Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chakvetadze showing positive signs

Anna Chakvetadze has been through more ups and downs in her life and tennis career than most of us will experience in a lifetime, but she started down the track back to the top of women’s tennis with victory in last week’s Slovenia Open.

The Russian was ranked in the top five in the world as a teenager, but her victory in the final in Portoroz on Sunday, where she beat unseeded Swede Johanna Larsson 6-1 6-2, ended a streak without a title stretching back to early 2008.

Chakvetadze started last week’s tournament outside the world’s top 100, but victories to defy most Tennis odds over Sara Errani, Vera Dushevina and Polona Hercog at least provided her with three boosts to her confidence, so low after more than two years in the wilderness.

She had broken into the tennis world’s conscience back in 2007 when reaching the semi-finals of the US Open before going on to beat Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic on her way to the last-four in the Sony Ericsson Championships.

Although she won again in February of 2008 in Paris, it is possible that the downfall in her game had already started by then after the off-court tribulations the previous December, just when her star was at its brightest.

Chakvetadze and her father Djambuli were tied up by the raiders who made off with goods totalling £150,000 in a raid on their Moscow home just seven days before Christmas, and her wrists were reportedly bound tight enough that she struggled to regain the feeling in them.

That did not stop her winning in Paris, but soon after her form would disintegrate to the point that just two years later she was heading for the scrap-heap, destined to join other young stars who have failed to live up to their early impact.

Dozens of early exits would follow but the glimmer of light finally arrived last week and she can now look forward to the US Open tennis betting odds, where she has performed so well in the past. "I hope this will give me some confidence so that I can play better against the top players. If you play well at a Grand Slam, you kind of start to believe that you can do really well."

Better times ahead for Addicks

The current summer has been a nervy one for Charlton fans, with bad news stories constantly greeting followers of the club. Whether it's the likely removal of the big screen from the Valley, or the possibility that the club could go out of business, the news this summer hasn't been good... until now.

Chairman Richard Murray took full control of the club after a buyout of his fellow board members and bond holders and better times look to be on their way to the Valley. Financial disaster could have meant relegation and the depressing prospect of the team's name appearing on League Two odds lists next season, but this now seems to have been avoided.

Having failed to secure promotion back to the Championship last season, the League One club had been facing a financial crisis similar to that of the 1990s, and had been relying on free agent signings to boost their slender squad. However, Murray has now announced that manager Phil Parkinson will be the recipient of the money injected into the team.

Parkinson is likely to be looking to use the cash to add to his strike force, which currently contains only one senior striker and two rookies. Although Parkinson has naturally been coy on the subject of who he is looking to recruit, any newcomer will ideally be a proven goalscorer as the Addicks look to battle their way out of the division. They're not favourites to win League One, but they're not far off.

Perhaps a bigger boost to Addicks fans will be the news that the club have vowed to hold on to Portuguese powerhouse Jose Senedo, voted second in the 2009/10 fans' player of the season awards.

Although the Addicks are currently promoting a DVD celebrating their promotion to the Premier League at the end of the 1997/98 season, it is the here and now that the Addicks need to focus on if they are to avoid languishing in League One.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cosmos appeals as likely Leger candidate

This autumn's Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster in September looks set to be one of the best renewals for some years with the list of potential runners looking a class above those seen in the race recently, writes Elliot Slater.

In Arctic Cosmos, John Gosden appears to have the ideal horse for the race and at current odd of 10/1 he appeals as seriously good each-way value.

After being brought along quietly with two respectable efforts in maiden company as a juvenile, the son of Derby winner North Light won two of his first three outings this term on the all-weather, including a handicap in May off a mark of just 78, hardly championship class level.

As a mark of just how much Gosden believed his three-year-old was progressing, the Newmarker handler declined the opportunity to run in a big Royal Ascot handicap off a mark of just 87, a race which he would surely have been able to win. Instead, he threw Arctic Cosmos into Group 2 company in the King Edward VII stakes, where he ran an absolutely blinder to chase home the very smart Monterosso. It was a race to interest people who follow horse racing tips.

Raised to a mark of 113 following that great run, Arctic Cosmos was fancied to go very close in the Gordon stakes at Glorious Goodwood earlier this week. However, he was ill at ease on the undulating track and with three furlongs to run was last and apparently in trouble. Still, when the ground levelled off, William Buick's mount suddenly found his stride and finished to tremendous effect, coming a fast closing third behind fellow St Leger hopefuls Rebel Soldier and Dandino. They are probably the best St Leger racing tips around right now.

I am convinced that on a flatter track Arctic Cosmos would have won, but am quite content to wait until Doncaster for him to bring home the bacon.
There are few better trainers than the charming Gosden and I believe he has known for some time that Arctic Cosmos has a serious chance of landing the final Classic of the season.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Torres and Mascherano set for Liverpool decision

Since taking over at Liverpool, Roy Hodgson has found himself locked in a series of crisis meetings in an attempt to convince the side's key players to remain on Merseyside.

He's already secured the commitment of Steve Gerrard but, as he's spent his entire career at the club, he was always going to most likely to stay put.

Hodgson is also battling to retain the services of Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano and even now their futures are very much up in the air.

The Spanish striker has revealed he has problems with the club, although he has refused to say he wants to leave. Those who bet on the Premier League know he's likely to be in with a shout of becoming top scorer, so it's a big decision.

Mascherano has been similarly elusive, he only returned to training today so it will be the first time he has met his new manager and the talks they hold could be make or break.

Of course, even if Hodgson does have to face up to life without two of his leading stars it won't all be bad news. If Torres and Mascherano do go, expectations will fall and a bit of pressure will be taken off the manager.

Some will blame him for failing to convince them their futures lie at the club, but most of the anger will be directed towards the current owners.

Then there's the money side of things. If Manchester City really are willing to cough up around £70 million for Torres - although this seems unlikely now - then Hodgson would surely bite their hand off. Even if any fee is nothing more than a significant proportion of that sum, it's still plenty of cash for one player.

Of course, the worry is that the club would be forced to use a significant amount of any transfer income to pay off its debts and this would hinder the manager significantly. Any Premier League betting prediction would reflect this.

Still, as things are Hodgson will know it's not the end of the world if either or both players leave the side. It's what happens afterwards that's most important.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Flying Fairy proves a real Curragh star

Snow Fairy’s famous last gasp victory in the Epsom Oaks was the stuff of real fairytales, the bargain basement filly fulfilling the dream of every small owner. To top that performance Ed Dunlop’s filly ran away with the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh on Sunday, destroying the opposition by an eased down 8 lengths, writes Elliot Slater.

She might have cost just a paltry 1800 euros, but the daughter of Intikhab has belied her modest background to prove herself to racing tips experts as the best middle-distance female of her generation in Europe.

There were a few anxious moments for backers of Snow Fairy (7/2) as she came off the bridle around half a mile for home before picking up the bit at the three marker, finding a devastating turn of foot to sweep into the lead past Lady Lupus and Meeznah, the filly who ran her so close at Epsom.

At the furlong pole the race was already beyond any doubt and Moore had the luxury of coasting in to beat the staying-on Godolphin representative Miss Jean Brodie, with Lady Lupus finishing an honourable third under young J P O’Brien. Ribblesdale winner Hibaayeb was sent off the betting tips 10/3f but was never travelling well and finished tailed off last of the 15 runners under Frankie Dettori.

Moore reported that Snow Fairy won despite the easy ground, not because of it, and made it clear that she hadn’t given him as good a feel as at Epsom six weeks ago.

For his part, Dunlop was achieving the Oaks double for a second time having sent out the mighty Ouija Board to win both races in 2004. A trip to the Breeders’ Cup could be on the agenda later in the year for this season’s ‘Cinderella’ horse, who may first take in the Yorkshire Oaks at the York Ebor fixture next month.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ferguson hails United's striking options

Dimitar Berbatov can get the goals to bring the Premier League title back to Old Trafford, according to Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Manchester United manager forked out more than £30 million to bring the Bulgarian to the club in the summer of 2008. However, Berbatov has struggled to live up to that fee and his inconsistent performances have led to rumours he could be on his way out.

Last season, Wayne Rooney was forced to carry the majority of the goalscoring burden as United battled with Chelsea for the Premier League, only to lose out to their West London rivals on the final day. The Premier League betting tips suggest those two will be fighting it out again next season.

Ferguson has brought Mexican striker Javier Hernandez to the club, and also has Danny Wellbeck, Mame Biram Diouf, Federico Macheda and Michael Owen as striking options for the season ahead.

Berbatov scored one and set up the other two goals as United beat Celtic 3-1 during the pre-season tour of the US and Ferguson described the forward's performance as "excellent".

"It underlines the one great factor - the class he has. You cannot take that away from him, no matter the criticism," the veteran manager said.

Speaking about his options for next season, he added: "We are happy with the strikers we have got. You have to decide what the best combination is."

The manager will also have to decide who can help the Red Devils live up to their Champions League odds after a relatively poor showing in the tournament last season.
It is unclear whether Wellbeck will be a United player when the new Premier League season gets underway, as Sunderland have admitted they are interested in the player.

The club's assistant manager Eric Black has confirmed Sunderland is interested but a move for the youngster may not happen for a "week or two".

Monday, July 19, 2010

Glinka to join Gary Moore

Classy young stayer Mikhail Glinka has left the care of Ballydoyle maestro Aidan O'Brien and is now to be trained by Gary Moore in West Sussex, father of current champion jockey Ryan Moore, and noted National Hunt rider Jamie, writes Elliot Slater.

Last seen in action when battling to a thrilling last-gasp victory over Theology in the Group 3 Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot, the three-year-old son of Galileo has been bought privately from Mssrs, Magnier, Tabor and Smith by an undisclosed client, who has chosen to place the live St Leger candidate under the guidance of the highly respected Moore.

Whilst he failed by only the narrowest of margins to score at Royal Ascot on fast going last month, there appears little doubt that Mikhail Glinka is ideally suited by cut in the ground as he demonstrated during his juvenile campaign which included a listed class victory on heavy ground at Leopardstown, before excelling himself in finishing runner-up (also on 'heavy' ground) to Passion For Gold in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud last November.

It had been no secret that his owners were prepared to sell at the right price and many noted bloodstock agents had been seeking to acquire the O'Brien colt who trades at a best priced 14/1 with irish racing for the St Leger at Doncaster in September.

Moore has already hinted that plans are fluid and could possibly include a bid for glory in Dubai next March at the Carnival fixture.

O'Brien's Irish Derby runner-up Midas Touch and Epsom Derby third Rewilding , trained for Godolphin by Saeed bin Suroor, are currently 5/1 joint favourites in the Irish racing tips market for the world's oldest classic race

Godolphin on target twice in German Group 1's

I doubt there'd be too many Horse racing betting pundits prepared to argue that Sheik Mohammed's Godolphin operation has been a massive success in Britain over the last two or three years.

When considering the mind numbing sums of money that have been spent by the Dubaian team on breeding and acquiring top horses, the results at the highest level have consistently fallen short of what must have been expected, writes Elliot Slater.

Still looking for a first Group 1 success in Britain and Ireland this term, Godolphin have at least hit the target twice over the weekend in Germany, sending out Campanologist to win the Deutscheland Preiss on Saturday, before the victory of Buzzword in the German Derby the following day at Hamburg racecourse.

Campanologist, ridden by Frankie Dettori, got the better of local favourite Wiener Waltzer in a race that probably wouldn’t have ranked above Group 2 on these shores, having been found wanting in all starts at the top grade over the last 12 months since his Group 3 win in Windsor's Winter Hill Stakes.

This success should give him a confidence boost and it would be nice for those who bet online to see him come back to the form that saw him beat Conduit in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2008.

Buzzword, a distant eighth behind Workforce in the Epsom Derby and a well beaten fourth behind Monterosso at Ascot next time out, put in a much improved display to beat 19 rivals in the German Derby, showing a smart turn of foot to beat Zazou in good style. Again, there has to be some doubt as to whether this level of form measures up to the British and Irish Group 1 levels.

Maybe these two recent successes mark a turning for Godolphin, but the acid test will be when these horses and their stable companions take on the 'Stoute's' and 'O'Brien's' in the forthcoming major races during the rest of the 2010 season.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Poulter turns attentions to Ryder Cup

Ian Poulter has had a frustrating week at St Andrews as he finished three over for the tournament after hitting a 71 earlier today.

The Englishman believed that he has “played lovely” throughout the four days, but he has simply “not been a good putter” and this is what has let those those backing him via ladbrokes golf betting down.

Tiger Woods has struggled around the greens too, so Poulter is in decent company, but this won’t take away the frustration he is feeling right now. Had he got his putting right, he would have been much further up the leader board.

Putting the disappointment behind him though, Poulter has set his sights on the Ryder Cup which takes place later this year.

He says that although he now has two weeks off, he will be “going to Akron (for the Bridgestone Invitational), followed by the US PGA” as soon his break from Golf is over.

Then, it is “time to start looking ahead to the Ryder Cup” for the man who has been updating his Twitter page regularly throughout his time in Scotland.

As for the Ryder Cup, Poulter proved many sports betting pundits wrong with his performance for Europe under Nick Faldo’s leadership two years ago and he will hope to play a major part at Celtic Manor this time around.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tiger praises McIlroy’s opening round

When Rory McIlroy completed his superb opening round at St Andrews yesterday, you just know that at the back of his mind he was wondering what World No.1 Tiger Woods made of his round.

There are a select few sportsmen who see their opinion on just about anything published across online betting sources and Woods is one of them. So, what did he make of McIlroy’s performance yesterday?

Well, he says that it was ‘a pretty impressive round’ from the youngster who did extremely well to ‘make a couple of birdies late when the wind started to pick up’.

Woods then advised McIlroy to ‘keep doing what he’s doing’ as the tournament moves forward. He did warn the Northern Irishman that there is a ‘long way to go’ though and hinted that a lot will change between now and Sunday afternoon.

As for his own form, those who bet on Golf tournaments should note that Woods was relatively pleased. He admits that he feels ‘in good shape’ and that he was relieved to take ‘advantage of the course’ when it became essential to him staying in touch with the leaders.

Woods then went on to say how he is feeling in his best form for a few months. He says that he is ‘hitting shots I haven’t hit in a long time’ and that his game is building with a long way to go at St Andrews.

Overall, Woods respects what McIlroy has done so far, but he is backing himself to overtake him at some stage and go on to win his third successive title at the British Open.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Spurs manager signs new deal

Tottenham fans can breathe a sigh of relief as their talismanic manager Harry Redknapp has signed a deal which will keep him at the club until 2013.

Redknapp's previous contract was due to expire in 2010, but the club have now exercised an option for a two year extension after the former Portsmouth boss guide his side into a Champions League spot.

Commenting on the news, Redknapp hinted that he could spend even longer in North London.

He said: "Who knows? I might stay with Spurs many more years than 2013.
"You never know what is around the corner and, while I have the energy, I think I will carry on for as long as I can. I feel as though I have a good few years left me in yet."

Redknapp pointed to a number of high-profile managers who have continued working into their 60s, and added that there is no substitute for experience in the profession.

The side may not be many people's Premier League betting tips for the title this season, but they should still challenge for Europe.

So it seems Spurs fans should look forward to seeing Redknapp in the dugout for years to come, but that's not the entire story.

After all, this is the man who only a few weeks ago was shamelessly linking himself with the England job. Spurs fans would also do well to remember that Redknapp has issued his standard line upon signing a new deal with a club.

Indeed, when he put pen to paper on a contract with Portsmouth back in May 2006 he said: "I wouldn't go anywhere else now. Definitely not. I mean it this time. I wouldn't go anywhere else for sure. Not a chance. This is the end for me. This is the last job for me."

No one who has bet on the Premier League in the past should need reminding what happened after that.

So yes, Spurs fans should pleased their manager has committed to the club for three more years, but they should also remember that this doesn't necessarily mean he'll be in charge when 2013 rolls around.

Ireland’s Hughes land Indian Derby

Racing in India has proved very fruitful for popular Irishman Richard Hughes, who after booting home ten winners in England last week followed by a Group 1 success in France on the deserving Dick Turpin, travelled on to Asia on Sunday where he partnered Moonlight Romance to victory in the Grade 1 Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, writes Elliot Slater.

Earlier this year Hughes thrilled the Indian crowds and racing tips pundits with his winning association with star local filly Jacqueline on whom he landed a stunning four Grade 1’s, and it was more of the same as Richard Hannon’s son-in-law and stable jockey ran out a cosy victor on Moonlight Romance, the daughter of China Visit providing Indian training legend Cooji Katrak with his 16th Grade 1 career success.

Hughes has always expressed his appreciation of racing in India and it is highly significant that he chose to fly half way across the world to take the ride at a time when he is in with a serious chance of challenging for the British jockeys title. Hughes is currently lying second to the flying Paul Hanagan with 68, some 16 behind the high flying Richard Fahey stable jockey and one ahead of defending champion Ryan Moore.

As well as partnering Moonlight Romance to a famous success, Hughes booted home a further two winners on the card to give his adoring Indian fans plenty to smile about.

With Indian racing very much on the up and up it was significant that Michael O’Hagan of Irish racing Thoroughbred Marketing was also on hand to witness his countryman triumph and to court the burgeoning Indian bloodstock market ahead of the late summer and autumn sales in Ireland.

Torbo flies the flag for Israel

If asked to think of racing nations around the world, probably the last place you would suggest is the tiny Middle Eastern nation of Israel. Even though they have no racecourse and currently no breeding industry, one Israeli bred horse continues to fly the flag as his owners strive to become the first to produce a locally bred horse to win on the British stage, writes Elliot Slater.

Royal Torbo, trained by George Baker, has been with the Moreton Morrell handler since he was a yearling, sent over by owner/breeders Arik and Betty Rayzner at an early stage of his career in order to give him the opportunity to acclimatise to British conditions after growing up in the searing heat of the desert.

The only horse in training by the Rayzner's German bred stallion Tabari (by Sadlers Wells), a close relative of the great Sea The Stars, the three-year-old gelding is definitely no world-beater but has gone close to landing that elusive first Israeli win, including when beaten a neck in a Wolverhampton maiden in January. Not seen since running third in a handicap on a return visit to Dunstall Park, Baker's charge is due to reappear shortly after a spring break, as the quest to get the Israeli-bred's head in front continues.

As Israel's Stud Book is currently inactive there seems little possibility according to Irish horse racing tips of any other compatriots trying to follow his lead, so, should he manage to win at any level, Royal Torbo could well become the first, and last Israel bred horse to manage such a feat. That is, unless his unraced four-year-old half-brother Royal Tiger (by Tiger Hill), also in training with Baker, can get his head in front in bumpers or over hurdles this winter.

Should either of the Israeli 'Royal's' win it will probably go unheralded by the Irish racing press, but back in their homeland, the country with no racing or breeding infrastructure whatsoever will have achieved something very special.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Spain see off one dimensional Germany

There was much talk about Germany's impressive scoring feats in this tournament ahead of last night's game against Spain, but in the end the Iberian side played almost the perfect game.

Joachim Loew's men, who had looked so imperious against Argentina and England, were denied the luxury of playing the kind of counter attacking football they thrive on and as such were made to look ordinary. In fact, they never gave the impression they were potential World Cup winners.

Of course, Spain didn't have it all their own way and they were almost caught on two notable occasions, most notably when a breakaway down the wing caused chaos at the back, but Iker Casillas was always on hand to ensure the slate remained blank.

Things were tough for La Roja up front as well, and they arguably made the same mistakes as Argentina did in playing too narrowly. Having said that, their tactic of attempting to play defence-splitting passes met with more success than Argentina's decision to constantly cut inside with the ball and run into trouble.

As it was though, Spain found the back of the net in the same way England did - a cross followed by a header. In this case it was actually a corner, but Carlos Puyol had so much time to power the ball in the back of the net, it makes you wonder why his side didn't test their opponents in that manner more often.

As it is, Spain march on to the World Cup football final and Germany go home with their heads held high. Whether Loew's side can progress in the coming years remains to be seen. They are a young side, but many other teams would have taken advantage of their one dimensional tactics far early in the tournament had they been drawn together.

They look promising, yes, but they won't be able to win a major tournament without learning a few new tricks.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Something fancied to take Bunbury Cup revenge

One of this season's most extraordinary handicap successes was that of the Dandy Nicholls-trained Something, who came from a seemingly impossible position to win a race in the very last stride at Epsom last week, writes Elliot Slater.

A quirky sort, but with no end of ability, eight-year-old Something was at least 12 lengths behind with two furlongs to run before taking off like a rocket down the outside of the field to get up at the very last to deprive poor We Have A Dream by a nose.

Those who keep an eye on daily racing tips should be aware a 6lb penalty has been incurred for that success, but if caught in the same mood there is every reason to believe that Nicholls' gelding could run a very big race in the ultra-competitive Bunbury Cup at Newmarket on Friday.

The seven furlong contest is always something of a cavalry charge, but granted luck in-running I can easily see Something putting on a very bold show. Three years ago, when trained by the late Terry Mills, the son of Trans Island only failed to land the coveted prize by half a length and was running then off a mark 6lbs higher than on Friday. For this reason, he remains one of my top horse racing tips.

Judging by his most recent performance there is little reason to believe Something no longer possesses all his old ability, so he is arguably a well handicapped horse off his current mark - although don't let Nicholls hear me saying that.

At current odds of 16/1 and with four places guaranteed, Something looks a sporting each-way investment in a very trappy event. Big handicap specialist Luca Cumani has moved early to book former champion jockey Keiren Fallon for Axiom in the same race and it would be no surprise whatsoever to see that gelding put up a better display than he has given so far this term.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

World Cup star harbours United ambitions

Luis Suarez has claimed that he wants to be the man who can help fire Manchester United to Premier League glory in the future.

The Uruguayan striker was a revelation at Ajax last season, scoring 49 goals in 48 games and has also impressed during the World Cup helping his nation to the semi-finals - though he will miss that game due to his sending off in the quarter-final against Ghana. The run has been something of a minor World Cup 2010 betting upset.

It has been reported that Sir Alex Ferguson is looking for new strikers after United lost out to Chelsea in the Premier League title battle last season.

Apart from Wayne Rooney, the rest of United's striking options disappointed throughout the campaign and Ferguson has already moved to bring in Mexico forward Javier Hernandez for next season.

The veteran manager has been linked with an interest in Suarez, and the Ajax forward has claimed he would not be able to resist the calling of United if they came in for him.

"Manchester United and Barcelona are the elite clubs in Europe," he told the Daily Star.

"If they call, you listen. I would only leave Ajax for a team in that category."

United are currently second favourites in the Premier League 2010/2011 betting.

Another striker who harbours ambitions of helping United to the Premier League title is Sevilla and Brazil star Luis Fabiano.

The striker had been linked with a move to Spurs but dismissed those reports and stated he only wanted to sign for one of the "true giants" of European football, stating Old Trafford would be his preferred destination.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Dhoni to get married

Indian cricket captain and sports icon Mahendra Singh Dhoni has got enagaged to his childhood friend. The marriage date has not been announced yet. For more info click here