JUMAIRA BAY isn’t a wild price by any means but his chances do appear to have been underestimated slightly, given the potential for improvement he could make this year.
This is a horse having his first taste of action at Ascot and one I expect will positively relish the whole experience. For starters, he’s a son of Siyouni, who has sired the winner of the Jersey Stakes (Le Brivido) and Coronation Stakes (Ervedya), plus a Diamond Jubilee runner-up in City Light.
Siyouni’s progeny overall boast ‘just’ a 3-34 strike-rate when it comes to racing at Ascot, but if you focus on the Percentage of Rivals Beaten (PRB) – the metric based on a horse's finishing position in relation to field size - it reads a very healthy 63.73%.
Secondly, Jumaira Bay is a really strong traveller who has shown some of his best form in big fields, and he also stays further than the bare seven furlongs which can be particularly important here when there's ease underfoot. He ought to run very well.
The Listed Pertemps Network Spring Trophy Stakes at Haydock looks a good opportunity for Brian Meehan’s RAAEQ to get off the mark for the campaign.
The soft ground might mean horses like Lord Of The Lodge and Qaysar won’t perform to their best, but this Kingman colt loves a bit of juice in the turf as he showed when running away with a seven-furlong handicap at Ascot last October on soft.
On top of that he’s got a race-fitness edge on another rival, Tomfre, after running very well off top weight in what looked a hot Newbury handicap over a mile last time out.
This is a tight-knit race on ratings, but Raaeq looks best placed to run up to his mark or better it, with the Meehan yard firing on all cylinders for good measure.
It’s worth giving GOLDEN HIND another chance in the Visit racingtv.com Handicap at Thirsk. A very well bred daughter of Golden Horn, she signed off last year with an improved performance to win at Newcastle. She was strong in the market on her return at Wolverhampton but shaped very much as if needed it, travelling strongly before tiring inside the final two furlongs. She’s been dropped a pound to 74 and should be able to make her presence felt with that run under her belt.
The equation facing EXETER is simple – beat Barrow or it’s another season in the fourth tier for the League Two nearly men.
In fairness, after losing three of the past four play-off finals they might want to miss out just to avoid a repeat of that heartache.
But, joking aside, the footballing gods have been on the Grecians’ side in recent weeks – they scored twice late on to come from behind to beat 10-man Grimsby then hit an injury-time winner at Bolton.
A draw might be enough to pinch seventh spot but it’s unlikely. Even with a win they are reliant on some help but they have three sides above them they could overtake and Barrow – four defeats in five – are surely among the opponents Exeter would hand-pick, making SBK’s 5/6 on a home win look big.
Leeds lead the way for average tackles per game in the Premier League this season with 19.2. It's a part of their high intensity style under Marcelo Bielsa and they can be aggressive in their pursuit of possession. That often creates some good prices in the tackles market.
There are a number of candidates to look at here but based on team news and Bielsa's pre-match press conference comments, the value play on Saturday is ROBIN KOCH. Kalvin Phillips' questionable availability means that he is likely to play in the defensive midfield role again.
With that in mind, KOCH HAVING 3+ TACKLES across the 90 minutes makes plenty of appeal. Koch had three tackles in the opening day defeat to Liverpool and hit the target in a new role last week.
All but four of his starts have seen at least two tackles this season, with one of those being the game against Chelsea where he came off after nine minutes, and those were in the CB position. Playing as part of a midfield against this Spurs team should see him have a few in the game.
After failing to win any of their opening eight home matches this season, picking up just one point in that time, the Blades have actually won 33% of their home fixtures since the turn of the year, including two of their last four, and this could prove a good opportunity for them to keep that run going.
Two of Sheffield United’s recent home victories came against Newcastle and West Brom, teams who were both fighting for Premier League survival, and the Blades were priced up at 11/8 and 11/10 to win those games respectively.
Yet, against a Crystal Palace side who have little to play for, SHEFFIELD UNITED appear to have been underestimated.
All roads lead to another victory for SAUL CANELO ALVAREZ, and most probably by decision (13/8). He is likely to close the gap as the fight develops and as his opponent tires, so Saunders may have to soak up some punishment late on which would bring the late stoppage into play, with Canelo in rounds 9-12 available at 7/2. However, Saunders has a big heart and enough defensive know-how in order to see the final bell, after which we are likely to be waxing lyrical once again about how good the Mexican superstar is.
Three or four years ago and at middleweight, I would have given Saunders a serious chance of outboxing and dancing his way to an upset victory. However, he faces a much better version of Canelo now, is arguably not as well suited to this higher weight class and just hasn't been active enough for me to believe he will pull this one off.
KYLE DAUKAUS, alongside his Heavyweight brother Chris, has shown a well-rounded skillset so far in the Octagon; mixing together some competent striking with high level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu grappling. Combining these solid fundamentals with impressive durability and the endurance to fight aggressively for 15 minutes makes for a very complicated challenge for any opponent.
The game plan against a flawed fighter like Phil Hawes is relatively simple: avoid the danger in round one and make him work hard in rounds two and three. Daukaus has consistently shown that he grows into the fight, and has won the third round convincingly in both of his UFC appearances so far. If he can win either of the first two rounds as well, then victory should be within sight.
Momore stages an all-open race card on RPGTV this evening and COOLAVANNY KYSER (T3) is fancied to get back on the winning trail at 8.43.
The Mark Wallis-trained dog arrives on the back of contesting the Laurel decider at Perry Barr, which was his third big final of the year, and knows his way around here well having finished third in the Winter Derby in February. He has no margin for error at the start, but can make the bend in from now eased in class slightly and should take some pegging back if that is the case.
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