Weekend Race Previews uploaded - Ante Post Focus (Thyestes) uploaded - Cheltenham Festival Week 10 uploaded - General Sports (Sun) & Sunday Race Previews uploaded - General Sports (Sat) uploaded
Before we take a look at what’s in store on the website for May, a quick look back at April where we enjoyed a good Aintree to follow up a terrific Cheltenham with Minella Times giving us a second winner of the Grand National in four years after Rule The World.
It was all pretty simple really, Rachael Blackmore just sat fifth or sixth most of the way on the inside and was then asked to put the race to bed between the last two fences. Just a normal race really! Which is what the Grand National is becoming following all the modifications and the Henry de Bromhead-trained 8yo became the sixth consecutive winner to be aged 8/9 compared to the previous five winners being aged 10+, so now it’s very much in line with most top handicap chases. That in a nutshell tells us how much difference the modifications have made.
Nice to find the 11/1 winner of course but we were unfortunate not to bag a 33/1 winner of the most famous race in the world as my pre-Christmas each-way recommendation in the weekly Ante Post Focus column, Any Second Now, to my mind would have won had he not been badly hampered on the first circuit but Minella Times was a nice second prize. Our highlight of the meeting though was Tronodor who defied a huge market drift from single-figure prices out to 22/1 (over 30 on the machine) so I hope that members who backed him did so late on or with a firm offering ‘best odds guaranteed’ as he fair bolted up.
As for the other Ante Post Focus columns in April, I don’t feel robbed at all that Enrilo got thrown out by the stewards after ‘winning’ the Bet365 Gold Cup as clearly Kitty’s Light was coming with a winning run until he got broadsided. A week earlier my recommendation of Dingo Dollar only found one too good in the Scottish National, so both horses who passed the post first in the two big season-ending staying handicap chases were novices. Often my go-to angle in the spring. For next season it might also be worth bearing in mind that three of the four horses involved in the finish at Sandown had finished 1-2-3 in the Badger Ales Trophy in the autumn and had been prepared for this prize on similar ground afterwards.
Although it wasn’t part of that column instead appearing in the Cheltenham Festival Wash Up, Milkwood hosed up in the Scottish Champion Hurdle having been a 10/1 ante-post recommendation for that race within that column so we still had a good Scottish Grand National day in addition to other winners on the card.
As for the Punchestown Festival as I write this blog ahead of Day 3, we’ve had a good start with Colreevey and Jazzalong going in at nice prices on Tuesday and Clan des Obeaux was also a good winner on Wednesday. Hopefully we can have a good final three days to finish off what has been a very successful second half of the jumps season in style and I will also be covering both days of the Guineas Meeting this weekend. I wouldn’t say no to a Joseph O’Brien Classic double.
That’s then it for race previews until the big flat festivals but I will be covering the top races in weekly editions of Ante Post Focus including the Derby trying to follow up Serpentine last year and the weekly Royal Ascot Ante Post columns (separate to Ante Post Focus) will start on Tuesday for the next six weeks.
Andy Richmond’s weekly Beating The Bias column highlighting horses to run well against various biases on the flat restarted last week and his first copy has already thrown up a 22/1 success when Rohaan won at Ascot yesterday.
I will be updating my Big Race Trends for all races at Royal Ascot over the coming weeks (now confirmed as 35 races as they are keeping four of the new ones added last year due to Covid, ditching the Silver Hunt Cup and Silver Wokingham thank God, and adding a fillies’ handicap for 4yo+ over 1m) but before then I am providing some trends-related copy for the Chester May Meeting for ATR so will upload the six big races from that three-day meeting on Bank Holiday Monday.
That date is also the finale of the World Snooker Championship. In my previous blog I made my case for Mark Selby at 17/2 who, as I write has just started his semi-final against Stuart Bingham and is a shade of odds-on to win his fourth world crown. George Weyham has been previewing every game for us over the 17 days and he also went with Selby as his sole recommendation so…….come on The Jester From Leicester!
Probably the worst nickname in the sport as it’s been about five years since I last saw him look anything else other than morose. I’ve backed Kyren Wilson for the last four World Championships and he’s in the other semi-final against Shaun Murphy. I’ve not backed him this year so I have a horrible feeling what is coming next! Nicknamed The Warrior, under pressure late on in matches I’ve seen him look more like The Worrier so I hope that’s the case again if it’s a Selby-Wilson final. My many thanks to George who has looked over the leading six tournaments of the season for us in an entertaining manner.
I may have had my best Cheltenham ever this spring but probably my worst ever Masters golf. I didn’t even get a sniff with my recommendations so am hoping for much better in the next Major, the USPGA Championship that takes place between May 20-23. The event is being staged at Kiawah Island, the course on which the Ryder Cup ‘War on the Shore’ was played in 1991, so as I recall it will be a feast for the eyes.
I won’t be watching the third round live though as that of course is Eurovision Song Contest night! Only less than 3½ weeks to go now folks! The Dutch government are allowing an audience of 3,500 people which is one fifth of the Ahoy Arena's capacity. I’ll be covering the Grand Final as usual (on May 21st one day before the final so a day after the second semi-final) and have already tied my colours to the Italian mast in my last blog who were 9/1 then and 6/1 now. I think the market move has been due to reaction from punters who have now seen them perform their entry live, and I have to say I was impressed. So much so that I have gone in again each-way (pays down to fourth now, might be five places in the shops soon).
The relentless football season is coming to a close and we’re still in with a shout with Villareal in the Europa League with my 18/1 recommendation taking on Arsenal in the semi-finals. Rather them than Manchester United or Roma who play in the other semi-final I suppose. PSG are now properly up against it though after their losing their home-leg Champions League semi-final 1-2 to Manchester City. Once my next big project of Eurovision is over, then I’ll start to put together my Euro 2020 preview.
The first part of the Premier League Darts is over and Mike Henderson’s only ante-post recommendation (after Gerwyn Price had to pull out with Covid which left us with no interest in the winner market) was a winning one with Rob Cross finishing in the bottom two. However, we don’t know yet when the PDC plan to organise part two so a case of watch this space.
Carl Redden is gunning for six profitable Grand Slams in a row for us and will be providing his French Open Tennis preview in May. My Roland Garros trends tell me that Rafael Nadal is to be respected in the Men’s Singles. It starts one week later than usual this year starting on May 24th in line with some partial lifting of Covid restrictions in Paris.
With regards to the Sporting Predictions Competition, I will update the leader board once the World Snooker Championship has finished so that will also encompass any points accrued for the Jumps Jockey Championship, Irish Jumps Trainer Championship, 1000 Guineas and 2000 Guineas.