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Darran

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Everything posted by Darran

  1. I’ve been told that Boreham Wood have only 14 fit players for tonight and 3 of them are keepers. Because of that most of the bench will be made up of unfit players so my feeling is Everton might have an easier time of it tonight than they could have done.
  2. 4.35 Musselburgh Let's start with the race at Musselburgh first where we have a short price favourite in Rio Des Echanault. He won a poor hunter chase at Kelso last season and I said after the race that he would really have to improve to win another one as he found one of the weakest races he possibly could. The fact he was given a handicap rating of 89 after it proves how bad it was. However he does seem to have improved since then and he fully deserves to be a short price favourite for this race. He's won two races this season both at Friars Haugh. The first was a match, but the win last month had much more substance to it. The 2nd won a point on Sunday and the 3rd finished a close 3rd off 115 at Carlisle on Monday. He's only 8 so there obviously is scope for improvement and to be honest if he was mine I would have been tempted to have kept him pointing and then attacked a few handicaps off his mark because he would be so well handicapped off 89. I'm sure though connections will be hoping to win the final to this series at Kelso in May which is a decent pot to be fair. Ravished clearly has the best recent form in the race having finished 2nd to Hazel Hill last January and he was 6th in the Aintree Foxhunters. The problem is he is now 14 and he has also moved yards. His jockey also trains him and the only time he has trained horses is when he had a couple back in 2015. It's his first run of the season and if he was till with Joe O'Shea then you would give him a chance, but I'd be amazed if he is fit enough first time out at the age of 14. I thought Ferocious looked like he wasn't going to finish 2nd behind Jett at Kelso as he wasn't travelling as well as Wonderoftheworld when that one unseated. It's hard to know what he achieved there though and the 3rd at Alnwick wasn't a bad effort so he might be capable of better. I was a bit surprised Wonderoftheworld was going better because I didn't think he would be able to beat Ferocious although there was long enough left off the race that you couldn't be fully certain what was going to happen. Nine Altars was 2nd in this race in 2020 to Virak when he flew late to not actually be that far away in the end. He was also a decent 2nd in the final of this series at Kelso last season and in 2019. The problem is he comes here on the back of finishing last of 3 in a point back in November and the jockey isn't the best. He's 13 now and as much as he is clearly capable of running well it would be disappointing if he was able to beat the favourite. Not often you get a horse who was pretty useful on the flat end up in hunter chases, but Now Children got into the 90s on the level. He wasn't great when he went jumping though. To be fair to him he was still travelling well enough last time when he was brought down, but then we don't know if he would have stayed 3m which has to be a doubt. I just find it hard to see anything other than a win for the favourite. He looks progressive unlike the rest and whilst if he was coming her just on the back of the Kelso win then I might have been dubious he showed last time that he has clearly improved since then and is better than that bare form. Rio Des Echanault 4pts @ 11/10 with William Hill (take up to 4/6)
  3. Not for me it doesn't as I don't think it was the track that got him beat. Ultimately though it was job done in that he qualified for Cheltenham so at least he's got into the race.
  4. Surprisingly I have seen the entries already. There are 31 of them and no surprise that Stake Wallace isn't entered, but a surprise to see Highway Jewel and Cat Tiger among them. Back Bar Billaway Bob And Co Cat Tiger Cousin Pascal Desire de Joie Don Bersy Dubai Quest Fumet d'Oudairies Highway Jewel I'm Wiser Now It Came To Pass Its All Guesswork Jett Latenightpass Lord Schnitzel Mighty Stowaway Monbeg Chit Chat Moratorium Overworkdunderpaid Point The Way Poli Roi Pont Aven Premier Magic Rewritetherules Senor Lombardy Shantou Flyer Tango de Juilley Vaucelet Winged Leader Zamparelli
  5. It has been confirmed that Porlock Bay is going to miss Cheltenham and hasn't been entered. He was found to have a lung condition after a scope and wont be ready for Cheltenham but should be ready for Aintree. At least we now know why he ran below par at Bangor.
  6. So final update before the entries close today. Dolphin Square was cut in the betting after he won at Doncaster, but he wont be running at Cheltenham. They ended up skipping Doncaster with Jett and instead head to Fontwell for an easier task. Whilst he did qualify for Cheltenham you have to say he was rather disappointing. Shantou Flyer is clearly a good horse still and capable of performing to a high level. Whilst I'm sure Sam didn't want to give Jett too hard a race with Cheltenham in mind, but he just look very laboured in finishing 2nd. He hit the front and I thought he was going to go on and win the race, but he seemed to not really want to go through with his effort and it allowed the winner to go back in front. I had Jett on my shortlist prior to Fontwell as that Doncaster effort looked really good, but it's hard to fancy him for the race after Sunday. Meanwhile Shantou Flyer will get a Cheltenham entry as a super sub in case something happens to Bob And Co. Certainly not a bad horse to have in reserve especially as he loves Cheltenham and if he did end up running in the race he would surely have place claims, but as for winning it I can't really see it. For me he's had better chances of winning this in the past and I don't see where the improvement would come from for him to go and win it. Slightly surprisingly Pure Vision skipped Fontwell and instead runs at Leicester today, but that means he won't be going to Cheltenham in a couple of weeks as he isn't qualified. Maybe we will see him at Aintree instead. Usually we don't see the entries until the day after they close so I will post them on here as soon as I see them.
  7. Southend v Solihull Bit disappointed Southend didn't win for us on Tuesday, but I think it highlights that although they are in good form they have mainly been playing the lesser sides in the division. Solihull look primed to be the first team to beat Southend in 10 league games. They are in cracking form themselves and whilst the red card did change the game against Chesterfield last Saturday they were still impressive in beating them 3-2. They also should have beaten Wealdstone easier on Tuesday night. I make them favourites for this and I suspect they will go off as favourites. Dorking v Maidstone Obviously a huge game at the top of National League South and a Dorking win would be great for us ante-post wise as Dorking would go very short for the title, having said that though I do think Maidstone are worth backing here. Both sides have bene in cracking form and I don't think there is a huge amount between the pair and thus at the prices I think Maidstone are worth backing. Dulwich Hamlet v Braintree Dulwich have been struggling for a while now. I went to watch them against Eastbourne recently and wasn't overly impressed. They have won a couple of games since then, but they haven't been in great form and look opposable here. Braintree haven't lost in 7 now and their last defeat was to Dorking. Now they have drawn 4 of those games and they haven't always scored as many as they should, but they look a value play here given how both sides are playing. Ebbsfleet v Eastbourne The home side were very disappointing for us last week losing 4-2 to a Havant side who have been struggling for wins especially at home. Indeed that was Havant's first win in 9 games. Ebbsfleet have blown all chances of a title bid having only won twice in their last 7 games and they were against Hampton and St Albans which doesn't really add up to much. Eastbourne meanwhile have only lost twice in their last 10 and one of those was 3-2 to Maidstone. I would still make the home side favourites, but Eastbourne are too big a price to gain 3 points here. Alfreton v Curzon Ashton Not really sure what has happened to Alfreton, but they look a shadow of the side they were earlier in the season. Granted they had the best chance against Gloucester on Tuesday, but otherwise there was very little quality on show. They have only managed a couple of wins in their last 10 games. Curzon are unbeaten in their last 5 games and put 3 past Hereford on Tuesday night. They have had a cracking season to be still in the play-off hunt and they look a big price to me here. Boston v Kettering A fair bit is riding on this game given Paul Cox left Kettering to become Boston manager earlier in the season. Ian Culverhouse has taken over at Kettering and despite sometimes being light player wise they are unbeaten in 6 games now, showing some great fight along the way. I think the players will be determined to get one over their former manager here. Boston have only beaten Farsley and Chester in their last 10 games and whilst there have been signs of improvement it still isn't huge. Kettering for me have a decent chance of getting one over their former manager. Darlington v Chorley I know Chorley have only lost 4 games all season in the league, but there have been signs of weakness recently. They lost 2-1 to Leamington in their last league game which was 2 weeks ago. Prior to that they had drawn at Farsley and they have only picked up 2 points in their last 10 games. Maybe some time off will help them get back on track, but they have conceded 9 goals in their last 4 games and Darlington are coming out of a poor run of form. They lost 4 on the bounce, but then beat Chester, drew with Gloucester and beat Fylde. They were a bit unlucky not to beat Gloucester as well as they had some good chances to take the lead in the first half. Don't get me wrong I still make Chorley favourites, but the home side are a spot of value. Solihull 1pt @ 13/8 with William Hill and BetVictor (take up to 5/4) Maidstone 1pt @ 12/5 with Bet365, Paddy Power and Betfair (Hills go 5/2 and take up to 15/8) Braintree 1pt @ 4/1 with William Hill, Paddy Power and Betfair (take up to 9/4) Eastbourne 1pt @ 4/1 with everyone apart from 365 (take up to 11/4) Curzon 1pt @ 19/10 with everyone apart from Hills who are 2/1 (take up to 6/4) Kettering 1pt @ 9/4 with William Hill (365 are 23/10 and take up to 7/4) Darlington 1pt @ 23/10 with everyone apart from BetVictor who go 12/5 and 365 who are only 2/1 (take up to 15/8)
  8. One of Highway Jewels owners has confirmed to me that she misses the race as she has had a little setback. A real shame after she missed it last year as well, but will mean Premier Magic will be the trainers super sub.
  9. The problem is if Billaway is actually any value even at the current price. He's the right favourite and I think he will reverse the form with Winged Leader, but just wonder if the value might lay elsewhere. Bob And Co beat him with Maxwell up at Punchestown and he's riding much better this year than he was last year don't let him riding put you off. We need to see Jett in a race, but that Doncaster run was huge for me and the form looks strong. Very unusual I haven't had a bet yet and I can't see me having one before the day now.
  10. Clearly a plan was hatched by Cousin Pascal's connections to not make the running and because of that they went very slowly which played right into Cousin Pascal's hands. Bob And Co and Overworkdunderpaid should have been looking to make it a stiff test of stamina which would have suited them and not the winner, but instead they just crawled until late on and turned it into a sprint. I can imagine that Paul Nicholls might have said to Maxwell not to give him a hard race with Cheltenham in mind and so Maxwell didn't want to go any quicker, but it didn't help his chances at all. Nicholls is happy with him after the race having left a bit to work on with Cheltenham in mind and he still looks a leading player at Cheltenham. He was pushed out to 12/1 with Bet365 and was 10/1 with Paddy's and Betfair but that was taken and he's only 8s with them two now. Overworkdunderpaid clearly ran very well as well and clearly would also prefer a stiffer test of stamina. The jockey's experience would be a concern at Cheltenham and he would have been fitter than Bob And Co, but I think the performance gave hope that he could run well at Cheltenham. He is as big as 33s and as short as 20s for the race next month. After the race the winner's trainer said he would be going back to Aintree and wouldn't be going to Cheltenham, but the owner in Monday's Racing Post mentioned that he might actually go to Cheltenham. He was cut from 25/1 to 12/1 with Bet365 after the win and is as low as 10s. I can see why his owner is tempted by the Festival, but I can't see him winning at Cheltenham and they would be better off just focusing on Aintree. There was some interesting quotes from Will Biddick a couple of days ago when he said that he had been disappointed with Porlock Bay at Bangor and that he felt like he didn't stay. Due to that he was considering missing Cheltenham and going to Aintree. Now given he won the race last year it seemed a slightly odd thing to say, but it could just be a sign that he's not in the same form as last season at this stage. Funnily enough last season I said that they should skip Cheltenham and go to Aintree with him because it would suit him better. Clearly I got that wrong, but as I said after the Bangor race it was a step backwards form wise for me and waiting for Aintree could be the sensible option. Cat Tiger who is in the betting with 3 bookies is going for the Kim Muir. Meanwhile Jett being aimed at this race took me by surprise after he won at Kelso last week. I thought he would just be going to Aintree, but Sam said after the race that they would try to qualify him for Cheltenham first. He had a very simple task at Kelso, but he potentially could be a big player in the race. Bet365 have him at 10/1 and he is set to run at Doncaster on Wednesday where I am guessing Le Breuil will also be trying to qualify. Dolphin Square is also set to run at Doncaster and he is shorter than Bob And Co in some places for Cheltenham despite the fact his owner will be riding the latter. Jett is also in at Fontwell on Sunday in case something goes wrong at Doncaster no doubt although Pure Vision is likely to try and qualify in the last hunter chase before entries close. Meanwhile in what has to be one of the most bizarre additions to any betting market I have ever seen the Luke Harvey trained Spanish Jump has been added by a few bookies. Luckily they are mainly NRNB because he only won a maiden last time and I have just as much chance of running in this race as he does! Also we have still to see Staker Wallace this season who is as short as 8/1 for the race. He has been a hard horse to keep sound so maybe he could turn up on his seasonal debut, but he would look doubtful at this stage. He hasn't been entered in any of the Irish points this weekend and neither has Good Bye Sam so he wont be qualified to run.
  11. A quick update. Mighty Stowaway ran in a point on Sunday and pulled up which was obviously very disappointing and clearly he still looks like an unlikely winner to me. At Lingfield on Tuesday Dolphin Square won his 2nd hunter chase. He was already qualified for this after his hunter chase runs last season, but given Maxwell will be riding Bob And Co he's surely only going to run if something happens to Bob And Co. I know Bet365 are NRMB so at least those who have backed him with them have that get out clause, but the 7s they go looks very short to me. It was an easy enough win, but I don't think the form is very strong and I still wonder if he is a better hurdler than chaser. West Approach didn't finish in the first 2 so unless he turns up at Doncaster or Fontwell next week he wont be qualified for the race. Speaking of qualification it looks like Hogan's Height isn't going to Cheltenham as he's running at Sandown on Thursday. I find it hard to believe they will run him again next week unless he departs early doors so he will not have qualified. As I thought at the time of his Ludlow win if he was going to go anywhere it would be Aintree. Finally I read Derek O'Connor's article in the Racing Post on Wednesday and he thinks the Irish are seriously lacking in depth in the race this year and I certainly agree with him. He doesn't think it will be 3rd time lucky for Billaway and thinks Winged Leader will give a good account of himself. The only other one he mentions is Aloneamongmillions and he could be the forgotten horse if he gets an entry.
  12. Not at the moment looking to see what the markets and the weather does.
  13. It was good to see Salvatore bounce back to form at Bangor on Friday and he travelled and jump the best he has for a year. I thought he was given a good ride by Darren and he used his incitive to get the ride in the first place when he phoned up the trainer on Tuesday night when he realised Will would be riding Porlock Bay. He clearly loves testing ground as well and I suggest connections keep him to that now. He might have half a chance at Cheltenham if it did come up testing, but even then I am not sure Unibet's quote of 12/1 makes any appeal. I suspect he would only go if it was soft or worse anyway and William Hill go a best price of 20/1. Not surprisingly Porlock Bay was pushed out for Cheltenham after finishing 2nd. Now he was giving weight to the winner and clearly Will has left a bit to work on, but for me it was a disappointing effort. I think it was a worse run than his Chaddesley effort so it means he has gone backwards since then. I know he was beaten at Wincanton last year, but he should have won that and the front two pulled miles clear of the rest that day so I think it was a better run. His price ranges from 8/1 to 16/1 with Bet365 and whilst I probably wouldn't go as big as 16s at the moment I really think he has a question mark over his Cheltenham chances now. Will really needs to hope he has left a lot to work on. The thing that worries me about the strength of the form is the closeness of the 3rd Dieu Vivant because he was proven himself to be a pretty average horse who struggles to get his head in front. Another Venture looks unlikely to qualify for Cheltenham now and although he wasn't given the best of rides here it was still a lesser effort than his Ludlow one. Whilst Porlock Bay was beaten Billaway looked really impressive at Naas yesterday. Apart from one mistake at 5 out he's jumped really well and he has also travelled equally as well and didn't hit the flat spot he can sometimes do. It was hard not to be impressed although I will add that you would expect him to beat that field in the way that he did. He shortened up at the head of the market for Cheltenham and 7/2 with Betfair and Betfred is the best on offer at the moment. I certainly think he is the right favourite at the moment although we should get to see what Bob And Co has to offer this week as he is entered at Kelso and no doubt will be entered at Haydock on Saturday as well. He beat his stablemate Good Bye Sam into 2nd and that is one of his qualifying runs for Cheltenham ticked off, but surely he is just going to look to win a maiden next time rather than bid to qualify for Cheltenham. He is still as short as 10/1 with Paddy Power and as big as 20/1, but I still don't see how he even lines up in the race and he clearly isn't as good as Billaway at the moment. Cloudy Tuesday is still in the betting with some bookies, but he was well beaten here. If the weather allows then Bob And Co will either be heading to Kelso or more likely Haydock later on in the week. West Approach will be looking to qualify at Lingfield on Tuesday. Pure Vision has also been entered at Haydock so he could be looking to qualify there.
  14. Kings Lynn v Altrincham Kings Lynn were very good last Saturday in beating Weymouth 3-0 and they followed that up with a 0-0 draw at Grimsby on Tuesday night and very few teams have left their with points this season. I can't believe they are such a big price for this given Altrincham haven't won in 12 league games now. They did show a bit of fight last week when coming from 2 down against Woking, but they have only scored 8 goals and conceded 28 in their last 10 matches. Kings Lynn still need a miracle to stay up, but really if they lose this then I think that will be game over because Altrincham are one of the teams they need to catch. I just don't think there is anywhere near as much between the two sides as the bookies have and the home win looks good value. Woking v Southend This game is live on TV on Saturday and I couldn't believe what I was seeing when I saw the Southend price as I would have them favourites let alone the 12/5 they are. I was close to making it a max bet, but there are a couple of things which has reduced confidence. The first is Southend's away form as they haven't tended to be quite as good away as they have been at home, but having said that they have only lost to Notts County in their last 6 away matches. That defeat is actually their only loss in their last 10 league games and they have really improved of late. It was a top performance to beat Bromley on Tuesday night as well. I put Woking up as being over priced for the title at the start of the season and it was looking like a decent shout early on as they beat some good teams like Chesterfield. It's been mostly poor since the first couple of months though and they have really struggled for victories. As mentioned above they blew a 2 goal lead against an out of form Altrincham last week and in their last 10 games they have only beaten Dover and Wealdstone. What I will say is they have been creating chances but they just aren't taking them. There is in the back of my mind though that Woking will go and start scoring at some stage and again it just lessens confidence slightly. Even so in my view we are getting huge value about an away win. Farsley Celtic v Gloucester City (National League North) This is a huge game at the bottom of the table and as much as I hope Gloucester don't lose I have to back the home side. God knows how we are favourites for this game as we have only won once away from home all season and even then it was a fortunate win. We still can't score goals and although we created a little more against Brackley last Saturday it really should have been more than 1-0. Clearly Farsley are no Brackley, but after another change of manager they look to have improved again. They pushed Brackley close in a 3-2 defeat and then last Saturday drew 3-3 against Chorley which was a massive point. That is 5 goals in 2 games and Gloucester have only managed that in their last 10 matches. With home advantage Farsley should be favourites here so they are a value bet. Walton Casuals v Beaconsfield (Southern Premier League South) The away side look a big price to me here as they have been in good form of late. They have lost twice in their last 6 games but they were by 1 goal against Taunton and Weston who are two of the best sides in the division at the moment, especially Taunton. Then last Saturday they beat Harrow 6-1. Walton have only lost one of their last 5 and did manage a draw against Farnborough, but in their last two games they have only managed draws against Wimborne and Merthyr who are the bottom two sides in the league. I think Beaconsfield have a fair chance of picking up another 3 points here. York v Morpeth (FA Trophy) Morpeth have done us well in the Trophy this season and the 5/1 for them to win at York looks too big. Their superb run of form has continued since the last round and although they did lose last Saturday they bounced straight back to beat South Shields 1-0 on Tuesday. York have improved since they lost 3-0 to Kidderminster and Bradford and they got their revenge on the latter on Wednesday night when beating them 4-2. Even so this will be a tough game for them and I wouldn't have the away side at such a big price. Kings Lynn 2pts@ 12/5 with Coral and Ladbrokes (take up to 6/4 and Bet365 are 13/5) Southend 4pts @ 11/5 with William Hill, Betfair, Paddy Power, Coral, Ladbrokes and Skybet (take up to 11/8 and Bet365 are 12/5) Farsley 1pt @ 9/5 with William Hill (take up to 11/8) Beaconsfield 1pt @ 2/1 with Betfair and Betfred (take up to 6/4) Morpeth 1pt @ 5/1 with William Hill, Betfred and Betfair (take up to 3/1 and Skybet are 11/2)
  15. Time for the latest round up and I will start with the Hunter Chase at Wetherby on Saturday which saw Dubai Quest continue the picket fence and make it 7 on the bounce. He's beaten a decent field and I think Le Breuil is a solid yardstick back in 2nd. We also are able to do a time comparison with Ahoy Senor with both races over the same distance. Not surprisingly Dubai Quest was slower, but it was only 9 seconds and Dubai Quest was carrying 12-2 compared with Ahoy Senor who carried just 11-5. For me that is suggests Dubai Quest has put in a very good performance. What he didn't always do though was jump well and that is obviously a concern regarding Cheltenham as he is unlikely to get away with a similar jumping display their. What I will say though is he seemed to jump better at the business end of the race and maybe he will be better in a race run at a strong gallop. At this stage though he is on my shortlist of possible winners. He was as big as 25/1 before Wetherby and is now as short as 10/1, but Bet365 are biggest at 16/1. I thought Le Breuil ran a perfectly good race in 2nd, but quite why 365 also have him at 16/1 I don't know as I can't see him reversing the form. He also isn't qualified yet and would need to finish 1st or 2nd in another hunter chase by the end of the month and I can see him turning up at Fontwell for the final chance to qualify. Law Of Gold was a big disappointment and was never travelling. Connections said they wouldn't run him at Cheltenham again after he ran poorly in the race last year and unless they have had a change of heart I can't see him lining up. Also if they were considering it Saturday might have put them off. He is 50/1 with 365. 365 have also stuck Solider Of Love in the betting at 33/1 but he was another Nicholls horse to disappoint of late and he would have to improve massively to be a realistic contender here. What it did at least do is give him one of his qualifying runs for the race. Nicholls' Alcala also disappointed at Wincanton when West Approach won the match race. He is 16/1 with Coral and Ladbrokes and still needs to qualify, but you would imagine connections will be looking to do so to give Freddie a ride in the race. He would be an unlikely winner for me at this stage though and it is hard to know how much he actually achieved at Wincanton given his rival didn't run his race. It did though look an improvement on his Warwick effort. The previous Saturday the Ellis team had another Cheltenham contender win in the shape of Fumet d'Oudairies at Horseheath. There were only 3 runners and only one other horse finished, but he made hard work of winning the race and the time wasn't anything special. I would be very surprised if Gina didn't chose Dubai Quest over him at Cheltenham and he looks too short at 12/1-16/1. The day after that last year's 4th Latenightpass ran at Alnwick and fell at the last when still a length in front. As mentioned in the first post though the Ellis team are set to send him just to Aintree this season and his one horse near the head of the market who you can more than likely say wont run. Red Indian won the race in the end and it was a decent effort as was his 3rd to Dubai Quest 1st up. He's not in the betting, but he might well run in the race. Another yard who might have more than one runner is the Gibbs stable and Premier Magic won his 2nd race of the season just over a week ago at Milborne St Andrew. The final time was slow, but the final circuit time was quick and although he didn't have much to beat he did do it impressively. Connections weren't saying much about Cheltenham plans after the race so it is hard to know if they will run both him and Highway Jewel or not. His price ranges from 12/1-16/1 and although I would fancy his stablemate more at this stage I do think he has improved this season. On Sunday in Ireland Lord Schnitzel was back in action in a point, but he was beaten by 12yo Na Trachtalia Abu and that form is nowhere near good enough for this. I missed Mighty Stowaway winning on the 16th January in my previous update and he bolted up in an impressive performance. Even so it still hasn't changed my mind on him doing well to improve on his 6th in this last year. Speaking of Mighty Stowaway he is one of 10 entered in the main prep hunter chase in Ireland at Naas on Saturday. Billaway, Cloudy Tuesday, Er Dancer and Good Bye Same are also entered. Porlock Bay has been entered all over the place in the last couple of weeks and could go at Bangor on Friday.
  16. Stockport v Dover You don't need me to tell you that this should be a home win, but I think there is some value in backing the -2 and -3 handicaps. I think Stockport will go onto win the league although they are set to host Chesterfield on Tuesday night which is a huge game. They just look so good at the moment though that it is hard to see any of the others in contention being able to match them. They have only lost one of their last 10 and have scored 33 goals and conceded just 5 in that spell. The one slight concern is they might ease off when the game is won with that Chesterfield match in mind, but I just don't see how Dover wont be massively outclassed in this game and odds against Stockport beating them by at least 3 goals looks a big price to me. Curzon Ashton v AFC Telford (National League North) The home side are more than capable of winning this and they do come here off the back of a win against Fylde last week, but Telford are starting to go through the gears now under their new manager and they have had a couple of very impressive wins over Darlington and BPA scoring 8 goals and conceding 0. This game has been priced up on league positions and I certainly think Telford have been under estimated by the bookies here. Needham Market v Royston (Southern League Central) The home side are in superb form at the moment and as well as being in the FA Trophy still they are also making a bid for the play-offs. They have only lost 2 of their last 10 league games and I think they ought to be odds on to win this. Royston seem to have run out of steam and their 3 wins in their last 10 games have come against Redditch, Nuneaton and Biggleswade which isn't exactly great. They are also the only team Tamworth have beaten in a long time. Cheshunt v Leatherhead (Isthmian League) This game is a bit like the Curzon v Telford one in that Cheshunt are a decent enough side and Leatherhead are an improving side at the bottom of the league. The problem Cheshunt have had though is they have totally lost their form of late and have only picked up 1 point in their last 5 league games. It's odd because the last league game they won was against 2nd in the table Enfield and they also beat St Albans 3-0 in the FA Trophy. They face Stockport next week which is clearly a big game for them and they don't really have anything to play for in the league anymore. Leatherhead have again improved for a new manager and player additions and as much as Cheshunt are the right favourites with Leatherhead unbeaten in 3 they look capable of getting a crucial 3 points. Stockport -2 3pts @ 11/10 with Betfair, Paddy Power, Skybet and William Hill (take up to 4/6) Stockport -3 1pt @ 11/4 with William Hill (take up to 9/4) AFC Telford 1pt @ 3/1 with Bet365 and Betfred (16/5 available with Hills but will settle at 3/1 and take up to 2/1) Needham Market 3pts @ 5/4 with William Hill, Skybet and Bet365 (take up to 4/6) Leatherhead 1pt @ 16/5 with Betfair and Paddy Power (take up to 9/4)
  17. Double I put up York last week, but my god they were awful against Kidderminster and it was a similar story as Bradford Park Avenue also beat them 3-0. Tomorrow they host the side I think are going to win the league in Gateshead. They have scored 13 goals in their last 4 league games and they ought to be adding to that against an out of sorts York. I am putting them in a double with Maidstone to beat Concord. Maidstone in good form at the moment and had an impressive win over Ebbsfleet on Tuesday night. Concord did mange a draw against Dartford on Tuesday night, but they have lost their way and in their last 9 matches Concord have only managed to beat Billericay. I think this also looks a likely away win. Oxford City v Havant & Waterlooville The xG figures were hinting that Oxford were punching above their weight a bit when it came to their league position and then last week they lost their very good manager to Weymouth. That for me is going to hinder them and although they beat Welling on Tuesday night, Oxford ended up with the smaller xG. It is a slight concern that Havant have only won 2 of their last 10, but they still seem to do better on their travels and although the price is getting towards being no value I still just about make them a bet. St Albans v Slough I am still happy enough to take on St Albans again here and think Slough offer a bit of value. Slough had a very bad day at the office the last time I tipped them up when they lost 6-1 to Chippenham, but amazingly they had a higher xG in that game and I think it was just one of those things. They ought to have won last week when Billericay happened to equalise with one of their 3 shots. As I pointed out on Tuesday St Albans have been misfiring for a while now and they are worth opposing again. Kidderminster v Gloucester City There was small improvement from my own team against Hereford on Tuesday and Matt Green should make a difference going forward, but I still think we are going to struggle in the short term especially up against a very good side in Kidderminster. They surprisingly struggled against Kettering on Tuesday in a game I thought they would win quite comfortably. Back at home though and I think they will have a fairly easy time of things against Gloucester. I take them to overcome the -1 handicap. Leamington v Blyth Spartans Blyth's good run of form continued last week when they got a good win at Alfreton. They have to travel even further south for this one, but Leamington are badly out of form at the moment with it being 11 games now since they last won. At the odds Blyth look decent value to pick up another 3 points. Gateshead/Maidstone 1pt double @ 5/2 with Skybet and Betfred (2.66/1 with Hills is available but will settle to 5/2 and take up to 2/1) Havant 1pt @ 13/8 with Skybet, Betfair, Paddy Power and Betfred (Bet365 are 9/5 but will settle at 13/8 and take up to 6/4) Slough 1pt @ 2/1 with pretty much everyone apart from Hills who are 11/5 (will settle at 2/1 and take up to 7/4) Kidderminster -1 1pt @ 17/10 with Betfair, Paddy Power, Betfred and Skybet (take up to 11/8) Blyth 1pt @ 2/1 with pretty much everyone apart from Bet365 who are 21/10 (will settle at 2/1 and take up to 13/8)
  18. Time for the 2nd update for the season and the obvious place to start is with the Thurles hunter chase which saw Billaway make his seasonal debut. I wondered if he'd had a setback in the opening post and I was right to think that with Willie Mullins confirming in his Sporting Life column that the horse would need the run after having suffered a setback. When you add into the fact that he doesn't have a great first time out record then I think the run was perfectly respectable. It's not unusual for him to come off the bridle so that doesn't bother me and his jumping isn't always foot perfect either so again that wasn't a huge surprise. Once he couldn't win the race Patrick wasn't overly hard on him and just made sure that he finished 2nd. He was pushed out to 6/1 after the race which surprised me as I reckon we will see a much improved performance next time out now he has got this opening run under his belt. Winged Leader was the winner of the race and he has been cut from 20/1 into 8/1 2nd favourite for Cheltenham. It was a good front running performance and his trainer said he would be entered for Cheltenham although he thinks he might be more one for Aintree. In my first piece I rubbished his chances for Cheltenham, but regardless of the 2nd needing the run it was clearly an improved performance from his previous form. At this stage though I still don't rate him as a possible winner of this race and I would back Billaway to reverse the form as he clearly had a fitness edge over him on Sunday. Its All Guesswork and Stand Up And Fight were 3rd and 4th and are in some bookies prices, but neither look likely winners. I shall stay in Ireland and look at another Willie Mullins horse called Good Bye Sam. When I was looking through the odds I thought who on earth is this horse at 20/1 in the betting as I had never heard of him. Turns out he had a few runs in France without winning the last of which was in October 2020. Since then he has gone to the Mullins yard and on the 15th January he finished 2nd in a maiden point. Clearly someone must have asked around for a price because otherwise the bookies wouldn't have priced him up. I know he's a great trainer, but it would be some feat to even get him qualified for Cheltenham let alone for him to be a possible winner of the race. At Turtulla on January 16th Aloneamongmillions made a winning seasonal debut. He was quite high in the betting for this race last year before finishing 3rd at Down Royal and then disappointing at Naas a year ago. This was his first run since and it was good to see him get back to winning ways. He's not in the betting at the moment and I don't know if this is the target, but he ought to be in the betting. He had Er Dancer 3L back in 2nd and Killultagh Vic was well beaten in 4th. Both of those 2 are in the betting, but the latter has little chance of qualifying now. With hunter chases starting back up this side of the Irish Sea we will start to see who the leading candidates will be for the British although I doubt anything from the first two will trouble the judge at Cheltenham and that is even if they run. Hogan's Height won well at Ludlow under a good Gina Andrews ride, but his trainer didn't sound like this race was the target although if he qualified his owners might well fancy a runner at the Festival. He is 33/1 and to me that represents the sort of chance he would have. At Warwick we saw some disappointing efforts especially from Kimberlite Candy, but Reikers Island was a good winner under a superb front running ride. He has been put in at 25/1, but his trainer has said that Aintree is his target as his owner wants to ride him over the National fences. On Sunday Highway Jewel made a winning seasonal appearance at Chipley Park in a Mixed Open. It was only a 3 runner race, but her two opponents had already both won this season so she wasn't beating no hopers and they both had race fitness on their side. She made all and put the race to bed in impressive style at 3 out. Understandably she got a bit tired on the run-in, but she clocked by far the quickest time on the card despite being eased off late on. If she had won under Rules then her price would have shortened, but because it was a point she was unchanged at a general 20/1. I wouldn't mind seeing her get some more experience in a Hunter Chase pre Cheltenham, but she certainly looks in good nick at the price is a fair one. Last year's winner Porlock Bay has a hunter chase entry at Hereford on Monday and a point entry at Milborne St Andrew the day before so it looks like we might well see him in action in the next few days.
  19. Maidenhead v Halifax (National League) The home side have a very good record against the top sides as they did last season and they proved that again on Tuesday night when becoming just the 2nd side to beat Chesterfield in the league this season. They were good value for the win and having beaten Halifax on the opening day of the season they are worth a play at landing the double. Gloucester v Southport (National League North) I have to oppose my side again we just aren't creating much at all and although we have been more solid at home, Southport have been creating plenty of chances of late and I think they are the toughest side that Gloucester have hosted for a while. The prices are all wrong and I would make Southport favourites. Kidderminster v York (National League North) I just get the feeling Kidderminster are running on fumes at the moment and they created very little in Tuesday night's defeat at Hereford. York on the other hand have had very little football and this will just be their 2nd league game since December 11th and their first this year. They won in the FA Trophy last week over Slough and they look value here with the fresher legs. Hungerford v Chelmsford (National League South) The home side seem to have lost their way a little and Chelmsford are still creating a fair few chances, although they do sometimes have a problem in actually putting them away. They are clearly playing well though and look a spot of value here. Morpeth v Buxton (Northern Premier) The home side did us a great turn in the Trophy last week and I fancy them again at big odds to beat Buxton who really seem to have lost their way recently. The 3-3 draw against Warrington last week was their only point in their last 5 games and as we know Morpeth are in really good form at the moment. Hopefully they can keep the momentum going. Maidenhead 1pt @ 7/2 with Skybet, BetVictor and Betfred (take up to 9/4) Southport 2pts @ 19/10 with Betfred, Betfair, Paddy Power, William Hill and Coral (take up to 5/4) York 1pt @ 17/5 with William Hill and Coral (take up to 9/4) Chelmsford 1pt @ 21/10 with William Hill (take up to 7/4) Morpeth 1pt @ 12/5 with Bet365, Betfred and Betfair (take up to 7/4) Other bets (all National League South) Eastbourne to beat Bath 1pt @ 11/5 with William Hill (take up to 7/4) Dorking to beat Ebbsfleet 1pt @ 7/4 with Betfair and Paddy Power (take up to 11/8)Hemel Hempstead to beat Tonbridge Angels 1pt @ 23/10 with William Hill (take up to 7/4)
  20. The first race of the 2022 hunter chase season as in interesting affair, but from a punting point of view it looks tricky. When I had a first glance over the final entries on Tuesday my initial thinking was that Another Venture could be worth a bet. What I wasn't expecting though was for him to be favourite for the race. On balance I think he has the best recent form over this sort of trip when he won over course and distance just over a year ago off a mark of 135. After that he fell at Warwick and then pulled up in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham. New connections paid £20k for him in May which the jockey being Nicky Henderson's assistant. I suspect that George is probably the unofficial trainer as well. He made a solid enough start at the Open Meeting in November when finishing 3rd over 3m1f. Granted he was 16L behind the winner and a faller at the last helped him finish 3rd but he got an RPR of 129 so it was a good effort. I'd imagine they are trying to get him qualified for Cheltenham and I think he has claims here. Hogan's Height won the 2019 Grand Sefton, but it is fair to say that he hasn't really achieved very much since. Clearly they have been in better races than this though. He was miles behind Tiger Roll in 6th at Cheltenham and then 12th behind Minella Times at Aintree for example. The 6th in this season's Grand Sefton was OK although he didn't seem to be enjoying himself at all in the Becher last time. The booking of Gina is obviously a big plus and in an easier race it might just see him bounce back to form, but I would have liked to see him perform better than he has been so he wouldn't be for me here. I mention that Another Venture has the best recent form over this sort of trip, because the best recent form in my view is Not That Fuisse as he was beaten a neck in a Listed Race at Ayr in April and prior to that he was 5th in the Grand Annual. The 4th at Sandown a week after the Ayr race was decent as well. The problem is those races were over 2m and 2m4f and we have no idea if he will stay this far. The other thing to consider is that he had an irregular heartbeat after pulling up at Chepstow in October. I have just had a look at what Dan Skelton said about him in his Racing Post stable tour back in November and he said that he has his heart right now. He also mentioned that he think there's still a big day in him although it might not be until the spring on good ground. Does make me wonder why he has ended up going hunter chasing, but Dan has proven he's very good at targeting his horses at races and maybe he is looking at Aintree with him. On paper I think he is probably the best horse in the race, but I just wonder if the combination of trip and ground might just stop him from winning this. After those 3 in the betting we get to the horses who have been pointing and hunter chasing already. Zamparelli has proven himself to be a good solid horse in hunter chases and beat Bletchley Castle by 9L here in March over 2m4f. He then fell at Cheltenham before finishing a fast finishing 2nd in the only handicap hunter chase of the season at Stratford. He found himself outpaced that day after they went a hell of a gallop and I think a step up in trip under rules might help him especially as he has won a couple of times over the trip and he was strong in the finish when he won here. The comeback run at Larkhill in December was decent enough as he tends to need the run and he did pull up on his seasonal return last term which backs up that point. If any of the 3 ahead of him in the betting run up to the best of their ability then I can't see him beating them, but as I have mentioned it is hardly as if any of them come here completely bombproof. Ozzy Thomas' handicap form from last season would give him a chance in this, but he has gone to Scott Malson who also owns and rides him and I am not sure he is going to be running up to that level. This is the first horse Scott has trained and he has only ridden 1 winner in 41 rides in points. His 4th at Ffos Las in a point in November is nowhere near good enough to land this. He did run in a hunter chase at Fakenham just before racing stopped for Covid and he was given a shocking ride when coming last so I would ignore that. In theory a double figure price about him is too big, but I have big doubts about him being able to show the form he was showing for Henry Oliver last season so I will pass him over. Haven't Time showed some useful form in points in the 2019 season, but he wasn't seen from March that year until November last year when he fell at the 11th. Impossible to know what sort of level he is capable of, given the time off and the face he is unexposed. What I will say is connections could have stuck to pointing with him and found an easier option. As much as I don't want to back him I am interested to see how he gets on with the future in mind. Good to see Bletchley Castle back for another season as a 13yo. He will make the running as usual no doubt and does like it here having run well when 2nd on all 3 starts here last season. I've never really thought of him as a proper 3 miler though and that 2nd to Garde Ville over course and distance came in a 4 runner where the other 2 were big disappointments. I suspect he might well need the run as well. I always respect anything Joe O'Shea runs as he is such a shrewd trainer as he showed with Cousin Pascal at Aintree last year. He was also entered in this race for the same owner as Envious Editor, but he is obviously being kept for another contest. He has already run 4 times this season, but has only actually completed on one of those occasions when 2nd at Ffos Las. Last time out he ran at Chaddesley Corbett over Christmas and he travelled really well during the race, but emptied in the home straight and ended up pulling up. That was over 2m3f and he doesn't even look like he truly stays that far let alone 3m. Fair play to Joe if he gets him to even hit the frame, but on the evidence of his point runs and his runs for Gordon Elliott in Ireland I just can't see him lasting the distance. The other 3 runners shouldn't really get involved in the finish. Like I said at the start this is a tricky race from a punting point of view as we have horses rated in the 130s making their hunter chase debut, but with doubts to varying degrees about what sort of form they are still capable of. I think Hold That Fuisse is likely to be the best horse in the race, but I'm not sure today's conditions are going to see him perform to his peak. Another Venture could be the one of the 3 who finds this test the most suitable, but I probably want getting on for 3/1 about him before I would want to play as he isn't exactly bombproof and I don't really fancy Hogans Height. Zamparelli looks the most likely of the rest to run his race and I think he has a fair chance of at least hitting the frame because I would be surprised if all the front 3 ran to form and there has to be a chance none of them do. There will be better punting races I am sure this season, but at the current prices I think the bet is a small e/w one on Zamparelli. Zamparelli 0.5pts e/w @ 15/2 with everyone except Bet365 and Skybet are 4 places (take up to 11/2) I wrote the above last night and this morning Envious Editor has been the big market mover. Like I say in the preview though I just struggle to see him staying. Obviously his trainer has been known to pull of surprises before so if he did go and win I wouldn't be shocked but in this case I have to go with my eyes and the form in the book.
  21. If you are new to reading this thread then a couple of years ago I decided to do a Road to the Cheltenham Foxhunter thread given all the various Cheltenham pieces never mention the contest. It has proved popular and it is back again as we build up to the race. It is later than usual this season for a couple of reasons. First of all bookies have been very slow to price the race up and secondly not too much has happened especially this side of the Irish sea. To start with I have written about every horse who has been priced up so far and added a couple that aren’t, but that are being targeted at the race. Hopefully you will find this useful and as always I will update as and when. Billaway – Not surprisingly the current favourite to finally get his head in front at Cheltenham and I have a feeling at this stage he might just well do it. Having said that his current price is no value and his nonappearance so far this season is a concern. He was entered in the opening Irish hunter chase of the season at Fairyhouse, but didn’t run and then didn’t even get an entry at Down Royal on Boxing Day. Both those things make me think he is injured at the moment or at the very least recovering from an injury. As always with horses being aimed at this race we rarely hear anything about their well being and until we see him on a racecourse I wouldn’t be backing him. Bob And Co – Obviously wont be seen until hunter chases start up in this country and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he followed the same route as last season when he won at Haydock prior to going to Cheltenham. Porlock Bay – Last year’s winner wasn’t seen again after that success and he made his seasonal reappearance at Chaddesley Corbett over Christmas. He finished 2nd to Premier Magic that day beaten a length in the end, but Will Biddick said after the race that he left plenty to work on and that he was working back from Cheltenham. The fact he was beaten doesn’t make me think that he couldn’t hold on to his crown in March as I do think he will improve a lot for race. Reading between the lines of what Will said after the race he clearly thought Porlock Bay would beat Premier Magic should they take each other on again and I agree with him. I wouldn’t want to back him yet, but at the same time I would have him in single figures rather than the 12/1 he is with Bet365. He looks set to run again this month in either a hunter chase or a point as his final prep for Cheltenham. Premier Magic isn’t priced up yet, but it did sound like he would be going to Cheltenham as well. He’s a good horse and Bradley Gibbs mentioned he had improved from last season. I do think he was the fitter horse at Chaddesley rather than being the better horse. Latenightpass – As short as 8/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair, but connections have said they will skip Cheltenham and aim him at Aintree instead which seems sensible and they have two other horses to target at the race anyway. Staker Wallace – 4th and 3rd in the last two runnings and could still have improvement to come. Has yet to be seen so far this season. Paddy Power and Betfair go 7s which is closer to the price I would have him at rather than the 20/1 Unibet have put him in at. Mighty Stowaway – Already run 7 times between October and the end of December and he’s won 2 points and head heated in another. He was 3rd behind Vaucelet at Fairyhouse in November and it is hard to see on what he has shown so far this season how he is going to improve on his well beaten 6th at Cheltenham last year. Lord Schnitzel – Was pulled up at the 2020 Festival in the Novice Handicap Chase off 139 and didn’t so a great deal after that. He change trainers last summer and started off by finishing 5th in a Kilbeggan maiden hurdle, before finishing 2nd in his 1st point in September. Since then he has thrived as he won 3 points on the bounce before trouncing his rivals in a maiden hunter chase at Limerick over Christmas. That was an impressive performance and it will be interesting to see what he does in a stronger race, but his trainer said after the race that they may skip Cheltenham and go to Aintree instead. Winged Leader – Surprised to see him in the beating to be honest as I’d be surprised if he ran, but dead heated with Mighty Stowaway in his only run so far this season. Just struggle to see how he would find the improvement needed to play a part if he did travel. It Came To Pass – Was a well beaten 7th last year after beating Billaway by 10L in 2020. Has run in 3 points this season so far and after being stuffed in the first of them finished a close 2nd next time before beating Killultagh Vic by a couple of lengths on Sunday. For a novice riders race it was a decent heat, but at this stage I find it hard to see him getting close to his 2020 effort. Killultagh Vic – Speaking of Killultagh Vic he is also priced up and it was back in 2015 that he landed the Martin Pipe. Obviously has the back class, but he’s now 13 and given he’s been beaten in 2 points this season as well as one last season he will probably do well to qualify for the race let alone win it. Cloudy Tuesday – Is unexposed and easily won a hunter chase at Thurles last March, before pulling up at Fairyhouse. This season he beat It Came To Pass first up, but was then 2nd to Mighty Stowaway last month and he would need to find improvement to play a part at Cheltenham. Another Venture – Nicky Henderson doesn’t send too many hunter chasing, but he mentioned that this horse had been purchased to go hunter chasing under his assistant George Daly. George rode him at Cheltenham at the November meeting and ran well enough to finish 3rd albeit 16L behind the winner. In all honestly I think the only reason he has been priced up is because of who he is trained by as his previous rules form wouldn’t be good enough to win this, but he does look capable of winning hunter chases during the season. Vaucelet – Had Premier Magic and Fumet d’Oudairies behind him win when landing the John Corbet Cup at Stratford last season and he did it will that day on only his 5th start. He returned this term to win a point by 30L before landing the first hunter chase of the season at Fairyhouse. I thought he still looked green that day and it made me think that this season’s Cheltenham Festival might be a year to soon for him. He then went to Down Royal on Boxing Day in a race he really ought to have been good enough to win, but he was only 3rd in the end. He was making hard work of it, but coming to 2 out I thought he was going to win given how well he stays. I was disappointed that he didn’t keep finding at that point and that he faded into 3rd. Some might say that the trip was too short, but for me the trip didn’t get him beat. It will be interesting to see what he does next time, but if he were mine I wouldn’t send him to Cheltenham this season and I think they would be better allowing him some more time. Dorking Cock won that Down Royal contest and he got up to a rating of 129 when trained over here by Tom Lacey. He was a surprise winner at Down Royal and he wouldn’t be good enough for this based on what he had done previously, but he’s only had 17 starts so maybe there is more to come. He’s not in the betting at the moment, but the 2nd home Er Dancer is. He had won a couple of points prior to Down Royal and it does seem like he’s found some improvement this season. He ran like he needed further and could possibly be interesting if the improvement continues. Fumet d’Oudairies – An incredible buy at just £800 given he is 5 from 6 in points and he has won a couple of hunter chases. I thought he was impressive at Leicester and Cheltenham although they were over 2m4f and 2m respectively and he was only 2nd to Vaucelet at Stratford and that would lead me to think he might struggle to stay in this. He returned on New Years Eve where he had a very easy task at Horseheath under his new jockey Gina Andrews as her brother has now gone pro. I’d want to see him prove he can stay this far under rules and Gina is likely to have a tricky choice to make as the yard have another contender. Dubai Quest – That other horse is Dubai Quest and at this stage I would favour him over his stablemate. Apart from when he fell on his debut for the yard he has won his other 6 starts for them including bolting up in a hunter chase at Fakenham last February. His only other start last season was a point win at Maisemore. This season he returned in what will probably be the hottest Ladies Open we see all season at Chaddesley Corbett which he won well beating Tango de Juilley and Red Indian. I think it’s seriously good form and connections suggested the hunter chase at Wetherby next month would be used as his Cheltenham prep. He’s not priced up yet, but he ought to be. Highway Jewel – You may remember that I tipped her up at 66/1 last year only for the trainer to forget to enter her! She has been put in the betting at 20/1 with Bet365 this time around and she has yet to run this season. I think she is better than her stablemate Premier Magic and she would be my pick of the Gibbs runners. I can’t wait to see her back in action.
  22. Amazing performances from Boreham Wood and Kidderminster to win today and from what I could tell in the highlights both wins were fully deserved. I enjoyed my trip to Stamford Bridge as did the near 6000 who had come from Chesterfield especially when Asante netted the goal, so close to getting my Tshimanga to score at anytime bet up as he did all the donkey work. I was amazed at how strong a side Chelsea put out and they meant business in the first half and they fully deserved to be 4 up at half time. 2nd half though they were the total opposite and whereas they were free flowing in the first half in the 2nd they were over thinking things. I know there was an element of game won, but if they had the attitude for the whole game then we might have seen something special. I also have to disagree with @StevieDay1983and if Chelsea had put out the youth team then there would have been only one team I would have wanted to have been backing and it wouldn't be the home team.
  23. These are my tips for this week, not had time to check prices but as always minimum price to take is mentioned. Bromley v Solihull Moors Bromley still seem off the pace at the moment. I didn't think they performed well against Southend in the TV game on Boxing Day and they followed that up with a loss to Maidenhead. There last 3 league games have seen them record lower xG's than their opponents including when they beat Altrincham 1-0 when their xG was 0.83 and Altrincham's was 2.37. They are clearly under performing at the moment and Solihull are more than good enough to take advantage. Although Stockport edged it in their last league game, Solihull certainly played their part and created some good chances themselves. For me there isn't much between these two sides and when you add in Bromley's recent performances then the away win is a clear bet. Chippenham v Slough (National League South) I am going to continue to back Slough despite the fact they only got a point on Sunday. They outperformed Oxford City again on the xG front getting 1.02 to Oxford's 0.49 and they have every right to fill frustrated by the fact they only picked up 1 point in their two games against Oxford. Chippenham had a very good win over Hungerford, but either side of that they were beaten by Bath and I would have Slough as a better side than Bath. It is also clear that Hungerford just had a bad day at the office especially as they bounced back with an easy win over Hampton in their next game. There is clear value in backing Slough here. Farsley Celtic v Darlington (National League North) The home side have been struggling having only beaten Bradford Park Avenue in their last 8 league games and I think Darlington can be another opponent who gets 3 points against them. Darlington have also only won once in their last 7 games, but they have drawn 4 of those including both games against Spennymoor over the holiday period. The win was also against Fylde and they certainly have the edge for me over the home side. Potters Bar v Cray (Isthmian Premier) Since Potters Bar beat Lewes 5-1 they have failed to pick up a point in their next 3 games. Not only that but they have conceded 4 goals each time including against a poor Leatherhead side. They also lost 4-0 to Enfield in their last game, but on Monday Cray played them and drew 4-4 which was slightly unfortunate as they were 4-2 up at one stage. Cray are scoring goals at the moment whilst Potters Bar are letting them in and there is no reason why Cray should be such a big price. Tamworth v Royston (Southern Premier Central) Tamworth have not had a good season at all and although you couldn't say for certain they are out of the play-off picture given they have games in hand, it is unlikely. They have only picked up 2 points in their last 8 games and I think Royston are just about value to make sure they don't add to that tally here. Gosport v Walton Casuals (Southern Premier South) Gosport won 5-0 in their last game against Salisbury, but they were decimated by various matters and only had two outfield subs on the bench. Gosport had been struggling prior to that and they face a Walton side who have been in very good form. They have lost just 1 of their last 6 and that includes wins over Hayes and Met Police, 2 of the top 3 sides. They look over priced to me to pick up another 3 points. Solihull 1pt @ 12/5 with Betfred (take up to 7/4) Slough 2pts @ 19/10 with William Hill (take up to 11/8) Darlington 1pt @ 15/8 with William Hill, Coral and Ladbrokes (take up to 11/8) Cray 2pts @ 13/5 with Paddy Power, Betfair and William Hill (take up to 7/4) Royston 1pt @ 13/8 with Skybet, Paddy Power, Bet365, Betfair and William Hill (take up to 11/8) Walton Casuals 1pt @ 2/1 with William Hill, Bet365 and Betfred (take up to 13/8 and 85/40 is available with Skybet)
  24. It is hard to see any of the non-league sides making it to the 4th round unless Covid hits as it did for Derby when they played Chorley a year ago. The strange thing is though I put up Chorley at 12/1 to beat Derby and yet Kidderminster are nowhere near that price to beat Reading. Kiddie are probably a bit better than that Chorley side, but then I suspect Reading are better than Derby so even if you thought that Kiddie could get something you are hard pushed to thing the price is much value. Bournemouth ought to be too strong for Yeovil who were probably a little fortunate to get past Stevenage in the last round. Boreham Wood have the best chance as they are very hard to beat at home and if they are up to speed after a Covid break (they looked in need of the game against Barnet on Sunday) then they can make things hard for Wimbledon. Finally we get to the game I will actually be at. I've never seen a live FA Cup game past the 1st Round so it will be a new one for me and I've never been to Stamford Bridge either. I've got to say that the 50/1 you can get on the away side is a bit insulting because they are a very good side and I find it hard to believe that Chelsea aren't going to be resting all the big names so chances are they could make it hard for them. To be honest I am more excited about seeing Tshimanga in the flesh than I am any of the Chelsea team (mainly because I haven't actually heard of most of them), as he is the best player in the National League at the moment. He's Championship standard and it would not surprise me if he scored a goal because he is more than capable of doing so. The only problem is I have backed him at 40/1 to be top scorer this season and I don't really want anymore attention on him during this month! So I will have a few quid on him to score at anytime whilst trying to keep up to date on if any of the league clubs get a Covid issue.
  25. I'm a bit surprised that Gateshead have drifted slightly which makes me wonder if there maybe some Covid issues in the Gateshead camp. For example Dagenham have some staff with Covid (they don't mention players having it) and it has meant Dover have come in a bit against them. I mean on all known form Gateshead should win, but could be worth waiting to see what the team news is.
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