing for third or fourth place at best and it is hard to entertain him despite having won two of four over the distance in weaker company.

Ultimate Major will be hard pressed from the draw and is hard to entertain even at an each-way price with at least six runners in the race appearing to have him covered talent wise.

Jumbo Jet opened $8 with one bookmaker but is now out to $31 with most of them and this still looks unders to me. He won last start in slow time and hasn’t shown enough at this stage of his career to suggest he is ready to beat the big players in this event. Maybe include in wider exotics due to the likelihood of being in the top four or six in-running.

1 – Waylade
2 – Soho Lennon
3 – Bettor Offer
4 – A Boy Named Rosie
Best Roughie – VC Manoeuvre

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Cordina Sprint preview

With the Melbourne spring carnival, some of the lesser-known diamonds in Australian racing appear over the next few weeks - the Ballarat Cup, Super Saturday at Ascot in Perth, and not to be outdone, harness racing (the trots) gears up towards the Miracle Mile and the Gloucester Park Summer Carnival.

Aspiring journalist and keen harness racing enthusiast Thomas Hudson, @tommyhud9, makes his blog debut with a look at the final qualifier for next week's Miracle Mile.


Cordina Chicken Farms Sprint Preview

The Miracle Mile Carnival rolls on this Saturday night as the $100000 Cordina Chicken Farms Sprint takes place at Tabcorp Park Menangle. The race provides the 10 competitors a final chance to secure an invitation to next week’s Grand Circuit event. Five names have already been confirmed in what is shaping up as one of the strongest Miracle Mile fields in recent memory, with last year’s champion Beautide proving he is once again the one to beat with some dominant victories in recent weeks.

As with the vast majority of Group 1 mile races at Menangle, a very fast first quarter is ensured this Saturday with a number of noted leaders and on-speed runners in the Cordina field. Blazin N Cullen, Mark Dennis, Devil Dodger and Bettor Bet Black will all fancy their chances of getting to the fence in the charge to the first turn, but the lightning-fast Suave Stuey Lombo, with a driver hell-bent on leading aboard in Lauren Panella, will be aiming to bullock its way to the lead and is expected to do so. The Shane Tritton trained gelding (currently trading at $1.30 with, has enjoyed a stellar season thus far winning three of its five starts, with two of those victories coming over Beautide. This class factor leads many to believe the horse affectionately known as ‘Stuey’ will be winning this Saturday night and booking his place in the Miracle Mile.

Betting markets indicate that it is hard to find a horse capable of causing an upset, however Belinda McCarthy’s 4-year-old superstar Bling It On currently sits as second favourite ($4.50). This horse is a somewhat unknown quantity in these open class events, but his record as a two and three-year-old is nothing short of incredible with the horse boasting a 72% win record and having already earned upwards of $700000 in prize money. It will be very interesting to see whether or not the star youngster can mix it with his more tried and tested rivals.

Of the rest of the field, a lot of the chances will depend on the outcome of the early speed battle spoken about previously. Victorian trainer David Aiken brings Cold Major to Menangle to add an extra element of mystery to the race, while fellow talented Victorian Abettorpunt will be trying to improve on last week’s fifth placing in the Coca-Cola sprint.

John Tapp’s Menangle fast-class regular Chariot King will throw its hat into the ring yet again, while one of Shane Tritton’s other entrants into the race, Laterron, has been in top form since coming to the stable and is an outside chance.

Several quality races surround the Cordina Sprint on Saturday night, with heats of the Beautide championship continuing for the M0s. Three heats of the Smoken Up championship also take place on the night, featuring some of the region’s best open class horses. The square gaiters get a run in the final event, as the second heat of the Franco Australian Trotters championship takes place.

Betfair Chase trend analysis

This weekend signifies the running of one of the biggest steeplechases of the season, the Betfair Chase, probably only topped by the Gold Cup and the King George for class & prestige. I have fond memories of attending this race during the Kauto Star era in my days with Betfair, but my most vivid memory was that it was always bloody freezing! (Can you tell National Hunt racing isn't in my blood?).

Stepping in with an early trends-based preview of this week's big race is astute punter Steve Mullington, @mulldog. You can read plenty more of his work on his Mull It Over blog.


Spotlight on the Betfair Chase

Saturday the 22nd November will see the tenth running of the Betfair Chase (registered as the Lancashire Chase) at Haydock Park so let’s take a look at some of the big race trends and the trainers and jockeys to follow on the day.

The race itself is a Grade 1 Chase run over 3 miles and has been won by Kauto Star four times and also by another Gold Cup winner, Imperial Commander. Silviniaco Conti & Cue Card have won the last two renewals and are both entered again this year.

Trainer Trends (win-place-runners)
Paul Nicholls (5-1-10) saddled Kauto Star to win it four times and also trained Silviniaco Conti to win it in 2012 and finish third in 2013.
Nigel Twiston-Davies (1-1-6) saddled Imperial Commander to finish first and second in the race.
Colin Tizzard (1-0-2) won the race last year with Cue Card.
David Pipe (0-2-3) has trained the runner-up in 2008 & 2012 and third in 2009.
Nicky Henderson (0-2-2) saddled Long Run to finish second in 2011 & 2012.

Age Trends (win-place-runners)
6-y-o: 2-1-3
7-y-o: 2-4-15
8-y-o: 1-2-19
9-y-o: 2-2-14
10-y-o: 1-1-4
11-y-o+: 1-0-4

Horses aged six have gained two wins and a second from just three attempts and all three were French bred.

Price Trends
Eight of the last nine winners were priced 9/1 or shorter and the favourite has won the race four times in all.

Other Race Trends
Six of the nine winners ran in the previous season’s King George race and four of the nine winners have run in a Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Three of the last nine winners ran in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last time.
Haydock Jockey Trends (last five seasons)
Jason Maguire 26-105, 25%, -£14.40, A.P McCoy 10-23, 19%, -£23.80, T. O’Brien 9-46, 20%, +£5.58, W.Hutchinson 7-36, 19%, -£9.88, B.Hughes 6-68, 9%, -£9.27

Haydock Trainer Trends (last five seasons)
Donald McCain 33-143, 23%, -£2.08, Venetia Williams 10-76, 13%, -£14.18, David Pipe 10-58, 17%, +£10.71, Nicky Henderson 10-55, 18%, -£6.98, Paul Nicholls 10-53, 19%, -£5.43

Previous Winners

(Graphic courtesy of

This race demands a high level of pre-race form to be a contender and in all probability the winner is likely to come from the first three in the betting. Cue Card, Dynaste and Silviniaco Conti currently head the market and will all have their supporters for obvious reasons. Menorah the recent Charlie Hall Chase winner from the all conquering Hobbs/Johnson/Whateley team is an interesting prospect should he line up and could be an interesting outsider.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Greatwood Hurdle preview

A rare quality Sunday meeting in Britain with the final day of the Open meeting at Cheltenham. The feature of the day is the Greatwood Hurdle, which holds more prestige to some than the PP Gold Cup on Saturday. Once again, Chris Day @chrisday100 takes the reins...

--------------------- Greatwood Hurdle
15:15 Cheltenham
Grade 3, 2m 1/2f

The highlight of Sunday’s card, the Greatwood Hurdle is traditionally one of the strongest of the early season and been a pointer to the Champion Hurdle such is the race’s strength.

Topping the weights is Nicky Henderson’s Vaniteux, who ran third in a red hot Supreme Novices' Hurdle in March and ought to be capable of running very well from this sort of mark. His worst run of last season was on bad ground at Kempton on Boxing Day and, as he’s likely to encounter equally tough conditions on Sunday as favourite, I’ll let him go unbacked but accept he could make light of this rating.

Blue Heron looks slightly high in the weights on what he’s achieved but his astute trainer won the Ladbroke with a similar type last year and he may not be far away.

Phillip Hobbs has been in great form this Autumn and his record in this race bears the closest inspection so Garde La Victoire, who seemed to throw (away) a winning opportunity at Aintree on his seasonal debut, needs respecting over a trip which may suit him better. Largely untried in the ground, his stamina could prove an asset on the long climb to the line.

Roman Flight has been winning good races with the obvious hike in the weights as a result, Baltimore Rock won last season’s Imperial Cup and is only 5lbs higher now so must run well and Clondaw Warrior won the Irish November Handicap but needs to improve on what he’s shown over hurdles so far and his 5-1 price is surely more attributable to his undoubtedly shrewd connections than anything else.

Exitas won a far lesser race at Sandown pulling a cart last Saturday and he could really be anything but has been well backed in recent days and is a little short for now, Pearl Swan has form from two seasons ago which marks him down as leniently treated but I think may need further, Olofi has a long absence to overcome, Katgary needs to put a poor return at Aintree behind him, Regal Encore is a talking horse who needs to do it on the track and Pine Creek, Mijhaar and Raven’s Tower do not appear to have the right profiles here.

The one I like is Jonjo O’Neill’s Goodwood Mirage, who won a hotly contested Wetherby race when weak in the market for Tony McCoy who was stood down immediately after the race and obviously unable to offer his usual assistance from the saddle. The second that day, Lightening Rod, danced in off top weight in a course and distance race a couple of weeks ago and fifth, Secrete Stream, did similarly over a longer trip the following day.

Current connections went to 380,000 guineas to buy Goodwood Mirage from the flat and he’s obviously thought to be high class plus his flat form indicates that soft ground should not prove a hindrance.

I’ll take him (Goodwood Mirage) to win and make Garde La Victoire the each way play at current prices.

Paddy Power Gold Cup preview

Top racing at Cheltenham this weekend, now we really get into the quality meetings you should be taking notice of along the way to the Festivals.

Chris Day, @chrisday100 steps up to analyse the headline event, the Paddy Power Gold Cup.


Paddy Power Gold Cup
14:30 Cheltenham
Grade 3, 2m 4.5f Chase

The Paddy Power Gold Cup traditionally kicks off a series of big Saturday chases in the run up to Christmas and, as one of the races which originally got me hooked on racing in the mid-80s when run under the guise of the Mackeson Gold Cup, holds a special place as I’m sure it does for many.

Barely can I ever remember a horse with no worthwhile Cheltenham form winning it and the big Southern stables have monopolised it in recent times.

Heading the weights are Oscar Whiskey and John’s Spirit, representing two of the pre-eminent stables of Nicky Henderson and Jonjo O’Neill yet both have taken notably different paths to their current marks. The former was a high class hurdler who may struggle to jump fences fluently enough to hold his place in such a big field but is undeniably well in if he does.

John’s Spirit, on the other hand, is a specialist over course and distance having won the race last year and the one over course and distance at the Showcase Meeting for the last two years. He’s up another 9lbs for his last victory but he was barely asked a question in that contest and, although he probably has to be a Ryanair horse to win this, I’m not sure he isn’t and he’s on my shortlist, admittedly as a horse who owes me nothing.

In last year’s race, Easter Meteor was in the process of running a great race when coming down two fences out and gets a useful pull with the winner. Transferred to David Pipe, I could see him going well but it is questionable if the trip in the ground will see him in his best light.

Cantlow, on the other hand, should be in his elements and will need every yard of the trip having stayed on well for second in last year’s December Gold Cup which means he is arguably the pick of the weights and, from four runs in big fields at Cheltenham, he has finished third of 24 in a Pertemps Final and second of 13 in the aforementioned contest. I can certainly see him staying on very strongly if able to hold his position in the first mile.

Attaglance probably needs quicker ground but deserves to win something like this, Persian Snow looks slightly to have it to do on festival form but may have improved and ran a solid trial behind John’s Spirit last time and Indian Castle is only 5lbs higher than his victory here on Trials Day last year and has since left Donald McCain for Ian Williams. Could he be Ile De re in reverse?

The two at the top of the market appear to have very strong credentials, Present View having won the novice handicap chase at the festival and shown he is in top form with an excellent second in a novice hurdle over the track in October. He looks nailed on to be in at the finish but the one I like best was only fifth behind him at the festival having blundered his chance away at at least four fences but, in the belief that Evan Williams will have worked on this deficiency in the summer, I reckon Buywise has significant upside from a mark of 146. He returned to Cheltenham in April and won a chase over course and distance despite not being too fluent at his fences and he beat a classy flat recruit of Nicky Henderson’s on his seasonal debut over hurdles this time around.

The softening of the ground should suit him ideally and, in Paul Moloney he has the perfect jockey to finesse him round and creep into the race in the last half mile.

I’d back him (Buywise) for win purposes and John’s Spirit and Cantlow each way with Indian Castle for forecast and tricast purposes in the belief that all will be ideally suited to very testing ground.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Darley Classic preview

The Flemington Spring Carnival concludes with Stakes Day, a reference to the Emirates Stakes, which has been known by many names over the years. Recently it has been beefed up with a second Group 1 which has turned into the sprint championship of the spring. This year, it's captured the international bug with star Irish sprinter Slade Power and we have a star-studded field. Once again, we turn to the expertise of the blokes at Premium Punting....


Darley Classic
G1 WFA 1200m
3.40pm local time (0440 UK)

By Premium Punting
Twitter: @premiumpunting

Form link

Speed Map

It must be noted that it has been preferable to be close to the ‘middle to outside’ section of the straight in the sprint races thus far this week.
Expecting to have at least five runners in the first line with Buffering & Lankan Rupee to be half a length ahead of Slade Power, Temple Of Boom & Driefontein. Favourite Chautauqua will likely be in a similar spot to where he was last start, around off-midfield to the inside of the field. His jockey will be hoping the field pushes as far to the outside rail as possible.

Pre-Post Market:

As always, our markets are set to 100% with every runner rated >$21 eliminated. Premium Racing Services clients get a market <100% to gain a wagering edge and to help find the stronger overlays to be wagered upon.

Moment Of Change & Platelet are also overlays but will not be wagering upon.

Very good talent as proven last start racing clear in high rating G2 on the inside part of the track which isn’t seen often. Is clearly a horse on the up where his “roof” is unable to be identified yet. As stated earlier we have him settling in a similar position to last start and needing to pick up and sprint again on the inside of the field. A little query is that he is drawn next to Slade Power, who if he isn’t granted acceptance to be loaded last into the barriers could ‘lose it’ in there putting him off.
Although he is our top rated runner, it is extremely difficult to have him run such a higher predicted figure to these elite G1 sprinters in a quantitative model and therefore is difficult to have him assessed anywhere near the current price offered.

Can be amusing at times when punters only factor in a horses last start performance into their opinions. It was only two starts back that he beat plenty of these in the G1 Moir! Was also checked early in Manikato and was very brave to sustain his speed to the line in the blanket finish. Is a very capable galloper down the straight including his current PB rating which was when he won this race last year. Will be the equal leader and as always be difficult to run down. Excellent value at the double figure odds.

Slade Power
First start in AUS for the European sprint champion. Very interesting runner as his collateral figures in his last three starts are enormous including his last two G1 wins in the UK which were down the Ascot & Newmarket straights. Showed real strength last start in drawing clear late in the July Cup. It will be interesting to see if they allow him to go into the barriers last as it will be of great benefit to him looking at his antics in his Flemington jumpout. His ratings cannot be ignored and he is worthy of having a ticket on.

Rebel Dane
Very good when unlucky again in Manikato, should've won? Produced a similar run in the Moir also finding little luck along the inside before surging late. Third up generally goes well at 1350-1400m but sticks to 1200m here which is wise by the stable as he generally looks to find a flat spot at the 100m in those races. Is capable of springboarding third up off two similar rated performances. Jockey Williams will sit around midfield and wait for the gap to open as the field fans out and is capable of being right in the finish at a big price.


Monday, 3 November 2014

Finding the First Four on the Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup attracts interest from all over the world, and thus there are a plethora of different angles to assess the race. It's always worthwhile posting contrary opinions, even if they are against mine!

Davy Lane, @LosCharruas, returns with his annual look at claiming the biggest single-race exotic of them all, the First Four.


Melbourne Cup First Four analysis

This Melbourne Cup analysis is intended to produce a plausible trajectory of the "First Four past the post at Flemington. I have broken the 24 runners into manageable categories and added a few pertinent insights.

Sheikh Mohammed's Mob -- The booking of Craig Williams and James McDonald (for me the two best jockeys in Aus-NZ) will send punters to the windows likes flies to camel shit. I urge caution. Both riders should ensure 2. CAVALRYMAN and 17. WILLING FOE will be competitive, though nothing more. If the race was 6 months ago Cavalryman would have had a hot chance, but the old marauder looked cooked when 4th last up behind Pale Mimosa and Estimate at York. That James McDonald has not given Willing Foe a spin before the race is useful information. So what's behind the entries and jockey bookings? The Godolphin organization is rebooting itself. If Emirates Airlines were not the primary sponsor and Asia not the emerging epicentre of world racing (both horses have entries in the Hong Kong Vase in December), perhaps Sheikh Mohammed may have chosen to by pass the race. But The Qataris are coming...The Qataris are coming. This is about Godolphin remaining relevant in a period of transition. This partly explains why Williams and McDonald agreed to take rides on two horses that won't win. In a post Dettori - McEvoy world there will soon be hyper serious global rides to be had. Williams (who perhaps could have sweated out the balloting and waited for Araldo) and McDonald are auditioning for those starring roles. Contributer in next year's Melbourne Cup being a prime example.

The Irish -- In every interview Johnny Murtagh has conducted in advance of the race, he focusses on the horse's owner, Andrew Tinkler. Tinkler's patronage has made Murtagh's training career viable. The trip to Melbourne almost seems as much as about giving Tinkler a taste of the big time as it is about winning the race. If the race was two years ago, 9 ROYAL DIAMOND may have been a serious contender. The horse has not sparkled since an injury and comes to Melbourne more as a traveling companion for his more in form stable mate, 11. MUTUAL REGARD. Murtagh's jockey bookings of Arnold and Oliver are shrewd, nonetheless. A top ten finish finish for one horse would ensure Murtagh and Tinkler would just about leave Australia in clover. Mutual Regard may have won the famed Ebor Handicap, but he did so with a 5lb claimer aboard. Only one other horse in that 19 horse Ebor field carried less. This time 11 horses will carry less than Mutual Regard. The Ebor winner is now weighted among proven Group winners, which he is not. Oliver's remit will be to make sure to keep at least 14 horses behind him and get into top ten prize money. Oliver can easily oblige. Arnold could squeeze into the top ten also.

The English -- I have a sentimental attachment to 4. RED CADEAUX and not just because I had him Each Way at 50-1 when Dunaden nosed him out. The fiery chestnut is probably the most simpatico horse the English have produced since Red Rum. But can he lump 2nd top weight around at his grand old age and win? I doubt it. Succor was taken in his freshener when retirement was on the agenda and he ran a credible 4th behind 7. SEISMOS at Newbury in August, but Seismos' subsequent display around Caulfield has somewhat exposed the current form. You also ignore Marco Botti at your peril, but Seismos plays second to Tac de Boistron at his barn. With a kinder draw I could have entertained Seismos picking up the pieces of fast run race, but he will get swamped on the rail early and will probably never find enough space to change up his gears. 8. GATEWOOD brings John Gosden to town. This is a good thing for Victorian Racing. Gosden is a scholar and a gentleman and the most straight up English trainer there is. When interviewed by TVN on his arrival in Melbourne, he expressed luke warm hope for a place. This was code for don't invest. Gosden's expressed keenness to be in town for Derby day at Flemington suggests he is scouting the territory. He will be back and watch out the next time he comes to town. Anyone watching Farraaj fly into the wind at Flemington in the McKinnon should be on notice. Roger Varian and Andrea Atnezi are on fire. It's no accident Qatar Racing have signed up the Sardinian to be their No. 1 rider. 14. MY AMBIVALENT is a very serious "First Four" chance. Her form very close behind two of the best horses of our generation in Cirrus des Aigles and Gentildonna make her an irresistible play in "First Four" markets. Her slowness in taking to training at Werribee made the stone bruise which kept her out of the Caulfield Cup most convenient. Ultimately I suspect relieved connections saw sweeping into the places at Flemington an easier proposition than getting mowed down at Caulfield. The draw in Barrier 4 is perfect. My Ambivalent will do her thing and take up the running at her own pace. She's smarter and classier than The Cleaner. Watch out.

The Mount Macedon Brigade charge with only two horses. 3. FAWKNER comes with a Caulfield citation and a gallant 6th at Flemington last year. Lloyd Williams has long said a Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup double was on the agenda for this horse. Fawkner is proven top drawer Group horse and has to be hugely respected. Ideally, Williams would probably have preferred to be also be running Green Moon and maybe Amralah. Instead Williams can only rely on 18. SEA MOON to help Fawkner set a strong pace. Sea Moon pulled up sore last time and I am surprised he is running. Given his weight and wide draw, his race will be over long before they turn for home. (Now SCRATCHED.)

Meet The Wallers. Chris Waller is the thinking man's trainer. Every horse he runs has a chance. So keep 8. JUNOOB, 12. WHO SHOT THEBARMAN and 20. OPINION onside in all your plays. Junoob is drawn well, but is carrying too much weight. My sense is that he is running for the pleasure of his owners. They will probably be cheering as they turn for home. You can't put a price such endorphins. Opinion impressed me most when closing like a train to grab a close 2nd second to Junoob in a quicker than average Metrop. With only 53.5 kg on his back, he's remains a legitimate live outside shout. However, it is Who Shot Thebarman who Waller has been seriously aiming at this race. His run in the slowly run Caulfield Cup was disappointing, but post race examination revealed the horse had some mucus issues. He is clear now. He won the Group 1 Auckland Cup at 3,200 Metres last year in emphatic style. When Waller in an interview on Shane Anderson's mandatory "Racing Ahead" show on RSN said major expectations were resting on this horse, I jumped on at 70/1. He then carried 60kg winning impressively around Flemington and the price plummeted. The booking of Glen Boss is also interesting. Could Boss have stayed on Signoff or he did choose to seize the opportunity on Who Shot Thebarman once the horse got the all clear from Waller. I think the latter.

The Wiseguy Horses -- 22. LUCIA VALENTINA hit the line hard in the Caulfield Cup. She is nicely weighted and when McEvoy left Godolphin he did so to have the chance to be on horses like her. She should be thereabouts, but her tight draw will see her squeezed early and this may compromise her chance to get in the big money places. 24. SIGNOFF has all the advantages going into the race. The lowest weight by a long chalk, a fair draw and the Magic Man flying in from Hong Kong to take the ride. I took 33/1 before the Lexus, but on reflection I don't think the horse is quite good enough to win the race. Beating up on Big Memory in a muddling Lexus is not form to take to the bank. That said, although Signoff may not be the winner, he will be sure to be challenging for a First Four place.

The Moodys -- 16. BRAMBLES is a proven Group horse whose return from a near career ending tendon injury is truly remarkable. He has to be respected, but his wide draw will impact his style and leave him flat down at the business end of the race. I took 200/1 on 19. LIDARI a few months ago after listening to Peter Moody say he had big hopes for his French import, especially now that he had gotten the horse to settle in races. I had seen Lidari win the Languedoc Derby in Toulouse in 2012. It's a performance that has stuck with me. He seemed to have so much more in hand. His close 2nd in the Group 1 Rupert Clark means he has now graduated from the provinces. He is weighted well below the serious Group horses at 53.5 kg, he is drawn ideally from gate 10. You can sure he will coming down the straight with a battler's chance.

The French -- When 18. Au Revoir was quarantined for this, OTI were thinking more about a serious challenge in 2015. When new shareholders were confirmed in late October was it because the horse stepped up earlier than expected or was it because folks wanted a day out at Flemmington. It's hard to know. The horse has an entry in the Hong Kong Vase and connections were close to booking Magic Man Moreira if Signoff had not won the Lexus. With a better draw (he comes from 23), I may have been tempted to take a punt. If I find out Andre Fabre has flown to Melbourne, I may yet. But somehow I doubt it.

The Japanese -- It is hard to ignore 1. ADMIRE RAKTI given his demolition job in the Caulfield Cup. The beast has drawn perfectly in the 8 hole. Zac Purton is sure to employ the same three wide come behind style he employed at Caulfield. The race seems set up for him. However, before you back Admire Rakti remember two things. First, the Caulfield Cup was a slow run race that suited him swooping late. And second you will have to factor the sustained heat Cavalryman, Fawkner, Junoob, Lidari and My Ambivalent will apply. I think Admire Rakti turns for home like a piece of Tempura. I am keeping him out the First Four.

The Germans -- 5. PROTECTIONIST will be the emphatic winner. When Ryan Moore advised punters not to back him for the English jockey's championship because he was scheduled to ride in the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup, this was a HUGE ante post clue. Moore would not agree to criss crossing the Pacific if he did think he had good things. A further clue came with Protectionist's subsequent win the Prix Kergorlay at Deauville. This result has been dismissed by most because he only beat three rivals, but a closer inspection strengthens the case for Protectionist. Wohler's in house rider jumped off previous year's Prix du Cadran champion Altano to ride Protectionist. And secondly, Protectionist won in second gear with Eduardo Pedroza's ass high in the air. The last horse in that race was Pia Brandt's Bathyrhon who was subsequently supplemented for this year's Prix du Cadran finishing 2nd and losing by only quarter of a length. Protectionist's earlier Group 2 win at Hansa Preis was equally facile. He went around the outside like Mercedes overtaking a fleet of Kingswoods. Among those behind him that day was Sirius who went on the win Group 1 Grosser Preis Von Berlin. The Herbert Power is cited as a weak race, but Protectionist did not go into the race attempting to win. Craig Williams was told to keep him out of trouble and turn it on late. After the race, Williams admitted he thought he gotten off this year's Melbourne Cup winner. Protectionist is a Group 1 horse, weighted below the other big boys and with the best jockey in the world riding. Ryan Moore was highly annoyed with his performance on Mount Athos in 2012. What many Australians perhaps don't appreciate is how difficult a ride Mount Athos can be. The Montjeu line notorious is that respect. Protectionist is by Monsun, the sire of most sensible and well adjusted offspring in the game. It will be just a matter of when Moore decides to press the button. Wohler has been back and forth to Australia on a couple of occasions to supervise the training of the horse. This thoroughness is significant. Wohler has said he does not want the track too firm. 6mm have added to the track overnight. It should be enough. Moore wants to put a second exclamation point behind his win on Adelaide. He will. BET THE FARM!

The Each Way Certainty -- 21. ARALDO never catches a break with post positions, this time getting Barrier 24. If Araldo had drawn more centrally and or Williams had pressed to keep the ride, then I may have some doubts about Protectionist getting caught on the line. Nevertheless, Araldo is now well used to coming wide and late. Araldo has winning form around Flemington, and an in-form jockey in Dwayne Dunn aboard. He has to be included in all First Four tickets.

The No Hopers - There are three. 15. PRECEDENCE and 17. MR. O'CEIRIN are trading on respectable efforts in modest affairs last year. For those who cannot resist a Cummings horse, note Precedence received a nasty gash in his last race. I caution those may want to take a flyer on Chad. The kid is good, but his mount on Mr. O'Ceirin is about him gaining experience in the race. 23. UNCHAIN MY HEART won a modest Listed race over Course and Distance earlier in the year to earn her place. She cannot compete at this level.


Protectionist wins. It's just a matter which of the following fill out the 2nd, 3rd and 4th places from the contenders below.

3. (9) Fawkner - 57kg - Hickmott - Hall
5. (11) Protectionist - 56.5kg - Wohler - Moore
12. (13) Who Shot Thebarman - 55kg - Waller - Boss
14. (4) My Ambivalent - 54.5kg - Varian - Atzeni
19. (10) Lidari - 53.5kg - Moody - Melham
21. (24) Araldo - 53kg - Moroney - Dunn
24. (16) Signoff - 51 kg - Weir - Moreira

Fawkner comes up a buck short in the final 200 Metres. He had a hard run in the Cox Plate. His jockey is top rider, but not the very best around. Signoff gets outclassed despite the urging of the Magic Man.

The bet is therefore to box 4 horses -- Who Shot TheBarman, My Ambivalent, Araldo, and Lidari -- for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th places places.

Melbourne Cup preview


This year's preview won't be as long as in previous years - I've simply been trumped by a tremendous effort from Andrew Hawkins, @AndrewNJHawkins, it has the video links and details for each runner in a consistent format that he would have spent several days preparing! So I suggest you read that in tandem with my preview, if you have the time.

Read Andrew Hawkins' comprehensive Melbourne Cup preview here

Here's my take on The Race That Stops The Nation.


Emirates Melbourne Cup
$6m, Group 1 Handicap, 3200m
Flemington Racecourse
Tuesday November 4
3pm local time (0400 London)

Form link

Local odds comparison

It's odd that by the southern hemisphere thoroughbred clock, we only have one 4yo in the field (Lucia Valentina) and four 9yos (only Precedence is truly nine by foal dates). Au Revoir and Protectionist are both 4yos by European time. Is this change in maturity of the field a generational anomaly or a subtle change which goe with the evolution of the race - no longer an Aussie-controlled sprint-cruise-bunch up-sprint race, but more like the European style of staying: start slow and then build up the pace over the last mile to make it a true staying test? If it's the latter, and I suspect it is, then old trends start to become irrelevant. That one about no English-trained horse ever winning the race without a lead-up run in Australia - does it still have merit?

1. Admire Rakti - the one to beat. Was only supposed to be aiming at the Melbourne Cup, but picked up the Caulfield Cup when Bande wasn't able to take his place. Goes up only half a kilo, hard to see anything from the Caulfield Cup beating him. Ignore the trend experts crapping on about the history of top weights. He carries a mere 7.5kgs above the bottom weighted, #24 Signoff, whereas in previous years the spread in weights was often double digits. This is now a Quality Handicap rather than an old-fashioned one, there are no sneaky ones getting in under the radar anymore. Japanese stayers have an outstanding record in Australia, logic suggests that run will continue.

2. Cavalryman - midfield in 2012 when started 30/1, his official rating has barely moved since that run. Two years ago when ridden by Dettori, he settled near the back and simply missed the boat in a moderately-run Cup. Ran on nicely but far too late to finish 12th. C.Williams aboard (stable second choice, James McDonald went to Willing Foe), drawn an inside gate, if he can make use of that (must do otherwise he'll be locked away), he is the archetypal British stayer who can take off on the turn and get them all chasing. Needs a lot to go right to win, but has the right credentials to sneak into trifecta and First Four calculations. NOW SCRATCHED

3. Fawkner - 2013 Caulfield Cup winner and then finished sixth in this race with the ride heavily criticised, coming from too far back, and then very wide when they all bunched rounding the turn but he also jumped like a drunken sailor, getting bumped and squeezed until he was snagged back. Great run for second in the Cox Plate beaten by the outstanding Adelaide. Simply can't knock the form, but he needs to make use of the ideal barrier. His start cost him in the Cox Plate too, can't afford to do that at the elite level in capacity fields. Must go close.

4. Red Cadeaux - easy to say he's too old for this but Ed Dunlop is no mug and he was only beaten a head by Admire Rakti in the Tenno Sho in May. 30/1 in 2011 (2nd), 17/2 in 2012 (8th), 60/1 last year (2nd). Shorter this year in field of less depth... he can't win it... surely? Write him off at your peril, I have every other year and it has been costly!

5. Protectionist - talented German galloper flew home in the Herbert Power on Oct 11, a far weaker race. Was slashed into favouritism after that run, but since displaced by Admire Rakti. Thought (Lord) Van Percy's run that day was every bit as good but there's a considerable gap in class between that race and the MC. Signoff beat him that day on similar weight terms and was unsuccessful in a protest against the winner. That field was the largest he has faced. His hype run in Germany was the Hansa-Preis where he circled the field mid-race and kept going. But it wasn't much of a field and it's far easier to circle a field of 10 on a slow to moderate pace, than it is in a capacity 24-runner field strung out over 30 lengths. His win in Prix Kergolay, a strong formline behind Americain and Dunaden was meaningless IMO, he only beat three rivals. Breeding suggests he may enjoy the sting out of the track with his best two wins on softer ground, but they have watered overnight to lose that firmness. He's the one I am prepared to risk.

6. Sea Moon - not a hope in hell. Finished 13th last year and in three runs since has only beaten three horses. Indictment on the quality of the field that he is running, handicapped on glories of a bygone era. Mind you, with that rating, he'd have got in any year... NOW SCRATCHED

7. Seismos - drawn the paint again which is definitely not a plus in the Cup. Did nothing at Caulfield from gate 1, and not convinced he's up to these but Marco Botti has been able to work miracles before on horses with seemingly no hope. Needs to do work early and/or get off the rail quickly, otherwise he'll end up locked away eight pairs back. Consider for the roughie to spice up the tris and F4s.

8. Junoob - had everything in his favour in the Caulfield Cup, can't see the extra half mile being to his advantage. Hugh Bowman takes over from Douglas Whyte in the saddle. While not wanting to take anything away from one of the greatest jockeys of recent decades, perhaps his unfamiliarity with Caulfield and the world's toughest 2400m handicap did nothing for this horse's chances. (After another look at the replay, he was on the wrong leg around the home turn and got bumped a couple of times. Once he balanced up, he was making ground on the leaders.) Was so much better in the Metrop, drawn ideally here. A win would surprise, a top half finish wouldn't.

9. Royal Diamond - Irish veteran who hasn't won since taking out the Champions Long Distance Cup in Oct 2013. Would need a lot of luck and probably rain too to figure in the finish here.

10. Gatewood - the best chance of the OTI stable according to reports. Since his last Australian visit, he's finished in the first three in all ten runs, but none have been on a firm track or in a field of 10 horses or more. Drawn 22, trainer has concerns over the ground and his rating hasn't advanced since he was last here. Nope.

11. Mutual Regard - Ebor winner looking to go one better than Purple Moon in 2007 but that race was weakened by the equine influenza outbreak. Barring the topweight though, you could argue this race is no stronger. Nice win in the Ebor but had the benefit of a 5lb claimer beating the handicap. Expected a longer price, but the depth has fallen away, and now has the services of Damien Oliver. On ratings, there is little between him and his stablemate Royal Diamond and he's at least six times the price...

12. Who Shot Thebarman - NZ handicap stayers haven't been genuine chances in this race for a couple of decades now. Will stay the two miles and Flemington suits better than Caulfield but several others will be ahead of him.

13. Willing Foe - has long been an enigmatic conveyance, just 14 runs over five years, but Godolphin marking him top pick, steering James McDonald his way. Finished in front of some decent horse flesh such as Pale Mimosa and Pallasator when running fourth in the Irish St Leger, which was stolen by a great ride on the winner, and being only his third run in two years, you'd think there was still improvement left in him. Narrowly beaten by Seismos at his previous run, and just ahead of Red Cadeaux, at level weights. Pure logic of that puts him right into this and his big field record (won Ebor 2012 with 19 runners, second in 2011 November Hcp with 23 runners) suggests he'll handle the hustle and bustle. The wildcard in the field.

14. My Ambivalent - had an interrupted prep, missing out on the Caulfield Cup which was probably her main target. Third behind Gentildonna and Cirrus des Aigles in Dubai, and then CdA again at Epsom (subsequent Arc and Breeders Cup Turf runner-up Flintshire ran second) at WFA over 2400m this year. That is high quality form! This also ties in with the favourite, with Admire Rakti finishing a similar distance behind Gentildonna in the Japan Cup. Played up at the gates before her last run in Ireland. Jockey Andrea Atzeni rode Farraaj in the Mackinnon on Saturday, a terrific balanced and patient ride from gate 14 rather than panicking about being stuck three wide on a limb. On the flipside, she's a bit of a nutter and is first-up since the end of June, taking on the longest trip of her career. She'd be right in this if her preparation hadn't been disrupted, but that is more than compensated for in the odds. Can she run two miles? Must be considered.

15. Precedence - not good enough to make the field last year after winning the Moonee Valley Cup, this year he was several lengths away and gets in. See comment about Sea Moon for what that says about depth/quality of the field. Midfield at best.

16. Brambles - honest run in the Caulfield Cup when finished fourth, Qld Derby winner at three but slight stamina doubt on the dam's side. Just a run on Saturday in the Mackinnon, so he's set for the longer trip but don't think he'll get too close.

17. Mr O'Ceirin - apparently this is the type of horse we should be reserving space in the field for because he's locally trained. No, we shouldn't. Hasn't won for over a year, well beaten in the Caloundra and Cranbourne Cups, has never won on a dry track or over 2400m or further. Well done to connections for owning a horse capable of winning half a million bucks and qualifying for the race, but spare me the sob story, he'll be one of the first horses beaten, getting in the way of far better horses as they make their move.

18. Au Revoir - will be improved by his first-up third in the Moonee Valley Cup, but that was a weak race in the grand scheme of things. Has European formlines with Flintshire (Arc and BC Turf runner-up) and Singing (runner-up to Protectionist) so he's thereabouts, but he's a typical on-pace stayer without much of a kick. Will have to go forward from the wide gate to take up a position but will be passed by anything with a turn-of-foot in the straight. If any firm is offering top 10 betting, I'd take a look.

19. Lidari - the last of the OTI quartet, and the only one not drawn the car park. Ran a nice sixth at Caulfield with a cosy run, and from gate 10, he'll have every chance to perch with the perfect trail but I cannot have a son of Acclamation running a strong two miles.

20. Opinion - a Royal Ascot winner (Duke of Edinburgh Handicap) who has run second in both the Sydney Cup and Metropolitan this year. Poor in the Moonee Valley Cup and to my untrained eye, looked to be on the wrong leg coming around the bends. Gets out to his target distance, but the big question - is he up to it? Waller's a genius if get this one to claim his first Melbourne Cup.

21. Araldo - slashing run in the Caulfield Cup and before that, the Metropolitan in Sydney, so the 3200m should be right up his alley. Draws a shocking alley yet again (CC 15 of 18, Metrop 16 of 16) but with his standard race pattern being well back, that's not a big factor. Shocking, Brew, Rogan Josh, Doriemus and Empire Rose all won from barriers of 20 or higher. Definite each-way chance and will going in all my exotics.

22. Lucia Valentina - her run in the Caulfield Cup was just as good as the winner, draw made it very difficult for her to win. No reason on breeding and running style to doubt her ability to stay two miles. Filling a place in the Caulfield Cup used to be the best formguide of them all - unpenalised and obviously in form but that trend has changed in recent years. Clearly best of the local hopes, but gate two makes it harder. Kerrin McEvoy will be keen to put Saturday's slaughter of the Derby favourite behind him.

23. Unchain My Heart - probably the only Australian horse in a very long time, bar Makybe Diva, to have won three races at 3000m and beyond on the flat. The problem is, those races are all of plodder class and she'll be a long way behind the winner.

24. Signoff - the appointment of Joao Moreira started the crush on his odds, with the facile victory in the Lexus which secured his place in the field turning it even further. Unlucky in the Herbert Power (runner-up, protest against winner dismissed), but finished ahead of Protectionist on similar weight terms. Traditionally the Lexus/Saab/Hotham Handicap isn't a great lead-up, most of the runners are taking their last roll of the dice. For Signoff, it was always on the cards. The Lexus has been a poor race for favourites for many years but the last one to win it was Shocking, who went onto win the Cup three days later.


As you've probably worked out from the analysis, I don't think this race has much depth, and thus have narrowed it down to two winning chances.

Admire Rakti
Lucia Valentina

Trifecta - my usual bet focus on the Cup, the pools are massive and so much mug money in there (mystery bets, lucky numbers etc)

(added Protectionist) x
1,3,4,5,7,8,11,13,14,18,21,22,24 (added Junoob)

$77 for 50%

The Face-Spitter Box Trifecta
(if it comes in, that's what you'll be doing to your boss)
Red Cadeaux
Willing Foe
My Ambivalent

$24 for 100% (corrected)

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Breeders Cup Classic preview

Lining up for another shot at the Breeders Cup meeting is Jon da Silva, @creamontop, with his assessment of the headline, and final event of the meeting.


Breeders Cup Classic
10F Dirt

The good news the track played very fair yesterday and over 10 furlongs you'd struggle to say anything could not win bar its form is not good enough.

It even features a Brit trained by Jamie Osborne chiefly famous for having to say he was a liar after saying lots of gung ho gambling stuff to undercover TV reporters posing as potential owners - which was funny as when he became a trainer he said he would not give owners the Mushroom treatment (give them shit and keep them in the dark). He trains the Synth nearly monster Toast of New York here who is 5th fav with UK books. To be fair Jamie was a top National Hunt jockey and won the 1st two Cheltenham races I ever bet on with Flown and Young Pokey (#Aftertiming) and he is clearly a good trainer.

The Boys

Prayer for Relief
Well named by the time we get to this race. A few judges Dark Un. Arguably a place in the bottom of a Superfecta perm but has not won for 8 and been beaten by a lot of foes here. Seems to plod into third and fourth a lot.

Cigar Street
Eight starts, five wins from seven fast dirt starts. Improving sort with big numbers notably in the Skip Away 3 back in the furthest race he's run 1 3/16ths. You just have to put a price on it now. Also has a forward running style.

Solid horse who appears just a step behind the best. Beaten by Shared Belief and Majestic Harbour. Did beat Game on Dude and Moreno in a G2 when they killed each other. Chances none and slim.

Front runner with real speed whose role is probably not as winner but King Maker and Breaker. Big price if he got loose accepted but there is no in running betting.

VE Day
Won a 10 Furlong Group 1 from Tonalist and Bayern but this is not Belmont and he's probably not the best closer in here. Another who might get some play for larger exotics but at Santa I don't see him getting there.

Shared Belief
Owned by self appointed King of Smack and a man who refers to his fans as 'Clones', Jim Rome. Shame as you have to love the horse who is unbeaten. Overcame being obstructed deliberately last time to beat Fed Biz having a dream uncontested rail lead. Unbelievable heart but that was a hard race not long ago. Still relatively unproven but the trip seems likely to suit him on dirt and saw off Toast of New York by 4 lengths on Del Mar's synths over the distance. Gut says he's shy of the kind of horse I was to be taking < 2/1 about in a top race. The best going in for sure. Really cannot make a case for not having him in exotic plays. The reasons to oppose him are strictly your view of value.

His wins are all remarkably similar he gets the early lead and if the opening stanza are around even 12 second furlongs goodnight Vienna. He was harried by Tonalist in the Travers and folded like a deckchair in winter. If Moreno gets an easy lead he may well be beaten this fella probably not. One shot but what a shot.

Plodder de le plodders. Will close dourly and for me the best of the closers. Has a shot if they form a suicide squad up front.

Toast of New York
Another who could benefit from a murderous pace up front and will like be placed late mid pack to close. Never run on dirt and connections passed up the Kentucky Derby even though he was win and in from the UAE Derby. Put simply they have to look to dirt and not just for Jamie's 'shrooms. Del Mar, Keeneland, Meydan and Hollywood's synth strips are gone and he has the AW Derby left if he does not handle dirt. I say no but always cheer for a UK triumph.

This is a horse name that "Boring James Milner" would come up with because he crossed a footbridge prior to buying the horse. Not since Rail Link has so mundane a named horse gone for a big race. Got within 2.5 lengths of Shared Belief last time when that one went 7 wide round 2 turns. Won a poor race over 10F. Improving but not quite ballpark for me, come to think of it Ballpark was probably 2nd choice name.

Pushed Bayern into submission in the Travers before fading himself into 3rd. Then held up ran like a turf horse complete with double handful wait for the gap in straight in the Jockey Club Gold Cup where he was impressive but not in the numbers sense of a Dirt racer. His main rival that day spilled his jockey TBF. Has to cope with Western Dirt for the first time and some will consider him a product of Belmont's 12 furlong track. For me a contender.

Candy Boy
Another who will attract the if something goes wrong up front. I have him as a barge personally. On camera he looked like a giant boat. I just can't fancy him to win. Another who could close into the bottom of a Super'.

California Chrome
The "Kentucky Derby presented by Yum Brands" and Preakness winner. Prep was poor and we have the mythology of him needing to be outside horses which he should get here. Tonalist beat him in the Belmont. Trialed in Penn Derby where Bayern just walked the dog. Could come on for run but I won't be betting it. His best would have him close but whilst horses from behind his early season wins have done well the form does not scare me with a ho hum prep.

Majestic Harbour
Another who benefited from others trips to have a grade 1 fall his way. The point with this type of horse is they require a complete Black Swan with Orange spots race as they have to have 5 or 6 run below form or have their race compromised or their jockeys have aneurysms. This is not a race where if two horses go wrong you win with a plodder like most US Dirt Grade 1s.


For me you have to cover the 10s Bayern as you're probably betting that he gets a lone lead and with only Moreno as a pure burner jockeys can 2nd guess themselves or miss the break. Tonalist is solid and OK price at 13/2. Zivo 16s the pace melt down horse. Cigar Street is a wild Card at 16/1 and the 5/2 Shared Belief is unlikely to be shared by US Tote punters. I think those could be the basis of your exotic plays with Bayern ├╝ber alles (on top not the literal above all) and Tonalist/Shared Belief on top without Bayern.

0.5pt Bayern @10s
1pt Tonalist @ 6s
0.1pt Cigar Street/Tonalist Reverse Exacta
0.1pt Bayern to beat Cigar Street,Tonalist Straight Exactas