Ante Post Focus uploaded - Cheltenham Festival 'Wash Up' Days 1 & 2 uploaded - Ryder Cup Ante Post uploaded - Ante Post Focus on Tingle Creek & King George VI Chase uploaded - Naas Monday (start of Irish Flat Turf Season) uploaded - Paul's Blog uploaded
It’s time for my annual run through of the Christmas and New Year schedule (and lead in to Christmas) for what is my busiest time of the year so there are some changes to the usual timings.
Dealing with the Cheltenham Ante Post copy first and Week 5 will be uploaded on Monday at 7.00 p.m. as normal with the usual circa 8,000 words, but it will be a much shorter Week 6 edition on Dec 24th as bar Ascot’s two-day meeting there is not a lot of quality next week to report back on as the best horses wait for Christmas week. Therefore that shorter edition will be uploaded at 1.00 p.m. on Christmas Eve plus I’m sure that most of you will have other plans than reading my work on that particular evening! Ditto for Week 7 which this year falls on New Year’s Eve, so that Monday edition will also be uploaded at 1.00 p.m. As will the following Monday (Jan 7th) for Week 8 as I will be taking my short mid-winter break as usual flying out to Bavaria this year on that afternoon. I will be based in Munich but travelling the region.
As for Ante-Post Focus, that Wednesday lunchtime column will continue as normal this week focussing on Ascot for next weekend plus the best of the Christmas action, but then we’ll have a week off as I will be working flat out on the following Wednesday, Boxing Day, writing the Kempton, Leopardstown and Chepstow race previews.
I usually think that handicap hurdles is where I am weakest when betting on jumps racing but they saved me at Cheltenham for the Race Previews this weekend finding Aaron Lad in the three-miler and Sensulano in the mares’ handicap. The next race previews will be for Day 1 of Ascot on Thursday and then I’ll cover the weekend racing on Friday which will be Ascot and not a lot else. Boxing Day’s preview will be finished off late afternoon on Christmas Day (any excuse to get away from a houseful for a couple of hours!) and I’ll be covering all the best action from the four-day Leopardstown Meeting (and other interesting races elsewhere in Ireland), the two-day Kempton Meeting and the Welsh Grand National and Challow Hurdle cards from Chepstow and Newbury the day before those meetings take place. Therefore the only day off from race previews during Christmas week will be on Sunday 30th before I cover Cheltenham’s New Year’s Day Meeting on New Year’s Eve.
Whilst all of this is occurring Mike Henderson will be continuing with his World Darts Championship on a round-by-round basis (from the third round onwards), I will give my Premier League Picks on Thursday for the weekend, on Christmas Eve for Boxing Day, on Dec 28th for the weekend and then on Dec 30th for a hectic fourth round of matches over the festive period. Andy Richmond will be covering the final two weeks of the NFL regular season on Sundays around noon as usual before Wildcard Weekend which starts on Saturday, January 5th and Mark Ball and Graham Wheldon are also likely to be providing a blog over the festive period. Alan Potts will return in the spring.
If you can’t be arsed to try and digest all of that, and I don’t blame you, here’s the easy version.
Dec 16: NFL Week 15 (approx. noon)
Dec 17: Cheltenham Ante Post Week 5 (7.00 p.m.)
Dec 19: Ante Post Focus (1.00 p.m.)
Dec 20: Ascot Day 1 Preview & Weekend Premier League Picks
Dec 21: Weekend Racing Preview
Dec 22: World Darts 3rd Round Preview
Dec 23: NFL Week 16 (approx. noon)
Dec 24: Cheltenham Ante Post Week 6 (1.00 p.m.) & Boxing Day Premier League Picks
Dec 25: Boxing Day Preview
Dec 26: Kempton, Chepstow & Leopardstown Preview
Dec 27: Leopardstown Preview
Dec 28: Leopardstown/Newbury Preview & World Darts
Dec 29: World Darts & Weekend Premier League Picks
Dec 30: NFL Week 17 (approx. noon) & World Darts
Dec 31: Cheltenham Ante Post Week 7 (1.00 p.m.), New Year’s Day Racing Preview, Midweek Premier League Picks & World Darts
Jan 2: Ante Post Focus (1.00 p.m.)
Jan 4: Weekend Racing Preview
Jan 5: NFL Wildcard Weekend (approx. noon)
Jan 7: Cheltenham Ante Post Week 8 (1.00 p.m.)
Jan 8-10 My mid-season break
Jan 11: Weekend Racing Preview