International Football – Any-time scorer treble – 26/3/13

The World Cup qualifiers return again tonight, and there looks to be some tremendous value in terms of the scorers market.

With many games looking set to be one-sided affairs, i.e Germany (1/50) and Holland (1/4), it looks set to pay to side with the better value of the any-time scorer markets.

Our first scorer we hope will hit the back of the net is the in-from Welshman Gareth Bale. After coming off at half-time in their victory over Scotland, he will be in peak condition to take on a strong Croatian side.


Luca Modric ran the show the last time the two sides met, in what was a comfortable 2-0 win for Croatia. However now the Welsh have picked up a bit of form, and with it the self-belief they can actually qualify from the group.

They know a victory is imperative to any lingering chances they do have, and with skipper Ashley Williams issuing a rally call for the Welsh players to deliver, it looks up to their talisman Bale to lead the line.

He is sure to have a number of set-pieces tonight, with the rough and ready style of tackling the Croatians are likely to launch in an attempt to stop his mazy runs, and with his brilliant free-kick technique, he should be able to take advantage.

The 5/2 on offer for the Welsh wizard to hit the back of the net at any point during the 90 minutes has to be added to any acca.

The next likely looking scorer is Stefan Jovetic for Montenegro. England’s defence has been called into question as of late, and with the exception of San Marino, they never look to assured in their own defensive third.

Jovetic is a class-act and his goal scoring record on the International stage only backs up his future Premiership credentials. Having scored 10 goals in 24 games at the highest level for his country, he has proven he can do it at the toughest levels. This accompanied by his 12 goals in 24 games in Serie A for Fiorentina this season, has brought him into the limelight for a potential move to Arsenal in the summer.

He will be out to prove he can do it against English opposition, and move one step closer to finalising his move to Arsenal. Expect a big display from the striker, and it would be no surprise to see him have enough creative ability to cause the makeshift centre-half duo problems all evening.

The 7/2 on offer for him to score any-time looks massive, and this means he is better value than his likely strike-partner Mirko Vucinic, who is a lot shorter in the betting.

The third and final member of our any-time scorer treble is Karim Benzema.


The Real Madrid man knows what it takes to get the better of the Spanish defence, as he plays against them week in week out in La Liga. His pace and power constantly cause defences trouble, and with the Spanish national side flopping on Friday evening, only managing a draw at home to Finland, now’s the best time to play them.

They are beginning to feel the pressure of qualification, and Spain know if they don’t win tonight, they will be in real danger of finishing behind France in the group, and have to go through the play-offs.

This means they are likely to attack this evening, which will play into France’s counter-attacking style’s strengths, and allow Benzema to have direct runs at the rather slow Spanish centre-halves.

If he manages to get a clear run, his natural finishing ability will see him get on the score-sheet at least once and the 9/4 on offer, again looks too big to ignore.

France come into the game on a high, after easily dispatching Georgia 3-1, in what had the potential to be a tricky encounter. The creativity of Ribery, Matuidi and Valbuena was key in the victory, and if Benzema is given the same service tonight, he is sure to hit the back of the Spanish net.


1 point: Bale/Jovetic/Benzema any-time scorer treble @ 50.18/1 (BetVictor)


2013: +16.77

Review of Cheltenham – Sprinter Sacre

There was one horse that ran away with the poll, with a whopping 42% of the vote, and that was of course the majestic Sprinter Sacre.

Even before the tapes went up on Tuesday afternoon, the expectation was building for one race in particular.

It wasn’t set to be a mammoth battle, a wide-open field or even a horse aiming to make history.

It was all set up to be a procession, yet ask the majority of people what one race they were looking forward to the most, the majority would reply with ‘The Queen Mother Champion Chase’.

The favourite was set to go off the shortest priced favourite since Arkle won his third Gold Cup in 1966, but people just could not wait to get a glimpse of ‘The Black Aeroplane’ Sprinter Sacre.

He eventually went off 1/4 favorite with mass amounts of money being placed on him, with Coral reportedly losing over £1m after offering Evens on the gelding for up to £20.

sprinter sacre

However it wasn’t from a financial aspect that most people were hoping for a victory, it was more of a feeling that this could be the race that elevates the 7yo into the top level of modern day thoroughbreds,  being mentioned in the same breath as Kauto Star, Denman and the likes.

He didn’t disappoint.

Setting off in fourth place, tracking the leaders, he immediately found his jumping rhythm pinging the fences down the back.

He was left in third place at the fourth fence, and continued to travel like a dream for a remainder of the opening circuit.

Sizing Europe began to turn the pace up five from home, and Sprinter Sacre immediately cruised up into his slip-stream.

Then came an uncharacteristic mistake from Barry Geraghty’s mount as he clipped the fence when taking up second place. This gave the crowd as-well as the jockey, a few anxious moment.

However he quickly re-found his stride and carried on without losing much ground.

Then it looked set to be a battle over the last three fences between the front-two in the market, which is what the spectators really wanted to witness. Would he be good enough to beat Sizing Europe on decent ground over two miles? Of course he would..

‘The Black Aeroplane’ took it up coming round the bend and quickly spring-heeled the final fences in the most impressive fashion. Kicking clear on the bit, and causing the crowd to erupt into spontaneous applause as he touched down after the final obstacle.

He had dismissed a high-class field with sumptuous ease and landed the Queen Mother by 19l, still on the bridle.

He handled the famous Cheltenham hill arguably better than any other horse across the four days and left a lasting memory in every spectator who was fortunate enough to witness the magnificent performance of a chaser who is set to dominate the 2m chasing division for years to come.

Eight out of eight over fences, and it would take a brave man to back against the 7yo staying unbeaten for some time.

If you have patience, the 4/7 on offer for him to land the 2014 Queen Mother with Paddy Power is much better interest than the banks offer.

3 points win: Sprinter Sacre @ 4/7  (2014 Queen Mother Champion Chase)


Cheltenham – Final day’s best bets!

Thursday was another day in favour of the bookmakers as not one favourite obliged, and both 25/1 and 50/1 winners were witnessed in the heart of the Cotswolds.

For our selections, we had our both members of our win double seen in second place, and our place double faded into an abyss. Whilst Ballynagour traveled like the winner throughout his race, before going out like a light when about to depart up the hill.

However we must put that behind us, and aim to enhance the profit we are already in for the week. A different approach is needed once more, as the fields are extremely open.

There is one win selection, and that comes in the 2:40, in the shape of At Fisher’s Cross.

Rebecca Curtis’ gelding comes into the festival boasting an impressive unbeaten record this season, notching four from four, including a Grade Two at Cheltenham in January.

The 6yo just got the better of The New One, who landed the Albert Bartlett here on Wednesday. The New One has been installed as one of the favourites for next year’s Champion Hurdle, and is clearly well thought of by trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies. This makes this piece of form by far the strongest in the race, and with it coming over course and distance, he is a worthy favourite.

cheltenham final day

He has a high cruising speed and is a valiant battler, which could be an attribute needed if he is to land the spoils and give champion jockey Tony McCoy his first winner of the week.

His main opponent looks set to be Ballycasey for the in-form duo of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh. He is unbeaten under rules over in Ireland, always coming home in front with seemingly bags in hand.

He is yet to be tested, and at 4/1, you would be taking a risk on how much he has improved, as he will have to take a massive step up in class if he is to successfully take down At Fisher’s Cross and get another on the board for Ireland.

Then, my advice is one more small e.w double on Cotton Mill and Sir Des Champs.

Cotton Mill was travelling well when ducking out last year in the Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle at the festival, when well fancied.

He bounced back from this when finishing a close third in the Sefton at Aintree, before being put away for the summer. He has been seen once this year, when finishing a staying-on second behind the classy My Tent or Yours in a competitive Newbury Handicap.

This piece of form is incredibly strong when taking into account how well fancied My Tent or Yours was when finishing runner-up in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, after side-stepping a potential Champion Hurdle tilt.

Cotton Mill’s jockey Denis O’Regan, will let him bowl along, and if he is allowed to dictate the pace, he will be in prime position to use his incredible flat speed to the best of his advantage.

He is the classiest in the race by some distance and if he’s on a going day, the 7/1 looks incredible value.

sir des champs

This alongside the 4/1 for Sir Des Champs makes an irresistible 39/1 double.

Sir Des Champs looks set to round off a fantastic week for Willie Mullins by landing the feature race of the week, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

He has had a solid campaign thus far landing the Irish Hennessey Gold Cup in thrilling fashion. His exemplary jumping style always gets him out of tricky situations he may find himself in, and with his unbeaten record at Cheltenham (2/2) he is a confident selection.

He has stiff competition in the shape of Bobs Worth, however Nicky Henderson’s 8yo still has a lot to prove against the top staying chasers such as previous Gold Cup winner Long Run and former Arkle winner Captain Chris.

Silviniaco Conti can’t be backed at the 7/2 on offer due to Paul Nicholls seemingly poor run of form, with the former Champion Trainer failing to have a winner so far this week.

This all points to Sir Des Champs having a marvelous chance of winning the prize and if he does just about fail, his consistency and jumping ability means you will get a strong run for your money regardless.


3 points win: At Fisher’s Cross @ 3/1 (Betfair)

1pt e.w double: Cotton Mill & Sir Des Champs @ 39/1 (Paddy Power)

2013 so far – + 9.77 points

Cheltenham – Day three’s best bets!

After a rather disappointing day at the office, following a couple of no-shows and an unfortunate runner-up in the shape of Tofino Bay, we look ahead to Thursday where we will try and wrestle some cash off the bookmakers.

And with it comes a slightly different approach. With the amount of short-priced fancied horses running tomorrow, it could pay to ditch our each-way single, value, and chance our hand at a few multiples.

The opener looks set to go the way of Dynaste, who side-stepped a crack at the RSA (a race in which he would have won in my opinion) to go for this potentially easier task. The only real danger on paper looks set to be from Captain Conan and also Aupcharlie from the in-form Willie Mullins stable.

Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins pre race, before Back In Focus's impressive win

Mullins has had a fantastic festival so far, with five winners and Aupcharlie’s form took a massive boost yesterday when Back in Focus (who he just failed to beat at Leopardstown) and Tofino Bay (who he just went down to last time out) battled out a thrilling finish.

He finished third at the course on his only start, back in the Champion Bumper, and looks set to go off a lot shorter than his current 6/1.

However he may run in to one too good in the shape of Dynaste, who has been a revelation since turning to the bigger obstacles. His jumping is immaculate, and there is no question about his staying ability. These attributes combined with the fact that he has already won over fences at Cheltenham make the  7/4 on offer look big enough to tempt most.

For this reason, you could start the day with a Dynaste/Aupcharlie forecast and hope for a big return, or separate the pair and use Dynaste as the start of a win multiple, and Aupcharlie as the beginning of an each-way equivalent.

The next race could go the way of Paul Nicholls who is yet to get on the board this festival. He has made no secret that he feels Sam Winner could bounce back to form off a very generous mark of 140. The former Triumph Hurdle fourth had been out of sorts following his run at the festival, as he was sent on a chasing campaign.

However he has been brought back to the smaller obstacles, and over a course from where he has a 50% strike-rate, winning two from four, he has to be fancied. He has a brilliant action over hurdles, and a high cruising speed which is key to his chances.The current 9/2 strikes me as a solid each-way bet, and should be combined with Aupcharlie to hopefully make a solid start to proceedings.

cheltenham races

The win double is completed with First Lieutenant, who was well-fancied for the Gold Cup, before being pulled out for an attempt at the competitive renewal of the Ryanair.

He has been placed in three graded races this term, the most recent of which was when he was seen finishing a head second behind Tidal Bay in the Lexus Chase.

This is arguably the best piece of form on offer in the race, and the fact he has been put away especially for a crack at the festival, is an extra positive, and enhances the 11/4 shots claim.

He faces stiff opposition in the shape of former Champion Bumper winner Cue Card and last year’s Ryanair winner Riverside Theatre, however this has been a solid week for Ireland so far and I expect Davy Russell’s mount to do the business at what looks a lot bigger price than he should be.

The single of the day comes in the shape of a potential handicap-plot from the David Pipe stable, Ballynagour.

He won his sole start on British soil by 19 lengths, and is a relative unknown quantity. He never really got out of third gear that day, and although he will have to improve to land this, he looks as though he still had plenty in the locker and could well be a likely improver.

His rating of 143 could turn out to be incredibly soft, and the 7yo looks destined for bigger and better things. The 9/2 on Betfair won’t be around for long, and it could end up being one of the best backed horses of the festival.


1 point win double: Dynaste & First Lieutenant @ 8.84/1 (Paddy Power)

0.5 point e.w double: Aupcharlie & Sam Winner @ 37.5/1 (StanJames)

1 point win: Ballynagour @ 4.5/1 (Betfair) 

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2013 so far – +13.77 points

Cheltenham – Day two’s best bets!

Following a sensational day for the blog yesterday with a 28/1 winner, 7/1 place and an 11/1 close fifth, from three selections, I’m hoping to keep momentum rolling with another few tasty value bets.

It was a day for the Irish as Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins stole the show with a magnificent treble. Champagne Fever, and Quevega came either side of a magnificent Champion Hurdle victory by Hurricane Fly.

Walsh and Mullins will go in to the second day buoyed with confidence and this could lead the bookmakers into shortening their mounts prices in even shorter, as Mullins look set to saddle the first three favourites on the card.

This opens up other horses value, as they begin to drift against the favourite. This leads us to the first bet of the day, Tofino Bay in the opener.

Dessie Hughes’ consistent 10yo has been placed in a Grade One, as well as winning a Grade Two this season, meaning he is arguably the classiest in the field.

Nina Carberry is a brilliant jockey over the staying chases and will be sure to give her mount the best possible positioning early on. As long as he settles, he will be right there near the end, and with his reliable jumping (never fell in his life), he looks a solid each-way bet at 35/2.

With Ireland having such a great start to the meeting, and the Gigginstown Stud silks being renowned worldwide, it us understandable as to why some other bookmakers have priced up at 8/1 – 10/1, he is likely to start around that price, so punish 32Red for their generous offer.

With Sprinter Sacre taking centre stage tomorrow, and maybe even for the whole week, it makes sense to just sit back and watch a thing of beauty.

There is no value in backing Nicky Henderson’s stable-star at 1/4, and with him looking almost certain to land Wednesday’s feature race, it will pay to just enjoy a magnificent spectacle of sheer jumping brilliance.


However wait for forty minutes, and find yourself another solid bet. Tony McCoy is yet to get on the board for this year’s festival and will be looking to rectify this as soon as possible.

His best chance tomorrow looks set to come in the colours of his boss JP McManus, with Pendra looking likely to go off as favourite in the Coral Cup.

He has never been out of the first two, winning three of his four starts under rules. McManus decided to purchase the gelding following his last run, a gallant second in a Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January.

He looked the likely winner before being headed at the last, and with McCoy likely to make more use of the gelding tomorrow, the current 8/1 looks massive for such a consistent type.

Sneaking in on a relatively low weight only adds to the positives, and expect him to go off a lot shorter tomorrow.

paul nicholls

The third and final bet of day two comes in the Bumper, in the shape of Paul Nicholls’ Fascino Rustico.

It is interesting to see that the record-breaking £310,000 recruit has stayed on the level, instead of being sent over hurdles.

He ran away with his maiden National Hunt flat race showing an immense cruising speed, before being purchased by Aiden Murphy. He has been quoted as saying he purchased him as a replacement for Noland, with the idea he has the scope to jump a fence.

He slightly disappointed when last seen, finishing fourth over course and distance in November. However he will come on massively for the run and the fact that connections have opted to aim him at this race means that he has to be respected, and 33/1 is far too big.


1 point e.w: Tofino Bay @ 35/2 (32Red)

1 point e.w: Pendra @ 8/1 (Betfred/Betvictor)

0.5 points e.w: Fascino Rustico @ 33/1 (32Red)

2013 so far – +14.08 points

Cheltenham – Opening day’s best bets!

It’s that time of year again, when everyone forgets about their troubles and often plunges money they haven’t got into a world of magic, in the hope that they can finally land that massive pay-out they have been searching for.

Well, I’m here to help.

As a veteran of the Cheltenham Festival (first appearance aged 14, and I’m now 21..) I have always seemed to strike gold in this magical week in March.

Whether it be the Guinness that is inevitably sunk, the intense feeling that ‘this is the day’ or most likely the amount of research that goes in to following the horses throughout the year..

This year’s festival is as open as any, but there are a few very over-priced runners on the opening day.

cheltenham racecourse

The opener of the festival always seems to swing your week, a winner signifies ‘this is the week’, a place means ‘at least i’m in the right ball-park’ and a nowhere inevitably leaves you feeling ‘oh no, not again..’.

There isn’t usually a massively short-priced favourite for such a competitive race as the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, yet this year there is. Tony McCoy is incredibly bullish about My Tent or Yours, who has side-stepped a potential Champion Hurdle tilt for this seemingly easier encounter. Yet at 6/4, are you really wanting to take the chance? Especially given Henderson’s record of winners in the race and also the poor performance of favourites.  I’m not.

Usually I like to kick-off the four days with an each-way bet, which allows me to maintain the feeling it could be my week, even with a place. Tomorrow that bet will fall on Un Atout.

Willie Mullins’ gelding is unbeaten in his three starts under rules, and is yet to be tested. He travels beautifully, and has a wonderful movement allowing him to kick clear with seemingly sumptuous ease. He is yet to be tested, and although tomorrow’s field looks incredibly difficult, he looks as though he has the potential to match them

No-one knows how good he really is and tomorrow we will get to see if he is what we all expect. 7/1 looks far too big, especially with William Hill offering five places at a quarter of the odds.

There are two more well fancied runners on the card, that could well out-run their odds, and then next one is Fruity O’Rooney in the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase, in which he was runner-up last year.

Since then he has had a solid campaign, running consistently in decent handicaps and even managing to drop down the weights since last year.

The Gary Moore trained 10yo ran a great race in defeat last year and course and distance form is key in these types of races. This gives him a slight edge over favourite Our Mick, who fell when looking to challenge in a race that Fruity O’Rooney competed in last time. The fall was at Cheltenham too, so it is hard to gauge how much effect that will have on his psyche.

This is why the current 11/1 on the consistent Fruity O’Rooney looks a solid bet, and you can guarantee a run for your money.

nicky henderson

The final piece of each-way advice for the day is Nicky Henderson’s Rajdhani Express in the final race of the day.

He looked a real horse to follow when winning at Kempton on Boxing Day, in testing conditions. His last race was one we can put a mark through after he threw away his chance with a bad mistake early on.

Henderson wouldn’t enter him without thinking he had a big chance, and the 28/1 on offer looks far too big. Jockey Sam Waley-Cohen will be out to prove his many critics wrong, and if the geldings’ jumping holds up early on, he looks set to be in with a major chance.

More rain won’t a difference to the 6yo’s chances, and with Waley-Cohen being able to take a handy 5lbs off the top-weights back, he holds a real chance.


1 point e.w: Un Atout @ 6/1 (William Hill, first 5 places, 1/4 of the odds)

0.5 points e.w: Fruity O’Rooney @ 11/1 (Paddy Power)

0.5 points e.w: Rajdhani Express @ 28/1 (BetVictor)

2013 so far: -2.8 points

Champions League – Round of 16 (2nd leg) Advice.

All eyes will be on Old Trafford on Tuesday evening, as Manchester United host Real Madrid in the return leg of their last-16 game.

Both sides go into the game evenly poised, after the sides drew 1-1 at the Bernabeu.

It looks set to be a thriller, with both sides going all out to land a place in the quarter-finals. They both come into the game in great form, but United hold a slight advantage after managing to grab what could be an all-important away goal in Madrid.

ronaldo madrid

This means Real Madrid have to score on the night, and will be going all out from the off. With the likes of Ronaldo, who is returning to Old Trafford for the first time since leaving the club, Benzema and Ozil all available when going forward, you would have to fancy them to hit the net at least once.

Veteran Ryan Giggs looks set to earn his 1000th appearance for the Red Devils, and it looks written in the stars he is set to have a major part in the way the game swings.

Yet, for me, the bet lies with the slightly out-of-form Robin Van Persie, who is in a dry-spell by his incredible standards.

He will be looking to make up for his glaring miss in the opening leg by getting on the score-sheet at Old Trafford. The more Madrid begin to push in search of a goal, the more gaps will appear across the back-four. RVP only needs one sight of goal when he’s on form, and he looks set to get a few chances against Los Blancos.

The 11/8 for him to score anytime appeals, and would be a slightly safe bet in what is set to be an enthralling fixture.

Elsewhere on Tuesday evening, Dortmund entertain Shakhtar Donetsk after a 2-2 draw in the first-leg.

Two away goals for Dortmund mean they are in a strong position to advance.

They are imperious at home and know they can play their normal football without having to chase the game. This means they will be able to pick off and counter Shakhtar, allowing Robert Lewandowski to enhance his already growing reputation.

With the likely attacking attitude of Donetsk, he should get his chances to hit the back of the net, and the 5/1 on offer for him to score two or more looks too big to resist.

However with Dortmund beginning to come under so much pressure, due to a dip in their league form, they know they have to qualify in order to ease the pressure.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has scored 18 goals in his last 18 appearances, and will be a lot sharper after both he and his side have played a few games since finishing the winter break. He looks potentially massive at 3/1 to score any-time, and with Shakhtar looking to get their key man on the ball as often as possible in the final third, it would be no surprise to see him hit the back of the net at least once.


Meanwhile on Wednesday evening, Celtic face a near impossible task of re-clawing a three-goal deficit as they head to Turin to take on Serie A leaders, Juventus.

Celtic by no means disgraced themselves at Celtic Park, yet the difference in class showed, as Juventus were clinical with their limited chances, whereas Celtic were slightly wasteful.

This looks set to be the same for the second leg, yet Juventus will be allowed to simply dictate the pace of the game, as Celtic are set to be all-out attack from the outset.

This will leave them incredibly exposed, and I expect Juventus to grab an early goal and then patiently see the game out. This makes the Evens for Juventus to be leading at both half-time and full-time, a great price.

The final game I will preview is the PSG v Valencia fixture, which looks set to be a tasty affair.

With Ibrahimovic suspended, PSG’s attacking threat has been lessened  however they should have just enough to see off a gritty Valencia.

It looks set to be an open game, with Valencia knowing they have to score at least twice to have any chance of qualifying. Yet, PSG look far too strong defensively, and should stand up to the task well.

The 9/10 for a PSG win looks solid, and should be added to any multiples.

Advice :

1point: Double: Juventus/Juventus and PSG to win – 2.88-1 (BetVictor)

1 point: RVP any-time @ 11/8 (Bet365)

1 point: Henrikh Mkhitaryan any-time @ 3/1 (BetVictor)

2013 profit: +0.8 points profit