Swans at short odds for lightning to strike twice

It has been a time-honoured theory since the AFL’s eight-team finals series came into vogue in 1994: you can’t win the premiership from outside the top four.

Yet heading into the 2017 finals series, punters have backed sixth-placed Sydney Swans into equal-second favourites with GWS Giants to claim the flag at $4.80, behind only minor premiers Adelaide ($3.30) in the AFL premiership futures betting stakes.

From 1994-2015, the fifth-placed Adelaide Crows’ successful title defence in 1998 – beating minor premiers North Melbourne in the grand final – was the only exception to the repeatedly proven rule. Sixth-placed Carlton, who lost to the second-placed Kangaroos in the ’99 decider, was the only other club to even reach the grand final from outside the top four during that period.

The Swans’ back-from-the-dead effort to qualify for the September action has been arguably the story of the 2017 season, creating history by recovering from a dismal 0-6 start to drop just two of their remaining 16 games.

The Swans come into the playoffs as the competition’s form team and the only 2017 finalist to win their last four regular-season games, but can they parlay that momentum into a sudden-death charge to grand final glory?

History suggests not – teams finishing fifth to eighth have just two premierships between them in 23 seasons of eight-team finals footy – but punters continue to throw their support behind the Swans despite the overwhelming stats against their claims.

Western Bulldogs’ record-breaking run from seventh to end a 62-year premiership drought in 2016 has clearly altered the perception of what most thought possible during the AFL post-season.

Sydney must overcome Essendon at home this weekend, then Geelong or Richmond away in week two, and Adelaide or GWS on the road in the preliminary final for their shot at lifting the trophy on the last Saturday of September.

The Swans may be better credentialed than the Bulldogs to walk the finals tightrope, but the odds John Longmire’s side has been backed into to win four straight sudden-death games is remarkably skinny. Their 14-2 run under immense pressure has built confidence amongst the betting public, but it also must have taken a physical and emotional toll on the team.

In the Swans’ favour, their squad is laced with finals experience: the club has missed the finals just once in the previous 14 seasons, including five grand final appearances for premiership wins in 2006 and ’12. The pain of last year’s decider defeat to the Bulldogs should spur the Swans on this time around.

The irrepressible Buddy Franklin won the Coleman Medal and All-Australian selection courtesy of some sparkling late-season form; he shapes as tremendous value on the seventh line of betting at $14 for the Gary Ayres Medal as the player of the finals series, but stiff competition will come from teammates Josh Kennedy ($10), Luke Parker ($21) and Daniel Hannebery ($34) if the Swans go deep into September.

No rival team will be relishing the prospect of taking on the ‘Bloods’, but their chances of winning the premiership must be treated carefully. It’s important the Bulldogs’ 2016 triumph is remembered as the miracle that it was and not a sign that low-ranking teams are suddenly a genuine premiership threat. Punters continue their love affair with the Swans in betting but the stats oppose them staunchly.


Warwick Farm Preview – Wednesday 6th September

Race 1- Maiden Handicap 1400m

Wednesday 6th September, 12:50pm

What a beautiful race for CUBA. He drops many lengths in grade following a really decent first up run in black-type grade on a day where the run was a record. Strips fitter from that run. KOOKABAA resumes from a decent layoff  and has run 4th twice in this grade. His trial win suggests he has returned in good order. Drawn well too. AONAIR has had two starts, both times placed in town. Returned with a solid 3rd in trial. Hughie takes ride. Hard to beat.


Race 2 – Maiden Plate 1200m

Wednesday 6th September, 1:25pm

Chris Waller has a strong hand in this and his top rider Hugh Bowman is on first starter OMBUDSMAN. He’s placed in a recent trial with Hughie on board so for him to stick with the horse suggests something. OUR MANTRA is resuming here and he was placed twice at provincial level when last in work. Home track advantage here and has the rails. FRESH START is on debut here. He’s by Pierro and has placed at the trials twice past few weeks. Fit and ready to well.


Race 3 – Benchmark 77 Handicap 1300m

Wednesday 6th September, 2:00pm

This does look a Chris Waller race. CANBERRA won two in a row at provincial level and has been ultra honest this time up. Hugh Bowman has mount for a reason, while Kerrin McEvoy will steer SEPOY ACHEVA who got a mile back at Canterbury last start this grade and rattled home late for 3rd. Chance.


Race 4 – Benchmark 74 Handicap 1000m

Wednesday 6th September, 2:35pm

REALISE POTENTIAL has home track advantage and is 3rd up so is super fit. Got back a fair way in BM 70 grade last start with big weight and rattled home to grab 2nd. Suited here under the conditions. GADFLY rises in grade here following very solid BM 65 win with a massive 61.5kg. Fit and is in great form. Big show. REBEL MISS chased home the star Nictock similar grade two runs back. Is going to get back a bit, probably midfield actually, and should be rallying late.


Race 5 – Benchmark 71 Handicap 1200m

Wednesday 6th September, 3:10pm

JESSAMIN is rising a long way in grade. Her only start was an impressive maiden win here and has talent, but she’s picked a tough race to resume in for her next prep. SEBRING EXPRESS won really handsomely when resuming in BM 60 grade, then chased a smart one in Regimen home last start. Is at home track here and that’s a big advantage. ACQUME is only lightly raced and is facing a big rise in grade here following a game maiden win over 1200m. Was up on pace all the way that day and may well measure up here.


Race 6 – Benchmark 70 Handicap 2200m

Wednesday 6th September, 3:45pm

EXOTERIC was only two lengths behind winner this grade last start. And looked a big chance but just couldn’t quicken as they turned. Fitter now and may well sneak a place. READY FOR SUCCESS is a model of consistency in these races, always putting in. Got to line well same grade when 2nd here last start coming from midfield. Drops 1kg in weight and looks a big hope. I love a horse on home soil and BON EQUUS is just that here. Ran a slashing 3rd in this very grade and trip last start. Hard to beat.


Race 7 – Benchmark 78 Handicap (Males) 1300m

Wednesday 6th September, 4:20pm

DORF STAR will take holding out in this. Is at home track and always goes best here. Last start was flown to Gold Coast in strong Class 6 and ran on okay for 5th. This is no walk in the park but at home is a big help. BRING A SECRET is racing in career best form. Carried massive weight to win first up in bush and last start in town in BM 70 grade, made up plenty of ground late to grab 2nd. Will get home gamely again here. ONSLAUGHT is well conditioned, is fit and is up to this grade. Will be midfield till turn and come home stoutly.


Race 8 – Benchmark 75 Handicap 1600m

Wednesday 6th September, 4:55pm

On his past two starts, TENORINO must be considered. Won with 60kg here in BM 70 grade and was close up 4th here again with 58kg at BM 79 level. This should be in his wheel house. ROYAL NAVY is a very well bred stallion with talent – certainly enough talent to test this grade. Resumed from spell when 5th in BM 79 race and is drawn perfectly here. Is 2nd up and should be the one flashing home. TATOOSH doesn’t win very often but has talent and this looks a race he can place in at big odds.


Ipswich Preview – Wednesday 6th September

Race 1- Class 3 Handicap 1200m

Wednesday 6th September, 12:33pm

SHEEZALADY is a tough, no-nonsense mare with plenty of heart. She’s up in the weights now following a gutsy win last start in similar company. Way too good to overlook. NEVER SO SIRIUS won two on the bounce before heading to Sydney for what turned out to be a really strong Highway. She ran 7th, beaten 5 lengths. This grade is weaker. TENNESSEE FLING resumes here but is always a place hope in this grade.


Race 2 – Benchmark 75 Handicap 1680m

Wednesday 6th September, 1:08pm

LAST SIGHT hasn’t been racing consistently this time up, but did win four runs back and his past record is superior to these. Small field should help. In contrast, SCOUTABOUT is a real trier and in slightly weaker grade last start, ground out a solid win. Drawn perfectly with the inform Tegan Harrison to ride, all adds up to a big showing. MISS ARABELLA seems to have worked this racing caper out now with two wins from three runs this campaign. Is up in grade, on fast finishing Class 2 win last start, but small field here helps.


Race 3 – Maiden Plate 2150m

Wednesday 6th September, 1:43pm

DEE CEE DELIGHTS finally gets a great opportunity here. Has a weight relief, which under Plate conditions, is a massive help. I think he goes best when allowed to lead and bowl along. This isn’t strong so should be able to do that today. SIDEWALK TALK is beautifully bred but not much of a racehorse. Two starts this time up in this grade have only been average but does seem to reserve best for this trip. Top jock aboard helps. Place. WE’RE ALL EARS had horrible form until tried over a trip four starts back where she placed at Class 1 level. In three runs since, she has been up on pace all the way and fought hard to place each time. Back to maiden company here and from this gate will roll forward. Big show.


Race 4 – Maiden Plate 1508m

Wednesday 6th September, 2:18pm

DUKE OF CHRISTOPHE is resuming here but he’ll be heavily tried based on his ultra consistent record when last in work – seven placings in a row this grade. You’d have to say this CANUNGRA KID is causing some to lose faith in him – 11 starts and no wins to date. But he’s had a bit of bad luck in previous runs and to be fair, does boast a record of four placings this grade. Beaten less than a length here over 1350m last start in this class. Extra trip should work in his favour and has finally drawn a good gate. MAKING SHADOWS is lightly raced and showing signs of improvement with each run. Respect for a place here.


Race 5 – Maiden Handicap 1010m

Wednesday 6th September, 2:53pm

What a pity SNEAKY SNIPER drew off the course here. Did look the one to beat following a great effort on debut last start when 2nd in this company. Will still be competitive. TAY SWIFT is not as prolific as her namesake in the hits department. Still, has been around the mark a lot and can break through here with weight relief. SPLITTER is resuming here and was well backed overnight. Strong stable and top jock. Respect. Looks well up to this after effortless trial win last week.


Race 6 – Class 5 Handicap 1010m

Wednesday 6th September, 3:28pm

POWERFUL SAGA has had seven starts this time up and has proven pretty competitive in all of them. Ran its heart out for strong 2nd this grade last start and is very nicely drawn to get soft run here. GRACIDA has won past two in dashing style. Racing brilliantly, has rails draw and looks the testing material again. NATIONAL TRAIL goes quick but will be on the outside of a few just as speedy from this draw. Has two wins under belt this time up so will be punching away all race. Give one last chance.


Race 7 – Maiden Plate (3YO) 1200m

Wednesday 6th September, 4:03pm

Yet another race where the likely winner has drawn wide. GOLDEN COMMAND has had three starts in maiden grade and placed twice. Past two runs, he was heavily backed. Bad draw here but I’m a believer – where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Big show. LICKETY SPLIT – here’s one for your multiples. One trial thus far – was beaten a furlong into last place. Yet has top jock engaged and has drawn nicely. Expect massive turnaround on trial effort. HI LIZZY looks promising and last start 2nd this company just underlined that. Will be up in first four all the way and should figure in the finish.


Race 8 – Class 2 Handicap 1350m

Wednesday 6th September, 4:03pm

The toppy has a big load to lump around here but was placed this grade a few runs back. More significantly though, has been backed overnight with corporate bookies. CAN DO CAMPBELL won first up in maiden grade last start after a seven month break, sitting just off pace to do it comfortably. Rises sharply in grade here but has top jock on board and looks an emerging talent. IRONBORN has drawn perfectly and is 3rd up from a spell here. Looked good when beaten into 2nd spot resuming. Forget last start.


Daily Racing Selections – Wednesday 6th September

Warwick Farm Race 1 – Maiden Handicap 1400m

Wednesday 6th September, 12:50PM

I just love a horse coming back in grade and this CUBA… Wow. He drops many lengths in class for this following a really decent run in black-type company last start, on a day where the run was a record. A lot fitter now with that effort under his belt. And let’s face it, he was only four lengths from the winner. There have been a lot of astute bets wagered on him overnight too.


Sandown Race 2 – Maiden Plate 1400m

Wednesday 6th September, 1:35PM

They’ve taken their time with this 4YO, RED CHOUX’S, because he looks like he has talent. Been to the races twice for two placings. Last start at the ‘Bool, got a mile back on a Heavy 10 and was carrying extra weight with all the mud at the end but rattled home for 2nd in this grade. They ran 1:18 for 1200m – say no more. Wet again here but does get home hard.


Ipswich Race 4 – Maiden Plate 1508m

Wednesday 6th September, 2:18PM

You’d have to say this CANUNGRA KID is causing some to lose faith in him – 11 starts and no wins to date. But he’s had a bit of bad luck on occasions and to be fair, does boast a record of four placings this grade. Beaten less than a length here over 1350m last start in this class. Extra trip in his favour and has finally drawn a good gate.


Daily Sports Selections – Wednesday 6th September


Tennis – Sam Querry v Kevin Anderson

10.00am (AEST) @ Flushing Meadows, New York

The bulk of the talk around the US Open is centred on the likely semi-final showdown between Federer and Nadal. Fortunately, 17th seed Querrey and 28th seed Anderson are in the other half of the draw, and they face off in an intriguing quarter-final on Tuesday morning (AEST). American Querrey has dropped only one set to date and has accounted for Gilles Simon and Mischa Zverev on his way to the quarters, while South African Anderson has had a comparatively easy run through and was pushed hard by Pablo Lorenzi in a fourth-round four-setter. Querrey boasts a 9-6 career record against Anderson – including a marathon fourth-round victory at Wimbledon this year – and shapes as a good bet to take this one in four.

Tip: Sam Querrey 3-1 @ $4.30

MLB – Colorado Rockies v San Francisco Giants

10.40am (AEST) @ Coors Field, Denver

The Rockies have endured a dismal home stint, going 1-5 in home series against the Tigers and Diamondbacks. Third in the National League West, the 73-64 Rockies now finish their nine-game homestand with three clashes against the 54-86 Giants, who are the MLB’s second-worst road team and last in the NL West. This looms as the ideal opportunity for the Rockies to get back on track, with the Giants averaging just four runs per away game and winning just one of their last seven at all venues.

Tip: Colorado Rockies -1.5 @ $2.00

Cricket – Sri Lanka v India

11.30pm (AEST) @ Colombo

India has been on a rampage in Sri Lanka, winning the Tests 3-0 – two by an innings, the other by 304 runs – and crushing their rivals 5-0 in the ODIs. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have been in outrageous form on tour, and India – $1.33 head-to-head favourites – to hit the most sixes is money for jam. Kohli, Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan combined to hit more sixes (15) than the entire Sri Lankan side (13) during the five one-dayers.

Tip: Most sixes – India @ $1.60

Are the $4.40 Eels contenders or pretenders in finals week one?

Opening a massive $4.40 with 12 points start against the champion-elect Storm, the Parramatta Eels are the biggest longshot of week one in this year’s NRL Finals series.

But given the Eels have won seven of their last eight matches – including two wins over third placed Brisbane – and are arguably the hottest side in the NRL, are the Eels deserved outsiders, or are they the value bet of the week?

The punter’s friend

Rattling off a staggering 10 wins over the second half of the season helped the Eels jump into the top four and become the darlings of punters everywhere.

At 16-8 for the season, the Eels returned a massive +6.29 units for every dollar placed on them in head to head betting. This is marginally better than the Storm’s +6.26 units, but it’s on the road and as underdogs where the value really starts to come.

With five wins and five losses this season as outsiders, the Eels have returned +3.48 units. On the road, they are even better value with three wins from six matches and a return of +2.44.

These numbers are boosted by their two wins over the Broncos at odds. No matter the situation, the Eels were simply the team to back in 2017.

But is Melbourne a different story?

We know what you’re thinking. It’s one thing to fly home as favourites week in, week out. But how does that form stack up against the best team in rugby league?

Unfortunately, the only meeting between these sides gives us no indication, as the Storm were without their Origin stars and the Eels started rare away favourites at AAMI Park.

Since June, the Eels have only started as outsiders three times, twice to the Broncos and once to the Cowboys, meaning they’ve performed largely as expected in terms of total wins.

But punters really seem to have the Storm nailed down at home.

Over the last 12 months they have played 15 matches at AAMI Park for 11 wins and a return of a tiny +0.47 units. Interestingly, they have only been underdogs once during that time – their loss to the Eels.

It’s at the line where things get interesting. At home over the same period, the Storm are 6-9. And honestly, their demolition jobs over the last two weeks over Souths and Canberra flatter those statistics. Backing the Storm at home over this time would have lost you -3.6 units, compared to +2.52 for all matches.

The final verdict

So, if the Eels have been completely undervalued by the market all season, are they value this weekend?

Head to head, everything points to the Storm at AAMI Park being close to the best-priced team in the NRL. But at the line, they are seemingly overvalued, with most punters expecting them to light up the scoreboard more than they do.

And with a massive start available for the continually undervalued Eels, the 12 point start certainly shouldn’t be overlooked by punters.

Daily Racing Selections – Tuesday 5th September

Newcastle Race 2 – Maiden Plate 1350m

Tuesday 5th September, 1:35PM

Good, even fields at Newcastle all day, but in this race, it looks a match between two. LEGENDOFOZ is impeccably bred. His dad, Fastnet Rock, was a smart racehorse who has blossomed into a champion stallion while his mum, Princess Coup, was a Group 1 winner. In two starts to date, he has shown a lot of talent. Will get back to midfield with the other main hope, Preferito, out in front, then he will unleash late and I think he will swamp the leader at the finish. Good race coming up.


Pakenham Race 3 – Benchmark 58 Handicap 1000m

Tuesday 5th September, 4:00PM

This mare SURPRISE HERO may be pretty smart. If so this could be right up her alley. Drew wide and had to go back to last in maiden grade last start at Geelong and just unleashed to win drawing away. Drawn a little wide here again but it isn’t a massive leap up in class. Fitter now too and should be charging home.


Mackay Race 7 – Benchmark 65 Handicap 1100m

Tuesday 5th September, 4:15PM

If form counts for anything then this bush galloper WEAVE looks about the best placed runner anywhere in Australia today. He’s a legitimate BM 70 horse and is in this 3rd up after a beacon-flashing run last start for 2nd in a stronger grade. Will settled mid field and with the weight relief for in form apprentice Chris Caserta, he just looks to finish way too strongly for these.