Sunday, 31 May 2015

Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) preview

The biggest domestic day of French racing with the running of the Prix du Jockey Club, referred to by the English-speaking world as the French Derby.

Taking the reins is Australian racecalling prodigy and international racing enthusiast Luke Humphreys, @WorldRacingLuke.

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Prix du Jockey Club
Chantilly 1545 local time, 1445 BST, 2345 AEST
G1, 2100m, €1.5m

Card link

1 New Bay (5/1) (France):
Very nice horse who scored quite softly on his seasonal reappearance over a mile and then was a fantastic second, when having very little luck from an outside barrier, in the French 2000 Guineas. He stormed home in that race and out of all of the runners that ran in the that race, he looks the one to be suited the most stepping up to the 10 ½f of this race. Very good chance and looks hard to stop as he tries to give champions jumps jockey Vincent Cheminaud his first flat G1.

2 Karaktar (11/4) (France):
Looked like a world beater when winning his prep race in the G3 Prix Noailles when winning unextended by 3 ½ Lengths. The fourth-placed horse in that race, Sarrasin, has since come out and won a LR race very nicely last Sunday at Longchamp. This is his toughest test to date but looks quite smart and he’ll run out the trip.

3 War Dispatch (6/1) (France):
Only had the one defeat which was a second to Full Mast, G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner, on debut. Hasn’t been beaten since with his wins being in weaker company on the All-Weather but took a big step up in class, which was a successful one, when winning the G3 Prix de Guiche in very nice style. Again, this is his hardest test but he should get the trip and is in it.

4 Mostaneer (30/1) (France):
Won three of its four starts, including a LR victory last time, but this is a hard test. Up against it.

5 Cape Clear Island (12/1) (Ireland):
Very interesting runner for Aidan O’Brien. Very good second, when looking for further, in the G3 Sandown Classic Trial over 10f behind Master Apprentice and then stepped up to 11f in his French debut in the G2 Prix Hocquart when just reeled in in the last 100m by Ampere, who looks quite smart. He looks made for this race, and is the pick of Ryan Moore of the three Aidan O’Brien runners. Big show at nice odds as he tries to give Aidan O’Brien his first Prix du Jockey Club and Ryan Moore back-to-back. Australian breeding interest - he's by Fastnet Rock.

6 Highland Reel (10/1) (Ireland):
Looked like a star, although green, when winning the G2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood last July. I declared him Aidan O’Brien’s next superstar on Twitter before the French 2000 Guineas over 1600m, where he started 11/8 favourite, but put in a mystifying performance in finishing sixth. Joseph O’Brien takes the ride but on his run in the French 2000 it doesn’t look like he’s crying out for further. He might be suited over this trip but I’m prepared to risk him today. Bred in the purple, a Galileo colt from a sister to multpiple Australian G1 winner Elvstroem.

7 Listan (150/1) (France):
Easy winner last start by six lengths at Tarbes but this is a huge class rise and it would be a huge shock.

8 Silverwave
(11/2) (France):
X Factor of the race clearly. Bit of a surprise victor in April in the G3 Prix la Force, over G1 winner Epicuris, which he won very easily, giving trainer Alain Couetil and jockey Adrien Fouassier their first Group success. Before that he’d won easily, against not much however, so the run to go on is his last start. Hasn’t had a run since his G3 victory however so fitness must be a query. But he’s certainly a very interesting contender.

9 Campione (100/1) (France):
Last of six behind Karaktar in the G3 Prix Noailles, last of seven behind War Dispatch in the G3 Prix de Guiche. Looks no chance of reversing the form.

10 War Envoy (40/1) (Ireland):
Very consistent and a globetrotter even though he’s only three as he’s raced in Ireland, UK, France and the US! Fair seventh in the French 2000 Guineas last time but doesn’t look like he’s crying out for this trip. Consistent but an outsider.

11 High Dynamite (35/1) (France):
Good second to Karaktar in the G3 Prix Noailles last time. Doubt he’ll reverse the form with him but he should be in the finish somewhere.

12 Kahouanne (66/1) (France):
Second to fellow competitor Mostaneer at LR level last time. Can’t see it coming anywhere.

13 Sumbal (9/1) (France):
Looks a pretty nice type that has won his three runs to date by a combined 13 ½ Lengths. The most impressive of those was last time when winning the main trial for this, the G2 Prix Greffulhe, unextended. It would’ve been interesting if Epicuris lined up in that so we could’ve seen how good this horse really is but he looks a very nice type anyhow. Hardest test to date but he looks up to it.

14 Piment Rouge (35/1) (France): Fourth to Silverwave in the G3 Prix La Force and 3rd to War Dispatch in the G3 Prix de Guiche. Don’t expect him to reverse the form with them.

It’s probably one of the more smaller fields for the Prix du Jockey Club (and that's not a bad thing considering every year there are complaints about interference) we’ve seen but certainly one of the most open. There are many chances. (1) New Bay screamed home for second in the French Guineas and looks like he’ll relish the extra 2 ½f of today’s contest. (5) Cape Clear Island is another that looks made for this race and I expect him to play a leading role, which international runners don’t usually do in this race most years outside of last year primarily. (2) Karaktar looks extremely smart but faces his toughest test and the exact same goes for (3) War Dispatch, (13) Sumbal and (8) Silverwave. (6) Highland Reel and (10) War Envoy are the other two Aidan O’Brien runners that were fair enough in the French 2000 but will need to lift along with (11) High Dynamite and (14) Piment Rouge also needing to lift.

Selections
(1) New Bay - (5) Cape Clear Island - (2) Karaktar - (3) War Dispatch - (13) Sumbal - (8) Silverwave - (6) Highland Reel - (10) War Envoy - (11) High Dynamite - (14) Piment Rouge

The Bet
Each-Way bet on (5) Cape Clear Island at juicy 12/1 odds.

Friday, 29 May 2015

AFL Round 9 previews

Another week, another preview of AFL fixtures from the smart blokes at @aflratings. Don't worry too much about missing the Sydney-Carlton match, Blind Freddie could have tipped that result!

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AFL Round 9 Preview by aflratings.com.au via @aflratings

Last week six favourites were successful from nine games in the AFL, here are our thoughts for Round 9.

Sydney 6-2 v Carlton 1-7

With Coach Mick Malthouse now gone the Blues are at complete rock bottom, a road trip to Sydney visiting the Swans will not be pretty. The betting Line is currently at -69.5 Sydney and could be higher, weather is unlikely to impact at game time & Carlton are seriously missing some of their better player in Gibbs, Judd & Murphy. The Blues have averaged only 60.0pts per game from their last four. games and are up against the No.2 Ranked defensive team Swans conceding only 67.6pts per game this season. Carlton has lacked effort all season, that may turn around for a little part of the game on Friday Night but on offer will be an easy couple of % to your bankroll without much risk on Sydney.

Hawthorn 4-4 v Gold Coast 1-7

Don’t be fooled by the four losses for the Hawks, they have been by an average losing margin of just six pts. Hawthorn could be ruthless in this game, with another big Betting Line on offer forecast cold windy conditions with likely rain will impact this game. The Suns have been decimated by injuries this season and are without their top tier midfielders in Ablett, Swallow, O’Meara & now Prestia, the Hawks will not be troubled in this one and a large percentage boost is highly likely. Hawthorn are currently the No.2 scoring team in the AFL scoring 108.6pts per game & Gold Coast are ranked 17th conceding 110.4pts per game, the Suns have conceded 100pts in seven of eight games this season.

Melbourne 3-5 v Port Adelaide 3-5

Port Adelaide have struggled in recent weeks scoring only 58.7pts per game and are currently on a three-game losing streak, their inability to hit targets in the forward line was a glaring issue last week as they were under constant pressure. Melbourne are better than most people think, if the Demons can apply similar pressure on the Power then they are every chance to cause an upset in Alice Springs. Port Adelaide were a common pre-season pick to win the AFL Premiership in 2015, a loss to Melbourne will almost eliminate any chance of a flag this year. This is a season defining game for Port Adelaide, will they finally respond?

Western Bulldogs 4-4 v GWS Giants 6-2

The Giants are one of the form teams in the AFL right now, their ball movement through the middle of the ground is almost unstoppable at times. Defensively the Bulldogs are going to be up against it restricting the Giants scoring, this game could be an offensive shootout at Etihad Stadium. The Bulldogs have conceded 100pts in their last two games whilst the Giants have scored an average of 117.0pts from their last three games, Jeremy Cameron & Cam McCarthy could be in for a big day. GWS are 5-0 when starting favourite in 2015, they are also 4-1 when travelling.

Richmond 4-4 v Essendon 4-4

This game should be a clinker, both teams have finals ambitions this season and a win for either club will be critical. Richmond have been impressive in the last two weeks, they have been able to adjust within a game which is proof this playing group is fully switched on. Last year proved the Tigers can put a very good winning streak together, can they make it three in a row? This game is likely to provide major swings and market movements, a last qtr thriller could be on the cards. This is as even a match-up as you are going to get in the AFL this season, buckle-up for a brutal contest.

Adelaide 5-3 v Fremantle 8-0

This is the first time in 2015 that Adelaide will face a genuine Premiership contender, they will do so without some key players due to a critical injury list. Fremantle have been outstanding this season, an 8-0 start is the perfect way to start a Premiership campaign. Fremantle have conceded 68pts or fewer in six of eight games this season, no surprises to mention this could be a low scoring game at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday Night. The Crows are 0-2 when starting as underdog in 2015, an upset here is not likely.

Brisbane 2-6 v St Kilda 2-6

The Saints have a real opportunity to expose the Lions lack of key tall defenders and forwards at the Gabba on Sunday, Josh Bruce has been a solid forward option for St Kilda and will be complimented by the return of Nick Reiwoldt. Both Brisbane & St Kilda have struggled defensively this season, the Lions are conceding 108.5pts per game (Rank 16th) whilst the Saints are conceding 105.4pts per game (Rank 15th). The Total Points line is currently at O/U 175.5pts, the weather forecast is for warm conditions which should not hinder the scoring. Fatigue could play a part for the Saints late in this game coming from cold Melbourne conditions, St Kilda has won only four of 16 qtrs post half time in 2015.

Collingwood 5-3 v Nth Melbourne 4-4

Fair to say Collingwood has probably overachieved and Nth Melbourne has underachieved in 2015, the Kangaroos loaded up on some ageing Free Agent talent late last year in the hopes that would make them a legitimate Premiership contender, suffice to say this has not come to fruition so far in the Home & Away season. The Magpies have had a favourable draw up until Round 8, they have had clearly the easiest 8 games of any team in 2015. Collingwood has conceded 98.3pts in each of their 3 losses this year, forecast poor weather conditions may suit the Magpies defenders and hinder the Kangaroos tall forwards. Nth Melbourne are 4-1 when starting as favourite this year, another season defining game for a Premiership wannabe.

West Coast 6-2 v Geelong 4-4

Geelong will need to keep this one close early for any chance on Sunday afternoon at Domain Stadium in Perth, the Eagles have lost only two qtrs post-half time in fact are 8-0 in all 3rd qtrs this season. Geelong lost its only travel game to Sydney two weeks ago by 43pts in a late blowout, the Betting Line of -18.5 West Coast does seem a little on the small side. There may be an opportunity if this game is close at Half Time to jump on a smaller West Coast Betting Line with knowledge they will finish strong, the Eagles are the No.1 scoring team in the AFL this season scoring an average 110.1pts per game.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Irish 1000 Guineas

Another from William Kedjanyi, completing the Guineas weekend in Ireland with the fillies' edition. Follow him via @keejayOV.

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Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas
Group 1 for 3yo fillies
One mile
The Curragh 1555 local
Winner €174,000

Bocca Baciata: Broke her maiden in good style after two promising efforts and took major step forward when travelling smoothly, showing smart turn of foot, and having little bit to spare on Pleasecach in the Salsabil Stakes. That form has since been boosted by the runner up’s Blue Wind romp and the third’s Chester Oaks success (also impressive) and the drop back in trip shouldn’t be an issue. A leading contender.

Devonshire: Broke her maiden at fifth time of trying but improved this season, although she was well beaten beind Stormfly and Kissed By Angels in two Group 3 trials for this event and has to find more here to get involved.

Found: Beat stablemate and subsequent Fillies Mile winner in extremely strong maiden and then third in a fine renewal of the Moyglare Stakes when ahead of Malabar for good measure despite having run green when making her challenge. Sent to Longchamp, she built on that in no uncertain terms when showing razor sharp turn of foot to land the Prix Marcel Boussac from French Guineas winner Ervedya. Looked all set to go to the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, but a poor spring meant that she instead made her reappearance in the Athasi Stakes, where she travelled as if set to defy a late drift before tiring badly in a very testing surface. That return was flat for some but she should come on a tremendous amount and a sound surface will surely see her at her best, so the one to beat.

Jack Naylor: Improved with racing last year, taking the Silver Flash Stakes before beating subsequent 1000 Guineas winner Legatissimo under a penalty. Ran a corker in the Marcel Boussac, although she was four lengths behind Found and there looks to be no obvious reason for that form to be reversed today although she is respected.

Joalliere: One of many by Dubawi (Irish 2000 Guineas winner) that has impressed this season although even in winning as she did on Gowran debut one could claims she was only living up to an SP of 2/5. While she was a class above, the subsequent form from that race does not read well - 15 runs, 0 wins, two placed, 13 unplaced – that said, as a representative of Ireland’s most in form stable, she has to be respected.

Kissed By Angels: Made a fine debut at Limerick when showing sharp turn of foot to close late to good winner, and came on leaps and bounds for that result when bolting up in the 1000 Guineas trial, leaving Devonshire and Stormfly trailing in her wake having taken command of affairs early in the straight. Clearly a class ahead of her opposition that day, there could be a huge amount of improvement to come on just her third start.

Maincin: Looks to be here as a pacemaker for stablemates Pleasecach and Steip Amach.

Malabar: As consistent a horse as you’ll find and just seems to keep getting better with each run, having gone from landing Goodwood Group 3 to taking fourth in the Moyglare and the Marcel Boussac and then filled that position in the 1,000 Guineas in a fine reappearance effort. Looks as solid an each/way proposition as one could find for all that she needs to improve still to land the main prize.

Military Angel: Made a very big impression when coming from well behind to land Roscommon maiden in fine style last September and made a promising return when behind Stormfly and Devonshire on return in the 1,000 Guineas trial at Leopardstown. It might be that this ground suits her better and that she comes on for the run, but she has a lot of ground to make up.

Pastoral Girl: Took her seven goes to win last time, a disappointing return considering that she was second in the Princess Margret Stakes, and must improve on Listed second on reappearance at Nottingham. Overmatched on that form, and many turn out to be a better sprinter than miler.

Pleascach: Dropped into Group company on debut and after hugely promising debut, she took advantage of the step upto 7 furlongs to win a Leopardstown maiden with ease. Ran a promising reappearance when second behind Bocca Bacciata in the Sailsabil Stakes and came forward from that to romp home with the Blue Wind Stakes at Naas in one of the most impressive performances of the season so far. Looked as if a step up in trip that day would be no trouble, so the drop back to a mile here maybe not the most obvious route, but was so impressive that a reversal of the form would not surprise here.

Plus Ca Change: Never able to get on terms when fifth on debut but took advantage of a nice opportunity to land Dundalk maiden; Never in the reckoning when behind Kissed by Angels on reappearance and has to show more.

Qualify: Connections persisted with aggressive tactics after impressive maiden win but looked a much-improved horse for restrained riding when bolting up in the Park Stakes. Her Breeders Cup effort from a horror draw is totally forgiven but she was lifeless at Newmarket and that efforts needs explaining.

Raydara: Fourth behind Jack Naylor after winning maiden in style and not far off the best of the juvenile crop last year based on her win in the Debutante Stakes – the form of which has been well boosted through Lucida – and should be respected greatly on her return.

Russian Punch: Got better of slog with Shagah to land Newbury listed event but nowhere in Fred Darling on return and that form been shown up since (third Tiggy Wiggy improved from that).

Steip Amach: Raced almost exclusively in pattern company as a 2 year old and then landed Killavullan Stakes on last start as juvenile. That form hasn’t worked out and she’s failed to progress on either start this season, so others preferred here.

Stormfly: Didn’t cut much ice as a 2 year old but made the best of yard’s hot streak when landing handicap over 7 furlongs here and 1,000 Guineas trial in fine style earlier in the season. Maybe a little below par when third in different version of same race at Leopardstown, and needs to find a lot of improvement to turn around form with Kissed By Angels.

Tamadhor: Achieved a very solid level of form as a juvenile, second to Legatissimo on debut before floundering in the ground here on second run. Maiden win over Stellar Glow makes for good reading and so does Listed second, for all that The Great War has turned into a disappointment afterwards. Needs to improve.

VERDICT: This looks to be a corking renewal with several lightly raced progressive fillies threatening to take a major step forward here. In such a big fied Opinions were split on FOUND’S reappearance in the Athasi Stakes but she travelled with great promise and with that run under her belt on a sounder surface there’s every chance that she can return to her juvenile form, which would make her immensely hard to beat. On that form she holds Jack Naylor and Malabar, both of whom must be considered major each/way players, and she may prove good enough to hold off BOCCA BACCIATA and Pleascach, who have impressed in the Salsabil and Blue Wind stakes. Pleasecach was so impressive that she may well reverse form even dropped down to a mile from an uncompromising draw but Bocca Bacciata travelled with so much speed in the Salsabil and is taken as the second selection against he field – even if leading to a rather boring dutch.

Advice: 2 pts win Found (15/8 general), 1 pt win Bocca Bacciata (6/1 general)

Prix Saint-Alary preview

Another French adventure for William Kedjanyi, this time it's the Prix Saint-Alary for the 3yo fillies. Follow him at @keejayOV.

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Pour Moi Coolmore Prix Saint-Alary
Group 1, 3yo Fillies
Winner: £110,736
Distance: 2000m
1540 local, 1440 BST


Varana: Regally bred, being by Sea The Stars out of a Group 3 winning Sindaar mare, and while she’s proven to be a touch disappointing so far, it would be no surprise if this step up in trip and further experience bought her on for a yard that has a fine record with 3 year old fillies and in this contest in general. That said, she still has great improvement to find on her latest minor win and two best efforts with significant cut in the ground.

Qatar Dance: Not much form that can giver her a chance but certainly shaped as if 10 furlongs would be right up her street when a staying on fifth in the Pouliches last time out. Interesting in that effort but that did come out of the blue and vulnerable to improvements.

Olanthia: Standard improvement from debut at Saint Cloud to finish second in maiden over a mile her and the extra two furlongs shouldn’t be an issue. However, not shown any signs of being a group horse there.

Raison D’Etre: Not built on her conditions win at two, well beaten fifth on her only start at Listed level, and looks a no hoper.

Viroblanc: Better with experience but not much in either Chantilly (AW) maiden win or conditions win at Nantes and others make more appeal here over this trip, especially.

Olorada: Didn’t cut much ice in two juvenile starts but vastly improved as a 3yo, taking condtions contest in fine style at Munich and then landing the Prix Vanaetux over just half a furlong, getting better of Vedouma (stablemate of Varana) after a protracted duel. That form reads well through the runner up’s third to American Gold and she should be upto going close here with connections having shelved other plans to concentrate on the Diane.

Princess Charm: Got the better of a tight finish to the Prix De Rose Mai and ran a fair race in the Prix Penelope although she was well behind Queen’s Jewel and there’s no reason for that form to be reversed today even if she started on level terms with winner from that day.

Weekla: Looks to have a lot of improvement to make based on her defeat in Chantilly conditions contest last time after taking weak maiden. There’s no reason that this daughter of Hurricane Run out of a shouldn’t improve for a step up in trip today, but so should others and doesn’t make immediate appeal.

Queen’s Jewel: Well backed to make a winning debut at Saint-Cloud and did so in taking style, and built further on that when showing a taking turn of foot to land the Prix Penelope with Princess Charm well held in third. Looked more impressive the further she went, and should take the beating here.

VERDICT: This looks a poor renewal and despite the proximity of the Oaks and the Irish 1,000 Guineas being run on the same day, and the two that make by far the most appeal are QUEEN’S JEWEL and Olorda, both taking winners of Group 3 contests last time in different styles. German raider Olorda deserves much respect but Queen’s Jewel seemed improved for quicker ground and gets the vote with Varana and Queen’s Dance needing to find significant improvement for the trip.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Prix d'Ispahan preview

French racing suffers from small fields in big races too occasionally, only five to go around here, but a classy bunch at least.

William Kedjanyi, @keejayOV, again with the preview.

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PRIX D´ISPAHAN
Group 1, 1m1f55y
Longchamp 1610 local, 1510 BST
Winner: £110,736


Cirrus Des Aigles: Everybody’s favourite veteran and as good as ever last year, finishing second in the Sheema Classic, and then winning the Ganay, last year’s renewal of this, and the Corornation Cup before disappointing at Ascot in the Champion Stakes. However he atoned with a fine fourth in the Hong Kong Cup and the style of his win in the Ganay over a race fit Al Kazeem was a performance that’s as good as any he’s posted and he should take the beating here although the ground today is far faster.

Galio Chop: Won all but one of his starts last year when fourth in the Belmont Derby (the form of which stands up well to scrutiny), after which he returned in fine style to land the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano in great style. Australian owned, by OTI Racing.

Solow: Has become a new horse since being dropped back to this trip, using a wilting turn of foot to take the Prix Daniel Wildenstein at Longchamp, and after an easy prep, he posted a stunning performance in the Dubai Duty Free when thrashing The Grey Gatsby. Things dropped for him perfectly that day, but the turn of foot he showed was exceptional once again and he should be part of a terrific duel.

Pollyanna: Won the 2013 Daniel Wildenstein in good style before then finishing third in last year’s renewal of this. Solid fourth at Ascot in the Fillies and Mares Event but well beaten in the Ganay last time and doesn’t look likely to land a blow.

Sparkling Mountain: The form of her last four starts stands up well to scrutiny, but even then she has a lot of work to be doing to make an impact in this field with Fate having been left behind by Cirrus Des Aigles in the Ganay here last time, and she’s hard to recommend.

VERDICT: On form this should be a terrific match between the phenomenal 9-year-old Cirrus Des Aigles and the extremely progressive 4-year-old SOLOW. There should not be much separating them today but in a small field on a sound surface Solow’s speed may just win out and he gets the vote on that basis.

Tattersalls Gold Cup preview

On a great weekend of Flat racing at The Curragh, it's not just about the classic generation and both Guineas. For 4yo and up, it's the Tattersalls Gold Cup, as previewed by William Kedjanyi, @keejayOV.

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Tattersalls Gold Cup
Group 1, 1m 2 1/2f
€250,000
1520 local (0020 AEST)



Al Kazeem: Had not ruffled many feathers on return from stud (infertile last summer) but right back to his best when given soft ground to revel in as he chase home Noble Mission at Ascot in the Champion Stakes. Has been in fine form this season, winning the Prix Harcourt before finishing a solid second in the Ganay behind Cirrus Des Agiles, and a big run expected here for all that he as well behind The Grey Gatsby in the Irish Champion Stakes the last time he ran on a soundish surface. The slight ease in the ground will suit him for all the ground is drying.

Fascinating Rock: Looked a 3 year old of great promise when taking the Ballysax and Derinstown Stud Stakes on soft surface but didn’t cope so well with quicker ground when well beaten in English and Irish Derbies behind Australia twice. Returned in good style, taking advantage of decent opportunities at Leopardstown and over C&D, but upped starkly in class and on ground that doesn’t appear to suit as much, has a lot to do.

Highly Toxic: Well behind Fascinating Rock in last year’s Derrinstown Stud Stakes and first win since in 12 furlongs conditions race. Looks overmatched here.

Parish Hall: Former Dewhurst winner (career truncated by injury) had a fair campaign last term but was well beaten on both his attempts at Group 1 company. Returned in good style when taking another Listed contest over 12 furlongs here (after a fair return) and gave 3lbs to Fascinating Rock when runner up last time, but looks outclassed.

Postponed: Really came into his own when stepped above this trip last year, winning Glasgow Stakes easily before being even more impressive when landing the Great Voltiigeur (form that was boosted by Snow Sky’s Yorkshire Cup win). Made a good return when second in the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown and considering stable’s improvement from first to second runs, should be much better here but can’t help but think that he wants a stiffer test and both wins last year came on ground with firm in the description.

The Grey Gatsby: Promising 2 year old who became a horse transformed for this trip last year, taking the Dante and then bolting up in the Prix Du Jockey Club at Chantilly. He floundered in the ground when upped in trip for the Grand Prix De Paris, but was a clear best of the rest behind Australia in the Juddmonte International, and with the guidance of Ryan Moore and circumstances in his favour, he overturned the tables in the Irish Champion Stakes. Sent to Dubai for the Duty Free, he ran a fine race but found the progressive miller Solow too quick in a slowly run affair (trying to give him a star) and back up to 10 furlongs, he should take the beating.

VERDICT: A much needed quality affair even in the disappointing absence of Free Eagle for a race that had its Group 1 status under threat following some below par renewals. THE GREY GATSBY was greatly unsuited by the way that the Dubai Duty Free developed at Meydan but back upto 10 furlongs with that run under his belt, will take the world of beating if showing the form that he did over this trip last season and is a fairly confident selection despite the strength of the race. He holds Al Kazeem on last year’s Irish Champion Stakes form, although Roger Charlton’s seven year old should get closer to him today, while Postponed may want further still than this today and maybe faster ground.

Advice: 4 pts win The Grey Gatsby (13/8 general)

Eurovision Final preview

It wouldn't be Eurovision without the plethora of previews from punting people who love a cheesy song. Step forward, Andrew Hawkins! What does the Hawk have in store for us this year? @AndrewNJHawkins

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EUROVISION FINAL
Wiener Stadthalle, Vienna

It’s here for another year! Eurovision hits our screens tonight, and the annual festival of cheese reaches its climax with tonight’s grand final.

As an Australian, it feels odd to be cheering for my country in the world’s biggest music event. Best of luck to Guy Sebastian, who should ensure Australia is not disgraced but is unlikely to win.

As always, it’s a great betting opportunity – if you can find the right markets.

First things first - who do we think will win? While personally a fan of Estonia and Norway, both strong duets, I think both are placed poorly on the all-important running order. I think Norway's still got some hope, but Estonia - who were the pick at the start of the week - appear to be in a world of pain.

The semi performance of Russia was sublime and it has deservedly climbed up the rankings since. It has been quite some move, from 50-1 last week into 3-1 second favouritism. Earlier today, I had it on top, finally being won over by Polina Gagarina's powerful song, A Million Voices.

However, at the last minute, I've switched allegiances and am cheering the opera trio from Italy, Il Volo. Their sweeping song, Grande Amore, will be an unforgettable end to this year's Eurovision and all the reports from the rehearsals are strong.

Admittedly, it's somewhat of a risk taking them without having seen them perform. At least with Sweden and Russia, their market rank is somewhat justified based on their performances in the semis. Italy is somewhat unknown. That is, in all likelihood, the reason they are drifting today.

The order in which the countries will be revealed was released earlier today, and it shows that it is quite likely Sweden won the jury vote. However, Italy looks to perform strongly early and the televote could swing things their way.

Here's how we'd rank the 27 countries:

1. Italy
2. Russia
3. Sweden
4. Norway
5. Belgium
6. Australia
7. Estonia
8. Serbia
9. France
10. Slovenia
11. Latvia
12. Spain
13. Azerbaijan
14. Israel
15. Armenia
16. Albania
17. Germany
18. Cyprus
19. Montenegro
20. Greece
21. Poland
22. Georgia
23. Romania
24. United Kingdom
25. Austria
26. Lithuania
27. Hungary

Based on this snapshot, there are six bets we’d be having:

Italy to win - 11/2 with BetVictor

Italy - song

We’ve outlined the case above, and can only say that they have now become the value bet. They perform last, so they will certainly be memorable – very important when it comes to the televote – and given Italy has tended to outperform expectations in the past, I believe this is their chance to cap their return with a victory.

Norway Top 5 finish - 18/5 with SkyBet

Norway - song

While we haven’t COMPLETELY lost hope that they can win, and are still on them at a big price from earlier in the week, in reality it’s a song that is poorly placed in the running order. Hotshots Sweden follow them and it is another one that could just go missing. Still, it’s such a good song and there is a powerful dynamic between the two of them that I expect the song to perform well. Maybe not well enough to win, but well enough to finish in the top five.

France Top 10 finish - 15/1 with Betfair

France - song

The French entry, Lisa Angell, has a woeful draw, performing second. It’s likely that she’ll be forgotten by the time the 27th song is done and dusted. However, reports from all the rehearsals – including the dress rehearsal which the national juries voted on yesterday – have suggested this was one of the standouts, both in person and on the screen. If it comes across as has been suggested, perhaps the 15-1 about this finishing top 10 could be a massive price.

Hungary to finish last - 14/1 with Bet365

Hungary - song

A completely bland, unforgettable song. It has a powerful message but it gets lost amongst all the drear. With powerhouses Russia and Italy following quickly afterwards, expect this to disappear while the stronger countries come to the fore. A last placed finish is definitely possible.

Lithuania to finish last - 20/1 with Ladbrokes

Lithuania - song

Lithuania’s song looks one of the most poorly placed on the programme, with three of the most memorable songs – Serbia, Norway, Sweden – straight afterwards. And countries that traditionally support Lithuania – a lot of the former Russian republics and the Baltic states – may find their vote directed elsewhere.

Winner Drawn 19 to 27 in final - 6/5 Bet365/Skybet

Russia - song

This price looks extraordinary, really, given it’s basically a bet on second favourite Russia and third favourite Italy, as well as savers on Latvia, Azerbaijan and Spain – all in the middle of the market. Given the likelihood that Russia and Italy will end with a bang, it looks a good bet.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Andrew Ramsden Stakes preview

The richer races in Australia might have moved north for the winter, but there's still racing at headquarters in Melbourne with a Listed race to boot. Time to hand over to the guys from @PremiumRacingS for the preview. Learn more about their work at Premium Racing Services.

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Andrew Ramsden Stakes
Flemington Race 7
Listed, 3200m
1525 local time



PRS Speed Map



Our pace rating on this race suggests it will be genuinely run with Shoreham likely to dig up and take the outright lead. There could be a small fight for the positions in the 2nd and 3rd pairs but with the large run to the 1st turn over the long trip the jockeys will not want to exert too much early energy on their horses.

The runners highlighted in red may have issues finding their desired position without being caught wide so their jockeys will be required to make an early decision.

Our Market:

This market is of our systems ‘raw’ prices which is set to 100% with every runner rated >$21 eliminated. PRS clients get a market <100% on a wagering sheet which also blends in the public price of each runner to find a wagering edge.



As you can see, our raw market is quite open but does have some overlays present on the early corporate markets.

Sonntag - Fought well to score last start when in the best going. Winkers replace blinkers. Maps well just off the speed, is able to exert little energy to find this desired position. Nothing suggests this G1 winner cannot run out this trip but the late market flucs must be monitored closely.

Crafty Cruiser - Did well last start to rate back up and then advance on top of that behind Sonntag after rating down as expected on a soft track prior. 0.5kg swing on him and also getting Ben Melham back on provide bonuses on top of him. Honest galloper that that has shown in the past that he is capable of grinding out a win at the long staying trips (won at 3000 & 3100m). Three of last four runs have been here on good tracks and has produced very consistent figures and nothing suggests cannot sustain that here and win.

Lucciola – Did well to place in the Warrnambool Cup last start although rating down on two strong runs prior. Holding minimum weight here is beneficial. Won’t be striving for 3200m as much as others but is expected to improve back onto a drier surface like she was used to back in Perth.

Jilkes Spur – Well backed in debut jumps run at the Bool and went solidly losing the two horse war. Wins prior at staying trips excellent including a dominant 4000m victory at Caulfield, so his aerobic capacity will certainly be no issue here. Back onto flat is expected to rate back towards a figure he produced when winning three runs ago and is expected to produce a bold performance at a good price.

Recommended Bets:

We will be advising clients to use our wagering software to back the overlays present.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

AFL Round 8 Preview

Another week, another preview of AFL fixtures from the smart blokes at @aflratings.

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AFL Round 8 Preview by aflratings.com.au via @aflratings

Last week 7 favourites were successful from 9 games in the AFL, here are our thoughts for Round 8.

Geelong 3-4 v Carlton 1-6

If you thought the Blues were at an all-time low, then be prepared for some more pain over their remaining 15 games of the 2015 Home & Away season. Carlton are Ranked 15th scoring 74.6pts per game and at the same time are conceding 108.7pts per game (Ranked 18th) whilst only managing 333 Disposals per game which is Ranked 17th, basically the Blues can’t get hold of the footy and are being punished as a result on the defensive end. Geelong last week were very good until the mid-way point during the 3rd when Mitch Duncan left the ground via injury, he is missing long term and the Cats are going to miss him putting undue pressure on a midfield lacking quality depth. Should be no surprises in this one, Carlton are 0-5 when starting as Underdog this year and have lost their last 6 Qtrs played. The Blues are also coming off back to back 6 day breaks.

St Kilda 2-5 v West Coast 5-2

The Saints have shown a great deal more than what the popular opinion was during the pre-season, they have improved through the midfield averaging 362.9 Disposals per game which is ranked 11th in the AFL (Ranked 17th in 2014: 343.7). St Kilda has competed well in this year and could have won at least 2 more games, defensively they will need to be better against the high scoring Eagles this week at Etihad Stadium. The Saints have conceded 101.7pts per game in 2015, in the last 5 weeks that number is 109.8pts per game having conceded 100pts or more in 3 of 5 those games. West Coast are a scoring machine in 2015, 4 times they have hit the 100pt mark which is equal best in the AFL. The Eagles are Ranked 2nd scoring 107.1pts per game this season and are Ranked 1st in the last 4 weeks conceding just 52.3pts per game. West Coast are 4-1 when starting favourite in 2015, their record for defeating non-Final 8 teams is very good dating back to the start of last year.

GWS Giants 5-2 v Adelaide 5-2

The Giants are emerging as a serious contender for the Final 8 this year, their midfield is doing some serious damage against inferior opposition and face Adelaide when they are struggling with major injuries to their midfield. The Giants are also getting it done offensively, they are Ranked 4th scoring 96.1pts per game which includes a 33pt effort against West Coast 2 weeks ago. Remove the 33pts and GWS are scoring at 106.7pts per game which is pretty scary for a team in their 4th season, Cameron & McCarthy have complimented each other well up forward. Adelaide are up against it in this one, yes their midfield group is shorthanded but their 5 wins have come against opponents that for the most part have struggled in 2015. It is hard to see the Crows getting up against the Giants, if they do it would be a terrific result considering their injury circumstances. GWS Giants are 4-0 when starting favourite this season.

Gold Coast 1-6 v Collingwood 4-3

The Suns will need to keep it close early as they have won only 1 of 7 1st Qtrs in 2015, decimated by injuries all season to arguably their top 3 midfielders Gold Coast has really failed to keep games close enough to generate an extra couple of wins. The hopes for the Suns have now faded, this is a gap year with a new coach setting new standards for this playing group so expect some more blowouts against them for the remainder of the season. Collingwood have their own problems losing 2 in a row, they have conceded 102.5pts in both losses and are struggling to cope with teams moving the ball very quickly in to scoring areas. The Magpies should be good enough considering the Suns form line this year, but only hold a 2-2 record when starting favourite in 2015.

Hawthorn 4-3 v Sydney 5-2

Quite obviously the match of the Round, the Grand Final replay from last September will be a heavy match-up. Hawthorn are nearing full strength along with Sydney so there are not too many excuses for either team, this will be a good indicator of how both teams measure up against each in the chase for another AFL Premiership. Hawthorn are Ranked No.1 scoring 114.3pts per game and Sydney are Ranked No.2 conceding 67.4pts per game, the Hawks have prevailed in the last 2 games against the Swans. In each of the last 3 games between these two teams, the Total Points score has not fallen below 195pts. This is likely to be a close contest with what could be some major swings within it, the Hawks are ok when starting at favourite and the Swans have a great travelling record. Buckle up for a great contest.

Fremantle 7-0 v Nth Melbourne 4-3

Not really expecting a major upset at Domain Stadium in Perth on Saturday night, Fremantle should be able to contain a Nth Melbourne team without arguably some their better players. In comparing both teams the Dockers are so much the better team, but they did struggle to get over the line for a win against the Bulldogs last week after holding a commanding near 5 goal lead. Major winning streaks are a rarity in the AFL, the Dockers are well and truly on their way to a big one looking at their schedule over the next few weeks. Nth Melbourne are 0-2 when starting as Underdog this season, this one could be ugly for the Kangaroos. No upset here, here no upset!

Essendon 3-4 v Brisbane 2-5

If the Lions can put a fair bit of pressure against the Bombers moving the ball from out of defence then this could be one of the upsets for Round 8, Essendon when under pressure in recent weeks have just hack kicked the ball blindly out of deep defence straight back to their waiting opponents. Brisbane have found confidence in the last 2 weeks with a couple of good wins, their team discipline was outstanding last week shutting down Port Adelaide at the GABBA. Brisbane are +2 vs the betting line in the last 2 weeks, the +26.5 Brisbane might be appealing to some and especially if the Lions can bring high quality pressure that will trouble the Bombers.

Melbourne 2-5 v Western Bulldogs 4-3

The Bulldogs have let slip a couple of good opportunities go to waste with narrow losses in the last 2 weeks, they were almost able to knock over Fremantle last week and are playing fear free football. If the Bulldogs continue with the fast moving attack game style then they should be able to slice through the Demons at will, Melbourne have struggled since Round 1 scoring only 57.3pts per game. The Bulldogs have multiple forward options now and could threaten the -20.5 betting line in what is forecast dry conditions at the MCG on Sunday.

Port Adelaide 3-4 v Richmond 3-4

This one is all about the coin toss for Richmond!
No seriously this game is for keeps, both teams that had ambitions of going deep in to September and are each at 3-4 with varied results in 2015. Richmond finally showed a little more than just kicking it sideways against the Magpies last week and were able to secure a much needed win, they do lack consistency and can let themselves down in recent history following a big win. Port Adelaide put in a shocker last Sunday in Brisbane and have been under the microscope in the media all week, the Power have scored only 66.5pts average in their last 2 games and need to regain some form immediately otherwise risk not being able to finish Top 4. A must win for both teams, unlikely the Power can lose 3 in a row.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Early Eurovision preview

The Festival of Cheese is nearly here, it's Eurovision 2015, previewed by Eurovision tragic/superfan Andrew Hawkins, @AndrewNJHawkins! There'll be more later in the week too...

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Eurovision 2015 preview - pre-semi-finals Vienna

That annual festival of wind machines, key changes and novelty acts is here! Yes, it's Eurovision time once again and once more, we line up to try and beat the bookies in the world's biggest music event.

We struck out badly last year, with a big result on the Netherlands going astray as Conchita Wurst won the title for Austria.

Amazingly, last year's 1-2 Austria and the Netherlands were both still at big prices five days out. In fact, both were greater than 33/1 hours before they performed in their semis. Extraordinary.

The time to jump aboard a number of these is now, before the first semi. A good semi performance can begin the momentum towards taking out Eurovision.

So who would we be wanting to back now? Here's how we assess it before the first semi final tonight.

CURRENT STATE OF PLAY

Sweden has been the hot favourite to win this year's Eurovision ever since Måns Zelmerlöw scored one of the most emphatic wins ever in their selection series, Melodifestivalen. Heroes is one of those songs that buries itself in your brain quickly, good for a song contest, and the visuals on the display behind are pretty unforgettable. It's a worthy favourite but as always, we're going to try and get him beaten.

Italy holds down second favouritism with the operatic group Il Volo. Opera-esque songs have not gone down well in the past - for instance, France was favourite in 2011 but Amaury Vassili could only manage 15th. I say opera-esque because it's not really opera, just a hint of it, sort of along the lines of Il Divo. It's probably the best operatic song that's been sent to Eurovision though and again, can't argue with its place at the head of the market.

The novelty of Australia participating in a European contest has seen the country maintain a high place in the markets since it was announced in early March. Guy Sebastian brings something different to Eurovision, it's upbeat in a year of more mellow songs and it's a different sound. Yet while I'm as parochial an Aussie as there is, I'm keen to take the Australians on.

The big talking point in recent days has been the Russian entry, Polina Gagarina. She's firmed in a week from 50/1 into 14/1 and now into 7/1 third favourite. Quite a marked change from last year, when their representatives - the 17-year-old Tolmachevy Sisters - were consistently booed in the Copenhagen arena. I'm not sure the song, A Million Voices, is a winner, it sounds like a likely top five finisher but it seems a bit bland overall really. Happy to oppose.

THREE TO WATCH

ESTONIA (12 on Betfair) - Elina Born & Stig Rästa, Goodbye To Yesterday

The first time I heard this, right after it had won Estonia's qualification show Eesti Laul, I was convinced this would be a major player. Nothing in the prevailing months has changed my mind about that.

Stig and Elina play the angst-ridden former couple to perfection, wondering where it all went wrong.

Elina is a goddess of vulnerability, and every performance she's given she's nailed it. So their success depends on Stig being able to put enough angst into his performance.

It was described on a Eurovision fan site this week as angry, passionate sex in song, and it's not far from being spot on. And hey, sex sells.

It's a likely winner of the first semi final tonight - if so, expect it to firm up dramatically after tonight.

NORWAY (65 on Betfair) - Mørland & Debrah Scarlett, A Monster Like Me

Norway's entry is also a passionate duet, but passionate in a different, almost an emo, way. There's something very dark about it all.

This strikes me as one that is very hit or miss. I love the song, but live it has either shone or it has flopped. In a recent performance in London with a number of other Eurovision acts, it was the clear standout, with the crowd giving it the loudest ovation.

If that translates come the performance, then watch out! They are a huge price.

They don't perform until Thursday's second semi so it may potentially drift after tonight.

SLOVENIA (60 on Betfair)

Clear third pick for me. And another duo! Maraaya are a married couple, Marjetka and Raay.

The whole thing is wacky - Marjetka's a stunner but has those crazy headphones on. Raay looking at the camera with that almost creepy smile.

But the song itself is pretty good, stands out again in what is a year of schlager, slow songs and ballads and they can shock.

What is concerning is that it was as low as single figures at one stage but has just continually drifted in the weeks and months since.

Not in until Thursday night so expect a possible drift after tonight.

WILDCARD

ARMENIA (360 on Betfair)

If there's one that could shock, it could be this ditty from Armenia.

The song itself is a thinly veiled reference to the Armenian massacre a century ago, and celebrates the Armenian diaspora by bringing six singers from different continents together. Their one common link?Armenian heritage.

It's a cacophony of sounds, styles and substance - and yet somehow it all seems to work. Whether it will translate is anyone's guess, but they could shock a few people for sure.

It has a terrible spot in the semi tonight, they'll perform second and could easily be forgotten by the end. If they do qualify out of the semi though, I think they'll be a top 10 chance if they can secure a good spot in the final. And who knows? It's so different that it could be a surprise contender for the whole thing.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Singapore International Cup

More international racing tomorrow, this time in Singapore for their headline event of the year, the International Cup, over the championship standard of 2000m weight-for-age.

Extending his coverage of the global racing scene is Australian racecalling prodigy Luke Humphreys, @WorldRacingLuke - provider of English language commentary on foreign racing to a potential audience of millions...

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Singapore Airlines International Cup
2000m Turf 3yo+ $3,000,000
Kranji R10
2040 local time, 2240 Sydney, 1340 London


1 Military Attack (2/1) (Hong Kong): He’s not getting any younger but he’s still got some very nice ability. I thought he was the best horse on the planet when he won this race in freakish style in 2013 and was third to Dan Excel and Smoking Sun last year when just not good enough on the day. Brilliant second to Designs On Rome in the G1 HK Cup in December and since then he’s been a bit disappointing possibly although I thought it was the very odd below par ride from Zac Purton in the G1 HK Gold Cup in March and he wasn’t good enough in the G1 QEII Cup last time when knocking up late. He can win but 2/1 favourite, Saturday morning UK Time, is way too short and Each-Way is the best way to play him.

2 Dan Excel (11/4) (Hong Kong): Another horse that’s not getting any younger but isn’t losing any heart or will to win. Had the perfect run to win this race last year and unfortunately he had a setback when preparing for the Cox Plate in Australia which put him off the scene for a while. He’s been getting better with every run this campaign with a fantastic third to Able Friend in the G1 Champions’ Mile last time, which he ran third in last year en route to winning this and won in 2013 en route to running 2nd in this. Always has a chance and trainer John Moore is looking for a third consecutive win in this race.

3 Meiner Frost (4/1) (Japan): Interesting runner representing Japan, there always respected. Never won at Group level and had some good form at 3YO without winning. He flew late to run 3rd in the G1 Japanese Derby and ran into some nice horses. Nice 4th two starts ago in the G2 Nakayama Kinen behind Nuovo Record, G1 Victoria Mile favourite this weekend, and the 3rd horse was Staphanos who has since run an unlucky 2nd in the G1 QEII Cup. He only won a conditions race last start however so I’m not getting too carried away on him but he has some chance. The clear X Factor of the field.

4 Smoking Sun (12/1) (France): Last year’s runner up, who probably hasn’t run the same since. Disappointing first-up in the G2 Prix d’Harcourt behind Al Kazeem and then never got into the race in the G1 QEII Cup at Sha Tin, in all fairness that was his preparation for this. This race is why he’s come out to Asia and he can win with a bit of luck and should have every possible from Barrier 1 but more of a place chance for sure.

5 Johnny Guitar (40/1) (Singapore): 9th of 12 last year in this race. Consistent type who doesn’t run a bad race too often. Fair 3rd last time in the G3 Admirality Classic but looks outclassed in this and it would be a major shock if he was in the finish.

6 Quechua (33/1) (Singapore): Singapore’s best chance. Brilliant winner of the G1 Singapore Gold Cup in November and has run well in his four runs this year. Just caught late in the G2 QEII Cup at Kranji last start and probably can’t win but should be one of the first local horses to get across the line.

7 Stepitup (33/1) (Singapore): Getting better with each run this time in and got there right on the wire in a thrilling G2 QEII Cup at Kranji last start beating all the local horses in this race home, outside of Cooptado who makes his Singapore debut. Highly doubt he’ll win but won’t disgrace himself.

8 Cooptado (66/1) (Singapore): Makes his Singapore debut for Patrick Shaw after formerly being with Doug Watson in the UAE. LR Entisar winner at Meydan in December and ran well in the G2 Al Maktoum Challenge R2 and G2 Dubai City of Gold during the Dubai World Cup Carnival but was a long last in the G2 Dubai Gold Cup on World Cup night. Better suited over 2000m but can’t win however he should be one of the first local’s home.

9 Free Port Lux (5/1) (France): Very interested to see how this horse goes. Lucky winner over Adelaide in the G2 Prix Hocquart last year and then never got any luck in the French Derby which can be a total forget run before running well in the Grand Prix de Paris when fourth and G2 Prix Guillaume d’Ornano when finishing second. He then narrowly won an ok renewal of the G3 Prix du Prince d’Orange before being outclassed in the Arc, which is understandable. A nice fifth to Al Kazeem in the G2 Prix d’Harcourt on reappearance. He brings very nice form to the race and is coming off a strong reappearance and is the one to catch at good odds for Mickael Barzalona, the entertainer, and Freddy Head representing France.

10 Slew Of Lode (100/1) (Singapore): Could only manage eighth in the G2 QEII Cup at Kranji behind the local runners last start but had won his two runs prior but it would be a huge shock.

11 Wild Geese (80/1) (Singapore): Well back in G2 QEII Cup at Kranji, won that in 2014, last start behind the locals. Very much doubt it.

Always an interesting race and always a great race with Hong Kong, France, South Africa, Japan, Australia, Germany and the UK with also Singapore, winning the first ever renewal of the race in 2000 with Ouzo, the winning countries in the 14 runnings of this race. As usual we virtually put a line through the locals, as there not up to International G1 level usually, and only worry about the raiders. Free Port Lux brings very good form into this race and Arc de Triomphe form holds up anywhere in the world and even though he was second last, virtually last with pacemaker tailed off behind him, he wasn’t a disgrace and certainly caught the eye first-up behind Al Kazeem, who has since run a game second to the legendary Cirrus Des Aigles in the G1 Prix Ganay. He missed the Ganay for this and I think is the one to beat. Dan Excel and Military Attack have great records in this race, with both being former winners and they hardly ever run poorly. Meiner Frost is the X Factor.

Selections
(9) Free Port Lux - (2) Dan Excel - (1) Military Attack - (3) Meiner Frost - (4) Smoking Sun - (6) Quechua - (7) Stepitup - (8) Cooptado - (5) Johnny Guitar - (11) Wild Geese

The Bet
Straight Win bet on Free Port Lux at 5/1.

A-League Grand Final preview

It's the grand finale of the Australian version of the world game, and we Aussies don't believe in a season which peters out to a final round of fixtures, there must be a climactic finish. So it's the A-League Grand Final!

Trusted with the preview are the data crunchers at Football Form Labs, @footballformlab, the fantastic football database which should be the backbone of all your football punting. Try them out now via FootballFormLabs.com, and trust me, there is a hell of lot more football going on than just the winter leagues now concluding.

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A-League Grand Final: Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC
Sunday 1600 local time, 0700 BST

The 10th edition of the A-League Grand Final sees Melbourne Victory take on Sydney FC at AAMI Park in a repeat of the 2010 Grand Final which ended in a victory on penalties for Sydney, who had won the regular season that year. This time it’s Melbourne that triumphed in the regular season by three points from Sydney in second, but unlike in 2010 the Grand Final will take place at the home of regular season champions this year. Both sides recorded impressive results in their semi-finals, with Victory winning the Melbourne derby 3-0 and Sydney also recording a comfortable 4-1 victory over Adelaide United.



The venue of the Grand Final has been incredibly important since the inception of the A-League, as the two defeats listed above occurred in 2008 when the final was played at a neutral ground and in 2013 where though the final was played in Sydney, it wasn’t at the Parramatta Stadium, Western Sydney’s usual home. In each of the other seven Grand Finals, the team that finished higher in the regular season won the final, with one of the sides needing extra-time to exercise their superiority and two needing penalties. Six of the sides that finished higher in the regular season played the Grand Final at their home ground (the exception being Sydney FC in 2010 who despite winning the regular season played away as a result of a semi-final defeat in the Finals series) and that will be the case on Sunday morning for Melbourne Victory, who split their games between AAMI Park and Etihad Stadium.

It’s also worth noting that the four home sides that won the Grand Final in 90 minutes recorded victories over their final opponents in the regular season, either at home or away. Interestingly each of the three meetings between Melbourne and Sydney in the regular season this term ended in a draw, with two of these games being played at Sydney. Though their encounters in regular season were enthralling affairs, with two ending 3-3, they don’t tell us a great deal other than that these sides were evenly matched, and so we next looked at the historic PPG of the Grand-Finalists in the regular season.



Both Melbourne Victory and Sydney were fairly evenly matched during the regular season, unlike in the 2007 Grand Final where Victory were much the superior side over the course of the season and proved that on the night of the final, decimating Adelaide on that occasion. While only three other sides have had a higher regular season PPG than Victory going into the Grand Final, it is important to note that Sydney are the only side that Melbourne have failed to beat thus fair this campaign and it also important to consider that Sydney are unbeaten on the road this season and have won their last eight away games, scoring a remarkable 25 goals. Sydney’s captain Alex Brosque scored two goals in their semi-final victory over Adelaide. He has now scored six goals in their last four games and his strike partner Bernie Ibini-Isei has netted in each of Sydney’s last four.

Neither side has any new injury concerns coming into this game. Melbourne are still without their regular keeper Nathan Coe while Sydney will again have to make do without defender Ognenovski and midfielder Abbas. Despite Sydney’s impressive form, particularly on the road, we expect Melbourne, with historical stats on their side, to reinforce the fact that they are the best side in Australia following their regular season victory, and are backing them at 1.67 to lift the trophy. The reason we are backing them for the trophy rather than to win the game in 90 minutes is because Sydney were unbeaten on the road this term and Victory might need extra-time or even penalties to overcome them. With this in mind, it’s worth dutching Melbourne to win in extra-time at 9.0 and on penalties at 11.0.

The Preakness preview

It's part two of the American Triple Crown tonight, and the preview comes from regular US racing contributor, Jon da Silva, @creamontop. Is it all about the Pharoah?

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The Preakness
1818 local, 2318 BST
Pimlico


The Preakness has a low profile for 50 weeks of the year. A bit like a Russian athlete's blood test it's the annoying thing you have to get through but don't always manage to for a chance at the prize - The Triple Crown. When I did not follow racing I had heard of the The Kentucky Derby and Secretariat's Belmont but the 2nd leg had less profile than Joey Barton on a list of great footballers.

It's run at Pimlico a place name which conjures images of insufferably twee middle brow gentle British Comedy "Passport to Pimlico" and my mate being banned from The Grenadier on a Pimlico Belgravia pub crawl. However a little like those Ealing comedies after years of shit Rom Coms its true value is revealed. It's run over a bizarre mile and three sixteenths or a Mile and 1.5 furlongs to us in Blighty (or 1900m to anyone from a country not stuck in the dark ages! Ed..). It has a smaller field than The Derby so luck may be less important. Unusually this year the front three from The Derby re-oppose. For me you have more information and every year a potentially overbet favourite if that does not grab you as a punter what does? It also does not suffer from the deflation or over hype of the Belmont dependent on whether there is a Triple Crown alive.

The Pharoah

He beat the best of 'em only two weeks ago so does American Pharoah just have to turn up and win?

He was a decisive Derby winner even able to take a tour round outer Louisville before picking off Firing Line in the final stanza. The new shooters are not on the same level and indeed for angle punters supposed unlucky horse Materiality is not here and best closer Frosted is not either. Won every start easily since beaten on debut. Rain about and he handles the slop like Messalina. 4/5 Coral's Buying money?

As Lee Corso would say "Not so fast my friends"

Dortmund was sick on the Thursday before the Derby and probably would have missed almost any other race. American Pharoah has drawn inside and will face different tactical and kick back problems. It is arguable American Pharoah had not been in a hard race until Kentucky. What looked an easy win was accompanied by a sickening 30 plus cracks of Victor Espinoza's whip. It was his second race in three weeks and now two weeks later he goes for another. Few trainers outside of Mme Barande-Barbe would choose to run a horse in two such quick Championship/Group 1 races over the middle distances.

Drawn 1 American Pharoah
Only thing to add is he proved the best horse in the Kentucky Derby but not so far in front. He will have to change tactics here and could be sent to the lead. I think there is just enough to take him on at 4/6 and the 4/5 Coral is fair price.

2 Dortmund
The big horse and seen as the likely pace but in same stable as the Pharoah so tactics flexible esp as from their draws they may decide to give the inexperienced in terms of kickback favourite the front. Still holds best Beyer figure and may not have been a 100% for Derby. One negative is rain as whilst it's called The Slop on an off track horses gallop right down to the base of a dirt track. Suggestions from local judges appears this will not help the massive beast.

3 Mr Z
Great name no chance. Declining and main fear is he is some sort of spoiler for the pace albeit would not have the early toe of Dortmund and several others.

4 Danzig Moon
Two Hopes Bob and Slim. Slim considering leaving town as he involves a pace collapse and severe regression from other horses. No guarantee even if front three die he benefits either.

5 Tale of Verve
Sadly not a Tale of Verve Clicquot (sic) unless connections like drinking to not being last because another horse broke down or something. Broke its maiden last start at 6th time of asking.

6. Bodhisattva
I once did Zen and chanted something about the Bodhisattva a person of enormous compassion who holds back on Nirvana to help others. Unless Bodhisattva has been holding back to allow others the glory not really a win threat.

7 Divining Rod
New shooter on the upgrade but was not up to Derby standard horses and connections wisely passed. Could benefit from being a closer but has three very tall orders to pass.

8 Firing Line
Beaten twice narrowly by Dortmund and having finally mastered that giant beast ran into American Pharoah in the Derby. It between those romped 14 lengths in the Sunland Derby. Had a six week break before the Derby. Hit the front and been beaten in three races v Dortmund and American Pharoah. In what could be a tactical affair should have the benefit of Gary Stevens who three years ago grabbed the race on Oxbow and led from the 1st call.

Finally

American Pharoah is the most likely to win and to be a superstar. However they are not machines and we don't know how they will react to the demands of consecutive hard races. No horse is trained to win a Triple Crown they are trained for the first weekend in May. My view is to wait and see the track condition if it is sloppy Dortmund is less likely. Brisnet's breeding ratings don't have Firing Line as sloptastic but his pedigree is full of muddy monsters. If we get a dry track I think the bet is between them. At UK prices 5s and 6s take Dortmund. Suspicion is US totes will make Firing Line third fav but that is conjecture. Confidence is tempered as Dortmund is a stablemate of the favourite and that may work for or against. Tune in and make sure track is dry an hour before would be my advice and flip to Firing Line if Sloppy.

1pt Win Dortmund

0.1 Box Ex Dortmund Firing Line


Rest of Newbury preview

More from Newbury today, courtesy of Willaim Kedjanyi, @keejavOV

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Al Rayyan Stakes (Registered As The Aston Park) (Listed) (Class 1) (4YO plus) (2.00)
There have been a few disappointing efforts in the career of Telescope but none of them include his Hardwicke win, his King George second, Juddmonte International third or Breeders’ Cup fourth, and Sir Michael Stoute’s charge, fresh from his reappearance second in the Jockey Club Stakes, can improve to take the win here.

Telescope travelled beautifully into the Jockey Club Stakes at Newbury and produced a sharp burst that looked to have things put to bed, but fitness soon told having gone clear with two furlongs to go and he was nailed by the progressive second step. Like many of his stablemates, he should come on from his first outing significantly and he sets a very high standard.

Should be dip below that period, he faces no end of horses waiting to take advantage, including the exciting Elite Army, a deeply impressive winner of the King Edward Handicap last year when everything that could go wrong did go wrong for him. The form of that race has been well represented since and he should prove a good deal better than his rating of 104. The extremely consistent Greatwood, coming from the red hot John Gosden yard, deserves respect but all three of his wins came on good to soft or worse while his UK form does leave him short. Scotland, who made eyecatching late progress in the John Porter, can take a hand, and if Windshear is over a hard race at Chester when he disappointed in the Ormonde Stakes, then he should be in and around the frame. Dubay’s UAE form needs improving on but his fifth in the Dubai Gold Cup wasn’t a bad effort at all. Albeit he may still need improvement.

Advice: 2 pts win Telescope (8/11 general)

Toronado Carnarvon Stakes (Listed) (Class 1) (3YO only) (2.35)

Quite a few options here but if Adaay improved for his comeback, a good third to Limato after nine months off, then he can surely go close here. Joint favourite for the Coventry after beating the solid 2 year old Mind of Madness in style (having previously made a hugely encouraging debut here) he disappointed at Ascot and here in a Listed event (although in hindsight he was never going to get on terms with Limato, and second placed Cotai Glory did with the Molecomb next time out). The form of his reappearance has been boosted by Tendu and Strath Burn’s good runs at York, and he can make a bold bid here.
Deeply impressive handicap winners Waady - for everyone’s favourite red-hot yard of the moment – and Salt Island look to be the major threats while the unbeaten Elysian Flyer also made the shortlist. Value seekers are pointed in the direction of Batiha Alga, whose Norfolk win didn’t stand up for the rest of the year, although it was an impressive performance that promised much for the rest of the year. He lost his action both times last year afterwards, but if running his race today, has to be considered better than a 20/1 shot here even giving away a large amount of weight.

Advice: 1 pt win Adaay (6/1 general)

Al Zubarah London Gold Cup (Open Handicap) (Class 2) (3YO only) (3.10) - Dissolution was the first off the bridle didn’t look the most tractable ride when coming from the back to land a well contested Newmarket handicap on his return, but the visor that was present for his only two year old win returns and the bunched nature of that finish means that he’s only gone up 2lbs. With runners from his stable – as said before – coming on significantly for their returns this year, more improvement can be expected and maybe a more strongly run race here could also help matters for a stable that does target this race. There are any amount of contenders – as one expects for such a contest, with Time Test taking the eye after a light 2 year old campaign and Space Age falling into the same category, but the claims of Plymouth Sound look to have been ignored. He made a perfect trial for this when grabbing third near the finish in the Esher Cup on his seasonal return and off the same handicap mark, deserves another chance with that under his belt over a trip that should well suit.

Advice: 1 pt win Dissolution (9/2 general), 1 pt each-way Plymouth Sound (14/1 Ladbrokes)

Lockinge Stks preview

Group 1 racing action switches to Newbury this afternoon with the running of the Lockinge Stakes, a great race in its own right but also a serious pointer towards Royal Ascot, particularly the opening race of the week, the Queen Anne.

Once again this week, it's William Kedjanyi with the preview. Follow his work via @keejayOV and his blog.

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Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes
British Champions Series
Group 1 Straight Mile
Newbury 1545 BST


The biggest ever field in the race’s history, which brings the draw into play. In the 20 runner maiden yesterday they split into two groups with the far side coming out empathically on top compared to the near side – the first nine home were drawn 1-9 - which is something to take into account.

Despite the size of the field, there are just three Group 1 winners and Night Of Thunder is possibly unlucky not to have at least one more Group 1 to his name after landing last season’s 2000 Guineas – a fine renewal to boot which has been franked at the top level time and time again. After a creditable second in the St James’s Palace Stakes, he didn’t stay 10 furlongs in the Lockinge (when the track and way the race played out did not see him at his best), before two close finishes to Charm Spirit when conceding first run, and getting a horrid trip in the QEII Stakes especially. This is no cakewalk on his return, but it is worth taking a chance that class will out as he makes his 4yo and Godolphin debut (although thankfully he has been kept with Richard Hannon). In anticipation of a bold bid today, take the each-way position of 12/1 on him for the Queen Anne Stakes.

Echelon improved greatly as a 5 year old for Cheveley Park Stud and if her daughter Integral, twice a Group 1 winner already, does so again then connections are in for a fun ride this season. A good winner of the Falmouth Stakes, she was totally unsuited by a farcical renewal of the Prix Rothschild but enjoyed the returned to a conventional ground and pace to turn form around with the first two in the Sun Chariot; This ground should far more than the muck she was caught in on Champions Day behind the favourite and Toormore, so she must be greatly respected.

Toormore was a disappointment based on his 2 year old form all year before a fine run in the QEII, having been set too much to do before coming home well late to take third behind Night Of Thunder. It’s difficult to assess him with confidence ahead of his return this season, although it’s worth nothing that he won the Craven in good style before disappointing in the Guineas last season. If returning in that sort of form, he would have terrific each/way claims.

The rapidly progressive Custom Cut needs to have improved since a well beaten eight in the QEII but presumably has done based on his win in the Bet365 Mile at Sandown from Here Comes When. The pair could be more closely matched this time around, with the Sandown track having suited front runners greatly that day on a watered down surface which made coming from behind difficult, although Custom Cut is rarely for passing from the front. The ground looks to have stayed dry for Mooharib, who was a deeply impressive winner over Hors De Combat at Ascot, and a middle draw (12) could also go in his favour with Martin Harley having a multitude of options for a horse who thrives off getting cover.

One who looks to have been forgotten too easily is Cougar Mountain, who was pitched in at the deep end when sprinting last year and shaped with considerable promise when winning his maiden in style before finishing fifth in the July Cup and ninth in the Nunthorpe, both better runs than the finishing positions would have suggested, and he’s forgiven a flat effort in the Sprint Cup. His pedigree has suggested that he’d go over a mile easily and on his return in the Heritage Stakes, he shaped with a little promise on ground that was surely too slow for him despite the market expecting little (went off 8/1) at a time when his sable’s runners were needing every run. He must improve a great deal, but he can do so on this better ground and he looks worth chancing.

The keen going Arod is dropped to a mile, but was caught for a turn of foot at the Craven meeting and faces quicker horses here, while Captain Cat is held by a number of these including three on the QEII at Ascot in October. Tullius has an each/way chance on his best form but he’s not shown it in two runs this season and ideally wants softer ground and the same is true of Top Notch Tonto. Aljamaaheer looks a sprinter rather than a miler. Yuften could make a lot of progress as a 4 year old and was second in the Jean Prat last year.

Advice: 2 pts win Night of Thunder (11/4 SkyBet, Bet365, Coral), 1 pt each-way Cougar Mountain (25/1 Ladbrokes, Paddy Power)
Ante Post: 1 pt each-way Night of Thunder, Queen Anne Stakes (12/1 general)


Albion Park features preview

Quality harness racing action this weekend from Albion Park in Brisbane. Former Queensland harness handicapper Darren Clayton, @dashman01, previews the trio of features on the Saturday night programme.

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Albion Park preview

With three races carrying Group 2 status and one at Listed level, Saturday's Albion Park program has a bit to offer. Unfortunately, the Seymour Nursery Pace for 3YO's has attracted just seven acceptors (six starters with a scratching already) in the colts & geldings and the fillies could not achieve a full field either with 11 acceptors (10 starters with a scratching).

The third of the G2 events but first set down for decision is the third and final instalment of the Cups Carnival races that have been held in March, April and May.

Cups Carnival Final
Heats were held and the winners of those were Nureyev for Brisbane trainer/driver power couple Pete McMullen and Chantal Turpin and the NSW visitor Scotlynn Jiggs which is trained and driven by Dean Cernovskis. Both horses managed to lead all the way in their wins and with barriers 1 & 3 respectively the chance of an early speed duel may not eventuate.

Nureyev looks to be the early leader here, although Scotlynn Jiggs only did what he had to to find the front in his heat win. He may be stoked up to try to cross the #2, Stingray, to then give himself the option of handing over the chair.

With Stingray drawn between these two, his driver Kelli Dawson might want to hold the early position and then hand over. Those horses drawn on the 2nd line in the capacity field will be hoping for the early burn, but it might not come, which would suggest they will have to get moving at some point to get into the race.

Alleluia has managed to run 2nd in both Cup Finals and after running second in the heat of this series behind Nureyev will be hoping to go one better. Nureyev drifted out slightly in the run to the line and it may have cost Alleluia some momentum as he got going again just short of the line, when the race was already gone.

Chattanoogachoochoo was the victor of the April Stayers Cup and draws tricky in gate 7 and may just have to cover too much ground in getting into this race. He was finishing off nicely out wide without looking to have been fully extended in the same above mentioned heat last week.

The regally-bred Epaulette finished fourth in Scotlynn Jiggs' Heat however he was only beaten 1.5m. He was sitting last at the 600m and unofficially timed in a 27.5 sec closing quarter, four wide. Also has the Luke McCarthy touch coming on this week. This meeting last year saw McCarthy land five of the races on the card .

Five Card Draw ran sixth in the heat to scrape into the final, but only beaten 6.9m. He was put on an early move and raced the last 1200m outside of Scotlynn Jiggs. I liked this run for the fact he was on a 24hr backup, having won a race at Albion Park last Friday.

Selections 9-13-10-1-8
Invest Number 9 win


I think Alleluia can finally crack one of these G2 finals. Currently $5 available with UBET. Also an acid test here as if he can't take this out, his Qld Winter Carnival aspirations may not bear fruit. There will also be the lure of the big prize money with only a career and not metropolitan penalty that is the carrot for all in the race. Five Card Draw can run a bold race despite the awkward draw, while Epaulette is the pre-post favourite and a win would not surprise.

Best roughie- Major Moment. Every likelihood to be behind the leader the trip and if can muster anything along the sprint lane a place is achievable. $5 the place shown with Ladbrokes if you can get it looks very appealing.

In last year's Premiers Cup Major Moment capitalised on Five Card Draw (second) and Alleluia (third) carving each other to gain a sprint lane win. De Ja Vu?

Nursery Pace Fillies Final
Smooth Showgirl was the prelude winner here on Tuesday in impressive fashion and will look to become the first winner of the 2 and 3yo Nursery Pace Finals, ironically on the last running of the Series.

The Belinda McCarthy trained filly from NSW will look to win in similar fashion to Tuesday after once again drawing the second line. Allowed to balance up before being sent on a three wide move to control the race from the chair, she was a touch above her rivals.

Bettor Promise ran as the favourite in the prelude, led and was collared by Smooth Showgirl. Bettor Promise, in being saved for this series was first up for a month with some moderate trial performances in between. Tuesday's hitout should tighten her up and she may well be able to take the prize.

The stalemate of Bettor Promise, Bettorthanspecial finished third in the prelude after sitting at the tail of the field for the majority of the race. She hit the line nicely and when saved for one sprint, has an electric turn of hoof. The chances of Bettorthanspecial in this final hinge on the other NSW visitor Butterfly Princess. After a poor draw in the prelude, the Colin McDowell trained filly has drawn the ace for the final. Possessing gate speed, they should be looking to hold the inside advantage. How long they can maintain that position remains the key to the race. Should they look to hold this brings Bettorthanspecial into calculations as she will then have first crack at the passing lane. Should Butterfly Princess hand over early, it will make it that little bit tougher, being entrenched three back the noodles for Bettorthanspecial. If Smooth Showgirl manages to find the top after a 3 wide mid race move, expect Feel The Faith to look to assume the chair, however should she get there, I doubt if she is quite up to winning on current form.

Selections 8-9-13-5
Invest Number 8 win


The danger to Smooth Showgirl taking this is the mid-race pace and pressure. The Luke McCarthy show can roll on here and it is easily conceivable that he can collect all three G2s on the night.

I'm going to go with Bettorthanspecial. The McDowell team like to be in in the action and I envisage them holding top which will allow Bettorthanspecial an economical trip and the chance to unleash if taken to the lane.

Feel The Faith can hang on for some place money, while Bettor Promise might find it difficult to get a shot at them throughout.

Nursery Pace Colts & Geldings Final
For a Group 2 event to attract such a small field is hard to fathom. Nonetheless there is a total purse of $75k up for grabs here with 6 declared starters to battle it out.

Birdy Mach does look to have a stranglehold on the race following his emphatic prelude victory here on Tuesday. First up for five months he made light work of his rivals scoring a convincing 11m win with a brisk last 800m section of 55.5. Quite simply from what we saw on Tuesday, the battle for 2nd is what might the other drivers will be contesting. Last years Qld 2YO of the year A Good Chance was brave in running 2nd after having to sit outside Birdy Mach in the prelude. He will have to do it tough again, having drawn to the outside of that fellow.

Admiral Bronski is not suited by the distance with just one win from seven tries at the middle distance. That win however was in the G2 Breeders Classic.

Birdy Mach should win. That said he has only had two starts since August last year. One was in December where he finished last after breaking gait twice in running and being stood down to trial. The other on Tuesday in the prelude to this. At about the 100-150m point he did race roughly and did not look fully comfortable in his stride. If any of the others can be close enough to apply some pressure, there just may be a chink to exploit. Although in astute hands, corrections to negate this may have occurred? If the race transpires into a single file procession, then it will most likely mean A Good Chance has to do the bullocking work.

Giving Admiral Bronski a cosy trip following up A Good Chance with one run to make sees him fill second place for mine, with A Good Chance to run third. Corporal Luna can weigh in with the other two runners outclassed here. Selections 4-6-5-2
Invest 4-6-5 straight trifecta.


Friday, 15 May 2015

Yorkshire Cup preview

The feature of the final day of the Dente meeting at York is the Yorkshire Cup for the stayers. Taking on the challenge today is international racing fan and Australian racecalling prodigy Luke Humphreys, @WorldRacingLuke.

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Betway Yorkshire Cup
£150,000 Group 2, 1m6f
British Champions Series Long Distance
1515 BST



1 Brown Panther
Superstar stayer who is in arguably career best form. The only time he ran out of the first three last year was in the 12f G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf, which you can completely forget as that was not his distance at all. He won the G1 Irish St Leger by 6.5 lengths, courtesy of a very good ride from regular jockey Richard Kingscote, and is coming into this after arguably a career best performance in the G2 Dubai Gold Cup on Dubai World Cup Night were he absolutely dominated a fair enough field in super time. This is his preparation for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, where he may struggle distance wise, but today he’s the horse to catch.

2 Havana Beat
Consistent enough type who was a good enough fourth to Brown Panther on World Cup night and fourth to Almoonqith in the G3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy prior to that. His career best run was arguably three starts back when he flew home in the LR American St Leger and was also a very game LR victor last year in the Esher Stakes at Sandown. He carries less weight than Brown Panther today, unlike in Dubai when they were level, but it would be quite a surprise if he was able to get home in front. It wouldn’t be a surprise however if he ran into a place, which is his best chance.

3 Times Up
Old warrior who has won at this track in the past, not in this race however. Two times G2 Doncaster Cup winner but it’s fair to say that last year wasn’t really spectacular for him, like other years. He had five runs with his third to Pale Mimosa and Estimate in the G2 Lonsdale Cup the only better than par performance. That was a good run that day but was only eighth of of 12 when searching for a third consecutive G2 Doncaster Cup, well beaten in the G2 Prix Vicomtesse Vigier at Longchamp in May along with being outpaced over 12f in the G2 Jockey Club Stakes, which you can forget as the trip wasn’t his go, but it was very disappointing, primarily for the horse, to see him run a 45 length last of five in the LR Jockey Club Rose Bowl, a race he won in 2011, when he was virtually pulled up. He’s well past his best and I hope he runs well but I’m prepared to lay him this year in everything he runs in that’s Group class.

4 Romsdal
Consistent type who was third to Australia and Kingston Hill in last year’s Derby before running quite poor in the King George and then ran a game 2nd to Kingston Hill in the St Leger. He scored easily first-up at Kempton in March but was an interesting run last time when leading up in the G3 John Porter Stakes over 12f at Newbury and then looking gone at the 2f mark and then was coming again in the last 150 yards to snatch third on the line. The Good to Firm ground was blamed for the run, the fastest ground he’d ever run on, but I think that was a stupid excuse perhaps a better apology would be that he’s looking for further. He steps up 2f today and that looks ideal. Can challenge.

5 Snow Sky
Fan of this horse and has the best help in the world of Ryan Moore and Sir Michael Stoute. Very consistent last year with his two victories being in the LR Lingfield Derby Trial and the G3 Gordon Stakes. He was also a game second to Postponed in the G2 Great Voltigeur Stakes and gallant 3rd in the St Leger. He went to Hong Kong for the Vase on International Day but the slow tempo didn’t suit him at all and it was obvious that he was outpaced and looking for further than 12f. He steps up to 14f today which should be ideal. I doubt he will beat Brown Panther but there’s no doubt he’s a good each-way show.

6 Island Remede
Fair enough type who’s the only filly in this whose run second to Windshear in the Doncaster Shield and second to Deuce Again in the LR Further Flight Stakes this year and was disappointing last time against her own sex in the LR Daisy Warwick Stakes at Goodwood. Highly doubt it as she looks completely outclassed.

I would be surprised if Brown Panther got beat but Romsdal looks to have a lot of improvement in him stepping up to 14f and could challenge but Brown Panther is the one to beat on ability and class.

Selections
1 Brown Panther
4 Romsdal
5 Snow Sky
2 Havana Beat
The Bet
Brown Panther looks quite juicy at 9/4 and will add to the birthday celebrations this week of part-owner Andrew Black.

AFL Round 7 Preview

Time for the regular weekly contribution from @AflRatings, it's the Round 7 preview of the greatest sport in the world!

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AFL Round 7 Preview
aflratings.com.au
@aflratings

So far the 2015 Home & Away season has provided a host of upsets, only 63.0% of favourites have been successful following 6 Rounds of AFL. In comparison, 70.7% of favourites were successful in 2014. What will Round 7 deliver this week? Here are our thoughts.

Essendon v Nth Melbourne

Both teams have had mixed results in 2015, off field distractions could play a part in the Bombers output in this one. Essendon are returning from Perth and will also be on consecutive 6 day breaks, if you remove the 105pts they scored against Carlton in Round 3 the Bombers are averaging a miserly 64.2pts per game. Nth Melbourne are one of the more reliable teams when starting favourite in 2015 with a 3-1 record, will that be tested on Friday Night?

Adelaide v St Kilda

The Saints on the back of one of the more remarkable comebacks last week are almost at full strength, the same cannot be said for the heavily favoured Adelaide in this game. The Crows are now missing Rory Sloane, Richard Douglas and Brad Crouch all through injury, their midfield depth is sure to be tested against any opponent. St Kilda has already surpassed many expectations this season and are +2 vs the betting line in 2015, despite a poor performance against the Crows last time at the Adelaide Oval this might another opportunity at the line considering Adelaide’s current injury issues.

Hawthorn v Melbourne

There are upsets and then there are upsets, this simply won’t be an upset. Reigning Premiers Hawthorn do have a 3-3 record but that could have easily been a 6-0 record with the three losses all being by 10pts or less, the Hawks are ranked first in the AFL scoring an average of 107.5pts per game and Melbourne are ranked 17th scoring 68.2pts per game. Since Round 1, the Demons have scored only 58.8pts per game and will be up against it to cause what would likely be the upset of the 2015 season.

Carlton v GWS Giants

The Giants are far more talented than Carlton all over the ground and are 3-1 in travel games this year, a win against Hawthorn last week will have provided this team with the confidence that they can mix it with the best. A let down game is a distinct possibility for the young Giants team but they are up against a Carlton team devoid of any confidence, the Blues have conceded 100pts or more in four of six games and appear to be on a road to nowhere this season. The Giants are 3-0 when starting favourite this year and shouldn’t be troubled by the Blues who haven’t shown any fight at any stage this season, the Giants could rack up healthy number at Etihad Stadium.

Sydney v Geelong

The Swans demolished the Cats by 110pts this time last year at the SCG, a good win against the Magpies last week has breathed a little life in to this contest. This is a must win for Sydney, they are one game ahead of other top four contenders Hawthorn and Port Adelaide in a chase for what could be one last top two spot and a first-up home final remaining. This game is at ANZ Stadium, keep a track on the weather as this ground is known for throwing up the odd low scoring game. This certainly won’t be any type of lockdown game, but forecast rain will impact playing conditions. Defensively Geelong has been ok conceding 78.5pts per game between Rounds 3-6 whilst Sydney is ranked no.2 conceding just 65.8pts per game. The Swans are 3-1 when starting favourite in 2015.

West Coast v Gold Coast

The Eagles are another team that has been underestimated this season, a solid win over Port Adelaide last week has established them as a final eight contender this year. West Coast has won both games at Domain Stadium in Perth against Interstate teams in 2015, the Eagles only loss at home was to Fremantle which is no great shock. Gold Coast are hit hard with injuries and are struggling to contain teams this season, the Suns have conceded 100pts or more in five of six games this season and are ranked 17th conceding 102.7pts per game. West Coast are the no.2 scoring team in the AFL this season, but heavy forecast rain could be a great equalizer and provide an opportunity for the Suns to at least cover the big line on offer.

Western Bulldogs v Fremantle

The Bulldogs have played some great clean fast moving football this year, despite coughing up a 55pt lead last week against the Saints they will be ready for a challenge against the best performing team to date this season. Fremantle have covered the betting in all six games in 2015, a current six-game streak covering the betting line was not achieved by any team in 2014. Fremantle has outscored opponents by +181pts in the 1st half and by only +10pts in the second half of games this season, it is fair to say they play shutdown conservative football when the game is in hand. There may be an opportunity or two at or around half time in this one.

Richmond v Collingwood

Collingwood has struggled at times against teams that play on very quickly and directly towards goal, Richmond are not one of those teams which may play right in to the hands of the Magpies. Collingwood conceded 100pts for the first time last week but are still ranked No.3 conceding 70.7pts per game, Richmond has scored an average of 67.0pts FOR per game between Rounds 4-6. Not expecting this game to reach high quality status, but would be surprised if the Magpies didn’t win this game at the MCG on Sunday.

Brisbane v Port Adelaide

The Power have struggled for many weeks now and paid for their poor form with a home loss to the Eagles last week, Brisbane finally achieved their first win of the season last week against Carlton at Etihad Stadium and also cleared the betting line for the first time in 2015. The Lions have given up four scores of 118pts or more in four of six games this season, they might struggle to contain the Power scoring at the Gabba late on Sunday afternoon. It may take a while to get clear of Brisbane, but Port Adelaide should come away with the four points.