Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Real chance of an O'Brien Derby 1-2-3

Now that Jan Vermeer has added his name to the roster of potential Epsom Derby candidates trained by Ballydoyle maestro Aidan O'Brien, the very real prospect looms of the leading Irish handler sending out the 1-2-3 in the forthcoming colts' classic on June 5th, writes Elliot Slater.

O'Brien's dominance of the ante-post betting markets is so great that the barely thinkable could well happen, much in the same way that Michael Dickinson saddled the first five horses home in the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

St Nicholas Abbey remains a rock solid 2/1 favourite despite his eclipse in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket at the start of May, and Jan Vermeer gained rave reviews for his seasonal return when romping to success at the Curragh last weekend. Should O'Brien choose to do so, he could run both leading market fancies along with wide margin Dante winner Cape Blanco and the comfortable Leopardstown Group 2 scorer Midas Touch. These are the four horses who currently head the ante-post list ahead of the Henry Cecil-trained Bullet Train and they are bound to dominate in lists of free horse racing tips.

Of course, it is more likely that O'Brien will divert one or more of the Epsom entries to take up the challenge of the French Derby at Chantilly the day after Epsom. Jan Vermeer is considered by some to be most likely to take on the French on their home soil having showed a particularly high cruising speed that could serve him well in the two furlong shorter Gallic classic.

The Ballydoyle permutations are many and varied, but it is significant that Skybet, one of the few bookmakers prepared to bet on the O'Brien 1-2-3, make the Irish handler just a 6/1 chance to pull off what would be a feat of epic proportions. I'm not sure it would be one of my Derby tips though.

Indeed, I wouldn't bet on O'Brien sending out the first three home in this year's Epsom Derby but, like many neutral racing fans, I would dearly love to see it happen.

Evans ready for United pressure

Jonny Evans wants to establish himself as a vital piece of the Manchester United jigsaw as they look to wrestle the Premier League title away from Chelsea next season.

The Old Trafford side finished second to their West London rivals last season and Sir Alex Ferguson has already moved to bolster his squad for next season's title challenge by signing Chris Smalling and Javier Hernandez. The football betting odds make United second favourites to win the league, so the players will know they have to up their games.

The arrival of central defender Smalling from Fulham could see Evans face increased competition as he looks to oust either Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic from the first-choice defensive pairing.

Evans told the Manchester Evening News he was "delighted" to sign a new four-year contract at Old Trafford and that the deal will mean higher expectations placed on his shoulders for the future.

"I am 22 and, having signed that new long-term deal, I will no longer be classed as the young lad just coming into the squad. I will have been in the squad for two years and people will be expecting a lot of me," the Northern Irish defender said.

"I want to improve and become better so you have to put more pressure on yourself to perform consistently and be a more important figure in the team."

Ferguson recently called for the younger players at Old Trafford to look at the likes of veterans Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville to see the standards needed to help fire United to the Premier League title.

Meanwhile, Ferdinand will be looking to prove his fitness to England manager Fabio Capello.

The Three Lions are third favourites in the World Cup 2010 odds, but their defensive frailties could haunt them.

There are also doubts over the form of John Terry, while Ashley Cole is also edging back to fitness.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nani - United will win title next year

Manchester United winger Nani thinks the Premier League title is only going to be on loan at Chelsea and it will return to Old Trafford next season.

The Portuguese star has enjoyed an impressive campaign but his side finished second in the Premier League, after Chelsea won the title by one point after their thrashing of Wigan on the final day.

According to the latest football betting odds, Chelsea are favourites to retain the trophy, but Nani believes things will not be that straight forward.

He told MUTV that United fans should still be "confident" about next season despite the disappointment of finishing second this time around.

The players need to "forget about this" and look to bring the trophy back to Old Trafford in 2010/11, he added.

"We'll be strong next season. United is a very strong club, we have a very strong mentality. We didn't win the league this season, but next time we will," the winger said.

Nani's rally cry for next season has been mirrored by Sir Alex Ferguson, who applauded Chelsea for their Premier League title win but issued a stark warning by stating United would "come back next year" and ensure the trophy returns north in 12 months time.

Meanwhile, the Portuguese star will be looking to ensure his side are able to upset the World Cup 2010 betting and go on a good run.

The side aren't well fancied, largely because their group includes both Brazil and Ivory Coast.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Godolphin switch could backfire

There are few better trainers of thoroughbred racehorses than legendary French handler Andre Fabre. He is a master of his craft who repeatedly produces high-class performers across all age groups and distances, so it comes as a great surprise to learn that Sheik Mohammed has removed four very useful horses from Fabre's care and transferred them to train in Britain, writes Elliot Slater.

The allocation of the four horses suggests Mahmood Al Zarooni, who will now handle three of them, could soon replace Saeed Bin Suroor, who takes charge of the other, as principal handler for the King of Dubai.

Cutlass Bay, unbeaten in five starts for Fabre, the last of which was in the Group 1 Prix Ganay at Longchamp last week, goes to Bin Suroor, while three-year-olds Rewilding, Anna Salai and the highly promising Simon De Montfort go to Al Zarooni. Anyone with an interest in racing tips should keep a keen eye on the lattermost of these.

Last year, it took until Mastery's win in the St Leger for Godolphin to gain their only British Group 1 success of the season, a decidedly poor return on the Sheikh's massive investment. I'm sure I won't be alone in wondering just how the powers that be at Godolphin came to the decision that the four horses removed from Fabre will be improved by their new trainers.

Previous experience suggests a leap forward is most unlikely and the odds are that two or more may not be seen again this term, if previous trends are to be repeated. Even if they do reappear, it is highly unlikely the chance in trainer will lead to their horse race odds shortening dramatically.

Racing can be a very tough game at the best of times, but Fabre must be left scratching his head in trying to figure out just what he has to achieve to gain the continued patronage of the Godolphin empire, should he desire it of course.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

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