Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Juddmonte International - In pursuit of Ghaiyyath

Barring the absence of `the Queen` Enable,  York's Juddmonte International has assembled a high-quality field that promises to be one of the races of the season. The front-running monster Ghaiyyath is the deserved favourite, having gotten the scalp of no other than Enable herself in the Coral Eclipse. If the son of Dubawi has maintained his great form to date, he will be almost impossible to be headed. His camp certainly sound positive, which is not good news for the rest of the field.

Magical, the wonderful mare from Coolmore is unbeaten this year but her victories haven't been as eloquent as Ghaiyyath. The daughter of Galileo rarely runs a bad race but there always seem to be someone better than her in the top races. She might aspire to a placing.

Kameko, the Guineas winner, was oh-so-unlucky in the Sussex Stakes. He might still not have beaten the impressive winner Mohaather, but second place was ripe for the picking if he did not encounter traffic problems. Ten furlongs will be right up his alley and his weight allowance as a three-year-old gives him a live chance to be at the finish.

Finally, Lord North, this year's Prince of Wales Stakes winner, cannot be underestimated as he's also running an undefeated campaign this year. His progression from the handicap ranks to Group 1 winner is all the more remarkable and he should not be out of his league in this company. The way he won going away at Ascot was visually impressive and being trained by John Gosden gives more impetus to his chances. 

This is going to be a fantastic race to watch. Will Ghaiyyath falter in the straight or will the others be able to keep up with the torrid pace he customarily sets? The Godolphin star can put an exclamation point to his Arc aspirations with another dominant performance. I think he will.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

PSG - A trap called Atalanta

PSG fans must have thanked their lucky star when their team drew Atalanta in the next draw of the UCL. The Italian minnows were considered to be the Cinderella left in the tournament and the French could be heard voicing an "Enfin" to signal a new beginning or an end to their miserable and luckless past campaigns.

Fast-forward a few months later and the draw suddenly does not look so favourable for the French champions. Atalanta has been rocking towards the end of the Italian championship where they finished a very honourable third. More importantly, they have proven to be a match for any team in Italy and with a few more matches to spare, would have given Juventus a run for their money in the title run-in. Well organized and blessed with a potent attack that boasted the best goal difference in the Serie A, they cannot be considered minnows at this stage.

PSG are still going as favourites because of their pedigree and talented squad on paper. There are some cracks to consider though. Their superstar striker Mbappe will play but his level of fitness is questionable as he has just recovered from an ankle injury. Without him at his best, the potency of the PSG attack is highly diminished. But more importantly, the team might be missing a run-in of seriously competitive matches compared to their Italian counter-parts. Unlike most other major leagues, the French Ligue 1 was stopped with PSG handed the title. Their lack of competition showed when they had trouble overcoming the likes of St Etienne and Lyon in their last matches. That is not to say they won't beat Atalanta but it will just not be a straightforward affair.

At current odds, I see value favouring in some way Atalanta. For the risky, it might be worth side outright with Atalanta to go through. Or have them as a draw-no-bet option or with a 1-goal advantage on the asian handicap market. I find PSG odds too short at all levels.