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I returned back from my first holiday in almost three years earlier this week so it’s now full steam ahead for June (for which it will be a much busier second than first half) and the rest of the summer.
My personal highlight in May was another very successful Eurovision Song Contest with six winning bets from seven recommendations. The expected landslide for Ukraine in the televote in the end made them unbeatable in the outright but UK without Ukraine (7/4), UK to win the Jury Vote (6/4), UK over 4.5 maximus from the juries (5/6), Sweden each-way (4th at 13/2), Serbia Top Balkan (11/8) and Moldova Top 10 made it a great night, especially snaffling 7/1 about Moldova (7th) well in advance (as recommended in a Thought of the Day) who were 4/7 for that market on the night and only Ukraine beat them in the televote. The only losing bet was Switzerland to finish last and we were on the right track there being the only entry to score nil points in the televote.
Unfortunately we didn’t fare so well in both of Saturday’s European club competitions as Leinster (recommended at 4/1 by Paul Matthew pre-tournament) and Liverpool (my 11/2 advice) were odds-on losers in their respective finals, both having looked comfortably the better team in their first-half displays. Disappointing, though Paul ended up in profit with his overall Rugby Union ante-post recommendations for the season from back in the autumn and he still has Saracens (double stake advice at 9/4) going strong to win the Gallagher Premiership which comes to a conclusion on June 20th who are now a top-priced Evens.
For the second golfing Major of the season, and as with Cameron Smith at The Players’ Championship, I found the winner at the half-way stage (Justin Thomas at 7/2) to show a profit on the USPGA Championship as did Carl Redden for the French Open tennis which comes to a conclusion this weekend having put up Cori Gauff to win her quarter at 11/2 from his four pre-tournament picks.
JT was actually as big as 33/1 entering the final round being seven shots back - for the biggest comeback win in a Major after three rounds since Paul Lawrie won The Open 23 years ago when Jean van de Velde collapsed at the final hole, as Mito Pereira did a couple of weeks ago. So we definitely got lucky. However, I’m convinced that getting involved more heavily at the half-way stage is the way to play golf tournaments rather than most columns picking five or six players from the outset and that’s going to be my policy again when I will cover the US Open from Brookline near Boston (so it will be a noisy one - the scene of USA’s raucous Ryder Cup win in 1999) which starts in a fortnight’s time. The first three days will coincide with Royal Ascot and the following week Carl will be previewing Wimbledon which begins on June 27th.
It will be a busy Royal Ascot week as in addition to me covering all 30 races (plus the Big Race Trends the previous week for the meeting) and the US Open taking place, we also have finals night of the Premier League Darts now that the eight starters have been whittled down to four. Mike Henderson’s followers are in a good position as his pre-tournament selection, Johnny Clayton (5/1), won the regular league season whereas the last two world champions, Peter Wright and Gerwyn Price, haven’t made it to finals night so the Welshman is now a best-priced 7/4 to retain his title. He faces Joe Cullen in the semi-final and if successful there will tackle MVG or James Wade in the final.
Before Royal Ascot we have the Cazoo Derby of course which I covered in yesterday’s Ante Post Focus alongside the Cazoo Oaks. Unlike with Wings Of Eagles and Serpentine, I couldn’t find an outsider to side with this year so hope that Sir Michael Stoute can turn back the clock and win his first Classic since Workforce 12 years ago with Desert Crown confirming the excellent impression that he made in the Dante.
I’ll be trying to get a signal to watch the race from a field in deepest Leicestershire as am attending the three-day tribute acts festival that weekend, Glastonbudget! I kid you not. The Bootleg Beatles, Guns 2 Roses, Mercury, Blurb, Kazabian, Wrong Jovi, One Step Behind, Oasish, Happy Mondaze, The Police Academy, Coldplace, Antarctic Monkeys, The Stereotonics, Boy Gorgeous, Whole Lotta DC, Dizzy Lizzy, Dark Side Of Pink Floyd, Money For Nothing, Absolute Bowie and plenty more (over 100 bands, not all tributes, in total on four different stages), we’re coming to get you! Anything to get away from attending the jubilee street party!
Though to get away with my non-attendance at said party I consented to (a) climb some lamp posts to help erect bunting and (b) write a Platinum Jubilee Quiz in advance - the 30 questions of which are at the bottom of this blog and not too taxing for those bored enough to play along. A good deal! Just drop me a message if you want the answer sheet.
As you know from my love of Eurovision, I do love a bit of musical entertainment cheese and last year set up a Twitter account called @BestTributeActs if you want to see what I am getting up to this summer and there are also over 300 videos that I’ve taken already on there to scroll through.
Back to the racing and the last couple of Ante Post Focus columns have seen my each-way recommendations in the Chester Cup and Irish 2000 Guineas (without fav) both hit the frame and our sole Royal Ascot position so far (more to come next Wednesday), Kyprios for the Gold Cup, is now 7/2 from 6/1. Those weekly columns will continue in June with the exception of Royal Ascot week and we are six weeks into Andy Richmond’s weekly Beating The Bias column.
As for the cricket season, England start the summer by hosting New Zealand for a three-match test series today and then India for one-day and T20 events. As usual Paul Smith will return to cover the main series of the summer which will be England v South Africa when the tourists arrive for the games in August and September.
One of my favourite sporting events, the Tour de France, starts in Copenhagen (obviously!) on July 1st so I will look to cover the three-week-long race at the end of June. It seems inevitable to me that barring mishap Tadej Pogacar is going to win it for the third year running so I’d have him shorter than the best-priced 8/13 so I will have to look for other markets. In fact, if he stays fit he’s going to win it for five or six years in succession and to think he still qualifies for the Young Riders’ Jersey!
PLATINUM JUBILEE QUIZ (sponsored by Google)
1) In what year did Princess Elizabeth marry Philip Mountbatten in Westminster Abbey?
2) In which commonwealth country was Princess Elizabeth when told the news of the death of King George VI and that she was to become Queen?
3) At what age did Princess Elizabeth ascend the throne?
4) Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia was retired in 1997 and is now a tourist attraction in which country of the United Kingdom?
5) According to the royal website how many verses are there in God Save The Queen?
6) How many Royal Ascot winners has The Queen owned; (a) 24 (b) 44 or (c) 64?
7) By which means was Princess Elizabeth born; (a) natural (b) caesarean or (c) water birth?
8) Which Prime Minister did The Queen help to choose following the resignation of Antony Eden when there was no formal mechanism for the Conservative Party choosing its leader?
9) In which year were with six blanks fired at The Queen during the Trooping of the Colour?
10) How did Michael Fagan meet The Queen?
11) What is The Queen’s official residence (and for state functions) in Scotland?
12) Which band reached number 2 in the charts in 1977 with God Save The Queen?
13) The Queen officially opened London 2012 and which other Olympic Games?
14) How many Prime Ministers have there been during The Queen’s reign?
15) In The Queen’s life who was Dooki?
16) The London Underground tube line was renamed the Jubilee Line in 1977. What colour is it on the map?
17) Which actress who has appeared in Harry Potter films will play The Queen in the final series of the Netflix series to be released later this year, The Crown?
18) On what day of the week does the Prime Minister meet The Queen at Buckingham Palace for weekly governmental briefings?
19) Who won an Oscar for her performance of The Queen in the film of the same name in 2006?
20) The Queen meet the rock band, Queen, just once. In what year?
21) Princess Elizabeth was born in Bruton Street in Mayfair in a building that is now (a) a Cantonese restaurant (b) a casino or (c) a hotel?
22) It is well known that Princess William is an Aston Villa fan but not so well known is which London club The Queen supports?
23) By what nickname did her parents call the princess at the time as she couldn’t pronounce Elizabeth?
24) Why does The Queen have a second birthday in June in addition to her official birthday in April?
25) In public The Queen (and other royal family members) are not allowed to eat shellfish, pasta and which vegetable?
26) In what year was The Queen’s ‘Annus Horribilis’?
27) How many grandchildren does The Queen have?
28) Which other language does The Queen speak fluently?
29) How is The Queen woken at 9.00 a.m. every weekday?
30) What profession did Princess Elizabeth train as during World War II?
Tie Breaker: How many portraits has The Queen sat for during her reign?