By: Gerard Daffy
The Auckland 9s is only a month away, and with squads likely to be finalised in the next fortnight, interest in winning the title is beginning to heat up. Money has finally begun to arrive for the Warriors, ruling favourites at $4.50. The Warriors have been tipped as the side to beat each year in this being the home side, but they haven’t been able to lift the trophy, however by all reports they will have a side good enough to complete that task this year. North Queensland is the second pick at $5.50, then follows Parramatta at $9. One side that punters are keen on is the Gold Coast Titans ($11), and outside of the two favourites, the Titans along with Brisbane ($17) have been the best backed sides. Canberra ($21) also have plenty of admirers, but no doubt that can all change in the coming weeks as the availability (or not) of players becomes known.
We are well into the first week of the ‘Summer of Tennis’ in Australia, and while all of the big names are either here, in New Zealand or some parts of Asia, we haven’t really seen anything yet that has forced a major change to the Australian Open markets. There is still no money around for Novak Djokovic to win the men’s title, now out to $2.50 (from $1.80). Andy Murray is favourite at $2.25, and is the player everybody wants a piece of. Rafael Nadal is running into some form in Brisbane and has been popular at $15 as have Roger Federer and Milos Raonic at the same quote. Nick Kyrgios has been $31 into $23 this week after showing some solid form in the Hopman Cup, but the worry with him is an ongoing knee concern.
Serena Williams is in Auckland this week, and from what we have seen is still not at her peak. She has eased from $3.50 out to $3.75 to win the Aussie Open, and there has been really solid support for Angelique Kerber ($4.25), Garbine Muguruza ($10) and Karolina Pliskova, also at $10. Don’t forget UBET has extensive live coverage on tennis with several bet types open throughout the matches apart from the winner of each match.
The US Tour resumes this week with the Tournament of Champions, to be played in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii.
This event is limited to those who won on the US PGA Tour during the previous year, so it always draws together a good field. Jordan Spieth defeated Patrick Reed last year and Reed defeated Jimmy Walker in 2014, and that trio will be going around again. Spieth is one of two $6 favourites with the other being Hideki Matsuyama while Dustin Johnson is at $6.50, but Spieth has been the standout with UBET punters. Jason Day is making a return again and is next in line at $9 while Reed and Walker are $15 and $26 respectively. Day heads up a four pronged attack for Australia, but the other trio are all big odds. Aaron Baddeley is $101, Rod Pampling $126 and Greg Chalmers the $251 outsider, but no doubt the latter pair would be just happy to be in the field after being shock winners on the tour last year.
The new Australian netball competition, the NNL, is only a month away from starting as well. For those who aren’t aware, the new comp is made up of eight sides, all Australian, while New Zealand will have its own competition. One of the new franchises, the Collingwood Magpies, have been installed as short $2.40 pops to win the title at their first crack. With the might of the Collingwood Football Club behind them, the Magpies have signed a really impressive roster, and do look to be the side to beat. The Sunshine Coast Lightning is also a new side like the Magpiesand are on the second line of betting along with the Queensland Firebirds at $5. The Firebirds are expected to struggle with the retirement of Laura Geitz who retired at the end of last season to start a family.
While the upcoming bout between Anthony Mundine and Danny Green will not generate anything like the hype of the one and only time they met, the early betting signs do suggest that there will still be huge interest in the bout.
The pair will face up at Adelaide Oval on February 3, and I guess it might be an appropriate continuation of the Big Bash which has been played in Adelaide? It will be at a catch weight limit of 83kg’s, with their last bout in 2006 being set at 76.2kg’s. Mundine will have to put on 13kgs for the fight and while there was plenty of money for him when it was first announced, that news by Mundine has seen Danny Green firm from $1.80 into $1.44, with Mundine out to $2.80. For the record, Mundine won by a unanimous points decision back in 2006.
South Australian harness racing will have a big drawcard this week when recent Perth Interdominion winner Smolda will go around in the SA Pacing Championship. Although drawn outside the second row Smolda looks to have a mortgage on the race and has been priced that way by UBET opening a red hot $1.40. Messini is the second elect at $6 and has drawn to the immediate left of Smolda in 11 while Jilliby Tiger (barrier six) is the shortest of those off the front row at $7.50.
Two other features on the night have also been opened early. King Solomon has been a noted mover in the market to win the SA Derby. After opening at $3.80, King Solomon is now clear fav at $2.40 with opening favourite Wrappers Delight out to $3.40 from $2.50, while Zedalite is the $2.50 favourite to win the Trotters Cup.
The Group One Silver Chief will be run at the Meadows on Saturday night, and proven Group performer Thirty Talks has come up with the coveted red box. The Queenslander recently won the Ipswich Cup from the same draw, and while he can be a little bit tardy early, he is the one to beat. The opening quote of $2.75 was snapped up and he is currently $2.60.
Lightning Frank ($3.20) was easily the fastest heat winner and while he goes from the red box to five in the middle of the field, he cannot be ruled out as he is surrounded by average beginners. One of those, Reefton Treasure ($6) has drawn very awkwardly out in box seven. The powerhouse sprinter put it all together in his heat winning off the red box, but the draw on Saturday night has to be a major concern now.