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Nick's Punting Diary w/c 10-06-13

With Royal Ascot around the corner I need to keep things sensible this week as I know I will be having some decent bets over the course of the festival.

That said, I decide to sit out the first three days of the week and have a punt on the US Open golf Championship.  I do not know much about golf, and I really don’t follow it, so I rely on a couple of tips from a good friend who can politely be described as a “golfing nut”.

Phil Mickelson each-way (5 places) @20/1 is what is advised and I get on to small stakes.  Another reliable source offers up Justin Rose @2/1 and Charl Schwartzel @7/4 to be top placed Englishman and South African respectively.  I back both and that will do for me and hopefully give me an interest for the four full days.

On to Friday and I spot what I think is a bookmaker error in the World Cup Qualifier between Libya and Togo.  Looking at the stats, Libya have not won since July 2012 and in those 7 games since their last win they have not even managed to score.  By contrast, Togo have a recent win over Cameroon and have scored in 7 of their last 8 away games.  Togo 19/4 to win seems too good to be true and I get on.  I take Evens on Togo +1 in the Asian handicap and also plonk on the 10/11 for Togo to score.  I am confident (and a little smug!) that my war chest for Royal Ascot is going to look even better come Friday evening.

Come Friday evening I have egg for tea and smother it all over my face as Libya beat Togo 2-0 and blow the stats out of the water.  Not to worry, I get a text to say Charl Schwartzel is early joint leader of the 1st round of the US Open.  Great start!  Until I see he is joint-leader with Tim Clark – another South African.

And so to Saturday and another bookie pricing rick jumps off the page and hits me right between the eyes (narrowly missing the egg on my face from the night before).  This time it’s the goals that interest me and I think I’ve found some great value in the Botswana v Central Africa match.  Central Africa have conceded at least 2 goals in their last 10 away matches. In Botswana's last 7 home games they have conceded 2, 4, 3, 3, 1, 2 and 6 goals. That tells me both defences are dire and at the available odds I am betting that the two teams’ attacking players are not as useless as their defenders.  I’m on both teams to score @5/4, over 2.5 goals @7/4 and Botswana to score two or more @9/4.

On to the racing and we have eight races live on C4 and I settle down to some form study amidst the chaos of a normal Saturday morning in the Hardman household.  In the opener at Sandown, Noble Gift looks like an each-way bet to nothing and I take the 5/1, hoping there will be no late non-runners in this 8 runner handicap.

The 17 runner Amateur Lady Rider’s handicap is a race my head tells me to ignore, so I duly back previous winner Crackentorp at 6/1 and have a nibble on Easy Terms @20/1 each-way.

The 2.20 at Sandown is also one of those races where my head says “no” but the challenge set by this 17 runner handicap just cannot be ignored.  Vainglory is a lovely horse and I love the fact he often wins by coming from last to first despite always being first off the bridle.  I take the 18/1 and also take the 14/1 on the completely unpronounceable Bancnuanaheireann.

On to the 2.40 at York and, in the hope that he settles better in this bigger field, I have a small interest on Kevin Ryan’s 4 year old gelding Clayton at 8/1.

I give the Sandown Listed race a swerve.  I think Morawij will win but I see no juice in the price at 5/4.

The 3.15 Listed race at York looks like a cracking little race and I do not hesitate to take 4/1 about the consistent filly Ladys First.  Richard Fahey and Paul Hanagan are a potent combination and I make this my NAP of the day.

On to the final two races of C4’s coverage and we have two cavalry charges.  I just love these races and, although they are notoriously difficult to get right, I just can’t resist.  I normally look for two horses at a nice each-way price and that’s exactly what I find in Long Awaited @10/1 and Rothesay Chancer at 18/1 up at Musselburgh; ditto Polski Max @25/1 and Chilworth Icon @18/1 in the 3.50 at York.

It turns out to be another day of mixed fortunes.  Noble Gift was indeed an each-way bet to nothing.  I bet him each way and he returned nothing.  I draw a blank as Crackentorp and Easy Terms finish mid-field and another blank as Vainglory and Bancnuanaheireann never feature.  Things go from bad to worse as Clayton does his best impression of a drunken ice-skater as he all but slips up on the turn into the home straight.

Morawij duly wins without carrying any of my money to weigh him down and it’s on to my NAP, Ladys First.  Unfortunately this lady is nearer last than first and I am staring down the barrel of a total whitewash.  I see my first return of the day when Long Awaited grabs a place in the Scottish Sprint Cup and then watch with complete apathy as Polski Max and Chilworth Icon are settled in the rear so comfortably that they decide to stay there for the whole 6 furlongs.

And the day’s racing ends without a sniff of the winning post.

Luckily for me though, Botswana and Central Africa decide to go goal crazy and I land all three bets as the game finishes 3-2 in favour of the home team.  It’s now time to sit back and see if Rose and Schwartzel can do the business in the golf.

Sunday morning and I have Phil Mickelson leading the US Open, Carl Schwartzel 6 shots clear of the nearest South African and Justin Rose tied with Luke Donald for top English player.  It’s an enviable position and one thoroughly down to friends in the know.  I feel no obligation to bet on anything today as I have three golfers in great positions to provide me with a nice return, so it’s time to sit back and relax and enjoy Father’s Day.

A rollercoaster last day in the golf sees Justin Rose become the first Englishman since Tony Jacklin to win the US Open, Phil Mickelson finishes tied second and Charl Schwartzel capitulates in dramatic fashion to finish +8, three shots behind fellow South African Ernie Els.  Not a bad return for a sport of which I know relatively little.

All eyes now turn to Royal Ascot and an action-packed 5 days of top quality racing...

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