Masters Final in General Sports & NFL Divisional Round (Sun) uploaded - Masters Semi Finals in General Sports & NFL Divisional Round (Sat) uploaded - Weekend Race Previews uploaded - The Masters (Fri) uploaded - Premier League Picks & Ante Post Focus uploaded
No Olympic Games from Tokyo next month. Outside of athletics, cycling, tennis and golf, nothing else particularly interests me if I’m frank, especially with much of the action taking place in the middle of the night.
My highlight of July was recommending Serpentine (25/1) for the Derby. What a sight that was and another photo for the office wall! Surreal stuff. He heads next for the Grand Prix de Paris (effectively replaces the Prix Niel on Arc Trials Day) which is good news for our ante-post position on Santiago (7/1) for the St Leger (recommended between him winning the Queen’s Vase and Irish Derby) with those races taking place the same weekend. The next Ante Post Focus will be on Wednesday, August 5th where I will be looking at the early markets for The Breeders’ Cup.
Before he heads to Doncaster (and that is now the reported plan I am pleased to say), Santiago is set to take on Stradivarius on Tuesday at Glorious Goodwood. I think that he has a very good chance of beating him and the difference in odds between the pair is too wide. I’ll be covering all five days’ action between July 28th-August 1st and a sunny week is forecast to show off the Downs in all their glory. The Sussex Stakes looks like being a cracker with Siskin, Mohaather, Kameko and Circus Maximus all on target.
The following week I will review the meeting in the Horses To Follow column in the same format as I did for Royal Ascot. That’s the way I would now prefer to run this column going forward - reviewing each race at the big festivals pointing out horses that caught my eye. It will be interesting to see how Saturday goes at Goodwood with 5,000 annual members being allowed to attend.
If that goes well then expect at least the same for the York Ebor Festival which will be the focal point of August’s website coverage. The feature race of the Juddmonte International is also bubbling up nicely with Ghaiyyath, Lord North and Sottsass reported as on target. We could even have Enable v Love Pt 1 in the Yorkshire Oaks ahead of the Arc. I was hoping to be working on the four-day meeting in Spain (flights already booked) alongside watching the knockout stages of the Champions League and Europa League out there plus a bit of golf on a lads’ trip. That was until the 14-day quarantine law came back into force last night so kyboshing that intention. Sunny Kettering it remains then! Mrs Jones will be thrilled that she’s not getting shot of me for ten days.
With regards to the Champions League and Europa League, when those competitions restart next month we have some good positions with 22/1 each-way about Atletico Madrid for the Champions League who were drawn in the easier half from the quarter-finals onwards. The favourite in their half, PSG, have had no domestic football since March which could be against them. We also have 8/1 and 50/1 each-way on Inter Milan and Getafe respectively in the Europa League who annoyingly were then drawn to face each other in the last 16. Just as frustratingly, Manchester United have a dream draw being housed in by far the easier half so they have shortened in price dramatically. I can’t have Wolves at all at just 13/2. I also recommended in-running cross doubles on Liverpool/PSG-Inter/Sevilla for the Champions League and Europa League earlier in the season so chances there.
Before the European action, we have the FA Cup Final on Saturday which features my pre-third round 14/1 recommendation, Arsenal, who take on Chelsea. I will hedge in some way.
The Premier League finishes today and it’s been a very good one for my eight pre-season, ante-post recommendations collecting on three so far with Burnley (7/1) finishing in the Top 10, the straight forecast on Liverpool-Manchester City (4/1) also successful plus Leicester w/o Big 6 (7/2) also a winning advice barring a mathematical miracle. We also have 16.75/1 about Manchester City winning the Champions League having recommended them in a double with Liverpool to win the PL. However, if Jamie Vardy (recommended pre-season 20/1 each-way) can win the Golden Boot then that would trump the lot. He leads Danny Ings by two and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang by three with one game to play. The 2020/21 season starts on September 12th so I’ll be working on the ante-post preview in the coming weeks.
The World Snooker Championship starts at The Crucible Theatre on Friday and Paul Thompson will be on hand to preview the event on Thursday having put up Judd Tump to successfully win the title at 6/1 last year. Trump will kick off the show on Friday (the qualifiers finish on Tuesday so we won’t know his opponent until Wednesday) but first-time defending champions have a terrible record. From a personal perspective, mid-season I threw a few quid at Graeme Dott (has to qualify) and Dave Gilbert when they were playing well but my main each-way fancy is for Kyren Wilson (20/1) who is at his best in longer-format games and was progressing nicely in tournaments just before the lockdown after a slow start to the season. He is set to meet Trump in the quarter-finals. However, the world champ faces a stiff potential second-round opponent in Yan Bingtao who he is far from certain to beat.
The golf season starts to crank up in August and Ciaran Meagher will be overseeing the first Major of the year, the USPGA Championship, which takes place between August 6th-9th. In the next six weeks, he will be covering five tournaments starting with the WGC St Jude Invitational on Tuesday.
England face Pakistan for a three-match test series starting on August 5th which Paul Smith will be covering. Hopefully we’ll have more luck than with the Jofra Archer bet to be Top England Series Bowler against the West Indies after he went walkabout before the Second Test so had to sit it out! What an idiot.
The Tour de France is set to begin on August 29th and I’ll be taking a look at that. With the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta Espana set to take place in October with shortened formats, it remains to be seen yet exactly which big names will be heading for cycling’s most famous prize, or the route in case of any local spikes.
Mike Henderson will be the first to say that his analysis of the World Matchplay Darts could have gone a lot better. It was a strange tournament of upsets with no crowds and he’ll return for events later in the year when hopefully the form will settle down again following this first proper tournament back.
Since the last blog, in addition to the Olympics and Euro 2020, the Ryder Cup and T20 World Cup have also been postponed by a year so that’s four less categories to count in this year’s Sporting Predictions competition. I will update the leader board this week taking into account the outcome of the domestic football side of predictions.