Thursday Double, October 22

horse racing doublesOxfordshire trainer Charlie Longsdon has been an excellent source of winners for Richard Johnson in recent years and particularly so over the smaller obstacles this season. Johnson has an outstanding record of 12-23 (52%) on hurdlers for the yard, for a level stakes profit of 13.77 points, so we thought we’d use that statistic for the basis of our multiple bet this week.

The pair team up again for Western Miller in the Apollobet Online Games and Casino Novices’ Hurdle (2.20) and Shear Rock in the Apollobet Best Odds Guaranteed Intermediate Handicap Hurdle (3.25) at Carlisle on Thursday.

Western Miller was a beaten favourite for the second time in a ‘bumper’ at Worcester last month but, although unable to go with the winner, Wholestone, in the closing stages, still pulled 12 lengths clear of the remainder. That form has been franked by the fourth, Crimson Ark, who won a similar novices’ hurdle at Market Rasen last week, so the Wesetrner gelding may be able to get off themark over obstacles at the first time of asking.

Shear Rock is already 3-4 under Richard Johnson this season, but looked better than ever when winning in this grade, off a 6lb lower mark, at Fontwell three weeks ago and can complete a four-timer. All three wins this season have come on fairly sharp, or sharp, tracks, but he stays further, so should have no problem with this stiffer test of stamina.

Selections: Carlisle 2.20 Western Miller, Carlisle 3.25 Shear Rock (win double)

Thursday, October 15

horse racing accaBrighton, with its pronounced gradients and marked camber towards the inside of the track in the home straight, is one of the more idiosyncratic racecourses in the country and, as such, creates its fair share of course specialists. With this in mind, we’ve selected three horses who’ve already won at the Sussex course this season as the basis for our multiple bet this week.

In the Caroline Walsh Memorial Handicap (5.20), French Press won over course and distance on just his second start for Michael Appleby in August and has since gone on to complete a four-timer. His progress has dictated a step up to 0-75 company, but the return to 7 furlongs, or thereabouts, won’t hurt and he can defy a 4lb rise in the weights.

Pour La Victoire has won four times at Brighton, but comes into the Blind Veterans Handicap (5.50) on the back of an uncharacteristically poor effort at Goodwood last month, where he took too keen a hold. Dropped in class, off a 1lb lower mark, he appears to have a decent chance of making amends.

Megalala is well into the twilight of his career, but has won no fewer than eight times at Brighton, between 7 furlongs and 1 mile 4 furlongs, and may be able to make it nine in the Mark Harrington Running New York Marathon Handicap (3.40). He escapes a penalty for his recent success in an apprentices’ handicap and winning jockey Chris Meehan can claim his 7lb allowance this time.

Selections: Brighton 5.20 French Press, Brighton 5.50 Pour La Victoire, Brighton 3.40 Megalala win Patent (3 x win singles, 3 x win doubles, 1 x win treble)

Football Accumulator – Euro 2016 Qualifying

euro qualifying 2016The next round of European Championship Qualifying on Thursday, October 8 has thrown up some interesting fixtures in Groups D, F and I – none of which has yet to be decided – which form the basis of this week’s multiple bet.

Scotland currently lie fourth in Group D and defeat by Poland at Hampden Park on Thursday would end their chances of reaching the finals in France. The home side will be without Ikechi Anya, Charlie Mulgrew, James Morrison and Kevin McDonald and coming into the tie off the back of consecutive defeats by Georgia and Germany, it’s no surprise that Gordon Strachan’s men are second favourites.

By contrast, a win for Poland will see them safely into the finals, if the Republic of Ireland fail to beat Germany on the same evening. The teams drew 2-2 in the reverse fixture in Warsaw in October, Scotland having led 2-1, but the form of Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, who’s scored 12 goals in his last four games for Bayern Munich, must be a major worry for home fans.

Elsewhere in Group D, the Republic of Ireland can do Scotland a favour by beating Germany, but the World Championships have recovered from a slow start to win their last five competitive matches and may prove too strong for Martin O’Neill’s side.

In Group F, a routine home win for Northern Ireland against Greece, who are out of contention, will be enough to secure qualification and, while Group I is still up for grabs, a win for Portugal against Denmark will also see Cristiano Ronaldo and company through to the finals.

Selections: Poland (17/10 with Bet365), Germany (1/2 with Bet365), Northern Ireland (8/5 with Bet365), Portugal (8/11 with Bet365), win accumulator (17.18/1 with Bet365)

Thursday Trixie

trixieSadly, New Bidder failed by a nose and a neck to land our treble last week but, in the words of Meat Loaf, two out of three ain’t bad, so we’re back again in search of a decent payday.

Our first selection this week is Top Spin, trained by Jonjo O’Neill, in the Ken Muir Memorial Handicap Hurdle (3.50) at Warwick. Formerly trained in Co. Wexford by Colm Murphy, the 8-year-old was second to a subsequent winner on his debut for his new yard at Worcester in August and can go one better.

For our second selection we head to Bangor-on-Dee, where Valadom looks well treated under a 7lb penalty in the Barringtons Cleaning Ltd Handicap Chase (4.00). The 6-year-old only joined owner-trainer Richard Hobson from Emmanuel Clayeux earlier this month, but is clearly thriving at present and can continue his progress.

Last, but hopefully not least, Desert Recluse made a promising seasonal debut at Stratford five weeks ago and looks worthy of support in the 2015 Dealer Principal Event Handicap Hurdle (2.40) at Warwick. A prolific winner he isn’t, but reasonably handicapped he most definitely is, so it’ll be disappointing if he doesn’t go well under ideal conditions.

Selections: Warwick 3.50 Top Spin, Bangor-on-Dee 4.00 Valadom, Warwick 2.40 Desert Recluse win Trixie (3 x win doubles, 1 x win treble)

Thursday Trixie

It’s fair to say that a 17-runner sprint handicap isn’t an obvious selection source for a multiple bet, but New Bidder ran so well in William Hill Ayr Bronze Cup last Friday that he must have an outstanding chance in the Download the Racing UK iPad App Handicap (4.00) at Pontefract on Friday. Jedd O’Keefe’s 4-year-old eventually finished third of 25, beaten 1¾ lengths, behind Go Far at Ayr and drops back in class off the same handicap mark.

The Jockey Club Rose Bowl (4.15) at Newmarket is much less competitive and may provide Flying Officer with an opportunity to build upon his successful reappearance at Salisbury three weeks ago. The runner-up at Salisbury, Melodious, was beaten just a neck in the Group 2 DFS Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster next time, so the form looks even better than it did at the time. Two miles on the prevailing good to soft going should be fine for the son of Dynaformer and it’ll take a smart performance to lower his colours.

Bathos has made excellent progress this season and, having recorded a career-best effort at Thirsk earlier this month, may be able to make it four wins from as many starts. The son of Poet’s Voice is 7lb higher in a better race this time, but a mile on good to soft going clearly suits him admirably and he looks the one to beat in the EBM Papst Nursery Handicap (2.35) at Newmarket.

Selections: Pontefract 4.00 New Bidder, Newmarket 4.15 Flying Officer, Newmarket 2.35 Bathos, win trixie (3 x win doubles, 1 x win treble)