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.
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Faugheen, Eurovision & Bubba


I will go through the many ramifications of Faugheen missing the Champion Hurdle in Week 15 of Cheltenham Festival Ante Post on Monday evening. Unfortunately, he won’t be the last big name to be ruled out in the next month as trainers now start to crank up the fast work. As the training gets harder, chasing types are more prone to get injured. Although Rich Ricci’s captain, as Alastair Down described him, will not get the opportunity to take to the field, the Mr Blobby silks will still be carried by favourites in the Supreme, Arkle, Champion Hurdle and Mares Hurdle on Day 1 if, as seems likely, that Annie Power heads to the CH and Vroum Vroumg Mag switches to the MH.

So, although the Day 1 four-timer ante-post bets have gone down for so many punters, there’s still time for a more lucrative, replacement four-timer bet if they like which no one seems to be talking about….yet. Oh, Limini will be a fifth hot favourite during the week for Ricci on Day 3 and he’ll have just the two big hopes in the Gold Cup. The first Cheltenham Festival preview evening takes place in Limerick on Monday. Can you believe it?

In case you missed it, I’m sure most people did, there were some new rules announced earlier in the week for the Eurovision Song Contest and it’s not that they have discovered that Australia is not in Europe. They can enter again but are still not allowed to win it so, a bit like the United Kingdom then! It’s more about how the points are delivered to the public on the night to make it more exciting as often we can fairly confidently predict the winner after 5-10 juries have given their votes. This time, all that we will be initially given by various long-haired, blonde beauties from all over Europe are just the votes from their respective countries’ jury which consists of five people, and then the public vote will follow starting with the country that received the fewest points from televotes and ending with the country that received the most points from televotes to create a dramatic finish where the winner will be only be revealed at the very end.

The jury and public votes can differ vastly as we saw when the UK jury placed Poland plum last two years ago (I’m looking at you Laura Wright who performed at the Crabbie’s Grand National launch) but, as we like a laugh, we placed their busty butter-churning act top! I am going to have to get my head around how this could affect betting on the event. I will be covering Eurovision for this website and won’t make the same mistake as booking my May trip to Las Vegas the same week this year (what an idiot) so that will release my time to give it the full works, you lucky, lucky people.

The good news this weekend is that I haven’t got Phil Mickelson to put me through the wringer at Riviera as he’s having a week off. Having suggested we back him each-way in all events up to and including The Masters three weeks ago and then suggested he was a very good Top Ten bet for last week’s tournament at 9/4 at Pebble Beach, you would think I should be happy that he finished second last Sunday but he really did throw it away giving up a last-round lead to lose by a single shot. I’ll be settling down to watch the final two days from California this weekend where Dustbin Johnson, who has caused me so much pain down the years when I’ve backed him in Majors blowing it when in good positions, is 5/1 favourite being two shots off the leader, Jason Kokrak (10/1). Also two shots back is Bubba Watson (11/2) with Rory McIlroy (6/1) just a couple of shots further back of that monster-hitting American duo so that world class trio head the market. Jordan Spieth is struggling at present and The Masters favourite missed the cut by as many as five strokes believe it or not.

If Rory gets his putter going then he wins but that element of his game is short of what is required. Though he did make a 58 footer last night! I will have a little dabble therefore on Bubba who didn’t make a bogey yesterday and is peaking at the time most important to him but I also like Hideki Matsuyama to go close. The winner of the Phoenix Open two weeks ago, he is just four shots back but double the price of Rory who he is currently tied seventh alongside (plus five others including Charl Schartzel and Adam Scott) being a general 12/1 so I’ll split my stakes between Watson and Matsuyama.

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