Can Manchester United Win The Cup For Solskjaer?
There is a break in proceedings in the Premier League this weekend to accommodate the fourth round of the FA Cup. Thirteen teams from the top division are still involved in the competition and there are four last 32 ties that bring together two of those teams. There have only been two finalists from outside the elite clubs during the Premier League era and the cream usually rises to the top.
The tie of the round and the live match on Friday night is Arsenal’s home match against Manchester United. The visitors have now won all seven matches under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and he is making a convincing case to be the next permanent manager at Old Trafford. If MANCHSTER UNITED win the FA Cup that should confirm his appointment and that outcome is 8/1 with Ladbrokes.
It’s the second week of the Australian Open and there is now an odds-on favourite in Novak Djokovic. Roger Federer is out after one of the biggest shocks of the season, losing to the 14sth seed Stafanos Tsitsipas. Andy Murray lost his emotional first round match but Rafael Nadal is still in the tournament. The combined price for Djokovic and Nadal is 1/2 which means its about 6/4 the field. There have been matches overnight and pending a win the tip is MILOS RAONIC at 10/1 with Betfair at the time of writing.
The biggest betting race of the week before the weekend is the Thyestes Handicap Chase at Gowran Park on Thursday. It’s a wide open contest and bookmakers go 9/1 the favourite in ante post betting. Invitation Only started at 9/2 for a Grade 1 novices’ chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March so is one of the class acts in the field. There has been money for INVITATION ONLY who is 10/1 with Ladbrokes.
The same firm sponsor the Class 4 handicap over five furlongs at Wolverhampton today (4.50). Wedding Date has some decent All-Weather form but on a different type of surface. Uncle Jerry was a beaten favourite last time out and is probably carrying too much weight at this level. However, LORNA COLE is racing off a winnable mark and the horse has the form to win this race at 10/3 with Betfair.
Ronnie O’Sullivan is the favourite to beat Judd Trump in the final of the Masters which he has won for a record seven times. Trump won their last meeting 9-7 in the final of the 2018 Northern Ireland Open and lost by the odds frame in 11 in the previous encounter. O’Sullivan can justify favouritism but it could be a close match so the bet has to be TRUMP +2.5 at Evens with Coral.
Huddersfield are desperate for points because they are bottom of the Premier League and 10 points away from safety. They have already lost eight league matches at home and have the worst record on their own ground. In such circumstances the last team you want to host is Manchester City who must win their game in hand over Liverpool to stay in touch with the league leaders. There is no clever angle in this match so the bet is CITY -2 at 11/10 with Coral.
It was not too long ago that Tottenham were booked for third place at least but things have changed in the last few weeks. Chelsea are breathing down their neck, Arsenal are just four points adrift and Manchester United can’t stop winning. It looks like Harry Kane will be missing due to injury for two months. Today they visit Fulham who have won just three of 10 home league fixtures this season. TOTTENHAM can get their season by on track with a win which can be backed at 8/11 with bet365.
Seven horses have been declared to run in the Grade 2 novice chase over two miles, four furlongs and 118 yards at Thurles (2.40) which is the richest race of the day in Britain and Ireland. Meri Devie looks a progressive horse and can win races in this class. Ellie Mac is a decent chaser who was found out in a better race at Leopardstown over Christmas. On form and ratings CAMELIA DA COTTE who has won two races at this level is the selection and can be backed at 8/11 with bet365.
The Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown has an illustrious recent roll of honour which includes Getabird, Min, Douvan and Vautour so there was considerable interest in the latest renewal at the south Kildare track last Sunday.
Gordon Elliott came up trumps, surprisingly for only the first time, when 11/4 chance Felix Desjy proved a plum spare ride for Sean Flanagan as Davy Russell had been stood down after a heavy fall from Ange D’Or Javilex in the opener.
Willie Mullins has dominated this contest, but while his Buildmeupbuttercup was sent off the 9/4 favourite, she didn’t have quite the same high profile as many of his previous winners.
It was a big step up for the filly from an impressive Navan maiden hurdle win, and she never really figured, with her jumping a bit sketchy at times.
She was found top be “blowing hard” post race and a few runners from the Mullins yard have disappointed in recent weeks, though the Closutton outfit are still sending out plenty of winners.
The winner had disappointed a few times already this season, but Elliott felt being allowed to bowl along in front made all the difference, and that he jumped a lot better too under those circumstances.
He’ll most likely appear next at the Dublin Festival in Leopardstown in two weeks time, and the Supreme Novices will be his Cheltenham target. Making all the running in that would be a tall order, though Ruby Walsh brilliantly managed it with Champagne Fever a few years back.
Elliott was later on target with Vision D’Honneur, a 5/4 market leader who scooted home for Jack Kennedy, and the popular Meath trainer made no secret of the fact that he rates this five year old very highly indeed.
“We fancied him big time first time out at Leopardstown at Christmas and he didn’t do much wrong, but the three who finished in front of him all had previous racecourse experience.”
“He was a bit green again today but learned a lot and will improve from it. He would have no problem going up in trip. He should be one for the Dublin Festival.”
Stay at home punters must have been staggered at Winter Escape winning at 12/1 in the novice chase.
The Aidan Howard trained, J P McManus owned eight year old was completing a hat trick and looked way over priced when beating the younger and far less experienced 5/4 jolly A Plus Tard with the pair a mile clear of the rest.
Howard hadn’t expected to beat the favourite to whom they had to concede a stone, and both horses must be followed for the rest of the season.
Two gems from Declan in his Irish Racing Service this week, Numerian 11/1 (won 8/1) and Global Racing 9/1 (won 9/4 fav.) who was described as “gamble of the day, won with a bit to spare” by the Racing Post. Other winners French Made 3/1; Ifyoucatchmenow 9/4 (won 7/4); Getaway John 9/4 and Vision d’Honneur 5/4.
Why not sign up now in time for the Dublin Racing Festival in two weeks time?
Chelsea Can Be Top Dogs In London Derby
It’s not too many weeks ago that today’s televised fixture between the home team in Arsenal and Chelsea would be virtually a playoff match for the fourth Champions League place. While Chelsea are unbeaten in four fixtures Arsenal have lost two of their last three matches in the Premier League.
The Gunners are now only level on points with Manchester United who have come from well off the pace with five wins on the bounce. Today’s London derby has almost become a match Arsenal cannot afford to lose but that could be the outcome. United play Brighton at Old Trafford and they must be home bankers.
Arsenal have only lost one league fixture at the Emirates and losing to Chelsea at home would be a huge blow for the new regime. The early season optimism of the Unai Emery era has taken some blows and another defeat would get the fans twitching. CHELSEA are the bet to pick up three points at 7/5 with Betfair.
Wolves’ home fixture against Leicester is already looking like a relatively meaningless fixture. Both clubs are becalmed in mid-table safety, unlikely to be dragged into the relegation mire and too far off the pace to qualify for the Champions League or Europa League. Bookings are generally low in matches of this nature.
The Midlands outfits are in the second tier comfort zone so motivation will be key. On recent form Leicester have an edge and the sixth best away record in the Premier League. However, Wolves are the epitome of average at home and Leicester are on average team on league placings. In the best spirit of sitting on the fence the recommendation is betting on the DRAW at 21/10 with Paddy Power.
In racing Altior is the star of the show but only money buyers will be interested in backing the horse beat two rivals at Ascot. The Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock is far more competitive and 12 horses have been declared for the handicap chase over three miles and one and a half furlongs at 3.15. The field includes One For Arthur, the 2017 Grand National winner but WAKANDA is the tip at 13/2 with Coral.
Goals Is The Tale Of These Two Cities
On the balance of form and the weighting of home advantage there is very little to choose between the home team in Norwich City and their opponents Birmingham City in tonight’s televised match in the Championship. Seven of the side’s last six matches have ended in draws and with no firm favourite a stalemate is the most likely outcome of this fixture. The reverse meeting earlier this season ended as a 2-2 draw.
Consistency has not been either team’s strong suit which means one could produce a winning performance that does not fit in with their current run of form and results. A safer bet is on at least one goal being scored and conceded at both ends of the pitch. Both teams have scored in all but two of the last eight matches involving the Canaries and Blues. Tonight’s standout bet is BTTS at 3/4 with Ladbrokes.
Ronnie O’Sullivan is now odds on to win the Masters in snooker which is now down to the last six. Today’s last two quarter final ties are too close to call but Mark Selby and Neil Robertson are slight favourites to beat Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins respectively. However the four players on the other side of the draw are playing for second place. O’Sullivan is tipped to win his fourth Masters in six attempts.
The Rocket has championed a lighter schedule for the leading players but his actions speak louder than words. He has entered just five tournaments, winning three, losing the final in another and reaching the last four of the English Open. The seven times Masters champion has played 28 matches this season and won 26 (92.86%). We just can’t ignore that level of form and must back O’SULLIVAN at 10/11 with Betfair.
Kachy won today’s handicap over six furlongs at Lingfield last year. The horse then ran at a higher grade without being disgraced, including behind Blue Point in a Group 1 sprint at Royal Ascot. Today’s race can be a stepping stone to better races and one runner has the potential to deliver on a bigger stage. GORGEOUS NOORA is a course and distance winner and the tip on the same mark as when third at the track over six furlongs last week. The selection can be backed at 11/8 with Ladbrokes.
The Rocket Can Be The Master Again
Ronnie O’Sullivan has won more Triple Crown snooker tournaments than any other player in the history of the sport. Depending on your age and era you will have a view on who is the greatest player ever. Fred and Joe Davis, Steve (no relation) and Stephen Hendry would get plenty of votes. The maverick that was Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins could do things with a snooker cue that all those greats could only imagine. Jimmy White was another ‘character’ who made the game look easy.
However, O’SULLIVAN has claims to be the all time great and he is Evens with Ladbrokes to win the Masters for a record eighth time this week. He should ease past Ryan Day in his second round match which starts this afternoon.
In any sport there will be debates about its greatest exponents but comparing achievements from different eras is impossible. Pele is considered to be the best football player who ever lived but if you were born in the last 30 years Lionel Messi would be top of your list. In tennis Roger Federer must come close to being the best ever player and at 37 he is still going strong.
It must be galling for Andy Murray to see his contemporary still contending in Grand Slam tournaments while his career is all but over at the age of 31. In fact Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal still have majors in them and Murray’s three great rivals are prominent in the outright betting for the Australian Open. FEDERER is 9/2 with bet365 to win it this year.
Enable and Winx are the best race horses of the current generation and Frankel achieved one of the best ratings. However, some of the older generation believe Arkle will always be the greatest horse in the history of racing, over jumps or on the Flat. It’s fair to say nobody would suggest any of the horses running in Britain today would appear in a list of the top 100 horses who ever raced round the world. The handicap chase over three miles at Wincanton (2.25) is the richest race of the day. GARRANE has the form and potential improvement to be the selection at 9/2 with bet365.
Derby Have The Squad To Progress To The FA Cup Fourth Round
The main priority for Derby is staying in the Championship playoff places while Southampton’s main focus is maintaining their Premier League status. The importance of the FA Cup to their respective managers could influence thinking and team selection for tonight’s third round replay at Southampton. That could be key to identifying the betting value in tonight’s televised match.
Frank Lampard won the FA Cup as a player with Chelsea under Jose Mourinho who understood the importance of lifting trophies. Ralph Hasenhuttl has no pedigree in the oldest Cup competition in the world. If DERBY progress to the fourth round they will be shorter than the current price of 100/1 with Ladbrokes to win the FA Cup this season. The winners of the tie are away to Accrington in the next round.
Southampton are the home side for tonight’s tie. They have won just one of their last 11 matches at home which is relegation form but the FA Cup could be a different kettle of fish. However, the current best starting 11 is weakened by injuries and even though Derby are a level below the visitors have more depth in their squad. Lampard out of respect for the competition won’t play the second string.
The Southampton boss is more likely to prioritise league issues than Lampard whose players have had an extra day’s rest and are fitter throughout the squad. Southampton’s absentees include three players who usually play up front. DERBY are more equipped managerially and in squad strength to handle the fixture and prosper so are tipped to qualify for the fourth round at 5/2 with Paddy Power.
The snooker Masters is the sport’s biggest non-ranking tournament. The field is mainly set by world rankings but there are no points at stake. The Masters is the third in the Holy Trinity of majors which also includes the World and UK Championships. The record for winning most of those titles in total is held by RONNIE O’SULLIVAN, 5/4 with Ladbrokes to win the Masters for the eighth time.
Kempton stages it’s usual Wednesday evening All-Weather fixture and the racing can only be described as uninspiring. No race is worth at least £10,000 and the most lucrative is the handicap over seven furlongs at 7.00. Roman Spinner has decent course form this winter but on form will struggle to win this race. EXCHEQUER can handle a weight rise for a course win and can prevail at 11/4 with Paddy Power.
Tommy Fleetwood is attempting the rare feat of winning the same tournament in three successive years but he may be rustier this week than in the past. The defending champion has taken his game to a new level and his status in the world rankings mean he can plan a less frantic schedule. Clearly Fleetwood has a game suited to the Abu Dhabi host course and he is not a two-time winner by accident. However, although he has been quick out of the blocks in the last two years Fleetwood could be vulnerable this time to a hot putter who can take advantage of the scoring conditions.
The desert course is exposed and it has few defences in still conditions. Big hitters have dominated in recent years and there is no great penalty for inaccuracy off the tee. However, nine of the 12 winners on the course for this event finished in the top 10 for greens in regulation over 72 holes. First time winners are rare in this tournament because the lucrative prize fund attracts the better players. The star attractions from the US Tour this week are Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka. The former is no price and his one time mate has poor course form so other players are preferred.
Abu Dhabi measures 7,583 yards and puts a premium on distance over accuracy. Low scoring a few years ago led to more bunkers, tighter fairways and more penal rough but over time scores returned to the low levels of the past. Water is in play on several holes and the greens are above average in size. Despite the modifications the course is vulnerable and only severe wind will make this tough. The main skill for good scoring is power but any potential winner must have a great week on the greens. The 72 holes record is 24 under and the lowest score over one round is 62.
Thomas Pieters ticks many of the right boxes and has finished in the top five three times in the last four years. He is coming off a season in which he won the World Cup with Belgium so may have not put in the hard yards over Christmas. Haotong Li won on a desert course last season and has a game suited to the course. Driving distance and touch on and around the greens are the skills that can help Li get in the mix this week and record a third European Tour win.
The US PGA Tour event also returns to a regular host location but the Desert Classic is being played on three courses at La Quinta in California. This is a pro-am event with a slightly complicated format that involves individuals and teams. Each host course has a par of 72 and two of the tracks averaged below 70 last year. There have been no modifications over the last year so we have a similar scenario to in Abu Dhabi whereby a hot putter will be required to contend. Driving distance is more important than driving accuracy on these relatively easy desert courses.
Justin Rose is playing in the tournament for the first time in nine years. That means he has no recent course form and his game is not a good fit for the conditions. Jon Rahm is the defending champion and is perfect for the course but he has obligations as the winner from last year. Phil Mickelson is a two-time winner on the track but may take some time to find his best game. Charles Howell has great course form but rarely wins so Ryan Palmer is the selection who can be backed at a working man’s price. The tip combines course form with recent form and his game is made for the course.
We are still ahead of the game this month. The last week has been a little more challenging as we haven’t managed to add to our impressive gains. We haven’t lost our shirt either though and we are only a winner a way from making new all time highs.
That winner may come today as we back… Kempton 5-15 Handicap (Class 6) 6f TICKS THE BOXES 12/1 with Betfair.
The horse has had a ton of runs and has been largely regressive on the face of it but the horse has had some problems and has also had an inflated mark for most of his career. He’s not been seen at Kempton for a few years and last time he came the form didn’t look great on the face of it but that was in a class 2 event from the bottom of the weights off a mark of 81 and he wasn’t far away despite finishing nearer last then first.
Today he goes off at 45 and I’m hoping he puts his best foot forward. He’s had a few runs on fibre sand lately and the best of them was a staying on second under this jockey and hopefully he can get a good tune out of him.
It looks a good bet at double figures! I’m going to leave it there today as I am heading out to see a horse I’m looking at for a friend of mine i’ll give you more details next week on this horse – it’s a son of Geordieland and I think he could be a really nice type, he certainly looks like his dad in the photos so it will be interesting to see how he moves.
I have looked carefully at progress being made and this week I have unearthed three more trainers it could prove to consider next week or so. Look carefully at their entries and then see which horses they actually run from their declarations. For example one trainer has a horse entered for three races and normally one will be selected as their best option.
Our first trainer to take note of this week is Nicky Henderson who seems to have capitalised on the better ground during this first part of the season. As you would expect from current champion trainer Henderson has plenty of entries in the coming week so note them down and see what each horse has and where Nicky chooses to run them then make your mind up as to bet or not. Whatswrongwithyou has a couple of entries and looks like winning sooner than later. Henderson trains not far from Newbury and has around ten entries for this weeks meeting at that course… he rarely comes away without at least one winner! Dieu Benisse and Elusive Belle attracted my eye based on their performances to date. Nicky has several entries at Ludlow later in the week and again Ganache and Gallachers Cross attracted my early vision should they actually run. So Nicky is a man to keep on your side after all he is a master of this sport.
Richard Fahey has made a particularly good start to the year but has not had multiple runners like he does normally on turf. The all weather seems to attract selective entries from Richards yard. He is in great form so far this year. There are quite a number of all weather meetings this coming week and following Richard Fahey could be a profitable venture. I have a few of his string that I have chosen as likely candidates for the Winners Enclosure including Benjie, Ivory Charm and Grise Lightening. All three are entered this week and are showing signs of being able to win sooner than later. So keep Richard Fahey on your side this coming week.
Our third trainer to consider is Jeremy Scott who had a slow start to the season but is now in the form of his life having had 23 winners from a relatively small string of horses. Strike rate overall is seventeen per cent so after the slow start is taken into account that is pretty decent. Jeremy has quite a few entries and I like the look of four of them but I do not know if they will actually run… There lies the problem. Should Jeremy choose the races I like then I think all four could have a chance. They are Chance It, Garrane, Our Dots Baby and Native Robin. But you need to see the entries, then the declarations and access in your own mind whether you like the chance of the horse or not… if not then leave it.
If you haven’t got time to do this thoroughly then why not join High Roller Racing, it’s FREE to join plus you only pay £10 for winners. This week High Roller has given…
CLOUDY GLEN WON 10/11
LOUD AND CLEAR WON. 5/2
DIAMOND GAIT WON 13/8
THEOBALD WON 5/4
There are more to follow this week so come on give High Roller a go!