Posts Tagged ‘ leopardstown ’

29 Dec
2015

Taylor Made For A Grey Day

A pair of Grade 1’s in the shape of the Neville Hotels Novice Chase (1.55pm) and the Ryanair Hurdle (2.30pm) usher in the fourth and final day here at Leopardstown, with the track set to be hit by some fairly rough weather for the denouement of its great Christmas fixture, the best of which you’ll see live with us on RTE2.

Both feature just four runners, with Drinmore winner No More Heroes a best price 2/5 to extend his winning sequence over fences to three in the former, while a little later it’s Nichols Canyon, the only horse to have beaten runaway Christmas Hurdle winner Faugheen, who is no bigger than 1/2 to claim his sixth Grade 1 prize.

That means opportunities are probably limited, especially with the ground riding Heavy, so we’ll look further afield for the day’s sole recommendation, to Doncaster and their two mile Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (1.10pm).

Six go to post for this, featuring some promising types such as Donald McCain’s Katachenko, who won a messy race at Wetherby on Charlie Hall Chase day, but couldn’t follow up off a pound higher next time out – he’ll have to pull out more having gone up another four pounds here.

Charlie Longsdon’s Long Lunch travelled beautifully through his race at Sandown last time out, just fading late on, suggesting today’s drop back in trip could be a huge asset, while former Imperial Cup hero Baltimore Rock can surely play a hand if fit and ready to roll on his first try over fences, reappearing as he does after a 262-day absence.

However, perhaps the one with the least question marks is Brian Ellison’s runner, The Grey Taylor.

He has the assistance of jockey Richard Johnson, as the Herefordshire man blazes a trail towards a double century of winners for the season, currently motoring along on 167.

The Grey Taylor was a very useful hurdler, winning two of five starts, and going off at 5/1 for Kemtpon’s prestigious Dovecote Novice’s Hurdle back in February.

It’s over fences though that he has the potential to be even better, a school of thought encouraged by October’s pillar to post win over the larger obstacles at Carlisle.

Confidence is high after that, and Ellison has his string in great nick, firing in five winners from his last 17 runners.

Good luck!

Tuesday’s best bet:

1.10 Doncaster – betdaq.com Novices’ Ltd Handicap Chase – 2 The Grey Taylor (win) @ 9/4 (bet365, Betfred, BetVictor, Ladbrokes or Paddy Power)

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Posted 2 years, 10 months ago

28 Dec
2015

Arctic Excursion Just The Ticket At Leopardstown

It’s a wet and windy Leopardstown that’s set to welcome another big crowd for day three of the annual Christmas meeting, one which boasts the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle and Lexus Chase as its chief components, both of which you’ll see live with us on RTE2.

The three mile Christmas Hurdle (1.55pm) in particular looks set to be a thriller, pitting strong stayers Martello Tower and Alpha Des Obeaux against the classy, but stamina unproven, Arctic Fire.

Albert Bartlett winner Martello Tower is returning to the track from a 290 day absence since his Cheltenham heroics, but even so is bound to try and make this as searching a test as possible.

The same is true of Alpha Des Obeaux, who was comfortably accounted for by Arctic Fire in Fairyhouse’s Hatton’s Grace Hurdle last month, though that came over half a mile shorter than today’s trip.

Seemingly there aren’t too many chinks in 169-rated Arctic Fire’s armour, a horse available at just 8/1 for the two mile Champion Hurdle in March, though the conundrum for his trainer is the embarrassment of riches which sees him furnished with two seemingly superior options for that contest already, in the shape of the monster Faugheen, as well as Nichols Canyon.

Trying to keep them apart is no easy feat, so it makes sense to try and chisel out a new discipline for Arctic Fire, stepping him up in trip in a fascinating experiment.

Will he stay, or will the petrol light be flickering on empty?

On ratings the last season’s Champion Hurdle runner up ought to be an odds on shot, he’s proven on Soft ground, hails from a stable in red hot form, and has the assistance of Ruby Walsh.

Perhaps more importantly, he’s seen out both of his races this season powerfully, staying on well to score over two and a half miles at both Navan and Fairyhouse, a precedent which bodes well for this afternoon.

There’s no guarantee, but I expect him to win today, and his current odds of 12/1 for the World Hurdle to be adjusted accordingly.

Elsewhere, winner number 167 of the season beckons for champion jockey elect Richard Johnson, as he partners Cotillion in Leicester’s Parsley Selling Hurdle (1.25pm).

Johnson, on target for trainer Ian Williams at Huntingdon on Saturday, gets the leg up on a horse who won on the all-weather 12 days ago, and was last seen hurdling at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival.

It’ll be a disappointment if he doesn’t have too many guns for some limited opposition.

Good luck!

Monday’s best bets:

1.25 Leicester – Parsley Selling Hurdle – 5 Cotillion (win) @ 5/4 (Betfred, Betvictor, Coral or Hills)

1.55 Leopardstown – Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle – 2 Arctic Fire (win) @ 11/10 (bet365, Betway or Paddy Power)

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Posted 2 years, 10 months ago

13 Sep
2014

Got To Be ‘Zeen’ To Be Believed

The biggest weekend of Flat racing ever staged in Ireland.

It’s a bold claim, but an entirely justified one as the far-sighted decision to concertina Champion Stakes Day and the St Leger into one two day jamboree finally comes to fruition in a much awaited blitz, featuring no less than five Group 1’s, and prize money to make the very best sit up and take notice.

‘Don’t ‘cha just love it when a plan comes together?’ is hopefully a line the executive from HRI, Leopardstown and the Curragh will be borrowing from Hannibal Smith after a triumphant Champions Weekend, and the stage is set for it to kick off in style.

Live with us on RTE2 this afternoon the coverage kicks off at 5.00pm, and we’re bringing you four of the best from Leopardstown as the ever-popular Foxrock track prepares to welcome a massive crowd.

It’s a day not short on talking points, with Aidan O’Brien only 3/1 to win both the Group 1’s on the card, with Yorkshire Oaks winner Tapestry his big hope in the Matron Stakes at 5.45pm, before the outstanding three-year-old middle distance colt of 2014, a certain Australia, sprinkles his stardust in the Irish Champion Stakes at 6.50pm.

Not shy on a bit of publicity Paddy Power have already paid out antepost bets on 1/3 shot Australia, in a move the firm claimed had set them back somewhere in the region of €75,000.

Regrettably Paddy himself rebutted my suggestion the offer might be backdated when I phoned him yesterday morning, but you can’t blame a man for trying!

The live action kicks off at 5.15pm with the 1m 2f Group 3 KPMG Enterprise Stakes, which features a horse who prior to racing this day a year ago was already 10/1 favourite for the 2014 Investec Derby.

That was the price with bookies BetVictor about Free Eagle, who had halved Dermot Weld’s son of High Chaparral from an opening quote of 20’s following constant support after he’d routed Orchestra in his debut maiden win over a mile at Leopardstown.

Of course that was before the 2/5 shot had been eaten for breakfast and dispatched by a startling six lengths by none other than Australia on this card 365 days ago, when the pair locked horns in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Trial Stakes.

That reverse doesn’t look so shabby given Australia’s subsequent multiple Group 1-winning exploits, but Free Eagle hasn’t seen the track since, missing for a total of 371 days.

That his trainer keeps the faith with a horse he has entered in Ascot’s Group 1 Champion Stakes looks significant, but perhaps the 11/10 best price at the time of writing is just too skinny to recommend an investment.

He’s up against another returning stablemate in the shape of Rock Critic (off for even longer – 381 days), top-rated Group 3 Royal Whip hero Hall Of Mirrors for Aidan O’Brien, plus Desmond Stakes runner-up Brendan Bracken for Ger Lyons.

These things can come back to bite you on the backside, but if I was a bookmaker heading to Leopardstown this afternoon the one horse I’d be looking to lay is Brendan Bracken, based firmly on his record in races beyond a mile.

Four times he’s been to the well, producing results of 6th, 4th, 6th, and 12th of 12.

That doesn’t look too promising to me for anyone considering backing him.

Next up is the Group 1 Mile €300,000 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes, where we look set for a real treat.

The big two where the betting markets are concerned are old rivals Tapestry for Aidan O’Brien, taking on Clive Brittain’s Rizeena for a fourth time.

They are joined by a terrific supporting cast, constructed of Willie McCreery’s Prix Maurice de Gheest third Fiesolana, talented French trainer Henri-Alex Pantall’s recent Clarefontaine and Düsseldorf winner Kenhope, Falmouth fourth Purr Along, as well as Dermot Weld’s Flying jib.

It’s great to see a French trainer supporting this meeting – Pantall is the same man who won the 2007 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) with West Wind – and more than knows the time of day.

Don’t forget hat-trick seeker Kenhope went off 5/2 favourite for this race 12 months ago but came up short, managing only fourth.

She’s on a roll at present having won her last two with ease, but this is a big jump back up in class, and as such it looks as though it’ll be slugged out by the heavyweights Tapestry and Rizeena.

Although it’s a home game two things concern me about Tapestry:

She was unlucky not to win the Irish Oaks but very much made up for it at York when beating the mighty Taghrooda, but those two outstanding pieces of form are over a mile and a half.

Dropping back to a mile her form is nowhere near as good!

Stonewall last in the 2000 Guineas, and only 6th in the Coronation Stakes doesn’t fill me with enthusiasm, and that’s before you look at her head-to-head record against Rizeena.

It’s 3-0 to Rizeena, and there’s no hard luck story involved:

1 Sept 2013 – Moyglare Stud Stakes (7f) 1st Rizeena, 2nd Tapestry

4 May 2014 – QIPCO 1000 Guineas (1m) 7th Rizeena, 17th Tapestry

20 June 2014 – Coronation Stakes (1m) 1st Rizeena, 6th Tapestry

If that’s not enough we know well Rizeena isn’t fazed by travelling overseas, trip and ground are perfect, and she arrives here off the back of a very solid effort against the colts in the Jacques Le Marois.

Back against her own sex I’m struggling to see why William Hill make her half a point bigger than Tapestry at 5/2.

Elsewhere on the card the Group 2 Clipper Boomerang Mile is a brilliant race and looks very tough to call, but there will be shockwaves if Australia is felled in the big one.

Back home it is of course St Leger day at Doncaster, and in the big one I’ve had a few quid each way on Andrew Balding topically named Scotland.

He’s got work to do to reverse placings on this year’s form with a number of today’s rivals, but equally you can argue he’s crying out for this longer trip based on his powerful finishes at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood, and if there’s a surprise in store then at 20/1 it might be him.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

3.50 Doncaster – Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes – 11 Scotland (each way) @ 20/1 (Betfred, BetVictor or Paddy Power)

5.45 Leopardstown – Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes – 8 Rizeena (win) @ 5/2 (William Hill)

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Posted 4 years, 2 months ago

28 Dec
2013

Bobs Surely Worth Another Chance On Day Three At Leopardstown

Reigning Cheltenham champs Bobs Worth and Solwhit top the bill on day three here in Leopardstown, and with the turbulent weather giving way to a crisp, clear morning there should be a massive Saturday crowd present to witness some genuine stars in action.

This afternoon’s Lexus Chase, live on RTE2 at 2.55pm, throws up plenty of questions:

Can Bobs Worth recover from a tame effort when trailing in 40 lengths behind Cue Card in the Betfair Chase last time out?

Will Sir Des Champs be able to shrug off a third fence horror fall in the John Durkan at Punchestown?

Is the Mouse Morris-trained First Lieutenant able to return to the form that saw him beaten by a nostril in a photo in this race 12 months ago?

Does Unioniste have what it takes to build on his Aintree win and improve his trainer’s fantastic strike rate in this contest?

Might Lord Windermere bounce back to the form of his RSA Chase win and bridge a substantial ratings gap?

All will become apparent later on today, but one swallow doesn’t make a summer, and although he has to do vastly better than what was produced last time out, the big race can go to 180-rated Bobs Worth.

Easy to back this morning, if you’re backing him make sure you do so with one of the firms offering the ‘best odds guarantee’ concession, as he’s drifting on the betting exchanges and might not even go off favourite at this rate, with Sir Des Champs breathing down his neck in the betting markets at the time of writing.

Aside from his Haydock flop this horse has been remarkably consistent, and though even the top horses can only go to the well so often, it’s worth noting he’s still only eight years of age and connections believe Leopardstown’s left-handed, flat, galloping track will suit him well.

Seven lengths was his margin of victory over Sir Des Champs at Cheltenham in March, with his big rival then going on to score at Punchestown in April.

Henderson needs a big race win to give him a boost after yesterday’s events at Kempton Park, and if Bobs Worth can bounce back to somewhere near his best form then a massive prize is his for the taking at Leopardstown.

Elsewhere on the card, there won’t be many horses on the card who ran in a listed race at Saint-Cloud last time out, and are now jumping hurdles at Leopardstown, but that’s what we’ve got in the shape of Denis Hogan’s runner Inis Meain in the two mile Rated Hurdle at 1.20pm.

On Flat form he’d take this, but he’s just one from nine over hurdles and was unplaced in three tries over timber at this track last year.

Instead, at bigger odds try the mare Leah Claire.

She’s also handy on the level, and indeed won well at Leopardstown on the Flat in July.

She’s tough and consistent over the obstacles, including when placed at this meeting a year ago, and when finishing third in a competitive big field handicap in February.

Leah Claire is available at 7/2 with any of bet365, Betfred, Ladbrokes or William Hill.

Sticking with Leopardstown, I can pass on a good word for Arthur Moore’s Talbot Road in the 2m 3f Beginners’ Chase at 2.20pm.

A winner over hurdles at this meeting 12 months ago, he’s a Point to Pint winner who made a pleasing start over fences when third first time out at Punchestown 20 days ago.

Finally, it probably hasn’t gone unnoticed that my own family’s stable have two chances in this afternoon’s Welsh National, both with the ideal profile for the race.

Both Knock A Hand and Mountainous have strong course form, an excellent temperament, love Heavy ground and stay all day.

Granted a bit of luck I’d like to believe both could be involved at the business end of the race, and they’re hard to split for anyone looking for a lively each way contender.

Whatever happens, the Irish contender Goonyella looks the one to beat, plus you have to afford huge respect to the class act which is Tidal Bay.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets at Leopardstown:

1.20 – Star Best For Racing Christmas Rated Hurdle – 2 Leah Claire (win) @ 7/2 (bet365, Betfred, Ladbrokes or William Hill)

2.20 – Ballymaloe Country Relish Beginners Chase – 8 Talbot Road (win) @ 11/4 (BetVictor)

2.55 – Lexus Chase – 2 Bobs Worth (win) @ 10/3 (Paddy Power)

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Posted 4 years, 10 months ago

07 Sep
2013

‘Al’ Take A Chance On Kazeem Conquering Leopardstown

Anyone lacking their sea legs need not apply if it’s a ride to Ireland on the ferry you’re interested in at present, with last night’s crossing to Dublin reminiscent of surfing at Lahinch!

The hurling in Croke Park might not be ’til tomorrow afternoon, but there was plenty of practising taking place in the middle of the Irish Sea, and more than one or two furrowed brows among the passengers…

Back on terra firma though the warm weather has well and truly vanished, giving way to some long expected wind and rain, much to the delight you’d imagine of Beckhampton trainer Roger Charlton and his team, as they prepare three-time Group 1 winner Al Kazeem for a tilt at this afternoon’s €750,000 Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes.

The vital information for anyone looking to have a bet on the big race (live on RTE2 at 6.50pm) is that the ground is now Good (as of 08.30 Saturday), following a total of 7mm of rain overnight.

More is forecast, but the removal of any trace of firm is precisely what Charlton will have been hoping for, and granted a fair wind he’ll give the thumbs up for his stable star to line up in the big one and try and reverse York form with the admirable Declaration Of War and Irish Derby hero Trading Leather.

York is renowned for throwing up unexpected results, and though there was absolutely no fluke in Declaration Of War’s big race win on the Knavesmire, it was one run too many on Good to Firm for Al Kazeem according to the man who knows him best.

A total of 17 days have elapsed since then, and if Charlton sees fit to let Al Kazeem take his chance and bid for second success of the season in Ireland following May’s Tattersalls Gold Cup strike then he’s the one they have to beat.

It’s not as though he was beaten a million miles at York, just two and three quarter lengths by Declaration Of War, but he looks worth following to reverse the deficit today.

It has to be said it’s a million miles from just a two horse race, with the feature race throwing up a compelling field of eight which would grace any showcase meeting.

Aside from Al Kazeem bidding for a fourth Group 1 of the season it shouldn’t be forgotten Declaration Of War is going for his third following the Queen Anne and the Juddmonte, Trading Leather receives weight from both of them and is already an Irish Derby winner, as well as having finished second in the King George and second (when ahead of Al Kazeem!) in the Juddmonte International.

Add to that potent mix John Gosden’s hard as nails Yorkshire Oaks winner The Fugue – finished behind Al Kazeem at Royal Ascot and Sandown – though connections won’t have been delighted to see the heavens open, and the real dark horse Kingsbarns and you’ve got all the ingredients for a thriller.

Not seen since October’s Racing Post Trophy Kingsbarns will see his chances of maintaining his 100% record improve with every drop of rain that falls.

However, it’ll take a good one to beat Al Kazeem if connections allow him to line up, and he looks worth supporting at 11/4 with William Hill.

The other Group 1 on the card might also be ripe for export, with Lady Cecil’s Chigun holding a big each way shout in the Matron Stakes at 5.45pm.

She didn’t fire in France at the end of July in a contest where today’s favourite Kenhope finished well ahead of her (3rd & 9th), but she was aggressively ridden there and a switch back to more patient tactics could reap dividends today.

Chigun is better judged on her Group 3 win at the Curragh in May, when she had today’s rivals La Collina and Lily’s Angel filling the frame behind her in a comfortable victory.

Prior to that she was an outstanding short head second to subsequent Beverly D winner Dank at Newmarket, and if she’s back on song today then the 9/1 with Paddy Power looks inviting.

Sir Henry Cecil won this race 12 months ago when it was awarded to Chachamaidee in the stewards room, plus it’s worth remembering British-trained runners have won six of the nine renewals since this contest was upgraded to Group 1 status.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

5.45 Leopardstown – Coolmore Fusaichi Pegasus Matron Stakes – 2 Chigun (each way) @ 9/1 (Paddy Power)

6.50 Leopardstown – Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes – 1 Al Kazeem (win) @ 11/4 (William Hill)

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Posted 5 years, 2 months ago

09 Feb
2013

Why The Sensible Option Is To Be On The Bog!

With the Ireland v England Six Nations clash shunting the Irish Hennessy card forward a day, we’re blessed with an afternoon dripping with big race excitement here in Leopardstown and across the water, with cards at Newbury and Warwick also potentially packed full of Cheltenham pointers.

For the first time in a while it’s neither cold, pouring with rain, nor blowing a gale or threatening a hurricane here in Dublin, and fingers crossed it’ll help boost the crowd figures on an afternoon where they’d struggle to have attracted anything better in terms of equine talent on a bona fide A-list day.

The RTE cameras certainly won’t be deterred, and if you can’t make it down here then be sure to tune in from 2pm, shortly after which a field of eight are set to go to post for the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle, run over two and a quarter miles (2.15pm).

Dual Cheltenham and Punchestown Champion Bumper winner Champagne Fever will go off favourite in the hands of Paul Townend, and his three Cheltenham entries are testament to the high regard in which he is held by Willie Mullins, despite being comprehensively turned over when sent off at 1/4 at Naas last time out.

He was found to be suffering from a respiratory tract infection after that puzzling defeat, but even so the calibre of opposition here is red hot.

Dermot Weld’s Waaheb has never finished out of the front two in six racecourse appearances, and got to within six lengths of the brilliant Jezki in Grade 1 company at Christmas time.

He’s rated just three pounds inferior to Champagne Fever, and has to be a live danger.

The same applies to Bright New Dawn and Minsk.

Bright New Dawn was third behind Jezki and Waaheb at Christmas time, while Minsk is a perfect illustration of how a supposed superstar can unravel, or at least take longer than expected to bloom: 12 months ago his clued up trainer was predicting great things for a horse rated 105 on the Flat, a year on he is just one from four and has been something of a slow burner over timber.

That said, for all the quality on show there might be one to show them all a clean pair of heels, with Suffolk bloodstock agent turned trainer John Ferguson sending over Flat recruit Buthelezi.

Also rated 105 on the level, this five year old son of Dynaformer made a pleasing start to his hurdling career at Aintree just before Christmas, bagging his maiden hurdle by a comfy seven lengths.

The fact that on just his second start over obstacles his talented trainer pitches him in here, and avoids easier targets at home is eye catching, and he surely isn’t here just to make up the numbers!

None of the Irish trained contingent are able to beat Jezki, and at a standout 7/1 with Betfred they might be about to encounter another irresistible force here.

Regular pilot Denis O’Regan is riding like a man possessed, and he’ll relish the opportunity to return to Ireland and showcase his talents on one of the biggest days of the lot.

His treble at Doncaster (from three rides) on Thursday was a sight to behold, not least his perfect judgement of pace when riding my own family’s runner The Chazer in the 2m 3f Chase.

It was reminiscent of Paul Carberry at his best, but perhaps even better…

It had waiting-ride aficionado and stable accomplice Trifleman considering a marriage proposal in the paddock afterwards; I think the understated O’Regan was happy to bolt for the safety of the weighing room, as far away as possible from the hovering desert devotee.

Fortunately for Denis the ever-enthusiastic Trifleman will be at Newbury this afternoon, and he can concentrate on getting the job done on Buthelezi.

Just over an hour later we get the chance to enjoy the day’s headline event, with the Grade 1 Hennessy Gold Cup the day’s feature at 3.20pm.

It has the makings of a thriller too, with heavyweights Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs meeting for a third time this season.

The score stands at 2-0 to Flemenstar, after he easily saw off Sir Des Champs over two and a half miles in the John Durkan at Punchestown, before finishing a place ahead of him when third in the Lexus at Christmas, a race which few who witnessed it will ever forget.

For Flemenstar and his colourful handler Peter Casey this represents another chance to prove he really does stay three miles in a true run race, while for Sir Des Champs it’s a chance to show the kind of form that saw him win so easily at both Cheltenham (Jewson) and Punchestown (Champion Novice) last March.

The problem is I’m not convinced Flemenstar is at his optimum over the three mile trip, despite the stamina influence from his family and the margin of defeat in the Lexus.

He loves to bowl on and attack, and maybe that means there might not be as much as ideal left in the tank in the closing stages.

For his part, Sir Des Champs is obviously a significantly better horse on better ground, and though a drying wind in recent days will have helped they’re still forecasting Soft ground on the chase track.

He was flawless in the 2011/12 campaign, but now has to prove he can see off Flemenstar.

So is it a two horse race?

Official ratings would certainly have you believe that, but I’m going to suggest a backing a horse who stays all day long and also has plenty of class.

Running in the same Gigginstown House Stud colours as Sir Des Champs is Tony Martin’s runner Bog Warrior, who returns to fences after three easy, confidence-boosting wins over hurdles.

He was thrashed by Flemenstar at Naas last March when something was clearly amiss, but bear in mind this is also the horse who ran away with the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase back in December 2011, with a whopping 31 lengths the margin of victory.

He’s three from six over the larger obstacles, and what’s more has absolutely no qualms about trip or ground.

If he can translate his recent hurdles form back over fences then he has a huge chance, and at 10/1 (Ladbrokes) in a five horse race you can’t say the bookmakers are being tight-fisted! Win bet.

The ratings would suggest he has a mountain to climb at level weights – Bog Warrior 150, Flemenstar 171, Sir Des Champs 166 – but if you want a precedent for an upset then look no further Tony Martin and Benefficient a fortnight ago in the Irish Arkle here at Leopardstown.

He was 12 and 17 pounds wrong with Oscars Well and Arvika Ligeonierre respectively, but it didn’t seem to do him too much harm when winning at a not unbacked 10/1.

Meanwhile, over at Newbury, an almost impossible looking task awaits punters trying to unravel the 23 runners in the Betfair Hurdle, with it looking difficult to completely rule out almost anything.

One that does catch the eye though is top weight Petit Robin, who’s a remarkably consistent campaigner, making the frame on 15 of his 22 runs, mainly at a very high level.

Nicky Henderson is in form, Nico De Boinville takes seven pounds off, and Petit Robin simply loves the rough and tumble of a big field handicap, as demonstrated by his second to the re-opposing Cause Of Causes in the Ladbrokes at Ascot three day before Christmas.

Newbury is a happy hunting ground for Petit Robin – his record there from three runs reads: 1, 1, 3.

For a horse available at 33/1 each way with either bet365 or Paddy Power, both of who are offering us five places, more of the same will do nicely.

Lastly, I can pass on a good word for Charles Egerton’s Seedling in the concluding Newbury bumper (4.40pm).

He won his only start when taking a three year old bumper on the All Weather at Lingfield, but improvement is expected in the hands of AP McCoy.

He might be worth a dabble at what’s likely to be quite a big price.

Good luck!

Saturday’s best bets:

2.15 Leopardstown – Deloitte Novice Hurdle – 5 Buthelezi (win) @ 7/1 (Betfred)

3.20 Leopardstown – Hennessy Gold Cup – 1 Bog Warrior (win) @ 10/1 (Ladbrokes) (Non Runner)

3.35 Newbury – Betfair Handicap Hurdle – 1 Petit Robin (each way) @ 33/1 (bet365 or Paddy Power)

4.40 Newbury – Betfair NH Flat Race – 10 Seedling (each way) @ 8/1 with Skybet

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Posted 5 years, 9 months ago

28 Dec
2012

‘Pour’ It On At Leopardstown

As if the last two days haven’t provided enough thrills to keep us entertained for months, with the likes of Jezki, Sizing Europe, Arvika Ligeonierre and Colbert Station turning on the style here in Leopardstown, while Dynaste, Darlan, Long Run, Sanctuaire and Simonsig have flown the flag to keep the festive crowds enthralled at Kempton, then we’re back for more this afternoon with day three at windy Leopardstown.

Just 1mm of rain last night means the going remains Soft for this afternoon’s face off between the two best young stayers in Ireland, as Punchestown’s John Durkan Chase one and two Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs lock horns again in the Grade 1 Lexus Chase, live on RTE2 at 3.00pm.

It promises to be unmissable, with the duo occupying the second and third slots in the antepost list for March’s Cheltenham Gold Cup (Flemenstar 6/1 generally, Sir Des Champs 7/1 with Ladbrokes).

Both have tasted defeat on just one occasion over fences, as Flemenstar boasts a record of 13 months unbeaten and hunts for an eighth straight win, while Sir Des Champs’ only lowering of the colours came on his seasonal reappearance last time out when beaten five lengths by the horse he has in his sights this afternoon over a trip that is unlikely to prove his optimum.

Indeed the great question and teaser here is how will Flemenstar cope with his first try up in distance at three miles?

A Point-to-Point winner over three, will this flamboyant horse be even better with more time to measure his obstacles, or will the petrol light be flickering on empty beyond two and a half miles in a race where the proven stamina of his rivals will provide a new test?

For his part Sir Des Champs was massively impressive when winning the Jewson at the Cheltenham Festival back in March, and he was able to follow up in a Soft looking 3m 1f Grade 1 at Punchestown thereafter, and with the benefit of a run under his belt now there’s a strong suspicion we can expect more from him this afternoon.

For all that it’s a fascinating clash of two horses with Gold Cup aspirations, it’s certainly not just a two horse race, with Paul Nicholls sending over a rejuvenated force in the shape of the quirky but massively talented Tidal Bay, a horse rising 12 who can still turn it on if the mood takes him.

His 2008 Arkle win when in the care of Howard Johnson was brilliant, and even though he’s in the veteran stage of his career Nicholls seems to have found a way to maintain his appetite for racing, as a win in the season ending Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown, a reappearance victory in the John Smith’s Hurdle at Wetherby in November, plus a superb second to Gold Cup favourite Bobs Worth in the Hennessy last time out (when trying to concede 6lbs!) would suggest.

Nicholls has won this race twice in recent times, with Denman drawing a big audience in 2007, before What A Friend also got the job done for the Ditcheat stable in 2009, and they’ve got another live contender this afternoon – especially as if official ratings are to be believed then Tidal Bay should finish second to Flemenstar!

The likes of Shark Hanlon’s Hidden Cyclone and First Lieutenant provide further depth, but what i’m really hoping for is to see the principals put in a clear round and head into the home turn all still travelling.

Then we can get a decent grip on who deserves to top the pecking order on this side of the water.

The colourful Peter Casey will be joy to behold if Flemenstar can provide further ammunition for backers of his 6/4 shot, but the value option has to be with Ladbrokes’ 3/1 about Sir Des Champs to gain his revenge for Punchestown last time.

He didn’t run badly that day but couldn’t live with the power of Flemenstar at the trip, but with a run in the bank and the improvement it’ll bring, plus a more suitable trip this afternoon to bring his proven staying power into play, maybe Sir Des Champs can edge this for the Willie Mullins team.

It’s far from a maximum strength selection, but Sir Des Champs it is to take a compelling renewal of the Lexus.

Elsewhere on the card one in whom I’d be much keener to get more heavily involved is Grade 2 woodiesdiy.com Christmas Hurdle jolly Zaidpour.

On the form of his most recent outing, a victory in the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse at the start of the month, he holds both Monksland and Voler La Vedette wth a bit to spare, and official ratings endorse that suggestion.

This is a step back up in trip to three miles this afternoon, but the versatile Zaipour beat Voler La Vedette at the trip at Gowran in January (on identical terms) and should have no concerns in that department.

He showed up well behind Hurricane Fly over two miles at Punchestown in April, and possesses a perfect blend of speed and staying power.

Critics will point to Leopardstown defeats at 1/4 at this meeting in 2010, and then at even money in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle in February 2011, but firstly he’s an older, more mature horse now, and secondly both of those came on really Heavy, upset producing ground.

Monksland is a quality rival but is unproven at the trip and held on Fairyhouse form, while the immensely likeable Voler La Vedette is without a win in five since beating Mourad in this race 12 months ago.

Her fans will point to the fact a return to this track might spark a revival, but for me her titanic clash with Big Buck’s in March (when second in the World Hurdle) seems to have left a mark on her.

She gave everything that day but was still worn down by a force of nature, and has since been well beaten at Punchestown, Navan (at 1/7!!) and on these terms last time out at Fairyhuse by Zaidpour.

The rest look to be playing for places, so get stuck into some 13/8 about Zaidpour doing the business with William Hill.

Good luck!

Friday’s best bets:

1.25 Leopardstown – woodiesdiy.com Christmas Hurdle – 1 Zaidpour (win) @ 13/8 (William Hill)

3.00 Leopardstown – Lexus Chase – 8 Sir Des Champs (win) @ 3/1 (Ladbrokes)

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Posted 5 years, 10 months ago

27 Dec
2012

Looking Forward To A Drum Roll…

The memories of Darlan, Dynaste and Long Run will live on for quite some time, but the festive racing calendar set a strong gallop, and Thursday arrives with a bevvy of top class fixtures to whet the appetite.

Kempton Park witnessed thrills and spills to rival anything seen on the Sunbury track’s hallowed turf on Wednesday, but this afternoon’s fayre is none too shabby, and the hope is Nick Williams’s tough and gutsy mare Swincombe Flame can return to hurdles with a bang in the William Hill Mares’ Handicap Hurdle at 1.30pm.

Jockey Richard Johnson, denied late on after delivering a peach of a ride on Captain Chris in the King George, enjoyed big race success for trainer Williams when taking the long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Reve De Sivola at the weekend, and the duo could once again team up to good effect here.

Swincombe Flame certainly enjoys Kempton – indeed she enjoyed her finest hour there when bagging the Lanzarote Hurdle back in January off a mark of 123.

This season two efforts over fences haven’t amounted to much, although in fairness last time out she was pitched in against the likes of Court In Motion and Dynaste.

Now though she returns to tackle the timber off a workable mark of 129, on a track we know she acts upon, and crucially on Heavy ground which shouldn’t count against her…indeed the form of her first ever run turned out especially well, a bumper at Warwick on really Heavy ground, plus she subsequently struck twice on Soft.

At the age of six and given how well she sees out two and a half miles this step up in trip to three miles seems an entirely logical step.

There’s a touch of class about Swincombe Flame, and she can see off the likes of One Lucky Lady and Kaffie to make it a successful return to the smaller obstacles.

She is a 9/2 shot with any of Boylesports, Ladbrokes or Paddy Power.

Up at Wetherby they again have to negotiate a morning inspection to ensure the track is raceable with further rain forecast, but fingers crossed they’ll be good to go next to the A1.

After putting up good prize money they won’t have been too enamoured to see just five turn up for the Castleford Chase at 2.20pm, but hopefully that can ease the task of trying to identify the winner.

Herefordshire trainer Venetia Williams is rarely sighted this side of the new year, but her string have been motoring earlier than usual in the current campaign, with a meaty 42 winners already on the board for 2012/13.

One inmate who’s more than done his fair share to contribute is three-time contributor Drumshambo, who really has been on something of a roll and now finds himself on a career high mark of 132.

Ordinarily you might suggest that could be the signal to look elsewhere, but with the stable still going great guns and the excellent Aidan Coleman riding with real confidence, it’s difficult to see past him once again in a field not exactly overflowing with alternatives.

Lease Lend was well fancied but disappointed last time out when dropped back to this trip over course and distance, while Character Actor ran and was well beaten just yesterday.

That leaves last year’s winner Charingworth for Ferdy Murphy and Lucy Alexander, but he hasn’t fired in two attempts this season, plus he hasn’t been cut any slack by the handicapper – indeed he’s 8lbs higher than when taking this is 2011, plus Alexander’s claim has been reduced from 7lbs to 3lbs.

Perhaps Brian Ellison’s much-raced Dontpaytheferryman is the danger at the bottom of the weights, but he lacks experience over fences – yet to win in three attempts and jumped badly last time he tried in May 2011 – so the in-form Drumshambo is readily preferred as he bids for a hat-trick.

Two runs ago Drumshambo beat Tom George’s Rody on Soft ground at Hereford, the form of which was franked when Rody did the business at Wincanton yesterday, and at 11/8 with any of Bet365, BetVictor, Boylesports or Paddy Power Drumshambo is taken to return the favour.

Meanwhile, here at Leopardstown there’s no shortage of quality on day two of the Christmas Festival, and I’ve got my sights set on a couple of big-priced outsiders trying to make their mark in ultra competitive races….

The Grade 1 Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle is the second of four races live on RTE2 at 2.00pm, and it has all the makings of a cracker.

Jessica Harrington’s exciting Jezki loves Soft ground and is sure to go off favourite to complete a four timer after his battling success in the Grade 1 Royal Bond at Fairyhouse last time out, but he’s only 11/10 with the sponsors and did have a really hard race to see off Champagne Fever last time out.

Dermot Weld’s Waaheb is a real threat and banged in three on the bounce in bumpers, as well as taking an ordinary race with any amount in hand when beginning his career over hurdles at Fairyhouse in October.

Henry De Bromhead fields the talented Sizing Rio – already a winner over hurdles at both Fairyhouse and Navan – and his stamina looks assured after showing a real liking for testing conditions.

If that’s not enough to weigh up then Gigginstown House Stud have two runners in their colours, with Fairyhouse maiden winner Bright New Dawn the choice of Davy Russell.

Russell will have been delighted to see Ned Buntline frank that maiden form when scoring at Leopardstown yesterday, but the suspicion is a tough decision may turn out to be the wrong one, as I’m keen on their four year old Ally Cascade at a big price.

The four year olds get a three pound weight allowance from the older horses, and this guy has done very well so far, and will handle the surface without a doubt.

Ally Cascade kicked off his season by taking a Fairyhouse bumper by an easy six lengths, before being worn down late on by Jezki at Naas.

Admittedly Jezki has progressed from there to win twice since (including a Grade 1), but he is now 5/4 and Ally Cascade is 12/1, when there’s less than a length between them on Naas form, and Jezki has to prove he is recovered from a grueller in the Royal Bond.

What’s more, Ally Cascade has since gone in at Thurles, beating Urano (who showed up well when second to Ned Buntline yesterday).

It could be that there’s very little between this group of horses, but with Paul Carberry up I’m very happy to take a chance on Ally Cascade, who benefits from the weight allowance.

He’s available each way at 12/1 with any of Bet365, Boylesports or Paddy Power.

Finally, the big betting race of the day arrives at 3.10pm in the shape of the Paddy Power Chase, a 28 runner handicap that’ll have bookmakers licking their lips.

Colm Murphy’s Glam Gerry tops the market as a neatly weighted dual course winner, but I wonder if a return to this track and trip might spark a revival in last year’s winner Cross Appeal.

Successful here off a mark of 125 in 2011, he’s still 8lbs higher on 133, but that translates to a pleasing racing weight of 10.12, and he ran well when fourth in the Galway Plate in the summer, and might be able to find some form again now.

Totally versatile in terms of ground, he has the brilliant Paul Carberry to assist from the flight deck.

His price is so big due to two non completions of late, but don’t forget he was still travelling in fourth in the Cork National when a mistake five out did for him, and a similar display could mean a quote of 25/1 for this afternoon’s assignment is far too big, especially with a couple of bookmakers offering five places each way.

Cross Appeal is taken to bounce back and once again make an impact in this hugely valuable contest.

Good luck!

Thursday’s best bets:

1.30 Kempton Park – William Hill New Ipad App Mares’ Handicap Hurdle – 3 Swincombe Flame (win) @ 9/2  (Ladbrokes or Paddy Power)

2.00 Leopardstown – Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle – 5 Ally Cascade (each way) @ 12/1 (Bet365 or Paddy Power)

2.20 Wetherby – Castleford Handicap Chase – 3 Drumshambo (win) @ 11/8 (Bet365, BetVictor or Paddy Power)

3.10 Leopardstown – Paddy Power Steeplechase – 13 Cross Appeal (each way) @ 25/1 (Bet365 or Betfred)

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Posted 5 years, 11 months ago

10 Feb
2012

China To Take Away Hennessy Glory On A Leopardstown Super Sunday

If there’s any truth to the line ‘food is the way to a man’s heart’ then imagine my anguish in the early hours of last Sunday morning, when after negotiating the snowy streets of London still full of running and making it back to my stable for the night, I discovered some villain had callously relieved me of my most prized earthly possession at that precise moment in time: no less than a Marks & Spencer Mango & Crayfish salad, a pricey £4’s worth purchased earlier that day and guarded like a nuclear warhead for the previous 9 hours.

To what did I owe this sinister starvation situation?

The answer is quite simple – the weather.

First it was Sandown Park that was abandoned, then Ffos Las, leaving me with no work to carry out for Channel 4, and a long, long way from the comfort of home.

A contingency plan hastily arranged, I found myself in excellent (slightly dishevelled) company in a local boozer, watching the rugby and enjoying a few refreshing sports drinks , all the while scanning my surroundings in vain for a fork with which to devour said salad which was being lovingly cradled along with a copy of the Racing Post.

I’m not entirely sure what time it was during the admittedly extensive proceedings that the robbery occurred, but it was only when I hit the hay that I realised I was no longer aligned to my future culinary delight, and a wave of depression set in.

Not for long it has to be said, as I had to help remove a Christmas tree which was still present in my host’s hovel (there’s no accounting for taste), but eventually sleep seemed a better option than rooting through the bins to try and locate something to eat.

Further enquiries proved fruitless on Sunday morning, and I’d resigned myself to becoming a sorrowful salad-free zone.

Or so I thought, until a Lazarus-like comeback took place on Friday morning, when having just plucked a pheasant (don’t ask) the postman arrived and asked me to sign for something, or more accurately pay for the deficit on a parcel that had been sent with only a tight-fisted 19p payment to help it on its way.

The contents? You’ve guessed it….my missing salad turns up in an anonymous package, 6 days late, and 170 miles from where the robbery occurred, and to make matters worse I had to pay £1.60 for the privilege, plus the brute is now out of date!.

Clearly pangs of guilt had set in with the pilferer, and that age old commandment ‘thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s salad’ had proved too much to live with.

Do I forgive them? Categorically not, and aside from this blog I’m also sending a full account to Crimewatch in the hope they’ll stage a full reconstruction and catch the criminal in question.

People like that shouldn’t be roaming the streets.

Anyway, with the weather still playing havoc here in the UK it makes perfect sense to focus on Sunday’s big card at Leopardstown in the search for a winner or two, and all being well they should be good to go with temperatures nowhere near as cold across the Irish Sea.

The Hennessy Gold Cup is the big race on a star-studded card, live on RTE1 at 3.45pm, and though for a variety of reasons we’re missing Lexus winner Synchronised, Jessies Dream and Quito De La Roque, there’s still plenty of top class form on offer in a field of seven.

Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh team up with the hat-trick chasing Quel Esprit, who is the least exposed among them and could turn out to be a serious force over fences, but equally is yet to turn it on at the highest level, having endured a torrid sequence of form which saw him fall in the Moriarty on this card 12 months ago, then when leading in the RSA at the Festival, and then when brought down at Punchestown.

Two easy wins in lesser company this season must have confidence restored to a point, but he wouldn’t be my idea of a wager at no bigger than 5/4 at the time of writing, especially as he’s yet to score over this trip over the larger obstacles.

Next up is the talented but moody Bostons Angel, who reeled off three straight Grade 1’s last season for Jessie Harrington, but with him you’d have to question his attitude at present given his muted showing at Sandown latest and the application of cheekpieces.

He might yet bounce back, but at bigger prices I see this going to one of China Rock, Magnanimity or Follow The Plan, and though the latter pair are more than capable of landing this at bigger odds, the one to be on is Mouse Morris’s China Rock in the hands of man of the moment Andrew Lynch.

Lynch is having a fantastic season, and it baffles me why the major English stables are not showing more interest in employing his services.

In the last fortnight the likes of Aupcharlie, Flemenstar and Sizing Europe have all earned him positive headlines, and more of the same could well be forthcoming on Sunday afternoon.

In taking the 5/1 about China Rock with any of Paddy Power, Hills, Ladbrokes or Coral we get to back the highest rated horse in the field (154), one who’s had a nice prep over hurdles to bring him on, and who thrashed no less than Sizing Europe 7 lengths at Punchestown not so long ago.

He also ran a belter when third to Kauto Star at Down Royal last campaign, and a reproduction of that would make this strong stayer hard to beat here.

Forget his laboured fourth in this 12 months ago when the unsuitably heavy ground did him no favours, he’s back in form now and has a huge chance according to connections. Win bet.

On the same card the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle is shaping up to be an absolute delight, and though Edward O’Grady’s Cash And Go stylishly completed a hat-trick when winning the Grade 1 paddypower.com Future Champions Novice at the Christmas meeting with the re-opposing Sous Les Cieux back in third, my expectation is they’ll both be getting a rear view of English raider Captain Conan as he bids to take the euros home for Nicky Henderson and conections.

He was good enough to see off the highly talented but wayward Colour Squadron on his first start in England, taking the Tolworth at Sandown (Grade 1) after drifting alarmingly in the betting.

If he was an unknown quantity then, now what’s unknown is quite how good he might turn out to be, but it has to be a tip in itself that Barry Gerghty has given his boss the assurances he wanted that he’d be competitive here, and the 8,000 euro supplementary entry fee they’ve chosen to stump up can be handsomely paid back with a win on foreign soil.

Watch the Tolworth again and you’ll see the front two went miles clear, the useful Prospect Wells couldn’t hold a candle to them, and that 3/1 with Boylesports about Captain Conan adding to that success looks well worth taking.

Elsewhere, for anyone looking for a bit of ballast to add weight to a weekend multiple don’t miss the highly touted Bog Warrior, as he makes his return against Blackstairmountain and co in the Opera Hat Stakes at Naas on Saturday afternoon (1.50pm).

The price won’t be spectacular, but this is the horse who made a mighty statement on his second start over fences in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse, running them ragged on his favoured soft ground (same again here).

He got concussed when taking a tumble at the Christmas meeting, but his November dismissal of Flemenstar now looks rather tasty after Peter Casey’s charge destroyed them in the Leopardstown Arkle a fortnight ago, and reported to be thriving once more after being given a good break to recover it’s hard to see him beaten.

Finally, should Hereford somehow survive the arctic conditions and stage their Sunday card (11.30am inspection, Saturday), don’t miss Esteem in the 2m Handicap Chase at 4.30pm.

His recent form reads 1U after he hacked up at Ludlow, and then rather bizarrely unseated at Leicester last time out.

I thought he was in the process of absolutely hosing up that day, and his revised mark of 83 could well be chewed up and spat out in this company.

Andrew Glassonbury takes over in the saddle, and i’ll be most surprised if he isn’t involved at the business end of affairs. Win bet.

Good luck!

This weekend’s best bets in Britain and Ireland:

1.50 Naas (Saturday) – BBA Ireland Ltd Opera Hat Novice Chase – 2 Bog Warrior (win) @ 4/7 (Paddy Power)

2.10 Leopardstown (Sunday) – 5 Captain Conan (win) @ 3/1 (Boylesports)

3.45 Leopardstown (Sunday) – 2 China Rock (win) @ 5/1 (Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power or William Hill)

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Posted 6 years, 9 months ago

28 Jan
2012

Blackstairmountain A Step Ahead In Sunday’s Leopardstown Arkle

There’s no doubting the headline act at Leopardstown on BHP Insurance Champion Hurdle day, as the covers come off reigning Champion Hurdle winner Hurricane Fly at 2.30pm, live on RTE2.

Granted he hasn’t been seen since his majestic win at Punchestown in the Rabobank Champion back in May (268 days ago), but this is a horse with a proven record when fresh and although the history books will show he was beaten first time up back in November 2009, and red hot trainer Willie Mullins will surely have left plenty to work on pre-Cheltenham, defeat remains hard to envisage on Sunday afternoon.

It won’t be a cake walk with improving mare Unaccompanied in opposition getting weight and boasting the advantage of race fitness, especially given her display in the Istabraq Festival Hurdle here at Christmas time, but she receives nine pounds from the favourite when if this was a handicap she’d be getting 16!

Put another way, she was just a length and a half superior to Hurricane Fly’s re-opposing stablemate Thousand Stars at Christmas time in receipt of 10 pounds – the same Thousand Stars who has been soundly thrashed by his more illustrious Closutton neighbour each time they’ve met.

Unaccompanied might give him something to think about, but it’s a likely a seventh Grade 1 lies in wait for Hurricane Fly.

You won’t get rich backing him at the top price 4/7 available with any of Bet365, Paddy Power, Sportingbet or William Hill, so i’ll be sticking him in a double with another Mullins inmate Blackstairmountain, as the improving seven year old bids to give Ruby Walsh the first leg of a lucrative Grade 1 double at 1.25pm.

Mullins could barely have his string in better form, and following his course and distance win in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase at Christmas time Blackstairmountain is strongly fancied to maintain his 100% record and make it a hat-trick over the larger obstacles.

That high profile Leopardstown win came chiefly at the expense of David Pipe’s Notus De La Tour, and he once again makes the journey from Somerset to team up with Robbie Power, though it’s hard to make a case for the form being reversed.

Perhaps Peter Casey’s eyecatching Flemenstar will be a bigger danger, but on Yielding ground he might not be such a potent force unless the heavens were to open, and Blackstairmountain rates a confident selection.

The price isn’t flash, but the 7/4 with Victor Chandler should pay dividends.

The double pays around 100/30.

Good luck!

Sunday’s best bets at Leopardstown – win double the following:

1.25 – Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase – 2 Blackstairmountain (win) @ 7/4 (Victor Chandler)

2.30 – BHP Insurance Champion Hurdle – 1 Hurricane Fly (win) @ 4/7 (Bet365Paddy PowerSportingbet or William Hill)

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Posted 6 years, 9 months ago

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