Six Nations (outright) in General Spots uploaded - NFL Divisional Playoffs Part 2 & Sunday Race Previews uploaded - NFL Divisional Playoffs Part 1 uploaded - Saturday Race Previews uploaded - Ante Post Focus uploaded - Cheltenham Festival Week 10 & Australian Open uploaded
We lost our dad last week. At the age of 89 and suffering from COPD this was not unexpected but hard to accept all the same. I have so much to thank him for and alongside my grandfather they introduced me to horse racing which has been my life passion ever since.
He was a Saturday-only, small-time punter whose standard bet was five horses in cross doubles and as a child I remember that whenever he had a good winning day he would then treat us all to a Chinese Take Away in the evening. Being a proud Welshman there was many a Hywel Davies-ridden horse that featured in his bets which included Last Suspect when he won the Grand National in 1985 at 50/1, which I’d say was his biggest winner.
I also remember him backing Germany to win the Eurovision Song Contest at 16/1 when Nicole won with A Little Peace in 1982 and, of course, the resulting curry that followed the next night! This was the first Eurovision that I recall so you have him to thank/blame with my obsession with it since!
Down the years of writing The Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide I made references to him now and again and I still remember how after Dawn Run won the Christmas Hurdle he exclaimed “Bloody Gaye Brief” as his first three legs had won and then his Wayward Lad went and won the King George. He was odds-on being the reigning Champion Hurdler. And did he not like Lester Piggott! Seemingly every time he backed him he got beat but The Long Fellow was always the on other one when his horse was beaten in a photo finish.
Two years ago I sat down with him over a number of sessions to help write his life story which was then printed in book format for his friends and family. The intention was that it was meant to be a surprise to give away at his funeral as a keepsake rather than an order of service but he was so pleased with it that he wanted to see people's reactions. I could see the whole process giving him a boost whilst we were putting it together which was then doubled upon the feedback he received from all who read it. The whole experience of putting his lifestory together for him is something that I will always cherish. Dad was a very kind, gentle man who was much loved and will be greatly missed.
On a far brighter note, last week I also learned that I am to become a first-time grandad. As one family generation era came to a close (my dad was the youngest of 16 siblings) another begins. It’s a strange feeling as in spirit I feel like I am only around 30. I am not sure the old bones agree with that though!
Royal Ascot proved to be a mixed bag for us with a good start on Day 1 with Lope Y Fernandez without Palace Pier and then Berkshire Shadow (who was backed down from 20/1 to 11/1) in the opening two races and a very strong finish with an excellent set of results on Day 5 with a host of winners but bar Subjectivist in the Gold Cup it was a struggle in between. Although not my biggest priced winner over the five days, my personal highlight was indeed Subjectivist and I fully expect him to confirm placings with Stradivarius in the Goodwood Cup.
Glorious Goodwood (July 27-31) will be the main racing focus on the website for this month and also be the next full set of race previews, though I will give some thoughts on the major races at the Newmarket July Meeting (July 8-10) in Ante Post Focus next week after covering the Coral-Eclipse in yesterday’s column. That midsummer meeting at HQ wasn’t advertised to form part of the big days’ schedule for me to cover this Flat Season and the funeral also takes place during the meeting.
Andy Richmond’s Beating The Bias continues to highlight a steady flow of nice-priced winners and Rohaan was at it yet again when becoming the first three-year-old to win the Wokingham since 1987. He couldn’t do it again in the July Cup could he? It is certainly shaping up to being the most fascinating running of the race for many years.
As for the rest of July outside of the Newmarket July Meeting, Glorious Goodwood and the King George which I covered in Ante Post three weeks ago, where do we start?
Depending on your preference, the sporting highlight of this month outside of racing could be any of the quarter-finals stages onwards of Euro 2020, the first week of the Olympic Games, the second week of Wimbledon, The Open Championship, British & Irish Lions’ Tour of South Africa, World Matchplay Darts or the final two weeks of the Tour de France. Maybe a good job then that our two weeks’ family cruise (should have been leaving on Saturday) was cancelled a few months ago! An early heads up, as a replacement I think we’ll be heading somewhere for ten days at the start of December to make up for two lost years of a summer break.
In my last blog I highlighted that I had identified a bet that would have won at all of the last ten UEFA European Championships to give it its official title. Now that bet can be extended to 11. The good old 0-0 at half-time in every team’s first time when they are playing cagey at the beginning of the tournaments came up trumps in as many as 8 of the 12 games resulting in a 7 points profit if blinding backing it for all dozen matches as suggested. My other recommendations outside of that in Euro 2020 have been pretty awful and whether it’s a winning or losing tournament is now going to depend on how far my pre-tournament 28/1 each-way recommendation of Denmark go. They are now into 10/1 and I like their chances of beating the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals.
Carl Redden’s run of five consecutive profitable Grand Slams came to an end at Roland Garros last month and as I write three days into Wimbledon, four of his six ante-post recommendations are standing with his 250/1 outsider (also advised her for her quarter) having been eliminated. Roberto Bautista Agut’s chances of winning his quarter (pre-tournament 10/1) have certainly been enhanced with the favourite in that section of the draw, Stefanos Tsitsispas, knocked out on the opening day.
Two of my three outright each-way selections for the US Open hit the frame so it was a steady third ‘Major’ of the season. The fourth, The Open Championship, takes place between July 15-18 at Royal St George’s. The last time I covered The Open before Ciaran took over was the year when Henrik Stenson won when he was one of my two outright selections, so will be hoping for a similar outcome.
The summer highlight of the darting calendar is the World Matchplay from Blackpool which is widely regarded as the second most prestigious tournament of the year and Mike Henderson will be on hand to cover the event which starts on July 17th.
Well done to Paul Matthew who found Bristol at 25/1 to win the Gallagher Premiership Regular Season and he will return to cover the three test matches between the British & Irish Lions and South Africa, the first of which takes place on July 24th.
I did not have the chance to write my intended Tour de France preview at the end of last week but on the morning of the Grand Depart I gave my view in the Thought of the Day that I fancied a Slovenian smash up with Tadej Pogacar (7/4) the most likely winner and my preference over the similarly-priced Primoz Roglic. With that pair being so far clear of the rest in my view, I later added there was some 7/2 floating about in the straight forecast market. Just five days in and the race already looks as good as over with heavy falls for Roglic and Thomas to the extent that Pogacar is now a best-priced 4/11. In short he just needs to stay on his bike to retain his title.
With regards to the Olympic Games, I enjoy the athletics in the second week but wouldn’t be on top of it. In terms of what I’ll cover for the website I’ll stick with what I know so golf and road cycling and hopefully Carl can guide us on the tennis.