The 145th Open Championship gets underway at Royal Troon on Thursday and ante post favourite Dustin Johnson (10/1) can complete a memorable hat-trick. The big hitter from South Carolina landed his first major with victory at the U.S. Open at Oakmont, followed up with a come-from-behind win at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone and arrives in South Ayrshire in irresistible form.
Not only that, but he boasts an excellent Open record, having made six of seven cuts and finished in the top 15 four times, including a tie for second in 2011. Royal Troon is traditionally a course where scores are made on the front nine so, with his power from the tee and precision with his shorter clubs, not to mention his reputation as a fast starter, Johnson could get off to a flyer. He also has the ability to flight the ball to counteract wind conditions, which are invariably unfavourable to the players on the back nine, and so defend his score on the back nine.
Selection: Open Championship – Dustin Johnson to win outright (10/1 generally available)
This week’s European Tour event is the Lyoness Open at Diamond Country Club, Atzenbrugg, Austria and, with home advantage, Bernd Wiesberger can continue his excellent run of results in the tournament. Wiesberger failed to recover from an opening round 79 when missing the cut in the Lyoness Open last year, but three top-five finishes in his previous four appearances, including a win in 2012, have seen the tall Austrian installed as 13/2 joint-favourite, alongside Dutchman Joost Luiten, by bet365.
Wiesberger has enjoyed a successful, if unspectacular, year so far, finishing in the money in 10 out of 11 European Tour events, including four top 20 finishes. His latest effort was a solid tied-15th at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, six shots behind eventual winner Chris Wood. Once again, an opening round of 76 put him on the back foot, but subsequent rounds of 68, 71 and 70 ensured another decent payday and, back in his native Austria, he should give us a good run for our money.
Selection: Bernd Wiesberger (13/2 with bet365) to win outright
Aidan O’Brien saddles three runners in the Investec Oaks (4.30) at Epsom on Friday, but ante post favourite Minding (10/11) looks far and away his best chance of landing the second fillies’ Classic for the sixth time. The daughter of Galileo stayed on strongly to beat stable companion Ballydoyle by 3½ lengths in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket in May and, although failing by a neck to overhaul Jet Setting in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh three weeks later, she sets an exemplary standard.
The front pair pulled 10 lengths clear of the third, Now Or Never, at the Curragh and Minding can probably be rated a little better than the bare form after hitting her head on the starting stalls. Even so, she has 9lb and upwards in hand of her rivals on official ratings and, while her stamina for a mile and a half is not absolutely guaranteed, she stayed a mile as a juvenile, so the step up to middle distances could conceivably bring about further improvement. Even if it doesn’t, she’s hard to oppose.
In the Dante Stakes (3.15) at York on Thursday, Midterm did nothing to diminish his lofty home reputation when beating Algometer by 1½ lengths in the Sandown Classic Trial last month with 8 lengths back to the third horse and can maintain his 100% record. Sir Michael Stoute’s colt is the first foal out of six-time Group 1 winning mare Midday, by Galileo, which accounts, in large part, for his prominence in the ante post betting for the Derby, but he is already officially rated higher than Foundation and Deauville, who finished first and second in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket last autumn, and remains open to significant improvement. If he’s to win the Derby, he should win this, and win it well, so doesn’t look bad value at 11/8 currently.
Betting on favourites of course isn’t all sweetness, light and easy money and so it makes sense to show both sides of the coin. You often see people on Betfair trying to cash in to the tune of a few pounds here and there while no doubt thinking to themselves “this is free money”.
Above is a prime example of when “free money” goes bad. This 2015 Median Auction Maiden Fillies Stakes clip from At The Races shows 1/20 odds on shot Triple Dip failing to get going, while second favourite Mercy Me romps home at 16/1. A harsh lesson learned for some no doubt!
In the 8.45 at Chelmsford on Wednesday, Bowson Fred has yet to race on Polytrack, but ran as well as he ever has on the Tapeta surface at Wolverhampton 11 days ago and looks worth chancing off a 1lb higher mark. The Monsieur Bond gelding was only beaten three-quarters of a length in that 0-90 contest and, with his latest weight rise offset by a drop back into 0-85 contest, he looks to have every chance of resuming winning ways if taking to the surface.
Michael Easterby has a very healthy 7-21 (33%) strike rate at Chelmsford and, having recorded his two wins on turf over the minimum trip at Chester and Musselburgh, Bowson Fred should be suited by the flat track. He’s won on good to firm and good to soft going on turf, as well as on standard going on Tapeta, so appears versatile with regard to underfoot conditions, which offers further encouragement on his Polytrack debut. It’ll be disappointing if he can’t build on a highly promising start to the season.