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.
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November Schedule & Breeders' Cup Thoughts

1/11/21

A happy All Saints Day to you all. A day of mixed emotions for the family as it’s my son’s 21st birthday so we’ll be celebrating that landmark (he still has no plans to move out!) but it would also have been my dad’s 90th birthday today for which he was planning a party before he passed away in the summer so we’ll be visiting the cemetery this afternoon.

October is usually one of the quieter months for the website but with the jumps season now in full gear it picks up again in November. The highlight was keeping the faith with Sealiway (14/1) in the Champion Stakes after he was my big-priced fancy for the Arc and we’ve made a good start to the jumps season with my Thought of the Day selection, Orbys Legend (15/2), winning the Silver Trophy, Allmankind was a 7/1 ante-post recommendation ahead of winning the Old Roan Chase, many a winner of the two-day Cheltenham Meeting was flagged up in the race previews and hopefully some of you added Larry at a top morning price at 16/1 to win the London Bateaux Gold Cup as my e/w alternative to my ante-post pick of Johnbb who took an early and sadly, fatal, fall.

I went on one of those London Bateaux Thames Dinner Cruises three years ago and highly recommended it is too. Should the owners be reading this, you can catch me on my email provided on the website to send on complimentary tickets for the plug!

Week 1 of the Cheltenham Festival column was uploaded six days ago with an opening recommendation. I like to get one column in early before Week 2 which is uploaded on the Tuesday following the Cheltenham November Meeting from which point that service then goes weekly.

The feature race of that meeting is the Paddy Power Gold Cup. The entries were made last week as they were for the Ladbrokes Trophy which I have a much better punting record in and I’ll be covering both races in the Ante Post Focus columns on the horizon as well as a very early recommendation for the Grand National. All three races featured in my Big Race Trends column uploaded last month featuring the top 20 handicaps of the jumps season.

We are not yet done with the flat season however and I’ll be covering the best of Day 2 of The Breeders’ Cup in the weekend Race Previews column on Friday along with Wincanton, Naas, Navan and Aintree for which the Grand Sefton over the Grand National fences has been moved forward a meeting to bolster the Saturday card.

I am not expecting to match last year’s set of results at Keeneland with 14/1, 8/1, 9/2 and 3/1 winners from five races covered (no I didn’t do a Lucky 31!), or come anywhere close to it, but I’ll be settled down for the night to watch the action from Del Mar, which this year ITV are also covering.

The only Breeders’ Cup that I have attended was at Del Mar four years ago (the sole track I’ve attended with a table tennis tournament taking place in the centre of the course at the same time) when five of the Saturday winners were returned at 66/1, 40/1, 20/1, 14/1 and 12/1 so the sharpness of the course led to many a surprise winner and I’d advise keeping a very open mind. If your horse wasn’t positioned relatively close to the pace for that sharp course by BC standards with a short home straight (and what looks a tight final bend to my eyes) then you were all but dead in the water.

To remind myself I re-watched the last Breeders’ Cup that was held at Del Mar yesterday and in the four turf races which take place on the inside of the dirt course on Day 2 back in 2017 (Sprint, Mile, Filly & Mare Turf and Turf), all four winners raced no further back than sixth place with three hugging the inside rail until angled out for a run after rounding the home bend. As indeed did Mendelssohn when winning the Juvenile Turf the previous day. As for the dirt races, the 1-2-3 in the Classic occupied those places throughout and the winners of the Juvenile and Sprint were no further back than third from early on so this looks a night for in-running punters.  

I wonder therefore if ‘our’ best two chances of Space Blues and Tarnawa will be ridden closer to the pace than for their most impressive successes in the Prix de la Foret and BC Turf respectively? I’ll admit to not being up to speed with the Americans at present but plan an assault on the meeting this week watching the key trials, checking out the Attheraces Breeders’ Cup microsite and listening to various podcasts to help educate me and get me in the mood.

Despite Medina Spirit being later disqualified from the Kentucky Derby with a banned substance found in his system, Bob Baffert has been allowed to have runners at the meeting but at an increased level of testing and at his own expense, and Medina Spirit is on course for a fascinating Breeders’ Cup Classic despite the absence of European runners. Disappointingly the French only have two entries for the full meeting. I used to love concentrating on their runners year after year.

I have next to zero interest, however, in tomorrow’s Melbourne Cup with so little European interest so it’ll be the Haldon Gold Cup I’ll be making reference to instead tomorrow in the Thought of the Day where I’ll give my pick.

Onto the sport and we are nine days into the Super 12s section of the T20 Cricket World Cup. I must admit that I haven’t caught much of it outside of England’s games. With the pre-tournament favourites, India, now out to 33/1 and the reigning title holders, West Indies, pushed right out to 66/1, neither look like reaching the semi-finals. That’s good news for those who followed Paul Smith in with his headline selection of New Zealand who are now into 5/1 (from 7/1) and his back-up, smaller-stakes recommendation of South Africa who are into 9/1 (from 14/1). Now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty of qualification from the group stages I’ll endeavour to watch more of it. Paul will return for the semi-finals onwards.

Eight weeks have passed in the NFL season so we are almost at the half-way point of the regular season. So far so good with Andy Richmond’s pre-season 12/1 recommendation of the Buffalo Bills who are now the favourites at a general 5/1.

After providing a very successful World Grand Prix for us last month with six winners out of six in the round-by-round columns between Evens and 7/2, Mike Henderson is back to cover the final big darts tournament before the World Championship with the Grand Slam of Darts starting on November 13th. That’s the one where BDO players join the PDC for a week with first section being a round robin group phase.

Two days later it is the start of the Champion of Champions tournament, the first of seven snooker events that George Weyham will cover for us up to and including the World Championship. I’m looking forward to attending some snooker days this season starting with the English Open that begins today at nearby Milton Keynes where I’ll be there for last-16 day on Thursday. In yesterday’s Thought of the Day I made by case for the new streamlined John Higgins at 12/1.

Onto Rugby Union and the Autumn Series games are all stand-alone matches this year so there is less betting potential than when it was a mini competition last season. Paul Matthew will take a look at the some of the games throughout the month. His pre-season Gallagher Premiership recommendations are so far looking in good shape, notably Leicester to finish in the Top 4 at 11/2 who are 7-7 and lead the table by as much as eight points already.

I gave a quarterly update on my pre-season Premier League recommendations last week and it’s the usual mix of some good and some not-so-good positions. I didn’t mind seeing Manchester City and Liverpool drop points at home on Saturday for the bets involving Chelsea.

Well done to Will Steele who made it four profitable Boxing columns in succession for us last month recommending Fury to KO Wilder at 10/11 following up Usyk to beat Joshua on points at 4/1 and, pre-Covid, Fury to beat Wilder at Evens and Joshua to beat Ruiz on points at 4/1. Will's next column will be previewing Joseph Parker v Derek Chisora on December 18th which is more closely matched than big fights beforehand including Canelo Alvarez and Terence Crawford who are 1/8 and 1/6 favourites respectively. If you enjoy your boxing I can recommend I Am Duran which is available on Sky Documentaries currently.

With just six events to be played out in the Sporting Predictions Competition, it has really tightened up at the top with just four points covering the top four positions and we have a new leader in Stuart Watson. I have included the selections of the top ten made way back in early January so those leaders can see where they stand following the competition to its conclusion.

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