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NRL Grand Final preview II

Always handy to have a second opinion when it comes to investing on the highest-profile match of the season. Chris Ryan, @imdabomb82, returns for his annual contribution to the blog, a deeper analysis of the NRL Grand Final.

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NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final
Melbourne v Cronulla
ANZ Stadium
Sunday, October 2, 1915 AEST, 1015 BST

26 regular season rounds dusted. Three finals series weeks in the bin. 80 minutes left to decide the NRL premiership. Whilst Canberra finished the season like a train, we are left with what were the two best teams for the most part of the NRL season. We have the perennially contending, wrestling, salary cap cheating, Mexicans, the Melbourne Storm, up against the butt of the jokes, non-winning, fairy-tale side in the Sharks. Lots of neutrals play a head versus heart battle in who to go for, the Cinderella story in Cronulla, or do you cheer against them so the Harold Holt jokes can live on. And really that’s how most people frame it, y…

Epsom Handicap preview

Grand Final weekend - when we mix and match footy finals with feature racedays. Sydney has the racing Saturday and league final on Sunday, while Melbourne focuses on the MCG today and Flemington tomorrow. The racing focus centres on Randwick and the metric mile for the time-honoured Epsom Handicap. A handy field assembled, not a big one, but a very competitive one with 5/1 the field available if you search hard enough.

Stepping in to the preview this captivating race is Calum Law from the @EIBloodstock team.

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TAB Epsom Handicap
Group 1, AU$1 million
Randwick, 1600m
1600 AEST, 0700 BST

Palentino - Two-time Group One winner in Melbourne over a mile, taking the Australian Guineas in March and comfortably beating stablemate Black Heart Bart in the Makybe Diva last time out at Caulfield. Those performances mark him down as a stallion of the highest order, deserving of top weight in this field. Trained by a master, although not (yet) so much when visiting Syd…

AFL Grand Final preview

Something a little bit special in this year's AFL Grand Final - it's the first appearance in the big she-bang for the Western Bulldogs (nee Footscray) since 1961, and only their third playoff for the flag. Their premiership drought has lasted since 1954 and one would expect 90% of the neutral supporters to have a soft spot for the Bulldogs. The Swans suffered a 72-year dearth of premierships until 2005, but now most clubs are jealous of them - four Grand Finals (two flags) in the past 11 seasons, very difficult to achieve with a rigid salary cap and draft system.

With the honours to preview the Grand Final of the greatest game of all, it's over to the experts at AFLRatings - @aflratings.

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2016 AFL Grand Final Preview
by @aflratings / aflratings.com.au

Sydney v Western Bulldogs
Saturday 1st October, 1430 AEST, 0530 BST
MCG, Melbourne

Sydney have taken the long road to get to the 2016 Grand Final, embarrassed in their first final by GWS, the Swans have …

NRL Grand Final Preview

All the huffing and puffing, and crunching and crashing comes down to this - it's the big finale for rugby league south of the equator, the NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final. First with his preview is this years's regular finals correspondent, Shaun Beirne, @shaunbeirne.

And as a special bonus, I hope to have another preview focusing on the exotic markets available later in the week.

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NRL Telstra Premiership Grand FinalMelbourne v Cronulla
ANZ Stadium
Sunday, October 2, 1915 AEST, 1015 BST
Grand Finals since 2000



Points of interest:
• The average margin is 13.75 against a median of 9 so generally they are close matches but once a team gets on a roll they can blow out as the 13+ results at 37.5% show.
• The average total match points are 34.9 against a median of 37 so when matches go low they can go very low with 5 of the last 16 having less than 30 points.

Melbourne will line up with the same 17 that started last week.

Cronulla get a massive in wi…

Prelude Handicap Chase preview

The days are getting shorter, the Flat season is winding down to its championship races - that must mean National Hunt season is almost upon us! There's a tasty card at Market Rasen today serving to whet the appetite for those cold months ahead.

Another debutant on the blog today emanating from the aspiring sports journalism ranks of the north-east, welcome aboard Conor Stroud, @conorstroud95.

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188Bet Prelude Handicap Chase
Listed, Class 1
£50,000
Market Rasen 1510 BST, 0010 AEST

With the Jumps season fast approaching, Market Rasen as always have put on an attractive prize for the Listed Prelude Handicap Chase, with the weather starting to get colder but the National Hunt season starting to heat up again.

One horse who just can’t seem to get his head in front is Presenting Arms, the likely mount of Noel Fehily. Despite going close in his four last attempts (including running out when in contention), he has been unable to quite close a race out, and may a…

Middle Park Stakes preview

The colts get their chance for Group 1 glory on Saturday in the time-honoured Middle Park Stakes. Last year's race resulted in a devastating win for Shalaa, trained by John Gosden. Unfortunately we haven't seen him since but he may resume on British Champions Day at Ascot next week.

Completing his brace of juvenile feature previews is new contributor and aspiring writer Adam Crooks, @acrooks95.

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Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes
Group 1, 2yo colts, 6f
Newmarket, £180,000
Saturday 1530 BST, Sunday 0030 AEST

Ten runners have been declared, and the early favourite is the Godolphin-owned Blue Point. Trained by Charlie Appleby, this exciting son of Shamardal has won three of his four races, including the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes last time out. Sent off at 11/8, he produced a sparkling performance to win eased down by three lengths. Back in second place was the Simon Crisford-trained Mokarris, who lines up once again here. It is hard to envisage Mokarris imp…

Cheveley Park Stakes preview

One of the highlights of the Cambridgeshire meeting at Newmarket is the first 2yo Group 1 race of the season, the Cheveley Park Stakes for fillies. Not sure I'd say it had the greatest honour roll with few of these winners going onto bigger things on the track, but this year the market is headed by two exceptional fillies

It's a warm welcome to aspiring journalist Adam Crooks, @acrooks95, making his first contribution to the blog.

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Connolly's Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes
Group 1, 2yo fillies, 6f
Newmarket, £180,000
Saturday 1455 BST, 2355 AEST

Early favourite for the race is the Wesley Ward-trained Lady Aurelia, who burst onto the scene at Royal Ascot with a breathtaking seven-length win in the Queen Mary. That performance was over five furlongs, and this race was mentioned straight away as her main target of the season.

Lady Aurelia was next seen on track over in Deauville, stepping up to six furlongs in the Group 1 Prix Morny, facing male oppo…

AFL Preliminary Finals Preview

It's down to four in the AFL, and we have the tantalising draw of one established finals pair on one side, playing for the right to face the fresh, young franchise or a side devoid of Premiership glory since 1954. Bring it on!

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2016 AFL Preliminary Finals Preview by @aflratings / aflratings.com.au

Geelong v Sydney
Fri 23rd Sep 7:50pm AEST, 1050 BST
Melbourne Cricket Ground
#AFLCatsSwans

Geelong are well rested ahead of Friday’s Preliminary Final at the MCG, after finishing second on the AFL Ladder the Cats were fortunate enough to escape with a win in their first Final against the Hawks. Geelong have scored well this year but a season low 60pts against the Swans in Round 16 in Geelong is some cause for concern, with the additional out of Menzel due to injury the Cats could be left wanting on the scoreboard in what could now be a low-scoring game.

Sydney were at their best last week in the midfield keeping alive their chances of a third Premiership in j…

NRL Preliminary Finals Week 3 Previews

A couple of close calls last week, but no cigar for the debutant NRL analyst Shaun Beirne, @shaunbeirne. How's his luck this week?

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NRL Previews
Preliminary Final (Week 3) History since 2000



Points of interest:
• Home teams win at a rate of 67%
• Higher ranked home teams win at 60%
• Matches at one teams home ground average 42.5 points and 9/15 are over 38.5 total points
• Higher ranked teams on a Neutral ground win at a rate of 82%

With small samples any new result has a higher than ideal influence over the figure, so something that looks like a strong trend can quickly look like a weak trend. That said it is interesting that the higher ranked Neutral team outperforms Higher ranked home teams. Perhaps a negative effect of the home fans expectations.

Cronulla v North Queensland
Friday 1955 AEST, 1055 BST
Allianz Stadium
#NRLSharksCowboys
These two teams met last season at the semi-final (week 2) stage with the Cowboys handing the Sharks a 39-0 hiding.

T…

NRL Finals Week 2 preview

It's the business end of the season in the NRL as well with two cracking matches scheduled this weekend.

Making his debut on the blog is seasoned wagering veteran Shaun Beirne, @shaunbeirne.

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NRL Previews Semi Final (Week 2) History since 2000



Of significant interest to me here is that results of matches played at the designated home ground of one of the teams has resulted in a win rate of 75%. Off an admittedly small sample when the highest ranked team plays at home they have won 87.5% of matches. The margins have a history of blowing out. The average of the total match points is high and the count of the over at the current Tab lines (NQ v Bris 36.5 and Raiders v Penrith 38.5) suggests the propensity of the games to blow out.

North Queensland v Brisbane
Friday night
Last year’s Grand Finalists meet earlier in the semi-final series this time around and we can only hope for a repeat of that match, or indeed either of their matches this season wh…

AFL Finals Week 1 preview

There were four matches in this preview originally, however someone thought the AFL might stick to traditional matchdays in September. But nope, for some reason they have to play on Thursdays as well, so I missed it...

AFL Finals Week 1 preview from @aflratings

Geelong v Hawthorn
Friday 7:50pm AEST
MCG, Melbourne

2016 Win/Loss Record
GEE 17-5
HAW 17-5

2016 Win/Loss Record vs Top 8 Teams
GEE 8-2
HAW 6-4

From a neutral point of view this game is very mouth-watering indeed, off-season list changes at the Cats no more so than the insertion of Patrick Dangerfield has turned Geelong in to an instant Premiership contender. The Cats have struggled for consistency at times this year but enter the 2016 Finals series with the best record of any team against other finalists; they have cruised home in their final 7 H&A games only really being tested by Richmond in Round 21 after storming home in the last Qtr to win by 4pts.

The Hawks have clearly been the heart attack kids in season 2016, they wo…

32Red Sprint Cup

Top class sprinting action from Haydock tomorrow with the running of the Sprint Cup. It's a deep field with the latest sprinting sensations up against some multiple Group 1 winners in the twilight of their career.

Picking up the reins is prolific writer Dave Stephens, @davestevos.

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32Red Group 1 Sprint Cup Stakes
16.30 Haydock
Group 1, £286,000, 6f.

Prices as at time of writing, Thursday 9pm. This weekend the big race of the day on Saturday is the Group 1 32Red Sprint Cup Stakes at Haydock. All the action will be broadcast live on Channel 4 at 16.30, and this is a race you won’t want to miss. Some of the fastest sprinters in the business will be doing battle over 6f, and Limato is a warm order to give Henry Candy a second successive victory in this race, and his third win since 2010.

However, with rain seemingly on the way the 2/1 about him looks rather skinny, and Candy is unlikely to run him if there is soft in the description. One horse that …