Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mattner aims for strong finish

Marty Mattner has called on his Sydney team-mates to maintain their grip on the number-one spot on the AFL ladder and finish the season strong. Victory against St Kilda ensured the Swans reclaimed the top spot in the league, in a performance which summed up the team’s season so far. Maintaining their cool under pressure, Sydney looked like champions as they ran out 29-point victors against a brave St Kilda side at the SCG.

The victory means that the Swans have earned a home final and two chances at the play-offs, giving Sydney a great chance in the Aussie Rules betting of now going on to become title winners.

Not many could argue against the team going on to clinch the title, after a season which has shown this Sydney side to have that mixture of heart and talent needed to get a team into this position at this point in the season. Punters who bet on Aussie Rules certainly think they will be victorious.

Defender Mattner has been a key part of this Sydney side’s success this season, and the 29-year old has made it clear that the job is still far from being completed.

“You always want to finish the season on top to get that double chance home final and those sort of things,” Mattner said.

“It’s hard to win from outside the top four, that’s been shown from the last few years.

“If we can finish in the top two to get a home final it would be great, and that has to be our ultimate aim over the rest of the season.”

The Swans may be without the services of Shane Mumford following a knee injury sustained against St Kilda, however, there is more than enough back-up in the squad to make up for the loss of the influential ruckman.

Another A-League star heads north

Central Coast Mariners have said goodbye to long-serving defender and club captain Alex Wilkinson in a move which adds weight to the growing theory that Asia is fast becoming the next station for football's gravy train.

Worryingly, it also condemns the A League to the loss of one of its best signings. He made 172 Hyundai A-League appearances for the franchise over seven seasons. He played in three A-League Grand Finals and was instrumental in Central Coast's two A-League Premiership triumphs.

The 27-year-old is to join K-League powerhouses Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC on a two-and-a-half year contract.

Head coach Graham Arnold did not hide from the fact that the move gives Wilkinson the chance to secure his future financially.

It leaves just three Asian players in the Hyundai A-League at this stage: Sydney FC's Ali Abbas and Hirofumi Moriyasu, and recent Brisbane Roar signing Do Dong-Hyun.

The goalposts are clearly shifting and I would bet on Socceroos that are still in the A league are considering their futures too.

While major clubs in continental Europe cut their cloth accordingly, the gold rush has now reached countries such as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Japan.

Paris St Germain have been flexing their muscles in the close-season,bringing in the likes of Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi, and, possibly ZlatanI brahimovic, but they are an exception to the rule.

Closer to home,Roberto Mancini has yet to show his hand at the helm of newly-crowned Premier League champions and cash-rich Manchester City, but Greg Cunningham(Bristol City, free), Owen Hargreaves (released), Gunnar Nielsen (released),Stuart Taylor (released), Wayne Bridge (Brighton, loan) have all been shown the door. Though the live soccer betting suggests it will only be a matter of time before a lump of cash is shelled out by Sheikh Mansour’s pet project.

The Mariners may feel they have just been jilted at the altar but the truth is they are not alone.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Shirocco has Choice of Engagements at York Ebor Festival

Few fillies in training deserve a Group 1 success more than Hughie Morrison’s admirable Shirocco Star, who has consistently performed with credit at the highest level in middle-distance contests on both sides of the Irish Sea this season, writes Elliot Slater.

The winner of a mile maiden at Newbury towards the end of last term, the daughter of Shirocco failed by only a short-head to make a winning start, this term, when just held by Momentary in the listed Sweetenham Stud Fillies Stakes back at the Berkshire track in May.

She then stepped up to a mile-and-a-half for the first time, when asked to tackle the Investec Oaks at Epsom, the following month.

Despite sweating up in the preliminaries and going freely to post and in the early stage of the classic contest, Morrison’s charge ran a tremendous race in failing by just a neck to peg back Ballydoyle’s Was in a fine finish to the showcase event.

On the back of that gruelling performance, Shirocco Star was a shade below her best, when only third to Princess Highway in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, three weeks later, but bounced back to close to her best when finding only the apparently high-class horse, Great Heavens, too good for her in the Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh, a month later.

Morrison looks set to send his admirable three-year-old north to York in late-August, where she has a choice of engagements at the high profile fixture.

The option of bidding for that elusive first Group 1 and tackling the Yorkshire Oaks remains very much on the table, but connections will have to weigh that up against the slightly easier option of the Group 2 Galtres Stakes at the same meeting, as they seek to win a good prize with their filly for the first time this season.

Race-goers thinking of making a bet on racing, this summer, should pay a visit to the horse racing betting news website on Bet365 for all the latest odds on British sport.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ortensia could stay in Britain for Nunthorpe Stakes

Australian mare, Ortensia, could have one more crack at landing a Group 1 British sprint, when lining up for the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York’s showcase Ebor Festival meeting on August 24, writes Elliot Slater.

The Paul Messara-trained seven-year-old has been far from disgraced in her two outings at the top level in this country, and if the daughter of Testa Rossa continues to thrive, there is every reason to believe that connections will postpone a return to her native land until after the five furlong contest on the Knavesmire.

The particularly wet British summer has done no favours to Ortensia, who is at her best on a decent surface, as she proved when landing the Group 1 Winterton Stakes on good ground at Ascot (Australia) in November.

She also put up the performance of her life to beat Ireland’s Sole Power on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan, winning the coveted Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint by a length-and-a-quarter.

After jetting into Newmarket in the spring, Ortensia was prepared for an assault on the five furlong King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, and was sent off 9/2 joint favourite in the horse racing tips for the traditional dash down the straight course at the Berkshire track. 

After showing plenty of speed to lead the field on the far side, Craig Williams’ mount faded inside the final furlong to eventually come home ninth of the 22 runners behind Hong Kong’s Little Bridge.

Despite the terrible ground at Newmarket, earlier this month connections decided to let Ortensia take her chance in the Darley July Cup on heavy ground, and, in the circumstances, the Aussie sprinter ran a fine race to finish fourth to Mayson, beaten just over eight lengths. 

As long as those exertions have not left their mark on her, she will most likely take her chance at York, and is currently priced up a 12/1 shot in the York Ebor Festival betting odds, headed by 5/1 favourite, Bated Breath.

Chinese Divers Unstoppable

It is incredible to imagine, but China now appears to be in a stronger position in the Olympics betting with its Olympic diving squad than in either of the last eight years. 
At Athens 2004, the Chinese picked up in six of the eight events they entered, while four years ago, in front of an ecstatic home crowd in Beijing, they went one better and struck gold seven times from eight attempts.
And in a chilling portent of things to come, they swept the board with all eight gold medals at the 2011 World Championships in Shangai. That is some going, and with each and everyone of their divers ranked top in the world, they will only have themselves to blame if they end London 2012 without a perfect score.
There does not appear to be a chink in any part of their aquatic armoury, so quite simply, to beat them will require the dive of a lifetime from the opposition. That is just what Australian, Mathew Mitcham, achieved in Beijing with a flawless final dive from the 10-metre board, but he arrives in London with an interrupted preparation due to abdominal imjuries.
Teenage Chinese entry, Bo Qiu, will be taking part in his first Olympics, but he is rated superstar material back home, so will be favourite for that event, while American, David Boudia, who was 10th in Beijing, has been working on his degree of difficulty to try and upset the Chinese.
Sascha Klein of Germany picked up the 10-metre synchronised silver in Beijing, and is another with more experience than Qiu, so there is some hope that he can be beaten.
Great Britain will of course rely on Tom Daley, who has all the ingredients to excel, and he does seem to thrive on pressure, of which there will be plenty in front of an expectant home crowd.
And, if we cast our minds back to 2009, it was then 15-year-old Daley that beat Bo Qiu to the 10m Platform world title to become the youngest ever world champion in the sport.
The USA meanwhile have not won a gold medal on platform since the great Greg Louganis captured a second straight one at Seoul 1988, while the American women's last gold was at Sydney 2000.
So, all in all, bar the odd blip, China can look forward to another landslide victory at the Aquatics Centre in August.
Fans of Team GB may be forced to look elsewhere for medal-winning athletes; visit the Olympics Tennis Betting page for news, odds, and picks for Scottish player, Andy Murray.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

AVB talks up title ambitions

In the all-important first press conference, new Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas began his charm offensive against those who doubt he has learnt from his disastrous time at Chelsea.

The Portuguese was bombed out of Stamford Bridge in February with the club struggling in the league and on the verge of dropping out of the Champions League.

In his final few weeks at the club the 34-year-old appeared to struggle with the pressure of the job and that was reflected in a break down in relations with key (and influential) players as well as with the media.

However, after a short spell out of the game AVB has appeared revived and refreshed, determined to prove his doubters wrong and show his glorious first season with Porto, that brought three trophies, was not a one-off.

"We have to try to put Tottenham on the road for titles," he told fans from within the bet365 YouTube community.

"Last year the squad started extremely well. The belief was there and the margin was there for Tottenham to win the title.

"If we are able to take the squad to the levels of ambition we want, it [the title] is something we can think of.

"We just have to continue with the quality work that Harry left us."

He certainly has solid foundations from which to build on. Previous boss Harry Redknapp had led the side to fourth place last season, yet that was considered a failure given the title was being mooted around White Hart Lane at Christmas.

The key could be finding a replacement for Luka Modric, who now seems certain to leave this summer, though latest signing Gylfi Sigurdsson will add quality to the midfield. Fellow new arrival Jan Vertonghen will also be a solid replacement for Ledley King at the back.

Should Emmanuel Adebayor make his move from Manchester City permanent, then AVB has a strong spine from which to build a side capable of challenging for the very top - and that means rubbing shoulders with his former employers across town.

Maybe he will have the last laugh after all?

The bet365 Ray Winstone video will soon be back on our screens as we usher in the new football season. It promises to be another exciting few months at every level.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Donald Learning from Experience

World number one, Luke Donald, is confident that his continued near misses in the Majors will help him when he tees it up at the upcoming British Open at Royal Lytham and St Anne’s.

Luke Donald is 88/5 to claim the Claret Jug in the Betfair golf betting, behind Westwood, McIlroy, and Woods.            

Despite dominating the game over the last 18 months, and winning some of the sport’s biggest prizes, he is still yet to break his duck in the Majors.

This has understandably raised questions about whether the quiet Englishman deserves his place at the top of the rankings, a topic that has split the golfing world down the middle.

This year’s British Open will be the Hemel Hempstead native’s 36th attempt to win one of the four Majors but he will have to improve on his performance from 12 months ago, when he missed the cut at Royal St George’s.

Despite the doubters, Donald is adamant that on current form, he is the best player in the world, and deserves his place as number one.

Furthermore, the 34-year-old says that he does not regret anything from his past Major performances and believes each near miss has helped him realise what he needs to improve on, before he breaks his duck.

"It goes back to just continually learning from those experiences,” he said. "You know, some of the failures, some of the good Majors I've had, too.

"But I've realized that I do get a little bit more anxious, a little bit more uptight, and I've got to try and control that, and that's going to kind of be the priority - go out there and try to play a little bit more freedom.

“And once I get off to a better start, I feel like I'm going to be there and have a chance," he added.

Fans of  golf can keep up with the latest news and odds at