Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Eaton sets new mark

Ashton Eaton has been reaffirmed his status as one of the favourites among the Olympics punters for gold in the decathlon after setting a new world record at the US trials.

The previous mark was held by Czech athlete Roman Sebrle in 2001and it had even been questioned whether or not the mark of 9,026 points over the 10 disciplines would ever be broken.

However, Eaton passed the record by 13 points, thanks to a stunning performance in the final event, the 1,500 meters, where he managed to shave four seconds off his personal best.

The 24-year-old has been seen as one of the favourites to for the gold after winning silver at last year’s World Championships in Daegu and is by far the form athlete in the event, having set a new world’s best in the heptathlon at the World Indoor Championships in March.

The record is even more special as it is came in front of his home crowd in Oregon and at his relatively young age, he still has plenty of time to improve on the mark.

After the event, Ashton was understandably over the moon about his performance and admitted that he can’t believe he is now ranked as the best ever.

 "There are few words to say to describe it," Eaton said after the event. "To have that score and what I did, it's like I worked so hard to do that. It's hard to explain.

"I like running and jumping. To me, it's my whole world. To do the best I possibly could in my world makes me very happy

"I knew there might not be another opportunity so I had to make the most of it," Eaton added.

Team GB supporters, meanwhile, would be well-advised to keep an eye out for young boxer Anthony Joshua, who will make his Olympic debut in London and is rated as a dark horse to earn a medal by the Betfair boxing betting community.

Chambers books Olympic place

Dwain Chambers booked his place at this summer’s Olympics by winning the 100m at the GB trials in Birmingham on Saturday, much to the delight of his fans from within the Betfair community.

The victory takes him one step closer to an incredible comeback after he was only cleared to compete in the games last month following the court of arbitration’s decision to abolish the British Athletics’ by-law that prohibits people who’ve been banned for taking performance enhancing drugs from competing in the planet’s biggest sporting event.

Chambers previously spent two years away from athletics after testing positive for a number of stimulants, in which he tried his hand at a number of sports, most notably American football and rugby league.

However, he controversially returned in 2008 and has impressed, winning gold in the 60 metres at the 2010 World indoor championships in Doha.

He once again proved his class by winning the trials in a time of 10.25 seconds ahead of impressive youngster Adam Gemili and will now head to Helsinki for next week’s European Championships where he’ll aim to achieve the Olympic qualifying time of 10.18.

The 34-year-old was understandably delighted to have won the trials and is desperate to back-up his performance and guarantee a place in the games in his home city.

"I was so scared because the heat and semi-final had not gone well," said Chambers.

"I had great pressure here but I relied on my experience and that’s what pulled me through today. I felt Adam coming and I was saying to myself, 'Stay ahead, stay ahead.’

"Now this is over I can concentrate on getting the time. I’ve still got a journey to go but I am hoping to be there as part of the British team at the Olympic Games."

Elsewhere, excitement is building ahead of the Olympic Boxing events, where Team GB will welcome several new faces, including youngster Anthony ‘AJ’ Joseph, a promising young pugilist from London who will be out to defy the boxing betting odds.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What Next for McDonald Mariga?

When 25 year-old Kenyan star, McDonald Mariga, made history as his country’s first footballer to play in the UEFA Champions League back in March 2010, his future looked a very bright one indeed. 

Mariga came on as a sub for Inter in their victory over Chelsea and just a few months earlier, he had come very close to becoming the first Kenyan to play in the English Premier League, when big-spending Manchester City tried to sign him from Italian club Parma.

Unfortunately, the British Foreign Office’s denial of a work permit for Mariga put paid to that ambition, and he joined Inter Milan instead. His arrival in Italy immediately improved Milan’s standing in the odds betting.

There, coach, José Mourinho, tended to use Mariga as a “super sub”, as in his appearance against Mourinho’s former club, Chelsea. But, after the coach left for Real Madrid, Mariga was side-lined and was loaned out first to La Liga club, Real Sociedad, then subsequently back to Parma.

And in April 2012, the Kenyan midfielder ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament during Parma’s 2-0 league win over Novara. This kind of injury usually takes several months to recover from, so it is doubtful whether the Kenyan footballer will be fit again for the start of the new season.

More importantly still, it means Mariga is unlikely to play for Kenya in their 2014 World Cup and 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, during the summer. The Kenyan national side is due to travel to Togo for the second leg of their African Nations Cup qualifier, over the weekend of 15-17 June, taking a 2-1 lead from February's first leg with them. 

Mariga missed that win after he left the team in a row over money, so there were already many doubts over the 25 year-old’s future involvement with the Harambee Stars, even before he sustained the cruciate injury. Kenya are also due to play Malawi and Namibia in World Cup qualifiers in June, Nigeria are the third team in Group F.

So, for Mariga, things have gone from bad to worse after such a promising time, just two short years ago. There is a way back for the player in these, his prime playing years, if he can overcome his injury problems. Otherwise, his future is in his own hands. 

Go online for the latest results and scores, as well as more information on European football, the Premier League, and Euro 2012.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Czechs a surprise package at Euro 2012

The Czech Republic surprised many by making it through to the knockout stages of Euro 2012 but their coach Michal Bilek reckons there is a will throughout the camp that can see them progress far into the competition.

Most onlookers had ruled the Czechs out after losing their opening game 4-1 to Russia but they put their heads down and worked hard, with their efforts being rewarded by a win over Poland that ensured they progress as Group A winners.

In a team without too many star names it is a united effort that has seen them progress this far and Bilek admits the team are “under pressure” all of the time, but he hailed the fact the Czechs tend to persevere in such “critical situation”.

This Czech team is not as strong as its predecessors but there is talent among the ranks and a lot will be hoped from the likes of Milan Baros, Tomas Rosicky and Petr Jiracek to provide an attacking spark going ahead into the tournament.

Next up for them is going to be Portugal and there is no doubt the defence are going to have to be on their best as their opponents boast arguably the best player in the tournament, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Bilek remains optimistic the Czech Republic can achieve more than most are expecting of them, and could they even go as far as in 1996, when they made it all the way to the final in England?

“We deserved to qualify for our team spirit, we worked hard. We know there is no other way to succeed in such a tournament,” said the boss.

"All my players feel there is a great chance to achieve something phenomenal. If we succeed in the next game, then we will get a medal. The motivation throughout the team is tremendous.”

The Czech Republic are definitely classed as an unpredictable side and their fortunes in Euro 2012 will depend on what side turn up, will it be the team that limped to defeat against Russia or the one that showed their grit against Poland?

Joachim Low’s Germany are considered one of the favourites for the competition, so if you fancy a flutter, don’t forget you can get all the best Germany Betting odds, tips and advice with Betfair. Click here for more:

Channon Snaps up Dettori for Coronation Hope, Laugh Out Loud

The ebullient Frankie Dettori has been booked to partner the appropriately named recent pattern race winner, Laugh Out Loud, in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, on Friday, and looks sure to be amongst the principals, in what is shaping up to be a hot race, writes Elliot Slater.

A good horse always wins the one-mile contest for three-year-old fillies and, whilst she will certainly be facing her stiffest task to date, Mick Channon’s charge, a favourite on the Betfair Horses website, is undoubtedly going the right way.

Dettori is reportedly delighted to have the opportunity to get the best out of her at the Berkshire track. The West Ilsey-based trainer looks to have a particularly strong hand in the race, with his recent Irish 1000 Guineas winner, Samitar (Martin Harley), also likely to be given the green light to take her chance.

Laugh Out Loud, a daughter of Clodovil, only made her racecourse bow in January of this year, when running a promising second at Wolverhampton, after which she followed up with back-to-back victories on the Polytrack at Kempton. 

Thrown in very much at the deep end on her turf debut in the Qipco 1000 Guineas, the filly was far from disgraced in finishing eighth behind Homecoming Queen, and showed the benefit of that experience when justifying favouritism at York’s Dante fixture in the listed Michael Seeley Memorial Stakes over a mile on the Knavesmire.

Channon decided to strike while the iron was hot, and sent Laugh Out Loud over to France for her sixth outing of the season, where she made most of the running and quickened in style approaching the final furlong to beat Mashoora by two lengths in the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham at Chantilly.

That performance entitles the 30,000 guineas purchase to plenty of respect in the Coronation Stakes line-up.
The Royal Ascot page on Betfair has all the information you need to bet successfully on the biggest event on the race calendar:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Rookie Zhang Struggles

Chinese teenager, Andy Zhang, did not have the easiest day of his short career, as he produced an opening round 79 in his debut appearance at the US Open. The 14-year old is the youngest ever player to tee off at the tournament, earning his chance at the Olympic Club following the withdrawal of Paul Casey through injury.

The Florida-based rookie may not have enjoyed the best of times on the gruelling course in San Francisco, but he admitted his delight at making his debut at a Major, despite his troubles.

The Chinese-born prodigy is currently way down the leaderboard, and seemingly out of reach of making the cut. However, Zhang has not disgraced himself, after going in to the event at 949/1 in the US Open 2012 odds.

A birdie at the 18th ensured Zhang managed to finish his round under 80, but it is unlikely the teenager will be around at the weekend. The experience will be indescribable for Zhang, who showed plenty of signs that he has an extremely bright future in the sport.

"It was really tough. On the first tee I was like, just please don't hit a hundred yard slice off the first tee, and I was shaking really hard. But I hit a great shot,” admitted Zhang, speaking after his tough day at the Olympic Club.

"After that I didn't hit the ball quite well, but my putting was okay. The course is really tough. So, I'm actually okay with what I shot today. At least I broke 80.

"I think I kept myself pretty calm, and I'm really proud of myself actually. Well, I shouldn't say proud, but I'm really happy to be here and honoured."

The roar the teenager received upon registering a birdie on the last hole of the day will live long in Zhang’s memory, giving him extra motivation to make sure he gets to play with the big boys again.

Whether Zhang will continue to excel beyond his years on the golf circuit remains to be seen. Check out the British Open page on Betfair for more information on the next Major:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

NFL: Chad Ochocinco's next challenge

Finding a home for Chad was expected to be an off-season long story but, having been out of work and ready to retire, he has found gainful employment back in his home town of Miami.

Just four days after being released by the New England Patriots, the football betting community was surprised when the former Pro Bowl receiver signed with the Dolphins.

Ochocinco has a reputation of being a difficult player to work with, so this latest player-club relationship could be an interesting one.

Aged 34, the former Patriot is heading towards the twilight of his career, but he is a Miami native who made the Pro Bowl on six occasions - most recently in 2009 - and he may well see more game time with the Dolphins than he saw with the Patriots last season, when he caught just 15 passes for a meagre 276 yards.

It must be said that the Dolphins don’t have much depth at the wide receiver position after they traded Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears in March for two third-round draft picks, although they didn't draft in a receiver until the sixth round.

Marshall wasn’t the easiest player to manage, and that was part of the reason for his departure from Miami, but the high-maintenance Ochocinco could also test the Dolphins patience.

His antics have sometimes annoyed his teammates and coaches, and his touchdown celebrations led to an NFL crackdown. But he does have plenty of experience in competition and that is a commodity sorely lacking among the Miami receivers.

With the Dolphins being the stars of this year’s “Hard Knocks” programme, it may well be that the Miami organisation were looking at this move to bring about some more publicity for the team as they look to defy NFL bets and tips in 2012.

The gregarious Ochocinco will certainly provide that, and his career stats also make interesting reading.

He has caught 766 passes for 11,059 yards and 67 touchdowns – hardly numbers that are going to trouble the likes of Jerry Rice - but respectable enough.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bert reveals Dutch tension

Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk admits the Dutch are feeling the heat ahead of their crunch Euro 2012 Group B clash with Germany on Wednesday.

Van Marwijk’s side fell to a shock 1-0 defeat to Denmark in the opener and are on the brink of an early exit. A second loss at the hands of arch rivals Germany could signal the end for Netherlands.

"Of course things are tense when we lose and we get irritated at times. But that is where we are going to draw our motivation from. I believe in my players," said Van Marwijk.

Netherlands dominated against the Danes in Kharkiv on Saturday but could not find the net, despite having 29 shots to Denmark’s eight.

The performance drew much criticism in the Dutch media, with Van Marwijk involved in a heated exchange with a television journalist at Tuesday’s news conference.

Despite the public show of tension, Van Marwijk insisted he is calm ahead of their remaining two soccer games in Group B.

"I don't know what the atmosphere is like back in Holland because we are here in Ukraine," he added.

"Of course there is tension here, but positive tension - we are looking forward to the game. This is part of the job. I don't feel the pressure too much."

Misfiring pair Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben were among the players heavily criticised in the aftermath of the opener, fluffing a number of openings in the surprise reverse.

Punters betting on sports believe these deep divisions will spill out onto the pitch, the leaving the 2010 Wordl Cup finalists on the brink of a shock early elimination.

Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder is confident Robben, who plays alongside a number of the Germans at Bayern Munich, can be a key figure for his side at Metalist Stadium.

"He creates chances and gets people in front of goal and he will do the same against Germany - he can do it. He is a man for the big occasion," said Sneijder.

All change at the Union

The Philadelphia Union have become the latest MLS side to change their head coach after deciding to relieve Peter Nowak of his duties with the side, replacing the 47-year old with former US National side assistant John Hackworth. Nowak has paid the price for a disappointing start to the MLS season, in which the team have struggled to a record of 2-7-2, leaving them ninth in the Eastern Conference.

Hackworth has been on the coaching staff at the Union for the past two years, arriving in Philadelphia following a two-year stint as Bob Bradley’s assistant with the national side; gaining some valuable experience after working the national team during a successful period under Bradley.

The 42-year old will now take over the side on an interim basis, admitting his delight at being handed the opportunity to coach the club. Hackworth was quick to praise the Nowak for the role the departing coach had played in bringing the former University of Florida head coach to the Union.

“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Peter Nowak. He and I had discussions about what it would be like to work together and to start a new franchise. Peter’s a dear friend of mine and a lot of things we did together I’ll remember forever, and I’m very thankful to him for those opportunities,” admitted Hackworth.

“But at the same time, I’m very excited about this one. I’m humbled to be in charge of this organization, of this team, and I take that responsibility very seriously. I think there’s tons of potential in our locker room and I’m very excited to get to work.”

If you are a punter who likes to bet on soccer games don’t forget to head over to Bet365 for all the latest news, advice, expert opinion and  Soccer betting tips.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Kuyt Takes Next Career Step

Dutch ace Dirk Kuyt admits that he made the decision to leave Liverpool with a heavy heart, though believes that the move to Fenerbahce can help re-ignite his career.

Kuyt secured legendary status with the Anfield faithful during his time at the club, playing a key role in the Reds’ charge to the 2006/07 Champions League Final and showing a level of passion for the shirt that was surpassed by few.

But the attacking midfielder found appearance opportunities difficult to come by in 2011/12, and played significantly less minutes than in previous seasons.

“My last season at Liverpool wasn't the best one. I thought that I should've played more and I just got the feeling I needed to change something in my career,” said Kuyt.

“I wanted a new experience, a new country, new people around me, and that's why I made the decision to leave.

“But I had a great time and I had great team-mates. The club was great and the people were great. It's unbelievable how much respect they showed me and it's also a bit emotional.”

Kuyt will now turn his attentions to his country’s quest for European glory.

The Netherlands v Denmark betting markets suggest victory for the Dutch in their opening game, which could be particularly crucial in a group that also contains Portugal and Germany.

The Betfair Germany v Portugal odds suggest a win for Joachim Low’s men, and if the result goes the German’s way then it set things up nicely for a showdown between the pair a week later.

Cabaye backs boss Blanc

France midfielder Yohan Cabaye has praised coach Laurent Blanc for reinvigorating a football nation in disarray and turning them into contenders at Euro 2012.

Les Bleus endured a disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign, bowing out of the group stage without a whimper as internal problems pulled the squad apart.

"He made us forget the last World Cup, which was a complete failure. He has instilled a group mentality and team spirit like you find in a club," Cabaye told BBC Sport.

Blanc had to start from scratch in his first game in charge against Norway after the entire World Cup squad had been banned.

He rebuilt the spirit in the France camp by introducing a new breed of stars, as well as allowing a number of suspended players to redeem themselves. The new regime helped France finish top of their Euro 2012 qualifying group.

"You can see the change on the pitch," added Cabaye.

"We have been winning matches and qualified directly for the Euros. Now the greater challenge is to perform well during the competition and to go as far as possible. It is important to do ourselves justice and be positive."
France stretched their unbeaten run to 21 games with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Estonia on Tuesday and go into Monday’s Group D opener against England as favourites.

Cabaye insisted France are taking nothing for granted ahead of the clash in Donetsk and fully expect a fierce battle against Roy Hodgson’s men.

"It is the first match and it is going to be very important. I hope we are going to play well and beat them, but I don't know if we are better than them," said the Newcastle star.

Ahead of the start of Euro 2012 don’t forget to check out the new bet365 Ray Winstone video over at the brand new bet365 Youtube channel.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Motta still rates Spain

Italy’s Thiago Motta believes that Spain remain the team to beat at Euro 2012, despite injuries to a number of key players.

David Villa and Carles Puyol will both miss the tournament with injury, while there is a doubt over the fitness of Alvaro Arbeloa ahead of the match against Italy in Gdansk on Sunday.

“I don't believe they are less strong because of their injuries,” said Motta, who plays his club football for Paris Saint-Germain.

“They have had a good, good moment in the last four years, they have won everything. They have lost Villa and Puyol but are still playing at the same level.

“The most important thing as far as we’re concerned is not to worry about them but to play as a team.”

Most of the Spain v Italy betting odds are pointing towards a win for Vicente del Bosque’s all-conquering team, though there is a significant section of punters who believe that the Italians could cause the holders one or two problems.

Meanwhile, English eyes remain focused on Donetsk, the setting for England’s Euro 2012-opening clash with Group D rivals France.

It will be Roy Hodgson’s first competitive match in charge and, given the fickleness of the British tabloid media, the Three Lions’ result against Laurent Blanc’s men could make or break the former West Brom boss’s career as coach of the national team.

Unfortunately for Hodgson, France have the better record from recent head to head matches and most Betfair England v France odds have Les Bleus as favourites to win the game.

Defeat for England will probably mean they will need to win their final two group matches against Sweden and Ukraine to ensure qualification for the quarter-finals, so the stakes could not be much higher.

It promises to be a thrilling journey!

Monday, June 4, 2012

In-form Dandino handed Hardwicke Stakes challenge

The James Fanshawe-trained Dandino, a very close second to the smart Sea Moon at Goodwood recently in the listed Southern daily Echo Tapster Stakes, will next been seen at Royal Ascot after connections decided to have a crack at the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at the showcase June fixture, writes Elliot Slater.

Trained until November of last term by James Given for whom he won a number of big prizes including last season’s Group 2 Qipco Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket, Dandino came through the handicapping ranks the previous term where he famously improved enough to win the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot before going on to fail by just a head to beat Rebel Soldier in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. The five-year-old then joined leading jumps handler Nicky Henderson in November with a view to having a crack at hurdling but never made it to the track over timber and is now concentrating on pursuing his Flat career under Fanshawe’s guidance.

The Newmarket-based handler was delighted despite coming off second best after a prolonged struggle with Sea Moon at Goodwood in a race that saw Dandino serve it up to the long odds-on favourite and Breeders’ Cup Turf runner-up when leading at the furlong pole. It was only in the very last strides that Ryan Moore managed to force Sir Michael Stoute’s thorough stayer back in front to score by a head in a truly pulsating finish that delighted the punters who love to bet on racing at the famous course.

Having pushed Sea Moon all the way, Fanshawe - as well as those who give out horse racing tips - feel that a bid for the Hardwicke Stakes is not unrealistic with a horse who was rated 110 going into his seasonal return but may well now find himself rated a few pounds higher. As a winner at the royal meeting before there are plenty of grounds for optimism that the Elite Racing Club-owned son of Dansili will give his enthusiastic supporters something to shout about in the big race.

Post Season Kings

Momentum is a real key in sports and establishing that important facet of the game is vital to a good post-season run.

If there is one side that is rolling along nicely at the moment then it is most definitely the Los Angeles Kings.

Having won their Conference series against the Phoenix Coyotes in double quick time they got some valuable rest and recuperation time before they met the New Jersey Devils in the first two games of the finals. They went into that clash ranked as the favourites among NHL betting tips and justified that tag by storming into a 2-0 lead in the seven game series.

It certainly hasn’t been easy so far; considering this is the first time the team has been to the Cup since 1993. That is hardly the fault of the current crop of players but they are on the cusp of history with the first ever title in franchise history just four wins away.

The team as a whole have put up some impressive numbers in this run to the Stanley Cup and they have been very quick to finish off sides having only been taken to overtime twice this postseason, and in both games they came out victorious.

One of the main keys to their success has been goalie Jonathan Quick, who only gave up eight goals in the last series against the Phoenix Coyotes and is bound to be one of the post-season NHL picks for team of the year. He shut them once and was a dominant force all series long, even in the team's one and only loss. In fact that game was the only time that the Kings have not scored in all of his playoff outings and whilst their defence has been very solid the offensive men have also done their bit in maintaining the momentum scoring a total of 41 goals through 14 games.