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.
  • Six Nations (outright) in General Spots uploaded - NFL Divisional Playoffs Part 2 & Sunday Race Previews uploaded - NFL Divisional Playoffs Part 1 uploaded - Saturday Race Previews uploaded - Ante Post Focus uploaded - Cheltenham Festival Week 10 & Australian Open uploaded

Happy New Year & January Schedule

1/1/22

A very Happy New Year to you all.

Hopefully we can start it on a high with a Peter Wright victory in the World Darts Championship who was Mike Henderson’s sole outright selection at 7/1. He’s in action in today’s quarter-finals and is also very much in the running to be the leading 180s scorer in the tournament which was recommended at 6/1. We could do with Michael Smith being eliminated by Gerwyn Price today to help with that bet. Mike’s other ante-post suggestion, James Wade at 9/2 to win his quarter, is 8/15 to book his slot in the semi-finals today.

Time to breathe a little after the usual hectic Christmas and New Year racing schedule. We had our ups and downs including with my ante-post selections for Cheltenham with a couple going very much the right way in the market whereas another couple very likely ran themselves out of contention.

Following a week off for Christmas the Cheltenham Festival ante-post columns restart on Tuesday with weekly copy and then daily from eight days before the event. Given faster ground in the autumn than usual and more horses remaining in their boxes until later, I have found it trickier so far this season in finding ante-post recommendations so I’d say that we still have about 80% of suggested bets still to go before the end of the meeting. Entries for the Gold Cup, Champion Chase, Ryanair are made on Tuesday with the Champion Hurdle, Stayers’ Hurdle and Mares’ Hurdle a week later.

Also after a week off the Ante Post Focus column returns on Wednesday. No good with our pair in a gruelling Welsh Grand National this year but Annsam (recommended at 8/1) won the Silver Cup just before Christmas and Kemboy (recommended each-way at 20/1) was beaten less than a length into third in the Savills Chase so overall that column has had a good couple of weeks.

Well done to George Weyham who found Ronnie O’Sullivan to win the World Grand Prix last month. How he beat Neil Robertson in the final playing as badly as he did only goes to prove how much of an effect a reputation can have. George will return in a weeks’ time to cover the second biggest event in the snooker calendar, The Masters, from Alexandra Palace which begins on Sunday the 9th. The tie of the first round is John Higgins (x4 runner-up this season) vs Zhao Xintong (UK Championship winner). Despite winning the latest event, the Scottish Open after he was runner-up in the UK, there is no place in the 16-man format for Luca Brecel.

Hasn’t The Ashes been nail biting! There are ways to lose and this was not it. From a punting perspective, Paul Smith’s 9/1 about Dawid Malan to be top England runscorer is still in play trailing Joe Root by 51 runs. I’m expecting nothing other than a 5-0 whitewash before they travel to the West Indies for a three-test series in March. The two home series this season are hosting New Zealand and South Africa.

With one extra week added to the NFL regular season than usual, we are not quite at the play-off stages. This extra week means that the Super Bowl now takes place in the second Sunday of February. Once we are into the knockout phase, Andy Richmond will be looking to add to his pre-season 12/1 recommendation of the Buffalo Bills, who are one of many teams in the hunt - six of which are no bigger than 10/1. I tend to go out on Sunday evenings for a quiz/social night so it’s unusual for me to watch a whole game but I very much enjoy the fun Osi Umenyiora-Jason Bell double act who present the highlights and preview shows on BBC. Compare that to the super-serious Sky Sports NFL coverage which sucks the life out of it for me.

My football column returns next week where I’ll give a half-way update on the pre-season recommendations and take a look at the FA Cup, Europa League and a fresh look at the Champions League now that we know the draw for the last 16.

Onto tennis and Carl Redden will preview the Australian Open at the end of next week which starts on January 17th. Whether Novak ‘please love me’ Djokovic will be defending his title or not is up in the air and has become an ongoing saga ever since the organisers insisted on double covid-vaccinated competitors only. The Serb has spoken out about the ruling but has not revealed his vaccination status heightening speculation that he has chosen not to receive his jabs. If so, good, kick him out. The word is he is trying to get in on a medical exemption.

The Six Nations starts on February 5th and Paul Matthew will be covering the competition with an outright preview at the end of January followed by the action on a weekly basis after his profitable columns on the Autumn Series. Week 1 sees Ireland host Wales, the Calcutta Cup between Scotland and England is being played at Murrayfield this year and France will thrash Italy at the Parc des Princes. France are 13/8 favourites over England at 5/2 with Ireland at 9/2, Wales at 6/1 and Scotland at 11/1.

I know that it’s a little way off yet but the first Eurovision Song Contest entry was submitted nice and early in December and I can tell you now that Bulgaria will not be winning! After last year’s success for Italy, surprise surprise, it was a rock entry so expect a good few of those this year but it’s unusual for the same genre of song to win in consecutive years. Plenty of other artists are being announced at around this time but the songs don’t usually follow until February/March.

The Sporting Predictions Competition is all but over with just the outcome of the darts to determine the 1-2-3 for the prize money. Stuart Watson wrapped up first prize with three events to go so it’s between Carl Redden, David Beddy and Richard Cox to see who will finish second and third. Well done to Stuart who just missed out on prize money in 2020 competition when finishing joint-fourth.

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