HAPPY NEW YEAR and let’s make it a profitable one. Why a baked bean tin I hear you say? Well, the regular punters amongst you will realise one of the accumulator bets that all bookmakers offer is a Heinz, one up from a Canadian, two up from a Yankee and comprises of six selections with 57 bets (hence the name). My intention is to tip six different ante-post selections over the coming months to hopefully make us millionaires this time next May (Del Boy).
So here are my speculative selections and just to put you in the spirit, the accumulator alone (should it ever happen) pays £804,684 for a £1 stake!!! Add up all the doubles and trebles etc. etc. and you can at least double that amount. Surely it has got to be worth a £1 stake (£57) or even a 10p stake (£5.70) that will change your life – and all information for free! But if it does win I like Bollinger champagne and Beluga caviar.
OK, on with the selections.
Leg 1: BARCELONA at 11/4 for the Champions League. Now that the draw for the last 16 has been made, the competition begins in earnest and they now have in their ranks in addition to Messi, Neymar, Suarez et al, the addition from Atletico Madrid, now that the transfer embargo has ceased, of Turan. No team has ever successfully defended the Champions League – this year someone will and that is the Catalan giants.
Leg 2: SEATTLE SEAHAWKS at 9/1 for the Superbowl. They are highly unlikely to pip the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West but the bang in form Seahawks can qualify for post season action via the wildcard route. They are just coming into the type of form that has seen them reach the last two Superbowls and personally I think the NFC is between them and the Cardinals and, importantly, NOT the Panthers who are currently unbeaten. When it comes to what it takes to win a Superbowl, Seattle have all the experience, all the nous and all the offensive and defensive destructive elements.
Leg 3: SEVILLE at 16/1 for the Europa League. Now that the third placed teams in the Champions League initial group stage have been added to the Europa League we have reached the final 32. Some of Europe’s premier teams are now in this competition, namely Dortmund, Liverpool, Spurs and Man U together with Napoli, Porto and Fiorentina so this year it is going to be a hard competition to win. What better than to back a team that has won it for the last two years and four times in the last ten and who has an historic association with the competition. It is a source of Andalucian pride to win this competition and the 16/1 on offer represents great value.
Leg 4: JASON DAY at 8/1 for the Masters. Assuming his vertigo is behind him and judging on the end to 2015 it is, Jason Day represents fantastic value in golf’s first major. The Masters of Augusta is only won by the game’s elite, whether it’s course form, smaller select field, tricky – nay impossible – fast greens on the stip meter but Jason Day certainly has the temperament, the putting ability and the downright balls to win. I think 2016 will pan out between Speith, McIlroy, Day and Fowler who will divide up the major golf tournaments and Day is my tip for Augusta.
Leg 5: FAUGHEEN at 7/4 for the Champion Hurdle. There will be a whole raft of Cheltenham tips in the February issue and also one separate bet later in this article which just simply has to be taken up, but my tip for Leg 5 is last year’s Champion Hurdle winner Faugheen. Until a few weeks ago, the Beast, as he is affectionately known, was trading at even money for the highlight of day one at Cheltenham, but then he was unexpectedly beaten by his stable companion Nichols Canyon on his seasonal debut. He doesn’t become a bad horse overnight and I have no hesitation in making him my Mullins banker from his mighty battalions at this stage.
Leg 6: CRYSTAL PALACE at 50/1 for the FA Cup. A bit fanciful I accept, but how else are we going to boost our Acca into stratospheric heights. They are riding high in the Premiership without a realistic hope of winning it, a talented group of players, a manager who will target this prize as an achievable objective and, more importantly, a team that is capable of winning away from Selhurst Park. They have a difficult Third Round draw but if they survive Southampton away they represent fantastic value. I accept by the time you read this copy they may well be out and on that basis make your Leg 6 West Ham United at similar odds. They should have accounted for Wolves but in the event both teams fail to qualify for the Fourth Round then our Heinz becomes a Canadian with 26 bets rather than 57.
Away from the life-changing Heinz, and as mentioned above, one bet caught my eye for Cheltenham in March. That is Hills and Bet365 are offering 20/1 on Willie Mullins winning all four of the Championship races at the Festival. Consider the implications. In the Champion Hurdle he runs the market leader Faugheen along with Nichols Canyon (currently second favourite) for the Festival opener. In the Champion Chase he has the much-vaulted Un de Seaux as the even-money favourite. In the Gold Cup, although Coneygree is currently the 5/1 favourite, he can run Vautour, Djakadam and Valseur Lido all of which are in single figure prices and in the World Hurdle (the third leg) although at the moment not holding many of the aces, in a competitive marketplace with 10/1 the field at present, his representatives could include Annie Power, Vroum Vroum Mag and Nichols Canyon should his engagement be moved. The last two years at Cheltenham has seen Willie Mullins win the trainer’s title and his battalions will certainly be primed for March. I think 20/1 for your money is a nice interest for a small stake.
The first Sunday in February sees the culmination of the NFL season – Superbowl 50, this year at Santa Clara on America’s west coast. As stated in my Heinz I fancy Seattle’s west coast offense to prevail in California, but who will they meet from the AFC? My two picks now that most of the post-season action has settled down are the PITTSBURGH STEELERS and the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS who are widely available at 25/1 and 33/1 respectively. Sure they have got to overcome the wildcard round as both cannot win their division and that means going to either Foxboro (the Patriots) or Denver or Cincinnati but I think both are capable of winning on the road.
Finally, although the PDC Darts will have been decided by the time this article is read, the lesser PDO Darts World Championship will be in full swing. Last year’s new sensation, GLEN DURRANT, is now more acclimatised to televised darts on the oche having achieved breakthrough wins in 2015 with two major titles. I think the world crown at Frimley Green will be his next success and at 11/4 in what is, let’s be honest, a secondary event, is well worth taking.
All prices are correct at the time of going to press.
In the February issue we will concentrate on Cheltenham. Until next time.