Saturday, March 31, 2012

Rees focused on world title

Gavin Rees has made it clear he is fully focused on winning a second world title following an impressive second defence of his European lightweight belt in Paris.

The Welshman travelled to the French capital to take on Anthony Mezaache to defend his belt, claiming an impressive victory and gaining plenty of plaudits as a result. Despite being the away fighter and having the boxing odds against him Rees never looked in any real danger, producing one of the most complete performances of his career to take his record to 36-1-1.

Rees could now be set for another chance at world honours, with a potential bout against WBO champion Ricky Burns being mentioned in what would be an intriguing all-British encounter. The decision on who the 31-year old faces next will come down to promoter Eddie Hearn, who is certainly one of the best in the business at getting the fights the public want.

Rees, meanwhile, was just pleased with how he performed against a tough Mezaache, admitting he now wanted to step back up to world level.

“I mixed my tactics up, fighting nice on the outside and catching him with some big right hands.”

“I’d worked on the gym more with the boxing, he was a good opponent but I won every round.”

“I always seem to dig in when the going gets tough and I want to be world champion again.”

Friday, March 30, 2012

Taaffe sticks with Lynch for Treacle National bid

Tom Taaffe's in-form Treacle, currently a best priced 20/1 shot for the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree on April 14, will be partnered by the talented Andrew Lynch in the big race after the Irish handler secured the services of one of the most sought after of local jockeys for his live big race contender, writes Elliot Slater.

Lynch has only partnered the 11-year-old on one previous occasions and that was on his penultimate start where the pair appeared to get along very well together in finishing three-quarters-of-a-length second to Cross Appeal in the highly valuable Paddy Power Chase at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival in December. Since then Treacle has again proved himself to be at the top of his game when belying his 33/1 starting price to run on well into third place in the Grade 1 Hennessy Gold Cup back at Leopardstown in February, behind Willie Mullins' Quel Esprit, another who might very well take his chance at Liverpool in 'the world's greatest steeplechase'. Those looking at betting for Grand National need to bear this in mind.

The gelded son of Zaffaran had struggled to make the step up to the higher echelons since breaking through into the big time back in 2009 when landing the valuable Munster National Handicap chase off a mark of 122, but this term things seem to have clicked into place for the stayer who is now entering the veteran stage of his career. Anyone following the Grand National odds should remember this.

Handed a mark of 145 for the Aintree marathon and a racing weight of a handy 10st 8lbs, Treacle has emerged as one of the leading Irish contenders this season and unlike many of his compatriots is perfectly capable of holding his own on decent ground, even though the majority of his best racecourse efforts have come with some give under foot.

Noel Fehily booked for National stalwart State of Play

Noel Fehily, still riding the crest of a wave after his authoritative victory on board the Paul Nicholls-trained Rock on Ruby in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, has been called up to partner the Aintree specialist State of Play in the John Smith’s Grand National on April 14, writes Elliot Slater.
State of Play has proven himself to be a real Grand National specialist, finishing in the frame in each of the last three renewals when partnered by his regular pilot Paul Moloney. With Moloney called up to partner the Evan Williams-trained first-string Cappa Bleu (14/1 in the online betting at Stan James), the Welsh handler has turned to Fehily to try and guide the 12-year-old safely once more around the rigours of the marathon Liverpool circuit, and the Irish rider is reportedly delighted to accept the offer.
Generally on offer at 40/1 in the horse racing betting to win the ‘world’s greatest steeplechase’ at the fourth time of asking, State of Play hasn’t been seen in public since running fourth to Ballabriggs 12 months ago, staying on from a long way off the pace to again grab a share of the prize money. Ideally suited by a little cut in the ground, connections will be keeping their fingers crossed that rain will arrive in time on Merseyside to take the sting out of the ground and give the gelded son of Hernando every opportunity to show his best, as he did in 2009 when fourth to 100/1 shock scorer Mon Mome, and when third behind Don’t Push It in the 2010 renewal.
Williams reports himself very satisfied with the current wellbeing of his grand old campaigner who has proved a hard horse to keep sound over the years, but at his best was a very classy performer, famously winning the 2006 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, beating the smart Juveigneur by four lengths.

Nicholls aiming big guns at Aintree Hurdle

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has revealed that he intends to run both the Stan James Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby and his stable companion Zarkandar in the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle at the Festival meeting next week in a contest that is shaping up to be an absolute cracker, writes Elliot Slater.
Bookmakers have installed Rock On Ruby as the 9/4 marginal market leader with Stan James for the two-and-a-half-mile contest, a bigger price than many punters might have anticipated after witnessing his authoritative success over Overturn and Hurricane Fly in the championship contest at Cheltenham last month. Some observers have expressed concern that the Aintree track, (rather than the step up in trip), might be against Nicholls’ charge who was a distant third at the meeting 12 months ago behind Spirit Son.
Nicholls however believes his champion will take all the beating, and insists the horse is far stronger and mentally tougher than at this time last season. For his part, Zarkandar met with his first ever hurdles defeat when fifth behind his stable companion in the Champion Hurdle, clearly getting outpaced at a critical stage of the contest before finishing with some purpose up the Cheltenham hill. In another few strides he might well have grabbed third place, so the extra half-mile at Aintree appears set to suit him ideally.
A brilliant winner of the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on his previous outing where his stamina once again saved the day as he recovered from a seemingly impossible position approaching two out to get on top close home to beat Get Me Out Of Here in a memorable finish, punters who bet on racing can back the half-brother to the mighty Flat racer Zarkava at 7/2 in a race in which Oscar Whisky, winner of the contest 12 months ago, is priced up the 5/2 second favourite.

Should Man City Have Backed Down On Tevez?

When Patrick Vieira had a little jibe at Manchester United's desperation to bring back Paul Scholes from retirement, Sir Alex Ferguson aptly pointed out that Manchester City had let Carlos Tevez worm his way back into the City set up, after taking a five month holiday and being told he was never to play for the club again. People in glasshouses shouldn't throw stones I think they say!

Vieira's comments weren't too clever, but is Manchester City's decision to being back the Argentinian?

Apparently, Yaya Toure is insisting that Tevez wants to repay Manchester City fans by helping the club lift the title, although Bet Victor suggest his chances are slim.

After apologising for his conduct, Tevez is back in England and made a great return as substitute where he set up the winning goal against Chelsea ten days ago. As is football, a piece of magic on the pitch can wipe the memories of fans and manager's it seems who once hated the player for the way he disrespected the club. It seems that the whole club is willing to let the last 6 months blow over if it means they can win the Premier League title.

It certainly shows that player power is very much on top in the world game, but I'm not sure Manchester City's stance on the whole situation will do their reputation any favours and followers of need to remember this.

Tevez has embarrassed the club who made such a standing in insisting he will never play again to then quietly backtracking to let him back into the frame. Is it worth it for the sake of a Premier League title?

As a neutral I would say no. It is wrong for football to let players treat fans and their clubs in the way they did, but I'm sure fans may have a different take on it. I guess whether it is morally wrong or right what really matters to City fans and players is that they win the title, and if Tevez can help them do that then he should be in the Manchester City team.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Stoudemire Has Bulging Disc; Out Indefinitely

In much the same way as a tarot reader might consult the cards to determine whether his or her future holds success, the New York Knicks could soon be looking to the condition of Amar'e Stoudemire's back for
their play-off horoscope.

The Knicks put in a decidedly average performance in the play-offs, last season, after Stoudemire pulled up with a back injury. The news that the near-7ft power forward has another back condition bodes ill for the 25-25 New York.

Stoudemire has a bulging disc (hernia) in his spine. The good news is that he will not require surgery to correct the ailment. The American was reportedly expecting to play on Monday, before an MRI scan forced
him onto the bench.

He was pulled off the boards on Saturday during the Knicks 101-79 win over the Detroit Pistons, after complaining of tightness in his back. He missed training the following morning to attend the hospital.

Knicks coach, Mike Woodson, seemed to intimate that New York will struggle badly without Stoudemire. “He's a big piece of our puzzle. We rely on Amar'e to do a lot of things, scoring and rebounding and playing defence for us."

Stoudemire, who is notable for wearing goggles to protect his eyes, following surgery for a  detached retina in 2009, was a first round pick by the Phoenix Suns in the 2002 Draft. He joined the Knicks in 2010.

New York are currently eighth in the Eastern Conference – a position that rewards the holder with a play-off spot, if they can hold onto it. The Knicks are in the midst of an injury crisis, however, making their league standing almost untenable.

Jared Jeffries and Jeremy Lin both have knee injuries, leaving Woodson with a playable roster that includes Tyson Chandler, Carmelo Anthony, Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert, Josh Harrellson, and Baron Davis.

For those looking for NBA betting tips it would be worth following NBA online to see how the season transpires.

Hawks Sink Talons into Jazz

The Atlanta Hawks powered through four overtimes at the Philips Arena to silence the Utah Jazz, on Sunday. The result was the Hawks fourth positive outcome on the bounce, and Utah's first defeat since March 17
– seven games ago.

An impressive seven Hawks climbed into double figures on the night, as only one player (Jason Collins) in the team failed to grab a point. The game was a statistician's paradise, being the first four-overtime game in 14 years.

The free-scoring Hawks held a 55-40 lead at the halfway point, triumphing 139-133 overall. The win could appear remarkable, given that it was Atlanta's third game in three days – or their fourth in five.

Joe Johnson kept his name in lights on the scoreboard, claiming a game-high 37. Points from Josh Smith (22), Jeff Teague (18), and Marvin Williams (16) added the extras for the Hawks in a match with 19 score ties.

Zaza Pachulia added 15 and a huge 20 rebounds, while Kirk Hinrich and Willie Green stuffed 12 and 10 into the basket, respectively.

Al Jefferson held the lead for the most points scored for the Jazz, with 28. Paul Millsap grabbed 25, six more than Gordon Hayward, as 6ft 6in Texan, C.J. Miles, nabbed 17 for Utah. Derrick Favours ended on 14.

The Jazz had the dubious honour of being the team who lost the most starters to fouls, with Jefferson, Millsap, and Miles all misbehaving on the boards. Jefferson led on rebounds (17). Devin Harris contributed 10 assists.

Despite the Hawks' hectic schedule, Johnson said that he is not tired: “It's not really that exhausting like people would think. Winning cures everything. The more you win […] you tend not to hurt as much."

Atlanta's Smith, who eventually fouled out against the Jazz, said that last night's result showed “the resilience and the toughness of this ball club. I think we will appreciate this win more than any other win
during the season."

For those looking for NBA betting tips it would be worth following NBA online for further developments.

Nuggets Shine in Chicago

The Denver Nuggets grabbed only their second victory in five games at the United Centre, yesterday evening, surpassing a Chicago Bulls team that looked totally devoid of ideas. The final score, a memorable 108-91 Nuggets win.

Chicago had gone 4-0 in their last four games, following victories over the Philadelphia 76ers, the Orlando Magic, and the Toronto Raptors, who fell to the Bulls twice in a pair of tightly-contested games.

The Nuggets' Ty Lawson led the field on points, with 27. The 2009 T-Wolves draft also had the edge on rebounds, collecting 9. Arron Afflalo ended on 22 points. Al Harrington, Andre Miller, and Javale McGee all scrambled into double figures.

Denver were ahead of the Bulls on overall rebounds, racking up 45 to Chicago's 32. The Bulls committed almost double the number of turnovers, when compared to their opponents, with 16 to the Nuggets' 9.

It was the second game in a row that the Bulls failed to defeat the opposition on rebounds, a tally that makes their standing as the best team for offensive boards in the NBA look a little bit suspect.

C.J. Watson grabbed the points for Chicago, scoring 17 with 8 rebounds. Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, and John Lucas III all ended on 14. There were no other Bulls in double figures. Luol Deng had 9 points.

The talking point of the match was, however, the ongoing absence of Derrick Rose for Chicago. The MVP has now missed seven games in a row. “We miss him every night”, said Korver. “We miss him [even] when we win. Come on, it's Derrick Rose."

Bulls coach, Tom Thibodeau, was disappointed with the loss: “This was not our type of game. It was up and down, free and easy. We let our guard down and you can't do that."

Those looking for NBA betting tips should follow NBA online for further developments of the Nuggets season.

Scott to return to turf after all-weather flop

The tremendously popular sprinter Borderlescott is to return his attentions to competing on turf after his first outing on an all-weather surface for four season proved far from a success as he beat only one rival home in the listed Hever Sprint Stakes at Lingfield, writes Elliot Slater.
The 10-year-old had been expected to give a good account of himself having come to hand earlier in the season that has been the case in the past as a result of the particularly mild spring in the north of England, but after showing plenty of early pace he seemed to struggle to handle the sharp bend into the Lingfield straight and lost his position before keeping on again when the action was all but over in the race won by Fratellino, a horse rated 16lb his inferior on official figures in the horse racing betting news.
Trainer Robin Bastiman refuses to be downhearted about the run amid calls from some quarters that the veteran speed merchant should be retired, and insists that the dual Group 1 winner has been showing all his old dash on the gallops at his Wetherby base and continues to relish the routine of being involved on a day-to-day basis in full training. If the old horse has lost some of his speed, Bastiman suggests that he will lower his sights a little in order to allow the gelded son of Compton Place to have a good chance to add to his 13 career victories, which as well as two wins in the Nunthorpe Stakes, also include the 2006 Stewards Cup at Glorious Goodwood and the Group 2 King George V Stakes at the same meeting in 2010.
A possible trip north to Mussleburgh in early April could well be next on the cards for the rags-to-riches veteran who remains a firm favourite with racegoers and horse racing betting tips, who have warmed to his gutsy never-say-die attitude.

Hughes ban opens up championship

The Jockeys Championship looks wide open this year in the UK following the decision to uphold the 50-day ban that Richard Hughes picked up in India last month.
Hughes may have to give his rivals a head start in the early stages of the campaign and is likely to be trailing by the time Glorious Goodwood comes around in August.

Despite the ban, Hughes is amongst the favourites due to the number of quality of rides he is expected to pick up off his father-in-law Richard Hannon. He will miss the trials for the Guineas in April where he was set to ride Harbour Watch before the opening Classic of the season at Newmarket for colts run over 1m and fans of online Goodwood betting will be wondering if he can get back in the hunt.

Last year’s Jockeys Championship winner Paul Hanagan will be aiming for his third consecutive success this time around. He has now signed for Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum following the retirement of Richard Hills last month. The Yorkshire-based jockey was the number one rider for Richard Fahey but has now moved down to Newmarket ahead of the new season beginning on Saturday with the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster.

Silvestre De Sousa finished second behind Hanagan in 2011. The Brazilian is now employed by the Godolphin along with Frenchman Mickael Barzelona. The pair will ride for trainers Saeed bin Suroor and Mahmood Al Zarooni who look after the horses for the yard.

Ante-post favourite Ryan Moore and former winner Kieron Fallon have been supported for the Championship which gets underway this weekend. Both will have key rides at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood and may just benefit from the movement between yards earlier this year.