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.
  • The Jumps Season Service will return for 2024/25 in late October

A Winter's Tale


Plenty of interest over the next seven days as it’s Eurovision, Chester May Meeting, Champions League Semi Finals and Players’ Championship week.

I’ll be waiting to see both semi-finals before making any final decisions on the Eurovision Song Contest as the staging is important and then I will upload the preview on Friday evening. I see that the Portuguese entry that I nominated as the best song in this year’s extravaganza in the previous blog, and regardless what you think about the quality of the songs it is one hell of a television production, is now into as low as 6/1 second-favourites having been 16/1 last week.

That’s maybe not as big a gamble as the one landed by my 12/1 ante-post recommendation for the 1000 Guineas, Winter, who returned at 9/1 but was 33/1 a week earlier, but it might end up being so if it continues to shorten. As there is no obvious big race this weekend, there will be no Ante-Post Focus this Wednesday but the first of the six Royal Ascot Ante-Post columns will start next Monday. The next fixture that I am covering at the overnight stage is the Derby Meeting.

I’ll be watching the better action from Chester but there’s a lot of run-of-the-mill racing over the three days so it won’t catch my attention as much as next week’s Dante Meeting will. I backed Magic Circle ante-post for the Cesarewitch last season but he ended up running in the Irish November Handicap and ran a cracker from a wide draw to finish third so I might have to give him another chance in the Chester Cup, though from a wide draw again which ensures it will have to be each-way. Ignore his seasonal return as he was held up in last place in a slowly-run race that would have been prep for this. There is a big staying handicap in him this season.

The Derby picture is looking quite murky to me and today’s Prix Greffulhe didn’t throw up any clues either and after there was nothing to separate the 1-2-3 in the Leopardstown Trial so hopefully it will look clearer by the end of York. I agree with Tom Segal in his Derby Pricewise piece today that there is a better chance than many pundits reckon that Churchill will run, even if only two of the stable’s seven previous 2000 Guineas winners were sent to Epsom. The Oaks looks much more interesting at this stage.

Ciaran Meagher will be covering The Players’ Championship this week, golf’s unofficial fifth major. Last year I suggested Francesco Molinari for Top European on a course that he enjoys which hit the jackpot at 40/1 and my each-way recommendation is exactly the same advice when the layers price that same market up again with the Italian having shown up very well in the first three rounds of the Wells Fargo last week. I can see him being quite well tipped up at big prices so it might be best to get on early if you agree with me. Sergio Garcia at 18/1 would be my pick in the outright market.

The Champions League semi-finals second legs should be straightforward enough with Real Madrid and Juventus holding comfortable leads. Hopefully our 5/1 about Real Madrid will be realised but I thought that Juve looked pretty darn good winning in Monaco, even if I’ve been to wakes with more astmosphere. I’m still chastising myself for not recommending West Ham to beat Spurs at 9/1 having stated in the Thought of the Day that Tottenham were no 1/3 shots, instead suggesting the draw. Still, we came out just about level for this week’s Premier League Picks with Swansea beating Everton so remain +25 points for the season. At least Chelsea are now all but home and dry.

In other sport, Carl Redden has already previewed ATP Madrid for us on the next stop on the clay court season schedule and given his outright fancy and Mike Henderson, who was 3/4 from his selections last week, returns on Wednesday to cover the Premier League Darts. Incidentally, if you missed it, Peter Wright beat Michael van Gerwen 6-0 in the final of the European Grand Prix in Germany yesterday. Interesting.

Andy Richmond’s Beating This Bias restarted properly today and will now be a regular Monday feature. Alan Potts ended his French Imports column last week but will be providing more generic blogs from now on. Don’t expect him to hold back!!!

My first Horses to Follow for the Flat season was uploaded last week and will be a Thursday column in the main. It won’t be every week during the season or else we’ll end up with 100 horses in the Live List but at this important stage of the season it will be weekly in the run up to Royal Ascot.

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