Cheltenham Festival Week 11 uploaded - Andy Richmond's Beating The Bias uploaded - General Sports (Sun) uploaded - Weekend Race Previews uploaded - Ante Post Focus (Thyestes) uploaded - Cheltenham Festival Week 10 uploaded
May signals the end of the jumps season, not my best I have to admit, just a so-so season, but we had our moments too.
I was happy enough with how things went up to mid-January but apart from my best ever single day at a Cheltenham Festival on Gold Cup Day and the big-priced winner of the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle Final at Newbury, I was hoping for a better second half. The Jumps Season Service will restart on October 25th.
With regards to the Flat Season, Andy Richmond’s Beating The Bias column commenced two weeks ago, I will be providing Ante Post Focus columns most Wednesdays plus Big Race Trends for Royal Ascot and selected other races and will be covering Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood, York Ebor Meeting, Irish Champions Weekend, Arc Day and Champions Day in full in the Race Previews.
May started well with Ronnie O’Sullivan winning the World Snooker Championship having been recommended at 6/1 by George Weyham following up his successful advice on Mark Selby the previous year. He never looked in any trouble throughout to be fair and it proved to be a stress-less final evening session for his backers. Overall George showed a 24% ROI on his tournament selections and I thank him for his whole season’s work.
With May being the quietest month of the year I’ll be taking my first holiday for three years in the final week so the website won’t be updated for the duration of my break. The last week in May is generally not too exciting from a racing or sport perspective.
Before then however, in addition to the regular weekly columns we will be covering the Eurovision Song Contest, the second golf major of the year in the USPGA Championship and Carl Redden will be previewing the French Open Tennis.
So onto the Eurovision Song Contest for which the final takes place on May 14th and the semi-finals on the 10th and 12th after which I will upload my full preview.
As I have said before it’s a very tricky one this year with Ukraine expected to win the public vote by some way on a wave of sympathy votes which sees them at a best price 8/11 to win the contest. The big question is how large a wave of sympathy votes as 50% of the scores emanate from professional juries and if they are not swayed by events in Ukraine then it may not be enough as their entry is only Top 10 standard in a ‘normal’ Eurovision, which this is clearly not. It is also a well-below-average year quality-wise (don’t snigger) which can aid their cause.
Against Ukraine is that Eurovision bosses don’t want to be hosting the event from Kiev next year and won’t want a geopolitical result regardless so I am not expecting them to be doing the favourites any favours including like giving them a perfect draw. They have already got rid of a previous Ukrainian winner who was set to perform at the show.
With it being 20/1 bar the top four of Ukraine, Italy, Sweden and UK (yes the UK!) and 150/1 bar the top eight, no firm in their right mind should be betting each-way four places in a market that proves to be unerringly accurate for the win and place positions most years but some are and that is where I feel duty bound to get involved.
If there such a thing as an ‘each-way bet to nothing’, with firms that pay down to fourth (especially to ¼ odds - that’s Bet365 and Unibet) then I feel that Sweden are just that and I see them as the ‘professional’ each-way bet of the contest at 5/1+ with ¼ odds. The 13/2 about them with firms betting down to fourth was taken yesterday (best price 6/1 Sky Bet first 4 1/5th odds) after impressing in first rehearsals. There have been plenty of staging problems so far which it is thought in some quarters could play against the hosts and second-favs, Italy, when it comes to jury voting.
People who don’t follow Eurovision follow this hard to believe but I keep arguing that the best song usually wins whereas they think it’s down to politics (and they will certainly be right this year if Ukraine wins!) and I view Sweden’s entry as just that. The stripped-down version is better and amplifies by how much it is the best song as you can see by clicking this link (https://youtu.be/XQwMHLzbNzc) but they are not using that, going for a more upbeat performance which I hope can be good enough. As usual it is a very polished Swedish entry and they are usually never all that far away finishing in the top five in seven of the last ten finals that they have featured in, winning twice.
Also in May we have the end of the football season to look forward to. We have no interest left in the FA Cup for which the final between Liverpool and Chelsea takes place three hours before the Eurovision Song Contest begins (an order a take-away night if I ever saw one!) but our 11/2 about Liverpool winning the Champions League is now a best-priced 8/15 after Real Madrid broke Manchester City’s hearts in a dramatic late turnaround last night which was in the Reds’ favour as they would have been second-favs for May 28th otherwise.
I have my doubts whether Real Madrid can match that form away from the Bernebeu and fancy that this can be Liverpool’s revenge after their defeat at the hands of the Spanish champions in the final four years ago when Karius had the shocker of all shockers between the posts, Bale scored a wonder goal and Sergio Ramos hacked Salah out of the game early on.
Liverpool are now are best price 6/1 with Bet365 to win an unprecedented quadruple having already lifted the Carabao Cup but I am struggling to see Man City not win all four of their final Premier League matches to remain a point ahead and Liverpool have a tricky game against a Champions League-chasing Tottenham on Saturday after a midweek trip to Spain so nothing is guaranteed there.
My main interest of the closing weeks of the PL is the battle to avoid relegation having recommended Leeds at 10/1 to go down and just three weeks later they are now a best price 5/4 for the drop.
We are also coming to the end of the Rugby Union season. Paul Matthew’s main bet for the European Champions Cup, Leinster at 4/1, are now 15/8 as we reach the quarter-finals stage. With regards to the Gallagher Premiership, his pre-season advice on Leicester to finish in the top four in the regular season at 5/1 is all over with them leading the league (and 18 points clear of fourth place) and his double-stakes recommendation on Saracens to lift the trophy at 9/4 is now 5/4.
Well done to Will Steele for yet another profitable Boxing column last month continuing his winning sequence. It may have only been 8/11 for Fury to stop Whyte but it was a very confident recommendation and it always looked likely until ending the bout in the sixth round. The next big fight he will cover will be Joshua v Usyk II set for July but no date has yet to be confirmed.