Wednesday, November 30, 2011

World title could cap extraordinary year for Wade

James Wade is the second most successful player in PDC history after the legend that is Phil Taylor, but he has never won the PDC World Championship and victory this time around would cap a remarkable turnaround year for the left-hander.

The 28-year-old was knocked out of the world championship at Alexandra Palace last year in the first round by Austrian unknown star Mensur Suljovic.

After this Wade checked into a rehabilitation clinic and was diagnoses with bipolar and attention deficit disorders, with the darts star bravely going public and revealing his long-running battles with depression during the summer. Those looking at the latest darts betting odds will have been surprised.

The PDC fans were unanimously behind Wade and chanted his name upon his return at the UK Open in Bolton – which he won for second time – and the darts world have continued to support him in tournaments across the world.

Despite all his success, the best Wade has to show at the PDC World Championships is a semi-final appearance in 2009 and there will be many fans hoping the Aldershot flinger can be a success at the Alexandra Palace this time around.

There is no doubting he has the ability to beat anyone – up to and including the mercurial Phil Taylor – in the PDC draw and it can all depend as to how Wade is feeling in himself as to how far he can go in the tournament.

But after such an emotional and extraordinary year in his career there would be few who would complain if Wade finally added a world championship trophy to an already glowing CV.

Colts and the Stanford QB connection

After an NFL Draft in 2011 that saw four quarterbacks taken in the first 12 picks of the first round the 2012 draft is shaping up nicely with four teams that obviously need a first round quarterback pick and, coincidently, four potential franchise quarterbacks with the ability to influence Football betting expected to be available. There’s just one problem. The Colts, who will have the first pick, don’t need a franchise quarterback yet, but they are not expected to pass on the opportunity to select Peyton Manning’s eventual successor in Indianapolis.

While technically owning an additional year of eligibility no one is expecting Stanford’s Andrew Luck to return to Palo Alto and instead the presumptive No. 1 overall pick will head to Indiana the second time that the Colts will have selected a can’t miss QB prospect out of Stanford with the top overall pick in the draft. Those that Bet on NFL will remember that the first time, of course, was John Elway who never played a down for the Colts when the franchise was in Baltimore giving the excuse that he didn’t want to play in a cold weather city. The issue, years later now acknowledged, was that Elway was never going to play for Frank Kush, then the head coach in Baltimore but previously in college at Arizona State where his methods were known to, and disapproved by Elway’s father, Jack.

Elway would be traded away to Denver, the Colts receiving offensive lineman Chris Hinton, a 1984 first round draft pick and QB Mark Herrmann, a poor haul in retrospect for a Super Bowl winning quarterback. These days the Executive Vice President of Football Operations in Denver for the Broncos, Elway has his own QB problems where Tim Tebow is winning, but certainly isn’t an NFL ready quarterback from a throwing standpoint. It would be a surprise if Denver doesn’t take either Landry Jones from Oklahoma or Matt Barkley out of USC in the 2012 draft unless Washington, Miami or Seattle addresses their needs first.

Stars lining up for maiden Thailand Golf Championship

The inaugural Thailand Golf Championship takes place next month and already a quality field is assembling to play in Asia’s newest golf tournament.

Golfers from around the globe are preparing to descend on the Amata Spring Country Club from December 15-18 to compete for US$1 million and a spot in the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

A number of European stars will be there as the Thailand Golf Championship takes place a weeks after it climaxes with the Dubai World Championship, meaning the likes of US Open champion Rory McIlroy, British Open winner Darren Clarke and world number three Lee Westwood are already confirmed to take part.

Add to these names such as Charl Schwartzel, Sergio Garcia, Simon Dyson, Japan's Ryo Ishikawa and two-time major winner John Daly and the Thailand Golf Championship is already shaping up to be a terrific competition in its maiden year. Fans of golf betting will know this.

Schwartzel is of course the Masters champion and that means three of this season's four Major winners will be on show in Thailand’s capital, and more star names are likely to commit in the coming weeks.

Suwat Liptapanlop, vice-president of the Thailand Olympic Committee, has stated Amata Spring Country Club was not affected by recent floods in the country and indeed the new golf tournament can provide some much-needed relief for the nation. People looking to bet on golf will know this.

"Confirmation that all the world-class professional golfers are still committed to the Thailand Golf Championship is a good sign and a reassuring vote of confidence for Thailand and the event," said Suwat.

The Thailand Golf Championship is the final event of the golfing year and it is only a fortnight before  the European Tour’s 2012 campaign begins, at the Africa Open in South Africa on January 6th, where Louis Oosthuizen is the defending champion.

Stevenson expects season to be cancelled

Dallas Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson does not think the ongoing dispute between the NBA player and owners will be resolved and believes the 2011-12 season will have to be cancelled.

The Mavericks have still not received their championship rings following last season's success and Stevenson is thoroughly fed up with the five-month lockout.

He said: "For me, personally, I don't think there will be a season. Right now there is just a lot of bad blood and the owners keep putting offers out that we're rejecting. So we're not going anywhere."

Stevenson has also criticised the executive director of the players' former union, Billy Hunter, adding: "I feel like he is doing a horrible job because basically now the owners know our hand. The media knows our hand. The owners know our hand."

Stevenson also believes that the Mavericks have not been given the credit they deserve for upsetting the form-book and beating Miami Heat in last season's Finals. People placing an NBA bet should remember this.

Meanwhile, Dallas' representative for the Players Association, Jason Terry, believes the players were correct to reject the latest offer from the owners earlier this month but thinks an agreement will eventually be reached.

Terry is of the opinion that if the players had accepted the offer, the Mavericks would be in danger of losing several of their star players who are currently free agents, including Stevenson, center Tyson Chandler, guard Jose Juan Barea and forwards Caron Butler, Brian Cardinal and Peja Stojakovic.

"Look at our roster," Terry said. "Free agency is going to hit us hard. We don't know what our team is going to look like."

Can Liverpool claim the FA Cup trophy in the 2011/12 season?

Liverpool, the once so mighty football club, have severely depleted in quality over the past few seasons. Kenny Dalglish – Liverpool's current manager – has bought quite badly and has not acquired the greatest results.

His worst buy has to be England international Andy Carroll. He bought Carroll from Newcastle for an astronomical fee thought to be in and around the region of £35 million; a shocking figure for a player of Carroll's caliber.

Liverpool's encounter in the FA Cup in the 2010/11 season did not bode well for the Merseyside club. Bitter rivals Manchester United beat them 1-0 in the Third Round after Welsh international Ryan Giggs scored from the spot in the first minute of play.

It must have been a heartbreaking affair for the loyal Liverpool fans. The last time Liverpool managed to claim the prestigious FA Cup trophy was back in 2006 where they defeated London club West Ham 3-1 with an enticing penalty shootout.

At the present time, Liverpool's best player has to be the Argentinian international Luis Suarez. Dalglish paid a fee of £22.8 million for the talented Argentinian, which is an absolute steal for a man of such class. Suarez is most certainly a player that opposing managers will be wary of in the FA Cup. People placing an in-play FA Cup bet should remember this.

So, in answer to the question in the title – 'Can Liverpool claim the FA Cup trophy in the 2011/12 season?' – the answer to this particular question would have to be no.

This is mostly being due to the fact that Dalglish's squad lacks the quality needed to overcome the likes of: Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal Chelsea, and Tottenham.

The Reds definitely need an influx of at least 3 players to match the aforementioned teams.

The first task that Dalglish should undertake is the task of sorting out his shoddy defense. The second thing he should accomplish is the task of bringing in an attacking player that's going to score them goals on a regular basis whether it be in the FA Cup or any other competition for that matter.

Chelsea to be hit by ACN absentees

Chelsea will be among the biggest suffers in January when several of their star players leave for the African Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas will be without the services of Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Michael Essien during the tournament. However, he will retain the services of John Obi Mikel this year as Nigeria failed to qualify for the finals in 2012.

The Blues are struggling for form in the Premier League and are already 10 points behind leaders Manchester City. Drogba's absence could allow Fernando Torres the opportunity to try and stamp a claim for a regular starting place in the side. The £50 million signing from Liverpool has struggled for goals and form since joining Stamford Bridge and has had to share his opportunities in the side with Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Daniel Sturridge. Those following the in-play African Cup of Nations betting should remember this.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will be delighted that Cameroon surprisingly haven't made the African Cup of Nations next year. The Frenchman will keep hold of his influential midfielder Alex Song who is usually on international duty when the tournament comes around.  Wenger will however, lose Emmanuel Frimpong, Gervinho and Maroune Chamakh for the games, which could leave him pretty short in the striking options. He will be hoping that in-form Dutchman Robin van Persie stays injury free otherwise he may look to add a forward in the January transfer window.
Chamakh has not been a regular in Wenger's side this season after struggling to repeat the success he had in his first campaign at the Emirates Stadium since joining from Bordeaux.

Warnock boosted by SWP news

Neil Warnock has been handed a welcome boost after learning that Shaun Wright-Phillips didn't break his foot during QPR's defeat to Norwich last week. The winger left Carrow Road on crutches after the 2-1 loss, with initial fears that the former Chelsea man had suffered a break now alleviated.

Wright-Phillips has been an ever-present in the QPR side since his summer move from Manchester City, and his presence in the team will be integral to the club's hopes this season.  People following the best football odds should remember this.

There is now hope that the Wright-Phillips could yet recover in time to face West Brom this weekend, as the newly promoted side look to bounce back from the Norwich defeat.

Warnock revealed his summer signing had avoided serious injury, admitting he could make the squad for the West Brom game at Loftus Road.

"Shaun is undergoing extensive treatment this week," he said.

"Fortunately there's no break, and we haven't written him off just yet for Saturday's game with West Brom."

If Rangers are to have any hope of avoiding the drop this season, then home victories against sides like West Brom are going to be essential. Warnock's men have at times looked a little out of their league, however, there has been more than enough evidence that there is enough quality throughout the squad to achieve their objectives this season. With Warnock, anything is possible during this campaign. 

Hougaard Fails in Bid for Homecoming

South African fly-half Derick Hougaard may not be appearing in many upcoming Ruby previews as he has failed in his attempt to secure a return to former club the Bulls, after the former Springbok found his chances at Saracens limited. The 28-year old has been battling his way back from a second Achilles operation, and had hoped to move back to the club where he first made a name for himself, in a successful six year period between 2002 and 2008.

Fitness concerns have ruled out any deal though, with Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer admitting he would have been eager to have signed a fully fit Hougaard and would keep an eye on the situation in the future. Meyer, who first signed the fly-half for Leicester back in 2008, made it clear if Hougaard can return to full fitness then he would still be a valuable member of any team.

“Unfortunately we cannot currently accommodate Derick in our structure.”

"If Derick is fit and injury-free, he will still be a world-class player. And if the situation changes and circumstances necessitate it, we will gladly call on him.”

Even those who Bet on rugby league may be aware that, before his injury, Hougaard had racked up 269 points in just 34 appearances for Saracens, establishing himself as one of the most prolific number tens in the Premiership. Since being out of the team, the South African has seen Charlie Hodgson, Owen Farrell, Sam Stanley and Alex Goode all impress when given the chance at fly-half, with it looking unlikely that Hougaard will have much of a chance of re-establishing himself in the side.

Top Free Agent Power Forwards

Brazilian star Nene, who can also play at center, looks to be the leading power forward on the market as the NBA prepares for a short but intense free agency period. Those looking for NBA betting tips may want to note this.

Originally drafted by the New York Knicks with the seventh overall pick in the 2002, Nene was immediately traded to Denver along with Marcus Camby and Mark Jackson for Antonio McDyess and two draft picks. After eight seasons with the Nuggets, the 6’11 forward who turned 29 during the lockout is expected to see considerable interest from teams with significant space under the proposed cap such as the Sacramento Kings, New Jersey Nets and Indiana Pacers. Denver are also expected to pursue Nene despite their inability to sign him to a contract extension last year.

Former Xavier Musketeer David West, who like Nene can be pushed into playing the five should it be needed, opted out of his contract prior to the lockout despite tearing his anterior cruciate ligament three months earlier. While players can come back from such an injury in six months it normally takes 18 months for a player to regain their previous playing level and as such the market for the former New Orleans Hornet may be limited. Carl Landry is another Hornet who will take a look at the free agent market. The expectation is that either West or Landry will be brought back to New Orleans, but not both.

Those who Bet on basketball will be familiar with Boston’s Jeff Green, who plays both at small and power forward, as a restricted free agent who is expected to re-sign with the Celtics. Originally drafted fifth overall by Boston out of Georgetown in 2007, Green was traded to the Seattle Supersonics in a blockbuster deal that brought Ray Allen and ultimately a championship to beantown. Green came full circle last year when Boston gave up Kendrick Perkins to the now Oklahoma City Thunder to pick up the 25-year old.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jewell bemoans lack of mental strength

Ipswich manager Paul Jewell feels his side lack the mental strength to succeed after dropping more points in injury time.

Goals from Alex Pearce and Noel Hunt saw Reading snatch a 3-2 victory over the Tractor Boys, despite the fact the side were trailing with just minutes to play.

A week earlier, Nottingham Forrest scored twice in the last six minutes to condemn Ipswich to defeat by the same scoreline.

Now Jewell has serious concerns about the ability of his side to see out games.

"We're not strong enough. We're not mentally tough enough to see games out," Jewell told BBC Radio Suffolk.

"We should have had the game sewn up last week. The team's lacking in cohesion and confidence."

The side have now lost five games on the bounce and find themselves just one point of the relegation zone, losing their last three matches 3-2. Anyone who has placed a big Championship bet on them will not have been impressed.

Jewell described the recent results as "sickening" and pointed out the way to get out of this rut is by games and that three points in either of their last two matches would have provided a confidence boost.

He also reflected on a change of formation, revealed that although the diamond system he had employed this season had been working well, it had not been as effective in recent games.

Although the width provided by  Josh Carson and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas seemed to help going forward, the side's fragility at the back haunted them once again and the side now look set for a tough season.

Robertson eyes UK Championship

Neil Robertson is determined to make an impact at the UK Championship which gets underway in York next weekend.

The Australian won the World Championship in 2010 but then suffered a dip in form which saw him drop down the rankings.

However, he now believes he is back at his best and is confident of making a big impact at the Barbican Centre. Those following the latest snooker betting odds should remember this.

"My form is looking good with the UK Championship and the Masters coming up," the 29-year-old said. "I've practised harder than ever this season and I am very solid.
"Last season I was crashing out in the first or second round of most of the PTC events so it's great to have won a couple of tournaments."

His performances on the baize have backed up this assessment and in October he claimed his second Players Tour Championship title of the season, making him only the second man to achieve this feat with Ronnie O'Sullivan being the other.

Robertson's first PTC success this season saw him beat Ricky Walden in Warsaw, but it was the second victory that was arguably more impressive when he overcame rising star Judd Trump in the final of the Alex Higgins International Trophy.

After securing the world title last year, the Australian then filed to get past the second round of the next three ranking event.

However, he is still ranked fourth in the world and with this in mind there is every reason to expect he will pose a serious threat in York.

Donald eyes money list double

Luke Donald goes into the final event on the European Tour in Hong Kong with the opportunity of making history by becoming the first player to top the money lists in both American and Europe in the same season.

Donald is more than €1 million ahead of his nearest challenger in the money list in the Race to Dubai and a strong performance in the final event of the calendar would seal the historic double for the Englishman. Those following the best internet betting odds should remember this.

German Martin Kaymer is second in the list but has opted not to play in Hong Kong so will not be able to catch Donald, however, third placed Rory Mcllroy is still in the hunt and could pass the world number one if he wins this week’s tournament.

Donald secured top spot in American by winning the Disney Classic in Florida on October 23.

The fight goes on this week on the European Tour to secure a place in the season finale in Dubai, as the top 60 players in the money list qualify for the lucrative event. South African Hennie Otto boosted his chances of qualifying by winning the South African Open at the weekend in his home country to move up to 56th in the list.

The man who will be looking over his shoulder in Hong Kong will be Ireland’s Peter Lawrie, he is currently just inside the cut-off point in 60th place. One position outside the qualifying table is Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher. Steve Webster, Peter Whiteford and Tom Lewis then follow respectively in the list and will be desperate for one of the top positions in Asia.

Wenger needs RVP backing

Someone in the Arsenal squad needs to step up and back their in-form striker Robin Van Persie, after the Dutchman proved he can't do it alone every week following their draw with Fulham on Saturday.

The Holland international has been in the form of his career this season but he could not do enough to secure a victory at the Emirates on Saturday against the Cottagers.

Van Persie has singlehandedly turned Arsenal's season around, after they made one of the worst starts to a Premier League campaign for a number of years. People looking at the football betting should remember this.

But as Saturday proved, the striker needs his fellow front men with the likes of Gervinho and Theo Walcott to chip in with more goals to take the pressure off the skipper.

Arsenal have had a busy schedule in recent weeks and it does not get any easier, as they prepare to take on high flying Manchester City in the Carling Cup on Tuesday.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger put the draw against Fulham down to fatigue and the Frenchman is likely to rest a number of key players, with Van Persie probably included. Anyone placing a Carling Cup bet should bear this in mind.

Wenger said: "You could see many players were on the fringe, and that we had not completely digested the Champions League game on Wednesday night.

"We needed to dig deep, the circumstances in the game went against us because the moment when Fulham scored they were not crossing halfway a lot.”

It's guaranteed that City will pose far more attacking threats when they make the trip to the capital on Tuesday and it will be a test to fill the void left by Van Persie, if the striker is given his much needed rest for the Carling Cup clash.

Dalglish set to utilise squad

Liverpool have already tasted success at Stamford Bridge this season but their Carling Cup encounter with Chelsea on Tuesday will give the Reds a chance to give some of their current bench warmers a decent run.

Under manager Kenny Dalglish and with the backing of their American owners, the Merseyside club have been able to add more strength in depth to the squad, which has been found wanting in the past. Fans of Carling Cup betting should remember this.

Plenty of money has been spent to try to bolster the squad into a Premier League title challenging outfit.

That might not come about this season but with no European football causing a distraction, Dalglish can afford to put more emphasis into the domestic cups this term, as the club hope to give their fans some much anticipated silverware. 

Whilst Chelsea’s Champions League campaign rests on a knife edge, Liverpool will be keen to book their place in the Carling Cup semi-final but they are likely to make changes from the side that won at The Bridge earlier this month. Anyone betting on football should bear this in mind.

Striker Andy Carroll is in desperate need of game time and he could feature from the off on Tuesday, as the former Newcastle United front-man hopes to live up to his heavy price-tag.

Summer signing Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson could also do with a decent performance, with neither player really setting Anfield alight since joining the club.

Liverpool will be determined to finish in the top four in the Premier League this season but Dalglish will have the Carling Cup in his mind as a big chance for silverware in his first full campaign back in the Reds hot-seat.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Does the 2012 Masters Belong to Tiger?

Between 2000 and 2010, the Masters Tournament became increasingly dominated by two players, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, with an occasional (and arguably, welcome) interjection by golf's equivalent of a 'one hit wonder', such as Canada's Mike Weir, in 2003.

The two professionals claimed more than half of all Masters titles on offer during the last decade, a tally that makes the previous ten years, 1990-2000, look like a disorganised free-for-all, with its nine separate winners.

However, it was Woods' domination, rather than Mickelson's, which prompted many late night discussions about the future of the sport – or, to be more specific, whether the Californian was bad for golf, as a whole. After winning fourteen Majors in eleven years, Woods had become something of an immovable object on the podium. Those looking at the latest US Masters betting odds will know this.

Golf courses, including Augusta, were at pains to 'Tiger-proof' their tees, in a bid to slow the player down. However, as fans of golf will no doubt be aware, Woods was the architect of his own demise – and few have fallen quite as far from grace as Tiger managed between mid-2009 and early 2011.

The Masters field underwent a remarkable transformation, as Woods squirmed under the spotlight, with relatively unknown golfers pouring out of the woodwork to claim their maiden title at Augusta.

Charl Schwartzel, Angel Cabrera, Trevor Immelman, Zach Johnson, and Phil Mickelson have all claimed Masters gold since 2007, a date that coincides with a slump in Tiger's form - a decline that would be further exacerbated, two years later, by Woods' now famous battle with the media.

It could be argued, then, that Woods' performance dictates the ebb and flow of the Masters tournament, in much the same way as the Moon pulls at the tides. Tiger's absence from the golf circuit in the late nineties opened up the field at the Masters; could a return to his winning ways of old once again bring down the shutters on his opponents?

As a 7/1 bet to win the Masters, Tiger Woods is on track to claim his fifth title at Augusta. However, mounting pressure from Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Phil Mickelson, and Lee Westwood makes the result of the 2012 Masters a difficult one to call. Expect Tiger to rank highly, but don't be too surprised if a young Irishman takes the silverware, in Georgia.

If nothing else, next year's instalment of the competition will likely indicate, for many, whether Woods is destined for glory, or for another slide into the doldrums of world golf.

Day to Make Unusual Request of Augusta Chiefs

Australian golfer, Jason Day, is to make a unusual request of the organising committee at the Masters Tournament, in April, next year; to spread some of his father's ashes on the green at the Augusta National Golf Club.

The plan, which was made prior to Day's appearance in this year's  Masters, but went unfulfilled due to the location of the ashes, at the Day's home in Brisbane, was made public by Jason's sister, Kim.

Day owes much of his prowess on the green to his father, Alvyn, who enrolled the then-six-year-old at the Beaudesert Golf Club in Queensland, Australia.

Alvyn would die of stomach cancer one year before Day won his first major tournament, the Australian Masters, at the age of thirteen. The man's last request was that his son "sprinkle a little bit" of his ashes on the Georgia-based green.

Speaking about the undertaking, Day said: "It's a plan, but obviously if I don't get clearance from Augusta, I am not going to do it". The golfer added that he thought it "very unlikely" that he would get permission, due to the strict rules at Augusta.

Perhaps the biggest concern of the people behind the golf club is that allowing Day to honour his father's last request would set a precedent for others to ask for similar permissions, given the acclaim of the venue. People tracking the best US Masters betting will know how seriously the rules and regulations are taken.

Day will reportedly be joined in Augusta, next year, by his surviving family members and his spouse, Ellie Harvey.

The youngster is currently playing in the Coca-Cola-sponsored PGA of Australia. He is tied for thirteenth, with five other Australians, including Adam Scott, at the end of the third round. Kim Kyung-tae, of South Korea, holds the lead, with a score of thirteen under par.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

AVB needs cup relief

Andre Villas-Boas is starting to learn what managing a Premier League giant is all about and the Chelsea boss may be able to relieve some of the pressure with a big win in the Carling Cup.

The Blues are well off the pace in terms of the title race and their campaign in Europe hangs in the balance, after they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League in midweek.

Chelsea will be looking for revenge against Liverpool in the Carling Cup on Tuesday, after they were on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline when the two sides met in the Premier League earlier this month. Those looking at the football predictions should remember this.

A place in the semi-final of the competition would be a welcome distraction for the Blues faithful, who have seen their side leak far too many goals this season and fall well off the pace of the two Manchester clubs City and United.

With pressure mounting on AVB, the 34-year-old has been forced to defend his position at Stamford Bridge and the Portuguese tactician is confident of turning thing around, which could start with a win over Liverpool. Those looking at the odds Carling Cup should remember this.

He said: "To handle a situation like this is nothing new.

"It is nothing new when you go into a run of bad results. In a period of every three days you play a game, and every game gives you an opportunity to get back on track. That's exactly our focus.

"The decisive key is to transfer what we do in training onto the pitch. Hopefully that will bring us to a good result, but it might not be sufficient.”

Friday, November 25, 2011

Reichert Finds Peace in Work

B.C. Lions coach Bill Reichert says the distraction of his professional commitments ahead of the Grey Cup final have given him some solace following the tragic death of his son.

18-year-old Dylan died in a car crash on November 12th and the veteran coach says his team’s preparations for Sunday’s CFL league final at B.C. Place on Sunday has helped to take his mind off the tragic incident. It will interesting to see how this sensitive matter affects on people Bet on CFL.

However, he admits that, understandably, he is still finding it extremely hard to fully focus on his team’s prospects.

"It's hard,'' Reichelt said Wednesday, his voice a near whisper. “Your thoughts are not here.”

"You have to get your mind off things every once in a while. You are just overwhelmed. You are almost numb. It's good to deflect stuff and get your mind on something else for a little bit.''

"It's good for me to get in here just to get my mind off everything. We have our time and that's how you handle it.''

The Lions opponents on Sunday the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have had to deal with their own tragedy this season after defensive coach Richard Harris suddenly died from a heart attack.

Those looking for the Latest CFL tips may want to note that Winnipeg coach Paul LaPolice says whoever wins on Sunday, this season has shown all involved that there is more to life than and he is hoping the match will be a fitting tribute.

"I think it's pretty poetic that these two teams get to face each other again,'' said Winnipeg coach Paul LaPolice.

"I'm sure the big man is smiling down this morning. He was somebody who touched more lives than just the Winnipeg Blue Bombers because he was so well respected throughout the league. I think it's special these two teams are here.''

Derek Fisher to Continue Labour Talks

After days of deliberation, Players Association president Derek Fisher has flown to New York to take part in the latest round labour talks as the two parties resume negotiations on Friday, positive news to those who want to Bet on basketball again.
The union have included a number of high profile figures in their team for the latest round of talks and may only add to the league’s claims that the union is a ‘sham’ and is only looking for publicity. Despite these claims, Fisher says the chance of the NBA ending its lockout inspired him to fly to the Big Apple and he is hoping to have a positive influence on the talks.
Following a number of players filing antitrust suits against the league, the two parties are now looking to force through a deal which would see any possible legal action withdrawn and Fisher’s appearance could make a major difference.
The latest round of talks are thought to be the league’s final chance to save the season and they’re looking at this set of negotiations as ‘do or die’ as they look to get fixtures underway around Christmas in a shorted 66 game campaign .
However, the NBA are unlikely to be so welcoming to Fisher and chairman Daniel stern believes its just another move to give the player’ extra leverage in the negotiations.
The new agreement still hinges on a number of key issues with players looking for a 50-50 split while the owners seem unlikely to budge on their 53-47 proposal. The owners also want a hard salary cap to limit players’ additional earnings from appearance fees and other contract terms and if these issued are not resolved this weekend, it could mean we won't be following the NBA online as the whole season is cancelled.

Westwood rejoins PGA tour

Lee Westwood will rejoin the PGA tour in 2012 but has announced his intentions to split his commitment between both the European Tour and that in the USA.

The world number three is now obliged to play in 15 events across the Atlantic in which his first next season will be the WGC Matchplay event in Arizona in February. He does have two wins under his belt on the PGA Tour, however, he has been much more successful in Europe throughout his career so far.

Westwood will also compete in next year's Players' Championship – considered by many as the unofficial fifth major on the golf calendar. The former world number one missed the tournament at Sawgrass last year because he had already committed to events in Asia and did not want to pull out.

It is also thought that the Ryder Cup and FedEx Cup have played a significant part towards the player taking up a card on the PGA Tour next year. The FedEx Cup is worth $10 million for the winner and determines the champion golfer of the season. The best online sports betting reflects how tough it is.

The 38-year old will be required to play at least 13 tournaments on the European tour, however, the four majors do count on both circuits. He is expected to still appear predominantly in Europe as Ryder Cup points will be available as he looks to qualify for next year's team.

The 2012 Ryder Cup will take place in the States from the Medinah Country Club in Illnois. Westwood was part of the European side that defeated the United States in 2010 at the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales. However, Europe have not defeated their opponents on American soil since 2004.

Europe expected to face Tingle Creek challenge

After much consideration it appears that Henry de Bromhead and his team have decided that the next target for reigning Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Sizing Europe will be the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on December 3 in preference to the John Durkan Memorial chase at Punchestown a day later, writes Elliot Slater.

His race in March is one of the horse racing betting news stories of the year, and De Bromhead and Sizing Europe’s owners Ann and Alan Potts had been seriously thinking about having a crack at the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day over three miles, and after seeing their charge run a fine race to be second to Quito de La Roque over that trip in the Grade 1 Champion Chase at Down Royal in early-November that option remained very much on the table.

Over the last few weeks all connected with the tremendously talented nine-year-old had been weighing up the pro’s and con’s of going down the three-mile route but eventually have decided that they should stick at what they know best and intend to bring Sizing Europe over to Esher Park at the start of December to take on the top British two-milers in what will be a race worth travelling a long way to see.

Sizing Europe, currently with best racing odds of 5/1 ante-post favourite to retain his title at the Cheltenham Festival in March, failed by only three-quarters-of-a-length to confirm the form of his five-length big race victory over Big Zeb when a runner-up to his old rival at Punchestown in May, but began this term in winning fashion, albeit fortuitously, landing a Grade 2 event at Gowran Park when clear leader Rubi Light fell at the final fence. His subsequent effort when only caught close home at Down Royal over three-miles proved what a talented and versatile performer Sizing Europe is, but for now he will be kept to the minimum trip as he attempts to add to his four Grade 1 victories in what has already been a tremendous career.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Charlton set for Carlisle test

Charlton are flying high in League One as they hope to make a swift return to the Championship and now they can take that confidence into their FA Cup encounter with Carlisle United at The Valley.

The in-form London outfit are five points clear at the top of the league table ahead of the unbeaten second placed Huddersfield Town and the squad can soon turn their attentions to domestic cup duties.

Charlton managed to come through a potential banana skin in the last round as they dispatched FC Halifax 4-0 in the feisty atmosphere of The Shay. People looking at the football odds should remember this.

In wet a cold conditions in West Yorkshire, manager Chris Powell and his players were able to withstand some heavy pressure to produce a very professional performance and eventually run out comfortable winners.

Charlton ran riot against Carlisle in their last encounter in League One, as they romped home with a 4-0 victory at The Valley.

The Cambrians will have to make the tough trip to the capital once again looking for a much improved performance against Powell’s men. Those looking at promotions FA Cup should remember this.

Carlisle enjoyed a comfortable away win of their own in the FA Cup first round, with a 4-0 victory over Alfreton Town.

Like their opponents on December 3, Carlisle avoided the banana skin and have gained some cup confidence from the away win.

The Valley will undoubtedly be a very different prospect and all signs are pointing to a Charlton victory but with the FA Cup you never know.

Ronnie O'Sullivan hails competiveness of snooker

Former world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan believes professional snooker is as competitive as it's ever been and only wishes he was still fighting it out for major titles.

He pointed to the rise of Mark Selby, who is currently world number one, but also pointed out that being at the top of the rankings is not guarantee that he is going to sweep everything before him.

"There's Shaun Murphy, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui. There are eight or nine players who are winning everything, and I'm not one of them," he said.

He added that John Higgins and Mark Williams are still competing at the highest level, which means it's not all about young talent, although he admitted his star has faded somewhat. Those looking at the latest online Snooker World Championship odds should remember this.

O'Sullivan has not one a major title since the 2009 Shanghai Masters and although he has 22 ranking trophies he feels he should have added more to his collection through the years.

His issues both on and off the baize have been well documented and in the past he has considered quitting the game completely.

However, he now seems reinvigorated and although he has criticised some aspects of World Snooker chief Barry Hearn's changes to the game, the more competitive nature of the sport has been driving him on.

O'Sullivan has also been working with sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters who seems to have boosted the player's enthusiasm for the game.

The former world number one will start his UK Snooker Championship campaign with a first round match against qualifier Steve Davis.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It'll Takes Big Bucks To Win Big Bucks This Season

Incredibly, jockey Ruby Walsh, has only been beaten once in twelve rides on champion staying hurdler, Big Bucks and that came almost four years ago in a Novice Chase at Newbury when he finished second behind Moon Over Miami.

Since then, the Big Bucks/Walsh partnership has won every time they've teamed up, including the Grade 2 Mildmay Chase at Aintree back in April 2008. After that ‘Mildmay’ win, trainer, Paul Nicholls was still undecided as to whether or not Big Bucks would be a better chaser or staying hurdler. However, when he unseated Sam Thomas in the 2008 Hennessy Gold Cup, Nicholls did not hesitate, immediately drawing up a staying hurdle career for him and from that moment on he simply has not looked back, winning all of his last 13 starts.

Those wins included a first World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, where as a 7/2 shout he comfortably held the odds on favourite Punchestowns for a first victory in the race in 2009 and followed up with a second and third World Hurdle and in doing so has seen off every major challenger that has been put in front of him and he is still only eight years old and arguable the biggest name on the jumps racing scene right now!

Heavyweight punters will know that this is consistency of the highest order, which they have taken advantage of in a huge way for the last two seasons at least. Backing him with big money on short odds has proven to be highly lucrative which is why many punters in the horse racing industry have a smile on their faces when they say it takes "Big Bucks to win Big Bucks" much to the chagrin of the Bookmakers. They know only too well that the horse is a ‘license to print money’ and they will continue to back him.

Big Bucks, although not seen out yet this season, will almost certainly claim a fourth World Hurdle at the Festival in March. Pundits in fact are already suggesting that this season’s renewal might be his easiest to date, with no real challengers, such as Grands Crus emerging as yet or willing to take him on. His odds therefore of even money (on offer from Sportingbet) are odds that should be snapped up now, as come the day they might be around the 1/4 should he continue winning his warm up races for the Festival and no serious rival turns up. It is true that he could get himself injured but that is the nature of the ‘gambling beast’, punters should not be scared of the ‘what might’s’ or ‘what if’s’ happen, as it is not very often a horse comes along that is worth staking a big money bet on – but Big Bucks winning the 2012 World Hurdle for a fourth time is!

Big Bucks should be seen for the first time this season in the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday where he will be looking for a 14th straight victory. If he does then back him!!!

Time to take stock after Rupert's Haydock eclipse

Paul Webber went into the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on Saturday full of hope that despite the track likely to prove far from ideal for his smart sort Time For Rupert, the second-season chaser would give a very good account of himself against Long Run, Kauto Star, and the rest. In the event he trailed home last of the five finishers leaving connections with food for thought as they plan their next move, writes Elliot Slater.

Webber had a nagging doubt at the back of his mind that the Haydock track might prove a little on the sharp side for his resolute galloper, a horse who came a fine second to Big Buck's in the 2010 Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, and who went on to win his first two chase starts at that track in impressive fashion last autumn before returning to run well (in hindsight) in finishing fifth in the RSA Chase, despite bursting a blood vessel. People following the best online Cheltenham race odds should remember this.

A beaten favourite on his seasonal return at Wetherby where he only gave best to Weird Al after the final fence in the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase, the seven-year-old Flemensfirth gelding shaped well at Haydock until the sixth fence from home where he soon became outpaced and gradually dropped away to be beaten some 25-lengths by the sensational Kauto Star who rolled back the years with an intensely emotional fourth win in the Betfair Chase. Although it was always asking a lot of Time For Rupert to lower the colours of Kauto Star and the outstanding Long Run (who finished second), but connections had expected a better display and will have to think carefully now as to where to proceed from here.

Bookmakers reacted by pushing Time For Rupert out from 14/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup prior to the Haydock race, to a general offer of 20/1, with 25/1 available now in places.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rubio hints at Barcelona return

Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio has hinted that he may return to Spain if the NBA season is cancelled because of the ongoing lockout.

The 21-year-old, who became the youngest player ever to play in the Spanish ACB League when he was only 14, moved to Minnesota from FC Barcelona in May but is growing increasingly frustrated by the long-running dispute between the NBA players and owners. Those looking at the best NBA basketball betting should remember this.

When asked about his plans, Rubio told Catalan radio ONA FM: "I want to wait until I see there is no chance of resolving the situation, and then I will sign with another team."

Rubio has said he may contact Barcelona to see if he can practice with the team while the lockout continues. Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol and his brother Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies have already decided to do just that and Rubio admitted: "It would be nice to practice and play with the Gasols at Barca."

He did feature in a low-key game at the weekend when he took part in Drew Gooden's charity exhibition.

After the match, which was played in front of only 1,000 people in an arena that holds almost 13,000, Rubio said: "It was good. It's like a little step before going to the NBA. It's like practice.

"I want to play. I want to do what I love to do, play on the court, you know?"

Rubio won a host of accolades during his time with Barcelona, securing three successive European Young Player of the Year awards between 2007 and 2009.

Shots looking to take down Owls

Aldershot Town have already enjoyed some cup success this season and they have another opportunity as they get set to take on Sheffield Wednesday on December 3.

The Shots are lingering in mid table in League Two, but manager Dean Holdsworth has got his team up for the domestic cups this term and they are certainly a side that should not be taken lightly by any means.

Holdsworth's men managed to get past Rochdale, Carlisle and most impressively West Ham in the Carling Cup before being put to the sword by Premier League giants Manchester United. People looking at the FA Cup free bets should remember this.

Aldershot will have already enjoyed the financial benefits of their run in the League Cup and a decent stint in the FA Cup would do their manager's transfer budget no harm as the hope to climb the League Two table.

However if they want to reach the third round and potential face up against another Premier League giant they will first have to get past the Owls, who are in a rich vein of form at the moment. Those following the football predictions should bear this in mind.

Wednesday have only suffered one defeat in their last 11 outings in all competitions and under manager Gary Megson they are starting to gel.

The Sheffield outfit are just two points off the automatic places in League One and promotion back into the Championship will be key for them this season.

Megson could be tempted to give fringe players a run out at Hillsborough for this FA Cup clash so don't be too surprised if Holdsworth's men cause another upset in December. 

Durant’s Impatience Suggests Euro Move

Oklahoma City Thunder’s star player Kevin Durant has this week allegedly been in discussions to play for a team in Germany, as the NBA lock-out rumbles on in the States – a situation which has forced a number of the sport’s top athletes to consider spreading their wings and moving to ply their trade across the Atlantic, certain to have an affect on Live basketball betting.

With Minnesota Timberwolves star Ricky Rubio, L.A. Lakers Pau Gasol and his brother Marc Gasol – currently playing for the Memphis Grizzlies – all suggesting that they will be staying on top of their game in their native Barcelona until the pay dispute is settled, Europe is becoming a popular destination for players keen to take part in the upcoming Olympics in 2012. Now with Durant being linked with a short-term move to BBC Bayreuth – as well as a host of sides in both Israel and Spain – it seems that even the best athletes are losing patience with the present situation.

Last season’s NBA scoring champion, averaging just under 28 points per game, Durant has not been shy in coming forward and criticizing the union for not accepting a sub-standard offer from franchise owners – and now it would seem that he is letting his feet do the talking in what would be seen as a worrying sign for the parties on both sides of the pay dispute.

Up until now, Durant has been largely inactive, instead choosing to support his old college side, the Longhorns back in Texas, and has spent most of his time watching them play as well as offering up the occasional helpful word from the touchlines, boosting them in the Basketball betting odds.

But for such a star to lie dormant for over 140 days is a crime – and the resultant speculation regarding his short-term future now seems to have been resolved, with Northern Bavaria his most likely destination.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Struggling Seahawks suffer setbacks

Seattle Seahawks have suffered a double injury blow after learning that tackle James Carpenter and guard John Moffitt are out for the season.

Moffitt suffered medial ligament damage during the first quarter of Sunday's victory over Baltimore while Carpenter tore an anterior cruciate ligament in practice earlier this week.

Both men require surgery, to offensive line coach Tom Cable's dismay. He said: "It's tough on them, because every day they do something that is part of their development.

"The off-season would be valuable for them, as would the second half of the season. So we're going to lose all that but, once we get them back next spring, we'll go back to work with them.”

The Seahawks are expected to bring in Paul McQuistan at right guard and Breno Giacomini at right tackle for this weekend's game against St Louis. Anyone looking at the early Super Bowl betting should remember this.

McQuistan was a third-round pick by Oakland in 2006 but, after three seasons with the Raiders, he moved to Jacksonville Jaguars and then Cleveland Browns. The 28-year-old signed for the Seahawks in January and featured in three matches earlier in the season when Robert Gallery was sidelined with a groin injury.

Meanwhile, Giacomini, who was a fifth-round pick by Green Bay in 2008, moved to Seattle in September 2010.

Seattle have endured a difficult season, with Sunday's 22-17 victory against the Ravens being only their third success in nine matches.

However, there have been signs of improvement of late, and the Seahawks have allowed just two sacks in their last two games.

Kauto Remains A Star Of The UK National Hunt Scene

Well we cannot say we were not told, trainer, Paul Nicholls had been saying all week that Kauto Star had never been better at home ahead of Saturday's tilt at the Betfair Chase. Jockey, Ruby Walsh, warned the Bookmakers that the 11 year old was far too long in terms of odds and of course Kauto Star had already won the Betfair Chase three times in the past. Moreover, the legendary gelding had won four of his last five seasonal openers and is always at his best when fresh.

These facts and warnings of course were mostly ignored as the money poured into the waiting clutches of the Bookmakers, the vast majority of it aimed in the general direction of race favourite, Long Run. Last season’s top chaser, went off in the end as a short price 6/5 favourite with Kauto Star a very modest 6/1. Even Diamond Harry, having his first run since winning the Hennessy Gold Cup 12 months ago went off shorter in price. In fact there were only very few who believed that the two time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner and four time King George Chase winner, could win the Betfair Chase for a fourth time.

But win it he did and in such style that he broke the course record finishing an impressive eight lengths in front of Long Run and a further two lengths clear of recent Charlie Hall Chasse winner, Weird Al in third. Nicholls and Walsh having discussed the tactics that they would use in the race the day before agreed that they were going to blaze a trail from the off and using Kauto’s brilliant jumping to pressure the rest. It was a tactic that worked to perfection, as one by one the quality field found the pace too much and were beaten. Long Run did put in a game effort at the end, but he was no match on the day for Kauto Star with Walsh on board riding him with great poise and purpose.

Nicholls was quick to let the media and horse racing world know that Kauto will now definitely take his chance in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day where he will be looking for a record breaking fifth win. He will undoubtedly be meeting Long Run again in that race, last year’s winner, will improve for this first run of the season, but he will have his work cut out to beat Kauto Star in this form.

Nonetheless, the Bookmakers make Long Run the 6/4 favourite for the Boxing Day spectacular, with Kauto Star and stablemate, Master Minded, who also returned to winning ways on Saturday both at 4/1. The Phillip Hobbs trained Captain Chris is next at 5/1.

Diamond Harry was a long way back by the end, but his trainer, Nick Williams will be pleased that he now has him running again and that there were no further setbacks during the race. Williams believes that the 8 year old will come on hugely for this run and that his next target would also be the King George.

Paul Webber was not too disappointed in the performance of his Time For Rupert confirming that he will continue to aim him for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. He will be seen next in a Graduation Chase at Newbury in December and will have one more run after that before the Festival.

Boro owner ‘needs support’

Middlesbrough fans should give chairman Steve Gibson their full backing, according to former Newcastle owner Sir John Hall.

Speaking to BBC Tees Sir John claimed that Gibson is doing a fantastic job in bankrolling the club but must have his doubts about what is happening at the club.
"When I see the support he doesn't get, he must wonder if it is worth carrying on," he said.

"I feel sorry for Steve, he's done a hell of a job."

Gibson was part of a consortium which took Boro from the brink of liquidation in 1986 and took over as chairman eight years later.

He stuck with the club despite their relegation into the Championship in 2009 despite having to contend with falling attendances and some disappointing performances on the pitch. Anyone looking to place a winning Championship bet will know things are getting better now.

However, Sir John pointed to the small crowds, claiming that 13,000 fans a week is “not good enough” and that a full stadium would give the players a boost as well as ensuring the club had some much needed funds in the bank.

The former Newcastle owner admitted that he would not have ploughed his personal fortune into a club in the manner which Gibson has done and claimed that the Boro chief must have “put millions in” to keep the club running.

Despite recent poor performances on the pitch, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom during Gibson’s reign.

In 2004 the club won the Carling Cup and two years later Steve McLaren took them to the UEFA Cup final, which they lost 4-0 against Sevilla.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ravens taking it one game at a time

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh has insisted this week that he is not looking past this weekend’s showdown against the Cincinnati Bengals – even though his side faces a potential showdown next week against the San Francisco 49ers, who just happen to be coached by his younger brother, Jim. This should be exciting for live in-play betting.

With the game against San Francisco already having a certain level of family bragging rights attached to the result, the fact that it is also the Thanksgiving night fixture will make it extra special to all involved – but the Ravens’ coach insists that he won’t be letting sentiment stand in the way of ensuring that they take care of business this Sunday:

“This week is Cincinnati. Next week will be whoever we play next week, whenever we play them. But this week is Cincinnati – absolutely.”

Whether or not you believe his claim that the game against the 49ers is of no more importance to either his side – or to him on a personal level – there can still be no doubting that Baltimore can hardly afford another slip-up with their season currently standing at 6-3 in the conference. They sit just behind the Pittsburgh Steelers who have a 7-3 record to date, and f they want that gap to close then nothing less than a victory this weekend will do for Harbaugh’s outfit. Those looking for online bets will want to keep an eye on this.

Certainly by paying respect to the Bengals, he has avoided giving the Cincinnatti team any added motivation to damage his side’s chances of making the playoffs – an important factor following the unexpected losses against the Jaguars and Seahawks which have already cast a shadow over their season. Certainly the Ravens will need all the wins that they can muster if they plan to improve on their impressive 2010 showing when they made the divisional playoffs.

Splint on the Lions’ paw

Detroit Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford was defended again by his coach this week following another poor showing in blustery conditions – but many are now wondering whether Jim Schwarz is simply hiding the full extent of his recent finger injury to maximize his re-sale value. This should make for some interesting online bets.

Stafford threw four intercepted passes with a meager 52% completion rate during the Lions’ 37-13 loss against the Bears at Soldier Field on Monday night, and although the weather was far from ideal, the fact that his form has dropped so sharply after he fractured a finger on his throwing hand has led many to wonder whether the damage might be more serious than the Lions’ medical staff are letting on.

Schwarz however, defended his talisman, stating that whilst Stafford was clearly not at full fitness yet, he would certainly get there given more game and recovery time. Moreover he has insisted that Stafford would not be benched for Sunday's game against Carolina at Ford Field.

Conspiracy theorists will always have their say though, and some have suggested that they are simply downplaying the full extent of the damage to his hand to avoid having him labeled as injury prone – knowing what harm that can do to both the confidence of a player, as well as his commercial value.

We will clearly know more after their game on Sunday, but a growing number of people are starting to see Schwarz’s wind argument as simply being full of hot air. The live in-play betting will be fascinating for this game. Given the player’s use of both splints to support the joint as well as gloves to help him grip, there is clearly a fairly major issue – which will inevitably turn into a problem for the Lions as a unit, after the string of strong performances that Stafford put in earlier in the season.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Republic ready for Euros

"We'll shake a few people up next summer, that's for sure,"

Those were the words of Shay Given directed towards a jubilant Irish crowd, who bedecked in green, had crammed into a joyous Aviva Stadium.

The scoreboard read Republic of Ireland 1 Estonia 1, but thanks to their magnificent efforts in Tallinn on Friday, Giovanni Trapattoni’s men knew the game in Dublin on Tuesday was merely a 90 minute party, barring an almost unprecedented soccer betting defying comeback from the Estonians.

Their 4-0 first leg win, 5-1 on aggregate, means that after a decade of looking on from a far, tuning in on TV or even watching Live Football Online , the Irish can pack their passports and travel to a major tournament.

When the Republic makes major tournaments they more than hold their own. In 2002 they pushed Spain all the way in the last 16 before crashing out agonisingly on penalties. In 1994 they famously beat Italy to reach the knock-out stages while in 1990 they reached the quarter-finals.

Their only European Championship experience has been in 1988 when they went out at the group stage – though they did beat England 1-0 at that tournament. The Three Lions could be one of their opponents in Poland and the Ukraine, though the nightmarish scenario of being in the same group as Spain, Germany and Portugal is also a possibility.

But given it will have been ten years since the last adventure, I doubt the Irish fans will care who they plays as they will feel they can give anyone game – and I think other sides will be keen to avoid them when the draw is made early next month.

Speaking after the game Trapattoni said: "The players deserve to have a party and to drink beer.

"But maybe its better that I don't see it. Greece won Euro 2004. With this group of players, why not? We have good options. It's not a dream."

No end in sight to lockout

The NBA have cancelled all games until 15th December after the National Basketball Players Association informed the league of its plans to disband.

The news means that 20 matches from the original 82-game schedule have now been lost and there appears to be little sign of an agreement being reached between the players and the league in the near future.

NBA commissioner David Stern has repeatedly said that there will have to be approximately 30 days between a new collective bargaining agreement being settled and the season getting underway. Those following the latest basketball betting online will know hopes are fading.

The players have filed complaints in Minnesota and California claiming the league violated the Sherman Antitrust Act when it shut its doors to players in July.

The class-action lawsuit in Minnesota states that the NBA's lockout "constitutes an illegal group boycott, price-fixing agreement, and/or restraint of trade in violation of the Sherman Act."

In response, the NBA has filed a lawsuit in New York arguing that its lockout is legal.

Stern is beginning to think the whole season will have to be cancelled, admitting: "It looks like the 2011-12 season is really in jeopardy."

The players are seeking a minimum 52.5 per cent share of teams' basketball-related income, but have indicated in recent days that they would accept 51 per cent with an additional one per cent going to a fund for retired player benefits.

The league's current offer gives players between 49 per cent and 51 per cent, but the players argue that 50.2 per cent would be the best realistic outcome under the terms of that deal.

Hand injury sidelines Cassel

Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley fears that Matt Cassel could be out of action for a lengthy spell after the 29-year-old picked up a hand injury during the weekend defeat to the Denver Broncos.

Cassel's injury means that journeyman Tyler Palko is set to stand in for the Chiefs' first-choice quarterback for the foreseeable future. Those looking at the best online American football odds will be wondering what sort of impact this will have on the side.

When asked whether Cassel would not play again this season, Haley responded by saying: "That's a possibility although I wouldn't say it's an absolute.

"There's some optimism, but with each person that varies. Being a quarterback and being the hand he throws with, that's a difficulty."

The Chiefs could sign a new quarterback, but Palko is set to start next Monday night's game against the New England Patriots. He replaced Cassel for their final possession against Denver, completing five of six passes for 47 yards and guiding the Chiefs to a field goal.

“We feel good about Tyler, or he wouldn't be here and he wouldn't be our number two," added Haley. "He's got a great understanding of how our offense works and what his role within it is."

Palko joined the Chiefs last year after being released by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 28-year-old also played for the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints earlier in his career.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs have added LB Caleb Campbell to their practice squad. The 27-year-old had a brief spell with the Indianapolis Colts earlier in the season and previously spent three years with the Detroit Lions.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

O'Sullivan: I'm an underachiever

Ronnie O'Sullivan has dubbed himself an underachiever for failing to beat the records set by Stephen Hendry.

The former world number one has won 22 ranking events with three world titles among them, but Hendry bagged 32 tournaments and seven world crowns.

"I could have had Hendry's records in site," said O'Sullivan, 35. "But I have had a lot of ups and downs.

"I suppose with the mindset I have had at times, I should be happy with what I've achieved."

O'Sullivan admitted that he had managed a "good haul" but suggested that he should have clocked up more than he has.

He pointed to the fact that he had played in nine Masters finals and should have added at least another couple of titles to the four he managed in that competition. Those looking at the best online snooker betting may agree.

The player also feels that he should have won another two world titles, bringing his tally up to five.

As fans of snooker will know, O'Sullivan has endured something of a turbulent career not least because of his turbulent personal life and battle with depression.

He has often claimed to be bored with the game and threatened to quit on more than one occasion.

However, despite his troubles he remains a popular figure in the world of snooker and although he is no longer at the height of his powers he is still a threat to any player out there.

O'Sullivan will face six-time world champion Steve Davis in the first round of the UK Championship which gets underway in York in January.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rave reviews for Triumph Hurdle hope Hinterland

Paul Nicholls unleashed what could potentially be a high-class performer in the making when his Hinterland made a very impressive British racecourse debut in the Grade 2 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham on Saturday and believes the ex-French juvenile hurdle winner could be a major star of the future, writes Elliot Slater.

Coming from a trainer who has such an embarrassment of riches in nearly every department of the jumps game these comments must be taken seriously, and in defeating the useful Hollow Tree by an easy three-lengths, Nicholls confirmed that the winner was only repeating the sparkling performances he has put up on the Ditcheat gallops of late.

Hinterland arrived at Paul Nicholls’ yard from Guillaume Macaire’s stables in France where on only his second career start he proved too good for a strong field of juvenile hurdlers when landing the Grade 2 Prix Wild Monarch in May of this year. Purchased privately by Chris Giles and Jared Sullivan, the Poliglote gelding had done everything asked of him on the home gallops prior to his Cheltenham run and was the subject of very strong horse racing betting market support in being backed down from 15/8 to 6/4 favourite.

Those that weighed in on the gamble never had a moment’s worry as Hinterland cruised around Prestbury Park under Ruby Walsh before easing to the lead before the third last. Hollow Tree gamely tried to peg him back going to the final flight but in the end Donald McCain’s gallant sort had no answer to the turn of the foot shown on the uphill climb to the line by the winner. Not surprisingly most bookmakers were very impressed by the performance and from a pre-race quote of 20/1 for the Triumph Hurdle itself some now –  thanks to a number of  experts’ horse racing betting tips - make Nicholls’ youngster as short as 5/1 ante-post favourite for the juvenile hurdling crown.

Improving Handicappers

At the start of every National Hunt season it’s always interesting and hopefully profitable to try and spot those horses which still have considerable improvement left in them and can progress throughout the season and challenge for the valuable prizes.

No selection of improving of improving handicappers would be complete without representation from the Paul Nicholls yard and one horse that caught the eye last season was Aerial who disappointed on ground faster than ideal at Ascot when he also made a noise. That run led to him having a wind operation and he wouldn’t be the first horse from this yard to show significant improvement after that particular operation. If he comes back to the sort of form that he displayed on his British debut when he paralysed Tamadot and Double The Trouble his mark of 140 will look very lenient indeed. Those looking for horse racing betting tips should remember this.

Not only an up and coming horse but one from a yard – Charlie Longsdon - which has done nothing but progress over the past couple of years and their Grandads Horse has already delivered one striking performance this year at Stratford. He was put up 13lb for that win but he still has bags of improvement left in him and this progressive son of Bollin Eric still looks a handicapper to keep on the right side in the coming months.

Another yard that is clearly going places is that of Donald McCain, there were a couple of candidates that would have fitted the title of the article and it seems a shame to leave either out so we are throwing in two for the price of one. Wymott is the first, he was pulled up with an injury in the RSA Chase and the handicapper dropped him 4lb as a result. People who bet on racing need to bear this in mind.

Prior to that he was unbeaten over fences and his attacking style could pay dividends in some high-class handicap chases especially off a mark of 144. Red Merlin also from the McCain stable that will pay to note, formerly top class in handicaps on the Flat he was a slow-burner over hurdles but his hat-trick of wins over hurdles in the spring was definite progress and gives him a platform to build from. His mark of 130 looks on his flat and hurdles form to have seriously underplayed his ability and Donald McCain will be able to place him to maximum effect.

Last but not least one of the lesser lights from the Philip Hobbs stable but one who can definitely improve and win at his level. The Disengager is a dual-winning pointer and he made a very encouraging debut when beating all bar subsequent Carlisle winner The Panama Kid at Perth in September. He’s not one of the stable stars but his mark of 107 looks to seriously underestimate his ability and there should be more improvement to come.

Breeders' Cup – Saturday

Friday at Churchill Downs provides the starter on the Breeders' Cup menu, with the main meal very much saved for the Saturday. Here we look at some of the key pointers and trends which have come to light over the years and may help you towards a few winners on Saturday night.

The Juvenile Turf has only been around for four years but all of the winners of this race have won on turf before and additionally they have reached the first three in another stakes race over 7F plus and no winner has ever won over less than 6F.The Turf Sprint is one where the winners have all exhibited a very consistent profile – all three previous winners of this race have won half of their starts in previous turf sprints. Four horses in the field fit the profile, they are California Flag, Caracortado, Havelock and Regally Ready and they look the ones that backers should concentrate on. Those looking at the racing betting should remember this.

The Dirt Mile is another Breeders' Cup race that has only seen four runnings but all of the winners had landed at least a Grade 2 race or reached the first three in a Grade 1 that year. In addition all of the previous winners have won over the distance and three in the field this year fit the bill – Caleb's Posse, Jersey Town and Wilburn.The Turf is one race where the Europeans have held the upper hand over the past 11 years winning eight of those runnings and have taken the race in the last three years. Once again the Europeans look to have a strong challenge and it's hard to see the home side fending off the visitors. Those who bet on racing should bear this in mind.

The Breeders' Cup Mile promises to be the race of the meeting and is another where the Europeans have proved very strong in the past years and this year they are equally strong with Goldikova and Strong Suit heading the market with very little plausible US opposition.

Concluding the card is the Breeders' Cup Classic, only Raven's Pass has been successful for Europe since 2001 and this year the European challenge hinges on the O'Brien trained So You Think. Raven's Pass was successful on a synthetic surface but on traditional dirt which the race will be run on this year only two European horses (Arazi and Sheikh Albadou) have ever proved up to the challenge at Churchill Downs. Many pundits think that So You Think will be suited by the surface but on all known form he faces a mammoth task against the US horses which are used the surface.

Saturday evening sees nine fantastic Breeders' Cup races and on November 5th we should see plenty of fireworks.

Unbeaten Caviar earns a mid-term break

Australian sprint sensation Black Caviar will not race on the west coast at Perth on November 19 in the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes and will instead be given a mid-season break following her latest effortless success in the Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic at Flemington at the weekend, a race she was winning for the second successive year, writes Elliot Slater.

Peter Moody’s world leading mare is now unbeaten in all 16 career starts at five and six furlongs and has become almost unbackable in her native land, winning her last three starts at odds of 1/14, 1/33, and on Saturday taking the Group 1 contest at the unprecedented odds of 1/25, winning by two-and-a-three-quarter-lengths from the very useful Buffering without ever being asked a serious question by her ever-present rider Luke Nolen. Even people looking at the Grand National betting online will have been impressed.

After returning to her home stables Black Caviar was noted to be slightly jarred up and apparently suffering from a slight muscle tear in her hind quarters, a minor injury but one that indicates that a nice break is due. Moody has ruled out the intended trip to Perth (much to the disappointment of the authorities there), and is likely to bring the daughter of Bel Esprit back for the Group 1 Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley at the end of January. Anyone with a Grand National free bets offer will have been impressed.

All roads will hopefully lead to Royal Ascot for the five-year-old mare who is already being flagged up as the star attraction of the 2012 fixture having declined an invitation to race there this season. Moody made it clear in the summer that he would tailor his superstar’s campaign around a trip to the royal meeting in June where she would most likely take her chance in either or both of the King’s Stand Stakes or the Golden Jubilee Stakes, races that have proved happy hunting grounds for previous top Australian sprinters such as Takeover Target, Miss Andretti, and the mighty Choisir.

Johnny Murtagh crowned Irish champion jockey

When the hugely popular Johnny Murtagh gave up his coveted job as principal jockey at Ballydoyle at the end of last season many people wondered if he had taken leave of his senses, but his decision has been vindicated in style as he landed his fifth Irish jockeys’ championship on the closing day of the season at Leopardstown on Sunday, writes Elliot Slater.

Murtagh has never gone on record expressing the full reasons behind the parting of the ways between himself and Aidan O’Brien, and although the Ballydoyle team have enjoyed a fine season Murtagh too has forged a great alliance once again with John Oxx (for whom he was stable jockey in the 1990’s), and has been aboard the Aga Khan’s Irish based runners in a season that has netted some 82 victories, four more than his closest rival and defending champion Pat Smullen. Those looking at the Grand National free betting should bear this in mind.

Victory on board the Aga Khan-owned and John Oxx-trained Takar at Leopardstown’s Sunday meeting wrapped up the title and put the seal on what has been a memorable season for Muratgh who proved that he remains as versatile as ever in partnering William Haggas’ Dancing Rain to a brilliant victory in the Investec Oaks at Epsom, in Group 1 company in Germany in September, and again in at the Ascot’s champions meeting last month. Even those looking for Grand National winner should bear this in mind.

Other high profile wins this season for outside yards included Deacon Blues (for James Fanshawe) in both the Wokingham Handicap and Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes, Lightening Pearl for Ger Lyons in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket, and a sensational ride to dead-heat on board Mark Johnston’s super-tough Jukebox Jury in the Group 1 Irish Field St Leger at the Curragh in September.

Irish champion jockey in 1995, 1996 & 1998, Murtagh also landed the title in 2009 when based at Ballydoyle.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Injury hampers Djokovic for London

Novak Djokovic may have enjoyed an incredible 2011 season but injury looks like wrecking his chances of ending it on a high with success at the ATP World Tour Finals in London.

The Serbian world number one has only lost four matches all season – two of them as a result of an injury pull-out – and actually started the season by going 41 matches unbeaten.

Djokovic's form saw him overtake Rafael Nadal to take the top spot in the world rankings and he is guaranteed to end the season there, while he has won a total of eight tournaments including three Grand Slams at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open. Those looking at the tennis betting will know he has been superb.

Since he won the US Open at Flushing Meadows Djokovic has endured a series of injury problems that have blighted the autumn of his season. His shoulder has been a source of constant pain in recent weeks and that has seen him pull out of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.

Djokovic is still expecting to play at the ATP World Tour finals in London that start on November 20th, however there is a massive risk of these shoulder problems wrecking any chances he had of ending such a strong season with yet another win.

The Serb admits his shoulder is "hurting again" but vowed to be back in London, meaning he will have no real preparation or practice ahead of the season-ending tournament. People looking at the ATP tour finals betting should bear this in mind.

"The doctors have advised that I should rest my shoulder and start treatment as soon as possible.  I look forward to returning to the court in London and competing at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals," said Djokovic.

The world number one has previously won the ATP World Tour finals on one occasion, back in 2008, but will have to beat some huge opponents if he wants a repeat of that victory.

Crolla aims to disrupt Limond's plans

Anthony Crolla has made it clear he intends to put a spanner in Willie Limond's plans of earning a title shot against Ricky Burns. The British light-weight champion will defend his title against close friend Limond later this month, knowing victory would give either fighter a great chance of securing a shot at Burns' interim WBO lightweight title.

Many have backed Limond to come through his bout against Crolla in Motherwell next week, which would see an all-Scottish clash for the world title fight against Burns – although Crolla has insisted he is determined of claiming victory and giving his own career a huge boost.  Even people looking at the online Marquez odds will have been impressed.

The Mancunian knows a fight against Burns would be a nice earner for him financially, as well as giving him the chance of fulfilling his dream of becoming a world title. 

"I've got to look out for my own interests and the world title is my ultimate dream so I've got to beat Limond to keep on track for a shot," Crolla said.

"I'm training for this fight like it's a world title eliminator. It's a massive incentive for me to beat Limond and get a big fight against Burns."

The two boxers have made no secret of their respect and friendship for one and another, although that will all go out of the window when the duo step into the ring in Motherwell at the end of the month. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Carruthers camp optimistic about season ahead

Hopes were high at the start of last jumps season that the Mark Bradstock-trained Carruthers might be a genuine contenders for honours in the top three-mile chases, but things didn't go smoothly for the eight-year-old who drew a blank and failed to reach the frame on each of his four outings, writes Elliot Slater.

It transpired that the gelded son of Ascot Gold Cup winner Kayf Tara was suffering from a bug for most of the term and that in turn impacted on the horse's state of mind leaving him somewhat down in the dumps, a situation that connections believe has been more than remedied during the summer. They are hopeful that his disappointments last term may prove a blessing in disguise with the stayer looking dangerously well handicapped on his best form. Those looking at the Grand National free betting need to remember this.

Starting this campaign 9lb lower than the same time last year, Carruthers could well make his seasonal return in the ultra-competitive Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on November 26, where soft ground would be almost essential to ensure the participation of a horse who at his best has run well against some of the outstanding three-milers in the country.  Sixth of 18 behind Diamond Harry in  last year's renewal of the great Newbury race, Bradstock's charge didn't go on from that good effort and was well beaten on his final outing when running no sort of race behind Long Run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, eventually trailing home 9th (beaten 60 lengths) behind the brilliant winner. Even those looking at Aintree tips will be impressed.

Owned by the tremendously popular veteran former ITV and Channel 4 racing presenter Lord Oaksey, (father-in-law of the trainer), Carruthers is generally available at 25/1 to land the coveted event. Should he fail to go to Newbury on account of the ground, Bradstock has pencilled in an alternative engagement in a three-mile-three-furlong contest at Cheltenham a week earlier.

Nephrite bounds into 2000 Guineas reckoning

Aidan O'Brien has his team in tremendous form as the 2011 Flat season draws to a close as evidenced by a particularly impressive performance from Nephrite who burst the bubble of the highly touted Born To Sea when landing the Group 3 JRA Killavullan Stakes at Curragh on Sunday in tremendous style, writes Elliot Slater.

Most eyes were on John Oxx's Born To Sea, half-brother to the superb Sea The Stars and a very taking winner of a  listed race at the Curragh on his debut seven weeks earlier, but there were a number of shrewdies who felt that Ballydoyle had something serious to take him on within Nephrite, who had also won on his racecourse bow when trouncing 23-rivals in what is working out to be a good Curragh maiden, and O'Brien's charge was duly well supported down to 13/8 to beat the odds-on 8/11 market leader. Even those looking at the Aintree races 2012 will have been impressed.

Both horses travelled well through the first half-mile of the seven furlong Leopardstown contest tracking the pacesetting Vault, but Born To Sea was the first to come off the bridle when driven in pursuit of the leader over two furlongs from home while Joseph O'Brien on Nephrite still had a double handful. Although Johnny Murtagh on the Oxx-trained colt led briefly inside the final furlong, it was no surprise to see Nephrite come storming by in the last 150 yards to win with a little in hand by a length-and-a-half, the pair pulling nearly three lengths clear of the third to give the form a very solid look. Fans of Grand National betting online should bear this in mind.

Bookmakers reacted by pushing Born To Sea out from 7/1 to 14/1 for next year's 2000 Guineas, whilst Nephrite was slashed from a pre-race mark of 25/1 down to a general offer of just 10/1 behind stable companion and Racing Post Trophy winner Camelot (6/1). Whilst this is far from the end of the road for Born To Sea (who could yet make up into a high-class performer), at this stage the market appears to have it right in suggesting that Nephrite is the more likely of the pair to hit the heights next term.

Pipe the man in form

Justin Pipe is the form man on the PDC circuit but could he cause a massive shock and be crowned the new PDC Darts World Champion at the Alexandra Palace, or will it be a traditional name on the trophy?

The 39-year-old only won his maiden professional title at the start of October – where he notably defeated 15-time World Champion Phil Taylor in the final in Dublin – but followed that up with a further two tournament victories in the space of one month. Those looking at the PDC Darts odds online will have been impressed.

Pipe recorded impressive victories over former World Champions Steve Beaton and Mark Webster on his way to winning the Players Championship in Crawley last time out. In the final it was a real battle of contrasting styles as the slow Pipe took on Dutch machine gun Vincent van der Voort.

“I'm really enjoying myself at the moment and I'm climbing up the rankings, and this is another massive confidence boost for me,” said the Taunton flinger.

Pipe has recorded some memorable wins in 2011 over some of the biggest stars in world darts and he is definitely going to be a dangerous opponent in the draw for the PDC Darts World Championship.

His very long and drawn-out throwing style can put off some opponents, as they are forced to wait a long time to throw and that can leave them dwelling over previous missed opportunities. That leads to frustration which can be evident in their next throw.

Whether Pipe can manage to pull off a serious title threat at the Alexandra Palace remains to be seen as there are a number of stars who on their day can register big three-dart averages on the biggest stage.

On the big TV stage is where Pipe is still in his infancy, but if he can replicate his on-the-floor performances in front of a world championship audience then he can go a long way – but his slow pace could annoy some of the more critical darts fans.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

McCoy suffers new injury blow

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have moved quickly to replace Gerald McCoy, who is out for the season with a torn right bicep, by signing defensive tackle John McCargo.
McCargo, 28, spent five seasons with the Buffalo Bills before being released last year and was a free agent until being snapped up by the Buccaneers.

McCoy's time with the Bucs has been dominated by injuries since he was drafted third overall in 2010. The 23-year-old, who suffered the bicep injury in the first quarter of Sunday's 27-16 loss to New Orleans, picked up a similar problem in his left arm in a Week 14 game at Washington last season. The NFL betting online suggests he could be a big miss.

"It's football," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said of McCoy, who has four sacks in 19 career games. “He's got to come back, he's got to go rehab, he's got to get his mind right, come back ready to play and get ready to play a 16-game season."

In the four games McCoy has completed this season he has been impressive, the Bucs recording 10 of their 12 sacks when he has been playing. They held opposing rushers to 4.2 yards per carry as opposed to 5.3 when he has been sidelined.
The Bucs signed McCargo as McCoy's likely replacement, Frank Okam, is struggling with the calf injury he suffered in practice last week, although it is hoped he will be ready to play against the Houston Texans on Sunday.

At the halfway point of the season, Tampa Bay are third in the NFC South table having won four of their eight matches.