Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

15 Dec
2017

In A Liga Of Its Own…(16 & 18 Dec)

Spanish football’s elite top flight, La Liga, is undoubtedly the dominant force in European football in recent times, providing six of the last eight finalists in the Champions League, as well as six of the last nine winners.

It doesn’t stop there either, with teams from Spain also ruling the roost in Europe’s second tier tournament, the Europa League, taking four of the last six editions, highlighted by triumphs for goal happy Sevilla in 2014, ’15 and ’16.

Enthused by a domestic league bursting with quality and rivalry, the Sportsman’s Tom Lee, a regular visitor to Spain and its football grounds, takes a weekly look at the best bets on the fixture list…

Still digesting the fact we’ve got Barcelona versus Chelsea and Sevilla against Manchester United to look forward to when the Champions League stirs again in mid-February, as well as the small matter of Real Madrid meeting Paris St Germain, it’s into matchday 16 we head.

Mindful of the fact squad depths will be tested before the winter break, with this weekend’s games wedged in alongside a pre-Christmas midweek round of fixtures that begin next Tuesday, there are hopefully a couple of sides that can oblige for us on home turf.

Kicking-off on Saturday afternoon (3.15pm), the all-Basque clash at the San Mamés between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad looks one to be interested in, given that La Real are on a miserable run that has seen them lose four straight in all competitions.

They were toothless when losing to struggling Malaga last weekend, outplayed and outfought by a side suddenly getting their act together and fighting like crazy for every loose ball.

More of the south coast outfit later, but Real Sociedad don’t look like a team to be trusted at present. Down to 10th in the league, no clean sheets in five and dumped out of the Copa Del Rey by Lleida.

By contrast, Athletic are four places below them in the league but starting to have a real go now, embarking on a four game unbeaten run in La Liga which included holding Real Madrid to a 0-0 draw, as well as winning away to Levante on Sunday.

You’d readily anticipate this one being scrappy, but the home side are buoyant whereas the visitors look one to avoid right now.

Athletic Bilbao are the pick and are 6/5 for the home win with bet365.

They are joined under the lights on Monday night (8.00pm) by Malaga, who can prise three points from visitors Real Betis at La Rosaleda.

Malaga are off the foot of the table and might very soon be out of the bottom three the way they’ve suddenly picked up, winning three and drawing one of their last six league games, with even the defeats defeats looking good in this context as they made Barcelona (2-0) and Real Madrid (3-2) work extremely hard for the victories in both cases.

By contrast, it seems a very, very long time since the warm month of September when Betis were winning in the Bernabeu and scoring four without return against Levante at the Benito Villamarin.

Here and now they are without a league win in six games, including losing three of their last four, including a pathetic effort when going down to nil at Las Palmas earlier this month, a team who are normally just unable to defend. 

Then there was their two-legged embarrassment against local side Cadiz in the Copa del Rey.

Things don’t look too rosy for Betis right now, and if they turn up in a similarly vulnerable frame of mind then there’s no doubt the momentum is with Malaga, who are 23/20 with any of Betfred, Betway or Hills to grab the three points and continue their excellent recent work.

Good luck!

This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:

3.15pm Sat – Athletic Bilbao v Real Sociedad – HOME WIN @ 6/5 (bet365)

8.00pm Mon – Malaga v Real Betis – HOME WIN @ 23/20 (Betfred)

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Posted 2 months, 1 week ago

30 Sep
2017

In A Liga Of Its Own…(1 Oct)

Spanish football’s elite top flight, La Liga, is undoubtedly the dominant force in European football in recent times, providing six of the last eight finalists in the Champions League, as well as six of the last nine winners.

It doesn’t stop there either, with teams from Spain also ruling the roost in Europe’s second tier tournament, the Europa League, taking four of the last six editions, highlighted by triumphs for goal happy Sevilla in 2014, ’15 and ’16.

Enthused by a domestic league bursting with quality and rivalry, Betting Directory’s Tom Lee, a regular visitor to Spain and its football grounds, takes a weekly look at the best bets on the fixture list…

That Spanish top flight’s seventh match day of the campaign, the last before yet another dreaded international break, sees Alaves desperately trying to hoist themselves out of a barren spell which is yet to yield a single point or indeed a goal away from home this season, a buoyant and extremely fun to watch Real Betis heading to San Sebastian for a huge test against Real Sociedad, as well as what should be a highly entertaining encounter as a re-born Valancia take on Athletic Bilbao at the Mestalla.

I’ll be waiting ’til Sunday for a three game combination consisting of the following:

Not everyone agreed with the signing of Paulinho, the Super Cup was a disaster, Valverde had the hard task of hitting the ground running in the dugout, Dembele got injured almost immediately, Neymar decided the banks of the Seine were a better place to sunbathe than Barceloneta, yet FC Barcelona have started the campaign in utterly blistering fashion, scoring 20 and conceding only two, as they sit top with maximum points.

Bizarrely, presumably because they’d had a fall and a bang on the head, someone at Las Palmas thought it’d be a good idea to get rid of their brilliant manager, Manolo Marquez, earlier this week, this despite the islanders winning two of their six games already.

That looks an extremely poor decision, and it’ll be damage limitation for Las Palmas when they are the visitors at the Nou Camp on Sunday afternoon (3.15pm), a side who really should have been proudly lead out by their now departed Catalan coach.

I’ll take Barca to win comfortably, to nil. A 21/20 chance with a couple of bookies.

A pair of games kick off at 5.30pm, both of which can go the way of the home sides…

Athletic Bilbao haven’d had much recovery time since Thursday night’s frustrating Europa League defeat, a 1-0 damp squib against the Russian side Zorya Luhansk, and it’s worth bearing in mind their brittle league form leading up to that game, defeats against Las Palmas of all people, as well as Atletico Madrid, plus allowing a healthy advantage to slip when pegged back to draw 3-3 away to struggling Malaga.

That could spell trouble when they face an upwardly mobile Valencia away from home, with the hosts scoring for fun at present and high on life after winning 3-2 away to Real Sociedad last Sunday.

I expect their good run to continue, with Valencia 4/5 chances with any of Betfair Sportsbook, Hills or Victor.

Lastly, this season is shaping up to be a real struggle for tiny Eibar, and their troubles could well be intensified as they face a very tricky journey to face Villarreal at El Madrigal.

Only two places separate them in the league table, but with Villarreal (especially at home) it’s looking a case of onwards and upwards, whereas Eibar where a shambles at home to Celta Vigo last weekend, and shipped six at the Nou Camp the time before.

It could be a long season for them, particularly if Villarreal get all three points here.

Good luck!

Sunday’s best bets in La Liga:

3.15pm – Barcelona v Las Palmas – Barcelona to win to nil @ 21/20 (BetVictor or Boylesports)

5.30pm – Valencia v Athletic Bilbao – Home win @ 4/5 (Betfair Sportsbook, BetVictor or William Hill)

5.30pm – Villarreal v Eibar – Home win @ 5/6 (William Hill)

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Posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

19 May
2017

In A Liga Of Its Own…(21 May)

3.45pm – ATLETICO MADRID V Athletic Bilbao – Home Win @ 11/10 (Hills)

3.45pm – Celta Vigo v REAL SOCIEDAD – Away Win @ 4/5 (Betfred)

7.00pm – Malaga v REAL MADRID – Away Win @ 1/4

Treble pays 10/3 with bet365

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Posted 9 months, 1 week ago

12 Feb
2017

Size Matters

It’s a day of Leopardstown Grade 1 goodness with us on RTE, with Cheltenham pointers likely to be on display in the Spring Juvenile (2.30), Deloitte Novice Hurdle (3.00), Flogas Novice Chase (3.30), and in the big one at 4.00pm, the Stan James Irish Gold Cup.

It’s also a day where Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott once again go toe-to-toe in their private battle at the top of the trainers’ standings, especially in the second of the aforementioned contests, in which the two men field a collective nine of the 10 runners!

One race where they might not have it all their own way however is the last of those listed above, the wide open Stan James Irish Gold Cup…

In Don Poli and Empire Of Dirt, Elliott clearly has a seriously powerful hand, one which occupies the first two places in the betting.

Don Poli is a three time Grade 1 winner, off the back of a cracking run in the Lexus, a dour stayer, a two-time Cheltenham Festival winner, and one who has been there and done it at Leopardstown.

However, he’s also capable of throwing in a stinker, as demonstrated when running no race at Down Royal back in November on his first run for Elliott.

For his part, Empire Of Dirt (also relatively new to Elliott) is a Cheltenham Festival winner with a different complexion, a fast improving handicapper who deserves his chance in a big one such as this…

Both will have plenty of fans, but this is an especially open running, particularly with Carlingford Lough going for a third consecutive win after successes at 4/1 in 2015 and 20/1 in 2016.

He’s the choice of Barry Geraghty, who could also have opted for Minella Rocco or More Of That.

That pair both cross the Irish sea for Jonjo O’Neill, bidding to become the first British-trained winner of this prize since Neptune Collonges triumphed at 8/13 back in 2009.

Both are former Cheltenham Festival winners, and neither should be discounted.

However, with the exception of hat-trick chaser Carlingford Lough, the top-rated horse in the line up isn’t any of those stars, but the Jessie Harrington inmate Sizing John, a quality horse who has numerous experiences of chasing Douvan home in the bank, but has never, until now, been allowed to show what he can try and do over further than two and a half miles.

The risk is clearly that he won’t get today’s extended three mile journey, but the odds of reward (11/2) look a reasonable trade-off for a talented horse who stayed on strongly when winning at Thursles in the Kinloch Brae last time out.

Despite being 7-0 down in head-to-head meetings with Douvan, Sizing John is still three from eight over fences and could be explosive if the stamina holds out.

At 11/2 with Paddy Power that’s what I’ll be paying to find out!

Good luck!

Today’s best bet at Leopardstown:

4.00 – Stan James Irish Gold Cup – 7 Sizing John (each way) @ 11/2 (Paddy Power)

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Posted 1 year ago

08 Jul
2016

A Spring In the Step At Newmarket

A hot and humid opening day at the Newmarket July Meeting packed in plenty of entertainment, as off the track inebriated punters did their best to ingratiate themselves with the best turned out contenders in the ladies’ day throng, while on it potential future stallions vowed for supremacy in the likes of the July Stakes.

In the aftermath, there were some significant market moves too:

2.10 – Bahrain Trophy – winner Housesofparliament now available at prices ranging from 10/1 to 16/1 for September’s St Leger

2.40 – July Stakes – winner Mehmas quoted at anything from 14/1 to 20/1 for next year’s 2,000 Guineas

3.15 – Princess Of Wales’s Stakes – winning this race for the second time, Big Orange was trimmed to a general 4/1 for the upcoming Goodwood Cup

Looking ahead to Friday afternoon’s sport, it another sort of ladies’ day, with the equine fillies and mares doing battle in the day’s two feature races, both of which will be live on terrestrial tv.

At 3.45pm the Group 2 Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes, a six furlong sprint traditionally known as the Cherry Hinton, might throw up a potential type for next year’s 1,000 Guineas…

In a contest in which six of the last 12 favourites have prevailed, it’s also interesting to note that a sizeable six of the last 10 winners appeared in Royal Ascot’s Albany Stakes.

Lo and behold, today’s clear favourite, Bletchley, finished a battling short head second in that very race at the Royal Meeting, so it’s understandable why this Qatar Racing owned daughter of Makfi tops the charts.

However, she isn’t short on credible opposition, namely the likes of the unbeaten Nasimi and Asidious Alexander.

However, a trainer bang in form and who might be able to have a say is Mark Johnston, who has seen five of his stable’s runners get the job done in just the last 48 hours.

Here he saddles a promising sort in twice-raced Kilmah, who has already won on the other track at Newmarket, before doing to much too early when sixth in….you’ve guessed it…the Albany Stakes.

That means she’s got ground to make up on Bletchley, but back on quicker ground, ridden with more restraint and with Joe Fanning riding her for the first time, she might be a bit of value at 9/1 each way with any of BetBright, BetVictor or Skybet.

On then to the day’s feature event, the Group 1 mile Tattersalls 250th Year Falmouth Stakes, a £200,000 diamond encrusted sparkler, pitting the star French mare Usherette against last year’s winner Amazing Maria, plus the Classic generation in the shape of Alice Springs.

Something has to give, though the market suggests Andre Fabre’s mare, Usherette, will continue her winning blitz, having already this season scored at Deauville, Chantilly, Newmarket and Royal Ascot.

French-trained visitors have taken this prize four times in the last 20 years, and at the time of writing their representative here is no bigger than 8/11 to extend that sequence.

However, only three of the last 10 favourites have won this particular race, and what’s more, Usherette’s only career defeat to date came in her only previous attempt at Group 1 level, when a good way behind the re-opposing Amazing Maria in last year’s Prix Rothschild.

Of course, she may have matured and strengthened in the interim period, plus you can accurately point to Usherette reversing the Deauville form when she comfortably won the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket in May, but also bear in mind she had the advantage of race fitness that day, whereas Amazing Maria was having her first run of the campaign, indeed her first run for eight months!

Amzing Maria is a brilliant mare and could well repeat last year’s win, but the stats tell us that in the last 30 years a whopping 18 three-year-olds have come to the fore in the Falmouth, so for that reason as well as her most recent run, the bet has to be Alice Springs.

Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore were on target yesterday with Housesofparliament, and here their 1,000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes third could easily have a major say.

Having been blocked in her run not once but twice at Ascot she finished with a real flourish, and in receipt of nine pounds she could well make amends.

The incomparable Ryan Moore has come in for some criticism of late, but he might answer the snipers with a winner here.

Good luck!

Friday’s best bets at Newmarket:

3.45 – Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes – 3 Kilmah (each way) @ 9/1 (BetVictor or Skybet)

4.15 – Tattersalls 250th Year Falmouth Stakes – 7 Alice Springs (each way) @ 6/1 (Bet365)

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Posted 1 year, 7 months ago

03 Jul
2015

Spark Plug Can Be An Explosive Pick For Punters On Eclipse Day At Sandown

Our regular tipster, Tom Lee, has swapped his MacBook for Manchego this weekend, with a trip to Barcelona making more appeal than a visit to Sandown Park! So, whilst the Betting Directory team sets out in search of finding a couple of winners whilst Tom’s nibbling on tapas and quaffing Estrella, we’d like to think that being the ever consummate professional, he’ll be taking a time-out from his own festivities to catch the Coral Eclipse on Saturday afternoon. Finding live coverage of Channel 4 Racing on La Rambla may prove difficult but it isn’t a race to miss as Derby winner, Golden Horn, looks to make it five wins on the bounce.

The John Gosden trained three-year-old was last seen four weeks ago, galloping away from his Group One rivals as he passed the Epsom winning post. The form of that Derby victory has since been franked in fine fashion after stablemate, Jack Hobbs, who finished second to Golden Horn last time out, cruised to a five length victory in the Irish Derby last weekend. The racing world has since reacted with great excitement and Golden Horn is subsequently a 4/11 favourite to win the Coral Eclipse.

Saturday’s renewal of the one mile two furlong event will be Golden Horn’s first race against his older peers but as the only three-year-old in the five runner field, the son of Cape Cross receives 11lbs from his four rivals. Even at level-weights, Golden Horn would be the clear favourite but the weight for age allowance is the reason that this is a bet that only big hitting punters can take advantage of. It would be hardly original to tip him up at the odds but we fully expect him to win at aplomb. However, new customers to Paddy Power can snap up an enhanced 5/1!

As far as value picks go, look no further than Black Cherry in the race before the Eclipse, the Coral Distaff, at 3:10. The Richard Hannon trained filly has really found her stride in the last month; losing her maiden tag at Goodwood in May, before romping to a five length victory over Saturday’s course and distance last month. That latest win was particularly eye-catching and the way she travelled before finding a lovely turn of foot to see off eight rivals provides the evidence to suggest she’s progressive enough for us to ride on her coattails at 9/4 with William Hill and land the hat-trick in the capable hands of Richard Hughes.

Earlier on the card, it may pay dividends to give Spark Plug a chance in the Coral Challenge Handicap at 2:35. The Brian Meehan trained four-year-old slipped and fell when moving in to contention during the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot last month and it’s worth risking a couple of quid to find out if he can bounce back here. The winner of the Royal Hunt Cup was Gm Hopkins, who finished second to Spark Plug in a handicap over a mile at Newbury in May, suggesting that they are a pair of decent looking handicap performers.

This is nowhere near as competitive as the Royal Hunt Cup and despite being top weight, Spark Plug is taken to reaffirm the handicapper’s view that he’s the best horse in the field. The Godolphin owned Basem is the bookmakers favourite having won over course and distance at the Surrey track a couple of weeks go. However, as impressive as he was on that occasion, he did look like he would would stay further and there’s a chance that he could find a couple of the out and out milers too fast.

The Barry Hills trained Sahaafy is also towards the head of the betting and like Spark Plug, will be looking to bounce back from Royal Ascot disappointment, after finishing down the field in the Britannia Stakes. The three-year-old looked an exciting prospect when winning by five lengths over a mile at Newmarket at the end of May and with further improvement likely, has to be respected. However, preference is for Spark Plug, who is very lightly raced for his age and has a record of 1121F over eight furlongs and he looks more than a solid each-way shout at 7/1 with Bet Victor to make his presence felt in this company.

Saturday’s Best Bets 

2:35 Sandown – Spark Plug @ 7/1 (each way) with Bet Victor

3:10 Sandown – Black Cherry @ 11/4 with Betfair

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Posted 2 years, 7 months ago

08 Feb
2015

Walsh & Heskin To Out-Fox Hennessy Rivals

Greetings from Dublin Airport.

A Sunday without a lie in needs a solid alibi, but if you’re hopping on the first flight to watch Ireland’s only fixture that carries a whopping four Grade 1 races in the same afternoon, it can probably forgiven.

There were more than a few red-eyed passengers in those wax jackets that only racegoers seem to wear, carrying already well battered looking copies of the Racing Post milling around at Gate 51 at 7.30am, all keen to beat the short but well established path from the UK to Leopardstown.

Dublin’s beatiful suburban track hosts one of its key days this afternoon, and with RTE2 carrying three of the four Grade 1’s everyone can get a birdseye view of some top quality action.

The Spring Juvenile is the odd one out, understandably run as the first race on the card to give the younger horses the chance to race on the best of the ground, but we kick off at 2.00pm, with the Deloitte Novice Hurdle first up at 2.15pm.

It’s a race which has produced three winners of Cheltenham’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle since 2003, and in Champagne Fever and Vautour, the last two.

Willie Mullins has strong claims in all four big prizes, and he runs four of the nine declared in the Deloitte, as he goes for a hat-trick in the race.

Arguably the most interesting of his quintet is Alvisio Ville, gambled from 20/1 into 8/1 for the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival, though Ruby Walsh gets the leg up on Pricewise-pick Nichols Canyon, and none of his four and indeed the field as a whole can be safely ruled out (all nine are in the Supreme Novices’).

Next up is the 2m 5f Flogas Novice Chase, a Grade 1 which has produced two of the last six RSA winners in the shape of Cooldine and Boston’s Angel.

Once again the man Mullins is chasing a hat-trick of victories, and his seventh overall.

He has juts the three runners in this one, but chief among them is runaway Drinmore winner Valseur Lido, who is just 6/1 for the JLT in Cheltenham following his pre-Christmas Fairyhouse demolition job.

He’s a bit short for me at 5/4 though, so instead perhaps we can risk a few quid on talented stablemate Adriana Des Mottes.

She by-passed yesterday’s Kingmaker in Warwick to run in this, and is already a Grade 1 winner in her own right despite being only five years of age.

Ruby Walsh can ride given that Bryan Cooper rides the Gigginstown horse Valseur Lido, and her sex and age allowances dictate that she’s getting a huge 17 pounds from her eight rivals!

She was in the process of running a fine race at Limerick at Christmas time when tipping up behind Gilgamboa, and can play a part at the 9/1 available each way with either Betfred or Paddy Power.

The big one though comes at 3.50pm, with the €150,000 Hennessy Gold Cup attracting a field of eight – good news for each way punters.

We’ve got the 2-4-5-6-7 from the Lexus here in December, headed by 11-year-old On His Own, who now benefits from the assistance of Ruby Walsh.

There’s also the horse who famously saw off On His Own in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup back in March, with Lord Windermere continuing his preparations for the defence of his crown in 33 days time.

A Hennessy trophy on the mantelpiece would look very handy too, and Lord Windermere is the short-priced of any today’s runners for the Gold Cup, available at a best quote of 14/1 this morning.

Dual Grade 1 winner Carlingford Lough will be a danger with the ground in his favour, but I like the youngest and possibly the most progressive horse in the field, with my RTE colleague Ted Walsh’s Foxrock the pick.

He hasn’t got too much to find on official figures, loves Leopardstown, and scored well here 21 days ago.

This step back up in trip to three miles could unlock further improvement from this son of Flemensfirth, and given that he’s always threatened to be a top level graded horse this could be his day.

Sent off 3/1 favourite for the National Hunt Chase at the Festival a year ago, and then 7/2 market leader for the Paddy Power Chase here in December, he’s not lacking in big match experience.

Boylesports and Paddy are joint-top price at 13/2.

Good luck!

Sunday’s best bets at Leopardstown:

2.45 – Flogas Novice Chase – 9 Adriana Des Mottes (each way) @ 9/1 (Betfred or Paddy Power)

3.50 – Hennessy Gold Cup – 4 Foxrock (each way) @ 13/2 (Paddy Power)

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Posted 3 years ago

26 Jan
2014

Leopardstown Set To Fly On Irish Champion Hurdle Day

Exactly as you’d expect, ultra-competitive racing awaits on BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle day, which is set to take place amid some pretty brutal weather conditions here in blustery Leopardstown, with the forecast rain and wind sweeping in over night and setting up camp…

That’ll do nothing to deter a big crowd who are rightly enthused by the prospect of seeing a re-run of December 29th’s Ryanair Hurdle, in which Hurricane Fly comprehensively outpointed young pretenders Jezki and Our Conor on day of the Christmas Festival.

For those that can’t make it the big race – the BHP Insurance Irish Champion (2.35pm) – is the high water mark in a four race broadcast on RTE2 from 1.15pm, but will the outcome be any different from four weeks ago?

Reports of a minor training interruption in the build up to a big race might put the frighteners on the followers of most horses, but this is Hurricane Fly we’re talking about, who at the time of writing is cornering 73% of the betting exchange market on this afternoon’s big race, and is no bigger than 4/6 with bookmakers!

The stats also illustrate what Jezki and Our Conor have to face up to this afternoon:

– 7 of the last 11 favourites have won the Irish Champion Hurdle

– Hurricane Fly is attempting to win the race for the fourth consecutive year

– Hurricane Fly unbeaten in 7 career outings at Leopardstown

– Hurricane Fly has won 20 of his 23 starts over hurdles

– Hurricane Fly boasts a record 18 Grade 1 victories

Some observers will argue a) that Jezki will get much closer/win if he gets a clear run through the race as opposed to being hemmed in on the rail and b) that Our Conor is entitled to improve dramatically now he’s got a proper outing under his belt.

Whatever occurs, we should be in for a treat, though if the Hurricane Fly we know and love turns up then the others surely only need to worry about how much place money they’ll be leaving with.

The other Grade 1 on a cracking card is the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase (1.30pm), in which the Willie Mullins-trained duo Mozoltov and Felix Younger will try and do what stablemate Champagne Fever couldn’t at Christmas time, namely beat Paul Nolan’s Defy Logic.

Felix Yonger already holds a verdict over Defy Logic earlier in the season, beating him two and a half lengths in Punchestown’s Craddockstown Novice Chase back in November, but Defy Logic has clearly improved some then, plus the rain-softened ground surely suits him more than his old adversary.

It isn’t just a three horse race either, with the promise of the likes of Trifolium and Ted Veale also on display, though it’s hard to envisage either of that duo actually winning.

It’s actually too hard to call, so for those looking for a wager on the card perhaps chance your arm a little later in the day, with Gordon Elliott’s Moonshine Lad capable of playing a big hand in the Grade 2 Synergy Security Solutions Novice Hurdle at 3.10pm.

A comprehensive winner of a Down Royal bumper back in November, he surely would have won at Fairyhouse on his hurdling debut but for coming down two out, but made amends next time when strolling to victory at Limerick.

A typical soft ground loving son of Milan, he’s progressive and will be right at home in the prevailing weather conditions, plus he hails from a stable who saw their Flaxen Flare run a massive race under a big weight when second in the feature handicap hurdle here yesterday.

At a top price of 11/2 with Coral Moonshine Lad looks worth an interest in a wide open six horse race.

Elsewhere, only Sedgefield stages UK National Hunt racing today, but Mick Easterby’s Shadows Lengthen looks worth following as the outsider of five in the 2m 4f Handicap Chase at 2.45pm.

A confirmed Heavy ground operator who won a novice chase at the track in January 2013 – a race in which three of the four horses he beat have won at least once over fences since then – he gets weight from all his rivals here and was unlucky not to win last time out, when falling at Wetherby three from home.

He’s up against a couple of old boys here – Tranquil Sea is 12 years of age and Consigliere just a year younger, while Shadows Lengthen may well yet have his best days ahead of him.

The fact we can back him at 7/1 with bet365 in a five horse race looks to good to ignore.

Good luck!

Sunday’s best bets:

2.45 Sedgefield – Frazer Hines & John O’Loan Handicap Chase – 5 Shadows Lengthen (win) @ 7/1 (bet365)

3.10 Leopardstown – Synergy Security Solutions Novice Hurdle – 4 Moonshine Lad (win) @ 11/2 (Coral)

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Posted 4 years, 1 month ago

26 May
2013

Make Or Break In The Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas

It’s another beautiful day here on the Curragh, and with a healthy crowd expected on an ever popular Ladies’ Day there should be a bit of something for everyone at the Kildare venue, especially with a really varied card that features a couple of minefield handicaps, as well as genuine Group 1 quality.

There’s been so sign of John Virgo in the local vicinity, but nonetheless it could well be the day that Dermot Weld’s Big Break announces herself on the big stage and takes the feature 1,000 Guineas, with the main race of the day live on RTE1 at 3.55pm.

A decent amount of rain arrived overnight to boost her chances, and the vibes are good for a filly who needs only to cross the road to reach the track from her trainer’s base!

She kicked off her career with a green as grass maiden third at Galway last summer, but built on that next time up when scoring easily on Good ground when strongly fancied at Leopardstown in September.

An impressive sign off for her juvenile campaign came in October, when she demolished a field of seven in the Group 3 Killavullan back at Leopardstown (yesterday’s 2,000 Guineas winner Magician was seventh).

That was on a Soft surface, but she’s by the versatile Dansili (who was second in a Sussex Stakes to Giant’s Causeway in 2000 on Good to Firm), and as we’ve already remarked there was rain about overnight.

The other question mark raised by her trainer is the draw, with Weld remarking: “being drawn 16 of 16 is also a disadvantage she will have to overcome”.

That may well be so, but it’s worth analysing the draw stats for yesterday’s later races at the Curragh, albeit in handicaps:

The 4.25pm race was a 23 runner mile handicap in which four of the first six came from stalls 12, 11, 21 and 22.

Even more compelling was the 5.30pm race, another mile handicap, this time with 21 runners:

The 1-2-3-4 were drawn 14, 19, 10 and 20!

There’s also the sparkling form of the Weld stable to consider: six of his last 17 runners have brought home the bacon, and 11 of his last 17 representatives making the first three.

That’ll do for me, and even though a strong challenge is headed by English raider Just The Judge, who ran a cracker to be second to Sky Lantern in the English Guineas, I’m not at all surprised to see overnight cash for Big Break, with our selection backed from 7’s into 6/1 overnight.

The best price in the village is available with any of BetVictor, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power or William Hill.

The other Group 1 on the card is the four runner Tattersalls Gold Cup at 3.20pm, in which we look to have a match between the resurgent Camelot and UK visitor Roger Charlton’s Al Kazeem.

It was fantastic to see Camelot back on the track in winning form 20 days ago after battling back from serious and life-threatening colic, but at prices as short as 2/7 it might be worth looking to the value alternative in Al Kazeem.

Roger Charlton’s lightly raced five year old has only made the track nine times to date, but has clearly still got more to give and made a massive impression when returning from an 11 month absence at Sandown last month.

A Group 2 scorer at Newmarket in 2012, it might not be a wasted journey for Charlton to bring him over to take on the might of Camelot, and he’s worth a look at 11/4 with Paddy Power.

Good luck!

Sunday’s best bets at the Curragh:

3.20 – Tattersalls Gold Cup – 1 Al Kazeem (win) @ 11/4 Paddy Power

3.55 – Etihad Airways 1,000 Guineas – 1 Big Break (win) @ 6/1 ( Paddy Power)

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Posted 4 years, 9 months ago

27 Apr
2013

Luna To Eclipse Sandown Rivals in Final Day Dust Up

Outstanding racing on both sides of the Irish sea today, with the final day of the National Hunt season going right to the wire for jockeys Davy Russell (103 winners) and Ruby Walsh (99) on the fifth and sadly last day of a brilliant Punchestown Festival.

We’ll come to that later, but first up at Sandown the 12/1 with any of bet365, BetVictor, Stan James or Ladbrokes looks too big about the rapidly improving Galileo gelding Leo Luna in the opener at 1.30pm.

He won without even knowing he’d had a race when given a true peach of a ride by Jamie Moore at Bangor last Saturday, a run necessary to qualify for a handicap to enable shrewd connections to have a tilt at this more valuable prize.

It’s a hot contest, but this lad has loads of boot and won’t mind the quicker ground.

Jamie Moore was unlucky not to win on Ubak at Punchestown yesterday, but this might be one in the onion bag for another of his father’s promising inmates.

Sticking with Sandown Park it looks wise to stick with course specialist Sanctuaire in the Celebration Chase at 2.40pm.

The Paul Nicholls trained seven year old seems to reserve his best for the Esher track, careering away with this race by 17 lengths a year ago.

He’s been no match for Sprinter Sacre in three attempts this season, but with the undisputed heavyweight champ safely tucked up in his box after Tuesday’s Punchestown exhibition, the coast looks clear for Sanctuaire to get back to winning ways at 7/2 with any of bet365, BetVictor, Coral, Ladbrokes or William Hill.

Back here in Punchestown it’s a book of five rides for Ruby Walsh and four for Davy Russell as the former bids to pull off a spectacular smash and grab final day heist on the jockey’s title.

In all likelihood he’ll fall just short, but a couple of a ‘R Walsh’ ridden winners look likely nonetheless…

The prices are nothing to get the juices flowing, but they will be more than acceptable for anyone playing them up in multiples, as 4/6 shot Tarla looks a clear pick in the 2m 2f Grade 1 Mares Hurdle at 4.25pm.

Deep ground is right up her street, Ruby had the pick between her and improving stablemate Glens Melody, plus she has upwards of 10lbs in hand on each of her four rivals on official ratings.

Also in Grade 1 company, the first-time hooded Diakali ought to prove up to netting the AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at 5.00pm.

The Triumph Hurdle fourth is only 5/6 with the likes of Coral or William Hill, but with no Our Conor on display he can see off three stablemates plus Stocktons Wing and One Fine Day to take the bragging rights.

After all, he is a course and distance winner who operates on this deep ground.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

1.30 Sandown – bet365 Josh Gifford Handicap Hurdle – 2 Leo Luna (each way) @ 12/1 (bet365, BetVictor, Stan James or Ladbrokes)

2.40 Sandown – bet365.com Celebration Chase – 5 Sanctuaire (win) @ 7/2 (bet365, BetVictor, Coral, Ladbrokes or William Hill)

4.25 Punchestown – ITBA Fillies Scheme EBF Mares Hurdle – 5 Tarla (win) @ 4/6 (general)

5.00 Punchestown – AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle – 2 Diakali (win) @ 5/6 (Coral or William Hill)

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Posted 4 years, 10 months ago