Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year 2012!

Man Utd easily got the 3 expected points by thrashing Wigan. With his hat-trick, Berbatov is giving reminders that he is far from finished at Old Trafford. He has technical qualities and mental intelligence that the other strikers in the team do not have, which his manager can call upon when his strike force of Rooney and Chicharito is under par or not available.

The New Year fixtures are on the way and I believe it should be rewarding to keep confidence in both Manchester teams. The Red Devils host Blackburn in what should be a Win formality for them. I recommend them as a straight Win.

Man City travel to Sunderland and I cannot see the visitors losing this one. They misfired against West Brom in their last match in what must surely be a temporary setback for such a talented team. Sunderland will be without a few regulars, so my recommendation is for a draw-no-bet on Man City.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year 2012, may it be filled with plenty of winners!

Win: Man Utd
Draw-no-bet: Man City

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day football

Long live the Premier League with its Boxing Day fixtures and hopefully the same thought will prevail after the day's match results.

Man Utd are in a rich vein of form as they host Wigan, a club they've been treating as whipping boys since the Latics joined the top flight about a decade ago now. To the visitors' credit, they have been able to stand their ground against top clubs recently by drawing with Chelsea and Liverpool. So the Red Devils will be wrong to go into this game thinking that they are in for a stroll in the park. Since their defeat at Basle, Man Utd have gone on to record impressive wins, none less than last week's 5-0 victory against a usually home-strong Fulham team. They are losing players to injury at an alarming rate, the latest victims being Ashley Young and the very versatile Phil Jones. Still, they've very well covered in most areas and the return of Chicharito gives them serious fire power in attack. I don't think the hosts will disappoint the Old Trafford faithful and the surest selection of the day looks to be a straight win for the Red Devils; that's the recommendation.

Win: Man Utd

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Chelsea blues

Man City and Inter Milan won as expected; pretty straightforward selections. Man Utd went to thrash Fulham 5-0 in London, which was a fantastic result for the Mancunians. They seem to be in great form and cannot be dismissed at the moment. They will not give up their title cheaply to their city rivals by any means! I still think strongly that City are in the driving seat.

Chelsea and Tottenham drew to the delight of both Manchester teams. Although John Terry had a very good game, I don't expect him to be able to give commanding performances game-in game-out until his prosecution affair is sorted out. There isn't any doubt that this will affect his game and his mental sharpness in the games to come. In fact, he could be a liability to his already-struggling defence. No doubt that courting Gary Cahill is a priority for Villa Boas at this moment. With or without John Terry, Chelsea will win neither the Premier League nor the Champions League, that's a given, in my mind. They are bound to lose Drogba for the Africa Cup in January. Realistically, they could even be out of the top 3 if Tottenham can keep their momentum. The Blues are still a good club with able players but I would not go close to punting on them for any title this year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mid-week EPL and Serie A

A full mid-week programme of Premier League games takes centre-stage starting today.

Man City could very well extend their lead at the top as they welcome Stoke. The Potters are always a tough side to overcome either at home or on the road. They will be without Ryan Shawcross, their main pivot at the back. City will have to take this game with the same urgency as they did against Arsenal last week-end if they are to get the 3 points. I can't see Stoke winning this game, so the recommendation is a draw-no-bet on Man City.

Second-place Man Utd travel to Craven Cottage where it's always a struggle for visiting teams to get the 3 points. Fulham are strong at home and will surely provide stronger opposition than QPR last week-end against the Red Devils. Man Utd's form is a little unpredictable at the moment as they can be their dominant selves against the likes of Villa and QPR, but at the same time play poorly against minnows like Basle. They seem to alternate the good and bad games, and it is difficult what type of showing they will display against a strong Fulham team. The result of this game can go either way.

In the Serie A, Inter's seeming revival looks set to continue as they welcome bottom-club Lecce at the San Siro. Obviously, Inter cannot inspire 100% confidence anymore, but they should have too many guns for a leaky Lecce side that looks prime to be relegated at the end of the season . The hosts are recommended as a draw-no-bet as well.

Draw-no-bet: Man City, Inter Milan

Monday, December 19, 2011

Keep it flowing

Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid all won, while Newcastle drew for a voided punt. The Magpies did not allow a shot on goal and had 22 shots themselves but couldn't find the net. Draw-no-bets are great in those circumstances in that they forgive strikers' day-offs.

Both Manchester clubs were impressive over the week-end in their wins. Man City came out deserved winners over Arsenal in a thrilling game at the Etihaad Stadium. They could have won by more. Man Utd were equally impressive in winning at Loftus Road. The scoreline should have been at least 5 goals difference if they had been more clinical in their finishing and with some luck. I have the feeling that there has been a sense of urgency for the Red Devils to double their efforts since their shocking Champions League exit so as not to be empty-handed trophy-wise at the end of the season. They don't have much room for any more mistakes.

Christiano Ronaldo partly redeemed himself after his nightmare Clasico game by firing a hat-trick against sorry Sevilla. I mentioned it before, I don't think there has ever been a midfielder with such a prolific record of goals. Messi comes close in terms of goal scoring but Ronaldo's goal ratio-to-games is tops. While the Los Blancos were ensuring that they were top of the table come the winter break, their nemesis Barcelona were celebrating yet another title by claiming the World Club Championship in Japan.  Their short express trip to Japan shouldn't have any detrimental effect, physically speaking, on the Blaugrana since they are on their way to the holidays anyway! The second-half of the season sounds breathtaking already.

While the rest of Europe has now gone on a break, the EPL will plough on during the festivities. The congested fixtures come Boxing Day and New Year are some of the elements that make the EPL such a spectacular league. It might be the reason of the burn-out of England's players at international tournaments or of English teams in the Champions League, but football fans surely won't be complaining of the continuance of football. No chance of getting football withdrawal symptoms, at least not for the EPL!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Week-end football

Really Lovely was absolutely lovely in winning her maiden race very easily.

Today saw the draws of the European Cup matches and British teams look to have it pretty tough. But it's really too early to analyze the match-ups because come February, many factors will have changed. So I will get to the matches at that time. Here is my preview of this week-end's football action.

I see Newcastle renewing with their winning ways as they host Chelsea. The Magpies have had a difficult few weeks having met with the likes of Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea, and will be content to finally meet a team that is not superior to theirs. Swansea are not doing as badly as many, including I, expected in the top flight and it remains to be seen if they can keep improving their points tally as the season progresses. Newcastle is also a team that is over-performing although they have really ridden their luck in a few games. They are a tough team to overcome at home and I expect them to either get the full 3 points, or at least a draw from this encounter. I recommend them as a draw-no-bet.

In Serie A, Juventus and AC Milan look set to bag all 3 points as they welcome struggling Novara and Siena respectively. I am always suspect of this Juventus side as they always seem to be dropping one nugget or two at the wrong time, so it's safest to have them as a draw-no-bet; Milan is recommended as a Win.

In La Liga, Real Madrid face a tough trip to Sevilla. The hosts are a very inconsistent team capable of the best to the worst. Although there is no doubt that the Los Blancos will have a challenging night, I see value in backing them as a draw-no-bet. Madrid will want to lead the league come the winter break and they should be able to do that by winning at least a point at Sevilla.

Win: AC Milan
Draw-no-bet: Newcastle, Real Madrid, Juventus

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Friday at Southwell

The confidence on Lazio was spot on and they beat Sporting 2-0, but Fulham flattered to disappoint by only drawing with Odense after leading by 2 goals and conceding a last-gap goal in the dying seconds of the game. How they managed not to win this game is just beyond belief.

All-weather racing is going about its merry way and I like Really Lovely in the 12:25 Maiden race at Southwell. The well-bred daugther of Galileo has yet to win in 5 attempts and must have been costing punters as she has been well-backed in her outings. She was short of room in her last race, so her 6th place should be discarded. The opposition on Friday looks nothing out of the ordinary and I reckon Really Lovely has a great chance to be in the placings. She might not win but she looks to be in the first 3, so I recommend her as a Place.

Place: Really Lovely

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Europa action

With the Champions League group stages done and dusted, we are left with the less-savoury Europa games for the week. There are 2 home teams that I like a lot for tomorrow's games; Fulham and Lazio.

Fulham host bottom-club Odense and will be on the look-out for 3 points if they are to keep their options of qualifying for the next round. Marin Jol's men are a formidable force at home and although the talk at Craven Cottage this week has been a possible rift between the manager and striker Zamora, the hosts should have too much class against the Danish side. I recommend Fulham as a Win.

Lazio welcome group leaders Sporting Lisbon and I see value in backing the Italians here. They are very strong at home, having yet to taste defeat on their ground. Sporting have already qualified for the next round and will certainly not be fielding their strongest team. Moreover, quite a few of their regulars are out injured. This is a game that Lazio must win to keep their qualifying chances alive and I cannot see them being beaten at home in these conditions. They are recommended as a draw-no-bet.

Win: Fulham
Draw-no-bet: Lazio

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lifeline to pursuers

Very patchy run at the moment as Man Utd won as predicted, but Dortmund drew for a voided punt, and Real Madrid lost to Barcelona over the week-end.

The game at the Bernabeu could have really gone either way and it was a case of Barcelona realism talking as they took the most of their chances while Real Madrid spurned some great ones, uncharacteristically through Ronaldo. While Mourinho's persistence on the word "luck" to describe Barca's second goal holds water, the same can be same of Real's opening goal. A gift from Valdes. Certainly, had Ronaldo found the net to make it two nil when he only had the Barcelona keeper to beat, the game would probably have taken a different steering as Real would have taken a quite unassailable lead at that point of the match.

So what to make after the Clasico result? With one match still in hand, I still believe that Real hold a minute advantage at this stage. Barcelona have got the World Club Cup competition to address and it remains to be seen how its players will be affected by the congested fixture. It will be a case of which of the two avoids losing points to the rest of the league before the decisive match at the Nou Camp. But clearly, the mental and point advantage that Madrid were enjoying before their defeat has mostly vanished and it is a case of them trying to maximize points by going on a long winning run again.

In the EPL, Man City lost to Chelsea and allowing neighbours Man Utd to bridge the gap to 2 points. The Red Devils look set to start a winning run again after dispatching Wolves. Having Rooney regain his scoring touch must have been a great welcome and will be all too important for them given that they have lost Chicharito for quite a long time. It's still advantage Man City though for many reasons; more complete squad, Utd lost their best defender Vidic for the season, return leg will be at Etihad Stadium.

I still strongly think they are deserving favourites for the title although Utd will not go down without fighting. Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal will only be distant contenders, in my opinion.

Friday, December 9, 2011

What kind of Clasico?

Interesting week-end in the Premier League where Man City are set for a tough test at Chelsea. This game is really too close to call, and it can go either way. That's one major hurdle in the Citizens' quest for the title and if they get 3 points out of it, their odds will surely go even lower.

The surest outcome in the EPL looks to be at Old Trafford where the reeling Red Devils welcome Wolves. The hosts suffered yet another setback when they lost Vidic for the season. Given that they probably were given the hair dryer treatment the whole week by boss Sir Alex Ferguson, they should be able to squeeze through this game. It's safest to go draw-no-bet on them, given that confidence must be at an very low level at Utd.

All the other games in the EPL look tight, so I wouldn't be surprised to see lots of draw matches this week-end.

The focus in European football is really on Sunday's El Clasico. These Clasico's have disappointed last year as they were subject to an abysmal level of un-fair play. So I will not have my spirits raised on those matches this year even though they clearly will oppose the 2 best football sides in the world, not just Spain or Europe. I've mentioned over the past weeks that Madrid look set to end years of domination from their Barcelona rivals, and this game on Sunday will be right for them to prove that they can be on a par with their fierce rivals. Barcelona are still the best team in the world and will be hard to beat, but they have lacked success on the road this year and nothing seems to indicate that they will have improved on their travels as they reach the Bernabeu. Madrid has the hunger and are driven by a manager that practically never loses at home. I see value in backing the hosts as draw-no-bet in this game. Obviously, it's never a sure thing to go against Barcelona, but the conditions look ripe to be on the side of the Los Blancos, assuming the inherent risk element involved. I think Madrid will be the side partying after the game.

In Germany, I like Dortmund as it hosts Kaiserslautern. A draw-no-bet on them should be safe.

Draw-no-bet: Man Utd, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Clear out

Both Manchester teams kicked out of the Champions League at the group stage! While City beat Bayern, albeit with futility, the Red Devils were beaten and KO'd in Basle.

There is no doubt which part of Manchester is hurting the most right now. The words at Old Trafford must be Clear Out! If the Carling Cup defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace must have started the clearing process, yesterday's defeat in Switzerland will most certainly have upped the urgency! I have a feeling that a lot of names, big or small, will not come back after next Summer after this disastrous exit from the Champions League.

The problem yesterday though was mostly Rooney. His mind is clearly not in his football since his family's scam accusation problems. How many goals has he scored since they were made public? One measly goal... On his best form, he would have scored at least 2 yesterday.

The other obvious problem at Utd is the injury list. There was no Chicharito, Berbatov or Owen to bail out the severely depleted attack. The only real playmaker of the team, Cleverley, was also out. One cannot help but ask if Sneijder would have filled beautifully in that spot, only if he had been signed!

However, in the end, the manager mostly always gets it right and although the ship is showing serious signs of sinking, Sir Alex Ferguson has proven to have the magic touch to bring it up again.

Man City for the title, as I have been writing, looks very cozy at the moment though.Very cozy indeed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Qualification at stake

Chelsea saved their scalp in the Champions League by beating Valencia. Drogba looks on fire lately; coincidentally the goals are flowing for him just after he announced that he will not be renewing his current contract! The saying that players look to be at their utmost best during negotiation time is really not far from the truth, really!

On Wednesday, it will be Man Utd's turn to try to save themselves from embarrassment by winning their qualification in Switzerland. Despite their current injury problems, I see them either winning or drawing their match. The fringe players can still make a big impact and they certainly have got the European experience to overcome Basle. Since they need a draw to qualify, I recommend them as a draw-no-bet and/or to qualify, whichever odds are better.

Man City host Bayern Munich and I see value in the Citizens here. They have to win to have any chance of qualifying to the next round, although a win will be futile if Napoli goes to win at Villareal. Bayern Munich have already qualified and look set not to play their first team. Also, as they are finding out in the Bundesliga, they are not as formidable without their midfield dynamo Bastian Schweinsteiger. Man City look set to capitalize on any such weaknesses in the visitors' team and are recommended as a draw-no-bet.

Draw-no-bet: Man Utd, Man City

Monday, December 5, 2011

They are back!

7 winners out of 8 over the week-end; Everton failed at home to Stoke while the rest of the selections won. Very frustrating not to hit a perfect score on this one; Stoke are just playing spoilers and it's hard to gauge their actual form going into a game. Suffice to say it's better to stay away from Mowbray's men.

Very much the expected statu quo as far as the major European league tables are concerned. In the EPL, Man Utd clang on to the 5-point deficit to City after the Citizens had thrashed Norwich. However, they lost Chicharito in the process, which might make life a little difficult for Sir Alex Ferguson given that he's already without Berbatov and Owen for a while.

In La Liga, both Real and Barcelona won against minnows, and it's this coming week-end's Clasico that will play a major role in the destiny of the title. I'll get to the game in due time.

There are 2 events of note that took my attention over the week-end and they were not football related. The first one is Tiger's first PGA Tour win in 2 years. It looks like he's finally back and that should set him up very nicely for next year. A dominant Tiger is one of the best recommendations in Major tournaments.

Talking of dominance, Igugu, the South African superstar filly made her return to the tracks on Sunday, and it was a winning one as well. This followed the winning return a few days before, of another superstar filly in Ebony Flyer, who cantered home easily after months off the track due to an operation. According to Team Valor supremo, Barry Irwin, she's the best filly he's ever had; better than Ipi Tombe, kind of scary to think of it! Ebony Flyer did beat Igugu before, so she's the real deal. At 17.1 hands, she's even more imposing than Zenyatta. Igugu/Ebony Flyer, 2 fillies to follow closely in this coming South African racing season.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Week-end Preview

Man Utd drew for a voided punt, but Tottenham lost at home, which was very frustrating given that they played with an extra man for more than half of the match. My bad call on that one. Week-end football is coming up and here are my selections.

In the EPL, Man City will look to either extend or maintain their lead. They host Norwich in what should be 3 garnered points for the Citizens. Although their form has been sketchy in the past few matches, I cannot see them lose this game; a draw-no-bet on the hosts is safe.

I also like Everton's chances at home to Stoke. The visitors have played an Europa game in mid-week and are on very suspect form of late. The Toffees are playing great football and obtaining great results lately, and I see them riding the momentum for a few more matches. Everton is recommended as a draw-no-bet as well.

In Spain, more of the same as Barcelona cannot afford to lose points against Levante. The hosts are recommended as a Win. Real Madrid travel to Sporting Gijon, who they will not take lightly as the same Gijon team caused a massive upset by winning the league game at the Bernabeu last year. Although Real should bag the 3 points, a draw-no-bet on them looks to be as rewarding as safe. I also like Valencia's chances as they host Espanol. Another draw-no-bet recommendation on the in-form striker Soldado and his team.

Let's make a rare stint in Italy where some front players look to have easy pickings as they host struggling teams. Juventus should beat Cesena and a Win recommendation is placed on the hosts. Lazio and Napoli should overcome Novara and Lecce respectively, but it's safer to have those as draw-no-bet and play it cautions for those games.

Win: Juventus, Barcelona
Draw-no-bet: Man City, Everton, Napoli, Lazio, Real Madrid, Valencia

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday football

Barcelona cosily dispatched Rayo in their safe haven of Nou Camp. A few things of note as I watched the game; Rayo tried to go mano-a-mano with Guardiola's men, trying to pressurize and hurry them off the ball. That can work well for half an hour, but after that, the legs are no longer there to stifle Barca's relentless attacking prowess. But credit to the visitors for giving it their all though. The other thing is the return of Alexis Sanchez for the Blaugrana. This guy can run at speed with the ball, no doubt. Gareth Bale, Nani, Sanchez, players of the same class level, in my opinion.

Today sees the last leg of the Carling Cup being played; yesterday Chelsea got dumped by Liverpool adding to the woes of Villa-Boas. With the Terry racial issue, the non-commitment of Drogba and the club's poor form, things are certainly not rosy at Stamford Bridge. Arsenal were eliminated by Man City, but that's no surprise there, it was more a case of boys playing against men.

Man Utd host Crystal Palace and the unsurprising word from Old Trafford is that the youngsters will play. Well, I think they will be surrounded pretty securely by the likes of Berbatov, Rafael, Smalling etc, who bring top-class experience with them. The visitors have a more important League game on Friday, so there is every chance that they will not be fielding their strongest team for tonight's game. With this in mind, the hosts look to have the upper hand and are recommended as a draw-no-bet. They will either win this game in 90 minutes or draw it out.

Tonight also sees Europa League action and Tottenham host Greek outfit PAOK. The first leg game ended draw-less, with Tottenham fielding one of their most inexperienced teams ever for a European game. This time, the stakes are different as failure to win will most certainly eliminate them from the competition. Harry Redknapp is a master at these kinds of encounters and he will certainly be fielding a competitive team to get the 3 points. I recommend Tottenham as a draw-no-bet as well.

Draw-no-bet: Man Utd, Tottenham

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Real in the clear

O Barca! It looked to be another great week-end with Chelsea and Madrid winning, and Man Utd drawing for a voided punt, until Barcelona did the unthinkable and got sunk at Getafe. I wrote last week about starting to take position on Real Madrid for the title; I more than strongly think that they cannot be caught. Obviously, the mumblings from the Barca camp is that there is still a long way to go, but they are voices of desperation at the task ahead of them. For all I can see, the longer the race, the longer can Madrid prolong their lead! They are the hungrier team, and with 6 points already in hand, they won't be allowed to rest on their laurels with a coach like Mourinho. Obviously, Christiano Ronaldo has to stay injury-free until the end of the campaign to greatly help their cause. They are really in the clear

In the Premier League, the gap is still 5 points between the 2 Manchester teams. I couldn't believe the headlines with David Beckham saying that City had NO chance to win the title! Usually he talks sense, but this time he certainly set aside all reasoning, talking as a Utd fan. Obviously, City have a great chance to win the title and Utd cannot afford to continue misfiring like against the likes of Newcastle this week-end. Sure, there's the controversial penalty, but the problem is deeper, in that the team is being continually rotated to make due of injuries and lack of a real playmaker.

The racing news of the week-end was the defeat of Danedream in the Japan Cup. I don't think she was outclassed in finishing sixth, around 4 lengths off the winner. Obviously the winner Buena Vista is a super filly on her own and deserves this win more than anyone else after having been quite harshly disqualified in last year's edition. There's a lot of upside in following Danedream next year as she looks to get even better, in my opinion.

Going back to football, in a few hours, Barcelona host Rayo Vellacano for a La Liga game. No doubt here, however disappointing the Blaugrana were against Getafe, they are impenetrable at the Nou Camp and should win this handily. A straight win is an easy recommendation here if you're willing to go for the considerably short odds.

Win: Barcelona

Friday, November 25, 2011

Week-end football

Valencia was an oh-so-easy winner against poor Genk, thrashing them 7-0. No surprise there. Week-end football is coming up and am hoping that the hot streak continues, so let's get at it.

A struggling Chelsea side is hosting Wolves and there is no manager in the game under pressure as is Villa-Boas nowadays. A defeat could be the tipping point for him to be toppled. However, I don't think they will lose this game. Wolves will be missing a few first-team players, and the Blues will be eager to right their sinking ship. Their lack of confidence might be low, but in the end Chelsea should come up with at least a point in this game. A draw-no-bet on the hosts is recommended.

Man Utd host Newcastle and getting the 3 points is far from a certainty for the Red Devils. The recent loss of Anderson to injury means that their midfield is really stretched to the limit. They had a hard game against Benfica in mid-week, which is hardly the best preparation to face the Magpies. I personally think there are big question marks regarding Rooney; his recent hip injury, his lack of goal scoring since the news of his family being involved in betting scams, and his re-positioning in a midfield role in the team. It will be interesting if he finds his full confidence back against Newcastle, a team he's been known to have the knack of scoring goals against. As for Pardew's men, they have overachieved since the start, but will be missing a few first choice players for the game. I would not be surprised if this game ended in a draw, and I can't see the hosts losing this; so a draw-no-bet on Man Utd is recommended.

The banker of the week-end is Real Madrid who host Athletico Madrid. The Los Blancos haven't lost to their city rivals for years, and that won't change over the week-end. Real is on fire right now. Athletico will be missing many players including their much-vaunted striker Falcao. I see lots of goals for the hosts in this game. They will certainly win and they are an easy Win recommendation.

Barcelona are on the road to Getafe. The Blaugrana were impressive in midweek by winning at the San Siro. Once Real will have dispatched Athletico, Messi and co will have no choice to win to retain the gap to 3 points between them and the Los Blancos. They should have all the class and firepower to do it and should win their game. They are recommended as an outright Win as well.

Win: Real Madrid, Barcelona
Draw-no-bet: Chelsea, Man Utd

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wednesday football

Bayern Munich easily beat Villareal for a winning selection.

Staying in the Champions League on Wednesday, Valencia look to be atoning on their week-end loss to Real Madrid when they host Belgian outfit Racing Genk. Their first match ended into a goal-less draw although the Spaniards overwhelmed their opponents in shots and possession. The 3 points are ripe for the taking for the hosts as they try to secure second place from Bayern Leverkusen. They cannot afford to lose points in this match and I recommend them as an outright win.

Win: Valencia

Monday, November 21, 2011

Crystal clear at the top

6 wins out of 6 recommendations over the week-end. Seem to be riding a great form at the moment. Man City, Man Utd, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Stuttgart and Schalke all won.

In the EPL, it's NO longer premature to say that the title will go between the 2 Manchester sides. I honestly cannot see any other team disputing it. And if I have to make a bold prediction, Man City are in a position to win the Premiership very handily this year. Just my opinion. At the moment, the Red Devils are huffing and puffing, missing the influence of Rooney up-front as they try to cover for the lack of a real play-maker with the absence of Cleverley due to injury. They must ensure that they do not lose points during their relatively modest form of late, or else City could open an insurmountable gap by Christmas time. Obviously, things will change and even the Citizens' form will suffer the normal season's ebbs and flows, but one cannot help feel that they have a deep-enough squad to withstand the challenges ahead. If Mancini can steer the ship alright, they are in a royal position to win it. Never discount Alex Ferguson's men though, they will never give up the fight, certain not to their neighbours!

I have the same feeling regarding Real Madrid in La Liga. They are getting better and better, they have Mourinho, they have Christiano Ronaldo, and they have the upper hand on Barcelona right now.  Certainly the 3 hard-earned points at the Mestella this week-end will enormously help the Los Blancos at the end of the campaign. The Blaugrana just cannot afford to lose points as Madrid look to be a very strong leader.

At the moment, for those playing the long view/big returns game, it might make sense to start taking a gradual position on both Man City and Real Madrid to win their respective titles.

On Champions League Tuesday, I like Bayern Munich to overcome Villareal at home. The hosts lost to Dortmund over the week-end, a game which turned out to be a trap as I was mentioning during my preview. However, Villareal is a club in transition and although they have kept a clean sheet in their past 3 games, their level is certainly not up to par to previous years'. The Bavarians will be keen to win this game to secure top spot and I just cannot see them failing against the struggling Spanish team. The hosts are a strong recommendation for a draw-no-bet.

Draw-no-bet: Bayern Munich

Friday, November 18, 2011

Week-end preview

Good old club football is back after the boring international friendlies. Just need to make sure that the selections are not affected by the disruption of the 2-week break and most importantly, from injuries.

In the EPL, Man City should overcome Newcastle at home. The Magpies are still unbeaten at this stage and re the surprise package of the first half of the season. However, they will be missing a few starting players like Tiote in midfield and Best in attack. Man City can play 2 teams as their depth in squad is pretty much unparalleled in the Premiership. The team is so potent that goals can come from anywhere. I recommend Man City as a strong draw-no-bet.

Man Utd visit Swansea and should be able to keep up the pressure on neighbours City. Although they will be without Cleverley, Wellbeck and Owen, the fringe players can easily add their bit to the team. I don't expect this game to be a goal fest but I see the Red Devils edging this out at the end. It won't be easy for them, but they should have too much class for the hosts. I recommend Man Utd as a draw-no-bet as well.

In Spain, Barcelona should have no problem to overcome Zaragoza at home. Already trailing Real Madrid by 3 points, it will be important for Messi and co to get maximum points at the Nou Camp. They are an easy Win recommendation. The Los Blancos face an arguably tough task visiting third-place Valencia, who happen to be unbeaten at home so far. This is the kind of game where there is value backing Mourinho's team as a draw-no-bet. I see them getting at least a point from this match, and should they get the 3 points, they would have successfully removed a giant obstacle on their path to the title.

In Germany, it's the top match between Dortmund and Munich. Bayern lost their influential midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger recently and it will be interesting to see how it affects their dynamic. This game is too close to call although the hosts clearly have the advantage of home soil. Rather, I will focus on the Schalke-Nurnberg and Stuttgart-Augsburg matches where the hosts look to be enjoying a massive home advantage and are thus recommended as strong draw-no-bets.

Win: Barcelona
Draw-no-bet: Man City, Man Utd, Real Madrid, Schalke, Stuttgart

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Racing resources

I'm often asked about online resources on thoroughbred racing and I'm more than happy to comment on some of those that I think provide good and useful information.

Obviously, as all racing people know, the premier racing site for English and European racing is the Racing Post ( It contains THE database for all horses and their performances including interesting statistics. Their very well-classified News section is always the quickest to update. For over a year now, they have started a comprehensive Video section with features and race replays etc. I don't necessarily agree with their tv pundits as some of them seem to be more interested into showmanship, but some of their features on horses and trainers are fine. is another excellent website. I really like the fact that they display the pedigree of the horses on the race cards. They have an exceptional free Video library and their occasional features on horses, trainers is unsurpassed. I find them useful for those not having access to their satellite tv channel, when on trips etc. If a replay of a UK race is not available at, it is most probably in the racing video section of or is quickly becoming one of my favourite sites. The US equivalent of the Racing Post, its main focus is still mainly US racing but it has been revamped recently and very often offers live feeds of important races around the world for free. For instance, Dubai racing, the Melbourne Cup, Breeders Cup, Champions Stakes etc, were all broadcasted live on the site.

On the literature side, there are a few good daily publications such as,, and which I know many columnists refer to.

I find that all of the above provide a certain appeal and the way to benefit from them is to be selective from each. Get what you feel is the best out of each, be it pedigree queries, news, race cards, statistics etc.

Last, many jockeys and trainers have personal web sites as well as Twitter accounts. It's hard to gather whether reading those that are of actual benefit for analysis since they deal with a lot of subjective matter. Will a trainer ever publicly state that a horse he's running has no chance? Read their words with caution!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cartier coronation

It's jubilation galore as Ireland, Portugal and Czechoslovakia justified the confidence placed in them in these playoffs. While the Irish and Czechs had virtually booked their tickets to the finals in the first leg, the Portuguese were left with all to do to overcome the Bosnians and they did not disappoint after another brilliant display from Christiano Ronaldo.

At this moment, it's obviously too early to have any kind of inkling as to how all the qualified teams will fare at Euro 2012. Injuries, team form, suspensions, fatigue etc are bound to be major factors and it will be speculative to have a punt on any one of them now.

In racing, the Cartier awards were held yesterday and I pretty much am agreeable with the outcome in all the categories. Invincible Frankel winning the top honours is stating the obvious. Cirrus des Aigles beating So You Think for the older male category is fine too since he beat the Ballydoyle horse in the Champion Stakes. Danedream's stupendous win in the Arc was voted best filly over Blue Bunting. The manner of her victory was certainly decisive there. Dabirsim was unbeaten in 5 races as a juvenile and won the category deservedly. It will be interesting how he fares next year. Being by young Japanese stallion Hat Trick, there is not much history or guidance as to the route of his development. Fame and Glory was best stayer but you feel he can't be categorized in the same class as Yeats, yet!

The American version of the Cartier, the Eclipse awards, is on the other hand, spurring lots of debate mainly as regards crowning Horse of the Year. Basically there is no clear front runner as a few of the top contenders flopped at the recent Breeders Cup. The debate is sure to rage on until January when the winners will be announced.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ramblings from the week-end

Sitting pretty on Ireland and the Czechs as they are virtually through to the Finals after convincing wins in the first leg. Portugal was unable to strike in Bosnia, and although they are still the favourites, there is a risk that they could be outdone on away goals. Imagine Bosnia scoring the first goal and parking the bus... My opinion is that Portugal have enough quality and firepower to score a few against the Bosnians at home and are still the more likely to go through. It wouldn't hurt however to cover your positions if you're already loaded on them to qualify in case the visitors play for the away goals. After all, returns from the Ireland and Czechs qualifying should be more than enough to take a small cover on Portugal-Bosnia match.

A few tidbits from the sporting world over this past week-end. I was looking much forward to the return to the track of Overdose, the Budapest Bullet, in Italy. He duly won and beat Italy's best sprinter by half-a-length. Considering that he won this race by 10 lengths a couple of years back, before his feet problems, it can be strongly argued whether he's still at the peak of his powers. Being a 6-year old now definitely does not help. My assessment is that he's still a good sprinter and can win in lesser fields of Italy and Germany, but will find it very hard against proven sprinters in France, England and Hong Kong, where the connections are planning to race him next. We'll see if he can be better than what he showed on Sunday.

In football, England beat Spain in the international friendly. Whether they were dominated or not, a Win is a win, and a great moral boost for the hosts. No nation will beat Spain at the moment by matching their football. Even a great footballing side like the Netherlands had to resort to negative tactics in the World Cup final to try to break the rhythm of the Spanish team. It nearly worked for them. I think Saturday's win will have given the team belief that they can get a result against any team but they have to build on that result, or else they are bound to regress to the doldrums and remain a perennial disappointment.

In golf, could Tiger be on his way back? It certainly looks so after an encouraging third in the Australian Open. The guy's trying new things with a new caddie; it will take time for him to get back to his winning ways and dominance, but he'll win again for sure. Next year is definitely the year to start following him like at the start of this century.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Euro 2012 Playoffs

Enchanted Dream was a disappointing unplaced; reading her trainer's comments, she apparently did not take to the fibresand, but she did well on her last appearance on it. I think that she got outpaced and the 7 furlongs was a little on the sharp side for her. A longer distance would have suited her better.

In a few hours, the Euro 2012 playoffs will commence and I unreservedly think Portugal, Ireland and the Czechs are going to go through. No surprise there as they are favourites of their ties. As regards Turkey against Croatia, I think the underdogs Turks have a great chance to qualify; at this stage, mental toughness will shine through and the Turk national team certainly has the edge over the Croats in this regard. For value punters, Turkey is the one to look at, in my opinion, in these playoffs

Portugal should be able to overcome Bosnia over 2 legs. They not only can count on Christiano Ronaldo, but also a cast of other big-game players like Nani, Meireles etc. The Portuguese to qualify is the recommendation.

Ireland will not have a better chance to qualify as they play Estonia. Trappatoni is a master trainer who will get his tactics right; I hope the Irish go through because of the injustice suffered at the hands (no pun-intended!) of the Thierry Henry fraud in the World Cup 2010 playoffs. I think they will and recommend to qualify as well.

Finally, it looks to be close between the Czechs and Montenegro but the former boast a much richer pedigree in the competition. They are maybe slightly weaker than the Czech teams of a few years back, but still a formidable force to reckon with. I recommend the Peter Cech and his acolytes to go through.

To qualify: Ireland, Portugal, Czechoslovakia

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thursday at Southwell

With the end of the regular racing season and the international football break, this is a very quiet week by the usual standards. The all-weather cards ensure that flat racing is never really off, though.

On Thursday, the 14:20 race-card at Southwell looks a good spot for Enchanted Dream from the Margarson stable to break her maiden. The daughter of Halling was a good second over course and distance 17 days ago and should be among the main contenders in this rather weak field. The race favourite Afkar, from the Clive Brittain stable should provide the main threat. I cannot see Enchanted Dream out of the placings, so I recommend her as a Place.

Place: Enchanted Dream

Monday, November 7, 2011

Week-end to remember

A huge week-end indeed it was as 9 out of the 11 recommendations worked wonders, 1 voided (Liverpool) and 1 lost (Barcelona to win). It would have been tops if the Blaugrana had won, but even so, the rest made up for a week-end to remember.

In football, Man Utd, Real Madrid, Man City, Aston Villa, Chelsea all won, Liverpool drew for a voided punt, and Barcelona only drew as well. It was a close shave for the Red Devils who only had to thank old team-mate Wes Brown for an own goal. Barcelona were undone by an unplayable field, that's one of the ways to stop them. Real Madrid are now 3 points clear and the Catalans will be mindful to mind the gap.

Racing was tops with Goldikova justifying the confidence of a Place result, and beating Strong Suit in a match-bet. Though jockey Peslier certainly caused trouble to the others with a petulant change of lane to give his mount clear daylight, I doubt that the affected horses could have toppled the Queen for the third place finish without the incident. Laying Strong Suit and Uncle Mo proved justifiable and rewarding, particularly that I don't usually recommend lays, unless they are that obvious.

Some of my other observations from the Breeders Cup. St Nicholas Abbey finally showed the form many, including I, were expecting him to run since his dominating juvenile year. He was simply outstanding and would have given the best middle-distance horses a run for their money on that day. A peach of a ride from Joseph O'Brien as well.

So You Think ran well and I thought he had a great chance entering the straight but in the end, his effort was very gallant, finishing not too far to the winner. The lesson yet again from those World Championships is that European runners are tough to beat on turf just as the dirt is the domain of the US runners. There are bound to be exceptions like Arazi, Johannesburg and Court Vision, but the greater probability will mostly prevail.

On the local scene, Paul Hanagan won his second consecutive jockey championship. But the jockey that met the eye this year was certainly Silvestre de Sousa. A fantastically powerful finisher, there's no doubt that he can improve up and bounds to become among the best in the business. He is certainly to be followed as from now on.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Huge Week-end

A fantastic week-end of racing and football is on the menu, and it's hoping that the punts turn out to be as great as well.

Let's start with the Breeders' Cup where I cannot see Goldikova coming out of the placings. Draw is good, track is good and she's encountered better opposition. I can foresee just 2 negatives, if any. That she could get boxed in the straight from the rails. But I hardly see that happening with a seasoned jockey like Peslier. The second negative would be if the turf turned too soft. It looks like it will be a mixture of good to yielding; obviously the firmer, the better for her, but the ground conditions should be alright for her. I think the Queen is set to win her last race, and if she doesn't, she should be in the second or third. A Place recommendation on Goldikova looks safe to me.

In the same race, I re-iterate my previous observation that Strong Suit does not have the credentials to win this race. He's too short at 4/1 and is a big lay in my books. I cannot see him winning a match-bet against Goldikova. So I recommend a Lay to Win on him, and I also confidently recommend Goldikova in a match-bet against him.

The main race is the one everyone wants to win and So You Think will carry Europe's or Australasia's hopes, whichever angle you look at it. It will be a tall order for the son of High Chaparral. Pedigree-wise, the dirt will not suit. He's going to sport blinkers which he hasn't done since a couple of years back. He comes over a difficult October with 2 hard races in the Arc and Champion Stakes. Basically, he's got hardly any decent rest for this race. Remains to be seen how jockey Ryan Moore will cope on the dirt surface. To be seen whether trainer O'Brien has mismanaged him yet again. All questions marks of note, but if there is a horse who can do it against the odds, it will be him. His critics pound him for not being the super horse he was billed out to be Down Under. Maybe he disappointed in 3 losses in Europe, but to me, there were excuses to all of them, which I've covered at length before. He gained my admiration when nearly winning the Champion Stakes after only 13 days rest from the Arc. I hope he wins the Classic, but it is more hope than confidence.

Uncle Mo is the favourite of the race and although he is possibly the best miler on dirt, he will have to stretch to cover the 10 furlongs. Any chance he had of winning was scuppered with his outside draw, in my estimate. He is a stalker of a horse that is never off the pace and things will be harder for him from the outside post. His odds are way too short and it makes sense to oppose him; I recommend to Lay him as Win.

In football, I cannot think of a better way for Man Utd to celebrate Alex Ferguson's extraordinary 25 years at the helm, by beating Sunderland. Steve Bruce's men have no chance of winning this. If they are lucky, they can squeeze in a point. But I believe the Red Devils will win this and recommend them as an outright Win.

Aston Villa, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City are all recommended as draw-no-bets as I don't see them being bothered by the inferior opposition they will be facing.

In La Liga, Real Madrid is a banker to beat Osasuna. I just cannot see them being held by Osasuna, so I recommend the Los Blancos as an outright Win. Barcelona face an arguably tougher task in Athletico Bilbao but they should prevail at the end, and are also recommended as a straight Win.

Win: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Man Utd
Draw-no-bet: Aston Villa, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City
Place: Goldikova
Match-bet: Goldikova
Lay: Strong Suit, Uncle Mo

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Strong Lay

Bayern, Man Utd won as expected while Benfica drew with Basle for a voided punt.

A few developments in horse racing that of worthy of note in the past days. First, the news that Born To Sea had torn a muscle in his surprise defeat to Nephrite last Sunday. If that injury hampered the son of Urban Sea in any way, then there's hope that his defeat wasn't due to a lack of talent; he might still be able to give justice to the high opinion of him by the racing world, primarily due to his regal pedigree. After Sunday, his stock had taken a beating and his ante-post odds for next year's Guineas shot up from 6's to the current 14's. While I am not a fan of such markets, serious ante-post punters would be hard-pressed to find better value and might want a crack; if he stays healthy, this horse can become a serious miler next year, in my opinion.

The Breeders Cup starts on Friday with a very competitive card, but the main races of interest are really run on Saturday. At this point, I am at a loss as to why there is a such a strong interest in Strong Suit in the BC Mile. He's got the poorest of draws, he's far from a proven Group 1 winner, he's unproven on the 2-turn track, and he's going to encounter mighty Goldikova. To top it all, he was unable to train properly today along with some other English raiders, resulting in the top-headline drama between the track officials and some English trainers. To me, Strong Suit is a big lay for the Win. Goldikova will certainly beat him in any match-bet, in my opinion. I will wait for tomorrow's events to draw confirmation on all this, but I really think opposing the Hannon star would be rewarding on Saturday.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Champions League Wednesday

What a thrilling Melbourne Cup that was. Like many, I thought Americain stayed way too far and should have won that race. But credit to the winner Dunaden for digging deep when it looked like Red Cadeaux had it in the bag.

Still on the racing front, the stall draws for the Breeders Cup were made on Monday, and Goldikova was granted the No 1 rail. There is no doubt that this plays greatly in her favour. She can be tucked in her usual stalking position and provided she does not get boxed in or suffers from a novice pilot error, she should be poised to make the difference in the straight. At this point, my confidence in her to win No.4 BC Turf Mile has greatly increased with her draw.

Wednesday night is another round of Champions League football and I like Bayern Munich as they host Napoli. The Germans are very difficult to break down at the Olympic stadium and Napoli just does not have the team or European pedigree to cause an upset in Germany. I recommend Bayern as a draw-no-bet.

Benfica play host to Basel and I cannot see the Swiss causing an upset there. Benfica are strong at home and unless they misfire, they should be taking 3 points out of this contest. I recommend them as a safe draw-no-bet. In the same group, Man Utd play Otelul which they beat, albeit with difficulty, in Romania. The Red Devils are not in great form but they should still have too much class and firepower for the Romanians. The return of Tom Cleverley will do wonders for their midfield, in my opinion, as their play seems to be more dynamic with him. Man Utd is recommended as a draw-no-bet as well.

Draw-no-bet: Bayern Munich, Benfica, Man Utd

Monday, October 31, 2011

November thrill

Glorious week-end with all 7 recommendations delivering; Man City, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Man Utd, Tottenham and Real Madrid all won, and Born To Sea was placed second.

Hardly anything changed atop the major league standings as the leading teams ensured the statu quo by overcoming inferior opposition; Man Utd had arguably the toughest assignment away to Everton and managed to squeeze a win.

In racing, Born To Sea suffered defeat in what would have been a little shocking to some. But it must be said that winner Nephrite looks every bit a horse to take seriously from now on, having racked 2 wins in as many races. This bodes very well for next year. It is obviously premature to have any good inkling on how next year's 2000 Guineas is going to pan out; horses change considerably during the winter and some progress more than the rest. So despite Born To Sea's comprehensive defeat on Sunday, it would be folly to dismiss him for next spring's Classic showpiece. The form certainly gets reset for all at the start of next season. 

This week in racing looks tremendous with the Melbourne Cup and the countdown to the Breeders Cup taking major attention. I had the most thrilling time as a punter in the Melbourne Cup 2004 when Zazzman came out 3rd; I had it Placed at 45/1, one minute before the gates opened! The great thing about this race is that even the lesser-fancied horses at 25/1 cannot be dismissed when analyzing the field; they can easily be prominent at the finish. The race that stops a nation looks wide open this year. Obviously, Americain could easily retain his crown if he repeats last year's form. Maybe Godolphin can finally remove a hurdle from their resume by winning one of the races they covet the most. I'll be watching as a pure racing spectacle.

Then, there's the lead-up to the Breeders Cup, the designated world championship of horse racing. Hopefully, there won't be any last-minute drama and preparations go smoothly for all. All eyes will be on Goldikova, who at this point looks to me a great Win prospect. But I will get to it in due time. In the Classic, So You Think will try the unknown in hope, while Uncle Mo carries the expectations of the American crowd.

In football, it's another interesting round of the Champions League, where there is bound to be some good value recommendations on the table. A great and busy week in sports, no complaints!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Week-end preview

Fa'iz placed third but Zabeel Park seemed to have suffered a setback on her return and was eased two furlongs from home. Frustrating to lose on Zabeel Park as she seemed to be right in the mix of things until her problem. There's no denying there's an element of risk when backing horses returning from such a long layoff.

The week-end's racing is polarized by the possible outing of Born To Sea in the Killavullan Group 3 race in Leopardstown. The three-parts brother to Sea The Stars was mightily impressive when winning on his debut in a listed race. The talent from the family blue blood is clearly there. The vibes from trainer John Oxx are very good, so if the more-than-softish ground does not prevent him from running, it's hard to see him finishing out of the places. I recommend him as a strong each-way punt.

In football, Man City are set to keep on their wining ways as they host Wolves, who they happen to have beaten in the Carling Cup in mid-week. The main guns like Silva and Aguero look set to start and pile more misery on Mc Carthy's men. It's hard to see anything other than a Win for City, and it is the recommendation.

Man Utd face a tougher task going to Everton and Goodison Park is always a tough place to grab 3 points. Everton have injury problems and had a tough long game in midweek against Chelsea. I don't expect the Red Devils to lose this game, but they might not win it either. I recommend them as a draw-no-bet.

Tottenham host QPR in a London derby and I can't see Neil Warnock's men repeating last week's victory against Chelsea. Spurs are solid at home while QPR's main points have also been garnered in the comforts of home. Tottenham are a strong draw-no-bet candidate and this punt is my recommendation.

In Spain, Barcelona host Mallorca in what should be a straightforward contest. Expect Messi to score a bundle to attone for last week-end's penalty miss, in my opinion. Barcelona is a straight Win recommendation. Real Madrid travel to Real Sociedad with full of confidence and all guns blazing. It would be shocking if The Los Blancos were to lose this game. They should win it and in case they misfire, should at least come up with a point. A draw-no-bet on Mourinho's men is recommended.

In Germany, Bayern Munich are hosts to Nurnberg and will clearly look for 3 points. The gulf in class between the 2 teams is clearly evident and Munich should clearly win this. A Win on the hosts is recommended.

Win: Man City, Barcelona, Bayern Munich
Draw-no-bet: Man Utd, Tottenham, Real Madrid
Each-way: Born To Sea

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Follow the Blues

Godolphin is enjoying some really good form with its juveniles and looking at the Newmarket card on Friday, this looks set to continue.

In the 13:50 Maiden race, Fa'iz stands a good chance to finally break his duck after 4 attempts. The son of Dansili has been second in his last 3 races and will only be facing moderate company tomorrow. However, as I mentioned many times before, there are some horse types that always seem to be at the finish but always find one better every time. This might be down to bad luck or just plain lack of fighting spirit. He might not win, but he should definitely be in the first 3 among this lot, so I put a Place recommendation on him.

In the 16:45 Conditions race, I like Zabeel Park, who's coming off a 454-day layoff. Provided that the team in blue has this Medicean filly in a fit shape after this long spell on the sidelines, she should play a major role in this race. I see her finishing in the first 2 and recommend her as an each-way punt.

Each-way: Zabeel Park
Place: Fa'iz.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Al Zarooni v/s Bin Suroor - a tale of 2 performances

Real Madrid are just running riot against overwhelmed Villareal, and unless the second half shows a change of cataclysmic proportions, this is going to be an easy good recommendation on the Los Blancos.

The general observation over the past years has been that many juveniles that showed great promise in grooming stables such as those of Mark Johnston and Andre Fabre, became flops when they joined the parent Godolphin operation. Many other potentially good 2-year olds that were outright acquired at a high price from other stables also did not do themselves justice once they joined the Dubai stable. Fingers were mainly pointed at trainer bin Suroor (BS) for not only failing to bring on the newcomers properly, but also for wrecking their careers as well.

This year, Sheikh Mo decided to go with 2 trainers and gave his confidence to Al Zarooni (AZ), who was attributed about half the stable and a load of new 2-year olds as well. The results so far are astonishing to say the least. I look at the trainer statistics on the Racing Post today and the numbers don't lie;

Mahmood Al Zarooni     78–389     20%     51     46     46     £1,455,771     £1,839,382     +131.61
Saeed Bin Suroor           48–343     14%     56     40     39     £418,305     £819,341     -112.66

Al Zarooni beats the bin Suroor in every single category. The story so far is that while AZ was winning prestigious Group 1's at Royal Ascot on high-class Rewilding, BS was tasting Group 1 glory in lesser-fancied places like Italy or Germany with old stalwarts like Campanologist! The likes of Blue Bunting and Rewilding that have carried the flag proud for Godolphin this year have all been under the care of AZ.

It is arguable that AZ's dominance can be attributed to the fact he was given the better crop of horses than bin Suroor this year. Only the insiders of the stable would know that for sure. But his better strike rate also demonstrates that he is more likely to get the horses spot-on when he readies them for a race, than his counter-part.

It is worth of note that Godolphin used to command a strong contingent running Stateside under the care of BS. This year, their incursions on that side of the point has been rather tepid relative to previous years. There is no doubt that bin Suroor's influence has diminished on that ground as well.

Whether these are the results of Godolphin politics or Sheihkh Mo's decisions, it will be interesting to see how all this folds out. The main interest for a punter is that when you look at a racing card, check the trainer first. In these current times, the odds are that an AZ-trained horse will give a better performance than a BS-trained one.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Real is on a tear

It's hard to overlook Real Madrid as they host Villareal on La Liga's Wednesday match.

Mourinho's men are in great form having won all their games since their shocking loss to Levante in the early weeks of the season. Ronaldo has started scoring again, the team and coach are virtually un-beatable at home, and the Yellow Submarine are currently struggling immensely and are a shadow of their former selves. I can't see any reason how Madrid can lose this game. They should be winning and go atop the table again. A draw-no-bet is a certainty but the rewards for taking some minimal calculated risk for the Win might be worth it.

Win: Real Madrid

Monday, October 24, 2011

Change of guard

It would have been a great week-end with Tottenham and Real Madrid winning, and Liverpool and Barcelona drawing on draw-no-bets, but the Man Utd recommendation went awry. Man City went to Old Trafford and conquered big time.

Obviously, the score is very flattering for City but the game changer was Johnny Evans' dismissal. The Citizens played well and possibly could have won even without the central defender's sending off. More than the 3 points, this victory will also have given a tremendous mental boost to Mancini's men, raising their belief that they can hit it off with the best.They are clearly in the driver's seat and if they keep their head straight without being distracted by the off-field antics of some of their rogue players, they will be hard to dislodge at the top.

On the Red Devils' side, the defensive partnership of Ferdinand and Evans is possibly a recipe destined for disaster. At 32, Rio is past his best and the string of injuries that have beset him for the past 2 years are clearly taking a toll on his fitness for the rigours of the Premier League. He's still got some class in his play but not the elite and dominating player he once was. As for Evans, he's the weak link of the whole Man Utd team. A team sheet with Evans at the center of defence is a delight for opposing strikers out there. Next time Evans is in the starting eleven against a credible opponent, think twice before loading up on Man Utd, in my opinion.

Tottenham's winner at Blackburn was a fantastic result for this blog's predictions, and Blackburn certainly looks to be playing a major role at the bottom of the table, in my opinion.

In La Liga, Real Madrid jumped to the head of the pack by expectedly thrashing Malaga. I feel they are on a good winning run. Barcelona lost 2 important points by drawing against Sevilla. It remains to be seen if Messi's penalty miss in injury time could prove disastrous for them at the end of the season. The thing is, Messi always seems to be aiming for the same spot for most of this penalties and Sevilla's keeper played the probability game to great effect.

In racing, yet another Montjeu winner in the Racing Post Trophy as Camelot came out an easy winner in a small field. Weak field too, I should add. The previous editions of the race certainly were more competitive paper-wise and involved better-seasoned juveniles. So it is too early to gauge the real merits of Camelot, who nevertheless looks a smart sort. It would certainly be folly to have any sort of ante-post punt on him for next year's Guineas or Derby.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Manchester Derby and Football preview

Rennes and Celtic drew for a voided recommendation.

An absolutely juicy week-end of football coming up with the Manchester Derby as the main attraction. This is really a 6-point game and whoever draws first blood will seemingly have the mental advantage going forward. Both teams played and won in mid-week so the recuperation time will be about the same for both. I've got to give the edge on the hosts on this one because their form at home is rock-solid. There is no-one better than Sir Alex Ferguson to get them pumped up for such a match against their neighbours. If City were to win this game, it will definitely signal the start of a new world order in English football. But I don't think it will happen for the Citizen on Saturday and I see the Red Devils either winning or drawing this game. I recommend them as draw-no-bet.

Liverpool boasts strong form at Anfield and the visit of Norwich is a great chance for them to bag the 3 points. I have a feeling Suarez will be in his element against the smaller opposition and I cannot see Liverpool losing this game. I recommend them as a strong draw-no-bet.

I mentioned before that Blackburn is a very exposed team that will be losing many games this year. I anticipate another difficult game for them at home against a surging Tottenham team. Spurs will have a decimated defence going to Ewood Park but their offence should prove too potent for the hosts. Harry Redknapp's men might feel from the exertions of the mid-week European game against Rubin Kazan but their big guns were mainly rested, so they should be ready to fire on Sunday. Tottenham is recommended as draw-no-bet.

I am expecting challenging games for Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga. Barcelona host Sevilla which have yet to taste defeat this year in 7 games. I don't think the hosts will lose but I anticipate the game to be evenly-contested for most of the 90 minutes. It won't be a walk in the park for Guardiola's men because Sevilla are no push-overs. Still the hosts should prevail or come up with a point, so they are recommended as a draw-no-bet.

Real Madrid face an arguably easier task than Barcelona as they travel to Malaga, a team that has started the campaign quite brightly and sitting in 6th. Their spending on good players like Joaquin and Cazorla are reaping benefits. However, the Los Blancos are in very good form of late and seem to have picked up a notch after having lost 5 points in the early weeks of the campaign. As such, it's very hard to oppose them. They should win this game or at least come up with a point. Mourinho's men are recommended as a draw-no-bet as well.

Draw-no-bet: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Man Utd, Liverpool, Tottenham

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Europa League Thursday

3 winning recommendation as Barcelona and Chelsea won, Tortoni placed second beaten a nose, and Porto drew at home for a voided punt. Draw-no-bets are just a great invention, in my estimation.

On Thursday, the Europa League matches take the attention and currently-struggling Celtic visit French club Rennes. I have mentioned many times before that the current level of Scottish football is weak. The likes of Celtic and Rangers are not up to far with their predecessors. Celtic is a big name in European football and they can elevate their game on such occasions but it would be a surprise for me if Neil Lennon's men were to grab the 3 points in France. Rennes are on a good run in their domestic league and they have excellent form at home. I see the French side either winning or drawing this, so I recommend them as a draw-no-bet.

Draw-no-bet: Rennes

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wednesday football and racing

Man Utd and Real Madrid both won and make their leaps towards the next stage. It was not all plain-sailing for the Red Devils against a composed Galati side but in the end their class prevailed. It will be interesting to see how the absence of Vidic due to his red card plays out in the next matches. In the other matches, Man City got the taste of winning in Europe's premier competition by beating Villareal in the last minute. Aguero is just fulfilling in every expectation of him so far for the Citizens as he snatched the winning goal.

On Wednesday, Chelsea hosts Racing Genk and I cannot see the Belgians winning at the Bridge. I still have reservations about the genuine quality of this Chelsea side, so I recommend them as a draw-no-bet. Porto are very strong at home and they shouldn't lose to Nicosia; I recommend them as draw-no-bet as well.

The only certainty at home is Barcelona as they host Viktoria.They should win this by a few goals, so they are recommended as a straight win.

In racing, the 19:20 race at Kempton looks an ideal opportunity for Tortoni to break his maiden. The Teofilo colt has gone close in 4 of his 5 starts and he's expected to be a serious contender in this rather weak race. I cannot see him out of the first 2 so I recommend him as a Place.

Win: Barcelona
Draw-no-bet: Chelsea, Porto
Place: Tortoni

Champions League Tuesday

Glorious week-end where just about everything hit the board. In racing, Frankel was again his outstanding self and won with authority. Opinion Poll validated the confidence of a Place recommendation by finishing second to Fame and Glory. I mentioned So You Think will run good but wouldn't win. The way winner Cirrus des Aigles caught him in the final 50 yards suggests strongly that he was feeling the exertions in the Arc 13 days ago.

In football, Man City, Arsenal, Barcelona, Real Madrid all won and QPR drew with Blackburn for a voided punt. The fact that the Gunners had to resort to a free-kick in the last 10 minutes to overcome Sunderland at home shows that this is really a team in transition and much weaker than the previous editions. I cannot see them winning anything again this year, unless the other top teams allow them the Carling Cup.

On Tuesday, it's back to Champions League matches, and it is certain that Man Utd and Real Madrid won't lose their matches; in fact, I see both of them winning. It's a must win game for The Red Devils who have drawn their first 2 matches of the group. Losing points to the Romanian outfit Galati will spell trouble for them. The match will be played in a neutral avenue, so clearly Man Utd should outclass the opposition. They are recommended as a win.

All indications are that Real Madrid win beat Lyon; they are nearly flawless at home and Lyon hasn't been able to have their measure in the confrontations of the past years. Knowing his opponents well and posting ever solid results at home, Mourinho should get the tactics right to overcome the French. Real Madrid is recommended to win.

Win: Real Madrid, Man Utd

Friday, October 14, 2011

All about Frankel

Wadha was a disappointing third but Final Delivery was a good-placed second. 

A terrific week-end of horse racing and football coming up.

It's Champions Day at Ascot where all eyes will be on Frankel, the greatest thoroughbred in the eyes of many. All reports seem to indicate that he's on top of his game, thus he should win. I think he will win. A big win recommendation. The one that can come close is Excelebration, which should be a good Place punt for those that fancy looking at the rest of the field besides the Henry Cecil colt.

I've always favoured So You Think in each of his European outings. I think he will get turned over tomorrow because the race comes too soon for him after the Arc. If this race were one week later, I would give him a great chance, but as is, I think he'll run a good race but won't win against seasoned and well-rested horses. Just my opinion. I wished he bypassed this race and went straight to the BC Classic. It looks the connections want to go for both, and I feel it's a case where they won't get the best of the horse in either race. Time and results will tell if I am right or not.

I like Opinion Poll in the Long Distance Cup. This Godolphin colt always gives his best and has a great partnership with Dettori. He is recommended as a Place.

In football, it's the big clash between Liverpool and Man Utd. The rivalry has somewhat faded in recent years because of the demise of the Reds, but it is bound to be a well-contested match. Liverpool have the home advantage but this can really go either way. Man City is recommended as a draw-no-bet as I cannot see them losing to visiting Aston Villa. I think QPR is the best draw-no-bet of the week-end as it hosts Blackburn. Neil Warnock's men are tough to overcome at home and should give Blackburn all they can handle. Arsenal is another good draw-no-bet as it hosts struggling Sunderland.

In Spain, Real Madrid and Barcelona should win their home matches against Betis and Santander respectively. Real Betis started with a bang but have lost their last 2 matches. It is more a case of back to the earth for them. Real Madrid and Barcelona are recommended as straight home wins.

Win: Frankel, Barcelona, Real Madrid
Place: Opinion Poll

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Redcar Friday

Hope some of you lumped on Expert Fighter who warranted the following by scoring handily at Brighton. He was at least 4/1 or longer on the exchanges since yesterday.

Godolphin is on fire and on Friday, another of its maiden fillies Wadha should win in the 16:55 race at Redcar. There's every guarantee that she will be in the first 3 but it is worth going with a straight win punt on this Cape Cross filly. So the recommendation is for her to win.

In the 15:45 mile race, I like Final Delivery from the Botti stable. He finished 3rd in his last 2 outings and although I am not too keen on his sire Three Valleys, he is the pick of the race on form among this exposed lot. e should be in the first 3 so I recommend him as a Place punt.

Win: Wadha
Place: Final Delivery

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Brighton Thursday

Rather disappointing Wednesday racing results with Available beaten into 4th. The Hannon filly kept on and it seems she would have been better suited on a longer trip but the winner was too good on the day, stretching by 6 lengths at the finish. Enery came out second, a race where he travelled 3-wide the length of the Lingfield oval. His chances of winning were gone before the start when he unseated rider Buick and got loose! He bravely kept on to finish second and is one to follow on his next outing. The third selection, Blanc de Chine was a scratch.

On Thursday, I will keep faith in another Godolphin colt in Expert Fighter in the 15:30 Maiden race at Brighton. He came out 7th on his debut, beating Mojave, another Godolphin representation who won yesterday. I believe he should be in the first 3 in this modest contest. Since he hasn't proven anything yet, there is an element of risk in backing him, but for those that fancy a potentially rewarding punt, going with Expert Fighter as a Place or each-way might be worth it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wednesday racing

No surprises as Turkey, Italy, Spain and Russia all won their last game at home.

Back to racing on Wednesday where I believe the first race at Lingfield should go to Enery from the red-hot Godolphin stable. This Teofilo colt was a staying-on second in his last race 9 days ago and he should set the standard in this average field. The distance will suit and he's recommended as an each-way punt.

In the first race at Nottingham, Blanc de Chine makes a lot of appeal, having come out second in his last 2 races. The 5 furlong distance is just about right for this Dark Angel filly and it is a case of whether she's win this, or come out second again. I recommend her as a Place.

At Kempton, the Maiden stakes race at 19:10 should enable Available to break her duck at the second time of asking. This filly from the all-conquering Hannon stable was a very encouraging fourth on her debut, and the drop to 6 furlongs looks to be at her advantage.The field is average so she's recommended as a Win.

Win: Available
Each-way: Enery
Place: Blanc de Chine

Monday, October 10, 2011

Euro 2012 - Last round.

A perfect week-end of punts as Strong Suit and Gio Ponti won while Power came in a good second.

On Tuesday, the last round of matches for Euro 2012 come to the fore and there are still some nations awaiting to secure their place in the finals; the biggest match probably being between Portugal and Denmark. An Euro competition without Christiano Ronaldo would be quite something, not just for international football in general, but also for the player himself. If that were the case, maybe a good dose of humility will finally tap into this player, whose customary declarations are always about how good he is. Anyway, this match can go either way, so may the best nation win and qualify.

Among the other matches, I see Turkey beating Azerbaijan, Russia will no doubt beat Andorra to secure first spot. Already-qualified Italy will still beat the hopelessly bad Northern Ireland. Spain also has its tickets booked to the finals and should overcome Scotland, whose hopes are just hanging on a thread. All the hosts mentioned above are recommended to win.

Win: Turkey, Russia, Italy, Spain

Friday, October 7, 2011

Week-end racing

England drew and qualified for the Euro 2012, but the main talking point of the game was Rooney's red card. Does anyone wonder why England hasn't won something of note for a long time? It has brilliant players like Beckham, Rooney, yet when the chips are down, the brilliance turns into stupidity. Rooney's red against Montenegro was not as serious as Beckham's red against Argentina, or the same Rooney's red against Portugal, but it outlined the same problem again. Americans call them chokers when their sports stars screw up under pressure. This is worst than choking, it is plain idiocy.

Manager Capello calling Rooney fit to play mentally has to be one of the worst public managerial calls. It was a bold decision for him to make and say, and boy was he ever proven wrong in front of skeptics who rightfully questioned the state of the player following his dad's arrest 24 hours earlier, ironically, for a betting scam involving a red card. Really, the petulant striker's sending off was really written somewhere out there!

This week-end is all about racing with club football leaving the centre stage to the Euro qualifiers until next week. On Saturday, I like Strong Suit's chances in the first race at Newmarket. He's clearly the class of the race and will sport a penalty in this rather weak Group 2 contest. This colt from the Hannon stable is definitely better since his wind operation and he should definitely be in the first 3. I recommend him as an each-way.

The Dewhurst is the main race on the Newmarket race card and Power is the deserving favourite having bagged 4 wins out of 5, including 2 strong Group races in the National Stakes and Coventry Stakes. If Ryan Moore is close to his best abilities after his long layoff, he should have no problem steering the Oasis Dream colt in the first 3. The main opponents look to be the unbeaten Bronterre and Ektihaam, both of whom are stepping up in class for the first time. A Place on Power is the recommendation.

Finally, Gio Ponti runs in the Group 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keenland, U.S. The 2-time U.S turf champion is looking for his first win of the year after good runner-up efforts in his last 2 races. Although now six, the Tale of the Cat colt is still one of the leading runners at a mile and over in the U.S on turf. He always gives the best account of himself, so can never be disregarded. The race has also attracted Zoffany from the Ballydoyle stable. If he's anywhere close to his best, Gio Ponti should win this. Even if one of the younger brigade were to usurp him, he should still be in the first 3. I recommend him as a strong Place.

Place: Power, Gio Ponti
Each-way: Strong Suit.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

England to go through

Never Perfect won, continuing the good racing streak.

On Friday, as I was mentioning a few posts back, I like England to go secure its qualification in Montenegro. Capello's men are certainly more relaxed on their road travels than at Wembley and the current team looks solid. The only negative is today's developments about Rooney's father and uncle being seriously accused of betting fraud. How that plays on the mind of England's best player remains to be seen. Their opponents look to be resting a few key players for their next and last game against Switzerland, so as to still keep their chances of progressing intact in case of defeat. After a dull draw at home in the first leg, England will not get a better chance to beat their surging opponents in Podgorica. England as draw-no-bet is the recommendation.

Draw-no-bet: England

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ayr Thursday

The jockey championship race is getting more animated with long-time leader Paul Hanagan feeling the heat from the surging Kieran Fallon and de Sousa. That looks set for a great finale in a few weeks time. Certainly one way to look at the race-cards would be to look for those 3 names and try to pick out their best chances every day. I don't have any statistics to back this up, but these challengers are bound to have the busiest schedule till the end as their agents work round the clock to obtain the maximum number of good rides possible. Sort of banking on quantity so as to increase and maximize the number of wins.

None of the three are involved in the first race at Ayr on Thursday, where I expect the Galileo colt Never Perfect to give a good account of himself. The field is very average and Never Perfect had a very encouraging debut a little more than a month ago, finishing 4th of 10, around 4 lengths off the winner. If he's gotten the improvement he's been entitled to since that race, he should be among the finishers. Jamie Spencer riding should be a plus, and I recommend his mount as an each-way punt.

Each-way: Never Perfect

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Not a week to crow about in terms of horse racing and football as we await the return of Frankel in the QE II Stakes and the Montenegro-England match for the European qualifiers on Friday.

Today got the news that Excelebration looks to take on Frankel again after being beaten twice by the superstar miler. In fact, these were his only 2 defeats this year. To me, the colt from the Botti stable is one of the 4 best milers in the world. He's very progressive and looks to be the main danger to Frankel, if ever there is one. I am not a fan of ante-post by any measure, but ante-post lovers must surely be having a strong Place consideration on Excelebration. He looks to be in the first 3, but won't beat Frankel.

I'm just hoping for a case of "no news, good news" from the England camp; i.e, they don't suffer any injury setback in the coming days for their match against Montenegro. If they go there injury-free, I have every reason to think that they will book their ticket to the finals by either winning or drawing. That's the way I'm aiming my big punt, so, just hoping for uneventful developments on that side.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Musings on the Arc

On Friday, Mundana won for a good recommendation.

The result of this Sunday's Arc was a mixed tale of "I never saw that coming" and "As I thought" altogether for me. Although she was supplemented for the race, I did not think Danedream had the class to win. I took it on the account that her form in Germany was good but not strong enough to make a difference. I was wrong. She just destroyed the field and has to be considered in her future races. I am a big fan of German breeding as they put a lot of emphasis on the horse soundness, unlike in the U.S, and they have proven that their stock should not be taken lightly. Think Monsun, Lomitas. Very potent indeed.

The good second of Shareta also surprised me. Definitely one filly to follow as she literally was the one leading the pack, not counting the inexplicable suidical rabbit race of Treasure Beach. That she resisted the assaults of the rest of the pack shows her temerity.

Now for the ones I saw coming. Snow Fairy finished third, running her race as I had hoped. I did not give much chance to Reliable Man, Meandre, Galikova, all 3 big names from the French 3-year old crop and they were never into contention. I wished I had laid them big.

Now for the ugly.  I mentioned the fear of pilot error on So You Think and it unfortunately materialized. Heffernan obviously let him with too much to do by staying so far back in the race. I don't think he would have won anyway, but he definitely would have been much closer to the winner if he had been ridden in a stalking position. Some would say that his wide draw made him sit back. The way this horse travels, it just seems better to have him up with the pace as he does not have the turn of foot to come from so far behind. Anyway, pointless to try to analyze this further, blame it on team tactics or the choice of Heffernan as rider for such a big race.

It gets uglier with Treasure Beach. A rather pitiful scene to see a Derby winner and proven Group 1 winner being confined to the role of pacemaker. Yet another talented horse being destroyed and reduced to a secondary role by Aidan O'Brien, the Ballydoyle master. Hopefully Mike de Kock has seen this and making his way to buying another Coolmore reject. Think Eagle Mountain, Archipenko, Golden Sword, King of Rome... the list of converts is not a short one.

Anyway, the Arc 2011 is gone and there is no point furthering the analysis or trying to understand the mind of the Ballydoyle trainer. I acknowledge he's very good, but there are times where he does things that border on the ridiculous. "So You Think would have no problem with the dirt surface in the Breeders Classic", he intimated. Don't get me wrong, I would love it if he relished the ground there and won America's premier championship race. The problem is how can someone infer such a thing when the horse never ran on dirt either in training or on a race-track? It comes from the same person that said that SYT might not get the 12 furlong distance of the Arc, after nearly winning the 16f Melbourne Cup? Just my opinion, but he seems to take delight making us think the moon is made of green cheese.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Arc 2011 - History beckons for So You Think

The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is the greatest and most prestigious of all races, in my opinion. For others, it is the Epsom Derby, the Kentucky Derby, the Dubai World Cup, the Breeders Cup Classic, or the Melbourne Cup, but the Arc is my favourite, from a pure racing point of view. The best horse of the race almost always wins. And it's usually the best horse in the world at the classic mile and a half distance.

This year's Arc is one of the most open in recent years, with no clear front-runner in the betting market. My opinion is if So You Think runs to his true ability, it will be a one-horse show. Here's my lowdown on the main contestants.

Sarafina is deservingly among the favourites. She came out third in last year's race the winner after being checked entering the straight. With a clear run, she would have been closer than the 2 lengths she finished off the winner. This year, she has been drawn in the 13th stall, which is a very bad draw, but since she comes from off the pace, that disadvantage will be negligible. She's in top form according to her trainer and I see her being among the strong finishers although seeing her winning it looks to be a stretch.

Workforce is the defending champion and he certainly would have a good chance of repeating if he's on his best form. One negative is that his jockey Ryan Moore has just returned to the saddle yesterday Friday after an injury layoff and will not be at 100% of his powers. The King Best colt is not to be dismissed but he would need some luck in running to beat the opposition this year.

Snow Fairy can mix it up with the colts no problem. I consider her as one of the 3 best middle-distance distaffers in the world. Her light race schedule this year will see her being in top form on Sunday. On her last race, she gave So You Think a scare and finished a lot closer to him than I thought she would. She will be ridden by Dettori which is a plus. She looks to be a very good Place prospect.

Treasure Beach is one of the best 3 year-olds at the distance and would have won 2 Derbies were it not for the exploits of Pour Moi. The Galileo colt also won a Grade 1 in the U.S and looks an uncomplicated sort who should find no problem adapting to the Longchamp track. He must have an outside chance and if race conditions are favourable to him, he could spring an upset.

So You Think has won 4 out of 5 in his European outings and his only loss has been well documented as a self-confessed trainer error. It is striking that the same trainer is insisting that SYT is a 10-furlong horse. How can a horse that very nearly won the Melbourne Cup be treated as a 10-furlong specialist? If that's the way the horse has been trained since joining the Ballydoyle stable, most possibly due for breeding purposes, then he will not have a chance against the other seasoned stayers. Speed being the attraction nowadays, O'Brien might have gotten directives from the Coolmore brass to make SYT as the best 10f horse around. But his pedigree screams 12f, just like his sire High Chapparal. The only other question mark is the assignment of Heffernan as jockey. The Irishman is far from proven on the French track and when chips are as big as this. My take on SYT is clear; if he's not been messed about by his genius-like, yet flawed trainer, and he's not subject to a pilot error, he's going to win because he's a notch above every single horse in the race.

Of the rest of the field, Galikova is going to be great next year, but has not yet attained the level required to win this year's edition. Saint Nicholas Abbey has been mostly hype and is just not good enough. The Japanese horses are the big question mark and it would not be entirely surprising if one of them came out the winner.

My trifecta selection is So You Think, Snow Fairy, Sarafina. This is the grandest stage of all for the Australasian superstar to cement his status as one of the all-time greats.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Friday Ascot

Tottenham scraped through Shamrock while Rubin Kazan could only manage a draw against Saloniki for a voided punt. The Greeks were lucky to survive the Russian onslaught.

On Friday, the 14:55 Classified Stakes at Ascot looks to go to Mundana from the Luca Cumani stable. She's a progressive King Best filly who will be well suited to the mile distance. She's bagged 2 wins out of 3 outings and will receive weight from a group of older horses with exposed form. I definitely see her finishing in the first 3 and I recommend her as a Place.

Place: Mundana

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Europa League preview

Barcelona easily won but I don't think anyone would have thought otherwise. The Catalan offence is really in good form, and Messi is just unplayable at the moment.

On Thursday, I have my eyes set on the Group A matches of the Europa League. Tottenham host Shamrock Rovers and I cannot see Spurs losing that one even if they are expected to field a second-tier team. The hosts have admitted to being focused on the week-end match against arch-enemies Arsenal but their reserve team should have too much class for the Irish champions. Tottenham to win it is my recommendation.

In the same group, I like Rubin Kazan's chances as it hosts the Greek team Saloniki. The Russians are a strong team and have gathered considerable experience in Europe in the past few years. I expect them to win or draw this match, so I recommend them as a good draw-no-bet.

Win: Tottenham
Draw-no-bet: Rubin Kazan

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Champions League Wednesday

Darn United. With 2 goals up, it was time to park the bus, but I suppose it is not in the DNA of the club to preserve the result. A very exciting game that ended 3-3 and that saved the blushes of the draw-no-bet punt I had on them. Got to give it to this young United team that fights till the end, were it not for their defensive frailties, they are almost a complete team. They are certainly getting there.

On Wednesday, the only certain punt looks to be Barcelona traveling to Borisov. Clearly, the gulf in class should ensure that the European champions get all 3 points even without playing some first-team members. They are recommended as a safe draw-no-bet. In the same group, Milan host the Czech team Viktoria. While on paper, this would appear to be a formality for the Italians, I would not be surprised if they fail to win this match. They have a depleted team and Viktoria is not a team of push-overs. There might be an offset in the offing, and it might pay to lay the heavily-favored hosts. No recommendation there, but the Italians look very exposed value-wise, in my opinion.

Draw-no-bet: Barcelona

Monday, September 26, 2011

Champions League Tuesday

Very good week-end with Yasir being placed, Man City, Newcastle, Arsenal and Real Madrid all winning. Man Utd drew with Stoke for a voided punt.

Nothing extraordinary from the world of sports from this week-end to really comment on. The European big guns are firing on all cylinders atop the tables. Man Utd got a good point at La Brittania, a very difficult venue for even the big teams. Man City showed some mental toughness in wearing down Everton. A few years ago, they wouldn't have had that quality to get the 3 points out of such tough games.

In La Liga, Barcelona and Real Madrid treated themselves to goal-fests after dropping points in their last outings. I still think Mourinho has problems to solve in his Madrid squad, and Barcelona definitely need a top defender if they are to challenge on all fronts this season.

Bayern is just trouncing the opposition in the Bundesliga but the league is not a measure of the team's real strength. A more appropriate benchmark will be when they meet Man City on Tuesday's Champions League match.

In Italy, it will be interesting to see how Ranieri fares with Inter. They certainly got off to a good start by winning at Bologna. Ranieri is a very decent coach who gets good results. Unfortunately, he has shown that he can makes the odd silly mistakes that can cost his team dearly. That's what makes him not-so great.

On Tuesday, the Champions League rightfully takes centre-stage. I like Man Utd's chances at home to Basel. It will be folly for the Red Devils to under-estimate the Swiss team, particularly with the absence of Rooney. The absence of the England striker and his front partner Chicharito, certainly weaken the attacking prowess of the English champions. They should be on top at the end though, and a draw-no-bet looks safe. That's my recommendation.

Draw-no-bet: Man Utd