Ante Post Focus uploaded - Cheltenham Festival 'Wash Up' Days 1 & 2 uploaded - Ryder Cup Ante Post uploaded - Ante Post Focus on Tingle Creek & King George VI Chase uploaded - Naas Monday (start of Irish Flat Turf Season) uploaded - Paul's Blog uploaded
With autumn almost upon us I have outlined what we will be covering on the website in September.
I’ll be looking over all races for Thursday-Saturday for the St Leger Meeting and both days of Irish Champions Weekend. The Wednesday of Doncaster is nothing special with a Listed race the highest quality event, though more prominence is given to the jockey legends (and Luke Harvey) race on that day so it doesn’t feature in the 30 leading days of the Flat Season that I cover. The Friday will be a very busy one for me as I’ll be writing the St Leger card and the Irish Champion Stakes card on the same day. Looking at the attendance figures, the Irish Champions Weekend concept hasn’t taken off, especially with regards to The Curragh on Sunday, unlike the jumps version of the Dublin Racing Festival. What does that tell you?
I will upload Big Race Trends for the leading races of the St Leger Meeting the week beforehand and then Champions Day for the first time before the 15 leading handicaps of the Jumps Season, which I have actually already written this week as there wasn’t a whole lot going on (bar our Silver Wedding anniversary….just in case she reads this!).
The following race previews after Doncaster/Ireland will be for Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe day on the first Sunday in October. I note that given all the stick that Longchamp received last year that they have cut admission prices and added more refreshments and convenience areas. Given those factors and the added incentive of witnessing Enable bidding for an unprecedented third victory in the race, I would expect a bigger UK-based attendance than last year, which was my first visit to Longchamp, and I have to say that it didn’t blow me away. The race falls on my wife’s 50th birthday this year so how do you rate my chances of getting a pass?
Once the Arc is out of the way I will start sending out invites for annual resubscription membership as usual for those of you that joined from the outset back in October 2015, which is the large majority of members. Wow, has it really been four years?
Alan Potts will continue to provide his racecourse notes for the rest of the Flat Season when he is attending but I am sad to report that this will be his last season writing for the website as he has taken the decision to finally properly retire from writing. Actually, he took that decision a good few years ago but I somehow twisted his arm to come out of retirement for the website when I launched it, which he has been doing for us for the last four years, so I very much thank him for all his efforts. I hope that you have also enjoyed his tales, humour, frankness, advice and experience. I am sure that he will keep pointing out my mistakes and be putting me right on a few things! Someone has to! He’s not done yet though for us and will keep providing content until the end of the season.
This hasn’t been my best Flat Season by a long chalk, not aided by slow starts at Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood and the York Ebor Meeting before ending those festivals on a better note. It’s been a little while since I hit on a good winner in the Ante Post Focus column and, for the first time since the website launched, the Horses to Follow column is on course to make a level stakes loss for a Flat Season. I don’t hide away from when things don’t go well just as much as I don’t go overboard about it when we have a strong run. That’s betting and always will be.
Andy Richmond will continue with his Beating The Bias column until the end of September and it will be a hectic next month for him as he also restarts his weekly NFL column on Sunday with an outright preview including looking over all the NFC and AFC divisions. Buckle yourself in for a stats blast! The following weekend he’ll look over Week 1 of the regular season with the aim to upload his weekly preview around noon every Sunday once the team news is in. The timing is good this year as the PGA Season has ended early with the new format so the NFL follows almost straight on.
Ciaran Meagher ended his PGA Season column in profit for the third year running with winning weeks at the BMW and Tour Championship. Once again he did particularly well in the alternative markets, which is where I have long thought that the best golf bets are to be found as I wrote in From Soba To Moldova, and his confident recommendation of Paul Casey for a Top 10 was never in any real doubt after a good start last weekend. Ciaran is back for one more event this year, the PGA at Wentworth which has moved from its usual May slot to September 18-22 and is expected to feature a much higher class field as a consequence.
Ciaran is no fan of matchplay or team golf for betting though so, after a very successful Ryder Cup last year (thank you Mr Molinari), I will be back to cover The President’s Cup. This year, however, it is being hosted in Australia in December so will only be for night owls and I can’t see the American players being bang up for it so the Internationals have a proper chance for a change. The captains will be Tiger Woods and Ernie Els and the last time that the Royal Melbourne Cup hosted the event in 1998 was the last time the Internationals won. In fact, they thumped the Jack Nicklaus-captained Americans 20½-11½ so Tiger might have a job on to motivate his multi-millionaires playing outside of their own continent in the middle of the off-season whereas a number of the Internationals will be keeping their eye in by playing events between now and then. I won’t be smashing into the USA at 2/5 thank you.
With regards to From Soba To Moldova, if anyone wants any more copies to give away to family or friends for just the postage cost rather than the advertised £20, please let me know. After 18 months book sales have unsurprisingly dried up and some of the content is now out of date so I am happy to give the 100 or so I have left gathering dust in my garage away.
Premier League Picks takes a break next week for international matches and then returns weekly plus I will also write my outright preview of the Champions League. Let’s see if we can find another Liverpool at 12/1 like last year. Having recommended the near-17/1 double about Liverpool for the Premier League and Manchester City for the Champions League, I am pleased to see Liverpool at the top in these very early stages and City managing to get an easy group in Europe…..again. Every year.
Paul Smith has been providing sterling work for our benefit on this season’s cricket and he will cover the final two Test Matches of what has been a superb Ashes series. His 7/1 recommendation about Ben Stokes being leading English series runs scorer is in good shape after his sensational knock to rescue the series at Headingley. His 135 not out there means that he is 85 runs ahead of Rory Burns who is, in turn, 66 runs ahead of Joe Root.
I may be on the Aussies at 6/4 to win The Ashes but sometimes the pure joy and excitement of sport means more than any financial interest and once Stokes went on his rampage, alongside the two sensational Champions League semi-final comebacks, his performance (after a brilliant spell of bowling) was bang up there as the most exhilarating sporting moment of the year. And this off the back of his almost equally-improbable innings to win the World Cup. That comment I wrote in the last blog that I was looking for an alternative to Stokes for the Sports Personality of the Year, errrrrrrm, scrub that!!!
We are reaching the half-way point of the US Open Tennis. Is anyone actually still watching this having moved from Sky to Amazon Prime? It’s relatively early days but so far so good with all four of Carl Redden’s recommendations still going strong. Hopefully Denis Shapovalov can win the Third Quarter having been advised at 20/1 to do so as he is now 4/1 to reach at least the semi-finals with Nick Kyrgios the new favourite to win that quarter, and who knows what he’ll do next?! His outright selection to win the Ladies’ tournament at 14/1, Bianca Breenscu, is now a best priced 7/1.
Looking a little further ahead, what else on the sport front? The next Darts coverage will be the World Grand Prix from Dublin which starts on October 6th and, in a quiet year for big fights, Will Steele will return to preview Joshua v Ruiz in that hotbed of boxing talent, Saudi Arabia, in December. In between those dates and after a profitable World Snooker Championship (the first tournament he covered for us), Paul Thompson will be overseeing the first triple crown event of the new season, the UK Championship from York.