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Kentucky Derby preview

The first Saturday in May means Guineas action at Newmarket but even bigger action in the States. The international racing spotlight heads to Churchill Downs and the famous Run for the Roses. One of the world's great races and a day that needs to be on your bucket list.

On the mound with the preview is another fan of international racing, @brettfrompv.

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The 141st Kentucky Derby presented by Yum Brands
Churchill Downs
Group 1, 2000m, US$2,000,000
1834 local, 2334 BST, 0834 (Sunday) AEST
Market


Saturday sees the running of the 141st Kentucky Derby. The first leg of the American Triple Crown, the Derby is the most famous race in the US. Qualification is achieved through a tiered points system consisting of 35 races that was introduced in 2013, replacing the previous graded stakes system. Interestingly, since its introduction the two leading points earners, California Chrome and Orb, were both successful in the Derby. For those wishing to follow that lead this year’s…

AFL Round 5 match previews

Time for the regular weekly contribution from @AFLRatings, it's the Round 5 preview of the greatest sport in the world!

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AFL Round 5 Preview
aflratings.com.au
@aflratings


With four favourites biting the dust last week in a very competitive Round 4 of AFL, what will Round 5 deliver this week? Here are our thoughts for all nine games.

Carlton v Collingwood
Will the fantasy of a milestone match get the Blues over the line against their arch rival Magpies, unlikely! Carlton have struggled in the early part of 2015, they have conceded 100pts or more in three of four games and look fragile at best up forward. On the flip side, Collingwood have impressed defensively conceding only 69.8pts average per game which is ranked third in the AFL. Punters are yet to get a grip on the form line for Collingwood as they are +2 vs the betting in in 2015, the weather looks ok for Friday night football and so should the Magpies.

Richmond v Geelong
A battle of two teams with differin…

Australia vs New Zealand League test preview

It's Rep weekend in the NRL which means Australia versus New Zealand which until recently was called the ANZAC Test. Calling in some north-of-the-Murray expertise here from the sharp guys at @ReadingThePlay. For more of their insight, check out their website.

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AUSTRALIA V NEW ZEALAND
Brisbane Friday 1st May

Played 129; Australia 95, New Zealand 31, drawn 3.

Of the 15 early season Test matches Australia have won 14, the Kiwis just the one – that being back in 1998. NZ have though won the last two match ups in the 4 Nations Series last October / November.

While Australia have a great long term record with this annual April Test Match, and have won eight of the last 11 H2H contests the Kiwis have in fact won the last two and now look up to their eye balls into this contest.

The Kiwis have been reshaping their Test list for some 12 or more months now bringing through their next generation (no debutants here), netting some nice results late last year in the 4…

Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle preview

The Willie Mullins, I mean Punchestown Festival, rolls on tomorrow with three more Grade 1 races, all of which have Mullins runners at the top of the market. Mind you, on day one, he might have swept the feature races, but only one of them was favourite.

After his success at Sandown on the weekend, Sam Tribe, @samtribe87, extends his astute analysis across the Irish Sea.

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Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle
Grade 1, 3m Hurdle, €95,000
1655 local time


So on Saturday Sandown hosted the final day of the British Season and we said goodbye to the greatest jockey of all time. Tears were shed by many but focus is now on the Punchestown Festival; five days of thrilling racing that draws the curtain on the Irish season. Willie Mullins dominated at the festival last year and if Cheltenham is anything to go by, he probably will again this year.

I’ve decided to take a look at the 3 mile novice hurdle as it has been used in the past as a step towards becoming a long dist…

BoyleSports Champion Chase preview

The wonderful Punchestown Festival kicks off today in Ireland, an hour or so south of Dublin. A great event, not quite as chaotic as Cheltenham, but one to put on your list of race meetings to visit at least once.

Today is Champion Chase day and taking the reins for the preview is astute local and blog debutant Daithi MacStiofain, @DaveStevos. You can read more his work on his blog.

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BoyleSports Champion Chase
Punchestown, Grade 1
2m Chase, €120,000.
Ground: Good to Yielding
1730 local time, 0230 AEST

A cracking renewal, with ten runners in the field and a case to be made for most of them. The evergreen Sizing Europe is back to defend his crown at the grand old age of 13, in a race he has won two of the last three years. However, there is no shortage of potential challengers to the champion and below is a quick summary of their form and prospects.

Baily Green
A triple Grade 3 Novice Chase winner on deep ground in 2012, including one at Punchestown. However, his …

Hong Kong Sprint Cup

The April international meeting at Sha Tin mightn't be quite as big as the December meeting, but it still attracts class racehorses from around the world, which can create a bit of uncertainty in the betting markets as locals struggle to line up foreign form.

Making his blog debut this weekend is international racing aficionado Jason Lincoln, @the_racing_wiz

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The Sprint Cup
Sha Tin, 1200m, Group 1.
1600 local time, 1800 AEST, 0900 BST

Form guide

The second of the features is the G2 Sprint Cup, a race won last year by Charles The Great. Most of these have met at some stage already this year and the form does appear to be fairly well exposed.

GOLD FUN – This horse has primarily done his racing at 1400m – 1600m in Hong Kong, but with the almost unbeatable Able Friend destroying everything in his path at that distance range, Richard Gibson was forced to find alternatives. It came up trumps when he took out the G1 back in February beating recent Japanese winner Aer…

Bet 365 Gold Cup Chase

The National Hunt season winds up tomorrow at Sandown but the greater attention will be paid to the final rides for the legend that is AP McCoy. A sellout crowd for a non-Festival race meeting is pretty rare in the UK, but the Sold Out sign went up this morning. The feature race of the meeting is the Bet 365 Gold Cup Chase, and surprise, surprise, it's a big handicap race and near on impossible to isolate the winner.

Sam Tribe, @samtribe87, makes a welcome return to the blog for the preview, he's not afraid of the tough ones!

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BET365 GOLD CUP CHASE
Grade 3 Class 1 Handicap
3m 5 1/2f
1550 local time
Going: Good


Form link

No AP. No problem. I decided to focus on this race because AP wouldn’t be riding in it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the champ as much as the next racing fan but when writing a preview of a race, it’s hard to not get wrapped up in McCoy Mania and tell everyone to re-mortgage their house and lump on Mr Mole. I hope he does win his final two ra…

Hong Kong - Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup

The April international meeting at Sha Tin mightn't be quite as big as the December meeting, but it still attracts class racehorses from around the world, which can create a bit of uncertainty in the betting markets as locals struggle to line up foreign form.

Making his blog debut is international racing aficionado Jason Lincoln, @the_racing_wiz.

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Audemars Piguet QEII Cup
Sha Tin, 2000m, Group 1.
1635 local time, 1835 AEST, 0935 BST

Form guide

Sunday at Sha Tin sees the 40th running of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes; a truly International Group 1 that boasts a rich history.

International visitors have been successful in 11 of the past 20 runnings of the Group 1 feature, with South Africa and Japan having been the most successful at three apiece. South Africa are not represented this year, but Japan has a runner as do the UK and France. Both of those Nations have been responsible for winners of the race previously, whilst the sole other International runner …

VRC St Leger preview

ANZAC Day for racing in Australia have never traditionally been a strong day, perched in between the autumn and winter carnivals, but one race which always takes place on this day is the VRC St Leger. Investment into staying races by Racing Victoria might eventually have the desired effect of raising the level of this race.

With the preview, it's the guys from Premium Racing Services, @PremiumRacingS. You can check out their services on their website.

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VRC St Leger
Flemington, 2800m, Listed race
R6 1600 AEST, 0700 BST

Form guide

PRS Speed Map



Pace rating we have on this is well above par for a staying trip like this. Both Authoritarian & Zatopaz led at very slow tempos last start (both producing slow time ratings) so it will be only a matter of who show their intention desperately early to lead outright. They will not fight each other hard at all as both jockeys know it would be extremely detrimental to their chances of running out the trip.

As our map…

AFL Round 4 previews

Time for a bit of variety on the blog, some match previews for the greatest sport on the planet - Aussie Rules footy! Cheers to the guys at @aflratings for the preview.

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AFL Round 4 Preview
By aflratings.com.au via @aflratings

Last week was a very comfortable week for punters as 9 favourites were victorious; this week is a completely different story with as many as 8 games providing varied opinions. Weather is likely to play a factor in Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra games this week, here are our Round 4 thoughts.

Melbourne v Richmond
Melbourne were highly competitive against a very good Adelaide team a week ago in heavy conditions in Adelaide, they are unlikely to get blown out of the water but have again struggled to score averaging 55.5pts FOR in their last 2 games. Richmond were clinical against a poor Brisbane team at the Gabba in Round 3, it is hard to put a form line on the Tigers as they have not played anyone decent as yet. Defensively Richmond has c…

Sires Produce Stakes preview

Sydney racing's day in the international spotlight on Saturday was ruined by persistent rain which forced the postponement of the meeting by 48 hours. It was a controversial call in some camps, but do they honestly think a premier race club would call off its most lucrative day of the season unless absolutely necessary? It was pissing down, was set to continue all day and nothing ruins a track more than heavy rain during a race meeting, where the track gets chopped up and those divots then get filled in with water. It wasn't safe and the right call was made. The participants, both equine and human, must come first, the days of racing and potentially putting lives at risk (in an environment where every race ride carries at least some element of risk) are thankfully long behind us.

The programme goes ahead on Monday, weather permitting. It will be wet, probably in the Heavy 9 region, but it won't be raining throughout the day and deteriorating further by the minute. Race ti…

Irish Grand National preview

It's not just the English National this time of year, Easter Monday see the traditional running of the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.

Making his debut for the blog with the preview is Denis, @carvillshill.

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BoyleSports Irish Grand National Steeplechase
Fairyhouse, 3m5f
1700BST


Since the time it provided cover for an overthrow of those nasty Britishers almost 100 years ago the Irish Grand National has been an Easter Monday fixture in the fabric of Irish life. I’ve been attending it at a track five miles from where I grew up since I was having 20p on the Tote. My standard bet size has increased fivefold since.

If In Doubt Has a similar profile to last year’s winner in that you’d be inclined to put a line through him on jumping grounds over these notoriously stiff fences. Tough mark to overcome as well. If he were to put in a clear round he wouldn’t be the biggest shock.

Alderwood Looks on downgrade and massive stamina doubt

Grand Gesture Good jumper, has cours…

Early Grand National preview

Just seven days to the Crabbie's Grand National, the team from OLBG have provided this early preview.

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Early Grand National Preview

The attention of jumps racing enthusiasts turns from Cheltenham to the Grand National this week. Sam Darby from Mares' Hurdle sponsors OLBG takes a look at the Grand National a week ahead of the race. For Grand National Tips check out the site, www.grand-national-guide.co.uk.

The Grand National is as wide open as ever and it looks as though we are going to get a good idea of the strength of last year's form with seven of the first eight home still entered in the race. The problem for those that run well in the race the previous year is the handicapper makes it almost impossible for them to win the next year. Only dramatic improvers and those who were not seen to best effect the previous year have a real chance and we do have a couple of runners that fit that bill this year.

Paul Nicholls' Rocky Creek has been well backed…

Australian Derby preview

Yet another Group 1 on The Championships schedule tomorrow, this time the Australian Derby. There's cream at the top, but as Ben says below, not sure about the depth. Preview from astute Sydney racing judge, Ben McDermott, @BTMcDermott.

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2015 BMW Australian Derby
Group 1, 2400m, Royal Randwick
R7, 1550 local, 0550 BST
Preview by Ben McDermott

Twitter - @BTMcDermott

Form guide
Odds comparison

Be careful betting tomorrow at Randwick as it’s the first time we’ve had a wet track this Autumn carnival and therefore is likely to throw up an odd result. Don’t be afraid to back a horse from a wide gate, more than likely runners will come a few horses wide off the fence and avoid the rail. I feel that this Derby field is very weak in depth and there are horses in the market that shouldn’t be close to Preferment’s current price of $3.5. Preferment should be closer to $2.5-$2.2 in this.

Preferment (Oliver/ Waller)
There’s a really good sense of timing about Preferme…

TJ Smith Stakes preview

A newer addition to the Sydney autumn for The Championships, at this level of prizemoney at least, is the TJ Smith Stakes, honouring the greatest trainer in Australian racing history. Another quality field has been assembled, as you'd expect for $2.5m in prizemoney, but the wet conditions throw a bit of a spanner in the works. It didn't stop Lankan Rupee last year though.

Taking the preview is Australian racecalling prodigy Luke Humphreys, @worldracingluke.

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T J Smith Stakes
Randwick, 1200m
$2.5m G1 WFA
R8 1630 local 0630 BST

Form guide
Odds comparison

1: LANKAN RUPEE: Could only manage sixth when trying to defend his title in the G1 Newmarket Handicap but was found to have an inflamed pectoral muscle, so it’s best to forget the whole run. Before that he was his awesome best when winning the G1 Lightning Stakes and of cause he smashed them to pieces in this race last year. If at his best, he’ll be very hard to beat, but has he been a bit rushed to…