Paul’s October Blog uploaded - NH Season Leading 20 Handicaps Big Race Trends uploaded - The Jumps Season Service 2023/24 will commence on Friday, October 27th.
With horseracing returning to the UK on Monday, June 1st with a ten-race card at Newcastle and other sports getting back underway during the same month, I have outlined my schedule for articles to feature on the website for the next month, providing that everything remains in place. If it does we're looking at 27 columns in June.
I had advertised to cover only Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood and the York Ebor Festival in the Race Previews this summer but all change now given the lack of action since Cheltenham.
Although British racing restarts on Monday, I’ll be more focussed on the French Guineas Meeting at Deauville on the same day, a preview of which I will be upload tomorrow evening. There will be some interesting racing in the three days that follow (notably a few Royal Ascot trials) but the next previews will be later in the week for the three-day Guineas Meeting at Newmarket between June 5th-7th, and I’ll upload each days’ racing the day beforehand.
The Coronation Cup re-routed from Epsom and which could feature the return of Stradivarius, is the feature race on Friday (Lingfield’s classic trials take place on the same day and both winners last year went on to win the Derby and Oaks so I’ll also cover those). The 2000 Guineas takes centre stage on the Saturday (where Newcastle also stage the Sagaro Stakes) with the 1000 Guineas on the Sunday (and Haydock stage the Brigadier Gerard Stakes). With a maximum of 12 runners per race, there are likely to plenty of disappointed connections who will be missing out on a run after being balloted out of the two Guineas.
The Irish Guineas Meeting takes place on June 12th-13th four days after their return to action so I’ll cover those two days the following week.
Then it is onto Royal Ascot between June 16th-20th which now features six additional races. The weekly Royal Ascot Ante Post columns (of which two have been uploaded to date) will continue on Tuesdays (June 2nd and 9th) at 7.00 p.m. and Big Race Trends for 31 of the races will be uploaded the week beforehand.
The Irish Derby (June 27th) takes place a week before Epsom this year and the Derby and Oaks will be run on the same day (July 4th) so I’ll also be previewing those two days, plus the best of the Eclipse and French Derby cards which follow on July 5th. The feature race on the Sandown card is now open to older horses only and, judging by today’s comments, it could witness the return of Enable for the second year running.
I have written seven Ante Post Focus columns since the lockdown and that Wednesday copy will continue as usual at 1.00 p.m. throughout the month with the exception of Royal Ascot week.
Both Andy Richmond and I have written a couple of Horses to Follow columns in the last month to help keep the website ticking over. My column will restart just before Royal Ascot featuring horses noted in the first two weeks since the restart and Andy’s next Beating The Bias column will be on June 8th.
Onto football and the Bundesliga returned a couple of weeks ago, La Liga is set to resume on June 11th, the Premier League on the 17th and Serie A on the 20th. The French, Dutch and Scottish settled their top divisions earlier in the month and there is no confirmed news yet about a restart to the Champions League (a proposed date for the final is August 29th - should have been today), Europa League or the Championship. The FA Cup quarter-finals have been provisionally set for June 27th-28th, semis on July 11/12th and the final on August 1st.
Bayern’s victory at second-placed Dortmund earlier in the week has seen them take a firm grip of the Bundesliga which is covered on BT Sport but La Liga is set for a fascinating finish with Barcelona only two points ahead of Real Madrid and news emerged on Thursday that elite Spanish football will be returning to Sky for their restart on their Premier Sports Channel free for June (£5.99 monthly thereafter). Serie A looks a two-horse race with Juventus a single point clear of Lazio.
With regards to the Premier League Picks column, as games will take place daily until the end of the season (and also at different times so that all 92 matches can be shown live on TV including some on BBC for the first time), when it comes to writing that copy I will take a weekly look on the Monday of each week. Finding potential betting angles will be even more key than usual with five substitutes permitted and no home support to factor in.
With no crowds I expected fewer goals when the Bundesliga returned, feeling that some players may be less motivated (that may come later in the season when they have little to play for and no atmosphere) but none of it with 17 of the 28 games played so far resulting in three goals or more. It’s a small sample but, interestingly, only five home teams have won which could be an angle to try and exploit with no support from their fans giving them any advantage so helping to level the playing field. Clubs at the bottom of the league have also fared well since the return. In fact, none of the bottom six lost their last game so I’ll be looking for upsets when the Premier League restarts.
Professional Golf isn’t set to return in Europe until July with a new schedule starting with six consecutive events in the UK to restrict travelling from country to country including back-to-back weeks at Celtic Manor. However, the PGA Tour in America returns on June 11th for the Charles Schwab Challenge which Ciaran Meagher will be previewing and it looks like being a cracker. Given the two months’ disruption to the programme, Ciaran has devised a new schedule for the rest of the season comprising 15 events that he will be covering for us up to mid-December and I’ll be chipping in with the Ryder Cup as usual.
Our golf schedule is now as follows: June 11-14 Charles Schwab Challenge; July 16-19 The Memorial; July 30-Aug 2 WGC FedEx St Jude; Aug 6-9 USPGA Championship; Aug 20-23 Northern Trust; Aug 27-30 BMW Championship; Sep 4-7 Tour Championship; Sep 17-20 US Open; Sep 25-27 Ryder Cup; Oct 15-18 BMW PGA Championship (European Tour); Oct 22-25 Zozo Championship; Oct 29-Nov 1 WGC HSBC Champions; Nov 5-8 Houston Open; Nov 12-15 The Masters; Dec 3-6 Hero World Challenge Dec 10-13 DP World Championship.
In addition to horseracing restarting on Monday, so does Snooker with the Championship League featuring 64 players in round robin groups that is being televised on ITV and featuring the big names keen for some competitive play building up to the big one. I’ll be looking to blindly back big-priced outsiders in the sprint format after the break. We are not covering it but Paul Thompson will be on hand to oversee the World Championship that is set to start at the end of July.
Finally, I received 80 entries for the Sports Predictions Competition so the winner will receive £560, the runner-up will receive £160 and third place will receive £80. The first points of the now 33 events (The Hundred and Monaco Grand Prix have been cancelled) will be awarded for the 2000 Guineas and I will update the leader board on its dedicated page on a monthly basis.