Carlisle were well beaten in the end by Notts County, who gave themselves a small glimmer of hope in the final stretch of the season.
I’ve struggled for time today with a hectic day, plus other bits surrounding Cheltenham and a potential abandonment due to the gusts that a threatening.
The bet surrounds cards in the Championship.
40+ Booking Points Double (11/4 – Sky Bet – 0.5pt)
Derby vs Stoke
Middlesbrough vs Preston
I do like the look of this double with all things considered heading into tonight’s games.
Stoke beat Derby when the sides last met and that saw the Potters end with ten-men when Peter Etebo was sent-off in the first half, while Bradley Johnson got away with biting Joe Allen, before being retrospectively punished.
That will be in the minds of both sets of players here, so it could get a little heated.
Etebo is likely to return from injury after missing Saturday’s goalless draw at QPR and he could partner Charlie Adam in the middle of the park, who is usually good for a card.
40+ Booking Points (11/10) in the game at Pride Park was very nearly a single considering Derby’s last six games have seen that outcome with them picking up at least 20 in each.
Six of Stoke’s last eight away games have seen 40+ booking points, including their weekend trip to QPR, which saw both sides have a man sent-off.
Betfair have priced a player cards market and Bruno Martins Indi (7/2) could be a candidate with the Dutchman playing a left-back, so he could be caught out by the Rams wingers.
I had Middlesbrough in Saturday’s winning double when they picked up 50 booking points alone against Brentford.
For me, the game at the Riverside could be attritional viewing with both Boro and Preston having players in the middle of the park that aren’t afraid of getting stuck in.
Ben Pearson is the obvious shout from a Preston persuasion, and he returns from a two-match ban, while Adam Clayton and Daniel Ayala are both on nine yellows for the season meaning one here would lead to a two-game ban.
Keith Stroud is in charge of the Boro game and eight of his last ten games in the middle have seen 40+ booking points with him averaging 3.5 cautions per game.
In January, he took charge of both sides. Preston drew 1-1 with Swansea and the Lilywhites had Joshua Earl sent-off, while Boro drew by the same scoreline with Millwall and saw 30 of the 40 booking points.
Overall, this looks really solid with the Derby game having a bit of recent history while Boro vs Preston is two sides that graft, plus Preston have picked up the joint-most red cards this season with Nottingham Forest.
While I’m not tipping in that game, it’s worth mentioning that Forest vs Villa is refereed by Mike Dean and the reverse fixture saw 85 booking points and, of course, ten goals.
Cheltenham Festival Day Two
If the winds expected don’t materialise, we’ll have racing. If they do then the card will be moved to Saturday.
13:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
City Island (9/1) gets the nod over Champ. Martin Brassil’s charge has continued to improve over hurdles and has proved himself in big fields. His Leopardstown win on Boxing Day was a solid performance and when he won, before being disqualified at Galway, he saw this trip out strongly. Champ is fittingly named after Sir Anthony McCoy and has the strongest form in the book after winning the Challow Hurdle in good fashion at Newbury in December. He’s continually put in good wins, so is hard to knock.
14:10 RSA Novices’ Chase
Santini has had his issues in the build-up to the Festival and there was doubt over his participation last week. Delta Work has done nothing wrong in dismantling some good sorts, such as Le Richebourg before going on to win a Grade 1 by eight lengths last time out. However, Topofthegame (7/2) has bumped into some smart types in two chase starts finishing second on both occasions. Those runs read well form wise behind Defi Du Seuil and La Bague Au Roi, so if he progressed once more then last year’s Coral Cup second could be difficult to beat.
14:50 Coral Cup
Two against the field in this wide-open handicap would be Brio Conti (12/1) and Scarpeta (22/1).
Brio Conti is a lightly-raced individual for Paul Nicholls, who won this race in these colours with Aux Ptits Soins. This grey was given a tough task on his reappearance after 446-days off the track when pulling up in a Grade 3 but he put that behind him to win at Ascot last time out. He was held highly a couple of years ago but has had his problems. The eight-year-old won on soft ground at Carlisle in 2017 and won on good to soft at Ascot last time, so does like to get his toe in.
Scarpeta is a bit of a frustrating sort but in the hustle and bustle of this race then he could knuckle down and show his true ability. Willie Mullins has put cheekpieces on this son of Soldier of Fortune for the first-time and Mullins rarely reaches for headgear. He was fourth in last year’s Ballymore but hasn’t really gone on from there. The piece of form that caught my eye was the win at Clonmel over 3m in December. If that proves he stays, then it’s a big tick for me because a quick gallop on what is likely to be testing ground means you’ll need stamina.
15:30 Champion Chase
This is surely all about Altior making it 18 wins in a row. Min is used to chasing home the superstar chaser, so that’s a role Willie Mullins gelding is used to filling and can do so once more, so you could back him each-way or without the favourite for a nice little way in. Politologue did get the better of Min at Aintree on soft ground in April, so if able to replicate that sort of performance over this shorter trip then he could outrun his big odds.
16:10 Cross Country
The Cross Country is always a fun race to watch and Tiger Roll looks set to take top honours and repeat last year’s success. The small horse with a huge heart won the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle in very smooth style last month and that’ll have put him just right for this. Now they’re all off level weights, then they’ll be likely all playing second fiddle to last year’s winner before he heads to Aintree to defend his Grand National title.
16:50 Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle
Band Of Outlaws has been well-touted for Joseph O’Brien after wins at Limerick and Naas. He’s sidestepped the Triumph Hurdle for this engagement and his mark of 139 could definitely be underplaying his true ability, so he could prove well-treated if going clear up the Cheltenham hill.
Once more I’m taking two of this big field with Fanfan Du Seuil (16/1) and Our Power (28/1).
The former won well at Exeter in November when beating the latter and both have had experience at running this course. Fanfan Du Seuil was beaten a length by Nelson River in December and he looks like a sort that will continue to improve for Tom George, who had a couple that ran alright yesterday.
Alan King saddles Our Power and he won quite stylishly at Newbury in December on soft ground, so the ground should be right up his street. He then was fourth here in the race won by Fakir D’Oudairies but he put in a good finishing effort to suggest the nature of this race would suit him too, so he ticks plenty of boxes. I do like King’s other runner Praeceps but the ground could go against him.
17:30 Champion Bumper
Not a race I’ll get involved with considering Blue Sari has been all the rage following his debut win by 11 lengths at Gowran Park in January. Willie Mullins has an excellent record in the race and we saw him get off to a flyer yesterday. This four-year-old could turn out to be a very nice type and if running like he did on debut then he would be difficult to beat. Envoi Allen hasn’t done anything wrong in his three races under rules that have seen three successes. He did well to pull away from Meticulous at Leopardstown last month when asked a serious question for the first time on the track. Ask For Glory is hard to weigh up for Paul Nicholls after his saunter around Chepstow on debut for the trainer at an odds-on price, which he justified. He was impressive in his sole point win, plus both of those have been on soft ground, so that is a big tick in the ground box. He has untapped ability and could be open to plenty more improvement.
If pushed for a pick Master Debonair (12/1) would be the way I’d go at a price. This son of Yeats won a Listed race over C&D in November when staying on strongly, and the time before that he was only beaten by half-a-length, also at the track. Plenty of course experience should help and he’s shown he handles the stiff Cheltenham finish, which can catch some of these inexperienced runners out. The form of his win here is starting to work out nicely, so that solidifies his strong each-way claims.
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