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.