In the 5.45 at Newcastle on Friday, Custard The Dragon seems equally at home on Fibresand, Polytrack and Tapeta and, off a mark just 3lb higher than when winning at Southwell earlier this month, must have every chance of completing a hat-trick. Jockey Andrew Mullen is 1-3 for the yard on the all-weather.
In the 7.15 at Newcastle, Star Of Spring ran creditably in defeat off today’s revised mark over course and distance last Saturday and, with apprentice Callum Rodriguez taking off 7lb, may be capable of making a swift return to the winners’ enclosure. Iain Jardine’s five-year-old seems better on Tapeta than elsewhere, but is still not fully exposed on the surface.
In the 8.15 at Newcastle, Novabridge is already 2-3 over course and distance this winter and still looks feasibly weighted, off a 4lb higher mark, on his hat-trick attempt. The Avondridge gelding is clearly thriving in his new surroundings, have joined Karen Tutty in October, and can keep up the good work.
Selections: Newcastle 5.45 Custard The Dragon, Newcastle 7.15 Star Of Spring, Newcastle 8.15 Novabridge, 1-point Each-way Treble
At the time of writing, the three bottom placed teams in the Premier League table- Swansea City, Sunderland, and Hull City- are favoured at 13/8 to all be relegated this season. With more than 15 games left to play, there is plenty of time for this landscape to change and for one or more of the doomed teams to pull themselves out of the mire. So aside from these struggling sides, who else could be in contention of slipping down into the Championship next season? By successfully predicting which teams will fall, good returns can be made on the Relegation Treble. Here we suggest three teams to keep an eye on.
Palace were rock bottom for points won per game in 2016 in the top four English divisions. This led to the sacking of Alan Pardew, but his replacement Sam Allardyce is also facing similar tribulations. After 21 games the Eagles had a mere 16 points, level with 18th-place Hull and above the relegation zone due to superior goal difference. Allardyce is a specialist at keeping teams up, and has never been in charge of a team that has been relegated. Could this record be about to change?
Bookies are offering 11/1 odds on Hull usurping the London club and Palace, Swansea, and Sunderland all going down. The Bet365 free bet is a deposit match up to £200, and could be used to produce great returns on this outcome.
Betting on Watford to go down is much more unlikely, as they are currently seven points above the drop zone. The Hornets are enduring a dreadful run of form, though, and have only mustered a solitary win in their last nine top-flight games. In their last five league outings Walter Mazzarri’s side have scored 2 goals, and they are desperately lacking a clinical goal scorer.
Odion Ighalo has managed 1 goal and 1 assist all season, but he put away 16 goals and 3 assists in the previous campaign. Similarly, Troy Deeney’s output has severely diminished. The captain has 4 goals to his name, 2 of which were from penalties. Last term he scored 13 goals and assisted 7. If Watford don’t sign a prolific striker this January, they could find themselves in big trouble.
Leicester have seemingly lost the fighting spirit that saw them miraculously avoid relegation in 2014-15, and then charge on to win the title last season. Add to that the loss of Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani, and Daniel Amartey during the Africa Cup of Nations, and the fact that the Foxes also have Champions League football to contend with, and the situation looks tenuous. Losses to Sunderland, Watford, and Bournemouth this season have shown just how much Claudio Ranieri’s side have changed. If they can’t recapture that champion’s spirit soon they could be overtaken by the other teams that are desperately fighting for survival.
Of course, these are merely teams to consider putting into that relegation treble. It is highly likely that at least one of the current bottom three will go down, but there is a chance that some of the teams that thought they were sitting pretty could sink down to the dreaded drop zone by the end of the campaign.
In the 2.00 at Southwell on Thursday, Bring On A Spinner was beaten, but far from disgraced on his first attempt in 0-90 company over 5 furlongs on New Year’s Day and, dropping back down in class off a 2lb lower mark, is a strong fancy to resume winning ways. His previous course and distance win represented a career-best effort and he can take his record on Fibresand to 4-5 under regular partner Aaron Jones.
In the 5.50 at Chelmsford, Secret Bird can probably be forgiven his failure over course and distance two weeks ago and is better judged on his previous victory at Wolverhampton, where he made all to win by 2 lengths. He remains 6lb higher in the weights, but his most recent form has already been franked by the runner-up, Topsoil, and the return to 6 furlongs should do him no harm.
Selections: Southwell 2.00 Bring On A Spinner, Chelmsford 5.50 Secret Bird, 1-point Win Double
Unsurprisingly, Paul Nicholls is far and away the leading trainer at Taunton, which is just a short trip down the A303 from his Ditcheat yard, but his 31% strike rate overall is still pretty impressive. The champion trainer saddles five at his local track on Wednesday, January 10 and we’ve selected three of them for our multiple bet this week.
Overland Flyer (1.05) hasn’t been seen in public since winning a restricted race, over 3 miles, at Larkhill point-to-point in February and makes his debut for the yard, but is a promising young horse who commands respect on his debut under Rules. In fact, his trainer has nominated him as one to follow in the coming months, so a winning start looks on the cards.
Captain Buck’s (1.35) has also been absent since April, when a beaten favourite in bumper over an extended 2 miles on this course. However, the runner-up in that race, Only For Love, went on to complete a hat-trick, so the form looks fair enough and Captain Buck’s may well improve again for the step up to 2 miles 3 furlongs.
Last, but hopefully not least, Volpone Jelois (2.40) was all out to win a maiden hurdle on the course last month, but demonstrated his battling qualities and is another who should appreciate stepping up in distance. Still only a four-year-old, of course, he has room for improvement in his jumping, but nevertheless has the makings of a decent novice.