EURO 2016: WE PREVIEW THE GROUP STAGES

Below, Calum Chinchen analyses all six of the Euro 2016 groups, providing you with insight and tips in the process…

GROUP A

It is common knowledge that the last time France hosted a major tournament, they were successful. Les Bleus won the 1998 World Cup and set the tournament alight with a brand of fast, attacking football.

The French are 3/1 favourites for this tournament, and while this is partly down to the fact that they are hosting, it also has a great deal to do with their current playing staff.

Didier Deschamps has a wealth of young talent at his disposal, with the likes of Rafael Varane, Kingsley Coman, Antoine Griezmann, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba (below) all expected to play a part.

POGBA

While their main source of talent comes from their youngsters, they also have a real spine of experience, with Deschamps naming Hugo Lloris, Patrice Evra, Bacary Sagna and Yohan Cabaye in the squad after their successful domestic campaigns.

There is absolutely no doubt in our minds that the French will go unbeaten in the group stages – advancing as winners of Group A in the process.

Talking of exciting young squads, the current Swiss playing staff is among the best in their history. Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri are two of the most talented youngsters in the game, and both will be present for Switzerland at the tournament.

Arsenal were so impressed by Xhaka that they forked out a reported £30m recently, while Shaqiri has starred in the Bundesliga, Serie A and Premier League since making his international debut at the age of 18.

We don’t see the Swiss doing enough to stop France, however, there is no doubting that they will advance to the last 16.

While both Albania and Romania did wonderfully to reach the finals, we don’t see either side advancing from the group stages. The only chance either side has of winning a game, is when they face each other in Lyon during the last round of group games.

BEST BET: FRANCE/SWITZERLAND (STRAIGHT FORECAST) @ 6/4

GROUP B

The question on everyone’s lips – can England finally end their 50 year wait for a major trophy?

Roy Hodgson’s men sailed through qualification and looked impressive throughout, winning every single game en-route to topping their group.

That said, England weren’t really tested during the campaign, with only Switzerland providing any sort of test for Hodgson’s men.

At major tournaments, scoring goals in a real issue for the Three Lions – at Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup, they netted on just seven occasions.

Wayne Rooney started in attack at both of the above tournaments, however it looks as though the England captain will revert to a deeper role due to the fact that Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy (below) shared 49 Premier League goals between them this season.

KANE VARDY

Finding the net shouldn’t be a problem for England at Euro 2016, and neither should be group qualification. We see them making the last 16, but can’t guarantee that they will top the group.

Wales will be competing at their first ever European Championships in the summer and their clash with England on June 16th is already wetting the appetite of many.

In Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale (below) Wales have two of the most talented players at the tournament and there is absolutely no reason why they can’t make a real impact in France.

BALE WALES

Chris Coleman has assembled a fearless squad who are most comfortable when playing on the break – as they showed during their two qualification games against Belgium, where they won an impressive four points.

Wales are our dark horses for the tournament and we see them advancing from the group with their neighbours.

Fabio Capello will face his former employers in Marseille on June 11th as Russia play England in their opening game.

While the Russians are an efficient unit, they do have a real lack of flair. Capello always adopts a rather negative style and this may hinder his side when playing against the pace of England and Wales.

Marek Hamsik and Martin Skrtel are the key men for Slovakia and both will have to be at their best and ever present if their nation are to avoid finishing bottom of Group B.

However, due to a lack of big tournament experience and quality within the squad, we see the wooden spoon being the only outcome for the Slovakians.

BEST BET: WALES TO QUALIFY @ 4/7

GROUP C

This one has been billed as the ‘group of death’ and when you look at the teams within Group C, it is hard to disagree.

Germany were crowned World Champions after their wonderful campaign in Brazil two years ago, however despite topping their Euro 2016 qualification group, they were less than convincing.

Joachim Low’s men only finished a point clear in their group after losing to neighbours Poland and failing to beat the Republic of Ireland in either of their two meetings.

While Germany coped without a recognised centre forward at the World Cup, we see it being a real hindrance for them in France. That said, they will still advance from Group C as winners.

As mentioned, Poland were in the same qualification group as Germany, qualifying after finishing in second place.

Adam Nawałka’s side were the highest scoring of all in Euro 2016 qualification – with a staggering 33 goals from their 10 games. While some of this was down to the four games in which they faced Georgia and Gibraltar, it was mainly down to the predatory instinct of Bayern Munich striker, Robert Lewandowski (below) who topped the scoring charts with 13 goals.

LEWANDOWSKI POLAND

The Poland striker is 14/1 to be the top scorer in France, however, his success depends on whether or not his country can qualify from Group C.

Ukraine qualified for the tournament via the playoffs, where they defeated a sub-standard Slovenia side.

The Ukrainians are one of the most defensive sides at the tournament and conceded just four goals during their qualification campaign.

However, this style really hampers them when going forward and despite having the always impressive talents of Adriy Yarmolenko within their ranks – we see them finishing at the foot of the group.

Northern Ireland are back in a major tournament for the first time since the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Michael O’Neil and his men shocked everyone in qualification – topping Group F ahead of Romania and Hungary.

While Northern Ireland don’t have any so-called ‘superstars’ within their squad, they do have a remarkable team spirit.

MCAULEY

Defensively, they are remarkably efficient with Jonny Evans, Craig Cathcart and Gareth McAuley (above) all turning in some heroic performances during qualification.

There is no pressure on the Green and White Army, and that may just allow them to play with freedom in France. Don’t be surprised if they cause a few shocks along the way!

BEST BET: UKRAINE TO FINISH BOTTOM @ 3/1

GROUP D

Spain appear to be the side that everybody has forgotten about. Despite their dreadful World Cup showing two years ago, it is worth remembering that before that, they managed to win THREE major tournaments in a row.

Their dismal World Cup showing was down to an experiment that went wrong. While Diego Costa was in fantastic form for his then club, Atletico Madrid, his style of play just didn’t fit that of his adopted nation. This really showed in Brazil, with Spain scoring on just four occasions and Costa failing to net during their three games.

Costa hasn’t been selected by Vicente Del Bosque for the finals in France and we see that as a wise move – not just because of his dreadful disciplinary record, but because there is now a far better option within the Spanish ranks.

Alvaro Morata (below) is the complete forward and has enjoyed a wonderful campaign with his club Juventus. The former Real Madrid man will be key for his nation in France due to his link-up play and predatory instinct.

MORATA

We see Morata firing Spain to the top of Group D.

Croatia have a wealth of talent in their ranks, with the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic and Mario Mandzukic all making their final Euro 2016 squad.

The 1998 World Cup in France was a magical tournament for the Croatians. In their first ever World Cup as an independent nation, Croatia surprised everyone by eventually finishing in third position.

We see them drawing inspiration from 1998, and making it to the last 16 alongside Spain.

There is no doubting that Turkey have the capabilities to advance, but in our minds, Fatih Terim’s squad really lacks balance.

With Arda Turan, Nuri Sahin, Gokhan Tore and Hakan Calhanoglu (below) in their ranks, it is fair to say that Turkey have one of the strongest midfield units in the entire tournament.

HAKAN

However, they really lack presence and quality, both in defence and attack – which may become a real issue.

The Czech Republic were drawn alongside Turkey in qualifying, and managed to finish four points ahead of their Group D rivals en-route to top spot.

While the Czech’s squad is full of quality, age is a real issue with Peter Cech, Tomas Rosicky, Jaroslav Plasil and David Lafata all now over 33 years of age.

The Czech Republic will be required to play three group games in just eight days during the tournament, which may be a real hindrance to Pavel Vrba’s team.

BEST BET: SPAIN & CROATIA (DUAL FORECAST) @ 11/8

GROUP E

For years, Belgium were a mediocre side who struggled to reach major tournaments – but that has all changed nowadays.

In recent years, Marc Wilmots and his talented playing staff have gone from strength-to-strength, and found themselves at the top of the FIFA World Rankings in late 2015.

While Argentina have now replaced them at the top of that list, Belgium are still the second best team in the world, and we see them topping Group E with relative ease.

Antonio Conte (below) will take over as Chelsea manager in July, but before that, he will be leading Italy at the European Championships.

CONTE

Despite not having the greatest squad, you can never count the Italians out of a major tournament. They have finished as runners-up in two of the last four European Championships, losing to a very impressive Spain side in the final four years ago.

The Republic of Ireland will be hoping for a better showing than they mustered at the 2012 European Championships. At that tournament, Ireland lost all three of their group games and only managed to score once in the process.

However, the ‘Boys in Green’ seem to be a totally different animal under Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane. Ireland managed to finish behind Germany and Poland in a tough qualification group, and reached the finals after a wonderful playoff victory over Bosnia.

WALTERS

Jonathan Walters (above) was the key man for Ireland during that campaign – scoring on five occasions and putting in numerous energetic performances.

At present, Sweden are looking like a one man team.

Zlatan Ibrahimović got 11 of Sweden’s 19 goals in qualification, including a vital brace in the second leg of their playoff tie against Demark.

While a Zlatan inspired Sweden could well make it to the last 16, a loss of form or injury to the charismatic free agent would almost certainly see Sweden heading home after three games.

BEST BET: BELGIUM TO WIN GROUP @ EVENS

GROUP F

Whilst Portugal sailed through qualification, it is worth noting that they only needed to finish above Albania, Denmark, Serbia and Armenia in order to do so.

Cristiano Ronaldo (below) is undoubtedly the key man for his nation and the Real Madrid winger got five of his side’s 11 goals during qualification.

RONALDO PORTUGAL

This is the weakest of all the Euro 2016 groups, and by default, we see Portugal advancing, but we can’t guarantee they will go through as winners.

After a wonderful qualification campaign, which saw them finish top of their group, Austria find themselves in the top 10 of the FIFA World Rankings.

The combination between David Alaba, Marko Arnautovic and Marc Janko proved deadly during qualification and if the three men can continue their form then there is no reason why Austria can’t challenge for top spot in Group F.

Iceland and Hungary both defied the odds to reach Euro 2016, but due to a lack of quality, we feel the two sides will struggle to advance to the last 16.

That said, we do see Iceland as the far better side, and fancy them to grab the third spot – leaving the Hungarians at the foot of the table.

BEST BET: HUNGARY TO FINISH BOTTOM @ 11/10

ACCA INSURANCE

Get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service – FREE – and start benefiting now! See myclubbetting.com for details.

If you are not affiliated to a club, you can bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include Greatwood, World Horse Welfare and StreetGames.

You must be 18+ in order to bet. Please gamble responsibly: www.gambleaware.co.uk

Horse racing Lucky 15 – Tuesday’s top picks

Each day Bet4Causes will provide you with a preview of the day’s racing, offering what the experts feel will be the value bets of the day.

Take a look at our Lucky 15 selections (four singles, six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold) for the British and Irish meetings on Tuesday, May 31, 2016…

Doncaster Racing X

LUCKY 15 SELECTIONS

ROYAL BATTALION (Towcester 3.10) has yet to prove he will handle this testing 3m trip, but he ran a fine second to Perspicace over 2m4f at Worcester last time and that rival has since followed up, so the form looks solid. Gary Moore’s representative stayed on well that day, suggesting he may well handle a step up in trip. The five-year-old takes on five rivals and should be on the scene when it matters.

NAAFER (Lingfield 5.50) holds an obvious chance of taking the 6f novices’ stakes for trainer William Haggas and jockey Paul Hanagan. The daughter of Oasis Dream was a fine second on her debut to Grizzel in a decent Sandown fillies’ novice 5f sprint, and that rival has come out and won subsequently. Related to a few decent sorts, most notably Ertijaal, she looks a filly worth following.

JULIA DREAM (Lingfield 7.20) stepped up on her Newmarket debut last September with a eye-catching second of 12 to Sovereign Parade at Salisbury on her seasonal debut earlier this month. She was well backed for that step up to 10f and she travelled strongly, looking like the winner 1f out, only to be nabbed late on by an impressive winner. She will have learned plenty for that and if he handles the kick-back for her all-weather debut, she should go well.

ALL THE RAGE (Leicester 5.30) showed enough ability over inadequate trips last season to think that Sir Mark Prescott’s representative will be able to improve over more suitable distances, such as the 1m2f she tackles today. The Dubawi filly makes her three-year-old debut this afternoon for a yard that had saddled four winners from its last eight runners and may well make a mockery of her current 63 rating.

OTHER SELECTIONS

LEICESTER: 2.00 Evergate, 2.30 Magillen, 3.00 Early Bird, 3.30 Jadaayil, 4.00 Smart Mover, 4.30 Full Intention, 5.00 Whitecrest, 5.30 All The Rage

REDCAR: 2.20 Mightaswellsmile, 2.50 Falcon’s Fire, 3.20 Newmarket Warrior, 3.50 Zanjabeel, 4.20 Just Us Two, 4.50 Dream Farr, 5.20 Rose Marmara, 5.55 Compton River

TOWCESTER: 2.10 Only A Tipple, 2.40 Heurtevent, 3.10 ROYAL BATTALION (NAP), 3.40 Dusk Till Dawn, 4.10 No No Mac, 4.40 Hang Fire, 5.10 Running Wolf

LINGFIELD: 5.50 Naafer (nb), 6.20 Head Space, 6.50 Tenzing Norgay, 7.20 Julia Dream, 7.50 Desert Strike, 8.20 Duke Of North, 8.50 Kafoo

WOLVERHAMPTON: 6.10 Zamjar, 6.40 Dasheen, 7.10 Head Coach, 7.40 Stonecutter, 8.10 Pietrafiore, 8.40 Swansway, 9.10 Lucky Clover

BALLINROBE: 6.00 Seven Nation Army, 6.30 Crazyheart, 7.00 Hostile Fire, 7.30 Vinnies Time, 8.00 So Young, 8.30 He is Top Class, 9.00 Sanibel Island

Get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service – FREE – and start benefiting now! See myclubbetting.com for details.

Feeling-Lucky_B4C_1024x512 (2)

If you are not affiliated to a club, you can bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include Greatwood, World Horse Welfare and StreetGames.

You must be 18+ in order to bet. Please gamble responsibly http://www.gambleaware.co.uk

Horse racing Lucky 15 – Monday’s top picks

Each day Bet4Causes will provide you with a preview of the day’s racing, offering what the experts feel will be the value bets of the day.

Take a look at our Lucky 15 selections (four singles, six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold) for the British and Irish meetings on Monday, May 30, 2016…

Windsor racing 2.jpg

LUCKY 15 SELECTIONS

WILLEM (Huntingdon 2.35) run in a decent 2m novices’ chase won last year by the classy Fox Norton and has a fitness edge on the likely Nicky Henderson-trained favourite Nicholas Chauvin, who has his first run in 234 days. The selection, trained by David Pipe, would welcome any rain, as he tends to go better with a little cut in the ground. However, he was a little unlucky at Fakenham last time when touched off by Salto Christo and has a little in hand off his current mark.

WINTER HOUSE (Redcar 3.25) may be able to take the Zetland Gold Cup for Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor. The four-year-old made a belated and successful winning debut at Newmarket last April but did not race again until three weeks ago when runner-up in a similar 1m2f handicap at Lingfield. One can argue that he may not have enough experience to win this and he did show signs of greenness, but the run will have brought him on a ton.

LADY MACAPA (Windsor 4.05) has speed to burn and sometimes too much of it, as when tiring late in a hot 5f York Listed event last time. William Knight’s representative, officially rated 94, will need to be dropped in and get some cover if she is to settle better and Jim Crowley will have his work cut out. However, she is a talented filly who is worth following this summer regardless of what happens here. There may be a nice prize for her.

UPSTAGING (Windsor 5.35) represents the in-form Paul Cole yard and while not the most straightforward character, he is pretty consistent and made solid late gains at Brighton when beaten a neck last time off the same mark of 78 he runs off today. He previously had a couple of runs on the all-weather at Kempton and Wolverhampton after an eight-month lay-off, making the frame in each, so there should be no excuses on the fitness front today.

Feeling-Lucky_B4C_1024x512 (2)

OTHER SELECTIONS

CARTMEL: 1.55 Rocco’s Delight, 2.25 Silver Shuffle, 3.00 Trust Thomas, 3.35 Edmund, 4.10 Thomas Wild, 4.45 Abbeyview, 5.15 Steamboat Bill

HUNTINGDON: 12:30 On Albert’s Head, 1.00 The Big Dipper, 1.30 Magic Music Man, 2.00 Le Capricieux, 2.35 WILLEM (NAP), 3.10 Lombardy Boy, 3.45 Valliant Nonantais, 4.15 Lord Bryan

LEICESTER: 2.10 Pretty Vacant, 2.45 Masqueraded, 3.20 Ttainted Love, 3.55 Moorside, 4.25 Buying Trouble, 4.55 Song Of Norway, 5.25 Flutterbee

REDCAR: 12.45 Whiteandgold, 1.15 Sunnyside Bob, 1.45 El Duque, 2.15 First Rate, 2.50 Grand Canyon, 3.25 Winter House, 4.00 Politbureau, 4.30 Bowdler’s Magic

WINDSOR: 1.50 What A Boy, 2.20 Kings Heart, 2.55 Quebee, 3.30 Just Glamorous, 4.05 Lady Macapa, 4.35 American Artist, 5.05 Graceland, 5.35 Upstaging

BALLINROBE: 6.00 Bellas Rock, 6.30 Tocororo, 7.00 Sweet Cherry, 7.30 Dixie Highway, 8.00 Lean Times, 8.30 Liberty’s Gift, 9.00 Glens Harmony

Get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service – FREE – and start benefiting now! See myclubbetting.com for details.

160113_FREE-KIT_TW

If you are not affiliated to a club, you can bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include Greatwood, World Horse Welfare and StreetGames.

You must be 18+ in order to bet. Please gamble responsibly http://www.gambleaware.co.uk

Horse racing Lucky 15 – Sunday’s top picks

Each day Bet4Causes will provide you with a preview of the day’s racing, offering what the experts feel will be the value bets of the day.

Take a look at our Lucky 15 selections (four singles, six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold) for the British and Irish meetings on Sunday, May 29, 2016…

Fontwell

LUCKY 15 SELECTIONS

FOUNTAINS WINDFALL (Fontwell 1.50) won a bumper at this track and faced stronger opposition in his last two races over hurdles, latterly splitting a couple of subsequent winners when second to Gala Ball at Wincanton in February. Anthony Honeyball’s string has been in decent form lately and this extended 2m 1½f maiden hurdle should be at his mercy.

THEINVAL (Uttoxeter 2.40), a Grade 3 winning hurdler at Aintree last year, but has not looked totally at home over fences in his two attempts in Britain. To be fair, he did not jump too badly when third of five at Warwick in a novices’ chase three weeks ago in a much hotter race than he contests this afternoon and he may well be able to show improvement in the four-runner 2m4f beginners’ chase for trainer Nicky Henderson.

WHATS UP WOODY (Kelso 3.35) was beaten by Scotswell over this same track and 3m2f trip 25 days ago in a bid to land the hat-trick, with Cobajayisland third. Those two re-oppose again and they are closely matched on revised terms, but George Bewley’s 11-year-old still looks fairly treated off a 2lb higher mark. He has been ultra-consistent lately and should again run his race.

HIGHBURY HIGH (Fontwell 2.50) did not really take to fences before reverting back to timber and re-found his form. He was placed twice at this track twice before scoring on fast ground at Wincanton, albeit by a neck. Neil Mulholland’s representative does not look well handicapped at present, but this looks a slightly weaker race and he may well be able to overcome a 6lb rise in division one of the 2m1½f handicap hurdle.

Feeling-Lucky_B4C_1024x512 (2)

OTHER SELECTIONS

FONTWELL: 1.50 FOUNTAINS WINDFALL (NAP), 2.20 Mrsrobin, 2.50 Highbury High, 3.25 Cobham’s Circus, 3.55 Bob Tucker, 4.30 Vendredi Trois, 5.00 Yukon Delta, 5.30 Lady From Geneva

KELSO: 2.00 Martila, 2.30 Agentleman, 3.00 Traditional Dancer, 3.35 Whats Up Woody, 4.05 Full Jack, 4.40 Orby’s Man, 5.10 Vanilla Run

UTTOXETER: 2.10 Presili Rock, 2.40 Theinval, 3.15 Princess Roania, 3.45 Fair To Middling, 4.20 Long House Hall, 4.50 Mr Kite, 5.20 Solstice Dawn

NAAS: 2.05 Californiadreaming, 2.35 Assume, 3.10 Psychedelic Funk, 3.40 Wayside Flower, 4.15 Smash Williams, 4.45 Rayisa, 5.15 Toccata Blue, 5.45 Six Silver Lane

Get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service – FREE – and start benefiting now! See myclubbetting.com for details.

If you are not affiliated to a club, you can bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include Greatwood, World Horse Welfare and StreetGames.

You must be 18+ in order to bet. Please gamble responsibly http://www.gambleaware.co.uk

The Jim Crowley Column: Algometer? No pressure

We are delighted that top jockey Jim Crowley is the Bet4Causes Flat Racing Brand Ambassador. Each Saturday, you can read Jim’s exclusive columns here, in the Racing Plus newspaper and on the Yahoo Sports UK website…

Jim Crowley5.jpg

By Jim Crowley

ALL ROADS lead to Epsom next weekend and the Investec Derby. Will he or won’t he? David Simcock isn’t saying.

Not because he does not want to – it is because he genuinely doesn’t know.

Algometer gave me a good feel at Goodwood when landing the Cocked Hat Stakes, formerly known as the Predominate Stakes.

In pure form terms, I would not read too much into his half-length win. There were only four runners and it was a bit of a muddling affair. Everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong.

However, Algometer did all that was asked and while the team will do what is in the best interests of the horse, from a purely selfish point of view, I hope the unsettled weather forecast is right and we have a drop of rain next week.

At the Breakfast With The Stars gallop on Tuesday it rode good to soft and if it stayed that way, I don’t think we’d complain.

For now, just as Dermot Weld is doing with Harzand, we are playing a waiting game.

David Simcock said yesterday: “He has come out of Goodwood in really good form. There was a lack of pace, but he came out of it with plenty of credit, and was given probably less credit than he actually deserved.

“We know he will stay the trip and he will look better the further he goes. What he does have is a very willing attitude and it is fair to say that he is not a horse you are likely to get to the bottom of.

“Will he run at Epsom? He will be left in the race on Monday and we will keep an eye on the weather. If Epsom produce good ground, then the Derby will certainly be under consideration.”

Algometer (below), who is 25/1 with Bet4Causes, reminds me a touch of Silver Patriarch, who went so close to winning the Derby for John Dunlop and Pat Eddery in 1997, before going on to land the St Leger. Not just because he is grey, it is that he has the same tenacious attitude and, should he run, he will certainly be staying on at the finish.

There is work to be done before that, however. This evening I have a fair book of rides at Salisbury.

Algometer Goodwood.jpg

Second Thought (5.50) will make his debut for William Haggas in the five-furlong novices’ event. He does not have the best draw, but has a nice pedigree and the dam was out of a half-sister to the smart 1,000 Guineas winner Sky Lantern.

Vincenzo Coccotti (6.20) was a little bit free in his races last year but did not appear to relish the heavy ground at Newbury in a 6f handicap in August. He has his first run since September in a six-furlong handicap against rivals who will all have a fitness edge.

Similarly, Malakky (6.50) is making his seasonal debut for Brian Meehan, having run in a hot Newbury maiden last June, a race that has produced plenty of subsequent winners. Brian has hit the post with a few lately at big prices, so I’m hopeful he’ll go well.

I have not ridden the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Doesyourdogbite (7.20), who had been running in France prior to his first run in seven months at Windsor, where he was beaten a long way. I wouldn’t read too much into that. He might have half a chance in the 1m6f handicap.

Author’s Dream (7.50) will improve for going up in trip now that he has his handicap mark. I’m hoping he will run very well and he looks the type to make progress. He will get two miles in time and he would not be without a chance.

At Chester today, Gunnery (4.35) is my nap of the weekend. I think he will take a bit of beating in the 1m4f handicap.

While at Haydock, Home Of The Brave (3.10) can follow up his comfortable Leicester win in the John Of Gaunt, and with Hugo Palmer in such good form, Gifted Master (3.45) looks the one in the Group Two Sandy Lane Stakes.

On Monday, I am at Windsor and Lady Macarpa (4.05) looks the pick of my rides. She is a very quick filly and we are on a bit of a fact-finding mission in the 5f Sprint Series Handicap.

She is quite useful. The ground was probably a bit too lively for her in a very good race at York, were she showed a bit too much speed, so I think I’d like to try and drop her in if I can.

Finally, don’t miss the Lucy Wadham-trained Minstrels Gallery (7.40 Wolverhampton) on Tuesday. He is on a three-timer and I’d be disappointed to see him beaten. He still looks on a decent handicap mark of 75 compared to his hurdles mark of 129.

Sammy Jo will be back

FALLS are part of racing. We have all had them from time to time, some more serious than others.

When you see the injuries sustained by Sammy Jo Bell, it brings into focus just what a dangerous job this can be sometimes.

Sammy Jo fractured her pelvis at Carlisle a week ago when her mount Royal Duchess reared leaving the parade ring and fell on top of her, fracturing her pelvis.

She has had an operation to have a plate inserted and apparently will spend the next six weeks in a wheelchair before she can begin rehabbing.

Richard Fahey’s apprentice is one of the best female riders to come along for years. All of us in the weighing room hope that Sammy Jo (below) makes a full recovery and will soon be able to continue her burgeoning career.

Sammy Jo Bell.jpg

Winners galore

IT HAS been a rather productive week with four winners in five days, so I can’t complain.

Hughie Morrison’s Atalan won nicely at Nottingham last Sunday and could make into a nice staying horse. He could be quite progressive.

Hard Toffee won a seller at Lingfield on Wednesday for Conrad Allen. He’s a big horse and wasn’t suited by the slow pace in a quartet of bumpers. Having ridden over the jumps, I’ve never did quite understand why they often went so slowly in bumpers. He enjoyed the better ground and he’ll continue to pay his way on the Flat. He’s a bit better than selling standard.

I’m pleased to say I had a double at Chelmsford on Thursday thanks to Kindly and Lady Lunchalot. As hoped, Kindly built on the promise of her Lingfield debut and we made all to win a 6f maiden. Simon Crisford sees her as similarly progressive and she should make her mark in handicaps.

Lady Lunchalot settled well in her 10f fillies’ handicap and she enjoyed going past her rivals. She likes going left-handed and she stayed on nicely. She’ll get a bit further and she won off a 4lb higher mark last season.

Let’s hope we have a few more to talk about next week. Fingers crossed.

Bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include Greatwood, World Horse Welfare and StreetGames.

You must be 18+ in order to bet. Please gamble responsibly http://www.gambleaware.co.uk

Horse racing Lucky 15 – Saturday’s top picks

Each day Bet4Causes we will provide you with a preview of the day’s racing, offering what the experts feel will be the value bets of the day.

Take a look at our Lucky 15 selections (four singles, six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold) for the British and Irish meetings on Saturday, May 28, 2016…

Gifted master.jpg

LUCKY 15 SELECTIONS

GIFTED MASTER (Haydock 3.45) can land the feature race of the afternoon, the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes, for trainer Hugo Palmer and jockey Pat Smullen. Winner of his last five races, the three-year-old has already taken the £100,000 Tattersalls Millions 3-Y-O Sprint at Newmarket (above) and the Group 3 Pavilion Stakes at Ascot with some ease, despite conceding weight all round. He won on good to soft ground last time and conditions are expected to be the same, although he will handle faster ground. While the 6f trip is sharp enough, he stays 7f and a crack at the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot could be on the cards next.

DESTOTO COUNTY (Cartmel 3.50) makes his chasing debut for Gordon Elliott in an extended 2m1f beginners’ event and should take a good deal of beating. A high-class handicap hurdler, his last win came at Thurles in deep ground in December, before an unlucky third in a valuable handicap at Leopardstown in January. Champion jockey Richard Johnson is booked to ride in a race that should not take a lot of winning.

HAVELOCK (Chester 1.45) finished runner-up on his Bath debut and clearly knew his job until running around a little bit in the closing stages in a race win by Kreb’s Cycle. Mark Johnston’s representative has the added assistance of William Buick aboard this afternoon and he gets weight from Ripon winner Cupacoffee.

THE GRADUATE (Salisbury 7.50), a son of Mastercraftsman, tackles a 1m4f trip for the first time and that is more in line with his breeding than the lesser trips he has been running over previously. His second at Bath was a fine effort over 1m2f on his handicap debut for Andrew Balding and better ground tonight is sure to help him.

OTHER SELECTIONS

HAYDOCK: 2.00 Ghinia, 2.35 Journey, 3.10 So Beloved, 3.45 GIFTED MASTER (NAP), 4.20 Mustallib, 4.55 Justice Grace, 5.30 Showing Off

CHESTER: 1.45 Havelock, 2.15 Secret Hint, 2.50 Gabrial’s Kaka, 3.25 Yorkidding, 4.00 Edward Lewis, 4.35 Gunnery, 5.10 Lord Franklin

BEVERLEY: 1.50 Coronation Day, 2.25 The Last Lion, 3.00 Spin Doctor, 3.35 La Superba, 4.10 King Of The Celts, 4.45 Save The Bees, 5.20 Briyouni

CARTMEL: 2.05 Kilronan Castle, 2.40 Desert Cry, 3.15 The Backup Plan, 3.50 Desoto County (nb), 4.25 Ballycool, 5.00 Sky Khan, 5.35 Theatre Act

CATTERICK: 2.20 Peacey Carnehan, 2.55 Incomparable, 3.30 Energia Flavio, 4.05 Sherman McCoy, 4.40 Beardwood, 5.15 Manatee Bay, 5.45 Hyland Heather

FFOS LAS: 6.05 Hannibal The Great, 6.35 Louis Phillipe, 7.05 Ninepointsixthree, 7.35 West Torr, 8.05 Rose Revived, 8.35 Curious Carlos, 9.05 The Draconian

SALISBURY: 5.50 Leontes, 6.20 One Big Surprise, 6.50 Gunmetal, 7.20 Doesyourdogbite, 7.50 The Graduate, 8.20 City By The Bay

NAVAN: 1.55 Magnification, 2.30 A Likely Story, 3.05 Sweetest Taboo, 3.40 Next Bend, 4.15 Sea Of Blue, 4.50 Sing For Me, 5.25 Ringside Humour, 5.55 Cockatoo Island

Get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service – FREE – and start benefiting now! See myclubbetting.com for details.

Feeling-Lucky_B4C_1024x512 (2)

If you are not affiliated to a club, you can bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include Greatwood, World Horse Welfare and StreetGames.

You must be 18+ in order to bet. Please gamble responsibly http://www.gambleaware.co.uk

Horse racing Lucky 15 – Friday’s top picks

Each day Bet4Causes we will provide you with a preview of the day’s racing, offering what the experts feel will be the value bets of the day.

Take a look at our Lucky 15 selections (four singles, six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold) for the British and Irish meetings on Friday, May 27, 2016…

Brighton Races

LUCKY 15 SELECTIONS

LOVING YOUR WORK (Brighton 4.20) could be another winner in what may turn out to be a good day on the south coast for Ryan Moore. The selection ran with promise twice in defeat at Lingfield before landing a Class 5 handicap at Newbury last time. He shoulders a 5lb penalty for that but won with such authority that he may well be able to follow up in this lower grade.

TAFAAKOR (Haydock 2.10) can put his debut experience to good use in division one of the 6f novice stakes for trainer Richard Hannon and jockey Paul Hanagan. The selection, who cost 190,000 guineas as a yearling, finished fourth to Admiralty Arch in a hot York maiden when staying on from off the pace. The quartet drew clear of the rest and that race looks sure to produce a few winners.

ROSINA (Musselburgh 7.40) was fifth of nine in a Listed 5f race at York at a big price last time. She won three of her first four starts last season but has been campaigned solely in Listed company since. She drops down into a decent Class 3 handicap tonight and Ann Duffield’s string is in decent heart right now, so the selection has plenty going for her.

PRESENTING ARMS (Worcester 6.50) as not had too many chances over fences but got off the mark in this sphere when scoring in soft ground at Doncaster in March. He held every chance next time at Ludlow before almost unseating his rider three out then, upped in class last time at Cheltenham, came up against two classy novices in Fox Norton and Dormello Mo. He may look as though he has a lot on his plate off a mark of 135, but Harry Fry’s runner is still relatively unexposed and has plenty of upside.

Feeling-Lucky_B4C_1024x512 (2)

OTHER SELECTIONS

BATH: 2.00 Petrify, 2.30 Believe It, 3.00 Hala Madrid, 3.30 Star Catch, 4.00 Against The Odds, 4.30 The Graduate, 5.00 Rain In The Face

BRIGHTON: 2.20 Monks Stand, 2.50 Highly Sprung, 3.20 Great Expectations, 3.50 Goldenfield, 4.20 LOVING YOUR WORK (NAP), 4.50 Wordismybond, 5.20 Top Offer

HAYDOCK: 2.10 Tafaakhor (nb), 2.40 Our Boy, 3.10 Avenue Of Stars, 3.40 Nonchalant, 4.10 Santiburi Spring, 4.40 Triannah, 5.10 Constantino, 5.45 Star Of Spring

MUSSELBURGH: 6.40 Sirpertan, 7.10 Weekend Officer, 7.40 Rosina, 8.10 Sisyphus, 8.40 Azrur, 9.10 Curzon Line

PONTEFRACT: 6.30 Pivotman, 7.00 Touch The Sky, 7.30 Yalta, 8.00 Steelriver, 8.30 Kath’s Legacy, 9.00 Get Up And Dance

WORCESTER: 5.50 West End, 6.20 Southfield Vic, 6.50 Presenting Arms, 7.20 Comely, 7.50 Young Dillon, 8.20 Going For Broke, 8.50 Unify

DOWN ROYAL: 5.35 Wakea, 6.05 Fighting Days, 6.35 Island Villa, 7.05 Misdflight, 7.35 Annamatopoeia, 8.05 Futuramic, 8.35 Red Giant

Get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service – FREE – and start benefiting now! See myclubbetting.com for details.

160113_FREE-KIT_TW

If you are not affiliated to a club, you can bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include Greatwood, World Horse Welfare and StreetGames.

You must be 18+ in order to bet. Please gamble responsibly http://www.gambleaware.co.uk

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26 other followers