By Gerard Daffy
The decision by New Zealand to send Australia in to bat in Canberra on Wednesday ended in tears, and after two matches in this best of three series against NZ, it appears as though the Kiwis have helped many of the Aussies find some form at the right time. There is only one remaining match in this series, and it will be played at the MCG on Friday. Not surprisingly, the Aussies have opened as red hot favs at $1.37, with New Zealand at $3.10.
Once that match is done and dusted, the focus moves to the day/night test match at the Gabba beginning next Thursday. This is an interesting Test as even though Pakistan had a poor tour of New Zealand recently, the conditions at the Gabba particularly at night, are expected to be of great assistance to them. The one option that most are prepared to risk is the draw ($6) presumably because there have been a series of storms in south-east Queensland this past week. Australia is currently $1.45, but there is solid support coming for Pakistan to win that first test at $4.50, and even a few takers for them to clean sweep the best of three series at $67.
Apart from the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, one of the biggest post-Christmas events in Australia is always the Sydney to Hobart yacht race which also begins on the 26th and UBET has opened a market on the big race.
There will only be four maxis in the Sydney to Hobart this year, and one of these CQS ($17) probably hasn’t had the preparation to win since being recently built. It all points towards Wild Oats XI winning again, and the justification in our short opening price ($1.32) has been backed up in the betting as most of the early action has been for the former winner. Second pick is Scallywag (ex-Ragamuffin) and is a firmer from $7 into $5, with Perpetual next in line at $13 followed by CQS. It would be a major upset if any yacht outside of those four were to win, but a lot will depend on the weather.
The handicap market will create a lot more interest this year with such a short priced favourite to win line honours. That will open a couple of days before the race starts.
The NFL only has a handful of rounds to go before the playoffs, and while the New England Patriots hang on to favouritism at $3.50, we are seeing several sides emerge as genuine threats. The Patriots have been favourites since the season started, but they are beginning to get a decent injury toll at the wrong end of the year. Dallas opened at $23, touched $41 in September, but the Cowboys have zoomed into second pick at $4.50 and have been the money side over the past couple of weeks. The Seattle Seahawks have been well in the market all season and occupy the third line at $6 but the side that some are starting to warm to is the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders were considered to be only making up the numbers before the season started, rated one of the outsiders at $67 but are now equal fourth favourites at $12 and many say have been undersold by the market … time will tell!
Golden State dead-eye Klay Thompson caught fire and poured in 60 points in 29 minutes against the Pacers earlier this week and ever since money has been pouring in for the Warriors to win the 2016/17 NBA Championship. Crunched from $1.90 into $1.85, Curry, Durant, Thomson and co. are the only side in serious commission for the title at this stage. As it stands, there is five times more money in the tin for them than their nearest rival, defending champions the Cleveland Cavaliers at $4. Thompson may not light it up like that again this season, but because the three best shooters in the league are on the same team, he may not need to.
Closer to home, Round 10 of the NBL tips off tonight (Thursday) with the New Zealand Breakers hosting the Brisbane Bullets. Last time these sides met in round five, Brisbane got their pants pulled down but since then the Bullets have strung together four wins from six games to sit in second place. New Zealand, by comparison, has dropped its last four and is firmly rooted to the foot of the table. Many think the trend of outsiders winning in the NBL will continue as the bulk of the money has been for Brisbane at $2.25.
Sydney FC continues to shorten (from $4 into $3.75) for the 2016/17 A-League title but the move has more to do with form than money. Undefeated this season, the Sky Blues are one of the least popular sides with soccer punters. As it stands, more money has been placed on Adelaide United to secure the silverware at $11 than Sydney at $3.75, which speaks volumes for the popularity of Graham Arnold and his men.
Sydney lines up this week against the other pace-setters in the A-League, Melbourne City, and even though Melbourne knocked them off last week in the FFA Cup Final, the Sky Blues have gone up in front at $2.12, followed by Melbourne and the Draw both at $3.40. Brisbane Roar ($2) bookend the round against Adelaide United ($3.55) and the early money trail suggest the Roar is a good chance to end their frustrating run of draws.
The Interdominion final will be run in Perth on Friday night, and Hectorjayjay ($2.30) fully deserves favouritism. He is a horse on the up and has the fastest sprint of anything in the race. There is much conjecture regarding who will lead around the tight Gloucester Park circuit. Many think that Run Oneover ($4.80) will lead easily, which is why there has been plenty of money for him (in from $7) since the barrier draw was conducted. Hector may have a dip early or maybe even his stablemate Lennytheshark ($4.60) might lead as he can also fire off the gate if asked to. Bettors Fire is also renowned for his speed off the gate and could make things interesting early.
Overall Hectorjayjay is the one to beat as he ran a much faster time in his heat last week than the other heat winners and did it easily and if he had have drawn an inside gate would be odds on to win the final. His main danger is last year’s winner Lennytheshark provided he is declared fit to run. Lenny has had trouble all week with a foot abscess but is expected to take his place in the final. An outside chance has to be given to Beaudiene Boaz. Whilst he lacks the class of the other two mentioned, he is trained by Gary Hall Snr who is one of the leading trainers in WA and he has won 19 races at Gloucester Park. Smolda also should not be written off because he is trained by NZ’s leading trainer Mark Purdon and he is very tough and suited at the distance.
Victorians have won seven of the last 10 Brisbane Cups, and the betting on Friday night’s Cup would suggest that the Cup will be staying in the Sunshine State. The Victorians have only one rep in the final; the explosive Blazin’ Bomber and while he has drawn awkwardly in Box 5, if he can keep out of trouble early he should be in the finish.
Local trainer Tony Brett has won the Cup twice, and three of his runners have made their way through to the final and ironically they have drawn beside each other! Zabdon Ferrari is drawn well in box two and is a $6 chance, recent Ipswich Cup winner Thirty Talks ($4) is drawn in box three and the ever consistent Whata Nice Size ($14) has drawn box four and might hold the key to the race. At times, Whata Nice Size can begin brilliantly and cut left and if he does, that is not good news for the other Brett trained pair.
The one to beat is clearly Outside Pass; the $2.25 favourite. She began a lot better than normal in the heat before racing away to win the fastest time. Outside Pass was returning from a very successful Victorian campaign which culminated in an unlucky fourth in the final of the Melbourne Cup. The draw for Outside Pass (box seven) in the Brisbane Cup isn’t too bad as she has moderate beginners in boxes six and eight and she just needs a bit of space in the first 20 metres to find her feet and take off.