Thursday, June 16, 2022

Royal Ascot - Day 4 - Is Inspiral ready ?

 The Coronation Stakes is the centerpiece race of day 4 of Royal Ascot and sees the return of Inspiral, last year's standout 2-year old filly. The daughter of Frankel was tipped to dominate the Classic division this year but has been tardy to start the year given that she has been slow to come to herself according to the Gosdens. Those are not encouraging remarks for a filly that is very short in the market against some top-class opposition.

Cachet took full opportunity of the absence of Inspiral to win the 1000 Guineas, and she did her reputation no harm by coming an unlucky second in the French version. She deserves respect and should be in the thereabouts.

Mangoustine beat Cachet in the French Guineas and looks set to run a big run as well. The French have a good record in this race with the likes of Watch Me, Qemah and Ervedya striking in recent years. She might prefer softish conditions to be at her best but she's got the class to win this.

Finally, I believe Prosperous Voyage could have a say in this tight contest having always been in the places in her 6-race career. She ran a cracker in the 1000 Guineas running on but unable to catch Cachet. She might benefit from the extra rest and if the leading fancies fail to fire, she can definitely be counted to pounced. 

At her best, Inspiral would beat all before her given her juvenile form.  While we know she will improve for the run, the question is whether she will be found wanting fitness-wise against primed opposition. Her price is way too short to consider, however good she might turn out to be. I'd rather go with Cachet and Mangoustine with Prosperous Voyage as an each-way punt.

Win: Cachet/Mangoustine

Each-way: Prosperous Voyage

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Royal Ascot - Day 3 - Stravidarius for one last hurrah

 It is a rare occurrence to see an 8-year old winner at Royal Ascot; it is even rarer to see 2 of them. Nature Strip thrashed all pretenders to ascertain himself as the best sprinter in the world on Tuesday. Another veteran Stradivarius, will try to put the younger brigade to the sword by winning the Gold Cup for the 4th time to equal the great Yeats. 

His 2 main rivals will be Trueshan and Kyprios. The former is the true king of the staying division but only when the underfoot conditions are on the softish side. The fact that the ground will be good to firm on Thursday means that he will probably not run at all. So, one down for Stradivarius. Kyprios is very possibly the up and coming stayer from the young generation. His pedigree is impeccable with Galileo as sire and a top-class Danehill mare as dam. He has relatively low mileage for a 4-year old and his last win in a Group 3 of over 14 lengths was visually impressive although it was in a 4-runner field. I am not sure he's ready for the punishing Gold Cup distance at this time of his career but if he takes it like duck on water, his younger legs might prove too much for Stradivarius. The latter will run his race and it is only a matter of whether Kyprios can take the mantle away from him. It's a toss-up really between the two although the public favours will certainly be going to the 8-year old; the roof will come time big time should he win.

Forecast: Kyprios/Stradivarius

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Royal Ascot - Day 2 - Bay Bridge looks exposed

 All selections hit the board on Day 1 and hoping that Day 2 brings the same amount of success.

The Prince of Wales Stakes looks disappointingly thin in my opinion but it looks to be a hotly contested race. I am somewhat surprised that the favourite is Bay Bridge and a short one to say the least. This New Bay colt is only a Grade 3 winner (albeit an impressive one) although he has a superior rating to the rest, which are mainly solid Group 1 winners. Bay Bridge is certainly progressive and could eventually be a Group 1 performer but until he proves himself at this level, I am tempted to lay him in this race. 

Shahryar is a serious Japanese invader and impressive winner of the Sheema Class in Dubai. The Japanese have conquered all in their late forays in international festivals starting with last year's Breeders Cup, then in Saudi Arabia, and eventually in Dubai. They are starting to conquer the world and the quality of their stock is as good as anywhere now. And they'll get better as they have shrewdly enhanced their broodmare quality. This son of Deep Impact must have a top chance.

State of Rest has proven a serious international traveller winning top-level races in the USA, Australia and France. He was third in the Tattersalls Gold Cup behind Alenquer but wasn't disgraced at all. He should be at the finish.

Lord North might be a step slower this year at the age of 6 but he's still proven to be a contender in his races. He finished behind State of Rest in the Tattersalls Gold Cup which leads me to think that the latter has more upside that this old warrior.

Grand Glory is a Group 1 winner in France but I think she's a few pounds short at this level.

I believe this will turn out to be a battle between Shahryar and State of Rest. Punting on both to win might be a good way to cover both and still win. 

Win: Shahryar/State of Rest


Monday, June 13, 2022

Royal Ascot - Day 1 - Megastar sprinters and milers

Day 1 of Royal Ascot has produced a fantastic race card with a few mega star names on show. Never since the days of Frankel has there been such anticipation in the opening race, the Queen Anne Stakes, where the exciting Baaeed will try to cement his reputation as a mile god and the best since the afore-mentioned Frankel. The unbeaten son of Sea The Stars will start at prohibitive odds but should put all opponents to the sword as usual and bag the much-coveted mile race. Similar to the Lockinge, Real World should prove best of the rest. The son of Dark Angel looks set to be to Baaeed what Excelebration was to Frankel; a high-class deputy, vied for second place.

The mile race for the Classic generation, the St James' Palace Stakes, will also be an opportunity for Coroebus to add to his glowing reputation as a serious upcoming miler. The Guineas towers heads and shoulders towards a quality field, My only reservation is that Godolphin jockey William Buick usually gets turned over when riding odds-on favourites, so hopefully for Coroebus' backers, he'll ride the odds-on favourite judiciously. If the son of Dubawi runs his race, there should be no qualms on him winning.

Finally, it's Australia v USA for sprinting bragging rights as Nature Strip takes on Golden Pal in the King's Stand Stakes. Wesley Ward is as bullish as ever on the horse he considers the best he has ever had but such exuberance from Ward has usually led to considerable disappointment before. Sure, he's won at Royal Ascot so many times that his horses need to be considered seriously whatever the bullishness or lack of. Nature Strip doesn't quite bring the aura or anticipation of a Black Caviar but he's a legitimate Group 1 winner and the best sprinter from Down Under. Australian racing is filled with average stayers but their sprinting stock merit serious consideration; they can hold their own against anyone else on turf. This match-up will be refereed by the locals led by Man of Promise from the Godolphin operation. The son of Into Mischief was somewhat disappointing on World Cup night at Meydan but can have a legitimate shot here should the 2 favourites fail to fire.

Win: Baaeed, Coroebus, Nature Strip
Win without Baaeed: Real World
Second, Place: Real World

Friday, May 27, 2022

UCL Final - Lucky Madrid on the way of Liverpool

The Kops and their fans must have given a huge sigh of relief when Real Madrid qualified for the final at the expense of Man City. Unless you believe, like a few, that there is an invisible hand helping Real in the UCL, there is every reason for Liverpool to rejoice meeting their opponents in this year's final; they have limped their way to this stage of the competition.

Real were oh-so-lucky to beat PSG in the last 16 stage. They were outgunned again against Chelsea but got unbelievably lucky to make it to the semi-finals. They should have been blown away by Man City but managed to find the goals at the right time to get to the final. Was that lucky or plucky, as I read somewhere? Probably both, but more so the first one. This team is certainly not as good as in the Christiano Ronaldo days but they are now being carried almost single-handedly by Karim Benzema. The Reds need to shutter the Frenchman to extinguish any hopes Real might have of winning.

Were it not for Man City, Liverpool might be contemplating an amazing quadruple. Klopp deserves his manager of the year award. By all regards, this Liverpool squad is possibly their best ever. I thought they would slip somehow late in the season but their depth has pulled them through. They are a hard team to beat. Mane and Salah aren't feeling the effects of their African Cup stint and still scoring important goals. Particularly Mane has scored so many match-winning goals that he has to be a leading contender for the Ballon d'Or. This Liverpool team should beat Real but on a given day, anything can happen. Jitters can hamper players, Real can get lucky (again). But if all is fair and square, the Kops should be the ones celebrating at the end.

Win: Liverpool

Saturday, May 21, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Final week - Man City won't slip

Man City should be crowned champions (deservedly) by the end of Sunday's matches. They should have bagged the title weeks ago but Liverpool were unbelievable in their challenge and City are lucky to have held a healthy cushion before easing in the end. I don't see a Gerrard miracle for his beloved Kops; Villa might keep it close for a while but in the end, the Citizens should prove too strong. 

Liverpool should beat Wolves handily as well as keep a view on the upcoming Champions League final against Real Madrid. Wolves are a team without much spine by all standards and will be keen to avoid a drubbing more than anything at Anfield.

I said it before and I see Spurs getting the final UCL spot in front of Arsenal. Conte will have done his job in securing that all-coveted spot. There are rumours of food poisoning among the Spurs squad but if they field their first team against Norwich, they should win. In fact, what is most important is for them to field a healthy Harry Kane and Heung-Min Soon.

Arsenal should have an easy match against Everton given that the latter secured their league safety in mid-week. The Evertonians celebrated as if they won the league after their win against Palace and I think they won't have much in the tank or spirit as they face a Gunners team whose main aim will be to win in the hope that Spurs falter at Carrow Road.

It will be either Burnley or Leeds that fall to the Championship on Sunday. Slight advantage to the former here as they host Newcastle as Leeds travel to Brentford. It has been amazing witnessing the fall of Leeds United after they captivated the Premier League only last year under Biesla's tenure. It proves the point that the Argentine can get the best out of a squad in one season but has nothing else to offer the next. Kind of like a horse making a huge run then having nothing more to give in the next ones.

Man Utd might secure sixth spot in front of West Ham but this is not a given. The Red Devils are horrible enough that Palace are good value to beat them. Hiring Rangnick was a mistake of huge proportions and I think heads at the executive level are the ones that should have fallen; at least more so than the Glazers themselves, which is what their fandom is looking for. The Hammers definitely have the team to go get 3 points at Brighton, so sixth spot is a live possibility for them.



Saturday, May 14, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 36

 Tottenham v Burnley - Home

Aston Villa v Crystal Palace - Draw

Leeds v Brighton - Away

Watford v Leicester - Away

West Ham v Man City - Away

Wolves v Norwich - Home

Everton v Brentford - Home

Newcastle v Arsenal - Home

Southampton v Liverpool - Draw


I firmly believe that Spurs will capture the 4th UCL spot. They should bag maximum points in their remaining matches against Burnley and Norwich. Arsenal has a tricky visit to Newcastle and I think they will drop points there. They might also drop more against Everton in their last match in case the Toffees are still fighting relegation at that stage. But the Newcastle one is where I think they will have their hopes of UCL qualification evaporated. 

Man City also have a tricky away visit to West Ham in their quest to wrap up the title. If they win this, they will win the Premiership. Easier said than done as the Hammers are rock solid and difficult to break. The Citizens just edged this encounter in the first leg in horrendous snowy conditions but the setup will be totally different this time. Guardiola's men just have too much quality and depth squad to make the difference. I think the blue side of Manchester will party after this match.

I like Everton's chances against Brentford. The stakes are high for the Toffees and they seem to have regained some form in the last few matches. Brentford have nothing to play for and have poor form on the road. The home team should edge this one and ensure survival.

Win: Man City, Tottenham, Everton

Win 4th spot: Tottenham

Friday, May 13, 2022

Lockinge - Real World challenge for Baaeed ?

Frankel was as peer-less as any horse that ever ran on turf and it is worthy of Baaeed's rising prominence that he's being dubbed as the best miler since Frankel. The unbeaten son of Sea the Stars cemented his reputation as the world's best miler by beating top-class Palace Pier is a fantastic duel in the QE2 Stakes last year. He might not be100% race-fit for his re-appearance in the Lockinge and odds-on is not really attractive but he's definitely the horse to beat.

I am not sure why Mother Earth and Alcohol Free are the next best-fancied in the market. To me, his main rival should be Real World. This progressive miler from Godolphin is Suroor's best horse and is u beaten on turf. All his defeats have been on dirt where his trainer has persisted in running him in pursuit of the biggest glories like the Saudi Cup and Dubai World Cup. Clearly, this son of Dark Angel does not relish the dirt and has strong form on turf. He might not beat Baaeed but he should be close by, particularly that his Meydan runs will help fitness-wise. I see Real World as fantastic value each-way, place, and in any match-bets against Mother Earth and Alcohol Free. The first-named always seemed unlucky in her races last year and has made an alright return this year winning a Group 3 at the Curragh. I believe she is a few pounds off Real World in ability. Alcohol Free needs soft ground to be at her best and she won't get it on Saturday.

Each-way, Place: Real World
Match bets against Mother Earth and Alcohol Free: Real World

Friday, May 6, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 35

 Brentford v Southampton - Away

Burnley v Aston Villa - Home

Chelsea v Wolves - Home

Crystal Palace v Watford - Home

Brighton v Man Utd - Draw

Liverpool v Tottenham - Draw

Arsenal v Leeds - Home

Leicester v Everton - Away

Norwich v West Ham - Away

Man City v Newcastle - Home


This past UCL midweek semi-final matches might prove decisive in crowning the Premier League champions this year. Liverpool overcame nervousness and Villareal to book their ticket to the UCL final. Imagine the confidence that the Kops are riding on at the moment. Man City stumbled unexpectedly against Real Madrid when they already had one foot in the final. Imagine how devastated they must be to have given the match away against the almost-always-lucky Spaniards. From the past seasons, we know for a fact when Guardiola's men take a tumble of that dimension, they can take a few weeks to recover. So it very much hinges on this questions this week-end. Can Liverpool overcome a dangerous Spurs team this week, the latter at loggerheads with Arsenal for the 4th UCL spot ? And will Man City have recovered enough mentally to beat an improving Newcastle side, something they would have no problem doing on a normal Sunday ? If they do and in convincing fashion, then I believe they will go on and retain the title, the only trophy left for them to look forward to. 

Liverpool have an arguably tougher assignment against Spurs because of the stakes for both. I mentioned before that I expect Liverpool to flounder at this stage but they still haven't done it. The adrenalin is pulling them forward at the moment. It reminds me of the Red Devils and their Treble year of 1999. I really hope the Kops win the UCL this year because, my personal opinion, Madrid winning it will be a travesty to football! They didn't deserve to win against PSG, certainly not against Chelsea and definitely not against City. I will grant them their fighting spirit but put aside all their on-field theatrics and talk of referee bias, they are by far overrated as a team playing in a poor league.  For the sake of football, Liverpool would be deserved winners but we'll get to that in due time. Much can happen before the final as the Kops will be huffing and puffing on all fronts while Madrid will be well-rested as they have already bagged La Liga.

Win: Man City

Draw: Liverpool/Spurs

Friday, April 29, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 34

 Newcastle v Liverpool - Home

Aston Villa v Norwich - Home

Southampton v Crystal Palace - Away

Watford v Burnley - Away

Wolves v Brighton - Draw

Leeds v Man City - Away

Everton v Chelsea - Away

Tottenham v Leicester - Home

West Ham v Arsenal - Home

Man Utd v Brentford - Home


I see Spurs making a decisive step forward in the race for tthe 4th UCL spot. Man Utd are out of the picture and I don't see Arsenal going to win at West Ham. Tottenham will host Leicester who had a tough mid-week match in Europe and I cannot see anything other than a home win here. Look for Son and Kane to again deliver the goals that will seal 3 all-important points for the Londoners.

I can see Liverpool dropping points at in-form Newcastle. It won't be an easy match for the Kops and the hosts have it well within them to gather at least a share of the spoils. That will be good news for Man City who should score by the bucketload against Leeds United. City should either extend or keep their lead at the top of the table by the week-end.

Win: Man City/Tottenham

Draw-no-bet: Newcastle

Friday, April 22, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 33

 Arsenal v Man Utd - Home

Leicester v Aston Villa - Home

Man City v Watford - Home

Norwich v Newcastle - Home

Brentford v Tottenham - Away

Brighton v Southampton - Draw

Burnley v Wolves - Home

Chelsea v West Ham - Draw

Liverpool v Everton - Home

Crystal Palace v Leeds - Home


Early kick-off match Arsenal against Man Utd will be huge in deciding the 4th UCL spot coveted by the Gunners, Red Devils and Spurs. At the moment, the Gunners have the advantage and I think they will blow away any remaining hopes Red Devils fans might still harbour. I mentioned Man Utd are a team on the skids last week and they duly confirmed that with a thrashing at Liverpool in mid-week. The talent is there but I now believe that Rangnick has proven not to be the right manager to put all that talent to good use. In fact, it is very possible in my opinion that had the club kept on with Ole, the results probably would have been better. It is to be seen whether the arrival of Erik ten Hag next year will improve things but one thing for sure is that the club is spent and done for the year. On the other side of the coin, the Gunners are battling and reaped an amazing win at Stamford Bridge in their last match. The team might lack the talent that Utd have on paper but the youngsters there are working their socks off to get results. Their battling qualities means that they are favourites to down out-of-sorts Man Utd. If they could put 3 against Chelsea, they will have no problem scoring against the Red Devils. Home win for this one.

Crystal Palace are a team with good form at home and they should have enough to overcome Leeds at Selhurst Park. Leeds are in a precarious position at the moment but they are sporting good form having won 3 out of their last 4 matches. Biesla almost ran the team to the ground for much of the season and Jesse March has righted the ship so far. The home team still needs a few more points to assure safety but they are showing good resiliency in their matches and playing more like a mid-table team. I see them edging this encounter and look good value at current odds.

Win: Arsenal, Crystal Palace

Friday, April 15, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 32

 Tottenham v Brighton - Home

Man Utd v Norwich - Home

Southampton v Arsenal - Away

Watford v Brentford - Away

Newcastle v Leicester - Home

West Ham v Burnley - Home


I've been wrong putting confidence in Man Utd the past couple of weeks and there is now hardly any doubt that the Red Devils are a team in disarray. Nothing has worked for them this season. Solksjaer left but interirm manager Ragnick didn't make the team better. Ronaldo came but the wins haven't followed. Varane came but the defence is as febrile as ever. Mason Greenwood has probably thrown away a promising career. Marcus Rashford looks devoid of any confidence on the pitch. I still doubt whether they can beat Norwich on Saturday; what should look like an easy 3 points might not look as straightforward given the rotten form of the home team. Still it's hard to see them lose this match; the Old Trafford fans must believe those players have some pride in themselves to try win a match in their pursuit for the 4th spot. That spot is probably elusive now but if they need a spark, then the Canaries are one of the easiest teams to play against. One last vote of confidence on Man Utd.

Newcastle are favoured against visiting Leicester for a few reasons. The Magpies have redressed their form lately and a starting to build a decent run at home. Leicester played in the Europa Conference in mid-week and will feel it fitness-wise. Sure, they scraped past PSV in a difficult match but there is a real lack of quality in their squad to rack up a series of wins in a short span. I see an outright home win here.\

Win: Newcastle/Man Utd

Friday, April 8, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 31

 Everton v Man Utd - Away

Arsenal v Brighton - Home

Southampton v Chelsea - Home

Watford v Leeds - Home

Aston Villa v Tottenham - Draw

Brentford v West Ham - Away

Leicester v Crystal Palace - Away

Norwich v Burnley - Away

Man City v Liverpool - Home


This might not be the title decider but it is definitely a 6-pointer that will give a massive boost to the winner of the Man City v Liverpool match. The Citizens will have home advantage although that might be a double-edged sword as that might actually put a greater chip on their shoulders. Form-wise, there is no contest that Liverpool have the edge although I really think that the time has come to hit the skids. I was mentioning previously that the Kops have forged out recent wins out of sheer will and luck and I don't think they will be able to maintain such cadence until the end. City have shown to be consistently good although they haven't been racking wins at the same rate, so they look the likelier to eke out a win here. 

Tomorrow's match at Goodison Park will be a good litmus test to know whether Man Utd are able to sustain the winning run needed to secure the 4th UCL spot that is seeming more and more elusive. It will also show whether I have been wrong in my assessment that they are too good to miss out on that final spot. Everton have been out-of-sorts with or without Lampard and if the Red Devils cannot capitalize on the home side's shortcomings, they will struggle against other teams until the rest of the season. I still think value to side one more time with the visitors here.

Win: Man Utd, Man City

Friday, April 1, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 30

 Liverpool v Watford - Home

Brighton v Norwich - Home

Burnley v Man City - Away

Chelsea v Brentford - Home

Leeds v Southampton - Away

Wolves v Aston Villa - Draw

Man Utd v Leicester - Home

West Ham v Everton - Home

Tottenham v Newcastle - Home


The title race has amazingly tightened and many pundits are actually tipping Liverpool to win it all. If that were the case, it would have been a monumental collapse from Guardiola's men as they seemed miles ahead just a few weeks back. I don't think they will bottle it though. I love it that the Kops have bridged the gap as backing City for the title has been made more affordable. Liverpool have been on a terrific run of late but even the hardest Kop fan will admit that they had a few lucky run-ins along the way. I think their challenge will peter out sooner than later particularly that Salah and Mane will be feeling the effects of their recent exhausting trips back home. I say back City to beat Burnley and for the title as well.

The race for fourth place is becoming more and more interesting and if Man Utd don't win it, they will only have themselves to blame. I think they are ripe for a serious run-in for the fourth spot but they have to make the difference on the pitch. It all starts against Leicester on Saturday and a comprehensive win is needed to show their serious credentials. I think they will show it.

Win: Man Utd, Man City 

Friday, March 25, 2022

Dubai World Cup Night 2022

 Yay, exciting times indeed as Meydan hosts Dubai World Cup night, which heralds the return to the Flat season! So much to look forward again this year, with the likes of Baaeed in England, Life in Good state-side and the possible coming of the Australians at Royal Ascot, to say the least. Here are my thoughts on the Meydan card.

Mubakker looks over-priced in the Godolphin Mile and looks a good each-way punt. He was gunned down over course and distance in his last race but the winner had the benefit of the rails. The son of Speightstown has one of the most solid forms in the field and should be in the thereabouts.

Manobo is a banker bet for the Dubai Gold Cup. The son of Sea the Stars should stroll in this company and get on to serious top-level staying races in Europe. This is a name to watch over the course of the year.

Man of Promise looks a winner for the Al Quoz sprint and the main danger could be his stable companion Creative Force. The son of Into Mischief has won twice convincingly during the festival and should be hard to beat if he has maintained his level of form. Creative Force is a Group 1 winner but might need the run after a 161-day absence.

I don't have much conviction for the UAE Derby but the chances are that it will either go to an American or Japanese-trained horse, based on the history of the race. In that regard, it could end up being a match between Combustion and Pinehurst.

The Dubai Golden Shaheen usually goes to a fast American horse and Dr Schivel and Drain the Clock look very well placed here. Wondrwherecraigis could be the other American playing spoiler here.

I like Schnell Meister from Japan to take the Dubai Turf. This is a proven Group 1 winner that looks to enhance Japanese reputations as top-class middle-distance runners. I doubt the American turf champion Colonel Liam is of the same standard.

The Dubai Scheema Classic looks a fantastic race and again here the Japanese look strong but the British can hold their own too. To have to pick from the quality bunch can be an excruciating exercise but Authority, Glory Vase, Alenquer and Dubai Honour have a great chance to add to their glowing reputations.

Life is Good could prove to be way too good in the Dubai World Cup. Unless this turns out to be an upset result like the Saudi Cup, this should turn out to be a duel between Life is Good and Hot Rod Charlie. I think the former is the best horse dirt in the world and has no-one within touching distance at the moment. He should win this and give Pletcher a first World Cup.