I Hope my readers Dipped THeir Toe in The water with my headline nap for the National (above) and I hope you also got the 16/1 that I secured antepost. Meanwhile, the jump season has officially ended and Cheltenham, Aintree, Punchestown and, indeed, Sandown, saw the last meaningful exchanges for another season and we now welcome in the flat.
Next weekend sees the first two classics of the season, the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and my headline nap for the 2,000 Guineas is VERBAL DEXTERITY, trained in Ireland by the master trainer, Jim Bolger. Reports are encouraging and the price is certainly lip-smacking at a general 20/1 to your money. Highly touted as a twoyear-old, Verbal Dexterity won the Group One National Stakes at the Currah and went straight to the Dewhurst (the leading trial for the following season’s 2,000 Guineas) but performed not as well as expected and ultimately ran fourth to Guinea’s favourite, Saxon Warrior, trained by his padawan – Aiden O’Brien. Expect him to perform better on the big stage this time around. The following day’s 1,000 Guineas is dominated by Ballydoyle with the first three in the betting all trained by King Aiden.
Shortest price is Clemmie at around 2/1 but she suffered a setback last autumn and has not yet been the subject of specially promising reports in the racing press. Both Happily and September are evenly matched, with preference given to SePTemBer at a general 10/1. Finally on a horse racing note, the 2,000 Guineas takes place on the same day as America’s favourite race – the Kentucky Derby. Anyone seeing how menDelSSoHn trounced the opposition on World Cup night in Dubai will know the following: he acts on dirt (admittedly not the same exact surface as Churchill Downs, he has won in America on Breeders’ Cup Night last year and so is used to the environment, he acts on lasix as the majority of horses run on in the States and perhaps more pertinently, he will almost certainly have Ryan Moore aboard him.
This is a tip in itself, so look out for the declarations and it is as much as a tip for the Kentucky Derby as it is not a tip for Saxon Warrior on 2,000 Guineas’ Day. Link to a tasty price of 5/1, back him now for Kentucky Derby glory. In April’s column I mentioned the forthcoming World Cup in Russia in June. Although slightly whimsical on that occasion, I feel there are two teams against the field that should be backed. My main bet is the Samba Boys of Brazil. My second bet is England – no, not really but what about a team that is the England Premier League XI? I am talking about Belgium who can call upon De Bruyne, Hazard, Kompany, Fellaini, Lukaku, Vertongen. Vermaelen and Dembele.
At 16/1 they will also give you a good run for your money. And so finally to Sheffield and the Crucible and the World Snooker Championship. Culminating on May Bank Holiday and over two weeks before, the event will have already started by the time you read this but this column was written in early April so hopefully it is still in date. Let me say at the outset that if Ronnie turns up, Ronnie wins but I just think his frailties don’t make 2/1 a good bet and therefore, regretfully, he won’t be having any of my dough on him. This means of course that others have a slightly inflated price.
To win at Sheffield you not only need to be playing well, but also know how to win over longer distances of first to ten and first to 13 and then first to 15! And that’s before you reach the final. So you need mental strength in spades and my two against the field are marco Fu at 100/1 (obviously each way at half the first two) and secondly, and my main fancy, mark allen at 28/1. Now showing the maturity for his undoubted promise he can’t be ignored. So let’s pot black. Good punting.
FIRSTLY A BIT OF SELF-CONGRATULATION. Cheltenham was good, Cheltenham was very good for Bernie the Book and I hope it was for my readers. In March’s column we tipped up top jockey for the meeting as Jack Kennedy at 6/1 who tied with Davy Russell for a deadheat payout. Readers might also remember my tip for the big three and the number of combined winners they might get, which is best shown from last month’s edition.
WHAT PRICE THE BIG THREE of Mullins, Elliott and Henders on training a t le as t 12 of the 28 winners? Most of the championship races should b e won by one of them and I wo uld rate
th e chances of some where near even money to 5/4 against. Imagin e my surprise (and a quick call) int o Skybet t o take t heir odds o f 11 / 4! Def inite ly worth 40 units to win 110.
The bet actually collected on the Thursday with one whole day still to go. There was a further benefit in that the 11/4 advised actually paid out at 7/2! Moving on, my fancy for the FA Cup, Chelsea, are now 6/4 favourites – I advised 9/2, so anyone taking this price can hedge on Spurs or United should Chelsea reach the final and after the other semi-final has been decided.
Onto this month. It’s Grand National time. Gordon Elliott was ultimately crowned top trainer at Cheltenham and his National record certainly stands up to close inspection. My headline nap is the winner of the Glenfarclas Cross Country race at Cheltenham in TIGER ROLL who is definitely Aintree bound and at 16/1 simply can’t be passed up. Most bookmakers nearer the day will be offering five or six places so you might choose to wait as the odds won’t vary a lot from now. My other fancy against the field is this year’s Hennessy winner (well forme it’ll always be called the Hennessy but I think it’s now called The Ladbrokes Trophy) in TOTAL RECALL widelyavailable at 14/1.
This was going well in the Gold Cup before falling and I think this might be the pick of the Mullins’ yard. Whether Ruby is back in time is doubtful but that is surely just a bonus. So on to the Masters and readers of this column will hopefully have backed my two original selections, Justin Rose at 20/1 and John Rahm at 16/1. Added to this to complete my troika is JUSTIN THOMAS at 12/1. Bang in form and with a winning mentality and a mercurial putter he is well worth putting up. One man I just can’t fancy is Tiger Woods and I know it is sacrilege to oppose him on a course he knows intimately and whose recent form makes him second favourite. But I firmly believe they just don’t come back and I would lay him in most markets. Finally on the Masters, I would take Marc Leischman to be top Australian at 5/1. Much maligned and not as popular as Messrs Day and Scott, but well worth a punt. Speaking of punts, and I accept it is only April, but I would advocate an early ante-post on the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS for next year’s Superbowl.
Now that they have signed Jimmy G as quarterback, the former backup to Tom Brady is showing all the masters nous. The Padawan can lead the 49ers back to previous glories at a tempting 25/1. And finally in April we have the pure drama of The World Snooker Championship from Sheffield.I think any opinion on the Snooker has to start with...are you a layer or a backer of Rocket Ronny. His odds are generally 5/2 and I think I would be a backer at 4/1.That would tempt me but 5/2...NO.
So who? Well, I think it could be time for Mark Allen to realise his potential at a whopping 28/1 with Skybet but 22/1 generally. His win in the Masters has given him a lot of confidence and let’s be honest, it seems to be a stellar year for Ireland. Shame they didn’t qualify for the World Cup. Speaking of which, don’t miss my comprehensive take on Russia next month.Shame it’s already been decided in a Putin inspired Russia final against Saudi Arabia!!
Until next month…good punting.
OH I DO LIKE A BIT OF ALLITERATION! March is a must for sports fans and bettors. Not only is there Cheltenham (more later) but the ongoing rounds of the Champions League, the Europa League and the FA Cup, and the month ends with the preparation for both the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the Masters in the first week of April and so it is timely that I put my fancies in this month’s column. So firstly to Cheltenham. In last month’s column I did say I would advise you as to the price of Nicky Henderson being top trainer at the meeting, but frankly the prices on offer are underwhelming at a universal 9/4.
Not a price to take. However, prices are available for top jockey and I certainly think the 6/1 on offer about jack kennedy is tempting. Kennedy filled himelf in glory last year and this year the retained rider of Gigginstown has some banker rides. The likes of Samcro, Apples Jade are his mounts and as he will surely pick up fancied rides from the pick of 40 plus Gordon Elliott trained horses, he will certainly give a good account. Ruby Walsh is odds-on but still not back from injury and Barry Geraghty, though being retained rider for JP McManus, doesn’t seem to have the banker material of Jack. What pRice the Big thRee of Mullins, Elliott and Henderson training at least 12 of the 28 winners?
Most of the championship races should be won by one of them and I would rate the chances of somewhere near even money to 5/4 against. Imagine my surprise (and a quick call) into Skybet to take their odds of 11/4! Definitely worth 40 units to win 110. My Cheltenham bets are detailed in February’s issue though some of the prices have changed. Away from Cheltenham and to the football, and my original fancy of cheLsea for the FA Cup has not waivered. Realistically only Chelsea, Spurs or Man United will win and the current odds of 9/2 should be taken. Remember followers of my column could have got 13/2 in early January.
The Champions League is now at the quarter final stage and my original fancy, PSG, is looking in a bit of trouble. However, that merely means that the current odds of 10/1 are very appetising, so keep the faith and let’s hope they turn over Real Madrid. As to the Europa League, now is the time to back RB Leipzig at a healthy 12/1 for glory in Europe’s second competition.
The Bundesliga surprise package have been mixing it all year with FC Hollywood (Bayern) and certainly have pinpointed Europa League for glory. It must be the Red Bull, you know it gives you wings! All that is Bollywood, the glitz, the glamour and the razz matazz is embodied in the Indian Premier League which starts on April 7. My headline nap is the Rajasthan RoyaLs at a very respectable 11/2 for glory. Not only do they boast the explosive talent of Ben Stokes (assuming he is still on bail!) but the not inconsiderable talents of Joss Buttler who can be just as destructive. They also picked up in the IPL auction strike bowler Jaydev Unadkat. What has gone under the radar is that their captain and established batter is none other than Steve Smith, and fans of English cricket know how devastating he can be.
So it’s the Royals for me in this fun competition for medium stakes. And finally to Augusta and the US Masters. Who amongst us watching last year as the drama unfolded honestly believed that Sergio Garcia would come back to pip justin Rose. Rose looked all over the winner but half an hour of inspiration from the Spaniard and a lucky bounce on the 15th green saw Justin overtaken. That must really be gnawing at the US-based Rose. Ideally suited to Augusta with his significant length, extensive course management and competitive attitude, the 20/1 on offer just has to be taken. To augment this I suggest a saver on the next big thing – Jon Rahm at 16/1. Until next time, good punting.
IN JUST OVER A MONTH, THE HORDES OF IRISH HORSE enthusiasts, including the gentry, the priesthood and the motorway tarmac-layer will invade the Cotswolds and descend on the amphitheatre of Cheltenham Racecourse – yes it’s the Festival and all jump enthusiasts are chomping at the bit.
Legends such as JP McManus, Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh will be feted and hoisted aloft with every Irish success, but this year I expect the English under the leadership of Nicky Henderson (and Paul Nicholls), ably assisted by a swathe of young up-and-coming trainers, to repel the friendly invasion. And I can hardly wait! More specifically the Prestbury Cup - (contested between the Irish and English trainers) and bitterly fought out over the last three years - will this year be safely won by the British.
At time of writing no prices are available but I will keep you informed in the March issue. Readers of this column have, hopefully, taken the advice given last month and already backed Buveur D’Air for the Champion Hurdle at 5/2, the current price is 4/6. I also advocated at that time to back Might Bite for the Gold Cup which was freely available at 7/1. His price has now halved to a top priced 7/2 but in any event here are my fancies for Cheltenham. With trials day at Cheltenham run last weekend and the only significant pre-Cheltenham pointer being the Irish champions meeting next weekend, most of the clues are in.
Nicky Henderson has some awesome guns at his disposal and I think this year he will be Champion Trainer, in a year when no one trainer has a stellar meeting. Again the odds are not available at the moment but I imaging that anything more than 7/2 should be mopped up, but again see March for further advice. Most of the championship races are largely settled with the only exception being if a horse contests their second string assignment or is ruled out by injury.
That is why it is advisable to back with those firms offering a non-runner no bet concession which at the moment totals Bet365, Paddy Power, BetFair and SkyBet. So on to Tuesday.
The opening salvo may well go to Nicky Henderson’s ClaimaNtakiNforgaN at 7/1. The leading English hope, this race often goes to either Henderson or Willie Mullins, who this year saddles the favourite Getabird.
Again an Irish hot-pot in Footpad, but again I think it will go to Alan King’s SCeau royal at likely odds of 6/1. I can scarce remember a more impressive performance last time out than this horse and I confidently expect it to triumph.
You might have missed the price on Buveur D’air but I expect certain bookmakers to put their heads above the parapet and offer shades of odds against on the day on last year’s champion.
Gordon Elliott to strike with the second coming of Arkle in SamCro at 7/4. This will be the banker of the meeting and should be put in all multiples.
Another victory for Henderson and the dark green colours of owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede in top NotCH at 11/2.
WHoleStoNe for Simon Munir and Isaac Souede again at 16/1. Last year’s Albert Bartlett Novice can take the step up to senior level.
Henderson again but not with the stable’s number one choice of Apples Shakira but the stable’s number two in We Have a Dream at 8/1.
Previously advised migHt Bite at 7/1 is still available at 7/2. My second fancy is aNiBale fly at 33/1 for a shock. Until next time, good punting.