Friday Race Previews uploaded - Ante Post Focus uploaded - Cheltenham Festival Week 4 uploaded - Paul's Blog & Andy Richmond's Beating The Bias uploaded - Sunday Race Previews & General Sports uploaded - Saturday Race Previews uploaded
Cheltenham Festival Trials Season is well under away and it’s the biggie this weekend of the Dublin Racing Festival. Let’s hope that the ground isn’t as quick as many fear that could spark a host of high-profile defections. I’d be nervous about striking an ante-post bet for the two-day meeting having been bitten last year.
We are now 11 weeks into the Cheltenham Festival columns that continue weekly up until seven days before the meeting where then we go daily until the end of the meeting. I’d say that only around 25% of my final number of bets have been struck on the meeting so far and we have a couple of nice positions and a couple of turkeys amongst those.
My Big Race Trends for all 28 races will be uploaded towards the end of February for when you have time to read a 25,000 words’ column.
I’d say that we’ve been fairly consistent in churning out a regular stream of winners this jumps season in the weekend Race Previews but nothing at a very nice price since Larry won the London Bateaux Gold Cup so we could do with a few more double-figure-odds winners. With spring approaching this is usually the best time of the season for that as the racing becomes more competitive.
Onto the sport that we are featuring in February and, firstly, well done to Mike Henderson for finding Peter Wright at 7/1 to win the World Darts Championship, his only pick in the outright market and returning a LSP of +9 points overall. Mike will return on Thursday to preview the Premier League Darts which starts that evening in Cardiff. Like in the last couple of years, the plan is that he will give a half-way update for Judgement Night and then finish the competition off with a Finals Night preview in May.
Paul Matthew’s outright preview of the Six Nations was uploaded last week and he’ll be returning with weekly Thursday columns for the duration of the tournament. I’m no rugby union expert by any stretch of the imagination, but after reading his column, I ask myself when was the last time that five of the teams had a realistic chance to win the trophy?
With regards to Paul’s ante-post selections for the Gallagher Premiership from back in mid-September, his 11/2 about to Leicester to finish in the top four remains in fantastic shape as they top the pile by 7 points from his outright 9/4 selection of Saracens who are now 11/8.
The Super Bowl takes place on Sunday the 13th. NFL fans had a weekend to remember with the divisional round producing four close games including an epic encounter in which the Kansas City Chiefs put paid to Andy Richmond’s pre-season outright pick, the Buffalo Bills, in overtime in what was personally the best American Football game that I have ever watched. However, his pre-Playoffs value pick of the Cincinnati Bengals at 20/1 have made it through to the Super Bowl where the L A Rams stand in their way.
The Masters Snooker also produced some very exciting finishes - Neil Robertson winning the title having somehow come back from the dead in the semi-final decider requiring two snookers to beat Mark Williams. The final was a bit of a damp squib though with the Australian rolling over Barry Hawkins. George Weyham was out of luck with his outright selections but he made a profit in his daily match previews which offset that. He will return for the Players Championship which starts on February 7th.
The following week sees the start of the knockout phases of the Champions League and Europa League. I held back from previewing them in January, concentrating on just the FA Cup but will take a look at both competitions in which four English clubs have made the last 16 of the Champions League but only West Ham have made the final 32 of the Europa League. One heads up, I won’t be recommending the Hammers at 9/1 trying to follow up my winning recommendation on Villareal at 20/1 at the same stage last year.
Good to see the Premier League players having a mid-term break last weekend, taking a leaf out of Germany’s Bundesliga’s book which has apparently helped them to win international tournaments but not for a while. I am sure this week off in January will greatly enhance England’s World Cup chances for December.
As for the next big fight (in British terms anyway), that will be Kell Brook v Amir Khan on February 19th which Will Steele will preview. His cover bet suggestion on Parker to beat Chisora on points would have ensured no loss on the fight after four straight profitable columns.
Those who took Adam Hewson’s advice in his Political Betting column in mid-December that Boris Johnson would exit the PM role in 2022 at 5/4 are now sitting on a best-priced 1/2 shot and his 5/2 advice about Rishi Sunak being the next PM at 5/2 is as short as 5/4 in places. His back-up two split-stakes recommendations are also shorter now, notably Tom Tughendhat who is now into a best-priced 9/1 from his recommended 40/1 with Jeremy Hunt also into the same price from 14/1.
Carl Redden’s Australian Open Tennis recommendations made a small loss with only Iga Swiatek winning her quarter of his six advices winning. He’ll be back to cover the French Open starting in May which will feature Novak Djokovic after the French authorities brought in new vaccine passport rules. Loving the fact that after his surprise victory in Melbourne that Rafael Nadal is a 5/4 chance of stretching two grand slams clear of Djokovic in the all-time listings.
You know what else also happens in May don’t you? Of course you do and the entries for the Eurovision Song Contest will start to filter through over the next month. To make it even better, the grand final of the inaugural AmericaVision takes place on the Monday of Eurovision week covered by NBC so two finals in five days! What more could you want!? I am pleased to see the qualifying for AmericaVision featuring 55 states and territories starts after Cheltenham having been scheduled for earlier but put back due to Covid. Just how to access it, that’s what I need to find out.
My Golf columns restart in March. Good news on the timing of The Players’ Championship this year as it takes place a week before Cheltenham this year rather than during the Festival which has been the case since they moved it from May.
The Winter Olympics begins on Friday. You wouldn’t know it given the paucity of promotions on it from the BBC so far which I imagine will be ramped up from today. I don’t mind much of it actually, beats usual daytime TV. I used to love Ski Sunday as a boy. Franz Klammer, Steve Podborski, Leonhard Stock, Marc Giradelli, Alberto Tomba and my favourite, Ken Read, notwithstanding Maria Walliser of course.
Finally for this month’s blog. Thank you to everyone who entered the Sporting Predictions Competition 2021 which finished at the start of January and congratulations to Stuart Watson for winning first prize with silver and bronze going to Richard Cox and David Beddy. I am having a year off organising it this year but am thinking of running a World Cup predictions competition in early winter.