York Ebor Meeting – Day One Preview

York’s Ebor meeting tops the flat racing calendar for many, with fantastic racing often accompanied by glorious sunshine on the Knavesmire.

It has been my personal favourite UK flat meeting ever since I was fortunate enough to witness incredible Epsom Derby winner, Authorized, taking on future Arc winner, Dylan Thomas, back in 2007. That day changed my views on racing forever, and since then I have been very fortunate with my luck at the Yorkshire track.

This year looks set to be no different and the opening day provides the opportunity to see some fantastic horses, with Derby winner Australia rightfully taking centre stage. He is the best horse in the race, but with Joseph O’Brien pushing himself to unnatural limits to make the 8st 12 to ride him, there would have to be question marks about his physical fitness in a finish, should the horse need to pull out something extra. He should get the better of the field comfortably if carrying on his progression, but there has to be doubts about taking long-odds on.

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The day starts with the Symphony Group Handicap, a typically tough race that will set you up for the day/meeting if you can find the winner. There is plenty of each-way value, and the selection lies with See the Sun. He landed a valuable prize at York back in June and travelled like the winner last time out, when controlling the race from the front before fading late on behind the talented Muthmir. A shorter trip is set to suit Tim Easterby’s charge, and stall 20 is a plum box to get out and dictate. The three-year-old is nicely weighted and on an upward curve, so the current 11/1 represents clear value and he can hopefully kick-start the meeting in the best possible way.

Next up is the Acomb Stakes, which looks a fantastic opportunity to highlight Jamaica’s potential Classic claims for next year. He is currently second-favourite for the Group Three Acomb, behind the highly rated Basateen, but the manner of Jamaica’s victory as-well as the sheer market support that came for him at Galway, suggest he has the potential to be a special animal. He is going to want further rather soon, as his staying-on display last time out suggested, but he still possesses enough speed at the moment to get the better of the field tomorrow. The 3/1 is more than fair, and this looks like has to potential to be a real starting point for a big career should the vibes from Coolmore be anything to go by.

Kingston Hill is expected to take all the beating back in his optimum conditions in the Great Voltigeur Stakes, yet he will face stiff competition from a tough field. Sir Michael Stoute’s, Snow Sky, looked the least likely winner heading down to post at Glorious Goodwood, dripping with sweat and acting up in the preliminaries. This, combined with the three-year-old failing to settle during the early exchanges, meant that many thought he had already put paid to his chances. However thanks to a masterful James Doyle ride, he managed to prevail by a head, and continue his upward curve. He possesses plenty of ability, and 1m4f looks to be his optimum trip, with the ground posing no issues. If he behaves before the race, and settles earlier he will pose a massive threat to the favourite and at 8/1, he looks a fair bet. He is a risky proposition, but his talent is worth taking a punt on, and if the favourite does fail to act, Snow Sky looks the likeliest to benefit.

Eagle Rock is an interesting contender in the penultimate race of the day, with the Tom Tate trained six-year-old currently a fantastic each-way proposition at 20/1. He saves his best runs for the Knavesmire, running consistently in big handicaps, including a course and distance success. It is a very open race as the prices suggest, but he is one of very few that absolutely love big fields and the course, and one of only two in the race who have course-distance success (Itlaaq the other), which swings things in his massively favour at a surprising price. J P Sullivan has never finished out of the first three when on-board the horse and with him in the saddle tomorrow, hopefully he can piece together another solid run and return each-way money at the very least.

 

Selections:

1:55, York: See the Sun @ 11/1

2:30, York: Jamaica @ 3/1

3:05, York: Snow Sky @ 8/1

4:20, York: Eagle Rock @ 20/1

 

 

 

 

Premier League – Opening Weekend Preview

Alas the Premier League is back, and so is the unbridled faith that this OUR year. Our team will outperform their odds, and in doing so, help us make it a profitable year.

Well, I can’t ensure your team do the business in their respective leagues, but I can certainly attempt to you help you make it a profitable year. Whether it eases the pain on a Saturday evening or adds that extra bonus for a few beers toasting your team’s success, the lure of the accumulator is back.

We hear the monster success stories, often alongside the hashtag #bookiebashing (revolutionary, I know..) but these are fairy-tale bets, which require mass amounts of luck. There is no harm in throwing ‘a life-changer’ on, but small stakes are required, with trebles, doubles and singles looking the best way to make money this season.

Opening Day Treble:

The first bet of the season is a fair value treble, in the shape of Stoke, Tottenham and Everton, which pays 8.62/1 with Sky Bet.

Stoke have had a solid pre-season, and have improved their squad with the perfect balance of Premier League stalwarts with a wealth of experience at the top level and young exciting attackers, who could cause havoc among defenders this season. They face a rather disjointed Aston Villa, who look as though they may well struggle in the Premier League this year. Paul Lambert faces a stiff task and his sides are often slow starters, with Villa’s 3-1 win over Arsenal last season the only time he has picked up three points on the opening day. Stoke are unbeaten on the opening day at the Britannia, and 22/23 looks a good price.

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Tottenham struggled against West Ham last season, losing on all three occasions they faced the Hammers, however this season they are in a good position to get off to a flyer. A solid pre-season has gelled the side and there is no longer the ruggedness that appeared towards the early parts of last year, with so many players to integrate. This is in contrast to Sam Allardyce, who has the pleasure of being one of very few managers whose fans have called for the sack solely on pre-season performances and should Spurs play their game, they should be able to compile big Sam’s misery and turn up the pressure on David Gold.  Tottenham performed well away from White Hart Lane last year, winning 10 on the road (only Arsenal won more, with 11), so the venue shouldn’t be a factor. They are shades of odds-on in places, so the 11/10 with Sky Bet comes as a welcome surprise.

It will come as a surprise to many that Everton are trading at such a big price on the opening weekend, as they travel to newly promoted Leicester. Injury worries to Lukaku and Mirallas have plagued their pre-season, however they still have class in abundance and Roberto Martinez is one of the best in the business at making sure his systems are performed to a tee. Leicester will attempt to control the game, as they did on plenty of occasions last season during their climb to the Promised Land. However should Gareth Barry and James McCarthy manage to break up the play, and cut off the passage between midfield and attack, Everton should be able to make their class tell and win the game, even without some of their big names. The atmosphere will be electric at the King Power, however take the 13/9 for Martinez’s men to get off to the best possible start.

First Goalscorer Patent:

Manchester United entertain Swansea at Old Trafford in the first game of the new Premier League season, and Wayne Rooney will be leading the side out for the first time since being given the armband permanently by Louis van Gaal.

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The 28-year-old will be given a more attacking role in the absence of the injured Robin van Persie and he could well lead the line. He needs two more goals to join Thierry Henry at third in the table of all-time Premier League scorers with 175, and he could well have done that come Saturday afternoon. His fantastic accuracy and intelligent position means he is a nightmare for any defender and he will be out to prove his manager was right to make him the new skipper. The 7/2 with Ladbrokes looks fair, and this is the first selection in the patent.

The second selection comes in the late kick-off, with Arsenal taking on Crystal Palace. Alexis Sanchez will be the centre of attention in the build-up to the game following his big money move from Barcelona; however it is Olivier Giroud who is the selection. The Frenchman has netted six times in his last six appearances at the Emirates and has started pre-season well, netting in the 3-0 win over Manchester City in the Community Shield.

Sanchez will be a valuable provider for the forward line, and Giroud should be able to capitalise. He is a stand-out 9/2 with Boylesports to net first, and this looks massive value.

It will be an edgy wait to Sunday if the first duo deliver, as the final selection doesn’t line up until early Sunday afternoon, as Daniel Sturridge completes the patent.

The 24-year-old is set to spearhead the attack with Luis Suarez no longer at the club, and he is 4/1 to net first, as he did on the opening weekend of last season. He has slowly been hitting some form towards the end of pre-season and with the service he will be getting from the midfield/attacking wingers, he is sure to get the opportunity to terrorise a rather depleted Southampton defence. The patent pays a best-priced 114.5/1 with Boylesports, while the any-time scorer treble of the same trio is also worth a small bit of interest 7/1 with Bet 365.

Win-to-Nil Double:

Manchester City travel to St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon, a place they have a fantastic record in recent years. Although their Community Shield loss to Arsenal showed very few signs of positivity, they will be aiming to come out and prove a point to those raising questions of their class. They are 11/5 with Coral to win-to-nil against a Newcastle side that look rather weak defensively. Add this to Chelsea to win-to-nil on Monday night against new boys Burnley, and you have yourself a tasty 5.88/1 double.

Selections:

Win Treble: Stoke/Spurs/Everton @ 8.62/1 (Sky Bet)

FGS Patent: Rooney/Giroud/Sturridge patent @ 114.5/1 (Boylesports)

Any-time Treble: Rooney/Giroud/Sturridge @ 7/1 (Bet365)

Win-to-Nil Double: Manchester City & Chelsea @ 5.88/1 (Coral)

Premier League 14/15 – Ante-Post

After a summer of magnificent football (excluding England’s mundane showing), the Premier League looms large and with it the tremendous minefield of ante-post There is value a-plenty with bookmakers competing against each-other, to offer promotions to tempt the punters into siding with their firm. This is seen to full effect with the Top Goalscorer market, with Paddy Power offering a £2 free bet, every time your selection scores, should you bet £20 (£10 e.w works) on your selected individual.

Top Goalscorer:

Chelsea fell short last year, as their creative midfield talents were undone by the lack of a world-class finisher. Diego Costa has been signed by ‘The Special One’, to fill the void and he is sure to get the service of the magnificent Oscar, Fabregas, Hazard, Willian etc. The Spaniard hit the headlines last season after successfully guiding Atletico Madrid to their first league title in 18 years. His direct style of pace, power and deadly accuracy from inside the box propelled his side to the Champions League final, and he is a brilliant addition to Chelsea’s side. He is 15/2 to top the scoring charts on his first season in the Premier League and with the chances he is likely to find coming his way, he is sure to prove a success. If (more like when) he scores 10 goals, he has instantly paid for the bet, as Paddy Power will have dished out over £20 in free bets, so even if he doesn’t end up finishing top of the charts, a tally of 15 or more, will still provide a solid return. Also, Betfred are offering a rather unique ‘Top Goalscorer Handicap’ in which players are handed certain starting goals. Robin van Persie goes off scratch, and the rest have been given rather tight amounts to keep the lead. Costa has been handed a +4 figure, and at 15/1 this is worth a small punt. Lukaku

The next selection in the market is an ex-Chelsea marksman, in the (rather large) shape of Romelu Lukaku. He has had two successful loan spells in the Premier League in the past two seasons, scoring 17 in 35 for West Brom, and 15 in 31 for new club Everton. He is perfectly suited for Everton’s attacking game, as his intelligent runs allow him to drift out wide to free up space for his counterparts, whilst his menacing build helps him shrug off defenders and create chances for himself. As a lone striker, he is supported from midfield and with Barkley and Mirallas likely to be sitting behind him this season, he will get the chance to carry on his impressive scoring record. The 21-year-old is improving with every season, and the experience is helping improve his finishing, which is going to help make him a very successful stereotypical ‘number nine’. Roberto Martinez will be keeping Lukaku fresh for the Premier League, with bit-part players like Arouna Kone and others being given the chance in the cup competitions, so burn-out is not an excuse as it could be with other strikers in the market, who are going to be heavily tested by Premier League and Champions League football. At 20/1 he looks a fair each-way bet, and he is definitely one to keep onside.

Outright & Tri-Cast:

Now, onto the outright betting, and following a rather disappointing (by their standards) showing in the league, Chelsea will be aiming to reclaim the title for the first time since the 09/10 season. Costa is a massive plus, as is their experienced addition to a rather youthful midfield, with Cesc Fabregas adding a cool head to proceedings following Frank Lampard’s departure. They have a solid defence, and Thibaus Courtois looks set to be one of the best shot-stoppers in recent years. With ‘The Special One’ at the helm, they are imperious at home and look solid favourites at 19/10 to land the title.

Manchester City are consistent under Manuel Pelligrini, and they are sure to be there or thereabouts. However, with fitness worries plaguing their main man, Sergio Aguero, and question marks over Yaya Toure’s desire to wear the City shirt, they are too short to be backing with massive confidence. Yet they do slot in as valuable members of the ‘tri-cast’ selection, with Manchester United taking third spot.

Louis Van Gaal looks set to bring a strict regime to Old Trafford, a total contrast to David Moyes’ embarrassing term. The Red Devils have looked sharp in pre-season, with Wayne Rooney looking set to flourish under the 3-5-2 formation his manager plays, and without Europe to focus on, United look set to mount a big challenge for the Premier League. They are still two or three signings away from matching the sides at the highest echelons, however they should improve massively on last year, and they have the ability to finish at least third, with Liverpool and Arsenal having European competitions to contend with, in an already busy season. The tri-cast of Chelsea/Manchester City/Manchester United pays a very fair 16/1, and is definitely worth a small punt, with the price as short as 9/1 in places.

Stoke’d to be here: mark hughes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Hughes has transformed the ideology of Stoke being perceived as a hoof-it team, into a side that plays a nice brand of attacking football, whilst still maintaining their fearsome image at home. The Britannia has always been a tricky place to go, and it is set to be a case of more of the same this season.

Outside of the ‘big seven’, the remainder is rather open and there are no real stand-out teams who look to have eighth place cemented. With the fantastic addition of Bojan to the ranks, Stoke could make a real push and continue a solid upward curve with Hughes, who seems to be getting there slowly but surely.

The signings of experienced pair Steve Sidwell and Phil Bardsley will help bolster the side and ensure the Potters continue to grind out results, whilst Dionatan Teixeira and Mame Biram Diouf signal solid intent for the future.

Hughes’ men should have a much more comfortable season, and with Newcastle too short to get involved with as favourites, take the 6/1 in the ‘without big seven’ market.

Relegation Treble:

The relegation battle looks set to be a long and torturous ordeal for plenty of clubs in this season’s Premier League, as there are more sides than ever, in with chance of facing the drop. Burnley surprised many last year with their fantastic performances, which seen then fill the runner-up spot behind Champions, Leicester. However this is a different kettle of fish, and with so much pressure on key-man, Danny Ings, they look set to fall short of meeting the required points total to survive. They fill the first spot on the relegation treble, and are joined by the side they finished behind last season, Leicester.

Nigel Pearson’s men oozed class when running away with the Championship, however they dominated most games, before breaking down sides with swift attacking creativity. They will not be given the opportunity to control many games this season, and will be forced to stay tight at the back, before attempting to counter late on. This is a dangerous ploy, and they may well fall short. This, coupled with the lack of real Premier League experience, means they will struggle to see out games the way fell new-boys QPR will, with their wealth of former Premier League talent. They should definitely fair better than Burnley, but they are worth a dabble to return to the Championship at a fair price.

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The final side in the treble is a rather surprising choice, in Swansea. Garry Monk eased into the position smoothly, following the exit of Michael Laudrup, however he faces a stiff task next year. His inexperience may cost the Swans dear, and with talisman Wilfried Bony looking for a swift exit, goals may well be hard to come by at the Liberty Stadium. If the Ivorian stays, they will have a much better chance of surviving the dreaded drop, however should he be granted his wish to leave, the lack of transfer activity that has taken place and the rather thin squad, point to the price of the Swans to return to the Championship, being very tempting.

The relegation treble of Burnley, Leicester and Swansea being pays a rather large 50/1 with Bet365, and it should give us a solid run for our money.

 

Top Goalscorer:

Diego Costa @ 15/2 (Paddy Power)

Lukaku @ 20/1 (Paddy Power)

 

Top Goalscorer Handicap:

Diego Costa (+4) @ 15/1 (Betfred)

 

Tri-Cast:

Chelsea/Manchester City/Manchester United @ 16/1 (Bet365)

 

Without the ‘big seven’:

Stoke @ 6/1 (ToteSport)  

 

Relegation Treble:

Burnley/Leicester/Swansea @ 50/1