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
It’s been almost two months since my last blog where the highlight in the interim was Potters Corner winning the Welsh Grand National after being recommended at 33/1 thus continuing the great run of the Ante Post Focus column from Arc day onwards. Vintage Clouds winning the Peter Marsh Chase after being recommended at 10/1 was yet another big, staying handicap chase winner for the same column in the last 12 months. No good in the Thyestes or Sky Bet Chase though and the Haydock Park Grand National Trial will be the next major staying handicap chase.
We are now firmly in the lead up to the Cheltenham Festival and, of my ten ante-post recommendations so far, I am very happy indeed with three of them who are now trading at much shorter odds (the three for Day 1), pleased enough with five others and disappointed with two, one of which was picking the wrong race for Defi du Seuil back in October. Frustrating to get it so right that you then become so wrong as faring so well now means that his connections favour a more prestigious race as a consequence. I plan to recommend at least two ante-post bets in Week 12 on Tuesday. The column goes daily from seven days before and then throughout the week so there are still 16 editions to write and I expect to have around 35 bets in total.
I keep looking at that 14/1 for Henry de Bromhead to be Top Trainer at the meeting given his strength in the non-handicaps (Notebook, Honeysuckle, Minella Indo, A Plus Tard, Aspire Tower, Minella Melody) but I think he’ll need a minimum of five winners to achieve that as four winners (last year’s winning total but as much as eight twice before that) is unlikely to be enough on countback given the amount of seconds that Mullins and Elliott will have so it might be better perming them in various exotic bets. Rachael Blackmore may be the way to go at 8/1 with the Mullins and Elliott winners spread around various jockeys.
I will be uploading my Big Race Trends for the festival in around three weeks’ time and will be on a panel for two Cheltenham Festival Preview Evenings this year and am likely to attend another as an audience member. So if you are in the vicinity of Market Harborough Conservative Club on March 3rd or Banbury Cricket Club on March 4th, then I hope to see you there.
I’m in two minds whether to attend the unveiling of the Festival handicap weights this year. It used to be very well attended by virtually all the leading British-based trainers as they fired questions at all four handicappers before conducting a series of interviews so it was all very informative. However, with the Irish faring so strongly in the handicaps of late, interest from trainers attending has receded markedly and just two handicappers were present last year who rushed through it in double-quick time unlike Phil Smith who used to enjoy being the star of the show.
Onto the sport and fingers crossed that Ciaran Meagher can get off to a winning start with his Golf column for 2020 tonight with his headline recommendation, Jon Rahm, a best-priced Evens heading into the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open. Ciaran’s contribution for this year will increase to 19 tournaments with me filling in for the two matchplay events and the Players’ Championship during Cheltenham week. The full schedule is as follows: Farmers Insurance Open, Phoenix Open, AT&T, Genesis Open Invitational, WGC Mexico, Players’ Championship (PJ), WGC World Matchplay (PJ), The Masters, Wells Fargo, USPGA, Irish Open & Rocket Mortgage, The Memorial, Canadian Open, US Open, Travelers, WGC St Jude, Open Championship, Northern Trust, BMW, Tour Championship, BMW Wentworth and Ryder Cup (PJ).
Mike Henderson’s Premier League Darts will take over from the NFL as the weekly sporting coverage from the first Thursday in February to keep things ticking over in between the horseracing columns. I’ll be ordering in my curry to watch the SuperBowl in a weeks’ time. Unfortunately we have no ante-post interest in the big game with the Baltimore Ravens exiting but Andy Richmond will be finding us a few action bets for the night. This might be the only game that some of you watch all season and staying up for half-time may appeal to some of you with Shakira and Jennifer Lopez providing the half-time show! Not quite The Who but pleasant in other ways.
With 14 games left to play, we still have some very nice ante-post football positions but I’ve been going through a sticky patch recently in my weekly Premier League Picks column so have reined that back a little for the time being. Every week we seem to have one big surprise result but I’ve been landing on the wrong games in which to find that. Come the final six games I will certainly be looking at clubs in fear of relegation pulling off surprise wins.
Adam Hewson returns this week with his Political Betting Blog looking at the Labour Leadership and Democratic Primaries which start in February.
Finally, February is when most of the Eurovision Song Contest entries are confirmed so I will be keeping an eye on their social media feed to hear the songs as and when each delegation confirms them. Being so engrossed in Cheltenham work during February and March, I have been a bit late to the party in this respect in the last few years and therefore missed out on the early prices in what is one of the most volatile betting markets you’ll find on anything, so I hope to be more on top of that this time. Like most of Europe I unsuccessfully tried to get tickets for the Grand Final in Rotterdam for when the first wave went on sale with no luck so if anyone has the right contacts, please do get in touch!