Friday, November 17, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 12

Arsenal v/s Tottenham - Home win
Bournemouth v/s Huddersfield - Away win
Burnley v/s Swansea - Home win
Crystal Palace v/s Everton - Home win
Leicester v/s Man City - Away win
Liverpool v/s Southampton - Home win
West Brom v/s Chelsea - Draw
Man Utd v/s Newcastle - Home win
Watford v/s West Ham - Home win
Brighton v/s Stoke - Draw

Call it Everton-bashing or whatever but unless the evidence shows otherwise, it seems rewarding to go against the Toffees these days. In the last weekday, we opted for Watford to pull a good result at Goodison Park and they came oh-so-close, letting go of a 2-goal lead and missing a penalty on top of that. Whether that win has rejuvenated David Unsworth's team remains to be seen but for that, they will have to show more than their 3-goal spurt and lucky win against the Hornets. They visit a Crystal Palace team on the upside, a club which I believe Roy Hodgson will improve as the season progresses. At this juncture of the season and based on form, the home team appears to have all the favors here and at current market prices, look a value win punt.

Man Utd welcome back Ibra and Pogba and should have too much firepower against the visiting Magpies. It's Mourinho against Benitez yet again but this time the Spaniard does not have much in his arsenal to realistically oppose the deep Red Devils. The home team must win this to keep tabs with their cross-town rivals Man City and should bag the 3 points.

Can David Moyes turn things around at West Ham? Maybe, but he is in with a tough baptism for his first match at Watford. It is not uncommon that players will give 110% to make a first good impression for their boss' first game but the Hammers are a talented pool of players with no chemistry. I see Moyes turning on a defensive display here but in the end Watford have enough in them to pull away with full points.

Win: Crystal Palace, Man Utd, Watford

Friday, November 3, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 11

Stoke v/s Leicester - Draw
Huddersfield v/s West Brom - Home win
Newcastle v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Southampton v/s Burnley - Home win
Swansea v/s Brighton - Draw
West Ham v/s Liverpool - Away win
Tottenham v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Man City v/s Arsenal - Home win
Chelsea v/s Man Utd - Draw
Everton v/s Watford - Away win

Man City served up another terrific display in mid-week by dominating a highly-talented Napoli team in the UCL. The 4-2 score might be a little flattering given that Napoli had chances to make the difference during a tight match but the win reflected nonetheless that the Citizens are for real in both domestic and European league this season. I cannot see Arsenal beating them this week-end for many reasons and I'll just name 3: better squad, Guardiola, and fitness.

City have the deepest and most talented squad in the EPL and they are on form. Arsenal have in-out players like Ozil and Ramsey that can drift out of matches when the going gets tough. The home team will have the non-negligible advantage of an extra day rest from their mid-week exertions. But the balance mainly tilts to the Citizens at the managerial level. Guardiola is more tactically astute than Wenger and will know how to exploit whatever team Arsenal have to offer. At the end, this could end in a drubbing. Arsenal will feel great coming away with a hard-earned point in this one but I think City will prove too strong and secure another full points.

It's Mourinho back to Chelsea again. The champions are reeling at the moment and injuries haven't helped their cause. The return of Kante last week was a big plus though, as the Frenchman protects his defence like no other in the league. It's hard to see Red Devils winning this though as Mourinho's tactical approach to those big games has traditionally been to park the bus unless scored upon. Maybe if they get a lucky opening goal, they can hold on for the win. But chances are that Chelsea will do most of the heavy lifting and create the goalscoring chances. This could very well end up in a drub draw but I see value going for a draw-no-bet with Conte's men.

Finally, how about taking Watford to pile more misery on Everton? The Toffees played to another loss in the Europa league and Watford have proven to be no easy fodder since the start of the season. The visitors will relish playing an out-of-sorts Everton team that seems devoid of direction under caretaker manager David Unsworth. Watford for the win or draw-no-bet look good value.

Win: Man City, Watford
Draw-no-bet: Chelsea

Friday, October 27, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 10

Man Utd v/s Tottenham - Draw
Arsenal v/s Swansea - Home win
Crystal Palace v/s West Ham - Home win
Liverpool v/s Huddersfield - Home win
Watford v/s Stoke - Home win
WBA v/s Man City - Away win
Bournemouth v/s Chelsea - Away win
Brighton v/s Southampton - Home win
Leicester v/s Everton - Draw
Burnley v/s Newcastle - Home win

Through the Ferguson times, Man Utd were hand and heels above Spurs. How times have changed since the Scot has left asTottenham have bettered the Red Devils in the final standings of the past seasons. This year, they look on a dead-even keel as far as squad strength is concerned, as both are considered the likeliest to catch Man City, should the latter falter, that is. It looks like Saturday's match at Old Trafford will have consequences not just in table standings but also on the mental well-being of both squads as they chase Guardiola's men. A Man Utd win will appease the possible un-rest that has seeped through the club after their defeat at Huddersfield. Mourinho's post-match comments could be seen as throwing the players under the bus and it seems another negative display in his eyes will send the Portugese in unravel mode, with the all too familiar destructive consequences as seen during his Chelsea days. Once Mourinho loses it, the team falters as well. A convincing win however will put the Red Devils back on the strong march they have forged since the start of the season. For Tottenham, losing Kane for this match is a big blow. The England star has been the best striker on earth for the late while and in the form of his life. Without him, Spurs are not the same team. However, they have come close in their recent visits at Old Trafford and there is the best Spurs squad coming to Manchester in years. Pochettino has the tactical acumen to happily get a draw out of this match. I don't think Man Utd will lose this and on all accounts, a draw-no-bet on them sounds value. Even better value could be going for the straight draw match.

An accumulator with Winx winning the Cox Plate will bring in 20% extra. The superstar mare from Down Under looks a banker to notch her 3rd straight Cox Plate. I just cannot see anything in the field at Mooney Valley getting close to her. Only my opinion, but I rate her higher than Enable or Cracksman or anything the turf world has to offer over middle distances. I just can't wait for her possible Royal Ascot visit next year.

Accumulator :(Win: Winx Draw: Man Utd/Spurs

Friday, October 20, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 9

Chelsea v/s Watford - Draw
Huddersfield v/s Man Utd - Away win
Man City v/s Burnley - Home win
Newcastle v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Stoke v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Swansea v/s Leicester - Home win
Southampton v/s WBA - Home win
Everton v/s Arsenal - Home win
Tottenham v/s Liverpool - Away win

It is not far-fetched to think that, the way that Man City are playing, it will not be a matter whether they will beat Burnley but rather by how many goals will win. They have been on a tear and although their goal spree will come to an end sooner than later, it is hard to fathom anything other than another dominant display from Guardiola's men here. A City win has to be in any accumulator.

Newcastle look to be a team on the upside and will be looking for full points as they welcome Crystal Palace. Roy Hodgson's men shocked champions Chelsea last week-end and the return of their talisman Zaha was more than ominous as the former Man Utd player bagged in the winning goal. Sure, the Eagles are better than their current standing and Zaha will play a big part in their resurgence as the season progresses. However, Newcastle are in good vein of form and Benitez has his players playing with such confidence that it will be a negative outcome for them not to bag the 3 points here. I certainly cannot see them lose this match and it looks best value to go for the all-out win with the hosts.

Win Double: Man City/Newcastle

Friday, October 13, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 8

Liverpool v/s Man Utd - Away win
Burnley v/s West Ham - Home win
Crystal Palace v/s Chelsea - Away win
Man City v/s Stoke - Home win
Swansea v/s Huddersfield - Home win
Tottenham v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Watford v/s Arsenal - Home win
Brighton v/s Everton - Draw
Southampton v/s Newcastle - Home win
Leicester v/s WBA - Home win

Liverpool against Man Utd is always high up there among the biggest matches of the season, no matter that the Kops haven't tasted titled glory in decades and managers have come and gone over the years. The hosts have had their ups and downs since the start of the season but this will be the first real test for the rampant Red Devils. The big thing for Liverpool these days is that Coutinho has been back with a bang since the "Barcelona" episode. Even though rumors of his departure for Catalonia for the January deadline are persisting, the Brazilian has been banging in goals lately, which would have brushed off any misgivings the Red fans might have held towards him. The unfortunate thing for the Kops is that they are without Mane due to injury. When the Senegalese is back, Liverpool will truly be kicking from all corners. Man Utd are unbeaten so far but it is no secret that that their opponents so far have been of lesser quality. Still, getting the points and goals as they have been doing, should help in their quest for another title. Mourinho will most probably park the bus at Anfield and rely on counter-attacking forays with the likes of Rashford, Martial and Lukaku to sneak one or more goals at the other end. I very much see a scenario where the hosts find it hard to break down the Utd defensive wall and the Red Devils chancing their luck on rapid counters. The Liverpool defense has yet to show any kind of stability or robustness and the Red Devils have ample quality at the front end to score. I think the value punt here is to go for either a Utd win or a draw-no-bet.

For accumulators, I see easy wins for top guns such as Man City, Spurs and Chelsea. I see the Blues prolonging Palace's woes even further although the bright light for Roy Hodgson's men is the return of Zaha. It will help them in later games but not against Chelsea.

Win: Man City, Tottenham, Chelsea
Draw-no-bet: Man Utd

Friday, September 29, 2017

Arc de Triomphe 2017 - Enable a cut above

Sunday's Arc de Triomphe looks vintage with some proven top-class performers challenging to win Flat racing's most prestigious prize. Towering over the field will be Enable, Europe's new racing queen and carrying the same colours as the likes of Dancing Brave, Frankel and Arrogate. Of the 18-runner field, I will retain 5 names: Cloth of Stars, Brametot, Dschingis Secret, Winter and Enable. That is not to say that some of the others don't have live chances; the likes of Zarak, Ulysses and Order of St George could spring an upset if all conditions turn right for them.

Enable is the best middle-distance filly of the Classic generation by far. She has crushed all on her way from 10 to 12 furlongs. She even trounced males in the King George. She is proven on easy and hard surfaces and only an accident in running would be able to stop her winning, in my opinion. She has drawn stall 2 and as long as her rider Dettori does not get her boxed in, she should be very hard to beat.

Brametot is the dark horse of the race. This son of Rajsaman has an electric turn of foot that has put some top-quality milers to submission. There are 2 issues with him. First, he can lose the race at the start as he is prone to lose several lengths leaving the stalls. In a 12-furlong race, that might not matter as much as a mile race. Second, he is unproven at the distance and his pedigree suggests that he will be stretched stamina-wise. If both issues are no impediment whatsover on race day, this top-proven miler could let his class speak and be a contender at the finish.

Not much was expected of Dschingis Secret, Germany's best middle-distance performer, when he met Satono Diamond in an Arc trial, the Prix Foy. The way he easily bested the field on that day puts him under consideration. After all, he also beat Godolphin's Group 1 winner Hawkbill in Germany in his previous race. The ease in the ground will be Dschingis Secret's best asset on Sunday. The more the rain, the better the chances for the son of Soldier Hollow. He should be considered in any exotics.

Cloth of Stars surprised a few when second in the same Prix Foy that Dschingis Secret won. It was after all his seasonal return after taking the summer off. The way he finished indicated that more is to come for this son of Sea the Stars. It also showed he had lost none of this ability that saw him win 3 Group races in France in the spring. Trained by the master Andre Fabre, he should be in great condition to pounce race day and is a good contender to make the frame.

Finally, I have got to mention Winter, the best filly miler of the Classic generation. Like Brametot, the big question mark is the distance. After conquering all at the mile distance, she tasted defeat at her first foray at 10 furlongs. Ballydoyle came up with many reasons for the defeat and even if she had won on that day, there would still rightly have been doubts about her stamina for a race like the Arc. Although she is by Galileo, her damsire is Choisir, a pure sprinter. She is the chosen one by Ryan Moore from the Ballydoyle brigade and her class will bring her through but whether that is enough to be a major factor in the end remains to be seen. I don't think she can trouble Enable at this distance.

Win: Enable
Place: Cloth of Stars
Top 4 (if heavy ground): Dschingis Secret

EPL 2017/18 - Week 7

Huddersfield v/s Tottenham - Away win
Bournemouth v/s Leicester - Away win
Man Utd v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Stoke v/s Southampton - Home win
WBA v/s Watford - Home win
West Ham v/s Swansea - Home win
Chelsea v/s Man City - Home win
Arsenal v/s Brighton - Home win
Everton v/s Burnley - Home win
Newcastle v/s Liverpool - Draw

A big 6-pointer match is at play at Stamford Bridge and although this is too early to be a title-decider, it will give a mental edge to the winner going forward. Man City have been dealt a big blow as Aguero will miss this match due to injuries sustained in a road accident. Gabriel Jesus is more than an able deputy though and has a sparkling record since joining the Citizens last year. For all its spectacular football and offence, tough matches against teams like Chelsea are the ones that Man City need to win or draw in order to be genuine tile contenders. They blasted not least than 5 goals in their recent encounters against mediocre opponents but the real test of their mettle and mental aptitude is against top teams. Conte's men are riding a serious piece of form as demonstrated by the weekly win at Atletico Madrid in the UCL. Not many teams can boast dominating Simeone's men on their own turf and come away win the win on top of that. Really, Chelsea Italian's coach has shown again the top tactician he is. It's hard to see a visitor's win here; Conte will have an answer to Guardiola's possession football and I see Hazard hitting the visitors with dangerous counter-attacks. City are strong but an outright home win or a safer draw-no-bet on the home team look good value.

Man Utd and Arsenal should easily win their encounters against feeble opponents. Maybe coupling them with a West Ham win could pay dividends. Manager Bilic is on a tight rope and a loss could definitely signal an end to his Hammers career. I don't see them losing against Swansea and although a draw is a viable result, coupling a Hammers win with the two power-houses mentioned above looks a good value-risk proposition.

Win: Chelsea
Accumulator: Man Utd/ Arsenal/West Ham

Friday, September 22, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 6

West Ham v/s Tottenham - Draw
Burnley v/d Huddersfield - Home win
Everton v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Man City v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Southampton v/s Man Utd - Away win
Stoke v/s Chelsea - Away win
Swansea v/s Watford - Home win
Leicester v/s Liverpool - Home win
Brighton v/s Newcastle - Draw
Arsenal v/s WBA - Home win

If there is a draw match in the offing, I would go for West Ham against Tottenham. The home team are finding their footing and I think it is a matter of matches until they hit close to top gear. It is not surprising that Bilic's big-money signings are taking some time to make their mark but the team will get better as the season progresses. Chicharito always has a goal in him and with the likes of Carroll and under-fire Arnatauvic up front, the Hammers have ample ammunition in the forward department. Spurs are in good form and were it not for their abysmal home record at Wembley, they should have been right near the top of the league. This should be an evenly contested match and going for the draw seems value here.

Man City is a banker to beat the visiting Eagles. Roy Hodgson will improve Palace but I don't see how they can get a result at rampant City. The visitors will do well to keep the score reasonable in this one. Probably the better value is to couple both of Manchester sides to win. Man Utd are in for what seems a tough assignment at Southampton. The Saints are always a strong side to contend with at the St Mary's but the Red Devils are playing out of their skin at the moment that they can very well find a way to win this encounter. Mourinho's men have tended to wear down their opponents in the last third of their matches and will be heavily favored even though the score might be tight for much of the match. Mentally it will do wonders to the Red Devils if they can keep up with rivals City on points at the end of this week-end.

Draw: West Ham v/s Tottenham
Win Accumulator: Man City/Man Utd

Friday, September 15, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 5

Bournemouth v/s Brighton - Home win
Crystal Palace v/s Southampton - Away win
Huddersfield v/s Leicester - Away win
Liverpool v/s Burnley - Home win
Newcastle v/s Stoke - Draw
Watford v/s Man City - Away win
WBA v/s West Ham - Home win
Tottenham v/s Swansea - Home win
Chelsea v/s Arsenal - Home win
Man Utd v/s Everton - Home win

Arsenal's and Arsene's problems will compound this week-end as they visit Stamford Bridge. After a false start, Conte's men have quickly racked up the wins and seem to be gaining momentum even without its best player in Hazard. After 2 consecutive defeats, including a severe drubbing at Liverpool, the knives were out on Wenger. The Gunners somewhat righted the ship by winning against modest opposition like Bournemouth and Cologne, but Chelsea will be an entirely different beast. The good news for Arsenal is the recent return to match fitness of Sanchez and the Chilean will get better as the matches go by. But that should not be enough to get a win at Stamford Bridge and Conte's men are fancied for the outright win.

Spurs are also showing good form as they have trounced Everton and Dortmund in their last matches. As I mentioned before, Wembley will never be the fortress White Hart Lane has been to them in the past years. However, their new temporary stadium will give them a better home feel as the season progresses. Against a Swansea team still looking for some direction, Harry Kane and co should ride their form and bag another 3 points.

Everton are a shambles at the moment and coincidence or not, it seems to have started with the off-field problems of captain Rooney. The former United legend returns to Old Trafford and it will be interesting to see the kind of welcome he receives. Pogba will be out for the Red Devils and while it is always a worry for Man Utd fans whenever Fellaini gets the call-up as a starter, they should have too much for the struggling visitors. In fact, ex-Toffee man Lukaku could prolong the misery of Koeman's team.

Throw in Liverpool in an accumulator and this could be rewarding. The Kops dominated Sevilla from top to bottom in their European encounter but failed to take their chances for the win. Coutinho will probably return for the Reds and I reckon he will be short of match fitness after a forgetful summer. In the end, Klopp's team should have too much firepower and I cannot see Burnley escape Anfield with a point.

Accumulator: Chelsea, Man Utd, Tottenham, Liverpool.

Friday, September 8, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 4

Man City v/s Liverpool - Draw
Arsenal v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Brighton v/s WBA - Away win
Everton v/s Tottenham - Home win
Leicester v/s Chelsea - Home win
Southampton v/s Watford - Home win
Stoke v/s Man Utd - Away win
Burnley v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Swansea v/s Newcastle - Draw
West Ham v/s Huddersfield - Home win

It's been only 4 weeks of matches and already managerial changes could very well be under way in some clubs. Frank de Boer is definitely among the ones in the firing line this week-end as his struggling Crystal Palace side visit Burnley. The Eagles are 0 for 3 under his stewardship and with the way they have been performing, it would take a serious gamble to think that things will be improving drastically in the immediate future. The future under de Boer does not look good and going to a place like Turf Moor on Sunday does not look good either. Although they lost their home opener to WBA, the Clarets have been sporting good form at home since last year, which was the main reason they kept up in the standings. Burnley should be keeping that solid home record on track this week-end. Home win.

Man Utd have been flying from the start but Stoke represent a first real test for them. Not many teams come out of the Brittania happy and most are made to work to get anything out of there. Typical of Mark Hughes' sides, the Potters will focus on physical football to disrupt their superior opponent. However, the visitors are playing with such confidence at the moment and if the international break has not dampened their enthusiasm or dominance, they should find a way to break the home side in the end. Away win.

I've been giving positive vibes on West Ham since the start. Ok, they lost all their first 3 matches, albeit all on them were away matches. Manager Bilic is rightly on the hot seat and he could be the one booted next. I think he will be unless they get a positive result against Huddersfield. The Hammers have strengthened their squad with some big-name signings and they need at least a point over the week-end. Nothing else will do for Bilic. Allthough Huddersfield have yet to concede, with Chicharito up front, there is every confidence the home side will score. At current odds, it might be worth going with a draw-no-bet selection on the Hammers.

Win: Burnley, Man Utd
Draw-no-bet: West Ham

Friday, August 25, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 3

Bournemouth v/s Man City - Away win
Crystal Palace v/s Swansea - Away win
Huddersfield v/s Southampton - Draw
Newcastle v/s West Ham - Away win
Watford v/s Brighton - Home win
Man Utd v/s Leicester - Home win
Chelsea v/s Everton - Draw
West Brom v/s Stoke - Home win
Liverpool v/s Arsenal - Home win
Spurs v/s Burnley - Home win

One thing that I don't like with Spurs this year is that they will play all their home matches at Wembley and not at White Hart Lane. As last week's loss to Chelsea demonstrated, not playing on their real home turf could be detrimental to their title chances. They had an impressive record at White Hart Lane over the years, a place where it was tough for any opponent to go gather points. At Wembley, they are certainly less of a threat and they will lose points because of that. That said, against Burnley this week-end, they should be able to pick up full points. The Clarets shocked everyone by beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on opening week-end but it is hard to see them doubling on that. Home win.

Man Utd are firing on all cylinders and Leicester are visiting Old Trafford at an in-auspicious time. Zlatan is coming back for the Red Devils but it remains to be seen whether he will enhance and not hamper the growing team chemistry under development at the club. Leicester gave a ton of trouble in their visit to Arsenal a couple of weeks ago and are a team that never goes down without a fight. Vardy, in particular, can score any time. But it's hard to go against the home team here; they are playing with full confidence and will need the full points if they are to be taken seriously as title contenders. Home win.

For a value punt, I am again turning to West Ham.They almost got something out of their visit to Southampton last week and were it not for the Arnatauvic red card, they could well have sprung an upset. With Chicharito already proving his mark, their chances against newly-promoted Newcastle look good. I see the match ending either in a Hammers victory or a draw and it might be rewarding to go all out for the visitors to prevail. Away win.

Win: Spurs, Man Utd, West Ham

Friday, August 18, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 2

Missed the opening week due to an extended holiday but with the dust firmly settled and the intentions of the teams on open display, we are better armed to gauge their actual capacities. Here's to a new season hopefully as profitable and successful as the previous one.

Swansea v/s Man Utd - Away win
Bournemouth v/s Watford - Home win
Burnley v/s WBA - Home win
Leicester v/s Brighton - Home win
Liverpool v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Southampton v/s West Ham - Away win
Stoke v/s Arsenal - Home win
Huddersfield v/s Newcastle - Draw
Tottenham v/s Chelsea - Home win
Man City v/s Everton - Home win

Man Utd are on high spirits after they opening day destruction of West Ham. The Red Devils should be live contenders this year. There is the Mourinho factor, of course; the Portuguese usually wins on his second season in charge of a new team. Their pre-season preparations have gone very well. And last but not least, they are a better squad than last season having been reinforced by the likes of Lukaku, Matic and Lindelof. Unless there is a meltdown from Mourinho, which you can never discount, the Red Devils should be in the Top 2. That said, they seem to be buzzing with confidence and provided they are not as overly-confident as they sound, they should come away with 3 vital points when visiting Swansea. Away win.

Liverpool's chances of Premiership glory seem to have been rocked at the very start with the imminent going-out of their best player, Coutinho. Without him, they are a lesser team, no doubt. Still, they should have too much for a Crystal Palace team that I believe is destined to play in the lower end of the table this season. Home win.

Spurs v/s Chelsea is already a 6-pointer early in the season. Title holders Chelsea were rocked last week in a shocking loss at home to Burnley. Many have already said it and I also believe it; Chelsea won't win the title this year. They won last year because of their 13-match unbeaten run which included snatching many lucky points. Conte is a top manager but his team does not look as good or motivated as last year. The loss of Matic and Costa will be felt. Spurs haven't had a great pre-season and they have been so far relatively quiet on the transfer market. Still, they are a formidable team and this could be the season they end years of hurt. No doubt that last year they would have won the league if Chelsea hadn't had that long winning run. There is bad blood between these 2 teams and at the end, I expect Spurs to prevail. Home win.

As a value proposition, pay attention to West Ham. True, they got hammered by Man Utd last week but this is a much better team than last season. Chicharito and Arnatauvic will score goals and Hart can bring stability at the back even though he will have his occasional blunders. Bilic just needs to keep everything together but they look set for some upsets. It could definitely come in the form of a positive result at Southampton.

Win: Man Utd, Liverpool, Spurs, West Ham

Friday, July 28, 2017

King George - A blooming rose among the thorns

What a terrific line-up for the King George! Top-drawer names make this contest wide open and the soft conditions could be the deciding factor in determining the winner. First, let's remove the wheat from the chaff; Desert Encounter, Maverick Wave, My Dream Boat and Sixties Song could aspire to places but it is difficult fathoming any of them coming out on top.

Highland Reel is Mr Exemplary who rarely runs a bad race. This globetrotter has an exquisite travel record and is the title holder of the race. His last run on soft ground was in Dubai in which he finished at the tail end of the field. That does not bode well for him if the conditions remain soft on Saturday. He will need at least good ground to retain his title.

Idaho is the full-brother to Highland Reel and although he has yet to bag a Group 1, he is a horse on the upside that can spring a surprise with some luck. He is clearly the stable's second pick but will run with his own chances and cannot be dismissed as a place chance.

Jack Hobbs is the dark horse of the race. Not because we don't know much about him but because if he clicks as expected on soft ground, he will be involved at the finish line. If the ground conditions don't suit, he could come out with the same stinker as at Royal Ascot.

Ulysses beat Barney Roy in an epic battle in the Coral-Eclipse and is another horse on an upward curve. There is the niggling thought with him that he might have run his race of the season already and I am not entirely sure that 3 weeks rest will be enough to get over his exertions at Sandown. The 12 furlong distance, although within his usual realm, might overstretch him in this case.

Like his Godolphin counter-part, Benbatl comes in with some question marks. There is no doubt in my mind this son of Dubawi is top-class and potentially best over a mile-and-a-quarter. The way he finished so well in the Epsom Derby leads me to believe that it was his class carrying him all the way through; he will need lots of it to overcome these seasoned mile-and-a-half older colts. If all things fall for him, it won't be a shock if he were to prevail and I see him potentially as a value top 4 pick.

Finally, the blooming rose among the lot; Enable is easily the staying filly of the Classic generation, having bagged 2 Oaks in spectacular fashion already. As with all John Gosden horses, the words from the trainer's mouth are so vital; in this case, the vibes from the connections are ever so bullish. That means the filly is ready to go. She is packed stamina-wise and will benefit from a weight allowance from the colts. The fact that she only raced a fortnight ago could be a factor, albeit a small one in my opinion, as she won that race in a canter. She looks set to emulate the mighty Danedream, the last filly to win the race.

Win: Enable
First 4: Benbatl

Friday, July 14, 2017

Enable and Caravaggio to enhance their reputation

The big splash of summer racing is already under way and some of the big guns are out this Saturday to confirm their glowing reputation.

Enable looms large in the Irish Oaks. After her demonstration at Epsom, it's hard to see anything in the race that would go past her. She has proven stamina, the ground will be to her liking, she has had ample days of rest and connections are airing positive and confident vibes. It's is hard to find any negative, if any; unless it's a ring-rusty Dettori coming back from injury that is the hope of the naysayers. I actually think she will be carrying the Italian to the finish. She only has to reproduce near her Epsom form to bag this and I think she will.

Caravaggio towers over the sprinting field in the July Cup. I try not to get swept in the hype that so often accompanies Ballydoyle horses but this son of Scat Daddy is really a bullet speedster. I penned before that his win at Royal Ascot was just visually amazing; he produced a stunning turn of foot to get the better of a really good sprinter in Harry Angel. He will beat the Godolphin flag bearer again. This time though he will have to contend with battle-hardened older types in the likes of Limato and The Tin Man. The fact that he will be dispensed of weight relative to the latter, gives him a big advantage. Caravaggio looks set to add to his remarkable trophy collection yet again.

Win: Caravaggio, Enable

Friday, July 7, 2017

Coral-Eclipse Stakes - Classic Generation to the test

The Coral-Eclipse is the first serious clash between the Classic generation and the older brigade at the intermediate distance of 10 furlongs. This is a race where this year's 3-year olds can confirm themselves as a very solid bunch. It is just too bad that the creme de la creme of the older division will not be there; there will be no Minding, no Jack Hobbs, no Almanzor to name the least. I thus expect a 3-year old to rule this and the three obvious from the list are Barney Roy, Eminent and Cliff of Moher.

Barney Roy is undoubtedly a top-class miler. He avenged his only loss in 4 outings by convincingly beating Churchill (and a bunch of others) at Royal Ascot. They way he has finished his races suggests that a mile and a quarter will not be too much of a stretch for him. While he is very much on the upgrade, his main challenge is to remain relaxed; he will need to in order to see out the distance. On his best form, he is the horse to beat.

Eminent ran very well in finishing 4th in the Derby and the mile and a quarter looks his optimum distance. While he got beaten in both British Classics, he was not disgraced by any means. He is a very good 3-year old which I believe will run a big race on Saturday.

Cliff of Moher hit the front in the Derby only to touched off by Wings of Eagle in the final strides. This prompted the Ballydoyle connections and many to conclude that he did not fully see out the full mile of a half of Epsom. I have my reservations on that; if he had come out on top, chances are that mostly everyone would have said he is a proper 12 furlong horse. I think he is and he just got outgunned by a better out-and-out stayer on the day. I am not convinced the Coral-Eclipse distance is his best one.

From the older generation, mention goes to Ulysses who ran a respectable race at Ascot but does not seem to have the class to be amongst the very top. I see it as a battle between Barney Roy and Eminent, with a slight preference going to the former.

Win: Barney Roy
Place: Eminent