THE DRAW IS OUT FOR THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PROPER, but for Europe’s elite clubs it is largely irrelevant as come the knockout stages the likes of Spain’s big two, the Germans of Munich, Italy’s Old Lady, the big money bucks of Paris and a smattering of Premier League sides will form the bulk of the ﬁnal 16, and it is to La Belle France, with the recently acquired transfer of the Brazilian Neymar for 222 million euros from Barca to PSG that our initial investment goes and at a GENERAL 8/1, they represent tremendous value.
Let’s be clear, PSG is loaded with talent with the sum of the parts far more important than one lone player (indeed if Barca were to acquire Courtinho from Liverpool to replace Neymar I think there is little diﬀerence). But this year the Champions League will go to France much as next year’s World Cup might easily end up in Paris. No other bet appeals at this initial stage and my next communique on the matter will be at the last 16 stage. On to matters closer to home and now that the Premier League has seen its ﬁrst couple of games, alarm bells should certainly be ringing in Newcastle and Swansea.
I have already advised Mark Hughes for the sack race, but on a team’s footing I think 2018 will see not only Rafa Benetiz walking from his job due to the lack of investment by Mike Ashley but also now that (and I know you don’t want to hear this, Anthony of Panda Motors) Everton have acquired Swansea’s one and only standout player in Gylﬁ Sigurdsson, the season will be oh so long for the Swans.
The prices for relegation are respectively 7/2 FOR THE TOON AND 9/4 FOR SWANSEA, both of which should be backed as both may go down! And the likes of Burnley and Huddersﬁeld and Brighton might just survive. It’s NFL time! The jamboree that is America’s favourite game begins in early September. Readers of this column will no doubt remember that back in June I advocated a small punt on perennial underachievers and bottomoftheclass participants –the CLEVELAND BROWNS–at 500/1.
Yes, 500/1. And the beauty of 500/1 is you don’t have to outlay an awful lot of money to get a fantastic return. They are currently without ball being thrown 125/1 but I still think there is juice in that price. But aside from that in Superbowl LII (52 for those not familiar with Latin) I think last year’s heartbreak losers the ATLANTA FALCONS will triumph.
History shows that the losing ﬁnalists in the previous year’s Superbowl rarely qualify for the Superbowl the following season but the manner of their loss to the Pats in conceding 28 points in the last quarter was heartbreaking for all to see and at odds of between 14 and 16/1 they are my headline tip.
My second choice is the old black and silver of the Raiders who are deﬁnitely on an upward curve. Now called OAKLAND RAIDERS they will always be the Mean Machine, the nastiest most violent physical footballing side of LA and at odds of 20/1 they simply have to be backed. Until next time, good punting.
IT’S THE FOOTY SEASON AGAIN! And regular readers will know I always put down my fancies in an antepost Yankee before a ball has been kicked. Last year I highlighted Chelsea (13/2), Brighton (14/1) who lost the Championship with the last kick of the season, Bolton (16/1) who were promoted but not as champions and Portsmouth (4/1) who were last day winners. This year let’s try and do better. Football aficionados will notice the logos opposite and will already know my tips and below is my reason for picking them, but for the uninitiated my four fancies are…
A £1 win Yankee (which costs £11) will net you a return of £6,290 at the advised prices which are available today. Obviously a £10 win Yankee will net you ten times this amount but I believe a working man’s outlay of £11 will bring you a champagne return of an amount substantially over six grand! Here is the case for the prosecution in bullet points.
So there we have it, my sixgrand Yankee. Please look out for the handicaps which as of today haven’t yet been formulated but could supply a return on these teams. Readers of last month’s column will know I highlighted Brighton & Hove Albion to make an immediate return to the Championship (again you will remember l tipped up Sunderland for relegation, finishing bottom this time last year. And on that vein here is my sporting choice for the sack race which sadists amongst us (and let’s be honest, we all have a sadistic streak if we’re a gambler!) might choose to have a sporting wager upon. But on who? Well at 12/1 I would have more than a few quid on Mark Hughes at Stoke. The fans are dissatisfied and I think their expectation is higher than the analysts’.
Penultimately, my shrewd Leicester City diehard fan has convinced me that Leicester under their very shrewd owners are going to have a stellar season and at 9/1 for a top six finish (maybe at the expense of one of the London clubs). There might be further celebrations and Andrea Bocelli arias at the Kingpower despite Claudio not being there. Finally, on the Golden Boot front it may pay to go with a team who are bound to score goals and who are going to score more than Manchester City and therefore the 12/1 on Gabriel Jesus being top goalscorer cannot be overlooked. But then I am a Man City fan! Until next time…
STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM, GLASS OF PIMMS, SETTLE DOWN on Murray’s Mound and watch the world’s favourite tennis tournament. What could be better? Well, picking the winner of the men’s singles for one! And get on early because it’s time for NOVAK DJOKOVIC to reclaim the Wimbledon crown. And what a juicy price as the headline alludes to, because at Tom Mix (6/1) you have to simply lump on. But why? Quite simply there are doubts (as there are doubts about him) as to all the leading runners and riders this year and secondly maybe, just maybe, he is awaking from his slumber. As to the first, let’s look at this in some detail.
I can’t believe the Fed Express is favourite! Rolling back the years in Melbourne is not the same as rolling back the years in SW19. At his pomp, he was untouchable but go back three or four years and he was struggling against Father Time then and it was a surprise that he competed so well at the highest level. The same can be said about King Rafa who on clay is supreme but on grass is not as dominant. And then we’ve got the age and the desire. And of Andy, it seems to me he expended so much energy getting to No. 1 that he can’t motivate himself to continue at that level, and while he will go deep into the tournament I can see a quarter final exit for the Scot. The young guns are onedimensional, apart from Alexander Zverev who is my second choice at a tasty 25/1, shop early and you can get double carpet in a place. His stock is high but this could be his breakthrough year.
And what of the women? How can you have Wimbledon without Serena? It’s like having your Pimms without the fruit, but someone is going to step up and having observed at the incredulous nature of KAROLINA PILSKOVA at the French, bemoaning how well she was doing on a surface she loathes and equally looking forward to the pristine grass of Centre Court, I think that time has come for a new champion and at an industry wide 7/1 she is well worth a punt.
Bernie the Book JULY 2017 73 THE BERNIE THE BOOK COLUMN TOM MIX!! YOU’VE GOT TO BE DJOKING Away from the tennis, July also sees the Open, the only true Major (according to the R&A) and this year it returns to Birkdale after some years, and if you look closely enough you might see me on the practice day. Birkdale might be in Southport, which is known locally as the land of the rising sun (not really) but it is a convenient lead into my favourite golfer, and one who I continually tip up in this column, the legend who is number two in the world, HIDEKI MATSUYAMA and the time has come to go large at an attractive 20/1. My other two against the field are Sergio Garcia (great links player) also at 20/1 and the boy who would be king, Rickie Fowler (especially if it blows) at 25/1.
Away from summer sport, I can’t believe that in a few short weeks the 201718 football season will be upon us. In the next issue we will look at the leagues in more detail but for now my first bet of the new campaign is unfortunately on who will fill bottom of the pile in the Premiership. Readers might remember that in last July’s issue I headlined Sunderland to be relegated and finish bottom at a healthy 4/1 and 10/1 and this year it is unfortunate that I alienate all those readers from the south coast as BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION are a great price to finish bottom of the pile at 11/2. Only sadists or Amex masochists need take up this price.
And so finally, are you politicked out? Probably. However, it is not going to go away and we will see in the news over the coming months a variety of markets such as next general election, next leader of individual parties and more urgently, next Prime Minister. Theresa May will probably last until the party congress season and it will be dependent on whether anybody is going to rock the boat further and oust her. The political climate at the moment is heading towards Labour and therefore MPs are likely, especially in key marginals, to look after their back first. But it’s well worth an interest on next Tory leader to be DAMIAN GREEN at 33/1.
BERNIE THE BOOK doesn’t endorse political parties, Bernie the Book exists to make a profit on whatever bookmakers are offering and quite frankly if Josef Stalin was standing in my constituency of Bury South and the bookmakers were offering 20/1 about being elected in the forthcoming General Election there is a fair chance that I would be donning my Soviet Ushanka hat and dishing out the vodka, comrade. However, June 8 is election day and there is money to be made.
Looking at the current state of the parties when Parliament was dissolved, one thing is apparent. The final breakdown of 330 Conservative, 229 Labour, 9 Liberal Democrats, 54 Scottish Nationalists and 26 Others will be drastically different on June 9. The one thing the recent nationwide local elections showed us was that Labour are in terminal decline (especially under Jeremy Corbyn), the Liberal Democrats although their share of votes did go up under Tim Farron and that UKIP is on the brink of extinction with their votes being transferred to the Tories.
No one is going to get rich at 1/33 on the Conservatives being the largest party but where we should concentrate on is the raft of markets available on the various number of Tory MPs and I would advocate a hefty wager on the TORIES RETURNING BETWEEN 351 AND 375 SEATS AT 9/2. Anything less than 350 seems unlikely and the gap over 376 is equally unlikely due to the uturns over the Tory manifesto. For the Tories to have in excess of 375 seats that would mean all the other parties having a total of 275 and if you subtract Others (around 18) and Scottish Nationalists (around 52) and Liberals (around 20) this would leave only 185 for Labour. For them to Bernie the Book JUNE 2017 81 THE BERNIE THE BOOK COLUMN MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU – TORIES TO GOVERN TILL 2022 lose around 45 seats is way too much. So, my first bet would be the 9/2 about Tory seats 351375.
Speaking of the demise of Labour, my next bet would centre on the next Labour leader and at today’s odds I would advocate, as I have done before, the consumate, erudite and acceptable face (very acceptable if you are a woman) of CHUKA UMUNNA at a top price of 16/1 with Bet 365. Remember, prior to the election of Corbyn he was seen as the man who would be king with the Labour party grandees and especially the Dark Lord (or in the case of this column Darth Vader) Peter Mandelson championing his cause. Speaking of uturns, who’s to say that the Labour party might not return to MILLIBAND SENIOR (David) in an attempt of stabilisation? At 25/1 he is well worth a punt.
Away from politics and thankfully away from football, this month and currently underway since June 1 is the ICC Champions Trophy hosted all across England. This oneday tournament, 50 overs a side, will certainly play to England’s strengths especially in English conditions with the likes of oneday specialists, Ben Stokes, Joss Buttler, Eoin Morgan and Joe Root amongst the batting lineup. But at 3/1 favourites they don’t make much appeal. One other side who does like English conditions is available at 10/1 and they are NEW ZEALAND who have in their ranks great exponents of the oneday game.
Although stuck in the same group as Australia and England, with only two qualifying, it is a difficult task but one of which I feel the Black Caps can overcome. Finally, as the football season comes to a close, I would ask anyone to look at the Bernie the Book Column from July 2016 where I tipped the following: Sunderland to be relegated at 9/2 Brighton for the Championship at 14/1 (which they led until the 89th minute of the final game) and I hoped you backed each way and Bolton Wanderers at 16/1 each way. Until next time.
AINTREE DIDN’T QUITE DELIVER with our fancy Cause of Causes finding One For Arthur just that little bit too good, but at an advised 25/1 it still paid over 6/1 for the each way portion. Jamie Codd is a talented amateur jockey who could easily make it in the professional ranks and should be complimented on his jockeyship.
The flat season is now in full swing with the first two classics being run at the start of May, but more later.
May is always the culmination of the football season and hopefully our tip for Atletico Madrid at 10/1 and Juventus, advised at 16/1 in September, will collect for us. But away from Europe there is still much to be decided, most notably in the playoffs for Division One and Two and the millionpound game to decide which team from the Championship gets to play in the Premiership. And this year there is a certain Yorkshire presence among the likely participants. In a contest between Huddersfield Town, Reading, Leeds and either Sheffield Wednesday or Fulham, the 4/1 about LEEDS UNITED to be promoted just has to be taken. They are a big club from a big city with tremendous support and, more importantly, a quality manager in Gary Monk who knows the time of day and a striker who will surely be on the radar of bigger clubs shortly in Chris Wood. After a decade in the wilderness Leeds United are a confident selection.
The Division One playoffs should again go to Yorkshire, as the playoffs are almost certain to involve Bradford City, Fleetwood Town, Scunthorpe United and either Millwall or Southend. And that is the crux because Millwall who are currently in sixth and final position, could easily be ousted by Southend United in seventh and at today’s odds I would rather have a definite runner than one that is not sure to make it. BRADFORD CITY are a top priced 9/4 and whilst I wouldn’t advocate a win single, it should be the second leg of our trixie (three doubles and a treble).
The third leg should be completed by STEVENAGE at 9/2 who are certainly the form team over the last two months. A case can be made for Luton Town but at the prices I’ll take the 9/2. The treble pays a fraction under 89/1 and for £20 (3 x £5 doubles and a £5 treble) the bet could realise £1,510. Nice work if you can get it!
As alluded to above, the start of May sees the first two British classics in the 2,000 Guineas and the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket over the Rowley Mile.
Already a household name in households who know nothing about horse racing, I think the offspring of the mighty Frankel will prove that at stud he might be worth more than he ever would have earned on a racecourse; not that his owners, Juddmonte Farm, are short of a bob or two. And like the mighty Gallileo whose prodigy continued to supply classic winners at all distances, I can see Frankel being the standout name in breeding terms over the next decade.
His first prodigy have now reached three and it will be interesting to see how well they fare in their debut season. My choice for the 2,000 Guineas (the Colts Classic over a brutal one mile) is SWISS STORM, trained by David Elsworth and partowned by Godolphin. His target trial is the Greenham at Newbury, but you will read this column before that trial and the 16/1 currently on offer is the bet. If he fails to deliver at Newbury, he will still be likely to line up at Newmarket and compared to the very skinny 6/4 about Churchill who goes straight to Newmarket, I think Swiss Storm will provide a decent run for our money.
The Fillies Classic also sees a number of Frankel offspring and chief amongst these is FAIR EVA who arrived in a blaze of glory on her twoyeaold debut but never quite reached those heights last summer. Consequently she is now 14/1 for the 1,000 Guineas where once she was the 4/1 favourite. Again Ballydoyle provide the favourite in the admirable Rhododendron at a respectable 7/2 but again bookmakers and the media alike thought at the time that Fair Eva was going to be the next superstar. With her first target the Guineas, it is not the time to desert her yet. See you next month for the US Open, the French and other events.