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.
FIRSTLY SOME APOLOGIES AS WE GOT TAKEN TO THE CLEANERS at Cheltenham, and whether it was the change of going or some fancies not running up to expectations or probably a mixture of the two, the net result was abject misery. But that’s no reason not to try to recoup our losses in April.
Firstly on to the Grand National on April 8th where I feel Brian Ellison’s DEFINITELY RED is primed for glory at a very respectable 16/1. It absolutely sluiced in last time out at Doncaster in a noted Grand National trial and the further he went the better he travelled. A sound jumper and because the weights for the Grand National were framed in early March, Definitely Red has incurred no penalty.
He is my main fancy but I should also mention my second choice which is CAUSE OF CAUSES at 25/1. He broke the stranglehold of Enda Bolger at Cheltenham in the Cross Country and I believe that he can also run a mighty race at Aintree. A word of caution, wait for the day or until you get a price with non runner no bet as he is yet to be confirmed. Highlight this month for fight fans is the eagerly anticipated World Title fight between the next big thing, ANTHONY JOSHUA and the previously undefeated (until Fury) heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. For so long unbeatable, a bit like Apollo Creed, Wlad the Man was sensationally floored by Tyson Fury when last he fought 18 months ago.
Was this a glitch or the portents of time catching up with him? As is common in boxing it is rare for a fighter to retire at the top and I think this is one last pay day. In fact AJ is a warm favourite at 2/5 with most of the bookies which makes it an unattractive price for a working man and much better is to take AJ to win by knockout, technical knockout or disqualification at a healthy 8/11 at Ladbrokes.
would certainly advocate a sizeable bet at this price. The fight takes place at the back end of April and I’m sure by midApril there will be a raft of markets available and I would seriously look out for a knockout within the first six or seven rounds, my personal favourite would be a stoppage in Round 5 but prices are not out yet. So apart from FA Cup semifinals, the business end of the European cup competitions what else have we got to look forward to? Simple, the Masters. Each year the golfing world turns up at Augusta National and sets the scene for the coming year.
Joint favourites this year will be/are Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson but at 7/1 their prices offer no great appeal. As the Masters is invariably won by competitors who have experienced the rigours of Amen Corner, on numerous occasions it is common for past champions to do well. Therefore don’t be surprised to see the likes of Freddie Couples turn back the clock, Phil Mickelson in the thick of things and even gentle Ben Crenshaw to appear on the leader board at some point. Clearly to win at Augusta you need course form, course history and blood coursing through your veins. My two against the field are HIDEKI MATSUYAMA and JUSTIN THOMAS.
Hideki is a top priced 18/1 for the Masters and that price just simply has to be taken. Over the last 12 months his rise to dine at golfing’s top table has been staggering and he has all the attributes to compete well this year, notably he has length off the tee, enjoyed a good debut last year and has a ice cold attitude to pressure. My second pick is Justin Thomas who has started the year in buoyant form winning twice in Hawaii before keeping his game in good shape going into the spring. It must be galling for Justin as his best pal is one of the new breed of Augusta greats in Jordan Speith who won at Augusta two years ago and imploded last year letting in Danny Willett at the death.
Again Justin Thomas is long off the tee and like Jordan Spieth is a streak putter and when they start going in they keep going in. Available at 25/1 with Hills and Paddy Power this price simply has to be taken. Quickly just to remind everyone my tips for the World Snooker are BARRY HAWKINS and STUART BINGHAM at 20/1 and 25/1 respectively. Until next month, good punting.
IN OVER 30 YEARS of cut and thrust with some great bets and wins and some stupid, senseless losses that defy logic, I have naturally mentally attuned myself to the do’s and don’ts for my betting patterns and if you follow the following ten tips into your betting strategy for the New Year, I can’t guarantee you’ll win but I will guarantee you will be better off.
So here are my Rules of Engagement – some are obvious but when you get the red mist (you know what I mean) you need to be reminded of the right path and some require the reader to understand the nature of the fight - but that only comes from experience.
If a bookmaker offers you a concession over its other rivals then for God’s sake take it. For example, Bet365, Paddy Power, to name at least two, pay on first past the post and official result on all UK horse races. Ladbrokes, among others, do not. So why would you bet with them because you will look pretty stupid when the horse you have backed has won and been thrown out in the Stewards’ room. Obviously Ladbrokes has many advantages, not least in the fact you can get a sizeable bet on but let’s be honest with ourselves, are you reading this column and betting at a £1,000 a point?
Over the course of a year if you have taken the best price on your fancy (consult Oddschecker.com) then all the 15/8s over the 7/4s will add up. To borrow a well known strapline from Tesco: Every little helps. To take full advantage of this you need to open accounts with all the High Street and online bookmakers so you are treating your hobby as a business – which it is!
Bet as late as possible (and therefore over the phone and your PC) because it is amazing how, when the prices shorten, especially at large major meetings, at the death, that particular horse justifies the money being down. Obviously bookmakers shorten odds to limit their liabilities on bets they have taken.
Sometimes value can be a shade of odds on, sometimes poor value is the same shade of odds on, it all depends what you perceive value to be. Too often tipsters discount horses because their price is too short, when in actual fact they might represent value and they put up a double figure selection only for it to disappear without trace. Value is different to a great price.
Always balance the benefit of ante post against the likelihood of participation. To that end I place a lot of ante posts on events where the team is playing (football, American football, golf) but less on horse races where a horse can easily be withdrawn through injury.
Ignore ground conditions at your peril. A horse that is proven in heavy going can improve by an enormous amount because it’s got its conditions.
Every horse, every team can always have a bad run or performance. Look at the price offered compared to its usual run rather than its latest.
I have always found it more advantageous to place a slightly extra stake on my selection at source, in the hope of hedging at the culmination of a tournament rather than blindly bet on a quarter or a fifth or a third each way.
Always read the sporting press and listen to the interviews on TV, it’s amazing what is a positive and what is a negative and how this is translated into results.
However painful it is, keep a record of your wins and losses. It’s amazing how it clears your mind to how you’re actually performing.