Saturday, October 6, 2018

Arc de Triomphe 2018 - Enable on the steps of Treve

All questions revolve around Enable in this year's Arc. If the reigning champion is anywhere near the maximum of her powers, she should crush the field at Longchamp. How she overcomes the dreaded "bounce factor", the theory that a horse that runs well after a long lay-off will run badly on their second run, will be the main determinant of the result of the race. She came back from injury in the most comforting of fashions by easily overcoming top-class Crystal Ocean on the synthetic track of Kempton a few weeks ago. My belief is that her class will tell and that she will emulate Treve and win her second Arc. 

Of the rest, I will pick possibly the next filly superstar in Sea of Class and the trio of Fabre runners in Waldgeist, Cloth of Stars and Talismanic. Sea of Class has been supplemented for the race and looks set to be a major force in the middle distance division, male and distaff, next year. She will benefit of the all-important 3-pound allowance but her outside draw and the soft conditions will play against her. She can definitely place in the first 3 though.

Fabre has a strong-hand in his 3 horses and were it not to the 2 above-mentioned fillies, he would have been in a great nick to win the Arc for the 8th time. Waldgeist looks his best chance as this son of Galileo has won his last 4 races and beaten his 2 other stablemates in the Prix Foy. The German star should be at the finish. Cloth of Stars came second to Enable last year and seems to have gotten in better form over the course of the year. He definitely has the class to place again. Finally, Talismanic is certainly able to pick up the pieces should Enable fail to fire. The soft ground might play against him as his best form is on quick ground.

Win: Enable
Place: Sea of Class, Waldgeist
Top 5: Talismanic, Cloth of Stars


Thursday, October 4, 2018

EPL 2018/19 - Week 8

Brighton v/s West Ham - Away
Burnley v/s Huddersfield - Home
Crystal Palace v/s Wolves - Home
Leicester v/s Everton - Home
Tottenham v/s Cardiff - Home
Watford v/s Bournemouth - Home
Man Utd v/s Newcastle - Home
Fulham v/s Arsenal - Away
Southampton v/s Chelsea - Away
Liverpool v/s Man City - Away

West Ham seem to have turned a corner and I see them getting the full points on their away trip to Brighton. Much has been said after Man Utd's woes but the Hammers were convincing in their win against the Red Devils last week. Pellegrini has righted the ship and I expect them to steadily climb up the standings.

I see value in pouncing on the accumulator on the following home teams: Burnley, Leicester, Tottenham and Man Utd. The gap with the visiting teams are enough for those teams to warrant comprehensive wins.

I also see Crystal Palace as a value draw-no-bet option against visiting Wolves. The Eagles usually keep matches close and they will be hard to beat at home. Wolves have been overachieving since the start and will be expected to give a good account of themselves and I expect Palace's odds to be higher as a result. The home team should either win or draw this match.


Win: West Ham
Win accumulator: Burnley/Leicester/Tottenham/Man Utd
Draw-no-bet: Crystal Palace

Friday, September 28, 2018

EPL 2018/19 - Week 7

West Ham v/s Man Utd - Away
Arsenal v/s Watford - Home
Everton v/s Fulham - Home
Huddersfield v/s Tottenham - Away
Man City v/s Brighton - Home
Newcastle v/s Leicester - Away
Wolves v/s Southampton - Draw
Chelsea v/s Liverpool - Draw
Cardiff v/s Burnley - Home
Bournemouth v/s Crystal Palace - Home

All the headlines from Old Trafford have been the months-old Mourinho-Pogba clash that have culminated into the French star kicked out of his vice-captaincy role. It seems plausible to say that one or both of them will have to look for greener pastures soon. Although it is too early at this point of the season to conclude that Man Utd's chances of winning the title are over, even the most ardent Red Devils supporters will agree that Man City and Liverpool will be all-too hard to catch. They are still a top 4 team and should be able to wrestle the 3 points out of their visit to West Ham provided their latest distraction is far off their minds. The players' performance in this match will go a long way to giving the best indication of the atmosphere reigning in the Mancunian changing room. Mourinho has to win matches like this to save his job and I believe this is a very possible result on Saturday morning.

Tottenham should stop its rotten series of results by getting a win at Huddersfield. This match comes at a perfect time for Spurs to regain some momentum in the league. The hosts are hapless upfront, having scored the fewest goals in the league so far. They are equally inept at the back, having conceded the most. So, even without star playmaker Ericksen, Pochettino's men should have no trouble getting the much-need win.

Win Accumulator: Man Utd/Tottenham

Thursday, September 13, 2018

EPL 2018/19 - Week 5


Tottenham v/s Liverpool - Away
Bournemouth v/s Leicester - Draw
Chelsea v/s Cardiff - Home
Huddersfield v/s Crystal Palace - Away
Man City v/s Fulham - Home
Newcastle v/s Arsenal - Draw
Watford v/s Man Utd - Home
Wolves v/s Burnley - Home
Everton v/s West Ham - Home
Southampton v/s Brighton - Home

The 4 teams that stand out this weekend are Chelsea, Man City, Crystal Palace and Southampton. The first 2 can be considered bankers. Chelsea have proven me wrong so far and while I still expect them to fade at some point, getting 3 points from weak Cardiff should prove no hassle. Man City should be their dominating self against visiting Fulham.

Zaha might be a doubt for this match but Crystal Palace should have more than enough to get more than a share of points at Huddersfield. The Eagles have been somewhat disappointing in their last 2 matches but should be able to bounce back on this travel.

Finally, I really like the way Mark Hughes has settled in Southampton and the Saints have been competitive in the opening matches. A win is well within their grasp in the encounter against visiting Brighton.

Win Accumulator: Man City/Chelsea/Crystal Palace/Southampton


Friday, August 31, 2018

EPL 2018/19 - Week 4

Leicester v/s Liverpool - Away
Brighton v/s Fulham - Away
Chelsea v/s Bournemouth - Home
Crystal Palace v/s Southampton - Home
Everton v/s Huddersfield - Home
West Ham v/s Wolves - Home
Man City v/s Newcastle - Home
Cardiff v/s Arsenal - Away
Burnley v/s Man Utd - Away
Watford v/s Tottenham - Draw


Man City should continue on their unbeaten run this week-end as they host the toothless Magpies. This is a banker win for the Citizens who will also look to enhance their goal difference.

I really like the chances of West Ham against Wolves. The Hammers have been arguably unlucky in their last couple of starts and are much better than what their position suggests. Having Wolves as visitors is a perfect tonic for them to get their season back on track. They are definitely the best value pick of the week-end.

Mourinho is reeling at the moment and unless the wheels are falling off completely for the Red Devils, I can see them bouncing back with a win at Burnley. No doubt that another loss will significantly weaken the Special One's position at Old Trafford. While it is true they got thrashed against Spurs last week-end, there is no doubt that the result could have been reversed if Lukaku had not missed the open goal in the first half. Missing those sitters against the likes of Tottenham can just be lethal. If the Mancunians play with the same energy and are not profligate in front of goal, they have every chance to win this.

Win: Man City, West Ham, Man Utd


Friday, August 24, 2018

EPL 2018/19 - Week 3

Wolves v/s Man City - Away
Bournemouth v/s Everton - Away
Arsenal v/s West Ham - Home
Huddersfield v/s Cardiff - Home
Southampton v/s Leicester - Away
Liverpool v/s Brighton - Home
Watford v/s Crystal Palace - Away
Fulham v/s Burnley - Home
Newcastle v/s Chelsea - Home
Man Utd v/s Tottenham - Draw

The bankers are obvious; Liverpool and Man City should be having field days playing the likes of Brighton and Wolves. The 2 league favourites will be looking to not only bag the 3 points but also give a healthy dosage to their goal difference as this might play a crucial part towards the end of the season.

I have three value plays and I'm hoping that at least 2 of them hit the target. They are Leicester, Crystal Palace and Newcastle. I think the Foxes have a great chance to steal the full points at Southampton. The Saints look a vulnerable team at the moment as Mark Hughes tries to put his system into place. Leicester are a well-oiled team that are difficult to break down and have the means to inflict damage at the other end.

I also like Crystal Palace as a draw-no-bet as they visit Watford. I expect Palace to finish in the top 10 this season as ex-England manager Hodgson has put together an organized squad. They will be hard to beat and they can definitely land the spoils with the likes of Zaha up front.

Finally, I think Benitez will have Newcastle put up a valiant fight against visiting Chelsea. I am not convinced by the Blues at the moment despite their unbeaten start with new manager Sarri and they will definitely start losing points as the manager gets to grips with the facets of the league. Newcastle looks a great value draw-no-bet.

Value Win: Leicester
Accumulator: Liverpool/Man City/Leicester
Draw-no-bet: Newcastle, Crystal Palace



Friday, August 17, 2018

EPL 2018/19 - Week 2

Cardiff v/s Newcastle - Away win
Everton v/s Southampton - Home win
Leicester v/s Wolves - Home win
Tottenham v/s Fulham - Home win
West Ham v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Chelsea v/s Arsenal - Away win
Burnley v/s Watford - Home win
Man City v/s Huddersfield - Home win
Brighton v/s Man Utd - Away win
Crystal Palace v/s Liverpool - Away win

This week-end is an opportunity for most leading teams to gather full points and enhance goal difference. Man City is a banker win against Huddersfield. Man Utd should have too much firepower for Brighton. Spurs should overcome Fulham although I think they won't win it in a canter. Liverpool should continue on their hot goal spree at Selhurst Park.

Leicester should continue to do well with Claude Puel at the helm and they are fancied to beat Wolves.

Chelsea hosting Arsenal is the main match of the week-end. The encounter is between 2 teams with new managers, so there is definitely an element of surprise that can creep in. It is not impossible to fathom Arsenal coming up trumps in this London derby. They have the firepower to inflict damage to any team and Chelsea will be more vulnerable at the back now that Courtois is gone. For a value win, Arsenal could be a nice play.

Win: Leicester
Win accumulator: Man City/Liverpool/Man Utd
Value win: Arsenal

Friday, August 10, 2018

EPL 2018/19 - Week 1

Man Utd v/s Leicester - Home win
Newcastle v/s Spurs - Draw
Bournemouth v/s Cardiff - Home win
Fulham v/s Crystal Palace - Away win
Huddersfield v/s Chelsea - Home win
Watford v/s Brighton - Away win
Wolves v/s Everton - Draw
Liverpool v/s West Ham - Home win
Southampton v/s Burnley - Away win
Arsenal v/s Man City - Draw

A quick run-down of the first week. Despite their woes, I expect Man Utd to beat Leicester this Friday. Liverpool should start with a bang against West Ham. Emery will have a baptism of fire against Man City and this can potentially end in a high-scoring draw. I like Crystal Palace's away chances at newcomers Fulham.

Value Win: Crystal Palace
Win Couple: Man Utd/Liverpool
Draw: Arsenal/Man City



EPL 2018/19 - Predictions

Welcome back reading my ramblings on yet another EPL season that looks promising and exciting! I majorly took the summer off, enjoying the World Cup and racing, recharging batteries and getting ready for EPL. Things will be very much in the mix for many clubs in the opening weeks as many players get back in condition after the toll of a gruelling summer. This is bound to affect results in the short term. Here are some of my predictions for the coming season regarding the leading clubs.

Champions Man City will be hard to beat again. They have the best squad in the league which will be further reinforced by the arrival of star winger Mahrez. Mendy, their record-breaking defender which was mostly unavailable last year will be fit from day 1 and will certainly bolster their back four. There should be no ill-effects of the World Cup for much of the squad as most of them did not go through the latter stages. The Citizens gave a great account of their excellent disposition by comprehensively beating Chelsea in the Community Shield and should be in the Top 2 again.

The main danger for Man City will be Liverpool. It seems the Kops are getting very close to ending their championship drought and this season puts them in the best position in years to do. There is no reason to think that star striker Salah won't keep scoring week in week out. The Egyptian fits perfectly under the attacking system devised by manager Klopp and forms the best attacking trio in the league with the likes of Firmino and Sane. Add to this Sturridge who can definitely be an able substitute for scoring if he stays healthy. The Reds have also been bolstered by the arrivals of Keita and Fabinho as well as keeper Alisson who should add solidity to their defence, their main weak point in the past years. Liverpool are in for a great shout till the end and it's a toss-up between them and City for the title in my opinion.

Man Utd look in trouble at the moment. Mourinho is not happy and that does not bode well as this usually signals his departure or sacking is near. There can be no encouragement from their pre-season  form and the fact that the moody manager is the one making the headlines is enough to tell you that the Red Devils won't win the title this year. Sanchez will need to hit top form from the start after a quite disappointing opening spell last year. The main question is whether he needed time or if he simply does not fit into Mourinho's defensive system. There might be tectonic changes at Old Trafford starting at the top and I think the most the Red Devils can secure is a UCL spot.

Tottenham will be the club feeling the most from the World Cup as their numerous Belgian, English and French players are still on the recovery route. I expect the opening weeks to be very hard on them and that could mean the end of their title dreams right there. It is almost certain that Harry Kane won't be banging goals from opening day. The other bad news is the lack of major signings during the summer. Spurs are bound to yet another European spot but I cannot seem them lifting the trophy in the end.

Arsenal's new manager Emery will have to adapt to the rigors of the EPL and he will be considered a success if he can land a UCL spot. The Gunners have been banging in goals in pre-season and I expect strker Aubameyang to seriously put a challenge on the most goals marker. The Gunners won't win the championship but if Emery can find his footing, the squad is talented enough to achieve consistently good results.

Chelsea will also be with a new manager after the departure of fellow Italian Conte. They have lost keeper Courtois to Real Madrid which should be a big blow at the back. I don't think they will be good enough to end in the top 4. Blues fans should not be expecting much this year.


Win Title: Man City 
UCL: Liverpool, Tottenham, Man Utd

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Royal Ascot 2018 - Day 3

To me, this year's Gold Cup is the highlight race of Royal Ascot. No offence to Big Orange, but I've waiting for a match between Order of St George and Vazirabad for a long time. With the new stayer prince Stradivarius set to challenge these 2 perennial kings of the staying division, we are going to be treated to a truly royal race.

Order of St George needs no introduction. He has been the best stayer running in Ireland and Britain for the past years. He was a rather unlucky loser to Big Orange in last year's race but his reputation is as big as Yeats, his Ballydoyle predecessor and winner of 4 Gold Cups. The son of Galileo is always formidable in any top race beyond a mile and a half. One thing that concerns me is his last race where the post-race comments had him winning cosily, yet it was only less than a length comfy. Connections seemed elated with the win but his win over Twilight Payment was not visually impressive although the rest of the field were 8 lengths adrift of the pair. There is ground to believe that Order of St George might have lost a step as he is now aged 6.

Vazirabad is the king of the staying division in France. As well as Dubai, since he's won their Gold Cup 3 times. It seems weird but it will be his first appearance in the Ascot Gold Cup. How he acts on the track will play a big part in his chances. This son of Manduro is blessed with stamina as well as a good turn of foot. I believe he has a massive chance if he adapts to this new environment and since he has been a good traveller to Dubai, there is every chance that he will be fine with the conditions on the day.

Stradivarius is the new staying champion in waiting. The only concern regarding this son of Sea The Stars is the distance but the way he has been progressing suggests that is within his compass. This is a winner of the Queen's Vase, Goodwood Cup and Yorkshire Cup. His last win in the latter was overly impressive and he will enter this race in peak form. The Gold Cup should be his within the next few years, and the big question is whether he is good enough to take the crown this year.

This is going to be a spectacular race and the winner should come from one of the three. Order of St George is a warm favourite but I believe he is vulnerable and at current prices, he should be taken on or laid. There should not be much between the other two and with push comes to shove, I give preference to Stradivarius because he has won at Ascot before and trainer John Gosden should have him primed for this.


Win: Stradivarius

Monday, June 18, 2018

Royal Ascot 2018 - Day 1

Royal Ascot is the meeting of the year for many and if the entries on the 4 days are anything to go by, it should be filled with memories to come.

The Queen Anne Stakes starts proceedings with the older generation fighting over a mile. The distance should be on the sharp side for Benbatl who makes his return after this Dubai exploits. The Godolphin representative is best over a further furlong and I suspect he will lack the speed require to land this. Rhododendron from Ballydoyle won the Lockinge and should be in the whereabouts again, particularly that she will enjoy her filly allowance against the boys. But it is Recoletos from France that seems to hold the aces for this race. The son of Whipper is two-for-two this year and seems to be thriving on the shorter than middle-distances in which he had been running in prior years. The French don't usually cross the channel unless they have a fighting chance and the quick ground and master rider Peslier could very well steer Recoletos to good effect.

The King's Stand Stakes will be the race of the whole meeting for many as it will pit super sprinters Battaash against Lady Aurelia; they met once before last year in a race where it was Martha who prevailed by nailing the US star on the wire. Battaash was a no-show on that day, possibly due to pre-race antics. The son of Dark Angel will have to be at this best behaviour to have any chance against Lady Aurelia who's won at Royal Ascot in spectacular style for the past 2 seasons. It is really a penalty kick between the two.

The St James' Palace Stakes looks to be a competitive affair regrouping quite a few top milers from the Classic generation. The favourite is Without Parole, an unbeaten son of Frankel in 3 starts. His win on fast ground on his seasonal debut was visually impressive and he should be able to give a good account in similar conditions. Wootton is held in high regard from the Godolphin base in France but his reputation was somewhat dented when he finished a close-up forth in the French Guineas although he had every chance to pounce in that race. He has a big race in him, I believe. But the one with the best from going into this race is Tip Two Win who came out a gallant second to Saxon Warrior in the 2000 Guineas. This son of Dark Angel has never been out of the first 3 in 8 races and should be at the finish if he replicates his Newmarket form.

Win: Tip Two Win, Recoletos

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Justify-cation for a Triple Crown?

All eyes in the racing world will converge to Belmont Park on Saturday to witness Justify's attempt at landing the Triple Crown. The unbeaten son of Scat Daddy will try to emulate American Pharoah and affirm his name among the other legends of American racing. Can he do it?

The connections are certainly bullish. Thriving is the common word coming from Baffert, the trainer, to describe the status of Justify. Baffert, the same trainer of American Pharaoh at that. But there should be a few causes for concern.

The main one is how the son of Scat Daddy will handle the mile and a half. This distance has been the graveyard for many Triple Crown aspirants. The field has a few gallopers for which the distance will suit better. Think Hofburg, Blended Citizen, Free Drop Billy. The most likely scenario is that those closers will try to wear Justify down in the last quarter mile of the race. How he will respond will determine the race.

The other question is how much the Preakness took out of Justify. That was his hardest race to date as Good Magic gave him a good run for his money for all but the last 100 yards of the race. Once Good Magic was taken care of, Justify had to withhold the assaults of Bravazo and Tenfold and certainly the finishing post came much as a relief. It would not be stretching to think that 3 weeks rest might not be enough to overcome the exertions at Pimlico.

But Justify might just be a superior horse that can overcome all these concerns. The field is deep but not overly talented. Somehow, if there is an all-out closer that will relish the gruelling distance, then the favourite might be vulnerable towards the end. The comparison line I can come closest to is Smarty Jones, who ultimately failed to land the Triple Crown after going to Belmont undefeated. He had an easy Kentucky Derby and won the Preakness in a canter. He looked to win the Belmont from far way out but was gunned down in the closing stages by a true middle-distance runner named Birdstone, losing his only race in the process. Justify had a relatively easy Derby, albeit in the slop. He had a hard Preakness, in the slop as well. He will be facing a deeper field including a few with staying pedigrees. So his work is cut out for him to win the Belmont.

If he is a superior or super horse, as Baffert seems to believe, then he should have enough in hand. At current odds, it might be worth taking him as it will only take a horse of the greatest caliber to overcome all the questions above.


Friday, June 1, 2018

Saxon Warrior - An Epsom Derby for Deep Impact

Much has been said about what could bring down Saxon Warrior, worthy favourite of this year's Epsom Derby. He will come out of the jinxed stall 1. He might have too much speed to last the stiff mile and a half of Epsom. And finally some say the ground might be too soft for him.

Bollocks.

The son of Deep Impact has enough speed to extricate himself from an unfavourable position coming off the blocks. Ryan Moore should be able to steer him into a good position. Too much speed because he won the Guineas? For good measure, Camelot and Sea The Stars were fast enough to win at the Classic mile distance and held enough stamina to win at Epsom. Saxon Warrior is yet another fantastic son Deep Impact, one of the best stayers ever to grace the turf. There should be no stamina concerns. Soft ground? He won the Group 2 Beresford Stakes hands and heels on only his second start. Sure he is more formidable on good ground but the Epsom soft ground will hold more fears for rest of the field than Saxon Warrior.

Nothing is assured in a horse race but Saxon Warrior should win the Derby on Saturday because he ticks all the right boxes going into the Epsom test. He has beaten everything thrown at him and there is every indication that he will do so again. It's hard to oppose him.

Roaring Lion is best out of the rest. The way he won the Dante was oh-so impressive. He has been beaten twice by Saxon so far. He is the best horse bar the son of Deep Impact. The distance should suit but the soft ground, although drying out, will not be ideal. Still, I expect the son of Kitten Joy to run his race into a podium finish.

I expect Delano Roosevelt and Knight To Behold to run respectable races and can probably follow the above 2 home.

Win: Saxon Warrior
Place: Roaring Lion



Friday, May 25, 2018

Elarqam - a Classic winner for Frankel?

Elarqam pleasantly surprised me in running 4th in the 2000 Guineas. That was the Frankel colt's only third run of his life and he responded admiringly against seasoned milers from the Classic crop. He is the deserving favourite of the Irish 2000 Guineas on Saturday and if he runs to form, he should tower over the rest of the field. The 2 dangers should be Gustav Klimt and Zihba. The former carries the main flag for the Ballydoyle team and thus cannot be under-estimated. The son of Galileo came within a length of Elarqam at Newmarket and is entitled to give a better performance, although Elarqam is the one with more scope for improvement.  Zihba is unbeaten in 3 starts and looks like a smart colt in the making but might be stretched out against some Group 1 level colts at a mile after only 13 days rest.

The Champions League final takes center stage in the football world on Saturday as Real Madrid and Liverpool battle it out in Kiev. I have gone against Madrid the past couple of years and obviously the results have gone the other way. Real Madrid are deserved favourites here as they have the better team on paper. But the Kops will pose them problems with their terrific forwards and Klopp is a master at these kinds of matches. Liverpool will have to keep it tight in defence if they are to have a chance beat the Spaniards. Sitting on the fence on this one but enjoy the match.

Win: Elarqam


Friday, May 18, 2018

Justify - On the way to the Triple Crown

A loaded Saturday looms up as league football comes to an end and racing starts its full flight.

The FA Cup brings the curtain down in English football. Man Utd against Chelsea is an intriguing match as the teams are close and have proven very tricky to back. It's Mourinho against Conte with what promises to be a defensive match with not many goals. I believe this match will go the extra distance and possibly decided on penalties. Chelsea have lost their way in the last weeks of the season possibly because of all the exit talk regarding manager Conte. The Italian will definitely not be at the helm next season and there is a serious question mark regarding his or his team motivation. Winning the FA Cup won't save him. On the other hand, as everyone knows, Mourinho has a near-impeccable record in finals and will have done his home work so as not to lose to his old team. I just cannot see Man Utd losing this match in 90 minutes. If it goes to penalties, then it will be the luck of the lottery to get the winner. For punters itching for a bet, I suggest a draw-no-bet on the Red Devils.

The German Cup sees champions Bayern taking on Frankfurt. This is the last match of manager Heynckes behind the Bayern bench as they go against a team managed by his successor next season. Although the Munich team will be missing a few regulars, it's hard to see them lose this match. Heynckes should go back to retirement on a winning note.

I don't think I've seen such a poor quality field lining up for the Lockinge on Saturday. Sure, 16 horses will provide the quantity but it's hard to be excited about a star running the show. There is no Group 1 miler in the field. Limato and Rhododendron are legitimate Group 1 horses but that would be at sprint level for the former and middle distances for the latter. If push comes to shove, Rhododendron is my pick.

The racing event to follow will be at Pimlico Stateside where Justify runs the Preakness, the second step of the Triple Crown. His form towers against anything else in the field. Provided he takes to the sloppy track, he should win this handily. Having heard all angles and from the bullish connections, I think he will.