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.
  • Cheltenham Festival Week 11 uploaded - Andy Richmond's Beating The Bias uploaded - General Sports (Sun) uploaded - Weekend Race Previews uploaded - Ante Post Focus (Thyestes) uploaded - Cheltenham Festival Week 10 uploaded

December & New Year Schedule

1/12/22

A fantastic time of the season for jumps fans where the action comes thick and fast.

Even though Newcastle Racecourse will be hoping that we may have seen both the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup winners rock up there and win last Saturday, the relentless pace is set to ratchet up again this weekend with big races at Sandown, Aintree, Fairyhouse and Huntingdon. And to think, Willie Mullins hasn’t even got started yet!

The Ante Post Focus column has been going well so far this season with I Like To Move It (8/1) and Our Power (7/1) winning the Greatwood Hurdle and London Bateaux Gold Cup and Gericault Roque repaying the recommended each-way at 25/1 from two months earlier when he was third in the Coral Gold Cup. Get A Tonic drifted out to 14/1 ahead of finishing second in the Betfair Exchange Handicap Hurdle. Close but no cigar. I looked at the Becher Chase and Tingle Creek in that column yesterday plus took an early view on the Welsh Grand National.

One year later than originally planned due to Covid, next weekend is my only daughter’s wedding so I’ll be out of action on Friday and Saturday and most of Sunday. I’ve got my opening line sorted for the speech: ‘So here we are one year later than planned, and we’re older, balder and fatter…..and that’s just the women’. I thought I’d gauge the feeling in the room early, see which way to go!

Being tied up next weekend I’ll give some of that weekend thoughts in Ante Post Focus on Wednesday and cover Day 1 of the Cheltenham December Meeting on Thursday so no changes there.

As for next weekend’s race previews however, Andy Richmond has kindly agreed to step in and cover the feature races from Cheltenham and Punchestown which likely features the seasonal return of the Gold Cup favourite, Galopin Des Champs, in the John Durkan Chase. Mullins also looks set to unleash Energumene for the season that weekend at Cork. I hope that you are enjoying Andy’s new jumps-based weekly Beating The Bias column.

As I won’t be able to catch up with any of that weekend’s racing until probably Monday, I will be running at least a day behind so Week 6 of the Cheltenham Festival columns will be put back 24 hours until Wednesday, December 14th. Week 5 next week will be uploaded on Tuesday as usual. By putting the Cheltenham column back a day to Wednesday in just under a fortnight’s time, therefore there will not be time for an Ante Post Focus column that week so I’ll incorporate some of the Ascot Christmas Meeting into next week’s column, a week early. I hope that is all clear!

Onto the Christmas and New Year schedule next. Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year and I will uploading the Boxing Day previews on Christmas Eve. A day off on the 25th before returning on 26-28th to cover the next three days’ action from Day 2 at Kempton, Days 2-4 of Leopardstown and the best of Chepstow, Wetherby and Limerick. Then back on Friday 30th to cover New Year’s Eve (for the Challow Hurdle card at Newbury) and New Year’s Day (Cheltenham).

After that hectic period, like for all years (bar Covid), I will then take my annual mid-season European Citybreak for three-four days in early January at one of the quietest times of the season to recharge the batteries ahead of the big push towards Cheltenham.

I was hoping that England would not win their World Cup group as, now that they have, it looks like they will be playing in the quarter-finals on the evening of the wedding reception. This is not good. Unless Senegal can turn them over of course. I don’t see that though or Poland upsetting France so it’s looking like England against the World Champions on Saturday, December 10th.

Following the announcements that Kante and Pogba were both out of the French squad I let it be known in a Thought of the Day that I had cashed out on the French and switched to Brazil a day before Benzema also joined them on the sidelines. I fancy England to beat France and am happy with my updated overall position on Brazil.

Hopefully you joined me with the 0-0 at half-time recommendations for all teams’ first game – the argument being that it is usually cagey stuff early on in the tournament - as that would have made a tidy profit just as it did for Euro 2020. I only wish that I had continued with it throughout all the group stages as the theme of this World Cup so far has been turgid first halves before games bursting into life after the interval. Four more out of four yesterday.

Being December that means that the World Darts Championship will shortly be upon us (starts on the 15th) and Mike Henderson will give some of his views in various Thought of the Day’s during the event. I can tell you that I have personally backed Michael Smith who should have a different mind set now that he has finally got over the line in a major televised final last month after being beaten on all eight previous occasions. For me he should be second-favourite behind a back-to-form Michael van Gerwen this season, so ahead of Gerwyn Price but that is not the case. Odds of 17/2 will do for me.

December means that is also the Mosconi Cup. I keep saying that I want to get to this event but would prefer it to be when held in Las Vegas rather than Ally Pally, which is the case this year at Bally's Hotel. However, taking place just one week before the wedding scuppered that idea after Covid did likewise in 2020. So who knows, 2024 maybe? USA lead the favourites, Europe, 3-1 after Day 1 in front of a raucous 2,500 crowd with the total legend that is Earl ‘The Pearl’ Strickland back in the team. If you have no interest in pool (I used to be half decent back in the day - the British version that is, not eight-ball) it’s still worth checking him out on YouTube. It’s one of those events you can enjoy without a betting interest being in front of such a partisan crowd.

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