Ballon d’Or 2019: Best outsiders who might cause a surprise

Ballon d’Or 2019: Best outsiders who might cause a surprise Sports Betting Stars

Ballon d’Or 2019: Best outsiders who might cause a surprise

Ballon d’Or 2019: Best outsiders who might cause a surprise Sports Betting Stars

Although the Ballon d’Or is still months away, the shortlist of the main contenders is shaping up nicely with a plethora of world class talent in the reckoning. Of course, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are included but the early betting suggests Virgil van Dijk is primed to land the coveted award. The Liverpool centre back has been truly stunning throughout the 2018/19 season, winning the Champions League as well as the Premier League PFA Players’ Player of the Year award.

The Dutchman will be the first defender to win the award since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006, who captained Italy to their fourth World Cup win that year. It’ll take a monumental effort for anyone to beat the likes of Messi, Ronaldo and van Dijk to the award but there’s certainly a number of players who could be in the mix. We’ve identified five players we believe could cause a surprise but before we run you through the list, check out today’s latest football markets on Betfair.

Mohamed Salah

It was always going to be a tall order for Mohammed Salah to replicate his debut season at Liverpool, whereby he recorded 44 goals, but his efforts this season have seen the Reds pick up their sixth European Cup and notch 97 league points. Salah finished joint top-goalscorer in the Premier League with 22 strikes and scored another five goals in the Champions League, including the opener in the final which rounded off another fine season for the Egyptian forward.

Eden Hazard

Fresh from his mega-money move to Real Madrid, Eden Hazard enjoyed arguably his finest season in a Chelsea shirt last season. The Belgian winger scored 16 league goals and provided 15 assists as the Blues went on to claim a Champions League spot and a UEFA Europa League win. The Belgian has looked simply irresistible and often unplayable this season, and it’ll surely be just a matter of time before he does win the Ballon d’Or.

Raheem Sterling

If there was an award for the most improved player in world football over the last two seasons, it would be hard to begrudge Raheem Sterling of the win. The England winger-come-forward inspired his side to a second successive Premier League crown whilst scoring 17 goals in the process, and also laid on 12 assists in another stellar campaign. Sterling has proven to be not only a central figure in Manchester City’s squad, but he is really making his presence known on the international scene which will only bode well for England. This year may come too soon for Sterling, but he could prove himself a worthy winner over the course of the next few years.

Ballon d’Or 2019: Best outsiders who might cause a surprise Sports Betting Stars

Bernardo Silva

Although Bernardo Silva might not match up with the likes of Salah, Hazard and Sterling in terms of goals and assists – the Portuguese star has looked a cut above this campaign and he has a genuine chance of causing a small upset for the Ballon d’Or award. Silva has been a pivotal part of City manager Pep Guardiola’s plans and continues to ooze class game after game. He typically covers every blade of grass and is one of the finest attacking players in world football right now, and his stats from Portugal’s Nations League winner further demonstrate how good he is. Silva created the most chances (16), most take-ons (15), most tackles (11) and most assists (2.)

Matthijs de Ligt

Ajax’s favourite son is set to leave the Johan Cruijff ArenA this summer, and the 19-year-old colossus has a number of suitors ready to mould him into the world class star we know he’ll be. De Ligt was a central figure to Ajax’s brilliant run to the Champions League semi-finals with his mature and commanding displays, and he’ll certainly be a contender for the Ballon d’Or in a year or two but there’s no reason why he can’t gate-crash the party this year.  It’s almost frightening how good de Ligt looks at such a young age but he’ll certainly make it to the very top.

Who are the Greats of Wimbledon?

Who are the Greats of Wimbledon? Sports Betting Stars

Who are the Greats of Wimbledon?

Who are the Greats of Wimbledon? Sports Betting Stars

There’s no doubt that Wimbledon is the pinnacle of the tennis season, and the only Grand Slam now played on grass has been held at the All England Club in London since 1877. However, it wasn’t until 1968 and the introduction of the Open Era that professionals were allowed to take part in Grand Slam tournaments, and prior to that, it was only open to amateurs. But who are the Greats of Wimbledon? Read on to find out.

Men’s Singles Champions

Roger Federer (11 finals, 8 wins)

The Swiss ace lays claim to holding the records for winning the most finals, as well as the most consecutive finals. Roger Federer made seven consecutive finals between 2003 and 2009 and was successful in six of them, going on to win the title a further two times.

His first win came in 2003, beating unseeded Mark Philippoussis 7-6(7-5), 6-2, 7-6(7-3). Federer went on to record back-to-back final wins against Andy Roddick in 2004 and 2005 – and he went on to win a third final against the American in 2009.

Federer holds the records for the longest singles final matches, both in terms of time played (he lost to Rafael Nadal in the 2008 final, after four hours and 48 minutes) and the number of games (the 2009 final consisted of 77 games and also had the longest final set).

His last finals appearance to date came in 2017, when the tennis maestro beat Croatia’s Marin Čilić in straight sets 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. Can he add to his tally this year? In Wimbledon betting odds, he’s priced at 3/1.

Pete Sampras (7 finals, 7 wins)

Regarded by many as the one of the greatest in the sport, Pete Sampras holds the enviable record of 100% final wins at Wimbledon. In fact, between the years of 1993 and 2000, his only loss at Wimbledon came in the quarter-finals against Richard Krajicek.

After losing out in the semi-finals in 1992, Sampras made his first Wimbledon – and third Grand Slam – final in 1993. He beat fellow American Jim Courier 7-6(7-3), 7-6(8-6), 3-6, 6-3 to win Wimbledon for the first time. He went onto secure a hat-trick of championships – but managed a greater feat of four final wins a row between the years of 1997 and 2000.

His most closely-contested final came in 1998 against Croatian Goran Ivanišević, then the 14th seed. Sampras came out on top, despite losing the first set, 6-7(2-7), 7-6(11-9), 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. After winning the 2000 men’s singles final, ‘Pistol Pete’ wasn’t able to defend his title and in the subsequent years, could only make the fourth and second rounds, respectively.

Ladies’ Singles Champions

Martina Navratilova (12 finals, 9 wins)

It doesn’t seem likely that any female player will ever surpass Martina Navratilova’s record of nine wins, let alone make it to 12 finals. In the current era, the closest are the Williams sisters.

Navratilova was dominant in the ‘80s, claiming six championships and 15 Grand Slam titles in that time, but her first came in 1978, when she defeated rival (and number 1 seed) Chris Evert 2-6, 6-4, 7-5. In fact, the Czech-American was triumphant over her compatriot in an additional four finals.

Although her last Wimbledon final win was in 1990 against Zina Garrison, who she dispatched in straight sets 6-4, 6-1; Navratilova made one more final in 1994, losing to Spaniard Conchita Martínez – and she made history a decade later, returning to SW19 as a wild card, becoming the oldest player in the Open Era to win a main draw match at Wimbledon. However, she was knocked out in round two.

Serena Williams (10 finals, 7 wins)

Serena Williams is second-most successful ladies’ player in the Open Era, with 23 singles titles, 14 in women’s doubles and two in mixed-doubles. She also lays claim to being the most recent female to hold all four Grand Slam titles, a feat she has managed twice (2002-03 and 2014-15).

At Wimbledon, she’s made 10 finals, beating her sister Venus on three occasions. The first victory in 2002, when she won 7-6(7-4), 6-3 was followed by a 4–6, 6–4, 6–2 win in 2003. After an absence for maternity leave after winning the Australian Open in 2017, Williams came back to Wimbledon like she’d never been away last year – making the final but losing to Germany’s Angelique Kerber in straight sets 6-3, 6-3.

Can Williams get closer to Navratilova’s record or will Kerber be victorious for a consecutive year?

January 9th Betting Tips & Preview


A good winner with Outrage who drifted to a nice 11/2 for us, he still looks to have another win in him over this C&D after the handicapper has their say. Today’s action is over 4 cards for which I’ve found the best chances off each card.


1.35 3m Class 5 Handicap Hurdle – UNO MAS 4/1

Rex Dingle is a jockey going places right now, he has just the one booking today and he partners back up with Uno Mas whom he won aboard LTO at Hereford, hard to say whether he deserved the win with the leader at the time Cottonvale falling at the last hurdle when a length in front and a short run in at Hereford, but he took advantage to get his 2nd win in 3 races for bang inform trainer Christian Williams. The gelding is on the up after the application of cheekpieces and clearly loves good ground which providing no drastic weather change he’ll get his conditions here, he only goes up 3lb for last success and Rex can claim an extra 2lb in this to help negate the rise.


2.55 2m3f Class 3 Handicap Hurdle – NOT THAT FUISSE 9/4

Two huge runs from this Skelton gelding in his last 2, both at Cheltenham, the first in a very strong Grade 3 Handicap where sandwiched between Verdana Blue & Mohaayed, Verdana Blue went on to win the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle when beating superstar Buveur D’Air giving him his first loss in 34 months, while Skelton stablemate Mohaayed went on to win a big competitive Grade 3 at Ascot. The form taking a further boost with 3 of the 6 of the rest of the field behind Not That Fuisse have since gone on to win. That form alone is worth backing which he franked when another big race at Cheltenham this time in a not so hot Class 3 but a good 2nd behind an unbeaten Al Dancer who’s the current 2nd fav for the Betfair Hurdle next month and current 2nd or 3rd fav for the festivals Supreme Novice Hurdle. This race has no horse in the shape of Al Dancer class and the step up in trip looks more ideal.


3.05 6f Class 6 Handicap – DEEDS NOT WORDS 4/1

On recent past handicap marks, this mark of 69 looks pretty tough, he hasn’t won off the same or higher mark for over 3 years, but the once rated 97 produced his best performance we’ve seen in a while, the race wasn’t the usual fast early pace that he usually thrives in and he met trouble in running, but still won well and if the inform gelding can run anything like that again the 6lb penalty will look lenient.


6.15 6f Class 2 Conditions – CENOTAPH 11/10

Ryan Moore returns after over 2 months off for 2 rides and this is surely the one his travelling to Kempton for. The ex A O’Brien gelding who is now 7, has very little miles on the clock and has been improving rapidly since the switch to Jeremy Noseda’s yard and the revert to artificial surface, he was unlucky not to make it 4 from 4 for his new yard when a neck 2nd LTO to Mazzini in a good conditions race. The horse runs well fresh and with significant booking of Ryan Moore, the gelding looks likely to return to winning ways and the 8/1 for AW finals day in the sprint won’t last long after.

Russell Blair Racing 

Newcastle Horse Racing preview & tips


Another decent evening Newcastle card to feast on and below are the cards best chances.

4.10 1m Class 6 Handicap – Paparazzi 7/4

It’s took a long time for Tracey Waggott to find the key on this ex Joseph O’Brien horse, she took the now gelding in March 2018 when rated 71, now while consistent in defeat and not running too bad for the most part, he’s been hard to win with and his mark dropped to a handy 63, connections obviously knew the horse was well treated to double declare the horse, he won his first leg in emphatic style beating a well-treated bang inform Zodiakos and the course specialist Newmarket Warrior, the 4 plus length winning distance was performed from just hands and heels and just a couple of flashes of the whip meaning there should be plenty more to come, the 6lb penalty should be far from enough to stop the gelding, especially in a drop in class, should be odds on IMO.

4.45 7f Class 3 Handicap – Mardle 6/4

A very weak race that’s centred around Ontoawinner’s Mardle, the young gelding beat a highly thought of John Gosden colt named Fightwithme who has since gone on to win a good class 3 giving away plenty of weight, Fightwithme is now rated 87 and the form of his victory has bee franked since. Mardle comes into this rated just 80, now going off fightforme’s rating, then Mardle could be 11lbs well in, which in a weak race, he should be very hard to beat and another that’s surprisingly never opened odds on.

5.15 5f Class 3 Handicap – Outrage 7/2

Unlike the last race, this is competitive and a good race to possibly enjoy, especially if course and distance specialist Outrage wins again, he’s won his last 3 over this C&D and the last was in a good-looking class 3 race and the form has worked out well with the 3rd and 4th winning since. Outrage was risen just 4lbs for the win and was unlucky not to follow up at Kempton after running into problems. The return to a straight Newcastle is a big plus and the yard book Kieran O’Neill who was on his last winning run and the jockey unusually travels north and for just 1 run is significant.

6.15 5f Class 6 Handicap – Cherry Oak 4/1

Another Ontoawinner owned horse, this time for Ben Haslam who has a good +31.75 level stakes profit at his usual stomping ground. The filly’s only win was over this C&D which was recorded in March off a lb lower, she’s since ran big races over this C&D, most notably in September when a close 3rd behind a very well handicapped Another Angel who has since franked the form. Her next run in a stronger race wasn’t as good, but the race wasn’t to suit, a return class 6 company against a weak looking field will be more ideal.

Russell Blair Racing

Sandown 05/01 horse racing preview



1.50 Mares Hurdle, 2m4f Listed – Sensulano 7/1

There isn’t much you can knock about potential superstar Laurina’s ability, but you can definitely look for holes in the trainer not firing on all cylinders, in the last 2 weeks we’ve seen 20 of W Mullins short price favs (5/2 or under) getting turned over, only 4 from 24 have gone on to win, an even more incredible watching 8 from 9 odds on losing, that’s pretty remarkable for a trainer like Willie Mullins, it may be just bad timing, or maybe something not right in the yard, either way I think it’s worth a cheeky lay on this classy mare who returns after a 279 day break and a 3lb penalty to carry.

SENSULANO has been progressing well, she’s 2 from 2 this season and while the form isn’t anything to shout about, she’s impressed visually and looks like there’s plenty more to come, she’s certainly not as classy as Laurina, but IMO it’s just a 2 horse race and with my negatives on Laurina, then at the odds, she’s worth a play.

2.25 Tolworth Novices Hurdle, 2m Class 1 – Elixir De Nutz 2/1 (Banker)

A great race that’s produced many multiple Grade 1 winners which include L’ami Serge, Yorkhil, Finian’s Oscar & Summerville Boy in recent years. Nicky Henderson has a fantastic record in the race and has won it 4 times from the 6 he’s contested the last 10 years (race was abandoned twice in 2009-10), he has the clear favourite in the shape of John McManus’s owned Rathhill. The gelding recently won his maiden on the first time of asking beating a 133 rated horse by over a length which gives Rathhill around the 135 performance, which is special on debut and demands plenty of respect.

The horse for me that has the strongest form on show thou is ELIXIR DE NUTZ, he’s 2 from 3 for trainer Colin Tizzard, on his penultimate win he beat Itchy Feet who previously beat Grand Sancy who he himself brings solid form to this race and then LTO Elixir beat Jarveys Plate with a 10lb penalty, Jarvey’s Plate then went on to heavily boost the form when beating a very highly thought of I Can’t Explain by a huge margin, with 135 rated Anemoi back in 3rd, even thou Jarvey’s Plate improved for the further distance, it still for me, makes Elixir De Nutz to be way better than his rating of 140 and the one clearly they all have to beat.

Paul Nicholls has 2 saddled up for this race, Grand Sancy who we touched upon whose collateral form lines are well below EDN. Paul also has Southfield Stone whose all 3 wins have been around a sharp Taunton track, this galloping and testing Sandown track against a big step up in rivals looks a totally different task to what his faced before and may look outclassed.

Today’s Betting Tips and Horse Racing Preview


In yesterdays post over in Dubai we picked  3 winners at 11/4, 7/2 & 12/1 sp. We return to action much closer to us and 4 with good chances. Below are today’s tip and betting previews.


Wetherby 1.15 Mares Handicap Hurdle, 3m Class 4 – Carrolls Milan 9/4

Fergal O’Brien has a great record at Wetherby with 7 winners from 24 the last 5 years (29%), a very healthy +£26.43 LSP, an even better 36% strike rate over hurdles with 4 from 11. He teams up with his usual partner Paddy Brennan who have a great partnership when together and have a remarkable +£131.94 LSP over the last 5 years. Paddy Brennan also shows a liking to Wetherby especially over hurdles with 6 wins from 11 (55%). Not just a combination that you can back blind but their mare Carrolls Milan whose still a maiden has been progressing very well over hurdles and her recent 2nd in her first handicap race holds strong form, she was sandwiched between 2 subsequent winners and the winner further franked the form when completing a hat trick NTO. That was over 2m5f, now not only on breeding but the way she goes through her races, this step up to 3 miles should see further improvement.

Kempton 2.45 Handicap, 1m Class 5 – Martineo 9/2

A very well bred 4yo for this class, very lightly raced with just 7 runs to his name and just the 4 in handicap company. He’s a winner on synthetics already before moving to John Butlers yard, although not doing particularly well on results, he’s been questionably ridden and finished better than the bare result shows, including his last race over a sharp 7f, the step back up in trip and slightly easier 0-70 race, will see an improvement. He’s recently moved to Paul D’Arcy yard and bang inform Adam Kirby has been recalled, which is significant because not only is Kirby on his usual list of used jockeys, but when they do team up, they have a good relationship over the last 5 years. Even from a wide draw, expect this horse to be more prominently ridden tomorrow and if they go for it, the colt should look very well handicapped.

Kempton 3.50 Handicap, 1m Class 3 – Family Fortunes 7/2

Won over C&D in November in a race not run to suit, he was then unlucky not win NTO with plenty not going his way, the form of the race is solid, with the 3rd Thechildren’strust looked like he would of won NTO if breaking better and Juanito Chico back in 7th won NTO. Family Fortunes again ran a very eye catching race when again 2nd and not having a lot go right, he probably wouldn’t of won this time with the winner Matterhorn looking very handicapped which was franked NTO when he won again from a 6lb penalty, but again showed Family Fortunes to be still well handicapped and ready to win soon. The yard have booked a professional jockey in Liam Keniry to try and avoid more potential in running problems.

Kempton 4.20 Conditions, 6f Class 2 – Deep Intrigue 11/4

His penultimate run and win holds strong form when beating Vange who went on to win a good maiden before running a huge 4th in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, Deep Intrigue also ahead of Quiet Endeavour back in 5th who since went on a 4 win streak and rated in the 100’s, the 3rd and 4th also had their photo taken in the meantime. Deep Intrigue returned after a break to beat a small field and upset favourite backers when beating very highly thought of Top Breeze on his first run at 6f also his first on artificial ground. While this is tougher, but with main danger Sunsprite taken out of the race he should be better than these on form.

Russel Blair Racing

2019 Dubai Carnival preview – Day 1


It’s the start of the Dubai World Cup Carnival and there’s a lot to like with some good races.

2.30 Handicap, 1m4f 95-107

Vibes are strong from the Charlie Appleby yard for Ispolini, the Godolphin runner has recently been gelded and this will be his first run since, although his apparently working well at home, connections are keen just to get a run from him and go on from here. So, my attention turns to another Godolphin horse named BIN BATTUTA, he runs very well fresh and even thou 5, he hasn’t many miles on the clock. He’s progressing very well, he won a good handicap at Ascot and then was caught late home in the Melrose Handicap when last seen, this step back into 1m4f looks his optimum and gets the services of star jockey Christophe Soumillon.

3.05 UAE 1000 Guineas Trial, 7f Conditions (Dirt)

Certainly, a race more to watch and take notes rather than take part financially. Daughter of Frankel Dubai Beauty close 7th in the Group 1 Marcel Boussac would look to have the most prestigious form of these on merit, but it looked to be the weakest of fields it seen for a while, which was arguably confirmed when the winner of the race was put to shame in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Also, it’s unsure yet if Frankel’s kids have a liking for the dirt and her draw in stall 12 is far from ideal, so I’m pretty sure I’m against rather than for, but who to side with is the hardest to answer. One we know that’s in good spirit and ticks a few boxes right now is AL SHAMKHAH, she won her maiden on debut over this C&D in front of a few of these. Again, a race more to watch, enjoy and take notes.

3.40 Handicap, 5f 95-110

Ibn Malik impressed LTO on his first run on dirt in a good Listed race, he has good past form earlier in his career and his mark of 100 is workable back on turf, the step back to 5f does look ok but I’d rather see him entered in the 4.15 race and be on a true 5f specialist like ORVAR in this, at 6 years old and 28 runs to his name, he wouldn’t strike you as progressive, but he’s been improving very well with age and his latest emphatic win while giving away weight in a conditions to the likes of Merhoob and Copper Knight works out very well and interests me here.

4.15 6f Group 3 (Dirt)

Not a strong race for the grade, trainer S Seemar has won this race 4 times, granted all with the same horse but still a record to admire from just the 7 renewals. He saddles up RAVENS CORNER here who was very slow away LTO when 4th behind Drafted here last month but was very eye catching when finishing better than anyone. On his day, he’s a freak, which we seen when he smashed the 7F track record early last year, is today his day? Who knows but at the odds, I’m happy to be on and find out.

4.50 Singspiel Stakes, 1m1f Group 3

Great looking race on paper, ex A O’Brien horse Deauville brings in the best overall form, he’s a Group 1 winner after winning the Belmont Derby and although not winning last season his 3rd in the Irish Champion stakes behind Roaring lion and Saxon Warrior when last seen is superior to all these. He’s since moved yards to Fawzi Abdulla Nass, now while he’s not the worst trainer, he’s absolutely no O’Brien. The most interesting horse for me is DREAM CASTLE, started his career as a 3yo where he showed good early form looked a potential star in the making, unfortunately his head wasn’t entirely on the game and didn’t progress as he should of. He returns this year after a gelding op which looks as if he’s been in need of and if it was, then the 12/1 in places will be made to look stupid.

5.25 Handicap, 7f 95-114

Above n Beyond was 4th in a good race on stable debut in a similar race off 3lb higher last season, he hasn’t fared so well since but the step back into handicap company will suit more and no surprise to see him bounce back at big odds. But a safer option would be to back VICTORY WAVE, he’s clearly Saeed bin Suroor 2nd string on jockey booking, but it’s hard not to like his progressive start to his career as a 4yo and when last seen he won with plenty in hand and recorded an excellent time, just the 3lb rise looks lenient and is likely to follow up soon.

Russell Blair Racing 

This weeks horse racing preview


Monday 31st December

Lingfield 1.50 Handicap, 1m Class 2

Archie Watson operates at a cool 25% strike rate at Lingfield the last 5 years, a healthy £33 level stakes profit, he teams up with Luke Morris who’s in great current form and they have a 20% strike rate together. It’s Archie Watson’s only runner of the day and the horse in question CHEVALLIER loves Lingfield, he has 4 wins from 12 over today’s C&D and even in defeat he has never been too far away. Although he’s 2lb above last winning mark, he was slightly unlucky not to win earlier in the year off a 3lb higher mark. He ran an encouraging race at Wolves at the start of the month, he’s handily dropped a 1lb and the return to this C&D will see his best.

Tuesday 1st January

Cheltenham 1.25 Dipper Novices Chase, 2m4f Grade 2

DEFI DU SEUIL clearly has the best form on show, he’s already beat Black Op who to be fair was his first run of the season, so certainly no surprises to see him reverse the form especially over a more testing course and trip. But DDS was also in front of Topofthegame LTO who then went on to run a huge run in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices, he was a close 2nd to La Bague Au Roi while giving away a huge 7lbs and in front of hype horse Santini back in 3rd, which clearly gives DDS the best form on show at present.

Wednesday 2nd January

Wolverhampton 2.50 Fast Track Qualifier, 7f Class 2 Fillies Conditions

CROSSING THE LINE impressed LTO beating a race fit Chelmsford course specialist Lucymai. Providing she can transfer her form to tapeta and providing no incidents, she looks again to have Lucymai in her pocket, with being better in the weights, would have come on for the run and still clearly progressive. Castle Hill Cassie the danger but a 3lb penalty to carry will be a burden.

Thursday 3rd January

Chelmsford 5.55 Handicap, 5f Class 2

Won’t be surprised to see ROYAL BIRTH run a big race, trainer is having a good season and in good current form, the gelding has a good record around this C&D that reads 131256, he’s slipped down to a dangerous mark and has close form with top weight will be well fancied Gracious John, at the weights he’ll reverse the form, but the 300+ day absence is a worry, so would only make him a tentative selection.

Friday 4th January

Kempton 4.20 Fast Track Qualifier, 6f Class 2 Conditions

The 2nd Fast Track Qualifier of the week and a tough race to work out, You Never Can Tell threw away chances LTO when slow away in another FTQ, but he finished best to claim 3rd, only 2 of the field have raced since but both won to boost the form, if he starts well, he could have the better of these. But SUNPRITE 3rd in the listed Ripon 2yo Trophy in August holds very hot form, the winner Sporting Chance won a Group 3 in France since, the 2nd Gypsy Spirit flew home to take a close 3rd in a good listed race at Newmarket, 4th Life Of Riley was 2nd in a Group 3 Goodwood, 5th Barbill won a huge prize in Ireland and then a good listed race in France, 6th Kessaar, half a length back from Sunsprite won a Group 3 and then the Group 2 Mill Reef stakes at Newbury. As said that form is very hot and the strongest of these, a little worry about the 130-day break and even if breeding says it should be fine, this will be the first time on synthetics.

Cheltenham new years day preview

Cheltenham new years day preview Sports Betting Stars

12.15 Ballymore Novices Hurdle, 2m4f Listed
I CANT EXPLAIN won too well on stable debut for inform Nicky Henderson to be not well fancied for this, although this will be a much different test at Cheltenham over half a mile longer on fast ground, the way he shaped and on breeding this will be right up his street. The form of his debut at Sandown has worked out well too with the 3rd and 8th horse winning their next adventures.
Mr Pumplechook looks his main danger, not only the way which he bolted up LTO in a maiden but his 2nd to Kateson the race before, Kateson went to boost the form heavily with a big run in the Grade 1 Challow Novices Hurdle just 3 lengths behind quite possibly the best Novice Hurdler we’ve seen this season Champ.

12.50 Handicap Chase, 3m2f Class 2
PERFECT CANDIDATE was a clear winner of this race 3 years ago, conditions will be a lot faster but he’s proved he likes any ground in the past and loves Cheltenham with 3 wins to his around here, the last was in November last year in a tough Grade 3 when beating 2017 Scottish Grand National winner Vicente who in turn was over 17 lengths in front of the rest of the field. Perfect Candidate done that off a mark of 152 and comes here 9lbs better. He’s started his season poorly, but it does normally take him a couple of runs to hit his peak and now fit, a good handicap mark, the return to Cheltenham and Paddy Brennan back onboard, everything’s set for a big run.
Some Chaos although quickly asserted in the weights after 2 clear victories, still looked as though he’ll win again soon when a good 2nd to a well handicapped horse, he was well clear of the rest of the field, the fast ground is perfect and he looks like Cheltenham will suit.

1.25 Dipper Novices Chase, 2m4f Grade 2
Click here to view the preview in this week’s post.

2.00 Handicap Chase, 2m4f Grade 3
A lot depends on the fitness of DIVINE SPIRIT, just the 3 chase runs to his name, he’s still very unexposed, his 2 wins hold good form and is just 8lbs above his last winning mark make him look thrown in if his improved over the summer, yard vibes says he’s schooled very well thou and is fit and ready for inform pair Nicky Henderson and jockey Nico de Boinville.
Last years winner Ballyhill should run another big race, he ran and won well LTO and won’t mind the drying ground, he has however been hit a bit too hard by the handicapper, but still will be thereabouts.

2.35 Handicap Hurdle, 3m Class 2
Paul Nicholls can do no wrong ATM and likely to walk away with at least another hat trick of wins from 8 races he’s names featured in throughout the day, he has 2 saddled up in this race and THE EAGLEHASLANDED is very appealing. He was due to go over fences after his last run, but he was very promising for most of the way, so the well handicapped gelding is given perhaps one last go over hurdles. He’s a C&D winner that thrives on quick ground, he’s 3lb under last winning mark and professional jockey Brendan Powell has been called up for his only ride of the day.
Consistent Shalakar should again be thereabouts, he keeps knocking on the door, but this will be the driest ground he’s contested on on British soil, he’s won on good on the flat in France before so it could be what he needs.

3.10 Relkeel Hurdle, 2m4f Grade 2
A wide open race after WHOLESTONE disappointed LTO in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, but he did the same last year before coming here and dismantling the previous years winner Agrapart. Wholestone loves Cheltenham with his record around here reading 12113123, the two 3rds was even in Grade 1 class, so even after a weak previous run, it’s hard to look elsewhere.
If I had to then, Paul Nicholl’s Old Guard now back up in trip is worth a look, he’ll love the ground and was just 9 lengths away in last years race on ground he wouldn’t of liked.

Leopardstown Grade 1 previews

Leopardstown Grade 1 previews Sports Betting Stars


1.55 Novice Chase, 3m Grade 1

Gigginstown turn up mob handed for this race, they have 5 of the 7 that are participating and all 5 cover the top of the market, which include big odds on fav Delta Work. The Festival Pertemps Handicap Hurdle winner who’s trained by Gordon Elliott whose won this race 2 times in the last 3 years, looks to be enjoying himself over fences and is already a Grade 1 Novice winner after winning the Drinmore LTO beating Le Richebourg who has since boosted his form when winning the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Boxing Day, that piece of form will leave him well fancied here and rightly so, the step up to 3 miles too will see an improvement but his last victories barring his maiden have all been by short distances, a nose, 3 quarters of a length and half a length, which suggests he always keeps back something to himself, so at his odds, I’d happily look elsewhere.

Joseph O’Brien has Mortal who impressed on his chasing debut when beating Moonshine Bay back in 4th by 15 lengths, Moonshine Bay was the one to take from the race and he did what was expected of him when winning well NTO over a more suitable trip, Moonshine Bay would have been a great bet IMO at 33/1, but he only ran a week ago, so will likely miss this.

Blow by Blow is another from the Elliott yard but was simply demolished by stablemate Delta Work LTO and can’t see any reason how he’ll reverse that form.

JUDGEMENT DAY has been improving in bundles since the switch to fences and looks the value of the race, he’s won his last 4 on the bounce, the last 2 over a not so suitable looking sharper trip, these 3 miles looks like we’ll see extra from him and the drying conditions will suit him more than his competitors.

2.30 Ryanair Hurdle, 2m Grade 1

Last years winning trainer Gordon Elliott has the clear fav to try and follow up in the shape of Samcro, he was an impressive runner up to Buveur D’Air in the Fighting Fifth, that form even thou BDA wasn’t at the top of his game has taken a little knock and the drying ground will be against, so it’s easy to look elsewhere.

Melon hasn’t been seen since falling in Punchestown’s Champion hurdle, although a class horse and still improving, he’s not easy to back with any confidence especially at his odds, he bumps into one too good a lot, plus with the ground drying ground out of his comfort zone and hasn’t raced yet this season, I’m happy to avoid.

Sharjah took full advantage of a weak showing from Faugheen when recording his first Grade 1 victory, no doubt he’s improved but he’s far from reliable and this will be much tougher.

Bedrock is another that’s not the most reliable, he’ll love the drying conditions and, on his day, could be competitive, he’s beaten Samcro already this season but with Samcro now race fit and 5lb better off, it’ll be very tough to do that again.

SUPASUNDAE would be the choice for me, he shaped very well on seasonally debut and was 2nd to a race fit Apple’s Jade over 2m4f’s. He’s always in need of a run, so will come on for that, not only does it look a good decision dropping back in trip avoiding a rematch with Apple’s Jade, but the 2 mile looks his best trip and has the strongest 2 mile form out of these for me.