Thursday, 28 February 2013

New Zealand Derby preview

It's not only Australia and the UK which capture my attention with feature races - this weekend it's the blue riband 3yo classic of New Zealand. Taking the reins is another new recruit for the blog, NZ racing expert Corey Hyde, @chyde33.

TV3 NEW ZEALAND DERBY 2400M $750,000

A quality field of 14 colts & geldings and 4 fillies will engage over the 12 furlong journey at Ellerslie. Connections of the fillies will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Silent Achiever, who won the race in grand fashion 12 months ago, becoming the 1st filly to taste success since the victory of Popsy in 1993. In the midst of a drought in the upper North Island and no rain in sight, the track will certainly be in the good-to-firm range. Odds from NZ TAB Fixed Odds service.
Runner-by-runner preview:

#1 CHOICE BRO – BARRIER 14 – JOHN SARGENT – JONATHAN RIDDELL – $14
Has earned the #1 saddlecloth through his $316,630 in earnings, with major race wins coming in the G1 2YO Sires Produce Stakes and Karaka 3YO mile. Didn’t receive all favours when running 4th in the Avondale Guineas but finished on fairly. I predict him to settle mid-division or worse in the run in order to obtain cover. Definite chance.

#2 CASTLZEBERG – BARRIER 11 – J & B VANCE – OPIE BOSSON – $5
Recent acquisition of the OTI racing syndicate. Has improved with every run and has appreciated the added distance. Strong on-pace runner who is perfectly suited to the Ellerslie course, will roll forward and attempt to make all under top Kiwi rider Opie Bosson. Appears to be a typically tough NZ stayer who will relish the 2400m. He is a huge hope.

#3 ZINKO – BARRIER 9 – MURDOCH/OLSON – ALYSHA COLLET – $26
Has received the perfect run from good draws in previous 2 outings, including 5th last start in the Avondale Guineas. Unlikely to get such favours this time. Should find a spot in mid field from the barrier. Wet track pedigree and only win came on heavy going. Doesn’t appeal as a chance in this race.

#4 DEANE MARTIN – BARRIER 8 – BRUCE WALLACE – SAM SPRATT – $14
Has fashioned a good record at Ellerslie on firm tracks. Has run well without threatening in previous 2 runs, including 5.5 length 5th behind Habibi. Should receive a good run forward of mid field from the barrier. Not without a hope, although place chances appear best.

#5 WEISSMULLER – BARRIER 16 – JOHN KIERNAN – MICHAEL WALKER – $16
Burst to the top of Derby markets after slashing victory over a mile at Trentham on 19th January, although his 2 subsequent runs have been disappointing. The progeny of Handsome Randsom prefer some give in the track and Weissmuller appears to be no different, running out of a place in all 3 runs on good tracks. Only in his 1st preparation so may be tailing off. The barrier is of no concern as he is ridden cold, but I’m willing to risk him here. One to keep an eye on in the NZ spring next season.

#6 ADDICTIVE HABIT – BARRIER 4 – LEE SOMERVELL – ANDREW CALDER – $51
Was runner up to Habibi in consecutive races over the Christmas/New Year carnival. Has been plagued by rough gates, having drawn 12, 10, 9, 12, 14, & 12 in his previous 6 runs. Gets a gun draw here, and it will be interesting to see where he settles as he can either take a sit outside Habibi or cross in front of the filly. Could be the value runner for trifectas and First 4s.

#7 KING KAMADA – BARRIER 3 – LISA LATTA – NOEL HARRIS – $26
Comes in off recent racing in the Central Districts. Ran well when 2nd behind Deane Martin at Ellerslie on 16th December, and well held when 7th behind Habibi on the same course 1st January. He could benefit from a patient Noel Harris ride and I expect him to settle mid field on the fence. If ridden for luck and the gaps come his way he isn’t without a rough First 4 hope.

#8 SOLAR ECLIPSE – BARRIER 17 – GRAEME ROGERSON – RORY HUTCHINGS – $61
Battled on for 3rd behind Habibi on 1st January after a charmed run. Likely to go forward and will need to work early to obtain a position from the wide gate. Hard to see him figuring and the odds are an accurate reflection of his chances here.

#9 CORPORAL LINCOLN – BARRIER 5 – LISA LATTA – KELLY MYERS – $61
Quantum leap in grade here, although has won at Ellerslie. Beaten four lengths when 9th behind Choice Bro in Karaka 3YO Mile appears to be best guide. Should settle closer in the run than previously with the advantage of a good barrier, but he does look up against it.

#10 ALERT – BARRIER 7 – JASON BRIDGEMAN – MATTHEW CAMERON – $14
A horse with a real sense of timing about him. By perennial Derby-winning sire Zabeel, he looks the most suited in the field to the step up to 2400m. Beaten 6.5 lengths by Habibi on 1st January when too far back and race not run to suit. I expect him to settle just worse than midfield in a one-off position. With the race run to suit he ticks a lot of boxes and is my top selection.

#11 DUBAI SHUFFLE – BARRIER 10 – McRAE/CLARKEN – JAMIE MOTT – $26
Very lightly raced and another with a progressive profile, was an impressive winner over 2200m at Ellerslie last start. Had no luck in first 3 races, including eye catching run when beaten less than 3 lengths by Choice Bro in the Karaka 3YO Mile in only his 3rd race day appearance. Should settle back mid field or worse and will be running on late. The dark horse of the race for mine.

#12 SAINT KITT – BARRIER 6 – KELLY BURNE – ROGAN NORVALL – $81
Best form reference is a 2nd behind Deane Martin at Ellerslie on 6th November over a mile from barrier 1. Will settle handy and be there or there abouts in the run but hard to see him figuring in the finish.

#13 CELTIC CHIEF – BARRIER 12 – SHAUNE RITCHIE – JASON JAGO – $31
By Golan out of a Zabeel mare, he has a very stout staying pedigree and will have no problem with the added distance. Last two runs have netted a 5th and 6th behind Castlzeberg and Valbuena without threatening. Will likely go back from the draw. His best chance would appear to be making the race an out and out staying test with an early move. Not out of it and should finish in the first half of the field.

#14 THE GRINNER – BARRIER 2 – STEPHEN McKEE – JOCKEY N/A – $31
Lightly raced gelding with a very successful New Zealand pedigree. Hard to get a good line on this horse, but I’m willing to leave him out and keep an eye out for him next season.

#15 FIX – BARRIER 18 – K & B KELSO – MARK DU PLESSIS – $9
High class filly who has already sewn up the NZ 3YO filly of the year award. Well suited to Ellerslie with her on pace pattern, as demonstrated by her 3 for 3 record on the course. Has won several races off the back of soft leads this season. Can’t see her getting such terms here from the outside gate with several on pace runners engaged. Under the odds for mine and I will be risking her.

#16 HABIBI – BARRIER 1 – D & D LOGAN – VINNY COLGAN – $2.80
Long time Derby favourite who tasted defeat for the 1st time last start when 3rd in the Avondale Guineas. That was her 1st run for 6 weeks and I expect her to take great improvement from the run. Was dominant in beating the males previously on the course. She has the class to be ridden positively and if she obtains a position on the leaders back she is the horse to beat.

#17 SORIANO – BARRIER 15 – GRAEME ROGERSON – LISA ALLPRESS – $18
Very little between her and Fix, and of the two she appears to me to be the one most suited by the increase in distance. Similarly to her arch nemesis she has been badly treated by the barrier draw. Ridden cold appears to be the best option. Not out of it but others make more appeal.

#18 KIDWELLY – BARRIER 13 – MORONEY/ORMSBY – MICHAEL COLEMAN – $31
Career best when narrowly beaten by Fix at Ellerslie on 1st January. A repeat effort would have her finishing in the 1st half of the field. Barrier looks problematic and willing to rule her out on that basis.

CONCLUSION:
The race looks to be run at a Good-to-Fast tempo, with Castlzeberg, Fix, and Solar Eclipse having to overcome outside barriers in order to secure positions on the pace, with Addictive Habit, Saint Kitt and Habibi holding their positions from the inside. I am looking forward to the strategic positioning of Habibi and Addictive Habit. Addictive Habit looks to have the option of positioning outside Habibi and holding the filly in a pocket if Andrew Calder so chooses.

The real question is whether to give more weight to this expected race tempo or to the usual on-pace track bias at Ellerslie. I am going with the former and predicting horses from midfield and further back to get their chance in the straight. The First 4 I have settled on is:

#10 ALERT
#16 HABIBI
#2 CASTLZEBERG
#11 DUBAI SHUFFLE

Inter Dominion day preview

It's the biggest day in Australian harness racing on Sunday with the first running of the new revised Inter Dominion Championship, supported by a fantastic programme full of Group 1 races. Running a close eye over the feature events is one of Australia's leading harness experts, chief harness racing trader at Betstar, Ben Krahe - @benkrahe.

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Preview for Menangle 3 Mar 2013 by Ben Krahe

Race 3 – NSW Oaks – Group 1 race for 3yo Fillies. Very even race this year with no clear standout

1- I’m Smouldering – My tip in the race. Might be 3rd on the rails but this filly is flying at the moment and in a very open Oaks she is top pick for me
2- Glenferrie Shuffle – 2nd em - if she got a run would be a genuine contender who might roll to the lead and be very hard to beat
3- My Sunday Girl – 1st em - Kiwi with little chance
4- Bold Life – Ran career best race in heat but no chance here
5- All Starzzz Shark – Best chance is if they burn early and he runs home but only a very slight place chance.
6- Musical Delight – Prepost favourite for the event. May have been a little underdone last week. 2nd pick
7- Rozelski – The Kiwi ex factor horse. Won as it like last week and is the favourite for the event but don’t think it will get things its own way this week. Happy to risk today
8- Its Nosurprisesthere – Beat Musical Delight after having soft run last week. Place chance
9- Priceless Gem – Roughie who choked down on Tuesday so must be in some doubt. No
10- Charli Springfield – Drawn the carpark and will need a taxi
11- Frith – Dominant winner of heat after leading but today a different story. Place only
12- Ohyouluckything – Ironically named because cannot draw a gate. With any speed this is the run on horse and the knockout hope. Good ew chance

Selections: 1-6-7-12 Suggested Bet – I'm Smouldering Each Way

Race 4 – Ladyship Mile – Group 1 race for Mares over a mile. An extremely even bunch of mares which has been made even more so by the barrier draw.

1- Our Sixpence – Favourite for the event after barrier draw. Should lead although will be pressured early by the 2. It can run time but will need to in order to win this race. I however will be happy to lay this horse today at anything under 2/1
2- Cheer The Lady – Kiwi Group 1 winner who will be pressuring the 1 for the early lead. Doubt she can win but definite ew chance
3- Tamanisha – 1st em who if gets a run is 100/1
4- Blucolla TIgerpie – Strong sit sprint mare who will be coming home hard at the end. E/W
5- Elusive Chick – Kiwi mare in form who can run a place
6- Little Red Cloud – 2nd em – ran a nice trial on Tuesday but outclassed here... No
7- Torque In Motion – Qlder who won this event last year but is she going as good? No in my opinion.
8- Forever Gold – Beat Our Sixpence last week with soft run behind leader. Won’t get that today and only a place chance
9- Broadways Best – One of our best mares in the last five years who will appreciate Menangle 3rd up from a spell today is worth a bet at double figure odds which looks overs
10- Baby Bling – Disadvantaged by the draw here and I can’t see her winning.
11- Pembrook Caesar – Australasia’s most improved mare facing the acid test here. Draw has hurt big time as she does her best work from in front which she won’t be today. No
12- Bettor Cover Lover – Kiwi champion mare who wouldn’t be out of place in the inters final today. She may be a better stayer and has drawn the worst possible barrier. Big chance

Selections – 9-12-1-4 Suggested Bet – Broadways Best Each Way

Race 5 – NSW Derby – Group 1 race for 3YO C&G – Great race as per usual this year with 3 main hopes that are all extremely good horses and this could be a vintage year

1- Dealer – 2nd em who cannot win with a headstart
2- Guaranteed – Probably leader who has won 11/15. Is favourite for the event and rightly so. Massive winning chance
3- Blissful Guy – 1st em who is better off in easier races
4- Bit Of A Legend – Boom kiwi horse which wouldn’t surprise me if took the early lead and handed up to Guaranteed. Ran a great heat race and always improves for finals. Top Pick
5- Ultimate Art – Hunter Valley trained horse who has excelled to make the final but that’s it for him
6- Ee And Em Stride – McCarthy hope but in my opinion will run 5th or 6th at best
7- Caesar Augustus – Qlder 2nd hope who won his heat in great style and is in form Can run a race but doubt can win
8- Lochinver – Making up the numbers
9- Macha – Has won 4/6 but needs to lead to do best work for mine which he will struggle to do. Place
10- Majestic Mach – Unbeaten Qld horse who has won 12/12... Today is D Day. Some say he is the best in the land – this is his chance to prove it. I personally question the opposition he has been beating so will be happy to lay him
11- Bebrave – Not from this draw
12- Lennytheshark – Place chance at best. Goes ok

Selections – 4-2-7-10 Suggested Bet – Bit Of A Legend Each Way

Race 6 – Chariots Of Fire – Group 1 race for 4YO over a mile – This could be the best race of the day with the top 3 horses all future Grand Circuit Stars

1- Louvre – Will be 3 or 4 back on the pegs and a rough place chance at best
2- Keayang Steamer – Flying and at around the 12/1 mark is a decent ew chance
3- Mach Beauty – Won the Golden Guitar at Tamworth last month and is now in a G1... Stick to Tamworth
4- Christen Me – One of two Kiwi stars in the race who beat Imthemightyquinn In a trial hard held on Tuesday. Won a lead up race very easy and this horse is flying at the moment. Favourite for the race from the draw and has been well backed all week from $3 to $2.60.
5- Restrepo – Vic Star who beat Smolda last week. Interesting to see where it will be in the run but the camp say this is the best horse they have ever had. Has been solid with backing this week also $4.40 - $4.20 and is clear 3rd pick
6- Only The Brace – 1st em who if gains a run is making up the numbers
7- Scandalman – Local hope who is flying but not as good at Menangle as he is on the small tracks. Won’t run a place
8- Im Victorious – WA Star who is airborne atm and won a lead up race as it liked at Menangle in flying time. Draw doesn’t help but has been heavily supported $21-$11 but I struggle to see it beating the top 3 here.
9- Exciteusinthecity – strong horse at the end of a mile who could fluke a place
10- Medal Of Honour – 2nd em Couldn’t win running downhill
11- Jason Rulz – Kiwi who beat Christen Me last time they met and has a picket fence next to its name. Is double figure odds and may even get better odds come raceday so for those who are keen it’s definitely worth an ew bet
12- Smolda – Kiwi champion who would be in the top 3 favourites if running in the Inters. Horrible barrier draw over a mile but I expect him to announce himself today as the best horse in Australasia and is a future Inters winner for mine

Selections – 12-4-5-11 Suggested Bet – SMOLDA to win

Race 7 Interdominion Grand Final – Group 1. Is the pinnacle of the sport and is open to any horses who qualify throughout Australasia’s Premier Harness Tracks. What a race!

1- Mah Sish – Kiwi who is flying at the moment. Won the Hunter Cup and Ballarat Cup and 2nd in the Victoria Cup. Cannot do much more than that. Is thriving in Australia. A bit concerned about where he will be in the run but he will run the distance and is a huge hope. Australasia’s most improved horse
2- Caribbean Blaster – Vic hope who is Mr Consistency. Won the Victoria Cup and last year’s Chariots OF Fire. Tough as Nails and could find the front and prove hard to run down
3- Jaccka Clive – This guy was a claimer last year but has found form when it counts. Roughie who hasn’t excelled at Menangle before and at best can run top 6
4- Chariot King – Legendary racecaller Johnny Tapp trains this local hope that has improved leaps and bounds. Top 6 best
5- Excel Stride – Former boom NSW horse who was 3rd favourite at about $6 in opening markets. Hasn’t done much wrong but just not as dominant as we thought he would be. Is NSW leading hope but has he got the x factor required to win?
6- Im The Mightyquinn – Speaking of X factor this is the horse. WA’s best horse. Australia’s fastest horse. Most say he is a champion but I say he needs to win this to prove himself outside of WA. The most talked about horse in harness that is yet to prove himself in the east. D-DAY. I’m laying him as I’ve been his biggest critic and I can’t stop now
7- Terror To Love – What a barrier draw with the 2 nominal favourites drawing next to each other. Fairytale stuff! NZ best horse and in my opinion is the winner. He has blistering speed and is a great stayer. Time for him to prove he is the best and will!
8- Mysta Magical Mach – WA hope who won farcical race on Tuesday in prep for this. No hope for mine from the gate
9- Lincoln Royal – Explosive out of the gates but under an injury cloud and went ordinary in heat. No
10- Keayang Cullen – Airborne atm but needed a draw and a soft run. Not the visitors draw which it got. Can’t win and top 8 looks best
11- Pub Blitz – Will be on the pegs 3 or 4 back and steaming home. Can’t win but could fluke a place
12- Mach Alert – Speedy horse but not quite up to it and needed to lead. No
13- Bitobliss – Last year’s boom horse was 2nd or 3rd favourite with opening markets. Seems to have gone off the boil but if a 20/1 horse is going to win this is it. Not out of it
14- Washakie – Grand old campaigner who has won more races than I’ve had baked dinners. Can run a place with a good run but that’s it
15- Devil Dodger – 1st em who will gain a run if Lincoln Royal pulls out. If he does gain a start however will change the course of the race as he flies the gate and could lead early... Won’t be leading when at the winning post though. No

Selections – 7-1-2-6 Suggested Bet – TERROR TO LOVE to win

Race 9 – Glenferrie Farm Challenge – Group 1 for Trotters who are invited. Unfortunately this event has been robbed of the best trotter I Can Doosit however sees the arrival of Top Kiwi Stig to our shores. Should be a great race and the track record could be in jeopardy!

1- The Fiery Ginga – Kiwi who explodes out of the gate and its duel early with the 2 could determine the race. Is about a 10/1 chance and that looks about right
2- I Didn’t Do It – Australia’s best hope that does his best work in front. IF he can cross the 1 he will give a merry sight in the lead and can run fast time
3- Vulcan – Kiwi who has lost his shine and hasn’t won for over a year and won’t be changing that streak here
4- Keystone Del – Ex Kiwi who has thrived at Menangle and is currently airborne. Last win was just outside record time although his trial on Tuesday didn’t give me huge confidence
5- Sovereignty – Another Kiwi who was in the top 3 in the land a few years back. Might be past his prime but can run a cheeky race and has been money for it
6- Cyclone Jake – Outclassed
7- Stig – the X factor Kiwi Champion who is favourite. My concern is the travel but if at best will blow these away. 8- Mister Zion – Not a noted miler and will struggle here
9- My Escapee – The new kid on the block. Has explosive speed and my tip to win. If he trots all the way look out!
10- My High Expectations – This guy is killing them at the moment in 2nd tier events in Vic. Stick to those events
11- Neville Vaughan – Not a miler and not a star. No

Selections – 9-2-7-5 Suggested Bet – MY ESCAPEE to win

FIFA making noise against match-fixing

Red cards being dished out left, right and centre by FIFA in the last couple of weeks, at anyone implicated in match-fixing in several parts of the world. Is this a serious crackdown by the game's ruling body or making a lot of noise about the easy pickings - the low-paid players/low-level clubs where it's nice to hear something is being done but nobody outside the local supporters are particularly bothered about it?

A collection of articles from recent days - it's everywhere at the moment:

Singapore widens soccer-fix probe.

Singaporean authorities still won't arrest Dan Tan, but did help get one of his accomplices arrested in Milan last week.

FIFA bans 74 for match-fixing in Italy, S.Korea

No names mentioned, can only assume they weren't deemed to be newsworthy by anyone outside those leagues.

National Super Cup suspected of match fixing

"...an anonymous message was sent to some Vietnamese Professional Football officials just before the game saying that Saigon Xuan Thanh Cement FC will be defeated, and even with more than three goals. The results were exactly as this message: Saigon Xuan Thanh Cement lost in a game that the team played very poorly."

Contrite Hungarian admits to match-fixing ahead of trial

"After the police arrested me, I spent an awful night in a jail where I thought over the whole story. I can only be angry with myself, only then I realised what I had done," he said.

"I have no fear but I am not calm either. Not a day passes without thinking of the others who are still in jail. I have regrets, I lost almost all of my friends, but I told the truth to the investigators."


FIFA extends China match-fixing bans worldwide

Match-fixing bans on 58 Chinese soccer officials and players will be extended worldwide, the sport's governing body FIFA said.

The 58 were banned by the Chinese Football Association (CFA) on Feb. 18 following a three-year push to clean up rampant corruption in the sport in China.

''The sanctions by the Chinese Football Association's disciplinary committee involve players and officials, with 25 receiving a five-year ban from all football activities while the remaining 33 individuals were banned from all football activities for life,'' a FIFA statement said.


AFC probes Lebanon matchfixing report

The Asian Football Confederation are investigating a report of matchfixing in Lebanon, the regional body told Reuters on Wednesday, after the World Cup hopefuls handed out punishments to 22 players for rigging games.

As he waits for jail, Croatian soccer player deeply regrets involvement in match-fixing

The Croatian midfielder was the perfect target for fixers: He was nearing the end of his career, his financially unstable club hadn't paid him a regular salary for 14 months, and he owed money on back taxes and his pension.

Cizmek's story is typical of how the world's most popular sport is increasingly becoming a dirty game — sullied by criminal gangs like the one that bribed Cizmek, and by corrupt officials or others cashing in on the billion-dollar web of match-fixing.


Just a short story about match-fixing

If you've read the other articles, then this one won't shock you - a report of a bankrupt club being taken over by match-fixers and offering players big money to play their 'style' of football.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

another industry update

The month of February has been quite a busy one for the betting industry....

Sportingbet shareholders have overwhelmingly voted in favour of accepting the William Hill/GVC offer to takeover the online gambling giant. What does this mean for the Sportingbet brand - will it disappear or just become a 'William Hill' company in the website credits? Hard to say. Certainly in Australia, I think they'd be mad to change the company names or how the businesses (Sportingbet + Centrebet) too much. They are long established brands with profitable customer bases (for the firm). Sportingbet UK left them to their own and they ended making the lion's share of the group's profits. As for the UK and the rest of the world, I'm not sure. Sportingbet isn't that big in the UK whereas Hills are huge. Step outside the UK though, and that polarity is reversed in certain regions.

BetFred have announced they are at the submission stage of applying for an Australian wagering licence. As with most of the Aussie corporates, that licence would be in the Northern Territory. No word yet on whether they would do a Bet365 and start afresh, or go to the PaddyPower/Sportingbet/Unibet (and probably soon to be William Hill) route and acquire a local firm. There aren't many left of the latter, and those that remain, well you'd have to think there were valid reasons why they were still on the shelf. Virtually all have been looking for a buyer... I think it's a funny move from BetFred - their specialty is retail which they won't get in Australia, there's no casino/poker/games likely to come in anytime soon to prop the business up and the market is saturated to the extent that prices for sponsorship and advertising rates are ridiculous - only the biggest budgets can compete.

At the recent announcement to shareholders, Ladbrokes said they were not in talks with Tom Waterhouse over a move to Australia. This denial comes after reports in the press Down Under that a global gambling giant had been in talks with the most annoying man on Australian television (TV advertising saturation). "Australia is not our main target at the moment" was one of their quotes. Meanwhile a gaming analyst firm has suggested Ladbrokes could be the ideal company to take over the retail wagering licence from Tattsbet in Australia. Whether local regulators and government agencies would allow a retail betting monopoly in several states to be owned by a foreign company is another matter...

Rank, the owners of online sportsbook Blue Square, have announced the business has been running at a loss for sometime and is for sale. Being online only in the UK is a very difficult task - Bet365 have done it brilliantly with huge emphasis on in-play betting and international coverage, Sportingbet also saw most of their revenues coming from abroad. Blue Square's budget was tiny in comparison and they never seemed to take more than pocket change as a bet. 888, who use BlueSquare to provide their sportsbook service, have rejected the idea of vertical integration, suggesting the ambition was too low. 888sport have been sniffing around for another supplier for years without moving, I'd expect them to make a much bigger acquisition when they do take control of their own destiny.

Betfair shares have risen in value in recent weeks, on the back of some encouraging international news and on the continuation of new CEO Breon Corcoran's cost-cutting strategy. The number of jobs being cut is said to be in the hundreds as the business continues to evolve from the punter-friendly exchange to the evil gaming giant that wants to steal every penny from your wallet. Starting this month, any new uncookied visits to the website begin at the sportsbook rather than the exchange.

Spanish regulators are starting to see sense regarding controlling what locally-licensed bookmakers offer. If punters can't find it locally, they'll go elsewhere, plus monitoring it all is not time well spent. It is now open slather for bookies re markets like player and team specials, as per all the firms they are competing against. Note the difference between them and French regulators.

I haven't seen it in the papers but a source has told me that Canbet has been sold once again. The former great US-facing book has changed hands a few times in recent years and its departing owner was an Asian company with Australian bookmaking legend Mark Read as major shareholder. Read scaled back most of his betting interests after the sale of IASbet to Sportsbet/Paddy Power, but kept this one going as it was outside the no competition clause of the sale. The reason for the dispersal is believed to be his poor health. I had the pleasure of working for Mark for my first two years in the industry, he was an excellent mentor (whenever his wife wasn't in the same room).

And finally, things are starting to move in the States for various forms of betting. The state of Nevada has given approval for interstate online poker if any other state chooses to join in. The New Jersey governor has signed a bill allowing online betting (from Atlantic City casinos and only from people outside the state apparently) and California is said to be considering a motion to introduce sports betting. Sounds good in principle, but nothing is simple in the US. The bills will be too restrictive and that's before the major sports leagues are allowed their say and will use every ounce of their political clout to have it banned. These billionaires who think that Joe Public having a $5 bet at a nearby betting shop through a licensed, audited operator is the devils' work, while keeping it largely illegal and forcing all the action underground, often into the hands of organised crime, with far greater means and motive to coerce stakeholders into corruption, is a far wiser proposition. Still, in a land where people get shot for working in an abortion clinic and the nation's response to recent Newport tragedy was to buy as many guns as they could before politicians had time to ban them, is anyone surprised?

Monday, 25 February 2013

Daytona trading report 2013

No ego-stroking screenshot this year but it was a good result again, winning just under £100. The continued coverage on Premier Sports in the UK is a concern - matched volume on Betfair of just under £4k makes it hard work to get a serious win out of it. Had lays matched on 22 of 26 selections, and my lays + the corresponding backs made up just under 30% of the matched volume. Heaviest risk I had at any stage was 70 or 80 quid I think, and only ever briefly as I kept laying others.

I don't have the time or concentration to trade for bigger stakes these days, and I didn't even get to see any of the race until the final 40-odd laps. But I'd offered prices during the week, kept putting them up during the race, with more than enough margin to cover me if anything happened. NASCAR racing, and particularly the restrictor plate racing of Daytona means that it's impossible to have an odds-on shot before the last couple of laps. Restrictor plates are a limitation on the top speed of the vehicles - 350+ km/h along the big straights and cars could take off with a bit of a bump. Highly dangerous and thus, they are limited in the top speeds they can reach. This means it's pack racing from start to finish, no stringing the field out like Brown's cows, plus the likelihood of accidents means any gaps where a few fall off the pace soon get closed. With six laps to go at the final restart, there were 25 cars on the lead lap.

And that's when it gets interesting. Teams desperately trying to do deals with other teams as they try to shunt drivers through the pack to the front. Initially they might start as two or three-car teams, but attrition usually leaves them needing help at the end. Danica Patrick sat third at the final restart but tapered off back to tenth - not sure if she missed out on a deal. I doubt that'd be a sexist thing if that were true, more likely the other teams had their usual relationships to rely on. Patrick looked to be going well on the back of Greg Biffle but I think once he'd pushed his man to the front, he eased off/lost the slipstream himself and that hindered Patrick. Jimmie Johnson drove the perfect race, stayed out of trouble, remained within touch the whole way, then made his move towards the end and managed to hold the lead when it mattered. Popular guy and the best of the current crop, but that's only the third time in the last six years a driver who would have started under 40/1 in a competitive Betfair market (not the extortionate high-juice Vegas markets) had taken the chequered flag. And that's why it's such a great event to trade...

Back to the laying strategy: spread the risk, add plenty of margin, and keep on laying. The more green you build on other runners, the more you should keep laying, just keep reducing the new risk amounts on those you have already laid (eg new line of lays with payout of £60, cut it in half for all those you've laid already, and reduce those prices to below what you laid last time). You'll lay the bigger names, just make sure you make the punter pay for it - keep cutting the price. Example, I think I laid Jeff Gordon, one of the biggest names in the sport at 14, then 12, then 9, all pre-race, and for no more than a few quid each time. If you are the one making the market, then you just have to offer small bets at a reasonably fair price, not a market at 105% risking £500 at a time. There are no big players in this market or if there are, it will be very hard to balance up their action, so why entertain it? If you're not forced to put up best price, then why do you have to? If you run the only shop in a village, you don't have to compete with Tesco 20 miles away... Especially in less popular motor racing events, fans of the sport don't tend to be wise punters (F1 and MotoGP have a big following in relative terms).

Keep adjusting prices during the race. If you didn't know the sport, then take note of the pre-race market, where they start on the grid, and then monitor race position. Shorten the price a little if their position has improved, wind it out a little if they've gone backwards. As there's no chance of an odds-on favourite, or even someone under 5/1 in the first 100 laps, you don't have to worry about being snipped if there's a big crash you haven't seen or haven't been able to react to in time. You might compare this to major tournaments in senior or women's golf (although Yani Tseng can go around a bit short at the LPGA majors these days).

Be patient, earn the rewards. Choose your markets wisely. On this one, you are very unlikely to be caught by shrewdies and there's very little competition for layers. This year there wasn't a mad two-lap dash to the finish (green-white-chequered, if there's a late incident, they'll always make them race for the last two laps rather than finish under a yellow flag) which in the past has seen a few guys matched odds-on, so the cherry on top wasn't there, but the book was healthy enough by that stage :). Type 'daytona' into the blog search facility down the right hand side if you want to see previous years' results or wisdom.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Blue Diamond Stakes preview

Change of tempo here. The Blue Diamond Stakes (sort of sponsored by Patinack Farm but they've gone bust and don't have to pay the bill until afterwards so I won't acknowledge them as the title sponsor) is Melbourne's best 2yo race and is worth a cool million dollars (about £650k on this week's exchange rate). With juveniles often unexposed, sometimes it's better to cut to the chase and deal with the facts, rather than hypothesise about how much they can improve etc. Enter the team from @premiumpunting with a succinct analysis of this cracking race.

If you haven't heard the story, the favourite Miracles Of Life is a real fairytale story in the making, tiny stable, female jockey who bides her time in the lesser lights of Adelaide and the filly has been very impressive to date, bolting in at each of her three starts. The bigger stables are hot on her heels though...

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Blue Diamond Stakes preview

TEMPO: Speed everywhere as expected with the Darley horses Montsegur & Metastasio probably leading from The Bowler & Miracles Of Life along the inside.

1. CRACK A ROADIE - Resumes. Was a scratching from Mornington 2yo race. Retains Williams on board. Will be at the rear of the field. Needs a lot of luck.

2. DISSIDENT - Did plenty wrong last start in Prelude. Blinkers applied for the big one. Wide alley and will go way back. Expecting big improvement. Should run home strongly.

3. SHAMUS AWARD - Solid return last start. Loses Boss and is yet to win a race from three attempts. Not sure if he can turn it around here.

4. THE BOWLER - Excellent debut run. Tony Vasil has a huge opinion of this colt. Will push forward again and blinkers applied. With luck can go close.

6. I AM TITANIUM - Blinkers go on but doubt it can turn the tables on some of these from last start.

7. FAST ‘N’ ROCKING - Hit the line well last start. Just doubt it has a better turn of foot than some of these to win.

8. GUELPH - Easy performance to win Preview. Very professional 2yo. Wide alley means it will probably stay out of trouble. McEvoy chooses this one. Hard to knock. Big chance.

9. METASTASIO - Very professional 2yo who won easily in both of its starts. Got high last start figure but was run in just below avg time. Will try and lead. Can't knock her yet.

10. MIRACLES OF LIFE - Awesome three wins to date. From inside alley can push up and settle handy. Explosive turn of foot. Freshened and is ready to go. Would be a great story. Top hope.

11. MONTSEGUR - Is the worser of the three Darley contenders. Loses Williams. Worried leading that it isn't good enough to sustain the run for another 100m from last start.

13. KONA BREEZE - It's figures from recent runs and inability to have the knockout punch to win makes her hard to consider.

14. GREGERS - Good debut win. Last week at Flemington the three that finished behind her fought out the finish there. Drops 2.5kg. Will be on pace. Knockout chance.

15. GODIVA ROCK - Nice debut run with little luck. Extra 100m suits. May get trapped from inside alley may find it tries and pushes up. Can only improve from last run.

16. QUEST FOR PEACE - Winkers applied but figures are very low for this race. Needs huge improvement.

Selections: Going with 10 here from 9,8,4 wider with 2 & 14 for quaddies and exotics.

Futurity Stakes preview

Saturday's card at Caulfield is a cracker, three Group One races and a very good support programme. There's a 2yo feature for big bucks, a fantastic sprint handicap and a weight-for-age contest featuring some of the best in the land. Taking on the wfa contest is Tom Stewart, @tstewcav26, returning after a successful stint in the spring carnival.

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2013 Futurity Stakes

The Futurity Stakes is a Group 1 event over 1400m held under weight-for-age conditions. It is traditionally a springboard for middle-distance horses and staying horses heading to the likes of the Doncaster and the Australian Cup. Some of the all time greats have won this race including the champion Manikato who was able to win this race three years in a row along with other greats such as Vo Rogue and in recent times it was won by perhaps the greatest horse we have ever seen, Black Caviar. This year we will see the highly talented three year old All too hard taking on the older horses here as the race favourite. It will be interesting to see how the race plays out as the field is comprised of a majority of staying horses resuming including last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon.

#1 Green Moon (1)- We all know the ability that this horse has and despite this race being run over an unsuitable distance it would not surprise me one bit if he was able to run over the top of them here. In hindsight it was silly of everyone to doubt him in the Melbourne cup, in a race where there was likely to be no speed and from the handy barrier Brett Prebble was able to be positive and when the sprint was on the horse with the best turn of the foot put them away comfortably. From barrier one I think Prebble will look to sit handy maybe fourth on the rail with cover and bide his time until the straight when the sprint is on. If he has returned from this spell with the same turn of foot we saw in the Melbourne Cup Green Moon could be too smart for them here. Slight concern here is the fact that he hasn’t won previously at weight-for-age although he has placed and is a champion horse so it shouldn’t be much of an issue. Big threat!

#2 King Mufhasa (7) - Last year’s winner and the horse that will be set the pace in this race. In his first up run in the CF Orr he was put under significant pressure by a few horses trying to lead around him and ultimately set up the race perfectly for All Too Hard to come over the top of them. This race is a different story as there is not a lot of pace in the race and with a few stayers resuming there are not many other horses that will be competing for the lead. Despite drawing wide in barrier seven, Rodd should be able to get across and hold the rail pretty easy here so if he can control the race at a slow tempo then King Mufhasa will be very hard to run down. As an eight year old he might struggle to beat this field but I have no doubt he will be a chance. Slight chance.

#3 Mourayan (6)- Returning from a promising spring with the Australian Cup and later autumn staying races in mind, this race could be a bit out of his reach. Considering the fact that he has never won at this distance and has a poor first up record I cant see him figuring in this race. However he will be an important factor in this race as he can be on speed or handy box seating third or fourth on the rail. How much pressure he puts on the leader will determine the pace in the race. If he box seats and the race is run at a slow tempo he may be able to sneak into the placings but I can’t see him figuring here. Not for me.

#4 Glass Harmonium (9) - Glass Harmonium is an intriguing runner in this race and how he jumps will be pivotal to his chances in the race. Undoubtedly he is better suited when he is able to bowl along on the pace and has won a Group One in the same fashion although he has a tendency to miss the start and this could be an issue first up. From a wide gate Arnold will no doubt be looking for the front if his mount is able to jump on terms with them. If he can jump on terms and share the lead or take the lead from King Mufhasa he will be a big chance in this race as he has won first up and over the 1400m before. This all depends on how he jumps and as I said if he is tardy out of the gates I would completely rule him out of the race because he is a totally different horse when ridden cold as opposed to when he is bowling along in front. If things go his way he could pinch this race but place preferred.

#5 Maluckyday (5)- Another stayer resuming here who will be better suited over a long distance and a bigger track. We all know he is a seriously talented stayer having run a close second to Americain in the 2010 Melbourne cup although he has had some injury setbacks and it may take him a few runs to hit his peak. Coming back from injury Brad Rawiller will be very confident and excited to ride again so he will be giving his mount every chance in this race. He would need almost double this distance, with the Sydney Cup his likely target, to be competitive and I can’t find a spot for him in this race. Can’t see him figuring here.

#6 Niwot (2) – Similar to his stablemate Maluckyday, his race will be further down the road in the autumn with his likely target being the Sydney Cup. As an eight year old they will be too sharp for him here and when the sprint is on in the straight I think Niwot will struggle to keep up. For a horse that generally likes to get back it will be interesting to see how Holland rides him from barrier two. I can see him maybe three pairs back midfield with cover and either staying there or going back when the sprint is on. Look for him to feature in the staying races this autumn but this race is not for him.

#7- Shanghai Warrior (10) - This horse raised some eyebrows in late winter last year when he beat the talented sprinter Golden archer in a Listed race at Flemington. However he has struggled to win a race since then and you can’t help but wonder what happened to this horse. He showed nothing in his first up run finishing last although there was some promise in his second up run, running fourth behind the speedy Adebisi in the Rubiton two weeks ago. From barrier 10 and with Bossy on board, it will be very interesting to see where he is in the running. He is not traditionally a front-running horse although it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Bossy was positive and went forward. Despite everything I don’t believe he is up to this grade and can’t see him figuring in this Group 1 contest.

#8 Lights Of Heaven (8) - By Zabeel this mare is going to be more effective over more ground. However she has a good turn of foot and is competitive first up. On her home track I can see her running an eye-catching run here. From a wide gate I expect Nolen to settle towards the rear and if the pace is on she will be storming home late. Possibly a race like the Ranvet or BMW will be her target this autumn but I wouldn’t be surprised if she ran a big race here. Place chance.

#9 Koonoomoo (3)- After two promising runs back from a spell she looks set for a big race and this distance should suit very well. Her best run was in her only start over 1400m when she showed a devastating turn of foot to put away her rivals in the Herald-Sun last spring. Where she gets from barrier three will be interesting because if she gets smothered and stuck on the rail three or four pairs back Baster may struggle to get her into clear running. She will be banking on a solid tempo in the race and if the pace isn’t on she won’t figure in this race. If things go her way she will run a big race and could run a place.

#10 All Too Hard (4) - The race favourite and understandably so after his impressive first-up win in the CF Orr Stakes over the same distance. Although he would be better suited over a longer distance he will be fitter from his first-up run and extremely hard to beat in this race. His record in Melbourne is outstanding with five starts for four wins and a close second behind the weight-for-age champion Ocean Park. With the lack of speed in this race I think Dunn will be a bit more positive than last start and maybe look to settle midfield from the good barrier and unleash the star colt around the home turn to run over the top of the front runners. This horse is a superstar and should win here and back up and win the Australian guineas next week, he is A Grade! Rates very highly for me.

Betting Strategy:

#10 All Too Hard looks well in here and I see him as the winner in this race, for those big punters out there that want to put a big bet on I suggest taking odds of around $1.60-1.70 now because it won’t last on Saturday.

Alternatively those looking for value may want to consider a standout trifecta in the following order:
1st- #10
2nd- #1, #2
3rd- #1, #2, #8, #9

For a $1 unit, it will cost you $6.

2013 World Club Challenge Preview

Freezing cold in Leeds tonight for the World Club Challenge, the regular showpiece match between the champion clubs of each hemisphere. Analysing the clash for the blog is regular contributor James Jack, @materialista27, who may just have a slight bias against Leeds; I'll leave that one for you to decide. You can read more of his work on his blog although it seems an irregular stream of content...

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2013 World Club Challenge Preview

Leeds Rhinos vs. Melbourne Storm
Headingley Carnegie Stadium
Friday, February 22nd 2013. 20:00 GMT


It's that time of year again where League fans on the other side of the world huddle around their radios to listen to their Champions, having triumphed through the previous NRL season travel to the old country to take on Leeds. This year it's the turn of the Melbourne Storm, coming off their “first” Premiership in over 10 years, the Storm come seeking their “second” WCC title.

This game is often referred to as Leeds vs. NRL (this may actually be the first time) as Leeds have featured in four of the last five renewals of the WCC, splitting those match-ups with Manly and Melbourne.

LEEDS RHINOS
So, Leeds. Well clearly they have the upper hand in this clash as the Super League season has already started, with Leeds picking up wins against Hull FC and Salford and losing to Castleford. They will also have home advantage as the WCC has been held in England every since 1998. The 1997 WCC was a farcical 22 team tournament which put the future of the competition in doubt, while the previous title was held since Wigan's victory at the old ANZ stadium in Brisbane in 1994. Not only do the Rhinos have a home advantage in this tie, they also have the “world's greatest player” in Sir Kevin Sinfield of Oldham. Sinfield has dragged this Leeds team to the majority of their success behind a strong pack and straight running backs that only seem to play organized and successful rugby in February, September and the first Saturday in October. Another thing to consider when looking forward to this clash of titans (but not shoulders) is that the “famous” Headingley pitch was relaid in the winter and in true Yorkshire style, many locals complained about the £1m cost. This is the first new pitch at Headingley since 1963, and despite the obvious need to provide a quality playing surface for our Australian visitors, the Rhinos declined to renovate their crumbling relic of a stadium with the uncovered West terrace and the 80+ year old South Stand getting a reprieve from modernization yet again, much to the delight of the whippet-fancying masses.

Leeds Squad (from):
Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, McShane, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield (c), Ward, Delaney, Kirke, Clarkson, Achurch, Moore, Keinhorst, Vickery.

The main dangers to Melbourne are Danny McGuire, Ryan Hall and obviously Sir Kev. McGuire will be playing in his 300th game for Leeds and has racked up 224 tries, particularly impressive for a half back. Although he's lost a step of pace since his debut 12 years ago, McGuire is still a threat, especially as he has a knack of popping up on the inside when one of the outside backs makes a break, and more often than not, his tries are walk-ins under the posts. Hall can legitimately referred to as one of the world's best wingers, and with the exception of Wigan's Sam Tomkins and the world's best Sir Kev, Hall would be the only English player to make it into a World Dream Team. While McGuire may be Super League's all-time leading tryscorer, Hall is catching him at an alarming rate. With 100 tries in 119 appearances, the maths graduate will be a big danger on the wing and may cause problems for Melbourne's Mahe Fonua. Kevin Sinfield is clearly a cut above the rest on this field, and having watched him first hand drag Leeds into the Super League grand final, he then almost single-handedly beat Warrington at Old Trafford to lift his 5th Premiership. Despite being the world's greatest Five-Eighth, Sinfield has also played at hooker, lock, second row, full back, goalkeeper, defenseman, third-base and whatever other position he likes, although not quarterback as Danny McGuire usually plays there. He often referees games and although he may not be afforded that opportunity in this game, that won't stop a man like Sir Kev. Leeds will miss recently converted fullback Zak Hardaker, who sits this one out with a broken thumb.

Leeds will look to bulldoze Melbourne in a way that Canterbury couldn't in the Grand Final and key to that will be 40 year old prop and Great Britain captain Jamie Peacock. I would expect coach Brian McDermott to set his team's stall out to punish the Melbourne pack for five tackles then ask Sir Kev to make Storm fullback Billy Slater chase his kick on the last. Leeds will also try to pin Melbourne into a corner and force the error then spread the ball wide to Hall, Ben Jones-Bishop, Kallum Watkins and homesick Joel Moon to attack the in-experienced Fonua, Justin O'Neill, Will Chambers and elder statesman of the Storm back-line Sisa Waqa. If they can implement this game-plan and limit the effectiveness of the Melbourne spine, they will have a great chance of becoming the most successful side in WCC history.

MELBOURNE STORM
Melbourne came over last week to acclimatize to the British conditions and trained in London for a week before traveling to Leeds via Huddersfield where most of their squad took in the Super League game between the Giants and Brett Finch and Ryan Hoffman's old club Wigan. The Storm are yet to play a competitive match this season and during their trial matches, they have featured mixed squads of young players including the U20s and a sprinkling of experience. This game will be their 4th appearance in the WCC and 3rd in the past 6 years, losing 11-4 to Leeds in 2008 and “winning” the title in 2010 with a 18-10 victory over the Rhinos. Both of those game were played at Elland Road, so for many in the squad, this will be their first taste of Headingley. Interestingly enough, the two players who have featured at Headingley Finch and Hoffman have never lost there, playing out a 22-22 draw in 2011 and Finch's last visit resulted in a 50-8 victory. Good omens for anyone wearing purple tonight. The Storm have a good mixture of youth and experience with the average age of the starting 13 just over 25 with the elder statesman of the side Billy “The Kid” Slater. Despite the youth on display, the starting line-up have accrued 75 international caps as well as 60 Origin appearances and there are two Golden Boot winners; Melbourne, Queensland and Australia captain Cameron Smith and Billy Slater. They also boast England five-eighth of the future in Halifax lad Gareth Widdop who will add to his total of 8 caps whenever the world's greatest player steps aside.

Melbourne Starting Line-up:
Slater, Fonua, O'Neill, Chambers, Waqa, Widdop, Cronk, J Bromwich, Smith (c), Norrie, Harris, Hoffman, Hinchcliffe Replacements (from): Ryles, Finch, Vave, Moors K Browich, Setu

Melbourne were successful last season by grinding out the hard yards and playing mistake free football then allowing Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater to bamboozle defenses from 20m out. That formula has served them well and although they may be lacking in match sharpness, once the forwards get a few carries under their belt, they'll be ready to perform. The ability to offload will be key for Melbourne as Leeds have a tendency to tackle by mob in order to attempt to set the tone in these big games, and running at Jamie Peacock has to be their aim. Although he has been a class player throughout his illustrious career, he is vulnerable and if the Storm can isolate him and force him to make 40+ tackles in this game, he'll be spent. Another key to Storm victory is limiting Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow, Burrow especially has a lightning dart of pace and cannot be allowed to run from dummy half. The markers will have to be alert at every play-the-ball and get Burrow to ground as quickly and efficiently as possible. When defending their own line, the Storm must be careful not to buy any of McGuire's dummies and look to defend the flat pass to an outside runner cutting back across the field. These predictable moves from the Rhinos seem to be missed by all of their opponents in the big games, and should Melbourne neglect to pay attention to them it may be their downfall.

VERDICT
This has all the hallmarks of a classic (well I would say that wouldn't I) the experience and “been there before” know-how of Leeds against the youth and international star quality of Melbourne. Burrow vs Smith, McGuire vs Cronk, Sinfield vs Widdop. There are key match-ups all over the field, but this game will be won and lost in the same place it always is, the pack. Melbourne have the physical ability and experience of a much quicker game to dominate Leeds. If they can maintain a quick play-the-ball and offer regular service to the outside backs, then the excellent kicking game of Cronk, Widdop and Smith should put them over the top. The Storm showed in the Grand Final that they have plenty of bite and determination, while an appetite for defense under the stewardship of Craig Bellamy continues. This is the team that shutout the Doggies in the second half of the NRL Grand Final, Slater is one of the greatest fullbacks to play the game and second only as a defensive fullback to Kris Radlinski. Leeds will come out of the gates fast and look to rile the Storm and involve the Headingley crowd, Sinfield will once again come to the fore and direct his troops all over the field. Do not be surprised if they force a couple of goal line dropouts early and pin Melbourne in their own 20 for large periods of this game. In the end the difference for me is the play-making ability of the Storm spine. Cronk and Widdop in the halves creating overlaps and holes in the Leeds line for the back five to exploit and Smith's kicks from dummy half to Slater in the in-goal have been a highlight of their play and that will continue in this game. Leeds are a champion side and they won't go down easily. Sinfield won't allow that to happen, and with big performances from Peacock, Hall, Burrow and Jones-Buchanan they will be in this one for at least 60 minutes. An accurate kicking game is always key in a game of this magnitude and with the world's greatest five-eighth, Leeds will be able to turn the Melbourne pack around time and time again and make Slater return the ball from inside his own 10m line. If Burrow and McGuire are allowed to consistently make meters from the play-the-ball, then the big Leeds forwards will be able to take the Rhinos close to the Melbourne line and with Hall on the field, there's a chance they can score at any time. The rotation of impact forwards for Leeds will allow them to continue to hit the ball up at pace and like with Melbourne, if they can offload in the tackle, there will be mismatches out wide and Moon, who has been in impressive scoring form now that he's closer to Sydney has the pace and ability to get through the Melbourne line.

At the end of this match, I think Melbourne will come out on top, and I think their defensive ability will allow them to beat the spread and with the game-breakers in their side, I think they'll have too much firepower for this aging Leeds side.

ADVICE
4 pts Melbourne -6.5 points (Evens William Hill)
2 pts Melbourne to win by 6-10 points (5/1 BlueSquare)
2 pts Mahe Fonua first tryscorer (10/1 Paddy Power)
1 pt Joel Moon first tryscorer (16/1 Paddy Power)
0.25 pts Ryan Hall first tryscorer and Melbourne to win by 6-10 points (45/1 Bet365)
0.25 pts Mahe Fonua first tryscorer and Melbourne to win by 11-15 points (45/1 Bet365)
0.25 pts Joel Moon first tryscorer and Leeds to win by 1-5 points (50/1 Bet 365)
0.25 pts Ryan Hoffman first tryscorer and Melbourne to win by 11-15 points (115/1 Bet 365)

Monday, 18 February 2013

damage control when trading goals

When trades go bad, some people will say cut your losses immediately, others will recommend having a bit of patience as events tend to level out (i.e. games with two goals in the first 10 mins never end up with 18 goals in 90 minutes). This is something I like to do on certain matches.

Background:
1. You've backed Under 2.5 goals, trying to nick a few ticks at a time as the clock ticks.
2. You've been caught out by a goal.
3. The market has gone sharply against you.

On this particular match from a couple of weeks ago, there was an early goal (sixth minute) before I got involved. The period immediately after an early goal regularly shows a sharp drop in the Under price, so I was trying to capitalise on that. But Watford then scored again after 14 minutes. The Back price I took (3.95) was now out to 12 - I could close out for a big loss (not my style) or wait and wait for the price to come back to somewhere I could close out for minimal damage. But at 2-0 after 15 minutes, it was going to be a long wait - probably the 55-60 minute mark when the Unders would get back to 3.95. Too risky for me.

Enter Plan B. Have a little more on the Unders at the big price - in this case 12. Yes it's a bigger downside if there's another goal, but on the plus side, my average price on Unders rises significantly to 6.32, which turns out to be about the odds Unders was at HT.



The My Bets section is listed in time order, so hopefully you can follow what I've done. As the Unders price dropped, I've chipped away, a little at a time to minimise the risk while not ruining the overall price. As I've got close to the target mark of 6.32, I've kept some and laid beneath that price in order to claim a small profit - BEFORE the market has returned to the 3.95 level of my first bet.

This is just an example of what you can do on these markets when caught out. Take it or leave it, it's just putting an extra option in your armoury. It won't work every time. There is no such thing as a betting/investing/trading strategy that works every time. The sooner you realise that it's a hard grind like everything else in this world, the sooner you can contemplate making a modest return of trading.

Accenture World Matchplay preview

A rare treat this week with a preview of one of the World Golf Championship events, a rare venture into matchplay. @smartgolfbets, owner of the excellent resource Smart Golf Bets, has gone right through the draw in detail and come up with this shrewd advice.

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Accenture World Matchplay Championship
The Golf Club at Dove Mountain, Marana, Arizona, USA
20-24 Feb 2013


Introduction & Course

This WGC event is designed to bring together the top 64 players in the OWGR (Official World Golf Rankings) in a matchplay format. There are four brackets, each containing 16 players, with each bracket producing two quarter-finalists.

The design is flawed because it uses the OWGRs to rank the competitors and those rankings are determined by form over the preceding two years. Thus it’s inevitable that some in-form players will be grouped together and, likewise, some out-of-form players. The Gary Player bracket, for example, contains a number of out-of-form Europeans.

The course has been used for the past four iterations of this tournament, so form and placings from those years (2009-2012) has some relevance when assessing the chances this year – albeit not properly accounting for the ease or difficulty of different groups and player form at the time.

Notable withdrawals include regular non-attender Phil Mickelson and the hottest player on tour in 2013, Brandt Snedeker.

History

The first conclusions from an examination of the history of this event are that neither favourites nor Americans do especially well here. For example:
- Hunter Mahan knocked off Rory McIlroy in last year’s final;
- In 2011 Euro Donald beat Euro Kaymer in an event expected to be dominated by Americans;
- Ian Poulter was not widely expected, being a guy who’d never won on US soil, to prevail in 2010. He beat perennial matchplay contender, Paul Casey, in that final and;
- Geoff Ogilvy beat Paul Casey in the 2009 final.

Perhaps the most significant piece of data is that there has been only one American finalist in 4 years at Dove Mountain! Four years is a sufficiently long time for us to call this a trend and to recommend betting strategy accordingly.

Betting Strategy

Our recommended approach is a conservative one, given the vagaries of 18-hole matchplay and the perennial failure of favourites to win here. We recommend betting in just one market: Top4.

Our four selections, one from each bracket, are profiled below under ‘Best Bets’.

Top Players in the Market we Don’t Expect to Win

It’s relatively easy to make a case against most of the market favourites here, so here are the cases for the prosecution against fifteen of them!

Rory McIlroy was the beaten finalist last year and went on to enjoy a stellar 2012. However, he has changed clubs and balls for 2013 and, in his only tournament appearance since November, missed the cut in Abu Dhabi in mid-January shooting 75:75. Additionally, his Ryder Cup performances were mediocre, including two losses paired with his good mate, McDowell. Rory simply can’t be recommended at a short price.

Tiger Woods is now back to reasonable form after spending 2010 & 2011 in the marital infidelity / coach change / injury repair wilderness. At his best and on a course he likes he’d murder this field most times, as he frequently used to do, but given that he’s failed to progress past round two in three starts at Dove Mountain and that the course does not appear to suit his eye he cannot be recommended at a short price.

Lee Westwood is a guy who specialises in beating up weak fields but who consistently fails to produce wins in top company. There were few signs at either Pebble Beach or Riviera last week that his new short game coach, Tony Johnstone, is orchestrating positive change.

Hunter Mahan is the reigning champion. However, he has not seriously contended anywhere (best finish 8th) since winning the Houston Open last March and was a non-factor in the Ryder Cup.

Lodewicus Theodorus Oosthuizen is an established failure in this event on this course, and has never played in a Presidents Cup. So, purely based on a limited and mediocre matchplay career, Louis cannot be supported.

Justin Rose has been in the form of his life, and one of the best players going around, since winning the BMW late in 2011. He did putt spectacularly over the closing 3 holes to defeat Phil Mickelson in the Ryder Cup and he will take a lot of heart from that but, conversely, has consistently poor results on this course and cannot be recommended.

Adam Scott has been a somewhat surprising failure at Dove Mountain, failing to make it past the first round in three of four attempts and going out in the 2nd round on the other occasion! It’s thus easy, despite a nice season-opening 10th at Riviera last week, to discount his chances here.

Other notables who have failed to make the Top16 in varying numbers of attempts during the past four years at Dove Mountain include: Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Bo Van Pelt, Francesco Molinari & Bill Haas.

Best Bets

In our context of betting on the Top4, we’ve made 4 selections – one from each bracket.

Having discounted almost all the favourites, and a chunk of the next quality tier, we’d by now normally be focusing in on the next best players, persons such as: Bubba Watson, Nick Watney, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and the like – but they’re all Americans and we’ve already decided to give them a miss!

So, who’s left that isn’t American, has performed well here previously, has some good playing form in recent months and all in different brackets, so they cannot meet before the quarter finals?

Best Bet #1: Ian Poulter @ 23.00 - Sam Snead Bracket

Ian was a solid first-up 9th in Hawaii in January, despite tweeting that he didn’t feel much like playing. He won this event in 2010 and also won the European Tour’s 2011 Volvo World Match Play Championship, beating Luke Donald in the final.

Everybody will recall his heroics in the 2012 Ryder Cup and he’s played on 4 Ryder Cup teams for 8 wins out of 11 matches overall and, significantly, he’s 3-0 in singles (i.e. unbeaten).

Best Bet #2Martin Kaymer @ 36.00 - Gary Player Bracket

Martin endured all the downside of a significant swing change during most of 2012 but finally returned to form in October with 5 Top11’s in 6 starts, including a win in the Nedbank Challenge in November. He started 2013 with a solid 9th in Qatar. He played the 2010 & 2012 Ryder Cups and nobody who saw it will forget the 6-foot knee-trembler he sank on the 18th hole to ensure Europe retained the Cup in 2012. Perhaps not surprisingly, his return to good form followed almost immediately.

Best Bet #3: Sergio Garcia @ 29.00 - Ben Hogan Bracket

Sergio finished off 2012 with a win and a 4th in Asia and started 2013 with a 2nd in Qatar, a 17th in Dubai and was 13th last week, so he’s clearly playing well and he had a 4th here in 2010 to demonstrate that he can handle the course.

However, his Ryder Cup singles record is poor with just 2 wins from 6 matches and that relegates him to being our 3rd pick here.

Best Bet #4: Charl Schwartzel @ 20.00 - Bobby Jones Bracket

After going 20 months without a win following his 2011 Masters triumph, Charl has certainly rounded into form in recent months. He’s finished no worse than 3rd in 6 starts since his 5th the South African Open in November, including two dominant wins and a handy 3rd at Riviera last week.

Though his World Matchplay record is modest, in his only Presidents Cup (2011) he played 5 times in a well-beaten team for 3 wins, a half and a loss. He won his singles 2&1 over Dustin Johnson.

Best of the rest & Best Americans

Luke Donald @ 19.00 is in the same bracket as Ian Poulter, otherwise he’d have been our #1 Best Bet!

Finally, to offset the anti-American stance above, and for those taking a contrary view of the failure to date of Americans at Dove Mountain, here is our assessment of the best American price value; one from each bracket:

Jason Dufner 40.00, Matt Kuchar 36.00, Nick Watney 41.00 & Bubba Watson 36.00

Exchange Betting

Backing. We recommend a Top4 focus from the back-to-lay perspective on the above best bet players.

Laying. We don’t recommend laying on 18-hole crapshoots but, if you insist, try laying the players we’ve discounted above as an opening gambit!

Visit @smartgolfbets' website Smart Golf Bets each week for excellent stats-based formguides for all professional golf tours.

Good luck with your punting!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

players shouldn't cop all the blame for match-fixing

Great article here from AFP demonstrating just how easy it is for a footballer to fall into the trap of a match-fixer. When employers do what they say in the contract - i.e. pay their players on time each month, then they should have nothing to fear. But when clubs are purchased as an ego-scratch for a wealthy owner, often someone with short-term success rather than decades of wealth, then the guarantee of caring for the players doesn't add up to much.

For all the Lampards, Gerrards and Van Persies out there on their megabucks, there are thousands of professional sportsmen just trying to squeeze out a decent living and provide for their families. Screw them over by not paying them on time and some might be tempted into alternative ways to pay their bills.

Football authorities looking to crack down on players who get caught up in match-fixing ought to be strengthening the financial regulations around owning a club. UEFA are attempting it at the top end re playing in the Champions League, how about at a much lower level where bad financial management opens the door to corruption?

Match fixing: Croatian footballer Mario Cizmek 'destroyed 20 years of hard work in just one month' after accepting money to fix games

Mario Cizmek thought it would just be one match. Ease up and let the other team win, he told himself, collect the pay-off and start paying off debts.

But the broke and desperate footballer soon learnt that one match would not do it. He would have to throw another game, then another, then another.

And so it went until, in what he described as his "worst moment", he was arrested at his home in front of his two daughters on charges of match fixing and hauled off to jail.

"Twenty years of hard work I destroyed in just one month," he said.

The Croatian midfielder was the perfect target for fixers: he was nearing the end of his career, his financially unstable club had not paid him a regular salary for 14 months, and he owed money on back taxes and his pension.

Cizmek's story is typical of how the world's most popular sport is increasingly becoming a dirty game - sullied by criminal gangs like the one that bribed Cizmek, and by corrupt officials or others cashing in on the billion dollar web of fixing matches.

Read the full article

Scary stuff which should be a warning for players and authorities alike. But, as per usual, I'll be amazed if authorities try to do anything about it other than keep pointing the finger at players....

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Sky Sports News appearance

The football match-fixing scandal reared its ugly head again on Monday this week, and Sky Sports News were desperate for someone to interview. They obviously couldn't track down Declan Hill (I believe they spoke to him on Wednesday), author of The Fix, so my phone kept ringing until I said yes. Via this blog, I've been interviewed/quoted by BBC Radio 4, AFP, Sports Illustrated and France 24, all on the subject of match-fixing.... and paid sweet FA by the way, but it all helps the profile!

Probably a bit naughty to post the clip publicly on YouTube so please allow me the ego scratch of a couple of snapshots instead. The full interview was about six minutes at 5.30, the hourly rotation clip was edited down to about a minute.





What did I say? Mostly that it wasn't surprising at all and that despite the man in the street thinking a fix is usually a shock result like Blackburn winning at Old Trafford, it's far more likely to be a favoured team winning well. Think about it.... it's less obvious, fewer people need to be bribed - just a few to ensure the team given very little hope play no better than expected, and the outside world are generally none the wiser. The 'best' criminals, or more correctly, those who are hardest to catch, are those who cover their tracks well and do their best to stay unnoticed. These 350+ matches in question weren't World Cup finals or blockbuster games - the vast majority of them were low-profile matches with the occasional venture into higher grade football being 'dead' rubbers, where at least one of the teams had nothing to play for. The other common type of fix is the total goals play. Buy off a dodgy referee and have him blow for a penalty at the merest hint of contact inside the box, particularly in a meaningless international friendly. These matches are usually written off to managers experimenting with formations so nobody gets too worked up about it if there's a half-credible explanation for anything that happens.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Compiling Tissue on difficult races

One of the most common questions novice punters ask is 'how I do I price up my own markets?'. There's not an easy answer. It takes time, practice and sweat & tears. And every race is different. Some, like a Group 1 race, the form is out there for all to see. Other times, you are dealing with unexposed horses, or even worse, inconsistent beasts who it is very hard to take a line on - what do you do? Professional punter Declan Meagher likes to share the odd nugget of wisdom on his blog, here's how he assesses a tricky race.

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Compiling your own Tissue Prices - How to deal with hard to price horses.

by Declan Meagher

Compiling your own tissue prices can be a daunting task if you’ve never done it before, but it’s a skill you really need to acquire if you want to make money betting on horses, or any sport for that matter. I’m going to describe a method that shows easy ways to deal with horses, which for various reasons, are very hard to put an accurate price on. Examples would be newcomers, horses coming back from injury, or horses badly out of form. I’m going to use the 4.45 at Southwell on 6th February 2013 as an example.

The best advice I’ve ever got regarding doing your own tissue, is to avoid all outside influences, until you’ve first made up your own mind. This means no spotlight comments, Racing Post tissue prices, or Betfair prices, until after you’ve done your form study, and come up with your prices. The reason being, it’s very hard to get a price out of your head once it’s in there. It’s a bit like when you’re trying to think of someone’s name, and you think it starts with M. If someone suggests Mick you may know its wrong, but it’s still hard to shift from your mind, and this hinders you from thinking of the right name. If I see the Racing Post has a horse at 6/1, this price is now in my head, and I find it hard to shift. You can use your instincts much better if you go at a race without these outside influences. By all means after you’re done, you can read the spotlight comments, see was there anything you missed in your analysis, and adjust your prices accordingly.

I find the best way to start, is to have a quick look through all the runners and come up with a figure you think a horse will have to run to in order to win the race. For handicaps this is relatively easy, and the figure you come up with will normally see you get close to 100% on your first go. You should then go back over the runners, comparing your prices on each to see are you happy with them. If you’re somewhere near 100% you can adjust up/down to get to the required 100%, or let excel adjust each by the same margin to ensure you have a 100% book.

The first thing to note when pricing up a race at Southwell is that fibresand is a vastly different surface to polytrack, and there is many examples of horses that are 20lb better on one than the other.

White Fusion could be one that is much better on fibresand. His best run was definitely on this surface last January and a repeat should be good enough to win this off 67. Not raced here since and ran well on Poly last time in a maiden. Must have a good chance although I’m not sure about the trip. I’m going to put him in at 5.0

Low Key has had 3 runs for John Butler having come from Germany; he’s gradually improved with each but is still very difficult to put an accurate price on. Horses from this stable tend to only win when well backed. I’m going go with 15.0, but if I knew he’s back in form at home and fancied I’d make him a 5.0 shot, where as if I knew he hadn’t come on from his last run I’d make him 34. For that reason I’d have little confidence in my price.

Most of Zefooha’s best form is at Redcar, she’s never run at Southwell, and while she’d have a chance on her Pontefract win in October, I wouldn’t be mad keen on her. I’m going to put her in at 21.0

Goldmadchen won on her first fibresand start back in November, and ran well to be 2nd here yesterday. If she’s turned out again in a similar race she must have a chance, but the step up to 2 miles would have to be a doubt so it’s 6.0 for me.

Lyric Poet is another horse hard to price. He looks regressive but was well backed on his first start for Charlie Longsdon last time, but ran no race. I’m going to go with 15.0 but as with Low Key, I wouldn’t be confident.

Entitlement is a progressive sort from a stable that does well with these types. She did well to win, having been in a bad position when they quickened at Kempton last time. My only reservation is the surface change, particularly as she was held up last time. Hold up horses switching to fibresand can get a bit of a shock with all the kickback. I’ll go 3.25 for now.

Scribe is another that hasn’t run here before and is also a hold up horse. He’s been running quite well and shapes like he’ll probably get the trip. 9.0 seems about right.

Neil’s Pride ran well to be 3rd on her only fibresand start and has been pretty consistent since. A slight stamina question to answer but has a chance. I’ll put her in at 8.0



After plugging my prices into excel the % book comes in at 109.14% which is not bad. For this example I’m going to let excel adjust each runner proportionately to get a 100% book. To do this you need to divide each runner’s percentage by 1.0914, which is got by dividing the 109.14% by 100%. The adjusted to 100% book is now your estimates of each runners chances. If you’re not happy with them, adjust them until you are, letting excel adjust the field to 100% each time.

As I alluded to earlier, some of these estimates are not going to be very accurate. I wasn’t at all confident in the prices I gave to Low Key and Lyric Poet. How we deal with these is to get the current market price, and use that instead to finalize our tissue.

I suggest using last price matched on Betfair for market price. As I write this the market for this race is still very weak. Low Key is 14.0 and Lyric Poet is 11.5. For the purposes of this example though, let’s pretend Low Key has been backed in to 4.0 and Lyric Poet is friendless at 34. This will show how the market prices affect our final tissue prices. So I enter 25% for Low Key’s market price and 2.94% for Lyric Poet.

You first delete your initial tissue projections for these runners as you’re no longer using them and instead allocate the market price % to those runners. That would be a combined total of 27.94%, which leaves 72.06% for the remaining runners. The problem we have is, in my tissue I allocated 87.8% of the book to the remaining runners. Low Key getting punted means we need to adjust to account for this. To round the other runners down to 72.06% of the book, we simply divide the current percentage they take up, which is 87.8%, and divide that by 72.06% which equals 1.2184. We then divide each runner’s % by 1.2184 to get our final tissue price. The table below shows the new results.



You now have a 100% book which will be dynamic, as the final tissue for each other runner will change, as the market price of Low Key and Lyric Poet changes. You can get software that will insert the current market price directly into excel for you. From your tissue prices you can now see is there any that differ greatly from the market. If the market is 9.0 on a horse you have at 6.0 you may have a bet. I use ‘may have’ instead of definitely, as you should first check to see have you missed anything. I also like to have a reason why the market price is wrong. If I have a valid reason it gives me confidence that my price is more accurate, and thus a wager can be struck. If you have any questions feel free to ask me on twitter @declanmeagher76

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Super Bowl XLVII Preview - 49ers v Ravens

And then there were two. It all comes down to this. Four hours of pomp and ceremony, 60 minutes of actual play. Lots of ridiculously expensive ads, at least for viewers in the US, which for many of the once-a-year fans are the highlight of the event. And then there's Beyonce at half-time.

Get on with the game!

The beauty of NFL games at this end of the season is the vast array of markets available. Regular contributor and NFL tragic Ian Steven, @deevo82, analyses Super Bowl XLVII from a props betting perspective.

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Super Bowl Preview – San Francisco 49ers vs Baltimore Ravens

To say there are a lot of similarities between San Francisco and Baltimore is an understatement. The respective head coaches, Jim and John, share the same parents. Both teams were the bridesmaids last year, losing out to the Patriots and the Giants respectively in the Conference Championship games. Quarterbacks Joe Flacco (Delaware) and Colin Kaepernick (Nevada) are from small schools and not heralded college programs. Both defences are elite units, running a 3-4 base, with iconic linebackers Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis the heartbeats of their teams. Both teams have a workhorse running back in Frank Gore and Ray Rice. Both teams have large offensive lines riddled with talent. So where do the similarities end and the match ups begin to favour one side over the other?

Let’s look at the least glamorous side of the game – the kickers. The 49ers kicker David Akers has been struggling of late with a 69% success rate this season. Akers has already been cut by one team, the Eagles, who felt he struggled in clutch situations after missing kicks against the Cardinals in the NFC Championship game in 2009 and the Eagles wildcard game vs the Packers in 2011. The Niners coaching staff have a reduced confidence level in Akers and this increases the likelihood that they decide against kicking a field goal in certain situations, electing instead to go for it on fourth down.

Baltimore on the other hand have confidence in Justin Tucker who missed only three field goals in the regular season. The Ravens should be able to move the ball on San Francisco but the NFC side will tighten things up in the red zone, forcing the Ravens to settle for field goals, making Tucker a valuable player to back. He should get 3-4 field goals in this game.

Both sides are strong against the run with players like Haloti Ngata, Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, Terrell Suggs, Navaro Bowman, Justin Smith and Patrick Willis all excellent players in the front seven, not to mention safeties that like to get into the box and tackle. Ray Rice and Frank Gore will struggle to get many yards on the ground.

The main difference between the two defenses is the pass rush. Take Terrell Suggs away and you struggle to consistently get much pressure on Kaepernick. San Francisco on the other hand have a far more consistent pass rush led by Aldon Smith and this will force Joe Flacco to take quicker decisions to get the ball out of his hands. Dennis Pitta will become a go-to-receiver whilst Ray Rice should pick up a lot of check downs as well as screen passes that are prescribed for him. Frank Gore should see a couple of passes coming his way as well for San Francisco and with an over/under of 1.5 for Gore, this becomes a tempting prospect.

In terms of rushing, Ray Rice is at the 67.5 yards mark and he could well break it in the game. The Ravens will stick to their game plan and run the ball even if they do not get much success with it. Rice has been a magician at times this season and they will need to keep with him. Gore has too high a mark set for him and you might be tempted to place money on him not running well but I think the better value is with the reserves. I don’t foresee Bernard Pierce or LaMichael James having much impact and they are good value at backing them not to meet their rushing targets through a combination of elite defense and coaches electing to stick with their blue-chip running backs.

Another rushing wager to look at is with Colin Kaepernick as his over/under is set at 45.5 yards and I don’t see him making that mark. The Packers were destroyed by Kaepernick with the read option in the Divisional round and the Ravens are too long in the tooth to fall for that. I believe that Bernard Pollard will edge into the box to shadow the QB when he gives a read option look or they will instruct the LB with contain not to crash down. The focus on the ground game will mean that there will be pressure on the Ravens corners as they won’t have as much safety help as they would like, which leads us to receivers.

Michael Crabtree was very quiet in the NFC Championship game and this was partly due to legal questions that were hanging over his head. Those have now been quashed and he should be in the right frame of mind. He is a complete diva who demands the ball and Kaepernick is only too happy to send it his way. The receiver from Texas Tech has quickly become the young QB’s favourite target and he should have about 8-9 grabs in the game. He is better value with total receptions rather than yards as Crabtree is not a flat-out speed guy but he does have excellent strength and sticky hands, a lot like Anquan Boldin for the Ravens.

Vernon Davis will also be a focal point for the Niners. The Ravens will be so concerned with Kaepernick, Gore and Crabtree that they will have on-on-one match ups in the rest of the field. Davis could have a big day if Kaepernick is patient and goes through his progressions as he has the speed to run clear of the Raven’s linebackers. Randy Moss has been telling anyone who would listen this week that he is the best receiver of all time and he should get a lot of single coverage with 2.5 catches the over/under marker. Can he back up his bluster with a strong performance?

I think there is value to be had on the defensive side of the ball. Bernard Pollard and Ed Reed will be very active and will be involved in a lot of tackles from the safety positions as will Dashon Goldson for the Niners. Patrick Willis has a low mark set at 7.5 tackles and assists as the Niners defense is set up to put him in the best position to make a play and I think he will have a big game. Ray Lewis has had a lot of fanfare around him this week as he is set to retire and I would steer clear of him.

When it comes to the MVP then logic dictates it will be the quarterback from the winning team. Wide receivers and running backs have won the award as well as have linebackers, notably Ray Lewis from the Ravens triumph over the Giants. I have a glimmer of belief that it will be one of the Ravens safeties that win the award. Dexter Jackson was the MVP for Tampa after getting a couple of picks against the Raiders and I can see either Pollard or Reed making a big impression in what could be a defensive battle. I would stress using a very minimum outlay such as 10% of your lowest stake if you feel like you want to risk it for a very big longshot.

In terms of the result itself, I think the 49ers will win. They just have slightly more talent on offense than the Ravens, especially with the mobility of Kaepernick. I think the Niners will start strong and take an early lead but the Ravens will come roaring back but fall short at the end. I would probably go for a Niners half time-full time result. Following my MVP logic, Kaepernick should be the MVP in the game with Crabtree also up for the award if he catches eight or more passes.

Baltimore

Ray Rice over 67.5 rushing yards Coral @ 1.91 – 1 point 59 yards - lost
Ray Rice over 3.5 receptions Coral @ 1.91 – 2 points 4 receptions - won
Justin Tucker over 1.5 field goals Coral @ 1.91 – 5 points 2 field goals - won
Bernard Pollard over 6.5 tackles and assists Ladbrokes @ 1.9 – 3 points2 tackles - lost
Bernard Pierce under 35.5 rushing yards Ladbrokes @ 1.8 – 2 points (movement down on this price and yards total since Saturday afternoon) 33 rushing yards - won
Ed Reed over 3.5 tackles Paddy Power @ 1.83 – 3 points 5 tackles - won
Bernard Pollard Super Bowl MVP @ 276 Paddy Power 0.1 points Flacco MVP - lost
Ed Reed Super Bowl MVP @ 91 Paddy Power 0.1 points Flacco MVP - lost

San Francisco

Frank Gore over 1.5 receptions Coral @ 1.91 – 1 point 0 receptions - lost
Michael Crabtree over 6.5 receptions Coral @ 1.91 – 3 points 5 receptions - lost
Vernon Davis over 3.5 receptions Coral @ 1.91 – 1 point 6 receptions - won
Dashon Goldson over 4.5 tackles and assists Bet 365 @ 1.83 – 2 points 9 tackles - won
LaMichael James under 27.5 yards rushing Paddy Power @ 1.83 – 1 point 10 rushing yards - won
Colin Kaepernick under 45.5 yards rushing Coral @ 1.91 – 2 points 62 rushing yards - lost
Patrick Willis over 7.5 tackles and assists Paddy Power @ 1.83 – 4 points 10 tackles - won
Randy Moss over 2.5 receptions Coral @ 1.83 - 1 point 2 receptions - lost
Colin Kaepernick Super Bowl MVP Bwin @ 2.5 – 1 point Flacco MVP - lost

NET RESULT of Ian's bets at advised prices

+4.99pts on decimal prices (slightly better on fractional equivalents)
15.4% profit on turnover