Monday, 31 August 2015

US Open tennis previews

Once again I'll be providing regular previews throughout the US Open, this time for the Matchbook exchange.

You can find my men's outright preview here.

Check back regularly for match previews throughout the tournament.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Breeders Crown 2yo Trotting Fillies Final preview

Another preview on Breeders Crown day from racecalling prodigy Luke Humphreys, @WorldRacingLuke.

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

Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown 2YO Trotting Fillies Series 18 Final
Sunday 30 August 2015
Group 1, $84,000 2240M MS
Tabcorp Park Melton (Victoria)
R2 1309 local, 0409 BST

Form guide link
TABCorp Fixed Odds quoted

1 High Gait ($1.25) (New Zealand): Top class filly from New Zealand and could kick off a huge day for the All Stars team of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. Her feature race wins include the G3 New Zealand Trotting Stakes, G2 NZ Sires Stakes 2YO Trotting Championship and G1 Redwood Classic. She also finished a half-head second to rival Missandei in the G1 Harness Jewels 2YO Ruby. Won her heat very easily and will be hard to catch but the problem is the main danger is right on her back in Missandei.

2 The Cooler ($101) (Victoria): Been consistent in four runs with a fourth in a Vicbred 2YO Trotting Fillies heat, third in the G1 Vicbred 2YO Trotting Fillies, and third to High Gait in her heat and third to Parisian Chic in her heat of this. Won’t win but from the good draw could run into a place.

3 Smile Smile Smile ($71) (Victoria): Consistent in three runs so far with two wins, most recent in repechage, with only defeat being a 3rd to Missandei and Parisian Chic in her heat of this. That shows she’s can’t win but might place.

4 A Nip Will Do ($301) (Victoria): Fifth on Thursday night at Kilmore on a rain-affected track in a 2:11.8 winners mile rate in a 2TO+ after leading beaten 25.3m. Says it all, no.

5 Jay Bee Flex ($81) (Victoria): Has run well in recent starts with a fifth in the G1 Vicbred 2YO Trotting Fillies and then 5th and 3rd in Heat and Repecharge of this. Not today though.

6 Liava ($61) (Victoria): Seventh, twelfth, fourth and fifth in four starts in Vicbred 2YO Trotting Fillies Heat and Final and in Heat and repechage of this. No.

7 Parisian Chic ($17) (New South Wales): Poor draw so will have to work forward and sit parked to have any chance but has ability winning the LR New South Wales Breeders Challenge 2YO Trotters, and then a second to Missandei in her Heat and an unextended victory in her repechage by 2.6m. Looks the clear third pick.

8 Missandei ($3.80) (Victoria): This is the one to beat. Winner of the G1 Harness Jewels 2YO Ruby, over High Gait, and three runs in Victoria include two easy wins, in the heat of this last time, and a superb and unlucky second to High Gait in the G1 Redwood Classic. Usually drawing inside the second row is bad but considering she’s right on the back of High Gait, who will lead, and beat her in The Jewels and was unlucky not to beat her in the Redwood, I think she can do High Gait in the last 150m on the Sprint Lane. Pretty harsh to say High Gait is better than Missandei cause there both two top juvenile fillies, however it would also be harsh to High Gait to say Missandei is better. There pretty even but I think Missandei can the right run and win.

9 Cobbler Creek ($101) (Victoria): One win from nine runs and form isn’t good enough. Sixth in heat and fourth in repechage.

10 Sky Majesty ($101) (Victoria): One win from eight starts in a Vicbred 2YO Trotting Fillies Heat. Fourth in G1 Final of that and fourth in heat and second in repechage of this. No from second row.

11 Fear Not (EMG1) ($301) (Victoria): Maiden from 13 goes that was third in the consolation on Friday Night. Form isn’t good enough and unlikely to start as the emergency.

12 Social Fireball ($31) (Victoria): Disappointing to see this draw the second row as it has got some ability. Really top second to Princess Phoenix in the G1 Vicbred 2YO Trotting Fillies and has since won on the popular “Humbletonian” day at Maryborough, and second to High Gait and Parisian Chic in the Heat and Repecharge. As I said the second row gives her little chance of winning but certainly a place hope and one to follow next season.

13 Mizurri ($101) (Victoria): Fifth in heat and fourth in repechage. Second on debut before that. No.

Most think (1) High Gait dominates this but I don’t think it’s that simple. (1) High Gait is a top trotter and will be hard to beat but I believe that (8) Missandei should’ve beaten her in the Redwood, although (1) High Gait was a fairly soft winner. (8) Missandei was unlucky and beat (1) High Gait in the Jewels in May, however (1) High Gait was probably unlucky not to win that. So on their form, there’s no way in the world one is better than the other and it’s gonna come down to who gets the right run. I see (1) High Gait leading with (7) Parisian Chic keeping her honest in the death seat and (8) Missandei having the fresh run on their backs and getting up on the Sprint Lane to do them late on. Certainly don’t wanna have anything to do with (1) High Gait at $1.25 when (8) Missandei is $3.80. I know who I’d rather be on.

Selections
(8) Missandei - (1) High Gait - (7) Parisian Chic - (12) Social Fireball - (3) Smile Smile Smile - (2) The Cooler - (5) Jay Bee Flex - (10) Sky Majesty - (9) Cobbler Creek - (6) Liava.

The Bet
(1) MISSANDEI the Win every second of the day

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Breeders Crown - 3yo Pacing Fillies Final preview

It's Group 1s galore for Breeders Crown Day at Melton, possibly the best day of the year in Aussie harness racing. So why stage it in winter??

Unfortunately with classic harness days covering all age groups and genders, you'll typically find a satchel full of odds-on pops severely diluting the punting interest. But racecalling prodigy Luke Humphreys, @WorldRacingLuke might have found one here...

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

Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown 3YO Pacing Fillies Series 17 Final
Group 1, $174,000 2240M MS
Sunday 30 August 2015
Tabcorp Park Melton (Victoria)
R6 1459 local 0559 BST
Form guide

TABCorp fixed odds quoted

1 Ameretto ($3.40) (New South Wales): Real top 3YO Filly who I’ve had an opinion of for a while. Should’ve won the G1 NSW Breeders Challenge if she didn’t gallop five runs back and then ran third and fifth in the G1 Queensland Oaks and Derby before winning her heat of this series. Her semi-final win last start was easily a career-best performance smashing the 2200M MS Ballarat Track Record rating 1:54.4 after sitting in the death seat for the last lap and winning on the bit. $3.40 looks amazing value, especially after drawing the pole. Her gate speed is very good, evidenced at the start of her heat victory. She looks clearly the best bet/value bet of the day on this huge day of racing.

2 Keayang Ebonyrose ($61) (Victoria): Consistent filly who was 6th in the G1 Victoria Oaks and 5th in the G1 Vicbred Super Series and 4th to The Orange Agent in her Semi-Final. Won her heat prior to that on the bit. $61 isn’t bad Each-Way although even though her speed off the arm is good I doubt she’ll cross Ameretto and should that be the case she might get dragged back in the run with moves expected to come from the back by the favourites such as The Orange Agent and Start Dreaming.

3 Starburst Girl ($41) (Victoria): Another consistent type but she’s probably up against it against these. Won her heat in South Australia and her last two runs she’s finished second in the G2 Southern Cross and third to Ameretto and Katy Perry in her semi-final. No.

4 Soho Berlin ($61) (Victoria): Again a consistent filly who finished third to Ameretto in her Heat but won a repechage at Kilmore and was then fourth behind Ameretto in her semi. No.

5 Come Cullect ($201) (Victoria): 4th in heat and repechage and sixth in her semi-final. No.

6 Soho Tokyo ($61) (Victoria): She also equals consistency. 2nd in the 2014 G1 Australian Pacing Gold, Diamond Classic and G2 Tatlow Stakes and finished eighth in the 2YO Fillies version of this last year. Won her heat leading most of the way and did a really good job to finish third to The Orange Agent and Start Dreaming in her Semi-Final last week. The draw makes it really tough however she could, and probably should, run the gate at the start which would give a good Each-Way show.

7 Linda Lovegrace ($26) (New Zealand): Probably not the same this year compared to what she was as a juvenile. Didn’t have much chance last week when fourth in her Semi-Final behind The Orange Agent, Start Dreaming and Soho Tokyo. Draw doesn’t do her much good.

8 Lady Willoughby ($41) (Western Australia): Fan of this horse. Ran absolutely brilliantly in both the Semi-Final and Final of the 2YO Fillies series last year. Although in fairness she probably hasn’t run to the same ability since then although she’s been racing well this season. Inside the second row looks a good draw however as she’ll be right on the back of Ameretto and will get the perfect run. Each-Way all day.

9 Katy Perry ($13) (New South Wales): Winner of the 2YO Fillies series last year although in fairness hasn’t been exactly the same horse since then. Performed very averagely in the big 3YO Fillies races in New Zealand before leaving Cran Dalgety’s yard for Shane Tritton and she probably isn’t in form from last year but is racing a lot better than what she was earlier this year. Won her repechage very easily and then ran a top second to Ameretto in her semi last week after setting the track record speed. Drawing the back row however obviously means she can’t use that gate speed although you’d expect her to be put in the race early and she should be in the finish.

10 The Orange Agent ($1.60) (New Zealand): The star 3YO filly of New Zealand winning the G1 Northern Oaks, G1 Nevele R Fillies Final, and G1 Harness Jewels 3YO Diamond. Won her semi-final easily enough last week but there we’re probably more promising runs behind, Start Dreaming in second, and she had everything go her way with a perfect drive from Maurice McKendry. She certainly won’t have everything go her way her after drawing barrier three on the second row and $1.60 looks massive unders. She’s good but this is her toughest test clearly.

11 Start Dreaming ($6.50) (New Zealand): Hasn’t been able to quiet get to The Orange Agent so far finishing 2nd to her in the G1 Northern Oaks and also 3rd to her in the G1 Harness Jewels 3YO Diamond and in the Heat at Cambridge. Don’t worry about two runs back when she never got an ounce of luck in her Repechage and she ran a promising 2nd in her Semi-Final, behind The Orange Agent, and if she’s going to beat her home, today could be the day. However like her she’s going to find it hard from the second row.

12 Glory Daze ($151) (Victoria): Up against it especially after drawing towards the outside of the back row.

13 Bamako Mali (EMG1) ($151) (New South Wales): Also up against it after drawing outside the back row and is unlikely to start but if she does she might run on OK.

Breeders’ Crown day is a great day but usually in most races there can be some real short-priced favourites and I think this race has the best bet of the day but some are saying it’s the most open race of the day. (1) Ameretto is crying out for that G1 success and was absolutely super in her Semi-Final last week and after drawing barrier one I think she leads and if that’s the case I think she’s a genuine certainty and $3.40 so get on! (11) Start Dreaming has been racing well however draws poorly but I think can get the better of (10) The Orange Agent finally. (9) Katy Perry will be on the pace and will be in it. (8) Lady Willoughby should run well again in this series after drawing perfectly. (2) Keayang Ebonyrose and (6) Soho Tokyo should run consistently. (7) Linda Lovegrace hasn’t been done any good by the draw. (3) Starburst Girl and (4) Soho Berlin are outclassed.

Selections
(1) Ameretto - (11) Start Dreaming - (10) The Orange Agent - (9) Katy Perry - (8) Lady Willoughby - (2) Keayang Ebonyrose - (6) Soho Tokyo - (7) Linda Lovegrace - (3) Starburst Girl - (4) Soho Berlin.

The Bet
(1) AMERETTO looks clearly the Best Bet and Best Value Bet of the day on her Semi-Final win last week and especially after drawing barrier one. I think she’s a certainty.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Memsie Stakes preview

The first Group 1 race of the new season in Victoria, it's the Memsie Stakes. A 1400m race where not that many of them are 1400m specialists, as expected as this end of the campaign.

Time to call upon the services of Premium Racing Services, to shrewdly assess the form.

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

New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes
Group 1, 1400m
$400,000 WFA
1645 local, 0745 BST
Odds comparison
Form guide


Interesting Historical Factors

INTO THE RACE:
- 9/10 winners were previous G1 winners
- Last five winners of races were first up, and seven of last nine.
- 1/31 has won this race coming from a Sydney lead up run.
- 6/8 winners were 4YOs.
- 11/16 started <$5 SP including nine favourites. Dissident last year the first double digit SP ($12) winner since 1994.

OUT OF THE RACE:
- 6/13 Cox Plate winners come out of the race.
--
- From 2002-2013, the winner of at least one of the Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup & Melbourne Cup came out of this meeting. Last year broke that factor.

PRS Speed Map



The emergencies do play a significant part in the map, in particular Charmed Harmony who would want to cross and take up the lead. Other emergency Pressing is then going to have severe issues finding cover unless he goes well back.

If the expected leader does come out then it is expected that Entirely Platinum will take the lead and generate a true pace. A few backmarkers will have to settle much further back than desired as the other backmarkers drawn inside of them will dig up.

Our Market:
This market is of our system's ‘raw’ prices which is set to 100% with every runner rated >$22 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 open but does have some overlays present on the early corporate markets.



VOLKSTOK’N’BARRELL - First up. Produced two good runs in Sydney after coming over from NZ. Both were slower than par, in particular the 3rd in the Derby. Ruakaka trial solid recently alongside the best NZ horses. Is certainly accomplished at the trip winning 2/2 and also winning at 1300m. Will stay out of the speed battle but still not be that far away, potentially three wide with cover. Like in-form Blake Shinn riding him. Is expected to shorten and is an excellent overlay on current markets.

ENTIRELY PLATINUM - First up also. Two jumpouts been sound at Flemington. First up in Feb in Orr Stakes here over same trip ran a good 2nd behind Dissident. He also won 1st up last spring when well backed. May lead if emergency Charmed Harmony is scratched. Tough horse to run down fresh over his best distance.

SERTORIUS – No doubt there are bigger targets later in the spring for him but he presents as a significant overlay fresh. 1st up also. Two runs campaign in autumn very good, a campaign widely used now for runners attempting a tilt at the cups in spring. Got a deserving win in that 2nd run. Ran well in this race last year when ridden well back off the leaders that were the quinella in the race. Has been given that figure here again coming from well back.

Recommended Bets:
At this stage, we are not 100% sure what the track rating will be for the day which will certainly alter our market on the race, but we will be advising our clients to back the overlays present.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

AFL Round 22 preview

Can you smell those finals just around the corner? Go Tiges!

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

AFL Round 22 preview from aflratings.com.au, @aflratings.

Only two weeks until finals, here are our thoughts for Round 22.

Geelong 10-2-8 v Collingwood 9-11

The Cats are in a must-win game to keep alive their slim chances of playing finals this year, a win this week v Collingwood combined with an Adelaide loss to West Coast will put it all on the line next week at Simonds Stadium when the play the Crows for the last spot in the final eight. Collingwood have been disappointing since their bye in Round 12 losing eight of their past nine matches. Prior to the Bye the Magpies conceded 77.2pts avg per game and post-bye they have conceded 92.9pts avg per game including a disastrous 147pts last week v Richmond. Expect Collingwood to be better this week amidst a little external pressure questioning a lack of on-field success in recent seasons under coach Nathan Buckley, the Cats however have more to play for and put the Magpies to the sword back in round six by 41pts. Slippery conditions are likely at the MCG on Friday night but unless there is a major downpour it may provide an opportunity for the over to hit in what could be a low total match points line, a check of the radar is recommended on Friday afternoon.

GWS Giants 10-10 v Carlton 4-16

The Giants were immensely disappointing in a must-win game last week v Sydney conceding 133pts in an 89pt defeat at Spotless Stadium, Carlton were a surprise winning just their fourth game of the season last week to lift themselves from the bottom of the ladder with two games remaining in the home & away season. The Giants have struggled since Round 9 scoring 73.5pts avg from their last 12 games compared to 97.6pts from their first eight games of 2015. Carlton are finding it even harder to hit the scoreboard averaging just 58.5pts from their last eight games with only one win. Would have to lean towards the Giants in this game but with little confidence, they are capable of running up a big number on the Blues who are only 1-4 in travel games this season.

Hawthorn 14-6 v Brisbane 3-17

There is no questioning the result in this game as the Hawks will deliver a comfortable margin at the final siren but can you mess with the quite large line of -69.5 Hawthorn with forecast wind & rain at Aurora Stadium in Launceston on Saturday. The Lions have conceded 100pts or more in four of their last five games and are on their second consecutive travel game, with such a young list a poor output is highly likely considering their high scoring opponent. Hawthorn have scored 100pts or more in 12 of 20 games this season which is the most of any team in the AFL, the Hawks have averaged 111.7pts at Aurora Stadium in three games thus far in 2015. Expecting the Hawks to hit 100pts in this game, if they do then they will be a good chance to get the large line on offer.

Nth Melbourne 13-7 v Western Bulldogs 13-7

It will be interesting to see if the Bulldogs are slow starters v Nth Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, a six-day break returning from a warm Perth might leave the Bulldogs a little short in what is expected to be a highly intense and fast game. The Kangaroos have been superb in recent weeks, a seven-game winning streak albeit against only one top eight team has them well placed to play finals in two weeks. Nth Melbourne are 3-4 vs top eight teams in 2015, the Western Bulldogs have a 4-3 record vs top eight teams in 2015. The total match points line is interestingly high despite expectations of a high scoring games, both teams have conceded just one game of 100pts or more in a combined 17 games in recent weeks (Nth Melbourne: 0-7, Western Bulldogs: 1-9). A letdown may just be possible from the Bulldogs, but they are the most profitable team to bet on this year along with a 6-5 record when starting as underdog.

Essendon 5-15 v Richmond 13-7

Was not thinking too much in to an upset for the Bombers this week against a well drilled Tigers team bound for the Finals but team selection has thrown a little question of doubt in to the thoughts for this game, Trent Cotchin will miss for Richmond and based on the excellent output from Essendon last week the -39.5 Richmond betting line does seem a little on the high side considering the Tigers will be without arguably their best player. Again slippery conditions at the MCG will likely impact this game, Richmond has conceded just 65.8pts in their last 13 games whilst Essendon has averaged a miserly 66.2pts from their last 12 games. If the Bombers can hold the Tigers team to fewer than 100pts then the total match points Line of 175.5pts looks set to be an Under result, the Bombers at the +39.5 Betting Line will also likely be successful.

Gold Coast 4-1-15 v Port Adelaide 10-10

Both teams have fallen well short of expectations this year, Gold Coast were around even money to make the final eight in the pre-season and Port Adelaide were third premiership favourite heading in to the season. For the Suns they have been destroyed by injuries and off-field issues but have found a resilience to be very competitive despite the lack of quality personnel, they have had the biggest negative differential in team disposals per game (-20.9) from 2014 which underlines their missing A-Grade midfielders. The belief at the Power has been growing in recent weeks, they have averaged 106.2pts in their last six games scoring more than 100pts in five of those games. This will be a tight game in regular slippery conditions at Metricon Stadium, tough game to make a choice in most popular available markets.

Adelaide 12-1-7 v West Coast 15-1-4

The stakes are huge for both teams in a cracking game to open the Sunday AFL coverage. Adelaide can clinch a final eight spot with a win and West Coast can clinch a top two spot with a win. The Crows & Eagles have the capabilities to open up the scoring, but the Eagles have not allowed a team to score 100pts since round three and have conceded just 67.4pts AGA Rounds 4-21. For all their injury concerns to key defenders, West Coast have allowed the fewest 100pt games this season. A win for the Eagles will likely result in resting players at Home next week v St Kilda, this would be an ideal preparation leading in to the Finals. Adelaide can avoid a winner take all battle next week at Geelong if they can secure a win, a home final is still a possibility for the Crows. Fine conditions are likely to contribute to a high scoring game, the O/U 192.5 total match points line will be challenged.

St Kilda 6-1-13 v Sydney 14-6

Totally misread the Saints last week, they were outstanding in a draw v Geelong and should have actually won in the late stages of the game. Sydney are strengthened with the return of key forward Lance Franklin, the Swans will no doubt want to get him the ball as often as possible for the best Finals preparation. Sydney can’t afford a loss to the Saints otherwise their top four spot may be lost to one of the chasing pack, if last week was a precursor to this game then a win won’t come easy against an improving St Kilda. The Saints will go in to this game as heavy underdogs, they have a 1-7 record vs top eight teams this year and 4-14 record when starting as underdog.

Fremantle 16-4 v Melbourne 6-14

A win for Fremantle combined with an earlier loss by West Coast will clinch top spot, the Dockers were devastatingly good in the early part of the season setting up their high ladder position. Despite a negative outlook from the majority of opinion makers the Dockers are well place to win their first-ever premiership, this won’t be the prettiest game to watch vs Melbourne but the Dockers will get the job done early and settle in late in the game with no real urgency to score frequently. The Demons have been the talk of the town failing to be successful in recent years but they have dramatically improved under coach Paul Roos. The Demons provided a remarkable win at Geelong earlier this year, a win in this game would exceed that performance.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Ebor Handicap preview

The eponymous race of the week and a capacity field - good luck if you need this one to break square for the week. Plenty of angles here to look at, the trend for younger horses, many runners mixing hurdling and flat campaigns. To unravel the form, we turn once again to Darren Goodbody, @DarrenPGoodbody. Read more of his work here.

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

Betfred Ebor Handicap
Heritage Handicap
£275,000, 1m6f
1545 local, 0045 AEST


With twenty-one entries holding their ground with the only absence being Quest for More at this stage, please make sure you look around with the high street bookies that are paying on the 1-2-3-4-5 place market as many will.

On to the race and this year's renewal has produced a strong field especially from Ireland. Aidan O'Brien has had to sit back this year with most of his entries being pulled from the meeting due to ground conditions he saddles the only three year old in the race in Fields of Athenry. With four solid runs under his belt this year he was seen winning on good to soft ground at Leopardstown by ten lengths, the third from that race Drifting Mist has a form line through Bondi Beach who equipped himself well when just failing to win the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York this week.

His first taste of pattern company came on good to firm ground when landing the Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown and stayed on well over the twelve furlong trip to record a one and three quarter length victory. It is questionable form in how good is he now stepping up in trip, but he is sired by Galileo who despite having sired great winners he has never produced a Ebor winner. Three year olds though have had a good record in this race especially in the place market.

Out of the Willie Mullins pair Frankie Dettori has chosen Clondaw Warrior over Wicklow Brave. Clondaw Warrior was last seen when winning the Guinness Handicap at Galway that was over twelve furlongs, but he has also been running around the hurdle sphere competing at the top level festivals which included a third in the Greatwood Hurdle an ran into a place at the Punchestown festival this year

He just scraps in off a reasonable weight, but I feel he is vulnerable to better handicapped entries. Tony Martin's Quick Jack landed the Galway Hurdle this year when beating Max Dynamite by two and a quarter lengths. That form got a welcoming boost with Max Dynamite landing yesterday's Londsdale Cup in fine fashion and a horse that has gone on my radar for the 2016 Cheltenham festival.

His last run on the flat came in the Chester Cup when finishing runner up to the smart Trip to Paris, he has form to find with Wicklow Brave after he defeated him in the County Hurdle this year at Cheltenham, Max Dynamite was back in fourth that day over ten lengths off the pace.

This brings me on to the selection this afternoon in WICKLOW BRAVE. He was beaten out of sight by Quick Jack in the Galway Hurdle, but his two wins on tacky ground at Galway and Listowel has to bring him into the equations.He has bags of stamina in the tank and round soundly when finishing fourth in the Queen Alexandra Stakes at the royal meeting. Winner of the County hurdle this year at the Cheltenham festival by a comfortable eight lengths, bringing him back to the dead two miles and on tacky ground he has to be the one to beat for me.

WICKLOW BRAVE : 2pts each way @10/1 BOG

Friday, 21 August 2015

Gimcrack Stakes preview

The final day of the Ebor Festival has a great spread of races, and just one of them could be described as having a clear-cut favourite. A solid reward for anyone who can find a winner.

The 2yo feature of the day is the Gimcrack Stakes, and saddling up again for the preview is Darren Goodbody, @DarrenPGoodbody. You can read more of his work here.

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

Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes
Group 2, 6f, 2yo C&G
£220,000
1510 local 0010 AEST


What a week it has been on the Knavesmire, some impressive juveniles to keep on the note book especially Tasleet of William Haggas's and Wesley Ward's Acapulco who impressed me taking on older horses, but even though with the 29lb allowance he could not over come proven Group 3 winning sprinter Mecca's Angel.

Mark Johnston has not improved on his six percent average here at York and I have reservations that it is going to improve with Buratino or Ode the Evening. The Listed Woodcote Stakes and Group 3 Coventry Stakes winning juvenile Buratino looked like the season was catching up with him when only third in the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh twelve days ago, looking very one pace in the closing stages and his short odds of 11/10 was very tight going up against Washington DC and Air Force Blue.

Wesley Ward would not be that disappointed by losing with Acapulco yesterday after his smart juvenile was taking on some proven pattern sprinters, he will be searching some compensation when he saddles his second raider Finnegan. It is good that he has decided to bring over Edgar Prado to ride the son of Unbridled's Song who was very impressive when winning at Pimlico on fast ground back in May. There has to be concerns though coming off a three-month lay off and attempting tacky ground here at York. The tactics will probably be the same, get out and blast a fast pace and hope he holds on, but very vulnerable under these conditions. (Consider setting up a pre-race lay at around 1.2 if you fancy risking him)

William Haggas comes here double-handed with Raucous and Ajaya, the latter won here over five and a half furlongs last month when winning readily under today's pilot Graham Gibbons. He was stepped up immediately in to black type company when finishing runner up to Richard Hannon's Guitifan who was partnered by Frankie Dettori that day going down by a head. On that though it is interesting that Dettori has overlooked Ajaya for King of Rooks.

Raucous is double the price of Ajaya for this, the lightly-raced son of Dream Ahead who did not mind a bit of juice in the ground was impressive when winning at Newmarket on tacky ground, he had to come off a very slow run race that day but picked up well in the closing stages to just get up on the line beating Orvar by a head, that form is still holding after the runner up ran well enough this week.

Frankie Dettori stays loyal to King of Rooks after the retirement of Richard Hughes two weeks ago, his second to Kachy at Goodwood last month in the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes, he looked very out paced over the optimum trip and would relish the step back up to six furlongs here which should give him a shout.

Saeed Bin Suroor's Steady Pace has been running well all season, held by King of Rooks and Buratino from the Listed Capital National Stakes he went into Ascot as the favorite for the Windsor Castle Stakes and failed to justify those odds when beaten by Washington DC and Areen who had reversed the Sandown form. The form was boosted when Washington DC ran a blinder to finish runner up in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes. He then bumped into the smart improving Shalaa twice in the Group 2 July Stakes and last time in the Richmond Stakes with the runner up being Tasleet who won the Yearlings race here on Thursday, you would have to give him a chance on paper with the form being extremely strong, my major concern is the ground as this will be the first time he encounters softer conditions.

There are cases to be made for a few of these, Finnegan, Buratino, Ajaya and King of Rooks all have claims with probably the obvious one being the latter, but I am going to stick with RAUCOUS here, he looks to have a good engine in him and I would not say he is second string in this field, King of Rooks looks to be the interesting danger.

RAUCOUS : 1pt each way @ 12/1 BOG
king of Rooks : 1pt each way @ 13/2 BOG


AFL Round 21 preview

Not long to go now, Spetember's coming! AFL previews from the sharp fellas at @AFLRatings.

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

AFL Round 21 preview from aflratings.com.au, @aflratings.

Eight of nine AFL favourites were successful last week, 80% of Favourites have won in the last five rounds. Here are our thoughts for Round 21.

Hawthorn 14-5 v Port Adelaide 9-10

The Hawks should be in cruise control for the remainder of the 2015 Home & Away season, despite a hiccup vs Richmond a few weeks ago they have won ten of their last 11 games and sit in third position on the AFL ladder. Port Adelaide has to be one of the bigger disappointments this year, they were amongst the pre-season predictions for Premiership success in 2015. The Power will need to be at the top of their game if they are to compete with the Hawks on Friday Night, the betting line looks quite large at -51.5 in favour of Hawthorn but Port Adelaide have not cleared their line in four of the last five games. The Hawks should be good to collect a win with so much on the line for a top two position still up for grabs.

Collingwood 9-10 v Richmond 12-7

Richmond are not yet confirmed as a finals contender, a win against the Magpies will secure a position in the final eight and a chance at breaking a 35 year premiership drought. Collingwood will almost certainly not play Finals this year, they would need some serious help along with a three-game winning streak to sneak in but the reality could be no mathematical chance to make it after this week. The Magpies have lost seven of their last eight games, whilst they have been competitive in most of those games they don’t hand out ribbons for second place. The Tigers have been good defensively conceding 67.3pts from their last eight games, they are Ranked third in the AFL this year in points conceded. Collingwood won’t be an easy push over for Richmond, expect this to be a close game.

GWS Giants 10-9 v Sydney 13-6

The Giants have had their chances this year but seem to be a little short of experienced at crucial times during the season, a poor injury list has likely crippled their chances of playing Finals this year. Sydney have not exactly lit it up this season but still remain a very good chance to finish fourth on the AFL Ladder, injuries are starting to hurt the Swans so they will need to be super careful not to drop this game against their cross town rival. Sydney have steadied the ship defensively in the last three weeks conceding 78.7pts per game, the Giants conceded 100pts for the first time in seven games vs Adelaide last week. Rain could impact this game which could likely impact the scoring chances for both teams, expect a closely fought contest for the entire game.

Gold Coast 3-1-15 v Essendon 5-14

Will the relief of a coaching change at Essendon spark the players in to being more competitive? The answer is not as simple in this situation as the Bombers players are still mindful of potential action from WADA in the coming months that could critically harm their careers, Essendon have conceded 130.0pts average in their last four games which provides a little insight in to their lack of effort. As mentioned in previous previews, Gold Coast despite their own injury and off-field issues have been extremely competitive in the majority of games for quite a few weeks now. Essendon have firmed this week following the departure of James Hird as coach, but expect the Suns to be fully in to this game with positions on their playing list up for grabs.

St Kilda 6-13 v Geelong 10-1-8

The Saints have exceeded most expectations leading in to the 2015 home & away season, they have unearthed some genuine talent in to their team and will continue to do so in their remaining three games of the season which does represent a little raising of a white flag for winning chances. Geelong are desperate to stay in the hunt for a Finals spot and are in a must win situation, the Cats did press the Hawks for long periods of the game last week but ultimately fell a long way short of winning. St Kilda have conceded 109.3pts from their last three games, this provides an opportunity at reasonable value for Geelong to secure a comfortable win for favourite punters on Saturday night at Etihad Stadium.

Adelaide 11-1-7 v Brisbane 3-16

This result is going to go one-way and one-way only in a big way, expect Adelaide to open up the scoring on Saturday night at the Adelaide Oval even in potential slippery conditions. The Crows have averaged 111.8pts from their last five games having won four, they are charging towards the Finals and it is extremely unlikely the Lions can disrupt their momentum. Brisbane finally ended an 11 game losing streak last week against the hapless Blues in Brisbane, prior to their win last week the Lions had conceded 112.3pts from their previous three games. Expect an Adelaide victory in a very comfortable way.

Nth Melbourne 12-7 v Fremantle 16-3

As expected Fremantle are intending to rest their players of age in travel games to finish off the Home & Away season, they are getting fully prepared for Finals which could impact their success in games for the short term. The beneficiary this week could be Nth Melbourne, they are in a desperate need of wins with an extremely tough finish to their season ahead. The Head to Head odds in this game have flipped to Nth Melbourne starting as favourite, it might be wise to let this game begin at Etihad Stadium on Sunday prior to making any type of investment, the unknown of how Fremantle will perform does provide a highly risky situation for punters. Just because Fremantle are resting some of their players doesn’t mean they can’t win, we have been down this track before under Ross Lyon coached teams.

Carlton 3-16 v Melbourne 6-13

Carlton are almost ensuring little on-field success with team selection this week, they are now in last position on the AFL Ladder and if they don’t win another game they will receive the No.1 Overall Draft pick this off-season. Melbourne were embarrassed last week by the Bulldogs, fully expecting a solid response from the Demons in an attempt to record their seventh win of the season. The Blues have been largely uncompetitive conceding 131.8pts from their last four games, if that form plays true again then the Demons could be in for a big day at the MCG. Can’t see the Blues winning this game.

West Coast 14-1-4 v Western Bulldogs 13-6

Very interesting team selection for the Bulldogs this week resting two of their slower type quality players for a game in Perth against West Coast coming off consecutive fierce contests including a Derby win last week, the Eagles do have their injury/suspension concerns again which does provide an opportunity for the Bulldogs to shock the footy world in to believing they are the real deal. Domain Stadium is a fast track in dry conditions and the Bulldogs have the running game to match it with the Eagles, but will they be good enough to deliver the upset? No way would be touching West Coast at the -22.5pt Betting Line, the Bulldogs are every chance in the final game on Sunday for a small value investment.

Lonsdale Cup preview

Staying races play a large part at the latter end of the Ebor Festival, with the set weights and penalties of the Lonsdale Cup today and the time-honoured Ebor Handicap tomorrow. The Lonsdale Cup is also part of the British Champions Series, adding to the prestige of the race.

Casting the magnifying glass over the field is regular contributor Chris Day, @chrisday100. This was sent through before a couple of withdrawals, so please allow for non-runners and Rule 4s in the analysis.

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

Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup
Group 2, 2m 88y (again, why have non-standard distances?!)
£160,000
1430 local, 2330 AEST


The latest episode in the flat season’s staying calendar, the Lonsdale Cup, takes place on Friday, a race which is likely to be a war of attrition with the best stayers in England taking on a couple of decent Irish horses and another cracking race in prospect.

Gold Cup winner, Trip To Paris, tries to do what has been done in recent years by Millenary, Opinion Poll and Ahzeemah, namely carry a 4lb penalty for his Ascot success to victory. His meteoric rise from Lingfield All Weather handicap winner from a mark off 88 to the country’s premier stayer via Ripon and Chester Cup successes has been well documented and he lost nothing in defeat when failing by a neck to concede the penalty to Big Orange and Quest For More in the Goodwood Cup last time. All ground seems to come alike but the main concern with him is that he’s been to every party this year and could have had a hard enough race last time although I do expect Graham Lee to try to hold on to him longer this time and put him into battle very late in proceedings.

Big Orange, the winner at Goodwood following a surprise victory over 12 furlongs in Newmarket’s Prince of Wales Stakes, has always promised a lot and is now delivering. With stamina assured, he could press on from some way out and try to grind it out up the long unforgiving straight. Another who doesn’t seem fazed by underfoot conditions, he cannot be left out of calculations.

The runner-up at Goodwood, Quest For More - NON-RUNNER, has been a revelation since stepping up in trip this season, winning the Northumberland Plate on his run before Goodwood. Incredible to think he was beaten off 85 at this meeting last year but was carrying the penalty of my money that day.

From a form point of view, all three clearly have big chances but that’s been incorporated into their prices and I thought the Goodwood race was a grueller to say the least so, as a value punter, I prefer to look elsewhere.

Willie Mullins has booked Dettori to ride Plate runner up, Max Dynamite but he seems held on that form by Quest For More and could be interesting back over hurdles after his Galway second to Quick Jack, while the stable’s other representative, Simenon, has regularly mixed it at this level without appearing to quite have the boot to beat the best.

Times Up is a grand old stayer with wins aplenty at this level on his CV, including this race three years ago but his current form suggests he is nowhere near that level any more. Could be interesting off an even lower mark in the Cesarewitch if that is his end of season target.

Hughie Morrison has freshened up last year’s Melrose winner, Vent De Force, since flopping on lightning quick ground at Royal Ascot, having previously been the benefactor of a peach of a ride from Richard Hughes in winning the Henry 11 at Sandown, Earlier second to Mizzou in the Sagaro at Ascot, the suspicion remains that he is better with give underfoot and, if rain arrives before the race, his current double-figure odds would make some appeal.

Mizzou, trained with typical patience by Cumani, has also been given time since not running his race in the Gold Cup but he should have liked the ground there and Ascot is his course so the run is slightly harder to forgive. He had earlier been very impressive in the Sagaro and his breeding suggests that quick ground is what he wants. The trainer sounds confident but he’s priced up as though he ran well in the Gold Cup and therefore represents little value to these eyes.

Lillie Langtry runner-up, Hidden Gold is surely not up to this even in receipt of the fillies’ allowance and the fact that she’s the best Godolphin can muster speaks volumes for the state that operation are in when it comes to the best races.

Clever Cookie, once rated a decent handicap hurdle prospect by iron man former jump jockey, Chris Grant, is now one of the country’s best staying flat horses and went off just 4-1 for our best middle distance race, the King George, at Ascot last time. He was never seriously put into that race, running on for fifth once the principals had flown and consequently should come here fresh having been spared the heat of battle in the Gold Cup and Goodwood Cup due to unsuitably quick ground. He’d earlier won a Listed event over 14 furlongs at York on the bridle and beaten Tac De Boistron in Chester’s Ormonde Stakes over even shorter in soft ground in the spring. It’s hard to find any negatives about him, although his regular pilot, Graham Lee, prefers Trip To Paris here. If they go hard up front and the ground is good or slower, expect to see him on the bridle in behind two out looking for the right moment to strike.

Finally, the top rated horse here, is the aforementioned Tac De Boistron - NON-RUNNER of Marco Botti, who has no penalty to carry despite being a Group 1 winner earlier in his career. Now an eight year old, he may well be on the way down but was sent off 11-10 to beat Clever Cookie at Chester conceding 7lbs over a trip way short of his best and that looks strong form before finding quick ground against him at Ascot. If the rain arrives, I’d be very keen to get on at around 15-2.

The stats say that four year olds with course winning and Group race form over two miles who ran in the Gold Cup are likely to go well here so my main play will be Vent De Force each-way at around the 14-1 mark (before NRs and Rule 4).

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Yorkshire Oaks preview

Feature event of the day is the Yorkshire Oaks, a race twice won by Barshiba, the dam of yesterday's surprise Juddmonte winner, Arabian Queen. Unlike most traditional Oaks races, this is also open to older fillies and mares.

Taking up the challenge is international racecalling prodigy Luke Humphreys, @WorldRacingLuke.

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

Darley Yorkshire Oaks
3yo+ F&M 12f
Group 1, £335,000

1 Lustrous (33/1 generally): Fourth beaten ten lengths in the race last year. Best run this year a ¾ length second to Lady Tiana in the G2 Lancashire Oaks. Outclassed.

2 Miss Marjurie (20/1): Has improved, from this year compared to last, with two victories at LR level at Goodwood and Haydock over 12f on good ground in the Daisy Warwick Stakes and Pinnacle Stakes. However only third in the G2 Lancashire Oaks behind Lady Tiana and Lustrous last time, on good to soft however, so obviously likes the ground quick however today it is likely to be good to soft. Place.

3 Covert Love (7/2): Has been a huge improver that was a top winner of the G1 Irish Oaks last time after LR win at Newcastle in the Hoppings Stakes. Ground could be a concern and not sure if she’s the best filly/mare in Europe but with no standout in this year’s renewal of this race, Taghrooda/Tapestry 2014, The Fugue 2013 etc, she’s gonna be hard to catch.

4 Crystal Zvezda (12/1): Extremely easy winner of the LR Fillies’ Trial Stakes before pulling extremely hard in The Oaks, which over 12f at Epsom you quite frankly can’t do, and subsequently ran a 46 Length tenth of 11. Now maybe that took something out of her as she was only second in the LR Lyric Fillies’ Stakes, which on her Newbury form she should’ve won easily. Each-Way is the safe way with her.

5 Curvy (5/1): Top 3YO filly who beat the boys, including Giovanni Canaletto although maybe luckily, in the G3 Gallinule Stakes and then won the G2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot strongly before every chance in the G1 Irish Oaks when a two length third when favourite. Fair chance and ground should be fine for her.

6 Easter (16/1): LR Hurry Harriet Stakes winner last time at Gowran Park however looks outclassed in all honesty.

7 Jack Naylor (6/1): Always had a nice opinion of this filly. Third to Found in the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac last year and this year has run a top fourth in the G1 Irish 1000 Guineas, an unlucky sixth in The Oaks and a second to Covert Love in the Irish Oaks. Could reverse form with Covert Love and she handles ground and is very consistent and will run well.

8 Lady Of Dubai (7/1): Easy winner of the LR Height of Fashion Stakes at Goodwood before a good third to Qualify and Legatissimo in The Oaks but was only sixth of nine in the G1 Nassau Stakes beaten 5.25 lengths by Legatissimo. Each-Way.

9 Outstanding (20/1): LR Naas Oaks Trial winner in June before a top third to superstar US 3YO Filly Lady Eli in the G1 Belmont Oaks. 20/1 looks nice odds on that form.

10 Pleascach (7/1): G1 Irish 1000 Guineas winner, although hasn’t really raced to the same form since. Second to Curvy in the Ribblesdale and only fifth of nine in the G1 Pretty Polly Stakes. Slightly overrated.

11 Sea Calisi (12/1): Really interesting French runner. Mickael Barzalona rides for Francois Doumen, doesn’t have too many UK runners with the last time he brought a horse to England being Top Trip’s third to Estimate in the 2013 Gold Cup. Narrow second to Kataniya in the G3 Prix de Royaumont but then easily reversed form with her in the G2 Prix de Malleret last time, both times over 12f, however Kataniya was a clear last of six in the G2 Prix de la Nonette on Tuesday as favourite, unsuitable distance though. It was interesting to see her skip that for this however. Fascinating and don’t discount.

Not an overly strong renewal of the Yorkshire Oaks where (3) Covert Love was a strong winner of the Irish Oaks and can follow up here even though she’s no standout. (7) Jack Naylor is really consistent and deserves to win and certainly can do that. (9) Outstanding looks nice E-W value at 20/1 and can run well. (5) Curvy was ordinary I thought, compared to previous form, in the Irish Oaks but can bounce back. (11) Sea Calisi is a very interesting runner but will her form hold up? (8) Lady Of Dubai was average in the Nassau but if she runs to her previous form she can be in it. (2) Miss Marjurie looks outclassed but is in form. (4) Crystal Zvezda was awesome at Newbury but has disappointed since. (10) Pleascach was good in the Irish Guineas but has disappointed since. (1) Lustrous is outclassed.

Selections
(3) Covert Love - (7) Jack Naylor - (9) Outstanding - (5) Curvy - (11) Sea Calisi - (8) Lady Of Dubai - (2) Miss Marjurie - (4) Crystal Zvezda - (10) Pleascach - (1) Lustrous

The Bet
(3) Covert Love looks the one to beat but (9) OUTSTANDING looks good Each-Way odds at 20/1 as she has nice form from the Belmont Oaks.

Lowther Stakes preview

The caravan rolls onto day two at York after the huge shock of Golden Horn being trumped by a 50/1 shot in the Juddmonte. It's another great card today, and kicking off the previews is Darren Goodbody, @DarrenPGoodbody with his take on the Lowther Stakes.

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

Pinsent Masons Lowther Stakes
Group 2 for 2yo fillies
£160,000, 6f
1430 local, 2330 AEST


The juvenile fillies take center stage here in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes, over the years we have seen the likes of Tiggy Wiggy, Cape Verdi and Russian Rhythm land the prize in recent years. This year's renewal looks competitive enough with William Haggas already on the board on day one with a double with Recorder and Storm the Stars he saddles his daughter of Kodiac here in Besharah.

She has done nothing wrong this season winning three of her five encounters at Ascot and Windsor. Besharah looked more impressive when winning the Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot last time out when beating Richard Hannon's Great Page. The form got a respectable boost when the third Whatdoiwantthatfor when on to win at Newbury in the Listed St Hugh's Stakes. She has to be respected being by an in-form trainer who notched up winner 13 and 14 at the Knavesmire meeting.

I feel David Brown has an interesting contender in Continental Lady, she looks over priced at 20/1 after her debut win at Leicester on good to soft ground. She traveled well on the pace that day before picking it up a furlong out to record a two length win. She is by Medicean who was far better over eight furlongs in his career winning the Lockinge on soft ground, she would have a live chance from what looks a good draw.

Mark Johnston's record on the Knavesmire over the past five seasons reads only fourteen winners from 214 entries just a 6% return, his juveniles have seen him record seven winners form seventy eight entries just 9%, it looks a track he does not have much success on and his entry here Lumiere has been put in as the 6/4 favorite to land this Group 2. His sole run saw her winning on debut at Newmarket when winning her maiden by a very impressive six lengths. The maiden is not holding up to anything special with some of the field already beaten comfortably and feel she is far too short in the market for a competitive juvenile contest.

From the outright winner's angle I would like to side with Michael Dods' EASTON ANGEL who won on her debut on soft ground at Musselburgh. Since then she has won on good to firm at Beverley, and two excellent runs against two impressive winners in Acapulco and Illuminate. Her fourth in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes when behind Besharah was probably the most unlucky story to take out of the race. She found all sorts of trouble just before the furlong pole, when she got a true line and found the room she stayed on powerfully to go down by just two and a quarter lengths. Despite having two lengths to find with Besharah she is still improving with every run and now she has her ground and obviously luck in running in this smaller field she looks the one to beat under Paul Mulrennan.

From an each way angle, Continental Lady looks worthy of a punt at 20s, her debut was open to improvement and surely is well thought of now tackling pattern company sooner than later and deserves to take her chances here.

EASTON ANGEL : 2pt Win @ 9/2 BOG
Continental Lady : 1pt each way @ 20/1


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Great Voltigeur Stakes preview

Classic generation mid-distance races are a feature of the May and August York Festivals. At this end of the season it's the Great Voltigeur. Stepping in to analyse the field is Darren Goodbody, @DarrenPGoodbody.

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

Betway Great Voltigeur Stakes
Group 2, 3yo C&G
£160k, 1m4f
1505 local, 0005 AEST


On Wednesday we will see the 65th running of the Great Voltigeur, the race was named after Derby and St Leger winner Voltigeur and has become over the years a guideline for the St Leger later next month.

First inaugurated back in 1950 there have been some great names to land the race, names like Youmzain who was probably one of the unluckiest horse to run in the Arc finishing runner-up on three occasions to the likes of Dylan Thomas, Zarkava and Sea The Stars. Other winners to grace the race were Pentire, Sea Moon, Dushyantor and last year's winner Postponed who went on to win this years King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Seven go to post this year and the betting is extremely tight, with the current favorite being William Haggas's Storm the Stars. Since finishing runner-up to Golden Horn as a juvenile his transition has been pleasing, running big races taking his earnings almost past the half a million barrier. With two wins this season under his belt, one being the Listed Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood back in May, he has handled the hype considerably well with placed runs in the Epsom Derby behind Golden Horn once more and ran well again behind Jack Hobbs in the Irish equivalent.

His run back in July when venturing over to Longchamp in the Grand Prix de Paris was disappointing for me, even though the unbeaten Erupt is a good yardstick who had already beaten Big Blue this year and that form was boosted when Big Blue came out and won the Prix Michel Houyvet at Deauville last weekend. He seemed to get caught very flat-footed two out, but stayed on and just prevailed third.

Storm the Stars probably looking back at all of his runs in 2015 he deserves to be at the head of the market and will be another big day for jockey Pat Cosgrave who landed his first Group race for three years guiding Besharah home to win the Princess Margaret Stakes at Goodwood last month.

Ballydoyle have sent over three entries for the race, Aloft, Bondi Beach and the upper coming Giovanni Canaletto. Firstly I like to preview the Queen's Vase winner Aloft. He has already beaten Storm the Stars as a juvenile when landing his maiden at Newmarket to a margin of a neck, since then he has been stepped up to middle distances which has seen him finishing runner up to Elm Park in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy and more recently this year winning the Queen's Vase over two miles. Never finishing out the first two on all four career starts he comes into this as the interesting one for Aidan O'Brien, but looking on jockey bookings he could be the pacemaker of the three.

Bondi Beach is another that got is career off to a good start when winning his maiden at Leopardstown and has gone onto land the Group 3 Curragh Cup. He would probably won a shade cosily than the short head win when the rider lost his whip over a furlong from home, he is one of three entries by Galileo, he has to be feared now the heavens have opened, already a winner on dead ground this year and looks to like a bit of cut underneath he could run a big race under recent Secretariat winning jockey Seamus Heffernan.

On to the more interesting one of Ballydoyle's entries Giovanni Canaletto, they have been extremely patient with him and won't mind so give under foot here. He has contended the likes Gallinule Stakes when behind Curvy, who went on to win the Ribblesdale Stakes before running below par in the Irish Oaks. He has adapted himself well enough in two Derbys finishing behind Storm the Stars in Ireland. He looks a quirky sort with a lot of talent and if the rain gets into the ground he is going to be a major player with Joseph choosing over the other two entries is interesting.

Two that are shorter than I expected in the betting is Richard Hannon's Tashaar and David Simcock's Balios.

Jamie Spencer rides the latter after losing the Beverley D Stakes on Secret Gesture at Arlington in the stewards room in a very questionable decision. Balios beat Mr Singh in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at the Royal meeting, who has won the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy at Chester. The last run came in the Grand Prix de Paris when finishing behind Erupt, Storm the Stars was two lengths in front of him that day. He did not run badly as the fifth suggests and I can see why he is as short as 4/1 in the market. He is entered in the St Leger which could be a staying race right up his street, as for this race a good run will get him there. As the winner of this race I just cannot see it.

Tashaar represents Richard Hannon, the unbeaten son of Sea The Stars who is just one of two entries for the sire with the other being Storm the Stars comes here with two wins from two starts, his last run saw him pick up handicap stakes win at Goodwood in good style when beating Rhythmical by one and a half lengths, that form is looking really good as he took the scalp of recent Shergar Cup winner Shell Bay, but as i am not a fan of the Shergar Cup weekend i cannot use that as form. He has been hit with a 12lb penalty to get into this, and will be attempting black type company for the first time.

David Barron's Medrano has been on the go more than most of these, already beaten by Storm the Stars this year in the Cocked Ht Stakes to two lengths he will have to step up once more since his win in the Glasgow Stakes at Hamilton last month. His last run saw him finish just over four lengths behind recent runaway winner of the Secretariat Stakes Highland Reel in the Gordon Stakes and he looks another one that will relish a step up in trip, he gets a quote of 25/1 for the St Leger and looks a nice stayer for next year.

With all the previews aside, this is a tough race but STORM THE STARS has been doing everything right this season to suggest that this a race that he can win for William Haggas. It has been eleven years since an Irish winner landed this race which was Aidan O'Brien with Powerscourt back in 2003 who finished his career off when winning the Arlington Million.

Richard Hannon is looking to land this race for the first time and Tashaar probably looks one for next season and is not entered in the St Leger at present. With Aloft looking to be the out and out stayer in the race he looks the obvious pace setter for the other O'Brien entries, and it would be no surprise to be fair to them all that Bondi Beach runs the better, with Giovanni Canaletto wanting softer ground and if getting it could be the surprise package.

STORM THE STARS : 2pt win @ 3/1 (with most firms)

Acomb Stakes preview

The juveniles get an early run on the Knavesmire, under rather odd conditions, not having won a race before July 10. Not sure why they should get a group race for that...?

Anyway, it's time to hand over to the juvenile expert, @twoyearoldtips, to line up the form. This preview was originally published here.

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

Tattersalls Acomb Stakes
£85k Group 3
7f for 2yo which had not won a race before July 10
1430 local 2330 AEST


Adventurous- Useful Colt who brings the highest official rating into this, having finished fourth behind the impressive Shalaa in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood. Looks sure to appreciate the extra furlong today and his trainer has been sensational in the Juvenile department this year. For all that it would rate as disappointing were he to prove good enough against some exciting unexposed rivals.

Bing Bang Bong- Unlucky not to be unbeaten, having met all kinds of trouble of debut at Pontefract before making no mistake in a weak maiden auction event at Newmarket on his second start. The bare form doesn't amount too much, but it is interesting that his shrewd trainer is willing to sacrifice a mark of 85 to run here [the 50k Nursery later in the card was an attractive alternative] Could offer a bit of value and not ruled out.

Cymric- Expensive son of Kittens Joy who made his debut in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot. He predictably found that too tough a task before striking on his second start at Sandown. He was perhaps fortunate to win that day [the runner up was wildly unlucky] and will need another step forward if he is to take this.

Dream Mover- Expensive breeze up purchase who took a Nottingham maiden on his second start in taking fashion under today's jockey. The owners don't often swim in waters too deep and his entries in the Mill Reef and the Dewhurst need noting. Looks overs in the market and could be capable of running into the frame.

Humphrey Bogart- Improved for the step up the seven furlongs when winning a Doncaster maiden last time. That form has been let down since and he is likely to need a mile plus sooner rather than later. Makes minimal appeal in such a deep event.

Jaadu- Beat a useful rival in a deep Goodwood Nursery last time, but that was off a mark of 71 and he looks to be flying too high here.

Kentuckyconnection- Was very well backed on debut and duly made no mistake when easing to a near three length victory at Redcar. Knew his job that day [was a 60k breeze up purchase] and was found a weak maiden in which to land a touch. A seventh furlong should be in his favour, but he needs a big leap in performance from first to second start if he is to contend here.

Lieutenant General- Aidan O'Brien raider who is disputing for market supremacy. He took four attempts to break the maiden and doesn't appear to be one of Coolmores leading lights. That is why he heads here and he needs to be taken on at the prices against a strong home challenge.

Mohab- Exciting son of Sir Percy who was well touted on debut over course and distance when finishing third as a short-priced favourite. Was a bit green that day but looked far more professional when waltzing in by eight lengths on his 2nd start at Catterick. His trainer often targets this race with his better juveniles and nominated this as the target straight after that facile win. He looks a colt full of potential and should be bang there at the finish.

Recorder- Bred in the purple and announced himself as a colt with a future with a debut full of promise at Newbury. He finished hard on the steel that day and with a better run would have almost certainly prevailed. He was much more streetwise on his second run when taking a useful Newmarket maiden in soft ground. The booking of Frankie Dettori is eye-catching and everything points to a big run.

Verdict- An intriguing renewal in which no less than nine of the ten participants arrive here on the back of a victory. The two to concentrate on appear to be Recorder and Mohab, with slight preference for the latter who appeals a fraction more for the here and now. He was well found on the market on debut and made no mistake second up when bolting up by a wide margin at Catterick. His trainer is not adverse to running his top juveniles here and everything is geared to a big display. Recorder is well respected under Dettori and he appeals as the one to take out of the race going forward. Of the rest Big Bang Bong makes some appeal, with his shrewd trainer willing to sacrifice a favourable handicap mark by pointing here. Dream Mover is another to consider

1 Mohab
2 Recorder
3 Dream Mover

Symphony Group Handicap preview

The magnificent Ebor Festival kicks off tomorrow on the Knavesmire. With four fabulous days of racing, there are plenty of races to go around, so if you're keen to try your hand at writing a preview, please drop me a line!

Kicking off proceedings with the opening race of the Festival is regular contributor, the astute Chris Day, @chrisday100.

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

Symphony Group Handicap
Class 2, £60,000
5f 89y
1355 local, 2255 AEST
Latest Going Map from TurfTrax


York’s Ebor meeting kicks off on ground rated on the fast side of good and the now traditional curtain raiser, a high quality sprint handicap over 5 furlongs and 89 yards, is a typically tricky puzzle to solve where small margins will make a big difference to the end result.

Kevin Ryan has won the last two runnings of this event and fields last year’s sixth and the 2013 winner, Bogart, who seems feasibly treated and has presumably had this as a target for some time. He was 3lbs higher in the ratings when winning this but the suspicion remains that something better treated will emerge from the other 19 runners. Ryan also runs Distant Past who has been progressive all season but will need a career best to win this from this mark. Both should run well but will need all the luck going to rattle up the trainer’s hat trick in the race.

David O’Meara has an almost unsurpassed record in the last few seasons in Knavesmire handicaps and his Highland Acclaim, who has form here with a victory from a mark of 80 last June over 6 furlongs then two elsewhere from marks of 87 and 94 last August, must also be strongly considered. He’s now just 1lb higher than his last winning mark and his Newmarket third last time should have put him spot on for top connections.

Another Yorkshire trainer who does well in these sprint handicaps, Brian Smart, runs 2011 Prix De L’Abbaye winner, Tangerine Trees, who arguably put up his best recent showing when sixth here in July. There must be a question, though, whether he can win this as a 10 year old and the trainer has another interesting contender in Meadway, who has always promised more than he’s delivered and is presumably highly thought of. He’ll probably be winning before the season is out but whether he’ll be sharp enough here is open to question.

Continuing on the Yorkshire trainers’ theme, the wily old fox, David Barron, has last year’s fourth, Robot Boy, entered and a reproduction of last year’s effort should see him in the mix. He won earlier in the season at Newbury and it appears that flat tracks and quick ground suit him well. I formed the opinion that the trainer was expecting a bold show when interviewed at Pontefract on Sunday and he can’t be left out of calculations after a go in Group company.

Michael Dods also runs Mass Rally but he’s one I’m keen to rule out on the ground and feel an extra furlong and soft ground are needed to show his best. For all he didn’t look like a winner waiting to happen at Ripon at the weekend, there should be opportunities for him over further at this track and Ayr, which both suit him, in the closing months of the season.

David Nicholls has always been considered a sprint king and Barnet Fair is a regular in these types of races, often doing his best work at the finish and subsequently going off well fancied only to repeat the trick. I could see this race suiting him but will pass him over for win purposes as he seldom does that. He had some good sorts behind him at Goodwood but is now 3lbs higher and does flatter to deceive.

Another trainer who clearly targets races here is Richard Fahey and he has Arctic Feeling entered up. He has some very solid course form and is coming back to a winnable mark but the question is whether he can lay up with what is bound to be a break neck pace.

Mark Johnston runs two who have had typically busy seasons in Midlander and Indescribable. Both have been fine adverts for their trainer but also had hard seasons and I’m not sure if this race will be too competitive off career high marks for the duo and Singeur, from the Rebecca Bastiman yard, has it all to do here.

Robert Cowell runs Shergar Cup hero, Secretinthepark and there’s no reason why he won’t go well for a trainer who regularly pulls rabbits out of the hat with sprinters and there’s little between him and the Gary Moore trained Dutch Masterpiece for whom the booking of Pat Smullen really does take the eye. Smullen was on board when just touched off at Ascot and he’s another horse you couldn’t write off here. Cowell reportedly feels this test will suit Secretinthepark really well and he’s a difficult trainer to argue with due to his excellent record.

Caspian Prince has been a great horse for previous connections winning a Meydan sprint under Richard Hughes worth over £100k to the winner and is fairly treated if back to his best but that really is anybody’s guess. It wouldn’t surprise me if Meydan was again the aim although he does get a big weight pull with Desert Law on Curragh running from June.

Roger Charlton will have a big say in the day’s feature, the International with Time Test, but his Huntsman’s Close is a progressive 6 furlong performer, having finished sixth in the Stewards’ Cup after winning cosily at Windsor. The feeling is he’s more of a 6 furlong horse and any deficiencies in pace will be cruelly exposed here.

Shore Step’s trainer, Mick Channon, is in great form at the moment and his jockey, Silvestre De Sousa rides the course better than most although I’m not convinced a pure speed test is exactly what he needs.

One trainer who really has had a great time of it this season is Charlie Hills, winning three Group 1 sprints and a Stewards’ Cup, and he has an interesting contender in Lucky Beggar, who was sent off 3-1 behind Robot Boy at Newbury first time out this season from a 5lbs higher mark and ran an eye catcher on his return from a break at Goodwood. He was switched to the outside from his draw yet only gave up third in the last half furlong and is a well thought of animal presumably considered better than this mark. If he proves that here, he’s no 20-1 shot and I’ll be having a few quid on him.

Finally, Paul Midgley runs Silvanus, a 10 year old who last week won the race at Ripon he’d won a year earlier, but is likely to find this a much hotter contest, and Desert Law, a 7 year old who appears to be in the form of his life. He followed his Epsom Dash victory on Derby Day from a 17lbs lower mark with excellent placed efforts in big fields at The Curragh and Ascot and travelled like a dream when winning at Nottingham last time out. He’s got a 6lbs penalty but appeared in rude health in the East Midlands and could have trebled the margin if ridden out or slightly more restraint had been applied and a searing early pace should suit him fine. He’s won over 6 furlongs but is not devoid of pace and any double figure prices would be most attractive from a betting point of view. It goes against the grain to tip older horses from career high ratings but he may just be coming to himself and surely has more wins in him.

This race has a record of going to horses carrying 9 stone and over, not surprising probably given the nature of the track and often prevailing fast ground and I’ll be hoping to see Dettori and Martin Lane sitting ready to pounce as the whips are up approaching the furlong marker and unleashing their mounts’ blinding turn of foot from there.

Friday, 14 August 2015

American St Leger preview

Returning to the blog for the Arlington International Festival of Racing is Davy Lane who you may remember had every selection in the frame last year at Arlington and also tipped up last year's Melbourne Cup winner on these pages. Davy was a winner of Channel 4 Racing's Top Tipster at Royal Ascot this year. Follow Davy on @LosCharruas.

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

US St. Leger
One Mile and Eleven Sixteenths (Turf)
Grade 2, US$350k
1642 local, 2142 BST, 0642 AEST
ML odds cited.


With last year's winner The Pizza Man taking his chances in the Million and the Argentine, Calvados, a late scratching, only 9 go to post in the US St. Leger. It should be a German Irish shoot out, but with Irad Ortiz Jr. and Joel Rosario on the scene, and others lurking, it is advisable to comb through the form before committing.

The No Hoper

10. Alpha Kitalpha 30/1 should be someone's pony.

The So Called No Hopers

The 5. Az Ridge 20/1 has a Mark Johnston-like profile racking up 14 wins in 40 starts and heaps of place money too. The 6 year old gelding has earned over £445,000 racing across the underbelly of the USA. When Giovanni Franco got the call in February, the horse went on a wild streak winning four in a row. He could steal fourth.

4. Crucero 8/1 has been stepping up in class, but has legitimate chance based on his win by a neck over Brazilian import Going Somewhere in the Grade III San Juan Capistrano at Santa Anita last time. Going Somewhere ran well in the Arc two years ago and ran a credible second to Tac de Boistron in the Prix Royal Oak at Longchamp. It's generally wise to respect the improver.

11. Highball 15/1 is a 4 year colt by Lemon Drop Kid. He is coming into form off a 9f claimer victory at Churchill. He was prominent down the stretch under Frankie Dettori in last year's Secretariat, but faded badly in the final furlong. This does not bode well in terms of stamina, but the horse showed guts last time out. He could grab a piece of the Superfecta action.

The American Contenders

8. Xtra Luck 10/1 ran a credible fourth in the Stars and Stripes Stakes, the 1m 4f prep. for this race at Arlington in July. He couldn't kick when it mattered last time out, but with The Pizza Man and Calvados (two of the horses than finished ahead of him) out of the race, Xtra Luck has a shot in finishing 4th again.

2. Roman Approval 8/1 seemed to have The Pizza Man's number last time at Arlington but got tied up on the rail. With two wins from his last four runs and Joel Rosario returning to take the mount, the Michael J. Maker inmate must be a live chance to break out and win this. Owner Ken Ramsey has long talked up the prospects of 8. Hyper 7/2. The ML favourite has always just come up a buck at Grade I level, most famously losing by 3/4 length to Joshua Tree in the Canadian International two years ago. But Grade IIIs should still be in this horse's wheelhouse. Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard makes this an obvious favourite in the US and in UK and Irish books.

The German and Irish Contenders

3. Lucky Speed 5/1 comes into the race from a 9 furlong prep. in the Grade II Nijinsky Stakes at Woodbine. The horse was ridden back and found trouble, but closed well done the stretch to grab a respectable fourth place. The ultimate aim for this horse is the Canadian International in late October. In theory, this former German Derby winner by Silvano out of a Monsun mare has the form and breeding to win this with something in hand. It helps to have a trainer like Peter Schiergen meticulously planning his North American odyssey. Reports suggest his coat looks the best of any horse at Arlington. The plucky 1. Panama Hat 10/1 gave Aiden O'Brien's Kingfisher a serious test over 14 f at the Curragh three starts back, holding him off till the final yards. His last race, a Listed affair at the Irish country track Roscommon, showed the fighting qualities of the horse. Giving tons of weight away, he marauded down the outside to land the prize. In addition to have exemplary connections, Panama Hat has the added advantage of having one of Ireland top upcoming pilots aboard.

The Winner

I am finding it hard to spilt Lucky Speed and Panama Hat, but can't rule out either Hyper or Roman Approval (largely because of the jockey bookings). My head points to Lucky Speed (breeding, trainer, preparation, form book and strong wellbeing reports from track), but my gut tells me Chris Hayes is going to rattle Panama Hat home somehow.

Short List

1. Panama Hat - Andrew Oliver - Chris Hayes
2. Roman Approval - Michael J. Maker - Joel Rosario
3. Lucky Speed - Peter Schiergen - Andreas Starke
4. Crucero - J. Keith Desormeaux - Kent Desormeaux
7. Hyper - Chad Brown - Irad Ortiz. Jr
11. Highball - Wayne Catalano - Jose Valdivia Jr.

Advice

Win & EW 3. Lucky Speed 8/1 BetFred
EW 4. Crucero 10/1 Paddy Power

Superfecta 5 x 2 Dollar Units

3, 1, 2, 7
3, 2, 1, 7
3, 1, 2, 11
3, 2, 1, 4
3, 1, 2, 4

Beverley D Stakes preview

Returning to the blog for the Arlington International Festival of Racing is Davy Lane who you may remember had every selection in the frame last year at Arlington and also tipped up last year's Melbourne Cup winner on these pages. Davy was a winner of Channel 4 Racing's Top Tipster at Royal Ascot this year. Follow Davy via @LosCharruas.

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

BEVERLY D. STAKES
One Mile and Three Sixteenths (Turf)
US$700k, Grade 1
1805 local, 2305 BST, 0805 AEST
ML odds cited.


The Beverly D. is the toughest race to handicap at Arlington on Saturday. Your eye is immediately drawn to the five Euro shippers. Then to the Chad Brown pair. And finally, the Michael Matz horse. There are two others who do not seem to belong.

The No Hopers

4. Lots o' Lex 30/1 and 7. Maid on a Mission 30/1 are significant unders. Rosemary B. Homeister Jr. gets the ride on Lots o' Lex. Homeister - now in her 40s and back from retirement after having a baby - she was the female rider with the most wins in the US in 2000 and 2001, albeit at many underbelly tracks. She has a few Group II and III wins to her name, but won't add a Group I here. Kent Desormeaux gets the ride on Maid on a Mission. Both horses are been to Arlington before and have been placed in Graded Stakes races. Losing track experience does not point to a shock outsider winning this.

The Chad Brown Pair

It will be interesting to see how two other Chad Brown fillies fare in the Grade II US $300,000 Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga on Friday night. For me, Consumer Credit and Strick Compliance (both about three lengths behind Lady Eli last time) are now better horses than 3. Stephanie's Kitten 7/2 and 2. Watsdachances 10/1. I had been considering Watsdachances for an each-way flutter last week believing Javier Castellano would come in for the ride. Javier gave had given her a peach at Pimlico, winning a Grade III two starts back. But if the trip to Arlington was not worth it for Javier, then it's not worth for you. Stephanie's Kitten seems to have been going backwards losing by a length to Tommy Stack's Waltzing Matilda in the Grade II New York Stakes and then to Christophe Clement's Hard Not to Like in the Grade I Diana Stakes at Saratoga. But when you consider the shrewd Stack had sent Matilda in foal to New York and that Hard Not to Like broke the course record with Stephanie Kitten running on late, you may be wise, particularly with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, to keep the Ken Ramsey mare in mind for your superfectas.

The Euro Shippers

There are five Euro Shippers. 1. Lacy 20/1 gets a good draw. She has won a Group III and two competitive Listed races in Germany. She also lost by a nose in the prestigious Group I Lydia Tesio at Campanelle last October. I find her past jockey bookings most interesting. Atzeni went to Rome to ride her in the Lydia Tesio and Soumillon took the mount last time at Chantilly. Strong past jockey bookings tend to suggest the connections have either known something or have big egos or often both. The booking of Eddie Pedroza - who gave to Turfdonna a terrific ride to last week's German Oaks - gives the horse a fighting chance. She is overs at 33/1 with most UK and Irish books.

Dermot Weld's 6. Carla Bianca 8/1 will appreciate the firm ground. She has had two strong wins on good to firm going. As a 2 year old Carla Bianca ran the famous Australia close losing by only 3/4 of a length over seven furlongs on good to firm at the Curragh. She gets the best draw of the obvious Euro contenders. She does not get Lasix, but it behoves you to respect her.

I am not feeling 10. Secret Gesture 9/2. She has the the widest draw. She does not get Lasix. Her Qatar connections will be happy enough with the positive brand exposure in the metro Chicago TV markets.

8. Euro Charline 5/2 could be the first repeat winner of the Beverly D. There have been glowing reports from the Botti barn. And losing by just a length to Amazing Maria in the Group I Falmouth Stakes is almost the best form of any horse racing at Arlington on Saturday. She does not get Lasix, though this did not stop her winning the Beverly D last year. I respect Jose Lezcano (and see him winning elsewhere on the card), but he is a slight downgrade on the last three jockeys (Dettori, Moreira and Atzeni) to have ridden Euro Charline. Euro Charline will be right there, but will her nose hairs be long enough?

Aiden O'Brien's 9. Wedding Vow 4/1 does get Lasix and gets a 6lb allowance from all her competitors. Her pursuit of Legattisimo last time had that "penny dropped" look about it. She is the obvious choice to win this. If Ryan Moore was fit and ridding her, I would have prepared the mortgage papers. My only other concern is that she'll run out of homestretch and there might be one too many rivals to pick off.

The Dark Diva

If 5. Mango Diva 15/1 was still racing in Britain or Ireland for Sir Michael Stoute, you would not pick her ahead of the likes of Wedding Vow and Euro Charline. But her transition to the Michael Matz's barn the past spring and recent form suggests she is on a positive trajectory, losing by five lengths in a Group III over a mile and 1/2 f at Pimlico in May with Gary Stevens up and losing by only 1/2 a length over a mile and 1 1/2 f at Arlington last month. French transplant Florent Geroux has proven success in getting the fractions right at Arlington. Mango Diva offers superb Each Way value.

The Winner

I can't split Wedding Vow, Euro Charline and Carla Bianca. It will be a bunch finish. My initial instinct was to go with Wedding Vow and I did take her in a few across the card multiples at 3/1. But on reflection I have decided to opt for Carla Bianca because the classy-looking grey has the best draw of the obvious contenders, because Dermot Weld is on the record as saying the horse needs firm ground, because the horse has shown world-class form on firm ground and because Irish champion jockey Pat Smullen is the best jockey in the race. Oh, and because I liked the videos I have seen of Carla Bianca at the track. Ears pricked and primed. She's the one for me.

Short List

1. Lacy - Waldermar Hiskst - Eduardo Pedroza
3. Stephanie's Kitten - Chad Brown - Irad Ortiz Jr.
5. Mango Diva - Michael R. Matz - Florent Geroux
6. Carla Bianca - Dermot Weld - Pat Smullen
8. Euro Charline - Marco Botti - Jose Lezcano
9. Wedding Vow - Aiden O'Brien - Colm O'Donohue

Advice

Win 6. - Carla Bianca 8/1 Sky Bet

EW Lacy 33/1 Bet 365, Paddy Power
EW Mango Diva 16/1 Ladbrokes

Superfecta 5 x 2 Dollar Units

6, 9, 8, 5
6, 8, 9, 5
9, 8, 6, 1
8, 9, 6, 1
6, 5, 9, 8

Use 6. Carla Bianca in across the card Each Way multiples.

Secretariat Stakes preview

Returning to the blog for the Arlington International Festival of Racing is Davy Lane who you may remember had every selection in the frame last year at Arlington and also tipped up last year's Melbourne Cup winner on these pages. Davy was a winner of Channel 4 Racing's Top Tipster at Royal Ascot this year. Follow him on @LosCharruas.

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

SECRETARIAT STAKES
GI - 1 Mile and a Quarter (Turf)
US$450,000
1717 local, 2217 BST, 0717 AEST
ML odds cited.


The Obvious Contenders

Followers of US Turf racing will be drawn to Alan Goldberg's 2. Force the Pass 2/1 who destroyed a strong field in the Belmont Derby on July 4th and left me - the holder of an uncashed Divisidero ticket - crying in my beer. Divisidero had a nightmare trip and ran out of gas four wide on the home turn. Force the Pass may have had a dream up the rail, but still won by an emphatic 3 3/4 lengths going away from the field. That form has since been franked by fifth place finisher Takeover Target, a game winner of the Grade II Hall of Fame at Saratoga. With Joel Rosario booked, the 4/1 offered by Paddy Power is overs.

Followers of UK and Irish Turf racing will want Aiden O'Brien's 6. Highland Reel 5/2, a gallant second in the Prix du Jockey Club. Seamie Heffernan rode the horse on debut and has ridden plenty of Group I winners for Ballydoyle. He will be an able deputy for the injured Ryan Moore and Joseph O'Brien who cannot do the 8-6 weight. Highland Reel has been muted as a possible Aiden O'Brien entrant in Australasia's Premier Weight for Age race, the Cox Plate. And although the horse dismissed his rivals easily in a Group III contest at Glorious Goodwood and is on first time Lasix, he is no Adelaide. The horse significantly unders at 6/4 with Paddy Power.

7. War Dispatch 4/1 must also be contender given his third in the Prix du Jockey Club. The Kentucky bred does not run with lasix. The horse will have endured a torrid heatwave though June and July at Jean Claude Rouget's barn in South West France, so he will be acclimatised to advertised Chicago heat. Former French Champion jockey Iortiz Mendizabal gets the leg up. The Basque jockey is under-rated. War Dispatch should be thereabouts, but is not my idea of the winner. This year's French Derby was a weak edition. My sense given the connections is the horse will soon find his way to a US barn and will be pointed to more realistic targets with first-time Lasix.

The No Hopers

4. Crittenden 12/1 and 5. Grannys Kitten 10/1 are out of their depth despite having the services of William Buick and Irad Ortiz, Jr. Both are examples of Ken Ramsey and Shiekh Mohammed wanting their brand flashed across the screens on the day world racing looks to Chicago.

The Dark Horses

1. Closing Bell 10/1 is probably the dark horse in the race. He was held up in the Belmont Derby on July 4th and finished a strong fourth. I like Bill Mott's barn right about now. The horse gets an ideal draw in 1. The seven-horse field makes each-way betting tenuous, but the horse would bring some serious value to the trifecta.

3. Goldstream 9/2 has been my idea of the winner since the nominations closed on May 23rd. His win in the Italian Derby on May 17th was one for the ages and sealed his sale to savvy Australian connections. His switch to German trainer Andreas Wohler (given Protectionist's emphatic Melbourne Cup win) was anticipated. Jamie Lovett of Australian Bloodstock has made it clear the horse was purchased to run in the Cox Plate. The Cox Plate on October 24th is not specifically invitation only, but the final field is determined by a committee rather than purely on ratings or nominations. Winning the Italian Derby may not be enough to secure an invitation, but winning or at least finishing a respectable second in the Secretariat should secure a berth. The Australian owners have flown to Chicago. This is a good sign. They have booked young hot shot Sydney jockey Brenton Avdulla, who already has a couple of Group I victories to his name. This is another good sign. The only downside is Goldstream has not had a run for nearly three months and runs against horses on Lasix.

Four sires catch the eye in the Secretariat. Tapit (Closing Bell), Speightstown (Force the Pass), Galileo (Highland Reel), and War Front (War Dispatch). The sire that does not catch the eye is Martino Alonso, an Irish bred who raced without success in Italy. But look a little closer and you'll see that Martino Alonso sired Ramonti, a winner at Royal Ascot, a winner of the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and a winner of the Hong Kong Cup. Goldstream is bred for the big time. Watch out Chicago!

Short List

1. Closing Bell - William I. Mott - Jose Lezcano
2. Force the Pass - Alan Goldberg - Joel Rosario
3. Goldsteam - Andreas Wohler - Brenton Avdulla
6. Highland Reel - Aiden O'Brien - Seamie Heffernan

Advice

Win 3. Goldstream US-ML 9/2; 13/2 Paddy Power
EW 3. Closing Bell US-ML 10/1; 20/1 Paddy Power

Trifecta 5 x 2 Dollar units
3, 2, 1
2, 3, 1
3, 2, 6
2, 3, 1
3, 1, 2

Include Goldstream in all across the card EW multiples.

Arlington Million preview

Returning to the blog for the Arlington International Festival of Racing is Davy Lane who you may remember had every selection in the frame last year at Arlington and also tipped up last year's Melbourne Cup winner on these pages. Davy was a winner of Channel 4 Racing's Top Tipster at Royal Ascot this year. Follow Davy on @LosCharruas.

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

ARLINGTON MILLION
One Mile and a Quarter (Turf)
US $1m, Grade 1
1848 local, 2348 BST, 0848 AEST
ML odds cited.
Timeform card link


There is a curious melange of handicap overachievers and Group level underachievers in this year's Million. The trainers on the other hand are unquestionably top drawer -- Chad Brown, Graham Motion and Bill Mott from the States and Mikel Delzangles, John Gosden and Andreas Wohler from Europe. No disrespect to George Baker and David Marnane or their industrious handicappers, but one would expect the winner to come from the barn of one of the more renowned handlers. Of the rest, Michael Maker's entrant is interesting. The presence of the Walter Swinburn owned Legendary may prompt some sentimental punts. And The Pizza Man (who dispatched Dandino in last year's St Leger) is a home town favourite and will take some money. Most American money is likely to be down on the Chad Brown pair of Slumber and Big Blue Kitten and with British punters having their heads turned by the presence of William Buick on a John Gosden horse, my idea of the winner should return with a healthy starting price.

The British and Irish Handicappers

13. Belgian Bill 30/1 and 12. Elleval 30/1 have been tenacious competitors at Meydan and on the scene in respectable Listed and Group races. Connections were obviously encouraged with how last year's seven runner contest panned out, but the form book and their super wide draws (13 and 12, respectively) greatly diminishes their winning chances. The UK Each Way prices may be tempting, but if you insist on backing them, then slipping one of them into a US Pools Superfecta may prove a more profitable angle.

The American and Canadian Also Rans

So what about the Morning Line double digit odds contenders from North America? There are five of them. 6. Legendary 15/1, 8. Quiet Force 15/1, 9. Shinning Copper 30/1, 7. The Pizza Man 10/1 and 1. Up with the Birds 12/1. In theory none of them should trouble the judge. This will not stop them chasing the big purse or auditioning for a late stud career. I generallly like to map out a race within a race of those I am inclined to toss and then use whichever comes out on top in random each way and pool bets.

The Jamaica Handicap ain't what it used to be, so I suspect the connections of 1. Up with the Birds would like a second Group I win to embellish their horse's stud credentials. Running in the Japan Cup last year was a stretch. Sending the horse to Graham Motion this year was smart. Aiming at the Million -- a so called "soft" Group I -- is a sensible move. But a comprehensive three-length defeat to Quiet Force in the Arlington Handicap prep. last month suggests not even Graham Motion can turn every sow's ear into a silk purse.

9. Shining Copper is the Chad Brown rabbit. The 5 year old gelding will ensure a true run race and may also rattle two of the other more legitimate contenders -- Maverick Wave and The Pizza Man -- who like to have their own way up front.

7. The Pizza Man was cross entered for the US St Leger, but connections opted for the Million. Unfortunately, The Pizza Man is not good enough to win the three races in one he will endure at Arlington. By the time The Pizza Man has caught Chad Brown's rabbit, William Buick's mount will be forcing him to race again around the far turn. He will then get swamped down the stretch.

Nothing stands out about the 6. Legendary other than he is owned by Walter Swinburn and is by Exceed and Excel. The 6 year old gelding had patchy UK form and has always came up a buck short state side, but for a Grade III win over Up with the Birds in yielding ground at Belmont last October.

The horse I have scribbled on to my short list from the also ran pack is 8. Quiet Force. Quiet Force won the Arlington Handicap, the prep. race for this over 1m 11/2 f last month. He is a lightly raced 5 year old entire by Dynaformer. He has had July Cup winner Undrafted behind him in a 7f sprint over the Keeneland Polytrack. He is going further with each race. And his trainer Michael Maker knows how to prepare winners at this meeting.

The Chad Brown Contingent

The Chad Brown pair of 2. Slumber 7/2 and 4. Big Blue Kitten 3/1 are the Morning Line favourites. (Shining Copper I have already discussed.) I can't have Big Blue Kitten because I can't banish that image of him failing to chase down Hillstar at Woodbine last year. Hillstar is just your standard issue Group III English horse. I expect Slumber to finish ahead of his stable mate, despite Big Blue Kitten having his number last time out in the UN stakes at Monmouth. Slumber was conceding 5 lbs that day. Irad Ortiz, Jr. rides Slumber. The Puerto Rican is the best young jockey riding in the US today. He should be good enough to get Slumber a bigger piece of the purse that his stablemate.

The British, French and German Shippers

3. Bookrunner 15/1 and 5. Wake Forest 12/1 have cosy draws and shrewd big time classic winning trainers, yet both are "overs" per the Morning Line oddsmakers at Arlington. I had initially discounted Bookrunner because I saw his declaration as an excuse to give US based owner a day out in Chicago. The booking of Gerald Mosse forced me to reevaluate the form, yet I still find it hard to make a winning case for the son of Tiznow. He gets drugged up on lasix for the first time, so could sneak into Superfecta.

Wake Forest on the other hand does have appeal. His latest victory in a Group III at Hamburg was facile. The Racing Post incorrectly cited the winning margin at 3/4 lengths when in fact it was 1 3/4 lengths. A potentially costly transcription error for punters from the UK racing paper of record. One has to watch that Hamburg race back to get an appreciation of just how formidable Wake Forest could be in the Million. Wohler's stable jockey, Eddie Pedroza had his ass high in the air and was barely moving while the others including one time Aidan O'Brien charge Giovanni Baldini were flat to the boards behind him. Wohler has won the Million before. His barn is hot. His jockey is hot. His horse is hot. Wake Forest belongs high on the shortlist. Wake Forest also gets lasix. This is seriously significant as this will prevent Wake Forest from having a stud career in Germany. However, the connections also own the Newsells Park Stud in England and Maine Chance Farms in South Africa, so I suspect a non-German stud trajectory has already been plotted for this son of Sir Percy.

11. Maverick Wave 8/1 is also a contender and will be using the performance enhancing juice. He won last time out around Chester, England's tightest track. He is trained by the best trainer in England, John Gosden. He has Dubai World Cup winning jockey William Buick aboard. And reports from Arlington suggest he looks a picture. But Maverick Wave has not raced since early May. He is drawn wide. He likes to front run and will have a rabbit and a pizza man to contend with down the backstretch. I also sense his entry could be partly about Godolphin wanting to have a runner in the race. The chestnut colt is not my idea of the winner, but if John Gosden - who should be busy preparing Golden Horn for the Juddmonte at York next week - materializes at Arlington on Saturday, I may reevaluate.

The Winner

The son of Monsun 10. Triple Threat 6/1 is my idea of the winner. Once a wise guy horse in Europe -- but one who often found himself racing in very soft or yielding conditions -- Triple Threat's eighth place finish, 3 3/4 lengths behind Japanese Derby winner Kizuna in the Prix Niel two years ago, with English Derby winner Ruler of the World and Hong Kong Vase winner and second-placed Arc finisher, Flintshire, just ahead, is easily the best form on offer here. Moreover, Bill Mott's barn is smoking hot right now. Triple Threat has won coming from off the pace, so being drawn 10 will suit and although I have concerns about the limited home stretch of 1,028 feet, I have faith in Jose Lezcano (who won on him in his first US outing) to get the fractions right.

The clincher for me was buried in the nominations. Triple Threat was sent to the US for a change of scenery and to forget about chasing Cirrus des Aigles through the French mud. He spent the Winter and Spring at a farm in the Carolinas recharging his batteries. He was NOT among the nominations when they first closed on May 23rd. But Bill Mott eventually realised what he had and Team Valor subsequently paid the late nomination fee. This suggests to me the horse is coming good fast. That's the horse y'all got to be on!

Short List

2. Slumber - Chad Brown - Irad Ortiz, Jr.
3. Bookrunner - Mikel Delzangles - Gerald Mosse
5. Wake Forest - Andreas Wohler - Eduardo Pedroza
8. Quiet Force - Michael J. Maker - Robby Albarado
10. Triple Threat - William I. Mott - Jose Lezcano
11. Maverick Wave - John Gosden - William Buick
13. Belgian Bill - George Baker - Jamie Spencer


Advice

Win & EW - 10. Triple Threat - US-ML 6/1; 9/1 RaceBets
Win & EW - 5. Wake Forest US-ML 12/1; 12/1 Ladbrokes

Superfecta 5 x 2 Dollar Units

10, 5, 2, 11
5, 10, 2, 11
10, 5, 2, 3
5, 10, 2, 8
5, 10, 2, 13

Use 10. Triple Threat and 5. Wake Forest in across the card each-way multiples.