Merry Christmas! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas day with all the presents and turkey you could wish for!
Well, Saturday’s bet was plain sailing with Wigan routing Oxford 7-0 at the Kassam Stadium.
The corners treble was also a winner with the Derby, Fulham & AFC Wimbledon matches all seeing ten or more corners.
As usual, the busy Boxing Day calendar is in full swing with football and horse racing, and I’ve done my best to cover as much as possible.
NAP (0.5 pt)
Barnsley vs Preston
- Preston North End to Win (5/4)
Barnsley are sliding into dangerous waters and despite the takeover behind the scenes, they are in disarray on the pitch.
One of my colleagues works for the BBC doing Final Score and has done a few Barnsley games. He’s always reported back how poor they are and that the locals are expecting relegation.
The Tykes are winless in eight (D2, L6) while their home form isn’t great either. You have to go to the start of November to when they beat Birmingham 2-0 here at Oakwell for a home win – that’s three defeats since with no goals scored and six conceded.
Preston are on the up under Alex Neil and they sit just outside the play-off spots, two places and two points behind Aston Villa, who occupy the final place.
The Lilywhites are unbeaten in their last seven (W4, D3). They recent beat Sheffield United and high-flying Bristol City at Ashton Gate – something a few Premier League clubs have failed to do in the League Cup this season.
Preston are third in the form table with 14 points out of a possible 18 in their last six games scoring eight and conceding four in that time and compare that to the Tykes, who have scooped just one point out of a possible 18, so that shows why I’m plumping for an away win.
Jordan Hugill leads the line well for the visitors and he has seven goals this season, five of those have been the first of the game, so he’s worth a look in the goalscorer market, especially with Tom Barkhuizen supplying through balls and crosses, as the midfielder sits on five assists for the campaign.
Spurs vs Southampton (12:30) – Over 8.5 Spurs Corners (10/11 – Sky Bet)
How boringly predictable of me! But Spurs have been machines in this market for the last two years.
They’ve taken the most corners of any Premier League team (130) and average nearly seven per game. To be fair to Southampton, they’ve taken the fourth most with 121, at an average of 6.37 per game, so this could definitely be a good match on the corners markets from an in-play perspective. Remember, Asian Lines and ‘Race To’ lines are available on Bet365 and that’s something to consider here.
Spurs’ own corner counts on home soil has seen them take 14, 10, 11, 9, 3, 10, 8, 12 & 10 – so that Over 8.5 has won in seven of nine games at Wembley.
Watford vs Leicester – Over 2.5 Goals or Leicester Win
I’m expecting goals at Vicarage Road, especially with Leicester’s last five away games all seeing BTTS. They’ve picked up since Claude Puel took over and they fought well to earn a late point against Manchester United on Saturday with ten men.
Watford started well but have slipped in recent weeks. They’ve started to rack up the red cards, proving last season’s ill discipline is still there and they’ve found scoring goals the problem and that’s why I fancy Leicester to win.
In December, Watford have scored just three goals in five games, which has seen them collect just one point. Leicester, on the other hand, have won three of their five games having scored ten goals in that time, with four of them seeing Over 2.5 Goals but I do like the 9/5 on an away win here.
Blackburn vs Rochdale – Blackburn -1 Asian Handicap (9/7 – Bet Victor)
Odd price I know but a bet that landed when these sides met at Spotland back in September as Blackburn coasted to a 3-0 win.
Rovers haven’t lost since 14th October meaning they’re unbeaten in 11 games (W7, D4). Tony Mowbray’s men sit three points off Shrewsbury in second place and the Shrews head to league leaders Wigan, so a home win here could see them move up into an automatic promotion spot.
Four of Blackburn’s home games this season have seen this bet land, including their most recent – a 2-0 win against sixth-placed Charlton.
Rochdale sit second bottom and need to start picking up the points to avoid a nervy end to the season.
They’ve won once in seven but that came at home and their away form shows they’ve been good for a goal lately, having scored in their last five but in that run have only picked up two points.
Blackburn’s stronger squad should have too much for this Rochdale team and on paper it looks a bit of a mismatch with Rovers having a few better players than this league, so a comfortable home win looks in the reckoning.
For Fun BTTS & Win Four-Fold (324.75 – Bet365)
Note: Can also be done as a Lucky 15!
ST used to do these with a bit of luck and I’ve picked one from each of the Football Leagues, so here goes! Team in bold and caps is the selection!
Watford vs LEICESTER
BRISTOL CITY vs Reading
BRADFORD vs Peterborough
CHESTERFIELD vs Crewe
13:05 Limerick – Destin D’Ajonc (7/2)
This is a tidy little race between a solid benchmark in Ex Patriot running for Ellmarie Holden while both Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins have first-time out runners.
I’ve heard plenty about Destin D’Ajonc after he bolted up at Auteuil before moving to Ireland in the colours of JP McManus. Roxinela, who was fifth in the Auteuil race has since won a Listed contest in France giving the form some substance, especially by the way this son of Martaline cruised to the win in unchallenged fashion. He might prove to be one to watch for future reference but we know Gordon Elliott can get one ready first time out and he should handle the heavy conditions.
13:35 Sedgefield – Bal De Rio (4/1)
Hasn’t proved the easiest of conveyances has Brian Ellison’s charge but I’m giving him one more chance here in a race that could fall into his lap.
Will Kennedy will hopefully settle him in midfield and won’t get embroiled in a battle at the head of affairs but Tonto’s Spirit and Danceintothelight both like to go forward and if Tonto’s Spirit goes off as quickly as he did at Wetherby last time then this well be ideal for the closers.
This four-year-old is still learning the game on the job and hasn’t done too much wrong. He looked set for a winning debut over this track and trip but was reeled in on the line by Nemean Lion when possibly idling but the first-time cheekpieces should sharpen him up for this, so if delivered at the right time looks the best of these.
Octagon has won both starts this year but both have come in sellers, so the return to handicap company, albeit it off a competitive mark, wouldn’t inspire me. He was second off this mark on his first start for Harry Whittington at Hereford but that was over 2m and has to prove he wants this extra distance given he’s yet to open his account over anything further than the minimum trip.
13:55 Kempton – Black Corton (5/1)
The Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase is an intriguing renewal and at the time of writing there had been rain at Kempton, which may soften the ground therefore blunting the chance of Mia’s Storm. The mare has won her last four start, including her most recent two over fences but it turning any softer would be a concern.
Ballyoptic has won over fences but there always seems to be a blunder in his round, which knocks the stuffing out of him. That leaves me with Black Corton, who is a horse of iron constitution given how often he runs.
Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old has been the model of consistency and you can argue he’s been found the ideal opportunities along the way but he’s done the business. Nine chase starts with six wins and three seconds is quite the record. He’s a reliable jumper and a solid yardstick in this contest. He’s won a Listed Novice Hurdle at the track, so handles its sharp nature.
I do like West Approach but he’s yet to prove his stamina at this trip and the way he emptied at Cheltenham two starts ago when behind Black Corton and Ballyoptic was a worry. He stayed on well in testing enough conditions at Exeter over 2m3f last time and there could be more to come from him but he needs to show it over this trip.
14:25 Huntingdon – Outofthisworld (9/4)
This filly is one I’ve been waiting to turn out but has been pulled of a potential engagement at Cheltenham last month due to the unsuitable going and was entered to run here earlier in the month but that’s when we had the bad weather seeing the abandonment of the card.
The impression she created at Market Rasen on debut was spectacular with the way she drew clear of her rivals to win by 11 lengths. The form may not prove the strongest in depth but the impression she made was one of a special individual. A concern heading into this race is the quiet nature of the Harry Fry yard with his string not performing particularly well of late but hopefully this filly will come good.
Two good trainers in this type of contest are Fergal O’Brien and Anthony Honeyball – both have runners in Grageelagh Girl and Duhallow Gesture respectively. The former should prefer better than she got at Cheltenham despite putting up a bold showing while the latter has her first run for Honeyball after being recruited from Ireland, so that’s one to watch in the betting.
Everlanes, is a second runner for Honeyball, and she beat the same opponent as Outofthisworld at Southwell on debut last month. She wears a first-time tongue-tie here and earned the same Racing Post Racing as Fry’s filly, so don’t dismiss her too easily.
15:05 Kempton – Bristol De Mai (9/2)
Routed rivals in the Betfair Chase last time when handling the conditions better than any of his rivals but this grey has matured well for Nigel Twiston-Davies and with the rain falling around the Kempton area it’ll play to his strengths. He’s a wonderful looking type, who puts it all in by jumping well and digging deep.
Might Bite has obvious claims after winning the RSA Novices Chase in March despite wandering in the finish while he looked as good as every on his return at Sandown. However, he is from Scorpion and has shown his quirks, so against these classy rivals he might not away with it if showing those traits here.
Whisper has pushed his stablemate close at Cheltenham and Aintree, so has to be respected, especially on the back of his run in the Grade 3 Ladbrokes Trophy Handicap Chase when headed close home by a well-treated sort in Total Recall, who could head to the Grand National for Willie Mullins. He’s a big player for me, as is Double Shuffle despite what the odds say.
Tom George’s charge relishes this course and distance, having won over it and he was also second in a Grade 3 contest back in February. He’s two from two in the month of December plus the return to this trip will suit given he found the 2m5f at Ascot on the short side but he ran on well for second behind Top Notch in that Grade 2 contest. He’ll give his best, it might not be good enough to win but there’s enough to suggest that the 100/1 quotes in places are insulting.
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