Weekend Race Previews uploaded - World Snooker Preview in General Sport, Mark Ball Blog & Premier League Darts (Thurs) uploaded - Scottish National in Ante-Post Focus & Premier League Darts (Weds) uploaded - Andy Richmond's Beating The Bias uploaded
And so ends another jumps season. After a quiet opening day and a half for us, it turned out to be an okay Punchestown Festival in the end with Sizing Granite at 14/1 being the highlight (the rationale is listed at the top of the ‘View Example Copy’ in the right-hand menu) and I know that some members also took an each-way chance on Wicklow Brave at a morning price of 18/1 on a good Day 4 for us, plus Saturday’s results were also positive in the main.
Something remarkable will have to happen to stop Ann & Alan Potts from winning the owner of the year awards come December after their silks were carried to victory on a staggering ten occasions between the Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown Festivals. It’s not as if they have anywhere near the same number of horses as Gigginstown or J P McManus. I’m not sure that their Sizing John would be my horse of the season though. Some will argue that I am being harsh but I think that he’s been fortunate in that the staying chase division opened up for him with the absence of so many stars, just like it did for Best Mate who also was a two-miler the previous season and a 7yo when winning his first Gold Cup taking advantage of an era with a lack of high-quality rivals. I’d give the horse of the season mantle to Many Clouds on his defeat of Thistlecrack, who I’d see as next season’s most likely Gold Cup winner if he stays sound.
Vyta Du Roc would have been a fantastic way to end to the season having been my each-way recommendation for the Bet365 Gold Cup when he was a double-figure priced contender a few days earlier so, not only was it galling to get chinned by the 40/1 outsider of the field, but to then read that Daryl Jacob admitted that he was riding for the second winning post really stuck the knife in! This week’s Ante-Post Focus on Wednesday will concentrate on the 1000 and 2000 Guineas where I like a couple of 16/1+ shots.
Yes, the Flat Season is now well and truly here and Minding makes her seasonal reappearance in the Mooresbridge Stakes tomorrow. She could be on target for the Queen Anne Stakes which is building up to being a blinder this season as could also feature Ribchester, Solow and Galileo Gold. The first of the six weekly Royal Ascot Ante-Post columns starts on May 15th.
The first of the 30 days that I am covering in the Race Previews for the Flat as part of The All-Inclusive Service will be 2000 Guineas Day on Friday. Having been away the week before last and then concentrating on Punchestown last week, I’ll be having a proper look back at the Craven and Greenham Meetings plus the best of the early action in Ireland and France over the next couple of days ahead of the restart of the Horses to Follow column later this week.
The other main focus for me this week is wading through all the Eurovision Song Contest songs again (the final takes place on May 13th) and making a start on writing the preview. It’s not the punting event for me that it was once as bookmakers and punters are far more clued up with what is required these days but the victories of Ukraine in 2004 and Greece in 2005 (better known as the ethno-pop era when I had an ear for what was required then) remain my biggest and third-biggest wins on any event. Italy are the hot favourites this year but my idea of the best song on first listening was that representing Portugal - a real marmite ‘love it or hate it song and performance’. That doesn’t mean I will back them though as there are many factors involved in that process, one of which of course being who on earth picks up the phone and votes for the Portuguese? Incredibly, Portugual have never posted even a top-five performance in 48 attempts and that includes the many years with around only 12 countries entering.
Onto the sport and, after a couple of weeks off and coming out quits with his RBC Heritage recommendations, Ciaran Meagher returns with his Golf column on Tuesday to cover the Wells Fargo Championship and then we’re into The Players’ Championship at Sawgrass the following week, the so-called Fifth Major which went well for us last year.
After successfully recommending Rafa Nadal to win the Monte Carlo Masters at 11/4, Carl Redden will return with his latest Tennis content next weekend to preview the next major clay-court tournament, the Madrid Open which starts on May 7th as we build up to the French Open minus the pregnant Serena Williams. After passing on his dose of man-flu to me, I know that he has his eye on a couple of big-priced contenders in her absence.
My Football selections continue to go well having extended our profits for the season since the last blog and we’re in good shape for the pre-season Premier League bets and the in-running Champions League recommendations too with both Madrids making the making semi-finals. Unfortunately they will play each other at that stage but at least we are guaranteed a finalist at either 5/1 or 6/1.
Paul Smith will return with his Cricket column next month as the ICC Champions Trophy gets underway on May 26th and this year is being held in England. The hosts have been drawn in Group A alongside Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh with Group B featuring India, South Africa, Pakistan and the West Indies so there are no mickey-mouse games in this eight-team tournament unlike the World Cup. Paul had a successful time of it in 2016 for us with profitable previews of the T20 World Cup and the England v Pakistan summer series and he’ll be covering the Test Series against South Africa and The Ashes for us in a big 2017 for cricket fans.
Mike Henderson has his nose in front after the first 13 weeks of the Premier League Darts and will be hoping to ram that advantage home as we now approach the business end of the event that continues on Thursday.
Since the last blog, a General Election has been called (just in case you missed it) so Adam Hewson will be looking after the Politics betting advice for us over the coming weeks and he has already nominated a couple of recommendations to become the next Labour leader. I therefore don’t think that he’s expecting an upset in who forms the next government!
No good in the Snooker. Kyren Wilson and Stephen Maguire teased me at big prices by making it to the quarter finals but both came up short. I tweeted half-way through the semi-finals that Mark Selby wins on Monday with a session to spare. That’s probably pushing it but I do see him overcoming the handicap.