By Gerard Daffy
The 2017 draw was released last week, but there wasn’t any reaction to the outright prices to win next year’s title. Brisbane remains the $7.50 favourites ahead of Penrith, North Queensland and Melbourne at $8 and they are followed by Canberra ($9) and Cronulla ($10). So it is a wide open contest again with all sides, even the Knights ($151), getting early support. Newcastle have been installed as odds on ($1.90) to finish at the bottom of the table in the ‘most losses’ market, with the Dragons ($4.25) and Tigers ($9) the only other sides under double figures.
Hot on the heels of winning the Four Nations, Australia are $1.45 to win next year’s World Cup. The Kangaroos towelled up New Zealand in that final, and they are on the second line of betting at $3.25.
The public are in love again with the Australian cricket team, and the Aussies will go into the best of three ODI series against New Zealand as very warm favourites. The first match will be a day/nighter at the SCG on Sunday and Australia are currently $1.50 to win that match with NZ at $2.60. As far as the series is concerned, Australia are $1.40 with the Kiwi’s at $3, and there are a few other markets already open that have created some interest. A 3-0 clean sweep to Australia is $3.25, while Aaron Finch ($3.50) has been best backed to top the Australian run total for the series, while Kane Williamson is clear fav at $2.50 to top the NZ totals.
The three-match winning run of the Wallabies came to a halt at the hands of Ireland last week, but they would not have lost too many fans in what was a controversial match.
It gets decidedly harder this week at Twickenham when the Wallabies will be up against England, the side that came to our shores during the year and returned home with an unlikely 3-0 series victory. There have been a lot of barbs exchanged by the two sides, more so from the coaches and no doubt that the Wallabies would have had this test in their minds since those defeats. They have opened at a lengthy $3.75 with England at $1.28, while the line is 8.5 points. There are a few positives for Australia to take into the match, and the big one is that they did beat England at the same ground in a Pool match of the World Cup last year and it was an emphatic 33-13 victory, so that is worth taking on board.
We have to turn the clock back more than 20 years to find the last time Tiger Woods opened as one of the outsiders in an event he was contesting, and he is in that spot again this week! When Tiger kicked off on the PGA Tour as little known Eldrick Woods, he was one of the roughies, but it didn’t take long for bookies and punters to sit up and take notice; and what a career it has been. Tiger will be teeing off for the first time in 16 months this week in his own tournament; the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. Tiger is a multiple winner of this event that he promotes, and 18 players will start on Thursday. Dustin Johnson is the $6.50 favourite ahead of Jordan Spieth ($7) and Hideki Matsuyama ($8.50) who will be one of several players making the dash overseas after playing in Melbourne over the weekend. Tiger is $34 with only Zach Johnson behind him at $41 and ironically Johnson did win here in 2013 beating Tiger on one of the rare occasions he didn’t win this event.
Adam Scott is the big drawcard in the Australian PGA title this week. That event will be played at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast where it has been held for the last three years. While it is a co-sanctioned European Tour event, the field does fall away quickly as most of the big names from that tour have decided to give it a miss. Scott won here in 2013 when he opened at a similar price to this year ($4.50) and UBET golf fans are happy to take that price. Cam Smith ($15), Marc Leishman ($17) and Danny Lee ($26) are others to meet with early support. Last year’s winner Nathan Holman hasn’t had the best of years since that win and is well down the list at $61.
Round nine begins with Melbourne-Perth on Friday and boy do these sides boast opposing form lines. Melbourne ($1.55) is unbeaten since round five, while Perth ($5.50) has just one win from their last five hit-outs. Curiously however, early punters are gravitating towards the draw at $4.20. Victory gun Marco Rojas fired his sixth goal of the season into the net last week against Newcastle and looks a good price at $2.20 to score anytime.
Western Sydney locks horns with the Mariners on Saturday and it is just about must-win for the Wanderers, who have only tasted victory once this season. Central Coast, by comparison, has won as many as they did all last year and are a sneaky chance to make the top six. Another win here would set them up nicely and that is exactly what the early money suggests.
Melbourne City ($1.89) will either be brimming with confidence or wallowing in despair when they do battle with draw-kings Brisbane ($3.80) on Saturday. Keen to capture their first piece of meaningful silverware since their inception, City played Sydney FC in the FFA Cup final overnight and the Melbourne win would be a huge confidence booster for them heading into the weekend.
Favourite backers have had a terrible time of it this season and, if the initial round nine money trail is a guide, that trend could well continue. Four of the six outsiders have met with support in early betting in what looms as a tricky week to tip. Brisbane has been well tried at $2.60 to knock off Perth tonight (Thursday), there is more money for Illawarra at $2.50 than New Zealand, $2.30 pops Cairns are more popular than Brisbane and the Hawks have also been backed at $2.05 to roll the Kings.
As mentioned earlier, Brisbane-Perth is the first game. Both were rolled as short-price favourites last week and will be hungry for a win.
Olympic Park, Sydney, will host the final Supercars meeting for the season this weekend. The street circuit around Homebush has been dominated by Shane Van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup of recent times, and it is Van Gisbergen who has the drivers title at his mercy and is $1.02 to win it for the first time. Between that pair, they have won the last eight races held at this venue; three the last two years and the only two races in 2013, and they have been raced over an assortment of distances. The format changes again this year with a race on Saturday and Sunday, both consisting of 74 laps around the 3.4km course. Not surprisingly Van Gisbergen and Whincup completely dominate the betting on race one where they are both at $2.50, with a big gap to Scott McLaughlin at $9.50.
Thirty Talks was a big drifter in betting before winning last Saturday night’s Ipswich Cup, and the reason for that was that many thought he wasn’t suited in the red box. After a big drift from $1.65 out to $2.50, Thirty Talks virtually led all of the way, and opens as the $3 equal favourite to win the Brisbane Cup which will be run on Friday week at Albion Park. Outside Pass is the other favourite and she returns to QLD after a very successful Melbourne campaign which saw her finish a very unlucky fourth in the Melbourne Cup final. There will be five heats of the Brisbane Cup on Thursday night which will be dominated by some warm favourites. Thirty Talks has again come up with the red box and is $1.18 in that heat, with Outside Pass ($1.65) drawn in Box three in the last heat.
The Ballarat Cup will be held this Friday night and it has drawn together a classy field of sprinters. Zamborra Brockie has drawn down in box two and is the $2.50 favourite with UBET, but there is a stack of speed in the race and he is a chance to find early both. Weekend Binge bounced back to his best in his heat win and is the one to beat, but on times the entire field has a chance.