West Brom v Chelsea – Premiership Preview

Forecasting Premiership matches at this time of the season can be fraught with danger. The Monday night game between West Brom and Chelsea should have the feeling of a friendly about it with neither team having any meaningful incentive.

The Blues have been basking in their Premiership Title success for a couple of weeks now and only have this game before collecting their trophy at Stamford Bridge when Sunderland visit on Sunday. There has been speculation that Diego Costa may make a late season return but I cannot see Jose Mourinho taking any needless risks with his leading striker.

Had the Spaniard been one goal behind Aguero in the race for the Golden Boot, it may have been interesting. As it is, Aguero enjoyed a free-for-all courtesy of QPR last week and has it sewn up with a six goal advantage. Eden Hazard has been taking the plaudits and rightly so. He has been far and away Chelsea’s best player this season. You can hardly blame him for letting his standards dip in the 1-1 draw against Liverpool last week.

Perhaps one of the unsung heroes of the side has been Willian. He is finishing the season in really good form and it would be nice to see him hit the target. He is competitively priced at 14-1 to open the scoring and 11-2 to score at any time. His electrifying pace has been a joy to watch this season but his finishing has not quite matched it. If he can add something of the Hazard instinct for goal, he will be an even better player next season.

Chelsea beat Albion 2-0 at Stamford Bridge but that was before the arrival of Tony Pulis. He has certainly made the Baggies a tougher side to beat, despite a brief dip in form and a shock 4-1 defeat at home to QPR. They have bounced back since then and are unbeaten in their last four matches.

Mourinho will be without Ramires, Oscar and Zouma so there could be starting places for Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Isaiah Brown. It is a game that neither side will want to lose rather than one that they feel a desperate need to win. Pulis will be keen for his team to finish the season on a positive note against the champions and the best bet may be to side with a draw.

West Brom v Chelsea DRAW @5-2 Bet365

West Brom 1 Chelsea 1 @6-1 Bet365

Willian to score at any time @11-2 Unibet

Willian to score first @14-1 Unibet

Horse Racing Preview – Monday 18th May

There is horse racing action on turf at Redcar, Leicester and Windsor on Monday and we have tips at all three meetings.

The 3.50 at Redcar sees a very quick reappearance for Desert Law who finished third at York last week. We made him a speculative each-way selection in a big field and he stuck on well enough after looking to hold every chance at the furlong pole. It is interesting that he turns out again so quickly with Graham Lee taking over in the saddle. He may have seen too much daylight that day as he is not the easiest horse to win with. The big danger looks to be Noble Asset who was a good second at Doncaster last time.

The 7.05 race at Windsor has only attracted three runners but Silver Wings looks good value at around even money. He bounced out smartly and made all here on his debut but missed a beat at the start at Chester. He soon made up the ground and looked set to win at the furlong pole only to be out-battled by Rah Rah. That could turn out to be very decent form and he is preferred to Soapy Aitken.

In the 7.35 race, Roger Varian runs Tazffin, a well-bred maiden who was second at Newmarket to Irish Rookie on her debut last season. That filly was second in the French 1000 Guineas this spring while Tazffin’s dam was the useful Tarfshi, winner of the Pretty Polly Stakes in Ireland. Varian has decided to run her in a hood on Monday so she may have her quirks but most of her rivals have never seen a racecourse before.

At Leicester, there is a fascinating handicap at 7.45. Richard Fahey was overshadowed at York by Mark Johnston last week but did finally get on the score-sheet on Friday and has had two more winners since. He saddles impressive Musselburgh winner, Third Time Lucky.

He made all to slam Go Dan Go on the Scottish track and looks very leniently treated here on a mark of 79. The runner-up has since won twice, last time by five lengths off a mark of 74. There are dangers, particularly Godolphin’s Muqarred and the John Gosden-trained Occult, but 9-2 looks a good price for the Fahey runner.

Desert Law 3.50 Redcar @3-1 Ladbrokes

Silver Wings 7.05 Windsor @11-10 Betfair

Tazffin 7.35 Windsor @2-1 Bet365

Third Time Lucky 7.45 Leicester @9-2 Ladbrokes

Preakness Stakes Preview

American Pharoah bids to follow up his Kentucky Derby victory in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

Bob Baffert’s son of Pioneerof The Nile battled to a one-length success at Churchill Downs. He beat Firing Line with stable companion Dortmund two lengths away in third. Both horses take American Pharoah again here.

It is difficult to see what his rivals could do here to reverse the form. Dortmund was soon driven to the lead and was beaten entering the final furlong while Gary Stevens also gave Firing Line a forceful ride. The latter did not surrender with a fight and only went down inside the final 100 yards.

The bookmakers certainly don’t see a change in the outcome on Saturday with American Pharoah priced at 4-6, Firing Line at 4-1 and Dortmund at a top price of 6-1.  With only eight runners, the draw should not come into play and it was worth remembering that the favourite overcame a tough draw to win the Kentucky Derby.

Derby fifth Danzig Moon and the unplaced Mr Z are also in the field but are difficult to fancy and it will be surprising if the big three don’t battle this out. American Pharoah suffered an injury which ruled him out of the Breeders’ Cup last year so has done well to win three quick races this spring. He was not seriously tested to win Grade 2 and Grade 1 events at Oaklawn but was forced to pull out all the stops by Firing Line.

It all looks set up for an exciting re-match. The elusive American Triple Crown is his target this year and it looks as though Firing Line is going to push him all the way. It could even revive memories of Affirmed and his tremendous battles with Alydar back in 1978. The pair finished first and second in all three Triple Crown races.

The race is due off at 11.18 UK Time and can be viewed live on Racing UK.

Best UK odds

American Pharoah 8-11 Paddy Power

Dortmund 6-1 Stan James

Mr Z 50-1 Skybet

Danzig Moon 18-1 Paddy Power

Tale Of Verve 100-1 Bet365

Bodhisattva 66-1 Bet365

Divining Rod 20-1 Stan James

Firing Line 4-1 Stan James

Newbury Preview – Saturday 16th May

Notarised (tipped at 12-1) kept us ahead of the bookmakers at York on Friday and the show moves on to Newbury. The feature race is the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at 3.45 with a huge field of eighteen runners set to go to post.

Night Of Thunder is the form choice having won the 2000 Guineas last season for Richard Hannon. He went on to chase home Kingman in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and was an unlucky loser at the same course on his final start. He is having his first run since October and there may be better value elsewhere.

I have followed Aljamaaheer over the past couple of seasons and was surprised to see Roger Varian run him in the top sprint races last season. He was placed in this race back in 2013 and went on to finish a close second in the Queen Anne Stakes over a mile. He looks overpriced at 25-1 after finishing an unlucky second at Leicester on his seasonal reappearance.

It may also pay to have a little each-way on Moohaarib who won with plenty in hand at Ascot last time. He had previously hung away in the closing stages of the Lincoln but looks just the type to run well in a race like this.

Telescope looks difficult to oppose after his fine run at Newmarket last time. He was just caught on the post by Second Step but will strip fitter in the Aston Park Stakes and has 6lbs and upwards in hand of his rivals here.

The 3.10 is the London Gold Cup and the one that interests me here is the bottom weight Dutch Uncle. Ed Dunlop’s colt was beaten by Jack Hobbs in December before winning his maiden at Wolverhampton. He ran a cracker when second to Subcontinent at Doncaster first time out and the winner has gone in again since. The form received another boost when King Bolete won a hot handicap on Friday and Dutch Uncle has to be the selection here at 9-1.

Our final tip at Newbury on Saturday is Pamona in the Listed Fillies’ Stakes at 4.20. Luca Cumani’s filly was an impressive winner at Newmarket in October and looks destined to better things.

Telescope 2.0 @4-5 Bet365

Dutch Uncle 3.10 @9-1 Paddy Power

Aljamaaheer 3.45 @25-1 Stan James (each-way)

Moohaarib 3.45 @14-1 Bet365 (each-way)

Pamona 4.20 @7-2 William Hill

Premiership Preview – Saturday 16th May

Saturday’s Premiership action revolves around the relegation struggle with Hull City currently facing the drop. They travel to Tottenham and, with a game against Manchester United to come, only a win would revive their flagging hopes of survival.

They were very poor against Burnley last weekend and even a below par Tottenham should have too many guns for them. Harry Kane has gone off the boil in recent weeks but Hull cannot afford to sit back and hope for a draw. Spurs are still in a good position to qualify for the Europa League, even if that competition is regarded as something of a booby prize these days.

Newcastle’s miserable run of defeats finally ended with a point against West Brom last weekend. They are away at QPR who said goodbye to the Premier League with a thumping 6-0 defeat at Man City. I cannot believe that QPR can perform so badly again here and a draw might be the way to go. Sunderland and Leicester will also be looking anxiously over their shoulders while they clash at the Stadium of Light.

If Hull are beaten at Tottenham, Leicester will need only a point at Sunderland to guarantee safety. That would be celebrated like a Cup final win after looking doomed for much of the season. An incredible run of six wins in seven has put them on the brink of safety. That half-time score from White Hart Lane will definitely have a bearing on this match and I fancy another draw here.

Aston Villa look virtually certain to survive the drop but Tim Sherwood won’t be taking any chances. They travel to Southampton who have gone right off the boil in recent weeks. The Saints could even miss out on a European place and it would not be a surprise to see Villa take three points here. Christian Benteke has outscored everyone else in the Premier League since Sherwood arrived and he is worth a bet to open the scoring.

The late kick-off looks more like a Steven Gerrard Testimonial match than a Premier League game as Liverpool face Crystal Palace at Anfield. Gerrard will naturally want to make it a memorable occasion so the 7-1 about him opening the scoring may be worth a bet. Palace have no real incentive here and Alan Pardew may well introduce some youngsters.

Aston Villa to win @17-4 Bet365

Christian Benteke to score first @13-2 Paddy Power

Benteke to score and Villa win @8-1 Paddy Power

QPR v Newcastle DRAW @5-2 Bet365

QPR 1 Newcastle 1 @13-2 BetVictor

Sunderland v Leicester DRAW @23-10 Bet365

Sunderland 1 Leicester 1 @6-1 William Hill

Harry Kane to score first @4-1 Coral

Harry Kane to score and Spurs win @19-10 Ladbrokes

Spurs 3 Hull 1 @14-1 Ladbrokes

Steven Gerrard to score first @7-1 Ladbrokes

Liverpool 2 Crystal Palace 0 @7-1 Ladbrokes

Golden Horn Dante victory sparks Derby debate

The Dante Stakes at York on Thursday was meant to finally provide a clear-cut favourite for the Epsom Derby. The race featured ante-post favourite Jack Hobbs, albeit only the winner of a Sandown handicap on his previous start, as well as Group 1 winner Elm Park and the Aidan O’Brien-trained John F Kennedy.

In the event, all three were beaten by a horse not entered for the Derby in Golden Horn. He is a stable companion of Jack Hobbs and trainer John Gosden had hinted that he felt that his form was superior to that of the favourite. There is a £75,000 fee for supplementing for Epsom, not usually a barrier to those owners fortunate enough to possess a serious Derby contender.

The problem is that Anthony Oppenheimer has always believed that Golden Horn would not stay beyond a mile and a quarter. Both he and Gosden were besieged by the media after the race in an effort to nail down their Epsom plans. Instead, the French Derby over a the Dante distance remains a real possibility. To add to the confusion, Jack Hobbs may even be re-directed to Royal Ascot with Gosden clearly feeling that he still has a lot to learn about racing.

The vibes were that Oppenheimer would listen to Gosden’s opinion and the trainer seemed to be leaning towards a tilt at the Derby, whilst making it clear that it was not his decision to make. Bookmakers initially offered 5-1 about Golden Horn but only 6-4 with a run. By late evening, he was only 3-1 or 15-8 with Betfair with a run.

Elm Park looked to be going well when he took up the running in the home straight but he started to hang and dropped away to finish third. It may have been a combination of fitness and feeling the faster ground but trainer Andrew Balding was happy enough and Epsom is the next stop. I don’t think that there will be a stampede to take the 8-1 on offer about him and I would worry if the going is quick on Derby day.

Aidan O’Brien ruled out the prospect of running 2000 Guineas winner Gleneagles who will definitely stay in Ireland for their Guineas instead. Zawraq, winner of the Leopardstown 2000 Guineas Trial, is the only other horse quoted in single figures. If Golden Horn is supplemented, he could start a very short priced favourite. If he heads to France instead, we may see one of the most open Derby’s in recent memory.