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
A little too much crossbar hitting at last weekend’s Cheltenham two-day meeting for my liking, particularly with Aso in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup and Bally Longford looked home and hosed at a double-figure price in the staying handicap chase the previous day until faltering on the run-in. I’d be surprised if they don’t both pick up a nice prize this season. The frustration with Aso was that Frodon wouldn't have been in the line up in the first place if Exeter hadn't been abandoned eight days earlier for which he was declared to take on The New One.
Onto this weekend’s racing and I have already covered the Silver Cup and Long Walk Hurdle in Ante-Post Focus, the Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle (formerly the Ladbroke) is featured within the Race Trends section and I’ll be covering the best of Friday’s racing later this afternoon and the weekend’s racing tomorrow before the final Cheltenham Ante-Post upload of the year on December 19th (see last week’s blog for why). Hopefully my latest recommendation from earlier this week can enhance his Festival prospects this weekend.
The PDC World Darts Championships begins today and Mike Henderson has given his ante-post thoughts giving two recommendations and he has also covered the five matches that appeal to him most in the first round as he attempts to make it 11 winning tournaments out of 16 that he has covered for us. He will be giving his thoughts on the event on a round by round basis. He’ll have no respite however as will be covering the BDO World Championships for us straight afterwards.
With regards to the other sport features, Ross Miles has focussed on the big Tom Brady v Peyton Manning clash in his NFL Week 15 preview, Paul Smith has previewed the fifth and final test match between India and a team claiming to be representing England and, after securing another profit last weekend, I’ll be back for Premier League Picks on Friday. My pre-season recommendation of Chelsea to win the league at 11/2 are now six points clear and odds-on across the board so hopefully they can keep their winning streak (ten matches) going through Christmas where they face Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Stoke. That could have been a lot worse.
With regards to Golf, between myself and mainly Ciaran Meagher we have thrashed it out and will be covering 25 events in 2017 compared to 12 in 2016, the first of which will be the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii beginning on January 5th. A full list of the tournaments covered will be listed at the top of the Golf page shortly. The next Tennis event that Carl Redden will be covering is the Australian Open in January but in between Christmas and New Year he will be giving a season ante-post preview where he highlighted Garbine Muguruza last year to win the French Open at 16/1.
This all brings us on to the Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday which has been extended to 16 finalists (and still no place for the Tour de France winner!) being Olympic year and the phenomenal success of the British team in Rio. I covered the event back in late August in the General Sport section when Andy Murray was odds-against but he is now a best-priced 1/7 so everyone who took a chance against him is in very bad shape now unless they took an each-way punt on Alistair Brownlee.
I still think that our man from back in August, Max Whitlock, has a small chance of being on the podium (hopefully he can be a show pony on the night to pick up extra votes) for the place element of that each-way recommendation but, looking at the market fresh, I like the chances of Nick Skelton at 7/2 of finishing in the first three and the 14/1 each-way with Coral betting without Andy Murray where he can still finish fourth and we make a profit. He is a bigger price without Murray elsewhere but only in win-only or two to place markets. I argued back in August that he would interest me in that market if he was the sole equestrian candidate so the horsey vote wouldn’t be split between him and Charlotte Dujardin who won dressage gold in Rio.
It’s a great story winning gold in the individual show jumping at the age of 58 at the seventh attempt and having initially retired in 2001 after a broken neck and the equestrian set really got behind Dujardin in the voting for the year when she finished fourth as the rank outsider of the field. It’s amazing what a campaign can do and of course the horsey set also got behind AP McCoy in a massive way in 2010 going on to win by a landslide. Even Phil Taylor finished runner-up that year mainly down to Stephen Fry endorsing him to his zillions of twitter followers. Don’t underestimate one sport fully getting behind their man or woman – see runner-up positions for Leigh Halfpenny and Kevin Sinfield in the last three years.