It’s been a long time coming but it is possible the return of racing in the UK is imminent. We must wait to see if the UK government permit racing to take place behind closed doors later this month, but the British Horseracing Authority appear confident racing could be back as early as May 15th. Racing in Ireland may resume on June 8th.
We have already lost the first weekend of May that would have seen the 1000 and 2000 Guineas take place at Newmarket. As some of you know, I was very disappointed that Pinatubo, a 10/1 ante-post tip to members almost one year ago, did not get his chance to win the 2000 Guineas. As things stand, the race has been postponed until June 6th. Time will tell if that race takes place and if the delay will effect his chances.
The Jockey Club hope to be able to stage the Derby and Oaks at Epsom as is the tradition. But this year they must apply to the local council for permission to close Epsom Downs – a public space – for one day so that those races can take place behind closed doors. They are planning to stage the meeting one month late, on Saturday July 4th. The local authority meet next Tuesday to decide upon this issue. They would have to close to the public a huge area, including footpaths.
The BHA chief operating officer Richard Wayman says: “We need to make sure we’ve gone through every possible step to make sure that the return is a safe one.”
If racing is given the green light to go ahead, the final two weekends of May will be busy ones. Races such as the Craven Stakes and the Nell Gwyn Stakes will be part of the fixture list at Newmarket.
When racing returns, it will be without spectators. Rightly.
It seems unlikely that racehorses trained in the Republic of Ireland will be permitted to cross the Irish Sea and take part in the earlier UK fixtures. That’s a shame, but understandable.
Regardless of where and when racing takes place, I will be here researching the races on your behalf. I thank you all for your sustained loyalty during this two month period of no racing or football. It is very much appreciated and will not be forgotten. Just as well for us all that the last big betting meeting was the Cheltenham Festival at which we had seven winners, including the big price Indefatigable in the very last race on March 13th.
When racing and football was suspended, I assured all existing members that I will be adding to their expiry dates (whenever they fall) the number of days between March 14th and the day that racing or football resumes. So your annual or monthly payments will not have been money for nothing. If you joined specifically for the Cheltenham or Aintree festivals, you didn’t receive a full month of tips because racing was suspended just after the first and before the latter. The number of missing days will be added to your membership period. Anyone who had previously signed up for one year, will also see their membership extended to cover the period of time when we had no racing or football to bet on.
Even those who have signed up during these part two months are assured by me that the actual start date of their membership when it comes to the payment they have made, will only begin the first day for which I am able to offer analysis and betting tips. In the meantime, all members will receive from me any messages and updates. Along with any previews of races once we know precisely which where and when they will take place.
As for football, heaven only knows when the Premier League will come up with a plan that is approved by a majority of clubs and footballers. The Premier League need a two thirds majority for one plan, namely to not have any clubs relegated this season but have Leeds United and West Brom join the top flight from the Championship. That would lead to a one season only of 22 clubs in the top flight and five teams relegated the following season. I’m hearing that the vote is close and that the as yet uncommitted Tottenham Hotspur hold the casting vote.
Understandably footballers and members of backroom staff at various clubs are not keen on playing out this season. They fear contracting Covid-19 and have their concerns about being tested weekly or even daily. Each test will cost clubs £200 per player per time each time they are tested. But the total cost of that figure is but nothing compared to the sums the clubs would have to pay back to the broadcasters if this season is not completed. While it would not be in the interests of Sky and BT to demand a refund from the sums clubs are paid pre-season, they are equally not going to just wave goodbye to that money if they were not able to broadcast the remaining fixtures that would be played behind closed doors and at neutral venues.
Self interest is, of course, at work. As has been the case with Scottish football, turkeys will not vote for Christmas. For example, none of the three clubs currently bottom of the English Premier League are going to vote for this season to end now. While, in the Championship, Leeds United and West Brom are sure to sue the authorities were the entire 2019-20 football season voided. They would not be alone in taking legal action. The EFL cannot afford to be sued. The Championship clubs – many of them spending much more money than they bring in – need the TV money. That’s what comes from spending beyond your means and for football as a whole selling its soul to SKY decades ago, and BT more recently. I’d best say no more as once I get on my soapbox, I find it difficult to get off it!
Again, whenever football returns in the UK, I will be ready to offer analysis and betting tips. I will also be keeping an eye out for matches played in Spain, Germany and elsewhere.
Once the sport starts again matches will be played thick and fast to try and get the current season completed before the next one is due to begin. So I will be busy.
Feast after famine
But please take note, even though I am as hungry as the next punter to once again bet on football and horse racing; I will not offer tips or place a bet simply for the sake of it. As I am fond of saying, we must not bet on anything or everything. Our appetite for betting will be great after the starvation we have experienced. But for me it will still be about my confidence behind a bet, the odds on offer in the betting market (do they offer potential value) and percentage call bets which, on balance of probability, may deliver a profit.
We should have in mind that the horses, while trained at home, will return to racing behind the groove when it comes to fitness and race planning. The best of them are prepared for a specific race on a particular day. If that day has already passed without any racing, it’s possible they will have peaked and not be race fit when they first get back on a racecourse.
Likewise footballers will not be match fit. No matter what they have been doing in their front rooms (or, in some cases, bedrooms!), I would expect some footballers to have, like me, put on a pound or two in weight and I expect we’ll see a few of them pull muscles in their first games back in action.
It’s also worth having in mind that some teams who were in poor form when Coronavirus struck, may improve on return. Others, whose players are unfit, might lose games they would have won had there not been a break in the season.
So while prior form is always important, do have in mind that the performances and results we saw before lockdown, may not match those we see when the game resumes.
I’m looking forward to getting going again and I expect that you feel the same.
In the meantime, allow me to wish you good health. No matter in what part of the world you live, this has been a tough time for us all and if we have been reminded of anything these past months it is surely that life is far more important than sport.
Please look after yourselves and your loved ones. Once again, thank you for your patience and faith in myself and the service I offer.