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Congratulations to Richard Johnson for reaching the milestone of 3000 winners. Some have said that remarkable achievement hasn’t received as much coverage as it should have done, especially outside of racing, as he’s not A P McCoy and I’ll go along with that. I had the pleasure of dealing with Johnson quite a few times when I was Master of Ceremonies at Towcester Racecourse and also on a Cheltenham Preview panel at Oswestry and he’s a real gent. It doesn't often get mentioned that he has won all four of the big championship races at the Cheltenham Festival (Rooster Booster, Flagship Uberalles, Anzum and Looks Like Trouble) but the biggest favour he did me was when guiding Edmond to win the 1999 Welsh Grand National having been on ante-post from an early stage.
Another real gent is J P McManus and after he had six winners at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival I made a note in my 2016 diary to take particular notice of his runners at that meeting next year. As he gets older it seems evident to me that all McManus is interested in from a racing perspective are the big festivals. Cheltenham obviously, but also Aintree and Punchestown, and I now have to class Leopardstown at Christmas as also right up there and can’t believe on this latest evidence that his management team didn’t instruct their trainers to get many of his horses, especially his handicappers, bang on for those four days. Four of those winners were well backed in handicaps so it might be also be worth taking a shorter price on those at this meeting next Christmas than their morning odds if there is an obvious market move for them.
The BDO Darts on BBC this week from the Lakeside isn’t a patch on the fantastic entertainment Sky broadcasted from the PDC event but a hat tip to Mike Henderson who advised 15 winners from 24 bets from the action at Alexandra Palace which gave a LSP of 16 points. Still, a winner is a winner and Mike will be giving daily bets from now on in the run up to the final at the weekend.
The golf season proper gets under way properly on the PGA Tour this week with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii and I’ll be covering the best of that tour in the Sport section over the next 12 months. Graeme McDowell may have dropped down to 57th in the World Rankings after a poor couple of years but he is on the way back and shot a 62 at this course in 2011 and won’t mind it getting windy like it often can here so he’d be my each-way selection at 28/1 in this 30-runner field where scrambling counts for plenty.
Golf is my second sport when it comes to betting and I prefer to concentrate on the best events. I’ll throw in some other tournaments if I have a strong fancy but events I will definitely be covering will be The Four Majors, Ryder Cup, Players’ Championship, World Matchplay, WGC Cadillac Championship (Doral), the four Play-Off events in the autumn and the BMW PGA at Wentworth.