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I hope that your Grand National went better than mine as my three bets gave me no run for my money whatsoever from half-way.
Therefore it certainly wasn’t my year this time whereas the Irish had a Grand National to remember with the 1-2-3-4 on top of a 1-2-3 in the Melbourne Cup, dominating Cheltenham and Aidan O’Brien saddling a world record 26 Group/Grade 1s in a year. It’s the Craven Meeting this week which I am sure will throw up some contenders for my first Horses To Follow column of the season but with the classic trials having already started, it’s worth recalling that O’Brien had eight classic wins in Britain and Ireland last year and, if it wasn’t for the exceptional Enable, then he would have won all ten as he supplied the runner-up in the Oaks and Irish Oaks. That’s worth bearing in mind for ante-post purposes and his Mendelssohn and Gustav Klimt have already impressed this month.
My concern with Tiger Roll before yesterday’s race was whether he would get round and, in victory, he became only the second winner from the Cheltenham Festival to win the Grand National during the same season since 1961. Seagram being the other since Nicolaus Silver. A heck of a guide that Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival is turning into as in addition to Tiger Roll (Bless The Wings was third in the GN after he ran in the Cross Country), Gordon Elliott also ran Silver Birch and Causes Of Causes in it before they finished first and second in the Grand National and Balthazar King only found one too good at Aintree after he won the Cross Country.
The main factor that I will take away from this year’s meeting however, aside from already having backed Santini at 14/1 for the RSA Chase (what a specimen he is) after he showed guts to go along with class when winning the Sefton, is to follow my advice in From Soba To Moldova into next year’s meeting where I highlighted on Page 46 how previous form at the Grand National Meeting is not factored enough into the analysis, unlike previous Cheltenham Festival form is come the second week of March. Ultragold (14/1), Lalor (14/1), Finian’s Oscar (5/2) and Might Bite (4/5) underlined that point by winning at the Grand National Meeting for the second year running plus the Melling Chase winner Politologue (11/1) was the moral winner of the Maghull last year until taking a false step one stride after taking the final fence perfectly. In addition, Balnaslow (11/2) went one place better in the Foxhunters’ than a year earlier.
On Wednesday I will be covering the Scottish Grand National in Ante-Post Focus and later this week I will be uploading a general punting interview with Alan Potts covering all kinds of betting angles. We conducted the interview about a fortnight before Cheltenham but it has been a manic time since then and finally this week I’ll get the chance to finish it for you to read. If you enjoyed the left-field thinking in his most recent blog, then you’ll enjoy and learn plenty from this.
Also later this week I will be uploading the Punchestown Festival race trends for their main 14 races before I cover every race of all five days next week which will bring to an end the Jumps Season Service. If any Jumps Season members wish to upgrade to the All-Inclusive Service with a big summer of sport ahead (including the World Cup and Ryder Cup this year) in addition to covering the top 30 days of the Flat Season, please drop me a line.
If Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins, who had 15 winners between them at the Cheltenham Festival and fought out the finish to both the Grand National and Irish National, can serve up another treat and take the Irish Trainers’ Championship down the wire like last year, then we are in for a special five days. I just feel that Mullins has too much to peg back this time, though that said, if he and Elliott notch up the same prize money as at last year’s meeting then he will retain his title. Elliott has more firepower for the meeting this year than last however and Michael O’Leary wants to see him win it big time.
Whilst all that is taking place I will continue to beaver my way through the 42 Eurovision Song Contest entries. I have heard most of them more than once already and pretty much know who I want to back and it isn’t the short-priced favourite, Israel, with their version of The Chicken Song. In fact, it is likely that I will give my early betting Eurovision advice in the next week with a preview of just the leading hopes before my main overall preview during the week of the event. The Grand Final takes place on May 12th.
With regards to the upcoming sport, it’s the F A Cup semi-finals next weekend so there will be no Premier League Picks but Mike Henderson has a double-header this week with Weds/Thurs action in the Premier League Darts so he will be previewing the two days of action together from Rotterdam on Wednesday. I will be covering the World Snooker Championship which kicks off on Saturday and Ciaran Meagher returns with the next Golf preview on May 1st which is a run of five consecutive weeks of golf coverage (Wells Fargo, Players’ Championship, Byron Nelson, PGA Championship and The Memorial) before a week’s gap and then the US Open. Carl Redden will also be returning to cover his favourite part of the Tennis year, the Clay Season, which will be starting shortly leading up to the French Open.
After a winter break my next Sports Quiz will take place on Friday so I will upload it in the Odds and Sods section next weekend. Mail me if you like the answers sent afterwards. Like I said in the last blog, it’s a busy old time of the year, but great fun.