Friday, August 26, 2011
Bred in France where he was bought as a yearling for 27,000 euros by Guy Petit, Cheltenian made his racecourse bow at Punchestown last October where word of his precocious talent had leaked out onto the racecourse and he was sent off at just 5/1 in a field of 22 well bred National Hunt horses. Despite shaping with tremendous promise, he couldn’t quite manage to get by the eventual winner Wandering Aeungus and had to settle for the runner’s-up spot for the one and only time in his career to date.
Sent to the Cheltenham November Sales a month later, the son of Astarabad was knocked down to Roger Brookhouse for a massive 210,000 guineas, but made the first repayment on that substantial outlay when winning on his British debut at Kempton in February for Philip Hobbs, under a well judged ride from Richard Johnson. On only the third outing of his career he then won the biggest bumper of them all when proving five-lengths too strong for Destroyer Deployed in the showcase Cheltenham event a month later. Those looking at Tips for Cheltenham betting should remember this.
This term Cheltenian will set out on his career as a novice hurdler and bookmakers are already running scared in making him 10/1 clear favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the same price to land the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle at the same fixture. The chances are that the latter contest will probably prove more suited to Hobbs’ latest star timber topper with connections very much of the opinion that staying will eventually be his game, so the minimum trip of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is unlikely to play to the strengths of the talented five-year-old.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
The field for the final Classic of the season, the Doncaster St Leger, to be run on September 10th was reduced to just 17 runners in the latest declaration stage.
Race sponsors Ladbrokes have installed the Sir Michael Stoute trained Sea Moon as the 11/8 favourite for the race which is run over 1m 6f and for which the trainer saddled his first winner of the race just two years ago with Conduit.
Judged on his performance in the Group Two Great Voltigeur Stakes at York during the Ebor Festival last week, Sea Moon is a worthy favourite having won by 8 lengths in one of the best performances seen by in the horse racing world season. He beat a top quality field which included Seville runner up in the Irish Derby and who started the race as the 5/6 odds on jolly but who could only manage third place more than ten lengths behind the winner.
Despite the defeat, Seville is also included in the St Leger field and looks likely to be the main representative of Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle stable, particularly as Irish Derby winner, Treasure Beach as well as Memphis Tennessee were amongst a total of 19 scratched from the race. O’Brien however has kept his Epsom Oaks runner up, Wonder Of Wonders in the race.
Irish and Yorkshire Oaks winner Blue Bunting has also been kept in the race by Godolphin and she has been made the second favourite with odds of around the 9/2 mark. Should she win she will become the 42nd filly to have won the race and the first since User Friendly in 1992. She would also be claiming a third Classic win of the year after her Oaks success and her win in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket at the beginning of the season.
Census trained by Richard Hannon will almost certainly line up for the race, particularly after his excellent win in the Group Three Geoffrey Freer Stakes over 1m5f at Newbury a fortnight ago. In that race he had one time St Leger favourite, Brown Panther in second place and proved conclusively that the extra furlong at Doncaster should present no real problem.
Brown Panther still hold an entry and confidence remains high that he can get back to winning ways despite his defeat by Census and his fifth place achieved in the German Derby last month. Should he win he will provide the partnership of trainer Tom Dascombe and owner Michael Owen of their first Classic winner .
John Gosden who has trained two St Leger winners in the last four years, including Arctic Cosmos 12 months ago will be represented by his Group Three Bahrain Trophy winner Masked Marvel for this key race in the racing fixtures. Not seen since that win in early July, which was over 1m5f it is noteworthy that he had Census just a head behind him that day. He clearly should not be ignored as a potential winner this year and is currently a best price of 12/1 to win the race.
Other notables scratched from the St Leger include Nathaniel, winner of the King George & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last month and Fiorente, runner up in the Group Three Gordon Stakes at Goodwood at the end of July.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
The world number two was on court for the first time since being defeated by Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final at the Rogers Cup in Montreal and, despite taking the first set emphatically, ended up losing 1-6 7-6 7-6. Anyone looking to bet on Andy Murray will wonder if he can take advantage of Nadal's seeming weakness.
Nadal was simply overpowered by his Croatian opponent Ivan Dodig in the second round, which is something that is very rarely hear throughout the tennis world.
It is certainly not the best start for the Spaniard to his hard court campaign but it is no time for the defending US Open champion to start to panic. Those following the US Open 2011 odds should bear this in mind.
If you look at the facts, Nadal had only a week of practice before arriving in Montreal after having to rest the foot that he injured at Wimbledon and that lack of time on court showed as he fell off physically.
What could worry Nadal is the fact he will not be able to get any more match play this week – as he was also knocked out the doubles – and that leaves only one tournament, in Cincinnati, to get back on form before the US Open starts.
It seems like his foot injury has healed, as Nadal reported no problems in that area, but he could be struggling psychologically and will need a big performance in the next tournament in Cincinnati to give him a boost ahead of defending his title at Flushing Meadow.
Friday, August 5, 2011
Here are a couple of hands from my Main Event which got me thinking. They are interesting in that they both contain raises from me with marginal hands (those who know me might describe me as a nit), are both against decent European pros, have pretty similar boards, and not too dissimilar action.
Let me know in the comments box below how you would have played them, and I’ll post again later in the week with yours and my analysis.
It’s level 5 – the last level of Day 1 and the blinds are 200/400 with a 50 ante. It’s a pretty soft table and I’m doing OK with about 50k in chips. The guy to my right is Ruben Visser, a solid Dutch Poker Stars pro. We’ve had a few ding dongs on the blinds, and mostly we’ve been respecting each other.
It’s folded around to Visser on the button and he opens for 950 out of a stack of around 20k. I haven’t done any 3-betting since I sat down about 3 hours ago and I decide to make it 2700 from the small blind with K-9o. The big blind gets out of the way and Ruben calls.
The flop is T-9-3 rainbow. I c-bet 2800 and he calls. The turn is a Queen. We both check. The river is an Eight (so the board is T-9-3-Q-8 with no flushes). I check. Ruben bets 4,500 into a pot of just under 12k.
What do you do?
It’s level 7: the 300/600 with 75 ante level. I open from the cut off with 9-8o to 1500. Both the button and the small blind are tight, so it’s only the big blind I have any concerns about. He’s a Finnish guy who I’ve seen once at a Unibet Open; he’s aggressive but knows how to fold and seems like a decent player. I have about 90k and he has about 35k. It may be marginal to be raising his blind with 9-8o, but I do it anyway.
The other two fold and my Finnish foe calls. The flop is T-9-2 rainbow. There’s around 4k in the pot and the Finn bets out that much. Before we go anywhere, tell me: what do you do in this spot?
I call, and we see the turn. The turn is the Six of Hearts. Interesting because it brings in an unlikely straight, but also a back door heart draw. We both check.
The river is an offsuit Four. The Finn bets out 10,200 (the pot is around 12k). What do you do?
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Always held in high regard by King and his staff, Bensalem atoned for a desperately unlucky fall at the second from home in the race 12 months earlier when coasting along in the hands of regular partner Robert Thornton, by staying-on bravely and making no mistake in defeating the tenacious Carole's Legacy in the Grade 3 Stewart Family Spinal Research Handicap Chase having been sent off at just 5/1 in the ultra-competitive 19-runner handicap. Those following tips for Cheltenham betting would have been impressed.
Three weeks after his big race victory at Cheltenham the eight-year-old arrived at Aintree to contest the listed John Smith's Handicap Chase and the Aintree tips indicated he was in with every chance before he blundered badly at the second from home and eventually trailed in fifth, 8-lengths behind winner Prince Du Beauchene.
It was soon revealed that Bensalem had sustained a leg injury when making such a bad error at the penultimate fence and despite plenty of rest since veterinary advice was clear that the gelded son of Turtle Island should be given a complete break from training and he has now been sent over to Ireland for 12 months rest and recuperation.
Obviously disappointed to be losing one of his stable stars for the whole term, King nonetheless feels that Bensalem will come back and that time will prove the best healer in this situation. If returning next term as a nine-year-old there will still be plenty of time for the popular performer to get back on the winning trail and realise the potential that has been there for all to see since he ran the mighty mare Quevega to just three-lengths when runner-up to the Willie Mullins-trained star in the Grade 1 Ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle at Punchestown in May 2010.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
It looked for all the money in the world that at 124/8 on the first day, England were going to get routed in the second test against India, then of course in stepped Stuart Broad ably assisted by his Nottinghamshire team mate, Graeme Swann.
The two proceeded to bash the ball around, knocking out a 73 run partnership, which gave the score a touch of respectability, but by no means put England into a winning position. The innings was eventually concluded at 221 all out with Broad making 64 and it was he who was to star again with the ball when India took to the crease in their first innings.
Before the Broad bowling show really began however India, inspired by a second successive test hundred by Rahul Dravid had gone well past the England total on 267 for 4, with Yuvraj Singh on 62. Broad charged down and delivered Yuvraj a peach off a ball which caught the faintest edge of his bat and was snapped up by Matt Prior behind the stumps. It ended a 128 partnership and began what was for Broad one of the most exciting spells of bowling he has ever experienced. Six runs later it was the turn of captain MS Dhoni, caught in the slips by Anderson, Harbhajan Singh went somewhat unluckily next ball LBW and Broad completed the hat trick by bowling Praveen Kumar with a jaffa.
To make matters worse for India, Dravid went next over off the bowling of Tim Bresnan and Broad rounded the Indian reply off by claiming his sixth wicket having Sharma Caught by Bell. India however finished at 288 all out and still had a very useful lead of 67 runs. Broad achieved his best test match bowling figures of 6 for 46.
With England needing a solid start to their second innings were rocked by the news that Jonathan Trott who had injured himself when fielding was in no position to bat when play resumed the following day. This meant that Ian Bell would take over at number three and he was soon needed after Cook was out early once again. Cook and Strauss put on fifty for the second wicket before Strauss was out caught in the slips after wafting outside his off stump.
Bell was joined at the crease by Kevin Pietersen and it was these two that batted England into a seriously strong position. Bell batted brilliantly, he was always at his fluent best and scored the lions share in what became a 162 partnership between the two for the third wicket before Pietersen got out on 63 caught behind.
Bell remained solid and was joined by Eoin Morgan and the two also went on to put on a stand of over 100 runs. However Bell was involved in a controversial run out decision after the final ball before tea. Believing that Morgan had hit the ball for four, Bell walked off the field for his well earned break, however, the ball had in fact not quite reached the boundary and was thrown back into the crease where the bails were removed and an appeal for a run out was made. Although this was clearly an unintentional mistake by Bell the umpire was not particularly keen to give him out so referred he the decision to the third umpire, Billy Bowden who decided that Bell was out, much to the chagrin of the England dressing room. However, during the tea interval England captain Andrew Strauss and Coach Andy Flower met with MS Dhoni and Indian coach where it was agreed that the appeal for Bell’s dismissal would be scratched, which resulted in Bell returning to the crease after the break.
It was a magnificent sporting gesture by Dhoni particularly as England were beginning to put themselves into an obvious winning position and Bell was already on 139 runs.
Bell however did not last too much longer and got out on 159, an innings that appeared to inspire those following on, Morgan was out for 70, Prior for 73, Bresnan made a superb 90 while Broad weighed in again with 44. England therefore finished on a huge total 544 which left India 477 runs to win. A total as it happened that proved far too daunting for them.
India’s last innings reply was poor with the visitors capitulating for just 158 runs with only Tendulkar (56), Harbhajan (25) and Kumar (44) getting into double figures. Bresnan took his best test match figures too with a fantastic 5-48.
England thus, from being in dire straits in the first innings came back magnificently and won the second test in just four days by a massive 319 runs. This has given them a 2-0 lead in the four match series and a huge opportunity to go top of the ICC World Rankings, the cricket odds have England an un-backable 1/20 to now win the series but can be backed to win 4-0 at 3/1 whilst 3-0 is the favoured outcome at 9/4. Needless to say Broad was voted Man of the Match after taking eight match wickets and scoring over 100 runs over the course of the test.
After the success of their Wembley matches, Saracens have admitted they are seriously looking at playing their January match against their French opponents, at either Newlands Stadium or the Cape Town Stadium. The South African influence at the club has been growing since last season and this move will further increase the club's appeal in the country. Those following the rugby odds will know this.
Springbok's captain John Smit has been the latest South African to sign for the club and his presence will surely add some valuable interest into the match, in a country that already boasts its own strong Super Rugby league.
The news was revealed by Saracens' website, which has singled out their Round 5 match against French giants Biarritz as the best advert for the tournament in the southern hemisphere. The new owners at the club seem set on turning Saracens into the biggest club in the world and so far are doing a decent job of it.
"Following media speculation this morning, Saracens confirm it has applied to ERC (European Rugby Cup), the RFU (Rugby Football Union) and SA Rugby (South African Rugby Football Union) for permission to play the Heineken Cup Round 5 match against Biarritz in Cape Town."