PCB’s Weekender: Betting on the FA Cup, Playoffs & Eurovision.

Known as PCB, Paul Chandler-Burns is a professional gambler and racing pundit. His picks on everything from racing to football, golf and even X Factor are regularly featured in Smart Betting Club (SBC) publications and on the SBC Forum, where Paul is a well-liked, cool head, renowned for his expertise across a number of sports. PCB lives in Newmarket and he also runs the SBC Premium Service 4PA. He is pledged to share his thoughts on the week’s sporting action exclusively for SBC each Friday.

It is the lull before the storm here in HQ this week before our thoughts turn inevitably to the upcoming classic programme and The Oaks meeting at Epsom, one of the highlights of the flat season.

I’ll be back next Friday to mark your card with a full classics preview but before then most punters thoughts will be torn between the culmination of the football season, with both play-off games and the FA Cup Final dominating the card, and the often perilous task of evaluating the latest crop of two year old thoroughbreds that are the lifeblood of the sport of kings.
For racing fans, it is an intoxicating prospect, trying to uncover next year’s classic star turns – especially so as countless prospects are already doing their talking long before they even reach the racecourse proper. There is many a slip between cup and lip however and, in punting terms, chasing these fleeting hopes and dreams can be a fast-track to the poorhouse.
The only sensible option is to ignore all the press hype, and like the bookmakers do, let the market be your guide.
The fact is you simply can’t bet 2-y-o races from the cards of your daily paper. Where these press prices can be useful though is as a guide to stable confidence as the market develops.
Take the first race at Newmarket today (Friday) for example.
It looks like a tricky puzzle to say the least with only Royal Blush, the 6/5 favourite, having raced in public from the assembled field. Experience is a massive boon for young horses’ chances as you’d expect and every season is littered with the carnage of stable staff ‘certainties’ that overheat in the stalls or go to pieces when confronted with a noisy crowd and racing conditions for the first time.
The interesting runner here, going by the market, looks to be Lemon Rock at 3/1. Listed at 7/1 in the papers, the horse must have some kind of confidence behind it but this race is a perfect case in point. Betting 2-y-o’s is a guessing game and I reckon that even where your advance info is rock-solid you can only ever be 80% confident that your selection will reproduce their work at home on the track.
It is one thing performing in the familiar environs of the Newmarket gallops against stablemates and something entirely different being pitched into a debut at an adverse track such as Brighton with its downhill gradient and torturous bend or at Chester where the draw, on this notoriously tight, oval track, is clearly so critical to a horse’s chances. Backing youthful winners is hard enough at the best of times but I’d consider the likes of Brighton, Beverley and Chester to be a graveyard for inexperienced horses. The fairest tracks for youngsters are probably Newmarket, a big, open and unintimidating venue and York, a galloping track that offers something to most kinds of horses.Personally though, it will be all eyes on Wembley tomorrow.

Not least because I am already on Stoke at a mouth-watering 66/1. The game between Mancini’s Manchester Millionaires and Stoke, the so-called roughnecks from The Potteries is a fascinating contest on paper, a wonderful clash of styles and a timely reminded of the enduring magic of the FA Cup, in a season dominated by off-field headlines.
Obviously, it is a no lose situation for me as a profit was secured as soon as Stoke secured their place in the final but I don’t think the game is as clear-cut as many think.
Stoke go into the contest in great form after demolishing Arsenal and in Pennant and Etherington they boast two class acts in wide areas that will relish the opportunity to rehabilitate their somewhat underachieving reputations on the big stage of a Wembley final.
In truth, City may be less than the sum of their expensively assembled parts while hustling, bustling Stoke will believe they can bully their way to the trophy. Like the angler whose hooked a big one, I can dream for now in anticipation of landing my 66/1 prize. Tales of ‘the one that got away’ will have to wait until full time tomorrow if City’s money talks on the day.
Find out how I picked out the 66/1 shot: All members of The Smart Betting Club were given access to my antepost betting strategy guide at the start of the season. This reveals my methods for picking out big winners like Carlisle to win the Johnstone’s paint trophy at 33/1. Sign up todayto start your research for next season. 

I’ll also be keeping an eye on events at Central Park Cowdenbeath where The Blue Brazil entertain Brechin in the second leg of their tied First Division play-off, up in Scotland.
I am on the Fife side to win their play-off competition at 9/4 and they should have been halfway there after storming to an imperious 2-0 lead at Brechin on Wednesday. However, two inspired half time substitutions turned the game the home side’s way and I am told Cowdenbeath, so impressive in the first half, were clinging on for grim life at the final whistle as they escaped Angus with a 2-2 draw. A Queens Park Scout tells me that over 2.5 goals looks a strong possibility in the return match tomorrow at 3/4 with Bet 365.
My QP scout also tells me that his own team are overpriced at 13/5 with Paddy Power for their second leg against Albion Rovers. The Spiders dominated the first leg at Hampden and will be disappointed with their 1-1 draw after leading from an early goal. The pitch at Rovers’ Cliftonhill ground is widely considered to be the worst in Scotland, in surroundings that offer no advantage to either side. He says: “In a toss of a coin game on a dog of a park both sides are probably 6/4 chances.
Saturday night, thank goodness, will offer a nice change of pace in the shape of Eurovision, one of my favoured betting events.
I’ve written extensively on betting in so-called novelty and reality TV contests for Smart Betting Club in the past and my view is that rather like the market for unseen racehorses, money talks.
The strategy for Eurovision is to simply follow all the gambles as they emerge to create a winning position on the principle players come the night. I am happy that I’ve already got the fancied French well onside in my book. They are currently 13/8 favourites with a number of firms so I am glad that I got in early in a competition where the vested interests of record companies, management and TV people clearly carries a lot of weight.
Eurovision of course has always revelled in its role as a paragon of high camp and as such it enjoys fanatical support from an audience that pick over every detail in advance, with the forensic eye of a Newmarket work watcher! For those looking for a run for their money at a nice price I am told that you could do a lot worse than a small interest on Finland at a top priced 25/1 by a Eurovision obsessive of my acquaintance.
Good luck whatever you bet this weekend and I’ll see you back here next Friday when our thoughts will turn to racing’s high summer Classics.
In the meantime if you’d like more, in depth strategies on markets as diverse as Eurovision and the FA cup, then pick up a Smart Betting Club membership today. Also keep an eye out for the new sports edition coming out next week with independent reviews of the tipsters everyone is talking about.
All the best,