Clear, concise, comprehensive horseracing analysis and insight from Paul Jones, former author of the Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide, concentrating on jump racing in addition to the best of the Flat and leading Sports events.
  • The Jumps Season Service will return for 2024/25 in late October

Dante Meeting and Beyond


Even though I find betting at York hard going, and particularly in the handicaps where southern form meets northern form for the first time properly during the season and there will be Yorkshire-trained plots about the turn The Form Book upside down, I’m looking forward to watching the next three days’ action.

From a punting perspective at this season’s Dante Meeting, things aren’t made any easier with the forecast rain plus the usual pace and draw puzzles on the straight course to get your head round, so I’ll be taking it easy for much of the next three days in terms of betting. I won’t be able resist a placepot though with such big fields in the handicaps and much mug money in the pot. I expect the bookies to be looking forward to the next three days too!

I’m not sure that the Musidora will turn out to be much of an Oaks Trial as the Prix de Diane is the likely next target for the odds-on Shutter Speed who isn’t considered a cert to stay 1m4f whereas the same connections’ Cheshire Oaks winner, Enable, is very much on target for Epsom. The Derby picture still looks very muddied to me but I do have a view on the Oaks and have a recommendation today in Ante-Post Focus at 1.00 p.m. to see if we can notch up back-to-back, double-figure priced winners of the season’s opening two fillies’ classics. I don’t why but I have always fared better in the fillies’ classics than the colts’ down the years stemming back to Pebbles.

Unfortunately I missed the boat in not recommending Portugal when they were 16/1 to win the Eurovision Song Contest but I’m pleased to see from responses that some of you took a chance at those early odds after I described their entry in my blog on April 30th as the best song in the competition. I suppose on Man O’War Stakes night in America won by the Dermot Weld-trained Zhukova (I would have thought that all roads now lead to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mares Turf) who was in my Horses to Follow last season, it was just meant to be! Both Portugal and Zhukova romped home.

This week draws an end to two of the long-standing weekly series editorials in that, after four months, the Premier League Darts comes to a conclusion on Thursday and the weekend Premier League Picks will be all done and dusted on Sunday. I’m pleased to say that both columns have returned a nice profit with Mike Henderson’s recommendations returning a 16% ROI and my football selections are 26pts up including Chelsea’s title success with just the weekend to go and hopefully Romelu Lukaku can take the Golden Boot (advised each-way at 12/1) as he leads Alexis Sanchez by just one goal now and Harry Kane by two (has two games left to play so is also right in it). West Ham are also looking good to finish in the bottom half which was a 5/2 shot at the start of the season.

Therefore after this weekend there will be no more football coverage until August for the main preview ahead of next season, though hopefully some of you followed me on Real Madrid at 5/1 for the Champions League. Last year I covered the European Championships in between seasons but no big summer event this year means that I will have time to work on other projects. Next year I will be covering the World Cup after the season’s end.

I took myself off to watch Northants v Notts in the One Day Cup yesterday which was unfortunately washed out after just 15 overs. From what little I saw though, this Ben Duckett is going to be star of the future. He’s already played for England despite not yet being old enough to have a drink in America and made Wisden’s list of five cricketers of the year for 2016. He hasn’t made England’s 15-man squad for the ICC Champions Trophy which starts on June 1st and ends on June 18th two days before the start of Royal Ascot and all matches plus a tournament preview will be covered for us by Paul Smith.

On the subject of Royal Ascot, the first of the six weeks’ ante-post build up was uploaded on Monday where I recommended a horse for both the King’s Stand and Diamond Jubilee attempting to emulate the successful 8/1 advices of Profitable and Twilight Son last year. I’ll take just one of them doing the business. Actually, for the first time since 1989, I will be attending a day at Royal Ascot this year - the Saturday.

The last time I went I recall it was Indian Ridge who won the King’s Stand with my favourite sprinter at the time, Gallic League, back in third. The Guy Harwood-trained Assatis caused a 50/1 shock in the Hardwicke (won the following year's renewal at 2/7) and the top weight, Macs Fighter, won the Wokingham so it must have been a losing day for me. They were all run on a Friday back then as I remember rushing home to attend Boys’ Brigade! No firm is betting on the Wokingham yet as far as I can see but I’d imagine that the cosy Victoria Cup winner, Fastnet Tempest, will be the opening favourite. I doubt he’ll get in though as he won off 89 at the weekend and the bottom weight ran off 100 last year. I have a couple in mind for the race. More of which when bookmakers start to price it up.

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