Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year 2011. 

Many thanks for reading my ramblings, which I started just a few months ago. I hope you enjoy the blog and my best wishes to you for a great year ahead.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Narrowing the gap in EPL

Chelsea beat Bolton, and it was a hard-fought win as predicted.  Arsenal lost another 2 points, and the shocking result of the afternoon was Liverpool losing at home to Wolves. Can anyone argue that this year the demarcation between top and bottom teams have narrowed in the Premier League? Small clubs are having a go at snatching points against these rebuilding big clubs. While it's too early to say whether the gap will keep on narrowing in the near future, what is almost certain to me is that these circumstances dictate that it would be very hard for an English team to win the Champions League this season. Some would argue that is a pretty bold prediction so early, but I really think that there is more downside punting on an English team to win the tournament at this time. So I would say stay away from such ante-post bets for now.  Maybe circumstances can change come February, where injuries and suspensions of players can play a role in affecting teams' potentials, but by then the indications and hence the punting will be clearer.

No recommendations for Thursday; no football and I haven't seen anything of value in racing. The year is really winding down!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Video replays and Chelsea to start winning?

Man City won as expected against Villa, in very cosily fashion. But the Man Utd draw at Birmingham was a reprieve for all its opponents since they should have bagged 3 points instead of just 1. The fact that none of the referees spotted the hand that led to the Birmingham goal (which might have been quite off-side as well, I will let replays decide) is quite amazing... you can bet that something like this can most certainly have an incidence on the final standings at the end of the season. In my opinion, it is quite ridiculous that FIFA and those that manage it, keep showing disdain when things like video replays and goal-line technology are suggested as a means to remove or prevent injustices like we've just seen in the game. I am not a fan of American football but I applaud that league and its managers for being willing to adopt whatever means are at their disposal for the benefit of a fair game. Sure, waiting for referees to view video replays can seem to take an eternity, but at the end of the day, they give you the fairest outcome whether you are at the winning or losing end of the replay decision. There are variations of using replays that can be used; such as for example, in tennis, players are only allowed a certain amount, or it could be up to the discretion of the linesman or referee. These can be tweaked with and refined as the experimentation of using replays or any other technology, gets adopted universally and matures. But the stance at FIFA is clearly to let the game within the hands and limited eye-sight of referees. They can't understand that referees are human and could need some assistance. So, they won't do anything to improve this part of the game and leave real football fans enraged when such injustices occur. An irresponsibility and a shame from the supposedly leaders of world football.

On Wednesday, for all its present woes, I just cannot see Chelsea losing to Bolton at the Bridge. This might be the game where they start their winning ways. Bolton have over-achieved so far this season, and they might make it a tight game at Chelsea, but the decision at the end should go to the hosts, as they are just a better team and will be hungry to avoid another negative result. A draw-no-bet on Chelsea is recommended.

Draw-no-bet: Chelsea

Monday, December 27, 2010

Tuesday football preview

Sloop JohnB came out third; hopefully some of you took a gamble on it being Placed. Arsenal thrashed Chelsea and although there's over half of the season to go, I think the Blues are out of it now. The team is really out-of-sorts and while there is no doubt that they will win soon, they've lost too many points lately to be seriously considered in the title run-in. Hard to believe, but I think Tottenham could be the main danger to the Red Devils. They are gathering wins even in least-likely circumstances like at Aston Villa where they still managed to win while playing short-handed. It's totally Man Utd's title to lose in my opinion, and they could be winning it quite handily with the way things are going.

On Tuesday, I can't see Man City losing at home to Aston Villa. The Midlands club are without their best player Ashley Young, and that is a blow to any aspirations they might have to win the match. Man City are covered in all positions, and although they seem over-reliant on Tevez, they are very dangerous at home. So Man City as draw-no-bet is the recommendation.

Draw-no-bet: Man City

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Clear advantage to Man Utd

Man Utd and Celtic both won as recommended. Celtic only scored two in the 90th minute, and this is a sign that there is a lot of room for improvement over there; you've certainly got to think twice before putting your hopes on them in the future. Man Utd are just plain sailing at the moment, and I really fancy their chances to win the title at the end. Their odds will probably be even smaller tomorrow if Chelsea fail to win. In my opinion, Chelsea will not go get 3 points at the Emirates tomorrow. But their game against Arsenal is really too close to call since both teams are very unpredictable. Any prediction on the result on my part will be pure speculation.

Only for those who really need to have a punt (excess cash from past profit!) on Monday, Sloop JohnB might be worth a look in the Southwell 13:15. I believe it will be in the first 3, but because it's a claiming race, I won't give a recommendation on it. There are no guarantees when punting on claiming or selling races because you just don't know why the horse has been entered into such races in the first place; for instance, is there a problem with the horse? There's the X-Factor of the unknown, and this throws away any past form compiled by the horse. There are obviously exceptions to this rule particularly for horses that display regular form in such races, but I try to avoid analyzing those races in general. Going back to the Southwell race, I like Sloop JohnB because it goes well on the fibresand (course and distance winner), the distance will suit perfectly, the jockey is respectable, and the horse is in good form. The ingredients are there for it to run a good race among this lot (only Matsunosuke is clearly above all on ratings, but it's never won at Southwell), but I'll abstain from a recommendation because of the reasons cited above.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Boxing Day Preview

On Boxing day football, I like Man Utd's chances at home to Sunderland. Obviously the Red Devils are in good form, and as long as they are focused and not too distracted by festivities, they should be winning this game. Last year, Sunderland gave them a major scare by almost winning this game at Old Trafford, but I don't think that this time the Black Cats are equipped to do so. They will missing some first-team players like Mensah, Cattermole and Wellbeck. This might game that Rooney starts rolling, and all the ingredients seem to be there for him to regain form. A Man Utd draw-no-bet seems a safe bet.

In Scotland, I can't see Celtic losing at home to St Johnstone. Obviously, there are no guarantees of wins with the current Celtic team, but St Johnstone are simply not good enough to cause them trouble at Parkhead. Again, a draw-no-bet on Lennon's men should be safe.

Draw-no-bet: Man Utd, Celtic

Friday, December 24, 2010


Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas. Hope you all have a great one celebrating with family and friends. Enjoy!

Best Wishes,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Madrid canter and Rafa is gone

Madrid annihilated Levante, which renders the return match useless in terms of results. Madrid is proving it can make easy fodder of the average Spanish team, but they become the easy prey when playing Barca. It remains to be seen whether the 0-5 thrashing they got was a one-off or really mirrors the gulf in class between the two.

The news today is that Rafa expectedly got the boot from Inter. I was watching his post-match interview last week when he imposed his 3 conditions to the Club. Quite amazing he would do that really. While I have absolutely no clue what goes on behind the Club's doors, and it's hard to justify the merits of his claims, it seems that was the best strategy for him to negotiate his exit. Anyhow, he's been on a downward spiral for a few years now; I believe it started when he started ranting against Man Utd boss Fergie at this time of the season 2 years back when his Liverpool team could not pass by the Red Devils. Since then his image of being a tactical genius was replaced by that of an under-performing ranter. I actually don't know what the Kop fans actually make of their ex-manager (since he got them the Champions League), but it's pretty obvious what the Inter fans do think. While Benitez can still be considered one of the top managers in Europe, he now comes with "baggage", and that doesn't necessarily open the door to top clubs for him.

There are no racing or football matches of note today. Holidays are really kicking in and good luck to those getting their last-minute shopping done.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wednesday football preview

Oh darn Barcelona. Couldn't find a goal against a Bilbao team that parked the bus right in goal. A bad recommendation on my part. Copa Del Reys are like other League Cup games and the League form does not weigh much. I should have had this match as a draw-no-bet recommendation. This will be the case for the Madrid against Levante match at the Bernabeu today. Ronaldo isn't certain to play as I'm writing this, and Khadeira and Ramos are certain to miss. But Madrid have plenty of cover, and Mourinho will be keen to win this trophy particularly if Barcelona falter like yesterday. It won't be an easy game for Madrid, but I see them either winning or drawing this first leg, so a draw-no-bet on Mourinho's men  is the recommendation.

Draw-no-bet: Madrid

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday football preview

It's at this point uncertain what type of Barcelona team will play against Athletico Bilbao in their Copa Del Rey first-leg encounter at the Nou Camp today. This is the last game of the year for both teams before their winter break. Although Guardiola will probably rest some first-team members, I cannot see Barcelona lose this home match. Indications are that they will want to finish the year in style, and with their current devastating form, they should be winning this encounter hands down, unless only the B team is fielded. A Barcelona win is recommended.

Win: Barcelona

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thanks Spain and Abu Dhabi for the matches.

3 more winning recommendations this week-end, with 2 more cancelled because of the climate in Britain. Barcelona, Madrid and Inter won, while Arsenal and Celtic had their games postponed. In the form that they are in, Barcelona are just stream-rolling everybody, whether at home or on the road. Madrid were made to work for their win particularly when playing with 10 men after the sending off of Carvalho. I was never nervy as I was watching the game since I had them as draw-no-bet, which really takes the stress out of the equation; I wouldn't have been worse off if it ended in a draw. Inter won the World Club Cup, but there isn't much glory for them in that in my opinion, since the other teams were really inferior. But hey, it was easy pickings to punt on them, and punts really won't come as easily than that. It looks that the main story is what Rafa Benitez said after the game, and it will be interesting to see what transpires out of it. He seems to be in defensive mode since his failures in his later years at Liverpool.

It's too bad the weather is still wrecking havoc, with the cancelled cards and matches. Oh well, we'll have put up with it, I suppose. I don't mind, particularly when a race is still on the cards, and the main contenders are withdrawn. This calls for unforeseen value opportunities to arise among the remaining field. I'll keep you posted as I see them.

Really great that AP McCoy won the Sports Personality award. As you can tell, I don't follow much National Hunt racing, and am mainly focused on the Flat. But the way McCoy has re-written the history books is quite unbelievable. And quite a humble being too, I like that.

Have a good week!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Week-end preview

Another winner in Malpas Missile who easily won her race at Wolves.

Super week-end in football coming up as Man Utd go to Stamford Bridge. If they beat Chelsea on Sunday, I the latter part of the season. This game can end up with any score, so I won't speculate on the result.

I like Arsenal's chances against Stoke. Provided that they haven't been too affected by their Champions League draw to Barcelona, Arsenal should be edging this encounter. I recommend a draw-no-bet on them because you never know if Stoke are going to park the bus on their end, and they are pretty good at sneaking out draws.

In the Scottish Premier, I cannot see Celtic losing to Hamilton. Obviously, there are never any guaranteed away wins in this league, as even Celtic and Rangers have their travel woes. So Celtic as draw-no-bet is the recommendation.

In La Liga, I think the safe bets are to have Barcelona and Real Madrid as draw-no-bets as well. Barcelona are playing their derby game at Espanol, and although I expect Guardiola's men to prevail, derby matches are usually a catalyst for the underdogs (in this case Espanol) to over-achieve. Real Madrid should be beating an out-of-sorts Sevilla team, but again here, because Sevilla is very unpredictable, a draw-no-bet on Madrid should safely pay dividends. Mourinho's teams just never lose at home (for now at least).

Lastly, it would be miraculous if Mazembe won the World Club Cup. I just can't see it happen, Inter should be way too superior even with the absence of their playmaker Sneijder. Mazembe's best chance to lift the Cup would be to prolong the match to luck of penalty kicks. Inter as draw-no-bet should be safe.

Draw-no-bet: Arsenal, Celtic, Barcelona, Madrid, Inter

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Friday Wolves preview

The recommendation on If You Whisper was good as the Iffraaj gelding won his race by a length.

Let's continue the racing predictions on Friday where I like Malpas Missile in the first race at Wolves. This filly from trainer Tom Dascombe should have too much class in this weak contest. The yard is in very good form, and unless the 3 months rest have made her lose her ability, she should be at the finish. I must admit I am not the best fan of Elusive City progenies, but the opposition here is really poor. So Malpas Missile will probably be winning this, but since she's coming back from a long layoff, a Place recommendation on her is the safe option.

Place: Malpas Missile

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday all-weather racing preview

Inter won as expected, and I think they'll go on and win the final. We'll get to that when the day comes.

On Thursday, I like the first horse on the card at Southwell. If You Whisper, the son of record-breaking first-season sire champion Iffraaj, should be in the first 2. In fact, I think he should be breaking his maiden in this race. The distance will suit and he also has the best form going in the race. Because it's his first time on fibresand, I will stick to a Place recommendation, which will be safer than an outright win. Let me explain. Although the 4 synthetic surfaces (Wolves, Lingfield, Southwell, Kempton) are tagged all-weather surfaces in England, one might think that the form on one inevitably translates to another; i.e., if a horse likes the surface at Lingfield, it is bound to like that at Southwell. From what I've seen, that is not necessarily the case. I would say Lingfield and Wolves are pretty similar, and if a horse does well on one, chances are that it will do well in the other. Southwell's fibresand is different from those two. There is definitely more kickback, and some horses who like polytrack might perform differently on the fibresand surface. Finally Kempton is different than all the other three because it is the only right-handed all-weather track. Some horses are  indifferent to the track orientation, while others will prefer one to the other (think High Chaparral who lost both his races at right-handed Longchamp). I could go on with more relatively minor differences such as draw importance etc, but the above are the most obvious. So, as you can see, all-weather form is not easily transferable from one track to another.

With that in mind, If You Whisper is a Place recommendation at Southwell.

Place: If You Whisper

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Inter surely can't lose that one, can they?

Inter makes its World Club Cup entry tomorrow against South Korean team Seongnam. Surely the Italians cannot lose to the S. Koreans like the national team did in World Cup 2002, can they? There is no doubt in my mind that Inter over-achieved in winning everything last year, thanks to the genius of Mourinho. On paper, their team was less superior to the likes of European superpowers like Chelsea, Barcelona etc; yet the Special One was able to work his tactical schemes to perfection to go and win the European Cup. The fact that Rafa Benitez's team has shown such poor form this season would be down to 2 things in my opinion; Rafa has changed the team according to his playing philosophy, which is radically different from the system they worked under Mourinho. Second, once they've overachieved and subsequently won as they did, there was hardly any upside for that team to go than a downhill path. Their path to redemption lays on first securing the World Club Cup, and as importantly for the manager, failure to win that Cup would most likely signal his sacking.

The gulf between European and Asian club football is large. Sure the Asian team is well-organized and has some quick individual players with good technical skill. But we are not talking about Italy against South Korea here, where given the current state of the national teams, South Korea would have a realistic shot of beating the Azzuri in many books. For all their current troubles, Inter will still field a team that is among the best in Europe, even if it is no longer the best. I cannot see Inter losing in 90 minutes. Seongnam can at most realistically aspire for a draw, and hope for the luck of extra-time and penalties. However unlikely, that scenario is still possible, so I would recommend Inter as draw-no-bet on this one; full-refund if the game ends in a draw after regular time. The winner of this match will most likely lift the trophy because the other finalist, Congolese champions Mazembe have shown to be very exposed so far. But Inter would want to cross the South Korean hurdle first.

Draw-no-bet: Inter

Monday, December 13, 2010

Another winning week-end and City talk

Another great week-end where all 4 recommended punts won; Barcelona, Madrid and Bayern all won, and Oversteer was placed when second at Southwell.

Chelsea are still dropping points like flies, but the main story of the week-end for me is the news that Tevez is "officially" wanting out of Man City. The rumours have always been there, and now confirmed with his written letter to the club. There is no doubt in my mind that City's chances of clinching a trophy this season will be very well diminished if they lose their best player. Poor City, the owners have invested so much into bringing stars to the club, but they simply can't shrug off news of continuous unrest at the club. But isn't that the real price that you pay for when you get players like Robinho, Adebayor, Ballotelli, all known for big "I" egos, with little commitment to the team concept? And I'm not even talking about Bellamy who like Robinho was eventually dispatched away. With all the recent attention, Tevez is showing that he isn't far off this kind of mould too, although he was certainly far more restrained in his brief years at Man Utd or West Ham. In any case, I don't think any of the title contenders will be shedding any tears if he decides to leave the Premier League.

It's the big game today between Utd and Asenal. Far too close to call this one. It can go any way. I think it's the best chance for the past years that Arsenal have, to go snatch a win at Old Trafford. For the past years, the Red Devils have had not only the absolute mental edge, but also the better team as well; which has translated into dominant wins against the Gunners. This year is slightly different because Man Utd are a new team and don't boast someone of the Ronaldo-type who can turn a game around at any time. Rooney is also on the comeback trail and not at his peak form yet. So the result is bound to be more open and I'll keep myself from giving any recommendation. Whoever scores first won't lose, I think.

But there'll be more to come this week with the Europa league, and all-weather racing. Thanks for staying tuned, and have a good week.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Week-end preview

My pick on QPR, what an absolute disaster; they got trounced 1-3 at home to Watford... I will have to double-check this, but I think that this is the first wrong football pick I've made since the Man Utd/West Brom one on Day 1 of this blog. There goes the winning streak, and OK, this QPR episode was my first and last ever Championship football prediction here, for sure!

Time for a new winning football streak to start and what better way than with some of the week-end match-ups.
In Spain, Real Madrid and Barcelona should continue their winning ways and are outright win recommendations. Madrid are at bottom-place Zaragoza, and as long as they don't miss Higuain too much, they should edge this. Barcelona are at home to Sociedad, and on their form, they simply will not drop any points.

Bayern Munich will not lose to St Pauli at home. They should win this, but because of their see-saw results in the League, it's safer to have them as draw-no-bet.

The Premier League is loaded with tight matches, and it will not be surprising to see many drawn matches. Obviously, the 2 key games on the agenda are Spurs v/s Chelsea, and Man Utd v/s Arsenal. I believe the results can go either way in both, so like the other matches, it's impossible to recommend any Premier League game.

In racing, I live Oversteer in the first Southwell race on Saturday. If it adapts well on its first time out on this fibresand surface, this Gosden colt should take all the beating. Being by Empire Maker, the surface should suit on paper. I believe the danger will come from the 2 Dubai Destination geldings in this race. To play it safe, I recommend Oversteer as a Place.

Win: Real Madrid, Barcelona.
Draw-no-bet: Bayern Munich
Place: Oversteer.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Friday Championship football preview.

Private Joke was first in front of D'Artagnan at Wolves (14.45 race, not 9.45 race as I had pointed out, thanks Mr B for noting this), so the recommendation on Private Joke was good. This puts my strike rate to 89%; getting higher up slowly but surely...

Tomorrow Friday, I like QPR's chances against Watford. It's the first time I am really giving out a recommendation on a Championship game here. But I see value in having Rangers as a draw-no-bet against the Hornets. They are in excellent form and are at home; Watford are pretty poor on the road, and the most they can aspire tomorrow is to snatch a point, So I recommend QPR as draw-no-bet.

Draw-no-bet: QPR.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thursday racing preview.

Arsenal won as expected, although they labored through it more than they should have. My mean side would love to see a Madrid-Arsenal match-up in the next round so that Mourinho and Wenger can square up again! I think there's still unfinished business between the two and they would both relish to have a chance to outdo each other. That would certainly stir some bad blood up come February next year.

Back to racing, and I like Private Joke in the 9.45 at Wolves on Thursday. It will definitely be in the first 2 and should actually win this, but there is a dark horse in this race in D'Artagnan. This South African raider is rated 80, so will not be as easy fodder as the rest of the field. So, the recommended safe bet is a Place on Private Joke. Some of you who feel more adventurous might go for the outright win. It will all depend on what kind of opposition it gets from D'Artagnan.

Place: Private Joke

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Arsenal to go through

Just finished watching the tied game between Man Utd and Valencia. As usual, I cannot thank the draw-no-bet option enough, and it really saves grief when the team you've punted on cannot find that winning goal. So the recommendation on Man Utd as draw-no-bet, ends into a voided bet, which is always better than a losing one. Valencia scored from another Michael Carrick mistake in a European game (Utd fans will surely remember the game against Munich last year), and I wonder if his place is still secure in the Devils' midfield. What looks more or less certain is that the No 2 keeper Kuszczak is on his way out since Amos was selected to start the game.

Tomorrow Wednesday, Arsenal have to beat Partizan Belgrade to be sure to go through. I have no qualms that they will do it. They are in good form (Nasri particularly has been impressing me lately) and I expect them to win this game. Obviously the stakes are too high for Wenger to field too young a team, so I expect him to have a strong line-up even if they are playing lowly opposition. An Arsenal win is the recommendation.

Win: Arsenal

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tuesday Champions League

The stakes are quite big for Man Utd against Valencia on Tuesday. If they manage at least a draw, then they secure first place and avoid any possible confrontation with Madrid and Barcelona in the knock-out stages. So SAF should be fielding his strongest team against the Spaniards. Valencia does not have the same urgency on paper, since they cannot be teamed up with the 2 Spanish giants, and it seems that Joaquin their star player will be rested. Couple that with the tough game they had in Madrid on Saturday, and I think that Man Utd should be too much for them at home. We should also see from this game how the "new" Rooney is shaping up. So it's a draw-no-bet recommendation on Man Utd tomorrow.

Draw-no-bet: Man Utd.

Winning week-end and Tiger talk.

3 more winners this week-end, with Barcelona, Madrid and PSV winning their games as predicted, and the Chelsea drawn game ending in a voided bet. It was a close call on that last one, and I've got to say Thanks to Phil Neville for his blunder in Chelsea's goal. Without it, Everton might well have taken all the spoils there! I'll take those lucky bounces anytime as I know that I'll be at the wrong end of it at other times.

Anyway, what I take out of this week-end is not horse racing or football news, but rather in golf. Tiger lost again, and for the first time, he was not even able to hold on to a 4-shot lead. But even in defeat, it's the first time since his scandalous stories have surfaced, that he's shown that he's about to get his mojo back. And that is Great news for punters. You see, Tiger at his best, is the most dominant athlete in any sport, and backing him at the right time in the right tournaments (think Majors) pays dividends. So this bodes well for next year when I'm expecting him to have his mind cleared, refreshed and focused on golf (and not the "other" things). Like I was mentioning before with Nadal (also Federer if he's really back) and tennis, Tiger and golf present unique opportunities during Major tournaments in particular. So they are to be followed.

This week is dominated by the last round of Champions League football, so will try to find out some sure fire bets there. And hopefully synthetic racing keeps going despite the inclement weather. And despite Lingfield being cancelled the other day, that's why they are supposedly called all-weather right?

Have a good week!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Week-end football preview.

Quite a busy football week-end ahead. Hopefully the snowy conditions will not get too much in the way because I can see quite a few opportunities in football.

Premier League. I like Chelsea's chances against Everton. With the return of Terry, Chelsea should be more rigid at the back, and use it as a main springboard for their offensive play. Drogba is due one big flourish very soon, and this could be the game he finds form. Although Everton are always a difficult team to deal with, they have been in a bad spell lately. The loss of Arteta to suspension is non-timely for their tough visit to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea will either win or draw this, so I recommend them as draw-no-bet.

La Liga. I see Barcelona continuing their winning ways in Osasuna. They wouldn't want to lose points there following their flawless performance against Real Madrid. So I select them to win outright. Unless something has snapped in Madrid's side as a result of Monday's debacle, things should be back to normal for the Los Blancos when they host Valencia. Arguably this Valencia team is very dangerous, and it would not surprise me if they escaped with a point. Still Madrid should not be losing this game, so I have them as draw-no-bet .

In the Dutch league, I cannot see Heracles go win 3 points at PSV Eidhoven. The only downside for PSV is that they're coming back from a Europa league match in Sampdoria on Thursday. Still, they cannot afford to lose this match after their shock defeat last week-end against Nac Breda. So, PSV as a draw-no-bet is the recommendation.

Win: Barcelona.
Draw-no-bet: Real Madrid, PSV Eidhoven, Chelsea.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Back on track in racing, and wow! a non-English FIFA member has voted for England!

Wolf Slayer won! I'm tempted to say "Woohoo!" because it gives my confidence back in analyzing racing after 2 bad calls.

So England got 2 miserable votes for their World Cup bid (surprise surprise), and now everyone is trying to figure out where it went all wrong. With billions at stake, I wonder if it's really plausible to have this kind of vote decided by a 24-member committee, some of whom are under strong suspicion of bribery? The Sporting Life is talking about England and the English not being seen favourably in FIFA; they can have a point. But the real question is with the amount of lobbying that comes with the territory, how different is the trust you can put in the real objectivity of the committee and the trust you have, say, in cyclists being drug-free when competing in events like the Tour de France etc? Even if the England bid won, an Englishman (or woman) would still be thinking that there were surely other contributing dominant forces at play; not the irrelevant "strong technical bid", "impassioned Beck's presentation" headlines used by the press to over-hype England's chances. Reading the press signals in the hours leading to the vote would give you the feeling that England had a real chance, and that got people jumping on-board. At some point, England was "odds-on" to land it. The layers must have laughed all the way to the bank.

Oh well, London has the Olympics. Same lobbying, same story. But then again, we are not talking about Blatter, Platini and co this time, right?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thursday Wolverhampton racing.

Man City won its Europa league game, which adds to the good rate of football recommendations.

On Thursday, the 13:00 Wolverhampton race should be between Lady Platinum Club and Tom Dascombe's Wolf Slayer, unless Motivator's Loyal N Trusted shows something out of the ordinary on his first course appearance.  The distance will certainly suit the Dascombe filly better, and therefore has a better prospect to Place.

My last 2 racing selections have been off-the-mark, so I'm hoping this selection ends the bad run.

Place: Wolf Slayer.

Europa League Preview

One recommendation for today's Europa League matches. Man City should be able to dismiss Salzburg at home. Even if City don't field their first-team, they will have too much firepower for the Austrians in Manchester. Also, the Austrians have a major match coming up this week-end against Austria Vienna in their domestic league; so the coach will certainly have an eye on having his best starting eleven for the more important Saturday match. City to edge this, but with the patchy record of late, a draw-no-bet on them should guarantee returns.

Draw-no-bet: Man City

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Barcelona Wow Factor and Tuesday Carling Cup

I don't think I need to add more to what the press have been saying following Barca's demolition of Madrid. Whenever I see this Barcelona's side playing, the words of Man Utd's coach SAF a few years back, always come to my mind "If you let that Barcelona midfield play, they will make you dizzy!". So true! Their passing game is one-touch (or half-touch, as Xavi puts it), yet it is so intricate and elaborate (infuriatingly so at times). And Xavi (I call him the man with short passes), is mainly at the middle of it all. Their pressing and recuperation of the ball is as good as any other team, which is very rare for a team that loves to keep the ball. Simply amazing!

Far from the panache of the Nou Camp, it's back to the rigors of the Carling Cup. Although Arsenal look certain to field a young team against Wigan, they should still have enough experience to go through. Wigan will be without Rodallega who I consider their main player, and one that could have caused problems for Wenger's team. At home, Arsenal should edge this; I'll recommend a draw-no-bet on them against the unpredictable Latics, who are as capable of the good and the bad.

Draw-no-bet: Arsenal.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Perfect week-end results, and awaiting the Super Classico.

A thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding week-end with all recommendations winning. In football, Dortmund, Man Utd, Bayern Munich and Mallorca all won, and in tennis Nadal reached the final of the World Finals. Everything was spot on.

So today's the day the football world has been waiting for; the "Super Classico" between Barca and Madrid. On paper, it promises to be a spectacular celebration of football. So many times however, as in any other sport, the expectations are too high to be met, and such anticipated games often produce a typically tepid tactical affair because of the excessive caution play of the two teams. With Mourinho at the helm of the underdog Madrid, you can be quite sure that his team will try not to lose first. After all, coming back from the Nou Camp with one point will be good cause for celebration in the Madrid camp. Anyway, let's hope the match does not prove as confined as I fear, and we can sit back and enjoy the world's current finest at play. Obviously, this game is too close for me to speculate on the result, but probably Barca holds an edge because they are close to being their old dominating self. They will not find better motivation that to play against both arch-rivals Madrid and Mourinho. For the statistic-aware, Mourinho hasn't won in the Nou Camp in stints with Chelsea or Inter. May the best team on the day win.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Week-end football preview

A rotten result in racing where Diogenes came out 5th. No excuses, it was simply not good enough. It's my second successive bad recommendation in racing, and I have the red flags out. I will have to think things over before I give another racing recommendation. The strike rate has taken a blow, and I need to stop that losing streak in racing. Anyway, confidence so far, is still high in football, and I have a few for this week-end.

Premier League. I can't see Man Utd lose to Blackburn on Saturday. The Red Devils have gotten the winning attitude again, and Blackburn just don't have the team to cause an upset at Old Trafford. Man Utd as draw-no-bet is safe. I don't want to speculate on the Aston Villa/Arsenal match, but I think the Gunners will be in for a tough 90 mins. It won't surprise me if the Londoners lose, but with them, any result is possible, as they are so consistent in being inconsistent! So no recommendation on that one.

Bundesliga. I can't see leaders Dortmund losing at home to last-place Monchengladbach. Dortmund should come out as outright winners in that encounter. Bayern Munich should also be able to overcome Frankfurt at home. With the tough mid-week exertions in Rome, it's safer to have Bayern as a draw-no-bet.

La Liga. Mallorca is a team that can be a handful to anybody, and should come up trumps against Malaga at home. Laudrup's men seem to enjoy the underdog role more, as they won on the road in Sevilla and Valencia. Logically, they should beat this weak Malaga team, but a draw-no-bet is the safe option.

Win: Borussia Dortmund.
Draw-no-bet: Man Utd, Bayern Munich, Mallorca.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Friday racing preview.

The first horse on Friday's Dundalk card is one that I have an eye on. Diogenes, from the Ballydoyle camp, has been unplaced in both of his starts, but has however shown great improvement on his second start. After 26 days rest, I think he's bound to improve further. He will be ridden by apprentice jockey JP O'Brien, and so will be given a 5-pound allowance. As far as the jockey himself is concerned, I think the jury is still out on the performances of the son of the Ballydoyle maestro. Because he gets so many seemingly-quality rides on paper, the expectations are very high. So whenever he performs poorly on a highly-regarded or market-backed Ballydoyle horse (something that I have witnessed), it's easy to unleash the hounds after him. Anyway, provided he gives the Galileo colt a proper ride on the all-weather track (i.e., properly use his outside stall position for breathing space and not get stuck in traffic in this 14-horse race), Diogenes should be in the frame. It has the benefit of 2 runs, unlike a few that will be having their first outing. The danger most probably will be from the Shamardal filly Asheerah. So, Diogenes to place is the recommendation for Friday.

Place: Diogenes.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Barcelona walk-in-the-park, and a Tennis word.

I just witnessed Barcelona give a real thrashing to Panathinaikos, and I don't think that it could have been a  nicer stroll for them. I've very rarely seen players play with such ease together and toying disdainfully with the opposition at this level. But against Madrid next Monday it's going to be an entirely different matter... I can't wait! Anyway, Barca's win was good for my strike rate.

Ok something novel here, I am going to put on my Tennis hat! Yeah, football and horse racing are what I really follow for giving sure recommendations, but I'm always on the look-out for whatever value I can see in other sports. And I think I have one screaming in tennis! Nadal to Reach-the-Final of the World Tour Finals. To me, when he's on top form, Nadal is un-beatable whichever the surface. And he seems to be in really good form after the first 2 matches (I always gauge how well he's doing in a tournament after a few matches). To me, he'll probably win the whole thing; but I'm looking for 'certainties' and for him to reach the final definitely removes all the risks related to playing a final; so I recommend on the Spaniard to at least reach the final.

Don't expect frequent tennis advice from me though; I only follow the big 4 (Nadal, Fed, Murray & Djokovic) in the 4 Majors because that's when I think they play best and are above the rest. Hence, the value in following them then.

Reach-the-final: Nadal.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wednesday football preview.

Chelsea won, so the draw-no-bet on them was good. But it was a nervy night for the Blues. One thing that stands out from watching their match is that Drogba is not currently in form. At his best, he would have buried the chances that came his way. When Drogba struggles, so does Chelsea. It would have been nervy until the last minute for punters who had money on them as outright win.

On Wednesday, I like Barcelona's chances against Panathinaikos. There are 2 things that can really prevent them from taking the match spoils; if Guardiola fields a totally weakened team in anticipation of next week's match against Madrid, then I would seriously consider not punting on them. The second negative is that Panathinaikos will start the match with a new coach, and usually that does have a galvanizing effect on any team. Still, Barcelona is in full flow right now, and if their backbone of Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and Villa are in the starting line-up, I think they are good draw-no-bets. To guarantee their qualification, they can't lose this game. I'll leave it up to you to check the team sheet at game-time to see if only 2-3 first-team players at most are being rested. If so, the recommendation stands.

Draw-no-bet: Barcelona.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Week-end results, and Champions League Preview

The 3 football recommendations with Man Utd, Barcelona and Madrid winning were correct. In racing, Fettuccine was unplaced, after having missed the break. Losing ground getting out of the stalls is pretty much unforgivable in a 5 furlong race, and she lost the race at the start. Real bummer on this one!

What I take out of this week-end's results in the Premier League is Harry Redknapp's observation that Spurs can win the league. It's not that I agree with him on this outcome, but I cannot recall such optimism from managers outside the "usual" Top 4 (Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool) for a long time. And he's right that the way the Top 4 have been throwing away points, has given other teams hope to land the trophy come May 2011. The gap between the top teams in the Premier League has definitely shrunken this year, for the many reasons I was enumerating in a previous post. I still think that it will be between Utd and Chelsea.

Champions League matches resume as from tomorrow, and for all of Chelsea's recent troubles, I cannot see them lose their home game to Zilina. The English club is in turmoil after 3 defeats in 4 matches, is  in controversial waters with the sacking of Ray Wilkins, and Ancelotti now has to fend off rumours he's about to quit. Also, since it has already booked its ticket for the next round, I wouldn't be surprised if Chelsea don't field their first team. So lots of negatives on Chelsea's side. But still, losing at home to Zilina would defy all odds. It's Chelsea to win for me, but because this match really means nothing to them in terms of advancing, a Draw-no-bet on the English side is advised.

For other Champions League match-ups, I would caution that because a few of the sides have already advanced, the results of the matches are likely to be skewed. For example, don't expect Madrid to field their strong side against Ajax. You can be sure that they would not want injuries, just before they play the El Classico...

Draw-no-bet: Chelsea.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Week-end Preview: Man Utd to start rolling.

Football players are back in their club fold after their international stint, and caution is always advised after this kind of break. In the Premier League, I cannot see Man Utd losing to Wigan. Historically, Wigan has never snatched a point from the Red Devils. But this is not a statistic that I'm relying upon when analyzing this game. Man Utd have an excellent record at home, and I have a feeling the team is starting to get their football together after a slow start. They will be galvanized from Chelsea's recent debacles, and be thankful that they are only 3 points adrift, after having thrown so many points away. I think they should win this game tomorrow, but I'll edge on the safe side with a draw-no-bet on them for the main reason that the game comes after an international break; you just never know how only 2 days training has affected the team form. Rooney should be back as well, so it will be an interesting game to watch.

The same sort of caution applies to La Liga. Spain's debacle in Portugal would have affected mostly the Barcelona players than Real Madrid players since they form the backbone of the national team. I however see both of these clubs snatching at least a point over the week-end. Madrid should win at home, but their coach is still suspended from the bench; Barcelona has a trickier match on the road; I still think they'll win, or at worst come out with a draw. So a draw-no-bet on the 2 leaders should be safe.

In racing, I like Fettuccine in the Lingfield 11:45am race. It will be her first start on a synthetic surface after 3 stints on grass. Provided she takes well to the new surface, she should have too much class for this lot. The 5 furlong distance will suit her. The only issue might be her outside stall position. For that reason, a Place on this Jeremy Noseda filly is advised.

Draw-no-bet: Man Utd, Barcelona, Real Madrid.
Place: Fettuccine.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cartier Awards - Goldikova is the Queen, but where is Harbinger?

The Cartier Racing Awards rewarding the best European horses, came out this week, and for the most part I agree with the winners. Goldikova being Horse of the Year and Champion Older Horse makes sense. The mare was and is simply sensational. As I look down the list of winners, I can't see any mention of Harbinger, this year's highest-rated horse (rated135, 6 pounds more than the second one at 129!). How can that be? If Starspangledbanner is top Sprinter, and Rite of Passage is top Stayer, shouldn't there be a category for top Middle-Distance horse? It seems to me that since the middle-distances are the most sought-after races in Europe, it is a serious omission not to have an award for the best horse at those distances. The fact that this year, it happens to also be the highest-rated horse in the world makes this omission most glaring. Oh well, not that this would affect the horse's stud value, or connections' pockets, I suppose.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday results, and woeful England.

It seems quite a few of yesterday's musings and predictions came true! I was talking runner-up syndrome yesterday, and Fashionable Gal came up second again! Purtuis, the winner of the race, was the one I mentioned was the main danger. Hence, the Place recommendation on the Gal was spot on. When a horse hasn't learnt to win yet, it's very hard to have an outright Win punt on it.

At Kempton, Cape Classic validated the Place prediction I placed on it by coming out third. Having a run of accurate predictions and recommendations as of late really does boost the confidence level for betting.

Now let's talk football with England losing at home to France. Remember what I mentioned about friendlies? Although I thought England would edge that one, it feels good that I did not recommend a bet as I explained yesterday. Friendlies are real mine-fields I have stayed away and will stay away from. Anyway, back to the game, and I watched a woeful, pitiful England. France were deserving winners, they had more zest, more energy and they were enterprising from the start. This England team (especially the midfield) looks shackled, devoid of any inspiration. The only bright spot was Andy Caroll, who I thought had a brilliant debut. I don't want to be an England-basher (the press will do enough of that), but they really play like robots. No brilliance, except maybe some flashes in injury time. Sigh sigh...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wednesday racing and football

I like Fashionable Gal in the Lingfield 2:50pm on Wednesday. She was hampered when beaten by Colour Scheme in her last race, and she should be winning among this average lot. The main danger should be from Purtuis. Since this is a maiden race, it's safer to have Fashionable gal as a Place bet (she's been runner-up twice and you never know about the perennial runner-up syndrome).

One other horse to take a look at is Cape Classic in the Kempton 5:40pm. Again, the lot here is very average, and this colt had a very encouraging debut at Newmarket around a fortnight ago. If it has improved expectedly since then, it should be in the frame. However I cannot put a sure recommendation based solely on its debut. It's a horse to follow, if you are thinking long returns.

England-France friendly match. As I was mentioning before, friendlies are a far cry from real qualifiers regarding the predictability of the results, and hence the betting. France are a building team and if that were a real qualifier, I would find no way for them to beat England at Wembley. In fact, even in this friendly, I still strongly fancy England's chances as a draw-no-bet. I am not sure what's running in the mind of Capello in terms of team selection over 90 mins, but I would be surprised if he does not put in 11 men that can win the match. England as draw-no-bet if you fancy some football punting, but it's impossible to give guarantees for friendlies.

Place: Fashionable Gal.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Great week-end results, and 1-month blogging birthday!

Great week-end indeed with Barcelona and Bayern Munich winning, and Man City drawing with Birmingham for a voided bet. This puts our strike rate to 88% for a total of 30 winning recommendations out of 34 (I don't count voided bets), after exactly one month of blogging. I mentioned some time ago that I would like to hover around the mid-90% mark, so there are still lots of work to do to reach that goal in the first place, and then try to maintain it. I am not there yet, but the past month has been really fun analyzing the football and race-cards and sharing recommendations. Hope you jumped on the winners.

This week will be full of international football friendlies; in terms of both game-play and punting, friendlies are a totally different ball game than real qualifiers, so caution is advised. There will be all-weather cards to look for opportunities as well. So thanks for staying tuned, and may the good run continue!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another winner and week-end football preview

Another winning prediction as La Concorde easily won its race at Lingfield. A nice stalking ride by Jimmy Fortune, although any other jockey would have won on that horse as well.

Another busy week-end of football coming up. In the Premier League, Man City should not lose to Birmingham, who've been producing seesaw results lately. The problem with the Midlands team is that they are uncharacteristically leaking goals at the moment. So, I will advise Man City as a draw-no-bet.

In La Liga, I see Barcelona overcoming Villareal. Since the latter don't usually go down without a fight, a draw-no-bet on Barcelona is a safer bet than an outright win. Real Madrid will be without Mourinho on the touchline for their road game at Sporting Gijon. This is rather negative news for Ronaldo and co; so although they should be able to dominate this average Gijon side, I will not speculate on the effects of the coach's absence on the outcome of this match.

In Germany, on Sunday, Bayern Munich should overcome Nurnberg at home. This Munich side is still not operating fully with so many key players absent, so a Draw-no-bet on them should be safe.

Draw-no-bet: Man City, Barcelona, Bayern Munich

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Friday Lingfield selection

One selection for Friday; at Lingfield, I like La Concorde in the 2:05pm race. This is a very average field and this Stoute filly should have no problem to be in the first 3. In fact, it should win the race, but given it's been out of the courses for more than 2 months, I'll stick with a Place recommendation. It should have too much class for this field, and the distance will suit her well.

Place: La Concorde

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Punting on La Liga and Premier League.

Real Madrid won easily and the Manchester derby ended in a draw, so it's one more winning prediction and one full refund. I will take those kinds of winning nights anytime.

Since the beginning of this blog, you will realize that I've been recommending Madrid (win or draw-no-bet) quite regularly, and so far they've been great to follow because they are undefeated. Although they are not bound to remain that way, I really cannot see them lose many games this season. Last year, they total-ed record points and still lost the league to super Barcelona. In fact, they lost it because they were unable to beat Barcelona in the home and away games. Bar those games, they fared actually better than Barca. With Mourinho at the helm, they are a better team, and more importantly, it is very unlikely they will lose to Barcelona in both home and away games. So it is fair to say that if Barcelona keep dropping points as they've been doing, Madrid will have a serious go at them for the title. They are a hungrier team too because they have won nothing yet.

Contrary to La Liga, the Premier League currently seems to be far from being a 2-horse race since there are no clear dominant forces as before. Chelsea are an aging team; Man Utd are rebuilding; Arsenal are being their usual also-rans; Man City are as good as anyone on paper but they will only get better with time. A 4-point gap at the top at this stage does not mean anything. Add in other teams like Everton, Tottenham, Villa, Liverpool as spoilers to the mix, it is clear that all of the leading teams will drop many points as the season progresses. This league is clearly very competitive; although at the end, I still expect it to be between Chelsea and Man Utd.

So, for the punter, there are clearly less pitfalls when fancying the super powers of La Liga than those of the Premier League. The returns are certainly less, but the results are more predictable.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Manchester Derby and Copa del Rey Previews

A rare full Premier League fixture today and tomorrow. I think Man City will not lose to Man Utd for many reasons tomorrow. Man Utd are "counting heads" presently, having been struck with a flurry of injuries and flu virus. They struggled to beat Wolves at home on a late late Park strike. They have struggled to beat City since last year (although they did win, they left it late late). City are playing at home where they have a very good record. Although City have been in poor form of late prior to last Saturday's win at West Brom, I think they will either win or squeeze a draw out of this match. I will recommend them as Draw-no-bet. Betting against Man Utd is never a sure thing, but their current situation makes it a very hard road game for them.

In the Spanish Cup tomorrow, Real Madrid should win their home game against lowly Murcia and qualify. They are recommended as an outright win.

Win: Real Madrid.
Draw-no-bet: Man City.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sublime Saturday.

It was another fantastic Saturday where out of 8 recommendations, 4 were winners and 4 were full refunds. Workforce didn't run, Bimingham, Inter and Bayern all drew, for full refunds on draw-no-bets. Birmingham was 0-2 down before rallying, but you always expect them to throw all caution to the wind whenever they need a result at home. Inter were quite lucky to escape with a draw against Brescia with a controversial penalty; but that result shows the beauty of the draw-no-bet option; when the team that you fancy is not performing as expected, a draw, however improbable, safeguards your bet from being a losing one. Sunderland and Blackburn were indomitable at home as expected.

In racing, Zenyatta and Goldikova were both in place money so it was a great result. My biggest fear of Zenyatta staying too far behind was confirmed, and it was certainly the cause of her not winning. So the Place recommendation on her was spot on. Goldikova won, and put her race to bed easier than everyone expected. Advising her to Place was synonymous to very easy returns indeed.

After these great week-end results, Monday is pretty quiet on both football and racing fronts. Flat racing season in UK is officially over, but there is still All-weather racing, and for sure I will continue keeping an eye on any serious opportunities that arise.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Zenyatta's final race and week-end football.

A great 100% strike as both of our last recommendations for Place won; Colour Scheme won his race, and Midday came out second in the Mare/Filly Turf at Churchill Downs.

Tomorrow's Breeders' Cup day is all about Zenyatta. Will she win and retire undefeated? I think so. However, she hasn't faced such quality horses before. She will have to be on her A game, and not be too far off the pace, as she will not be able to pick up the front-runners as easily as she did with other fillies and mares. It will be up to the jockey to ensure that she's positioned well enough to avoid traffic problems in order to launch her usual final assault. I think it's safe to say that she will be in the top 3, so a Place should bring returns.

If Workforce goes to post, I think he's got a great chance to win in the Turf. I am not sure why the connections are being reticent on the current ground, but he should be able to go on good/firm. I hope he runs on his true form, unlike Dancing Brave. I have him as Place as well.

Goldikova, the other queen of the meeting. Her wide post is obviously an issue. It might not have mattered last year, but this year there are some serious genuine Group 1 winners in this race; Proviso, Paco Boy, Gio Ponti. If Peslier can get Goldikova tucked in a nice stalking position from stall 10, then she will be very hard to overcome. If she's far back at the final bend, and has got too much traffic to overcome, then I can see shades of Rock of Gibraltar, who had to turn wide but gallantly finished second. Golidikova should be in the frame.

Football Saturday. In the Premier League, Birmingham, Blackburn and Sunderland should earn at least 1 point at home tomorrow. So they are good draw-no-bets.

In Italy, Inter should beat Brescia, but with their midweek Champions League exertions, it's safer to have them as Draw-no-bet.

In Germany, Bayern should not lose to last-place Monchengladbach, so they are another safe Draw-no-bet.

Place: Zenyatta, Workforce, Goldikova
Draw-no-bet: Birmingham, Blackburn, Sunderland, Inter, Bayern

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Breeders Cup mania, and one for Wolverhampton

Anyone not caught up in the Breeders' Cup mania that has been filling the racing pages since the start of this week? Because these are championship races, there's often not much between the horses, and so it becomes even more challenging to pick winners from the bunch. In a few races, you can pick the outstanding horse, but doing so for all races is near-impossible.  Anyway, this is a great spectacle and I think the Europeans have a great crack at it again this year.

On Friday, in the Filly/Mare Turf, I expect a big race from Midday. If she's on-song, she should win this. Henry Cecil is bullish and the ground should suit. The dangers I believe will come from the French filly Plumania who is a very consistent performer in France, and the Japanese globe-trotter Red Desire, who has won in Dubai (beating World Cup winner Gloria de Campeao). I have little doubt Midday will be in the frame in case she does not win it. So it's Midday to Place for Friday. In case some of you are long-shot punters, maybe take a look at Miss Keller, who is a daughter of Montjeu and who's been consistently in the frame from a mile to ten furlongs. The longer distance of Friday's race should suit her to bits, and she might be in the frame. But only if you are looking for long-shots.

Far from the glamour of Churchill Downs, at Wolverhampton, in the last race, Richard Hughes is riding Colour Scheme. I think the Brian Meehan colt will be in the frame, so I advise a Place on him. This race might play a big part in deciding the jockey championship, and you can be sure that Hughes will be up for it.

Place: Midday, Colour Scheme.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This week: 2 Superstars in the making

When I read the headlines with Gareth Bale and Ronaldo mentioned in the same breath, I thought it was another one of those cheeky headlines from The Sun. As I watched the highlights of the Tottenham/Inter game, I could not believe the extents to which he destroyed not only Inter, but also the colossus right-back Maicon. There are things in football that you almost always know the outcome. Give a free-kick to Becks and you know you can get/will get punished. Give a penalty to Ronaldo, and he'll convert 9 out of 10. Wingers, don't try to go on the Inter's right-flank because Maicon is there. To me, Maicon is the best right-back in football by far, since Lilian Thuram. What Bale did over 2 games with the Brazilian was amazing. He not only went by him as if he wasn't there, he also openly challenged him 1 on 1 before doing so. Never seen this before. And boy, can the Welshman run blazingly fast and deliver perfect crosses! If you haven't seen the highlights of the first and return legs, I advise you to do so; it's quite a treat!

Melbourne Cup. Americain was best at the distance, best on the day, and deservingly won. But what did you think of So You Think? I thought he was mightily impressive. A machine. To win a 10 furlong Group 1 race just a week before running (pulling initially) his Melbourne Cup race, shows that this horse is really special. Add to that his other Group 1 wins, and the fact that his pedigree suggests he's probably better suited for a 12 furlong race, impresses me even more. Word is today that Coolmore are set to buy him and race him in Europe next year. I can't wait. At last, we'll be able to see the best High Chaparral has to offer. And maybe the Arc beckons...(although too soon to think about that!).

Chelsea win and Nottingham Godolphin shocker

Absolutely shocking race in Nottingham. How can you explain the absurd runs from the Godolphin pair Caymans and Sahara Kingdom?  The heavy ground? Maybe. His first run on bottomless ground may be an excuse for Caymans. But Sahara Kingdom? Sure, they bumped each other ("bumping or hampering" as described in the race commentaries), but that would not have affected the 1-2-3 result of the race. It's obvious at this stage that Nottingham is really a mine-field to keep away from.

At least Chelsea beat Spartak as suggested, but that hardly makes up for the Nottingham stunner.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chelsea wrap-up and Godolphin set for Nottingham

Chelsea should book their ticket for the next round tomorrow against Spartak Moscow. The Russians are not particularly adept travellers, and Chelsea should prove too much for them at home. Malouda won't be here, but they have plenty of cover, and I can't see them lose at home. A draw-no-bet on Chelsea seems a guarantee.

In racing, we go to Nottingham. I find this place to be a real mine-field, but this time, I believe the Godolphin pair of Sahara Kingdom and Caymans look way too good for the opposition at hand in the 2:20pm race. Caymans is the choice of Ted Durcan and has been away for nearly 2 years. Usually Godolphin horses do very well after a long lay-off though. Sahara Kingdom is trying turf for the first time, and it's not 100% certain he will like the soft ground. But he's a class above the others (bar Caymans). I will recommend Sahara Kingdom as a Place bet. I'll leave Caymans since I don't want to speculate on his form after such a long period of inactivity.

Draw-no-bet: Chelsea
Place: Sahara Kingdom

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tuesday Champions League and Melbourne Cup.

Over the years, the return leg of the Champions League match-ups (from the previous round a fortnight ago) has presented some mine-fields. That's because it's almost the 2 teams with the same starting eleven that are playing again, and the coaches have worked on tweaking their tactics for the second match. The scenario is almost like a return leg in the knock-out stages except that the result of the first match does not matter for advancing. With that in mind, I find it a common mistake to guess the outcome of these match-ups based on the first match only.

The safest bet that I can find is a Draw-no-bet with Rubin Kazan against Panathinaikos. The Russians are dangerous at home in both domestic and European competitions, and are currently in good form. If they manage to contain Djibril Cisse, they shouldn't be losing this game. The problem with Rubin is that they are not a freely-scoring team, and might be into trouble if Pana scores first and closes shop. For this reason, I cannot recommend any bet on them.

I also think Barcelona and Man Utd will return with a win or draw but since they will not be fielding their first teams, they are not guarantees.

In racing, the Melbourne Cup is running in some hours. I concur with the many that find this race is the hardest Flat race to win. I find it also the hardest to handicap. For the past years, we've seen Listed European raiders do very well (actually nearly win this race), while multiple Group 1 raiders (think Yeats) have flopped badly. It's a unique 2-mile race where stamina and tactical speed are important. For the Europeans, the ground is also crucial. The Australian "firm" ground is different from the European equivalent. I will only watch this race as a spectacle; hopefully there are no hard-luck stories and the best wins again.

No recommendations for today, but if you fancy some level of risk, the teams mentioned above might be good to follow.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Superb weekend...

Perfect Saturday indeed, with all 5 recommendations winning; Madrid, Barca, Arsenal, Everton and Fulham. That brings our strike rate to 19 winning recommendations out of 22 (86%) since the start of my blog. My aim is to reach and be consistently over the 95% rate. As also previewed, Chelsea and Man Utd found it hard to get their 3 points, which validates the previous blog that they were not guaranteed wins.

Being on a winning roll like this, it's tempting to go on a betting rampage; a false sense of invincibility starts to set in, giving you the feeling that everything you touch turns into gold! This is where I have to repeat to myself my first rule of betting: discipline, discipline, and discipline! You can so easily lose those recent winnings by just speculating on a few other bets. By being disciplined, you differentiate and eliminate the hopeful bets from the guaranteed ones. That said, looking at the Monday racing card or football match-ups, I can't see anything to recommend as a sure bet. But there is a big week of Champions League football ahead of us, so there will no doubt be a lot of opportunities to pounce on this week, and I'll keep you posted.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Big Saturday football preview.

Dean Swift was indeed in the frame (came out second), so the last rounds of predictions are rolling in good.

Football Saturday. I say keep following Madrid. I've been recommending them since the start and they're unbeaten, and I see no reason to deviate course. Hercules will give them a game on Saturday, but that won't be enough to beat them. I say follow Mourinho's men again at Draw-no-bet. One day they will lose, but I don't think it's this week-end. Jose will make sure of that. As for Barcelona, they are simply finding it difficult to be as dominating as before, and I think it will be a close contest at the Nou Camp. But Barcelona should prevail or draw; so I will recommend them as Draw-no-bet too to be on the safe side.

In the Premier League, can Tottenham upset Man Utd? This has been trotting on my head a little this week. Redknapp has proven he knows how to beat Fergie's team home or away, and I do feel Man Utd are exposed right now with their flaky defence, and all the Rooney theatrics and absence. Chicharito is good, but he can't lift the team by himself. I won't recommend a Tottenham victory or draw, but I would single out that if ever Man Utd are vulnerable to lose a game at OT this year, it's against Spurs tomorrow. (Plus Spurs have been seriously knocking at the door of OT for the past seasons).

Can Blackburn steal points against Chelsea? Not impossible. I was mentioning in one of my last posts that Chelsea are not as dominating a force as a couple of seasons ago. Maybe Sam Allardyce can hatch a plan to take the spoils here. No recommendation as the result is too close to call, but don't be surprised if this game ends up in a draw.

Arsenal should be too much for West Ham. They both played during the week, and West Ham went to extra time, and Avram Grant is even conceding they are "tired". So Arsenal is another sure Draw-no-bet. I fancy Fulham and Everton to be good Draw-no-bets as well, as they will be particularly difficult to be worn down at home.

Draw-no-bet: Madrid, Barcelona, Arsenal, Fulham, Everton.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Back in it and Friday racing

So, both Sunday Bess and Scented came out second in their respective races as expected. Although I singled them as good Place bets without recommending them, at least it gives me confidence that my picks are back in order after the previously deflating recommendation on Academy. The other thing to stand out from today's meetings is the treble of Dettori. When the guy's on fire, he can really be decisive in the outcome of races. Similarly to last year, Godolphin seem to pick up the pieces at this stage of the season. So it would be of benefit to closely follow their horses particularly where the opposition seems overwhelmed and exposed.

For racing on Friday, I like Dean Swift in the second race at Newmarket. It has a good chance to be in the frame after his encouraging first run. The main question is whether he likes the soft ground or not. I can't recommend him over that question mark. However, if he does not mind the soft underfoot, then he should Place.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Academy flops...but here come the Deep Impacts!

What a let-down with Academy. With all the lauding from the connections, this was supposed to be a formality for the Highclere colt. I couldn't see comments from the Stoute camp to explain the poor show. Nottingham can be a minefield for developing horses, and I wonder if that was the case of it not handling the track. I don't think it was the soft ground as it ran on soft on its first run.

Tomorrow I see Sunday Bess is running at Lingfield. Daughter of Deep Impact, the Japanese superstar. According to Andrew Black, her owner, she "goes extremely well on the gallops." If that's the case, she could win on her debut among this really average lot. I can't recommend her based solely on the owner's remarks though, but if you see the market moving for it, then it might be an indication that connections are serious about the horse. I am keen to follow how the Deep Impacts do.

I like Scented in the 7:20pm race at Wolves. Richard Hughes who's making a late charge for the jockey's championship takes the ride. I think this horse has a good chance to be in the frame among this weak opposition. Since it has yet to win, I can't do a sure recommendation on it, but I can see it being at least placed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Loving draw-no-bet and wednesday racing.

Madrid drew, and that is one more reason that I love the draw-no-bet (DNB) option. Sometimes when the ball just won't go in the net despite a 90-minute long domination (I watched the game and I think they out-shot Murcia 18 to nil), it is good to have insurance through the DNB option and have your bet refunded. The returns might be smaller than for an outright win, but at least a draw result (however improbable) does not go against you.

Tomorrow racing at Nottingham, I like Academy in the 2:30pm race. He will be in the Top 3, and probably will win. However, the Godolphin runners can always provide solid opposition, so I will recommend a Place bet on Academy.

Place: Academy

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tuesday 26th October preview

So Top Care and Peligroso won pretty easily. Although I hand-picked them as winners as I described, I just could not outright recommend them. It's a matter of discipline that I try to maintain (and it's hard, believe me!). Even though I am confident in selecting potential winners, they have to be below a certain level of risk before I recommend them. This kind of discipline works well for me. But if any of you felt those 2 highlighted runners were worth the risk, I'm happy for you.

Tomorrow Tuesday, Real Madrid seems another sure winner. The team has been warned by Mourinho not to repeat last year's debacle in the King's Cup. With Ronaldo in the line-up, Madrid should go on and beat Murcia. Because it's a Cup game, and Madrid won't field their entire first-team, you can safely bet on them as a draw-no-bet winner.

Draw-no-bet: Madrid.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Weekend catchup...

Chelsea, Barcelona and Madrid all won during the week-end, so this put the tally to 14 good bets out of 16 since the start. Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are on a tear right now, so the 2 Spanish sides are to be watched very closely. I watched Chelsea's game and as expected it was not a walk in the park, but they had too much class for Wolves. Things seem to be rolling for Chelsea these days, but I am not entirely conviced they are a better team than last year. I certainly think Ancelotti has a better understanding of the English game, and they will get more points than last year. I find them edgy on their road travels, and am already thinking about them losing points at Blackburn next week. Anyway, I'll analyze this match in due time.

On Monday, I don't have any sure racing tips. I think Top Care will be in the first 3 in the first race at Southwell, and Peligroso will win the 3 o'clock race at Leicester, but I don't fancy them that much to recommend them. Top Care is the highest-rated among this weak lot, and being by Bernstein should relish the synthetic surface. However, he's only raced at 6 furlongs and is now jumping at a mile, so that's a big ask and seems vulnerable to any improver that will relish the surface on first try. Peligroso should win this 4-runner race on form. However, the heavy surface at Leicester is not optimum for him, and there is a small chance he might not relish the conditions. So I'll abstain from recommending both as sure bets.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Saturday football.

Aargh, Funella Fudge came up 4th... There are no excuses for her run, she just did not stay the trip. It could have been the soft ground that un-did her. Anyway, as long as there was no hard luck story for her unplaced run, I'll accept  it as is, and move on. But losing a place bet because of a 4th place finish is a horrible thing.

This weekend's coming up with some great football match-ups to get over that losing bet. I cannot see Chelsea lose to Wolves. I would usually have them as Win, but since they just played away during the week, you never know about the recuperation aspect of the team. So, I'll have them draw-no-bet. In Spain, Barcelona and Real Madrid will win. So I'll have those as Win bets. Mourinho is undefeated in home league games for the past 8 years, so you've just got to pile on Madrid whenever they host weak competition. Barcelona are playing the worst team in the league, so that's an opportunity for them to pile the points, and for you to reap returns as well.

Win: Barcelona, Real Madrid.
Draw-no-bet: Chelsea.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Friday racing preview.

Man City just finished winning their game, as predicted.

On Friday, I like Fenella Fudge in the first race at Ayr. She is a Group horse with the highest rating, and it would take massive improvement on the other horses to beat her. One of the debutants is Patriotic, which will probably relish the soft ground being by Pivotal. Still, I can't see him or any of the newcomers posting a higher rating of 90 on their debut, so Fenella Fudge will definitely be in the top 3. Although for others, there might be more value with going for the outright win at odds-on, I will play it safe and use the sure Place option.

Place: Fenella Fudge.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More football on Thursday

Barcelona and Man Utd won as expected, so now the first 11 recommended bets out of 12 have won. That's the kind of strike rate that I am looking for. Let's keep rolling... Man City will have too much firepower for Lech Poznan. A draw-no-bet on City is a safe bet.

Draw-no-bet: Man City.

Without Rooney, Man Utd will win tonight.

So much press on the Rooney saga since yesterday's bombshell. What I know is that Man Utd will unleash itself against Bursaspor tonight. True, they hardly had the best preparation with all the talk about Rooney leaving, but I cannot see them losing to the Turk champions. With the recent spat of meltdowns in the league, I can see them starting to cut out the defensive mistakes. Or-else Sir Alex will have heads rolling. It's Man Utd Draw-no-bet tonight. Small returns may be, but sure pay-out.

Draw-no-bet: Man Utd.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

On a roll... and Wednesday preview.

All recommended 3 bets won yesterday, so we are on a roll...

Football. Barcelona to beat FC Copenhagen. The Spanish champions are starting to get their football back together, and it won't be surprising if they start accumulating the wins. I can't see Copenhagen coming up with a surprise win here. Can they draw? With huge luck yes. But I think the risk of going for a Barcelona outright win for this match are worth it.

Racing. I like Gay Mirage for the Kempton 8:50pm race. It comes back after 5 months of rest and I think it will be in the top 3. It's always like rolling a dice when betting on horses that come up after a long layoff. That's why I don't think it's a sure place bet. For that reason, I won't outright recommend this bet, but for those of you who fancy some risk, this might be a place bet that might pay out.

To recap:
Win: Barcelona 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tuesday 19th October punts

Football. I can't see how AC Milan can go and win in Madrid on Tuesday. If they are lucky, they can escape with a draw. Ronaldo is on fire, and Madrid is in really good form. Mourinho practically never loses in a home game. It's true that the last time Milan went to the Bernabeu, they won, but that was an entirely different scenario. Madrid at Draw-No-Bet is a certainty.

Racing. The first race in Yarmouth should go to Aneedah. Here again, a punt each-way on the Gosden horse will pay for sure. He will probably win as well, although I can't make much on any of the 4 newcomers. When I encounter such cases where it's hard to figure out the first-time runners, I opt for the more prudent approach, and look for the sure each-way payout.

Moonsail, in the second race at Yarmouth is another sure each-way bet. He will be in the top 3. If it were not for the presence of Makheelah and Mohenian Lady, I think he will have been a good win bet. Let's take him at sure each-way money.

Draw-No-Bet: Real Madrid.
Each-way: Aneedah, Moonsail. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

First results...

It would have been a perfect start, had Van Der Sar not made that howler against WBA... Anyway, it wasn't a bad start with all the rest of the predictions right on target. The Dewhurst confirmed that Frankel is the best 2-year old this year, but I agree with many that Dream Ahead did not produce his A-game. As I was mentioning, confronting Frankel after only 2-weeks rest at 8 furlongs did not seem the best option for the son of Diktat. After the race, his trainer Simcock vindicated these thoughts saying the race came too soon for him. Dream Ahead could be a very serious horse on sprint distances next year. As for Frankel, of course he is the main contender, but not a certain lock for next year's 2000 Guineas (think St Nick Abbey). Hopefully he can be the next superstar horse. Probably his main rivals will be across the pond in Ireland (think Pathfork, Casamento, or some of the Coolmore 2-year olds that improve dramatically at 3). Anyway, it's still early at this stage to speculate reagarding the Guineas picture next year, and certainly it's not worth having an ante-post bet on Frankel for the Guineas at this stage since the odds are so short. So much can change until then, so I'll leave it at that.

I can't find any interesting or sure bets for Lingfield or Yarmouth tomorrow, so I won't speculate. But there are some great Champions League match-ups coming up this week, and I'm going to post my views very soon. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Saturday bets

Big races coming up on Saturday. Let's start:

Football. It's never easy for clubs to get their rhythm back or continue good form after an international break. Players have travelled a lot and come back late for a couple of training sessions before game-day. So some caution is warranted. But Man Utd seems a sure-fire bet. True that Albion went on to beat Arsenal at the Emirates, but they faced a really inept Arsenal side. I will go Man Utd for the Win. I will also play Bolton as Draw No Bet. Bolton wins, and you win. If Draw, you get your money back. I love this bet on Betfair. In the other leagues, go with these sure-fire Draw No Bets: Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich.
Big day in racing too. Although I won't bet (because this is too close to call), the Dewhurst should be between Frankel and Dream Ahead. I think Frankel edges this because of the distance. Dream Ahead has never gone over 6 furlongs, and his pedigree suggests the extension to 8 furlongs against the likes of Frankel will be too much to ask. We'll see if Frankel is as good as people think. I just need to see him win again to become a believer.

For the Champion Stakes, I like Twice Over. His trainer is bullish (which does not always happened) and he's the class horse of the race with the best preparation. I will have a hopeful bet on him as Place (or each-way). Gitano Hernando is as good a horse, but coming back only 15 days after his last race (after a long absence) does not bode well for a Group 1 race.

At the last in Cork, Cocozza definitely will be in the top 2. I can see it win unless Coolmore's Quest for Peace is something out of the ordinary. Cocozza to Place for sure. If no hard-luck in this field of 21, should win as well.

To recap:
- Win: Man Utd.
- Draw No Bet: Bolton, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich.
- Each-way: Twice Over, Cocozza.

What type of punter are you?

People have different approaches when it comes to betting. If you read pro-punter Dave Nevison's book (A Bloody Good Winner), you realize he bets on over-priced (long shot) horses, with the aim of big returns. That means that his strike ratio does not have to be huge; a big long-shot win will pay for numerous small losses. On the other hand, popular pro-punter Harry Findley bets big at small odds (sometimes as low as 3% return). His strike rate needs to be close to 100% for him to make money. I think it's important for any punter to know what type of punter he/she is. It's either one of the extremes above, or somewhere in between. I found out I am more the "small-odds, many-wins" type of punter like Findley. In many cases, I see myself backing sure-win favourites, and at odd times, I will have a flutter on the outsiders. It works for me. I see it as the more you win, the more confidence it instills in you. It does not mean that the other extreme doesn't work. Far from that. However, with that approach, you've got to be confident that there is a big payout happening (sooner than later). So what type of punter are you? is a question any punter should ask.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Hi, Welcome to my blog!

Through it, I'd like to share my experiences in horse racing and football (soccer) betting. I am mainly into U.K and Eire racing. But I keenly follow Flat horse racing on a global scale from the Dubai festival to the big races in the U.S. As for football, I'm very much into the top European soccer leagues starting with the English Premier League, Spanish Liga, Calcio etc.

I intend to regularly ramble and give my take on these topics, whether it's a week-end or weekly football match, or on a race in Wolverhampton! Thank you for staying tuned.