Cheltenham Trials Day: Festival Hopefuls Head to Post

Cheltenham Trials Day: Festival Hopefuls Head to Post

It’s trials day at Cheltenham this Saturday, and after races being called off at Ascot last weekend due to frost, we now have more action-packed card than ever before. Two of the original races on the card, the Cleeve Hurdle and the Cotswold Chase feature the standout runners at the meeting, so we’ve taken an in-depth look at what they have to offer. Cleeve Hurdle Won last season by the all dominating Thistlecrack, the Cleeve Hurdle has gone on to produce four of the last nine winners of the newly named Stayers Hurdle (World Hurdle) at the Festival in March including Big Bucks and Inglis Drever. Many winners of this race have already gone on to prove themselves earlier in the season with victory in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, and it looks as though this is what Harry Fry is attempting to emulate with Unowhatimeanharry. It’s no surprise to us that the nine-year-old comes into this race with a handicap rating of 167.  A force to reckoned with in his last seven outings, he has picked up victories in all of them including the Albert Bartlett here last year, and the Long Distance and Long Walk Hurdle earlier this season. Expected to go off as favourite, he can uphold the tradition of the market leader as five of the last ten winners were sent to post as outright favourite. Cotswold Chase It’s been over fifteen years since the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase produced a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner. However, this season looking at the race card, it looks as though we may have finally found one. Colin...
FA Cup weekend Preview

FA Cup weekend Preview

The oldest domestic cup competition in world football returns this evening. At a quick glance it looks like the 4th round is packed full of the kind of ties this competition is so famous for. English Football has two main strengths that make the domestic game such a global success. The 1st is the competitiveness of the Premier League. No other league in the world has such strength in depth, not only in playing quality but also in atmosphere and history. The English games 2nd biggest attribute is its amazing strength in depth, non-league football thrives producing sides of great quality and support right down its 10 levels. The weekend kicks off with a classic FA cup tie, where a top Championship side meet a struggling Premier league side. Derby V Leicester Friday 7.55 on BBC 1 Leicester are now in real danger of getting relegated and realistically their Champions League run will be ended by table topping Seville. So if they want some light in their season they need to win this one. Claudio Ranieri played a pretty strong side in the last round against Everton although he did leave out his two best players in Vardy and Mahrez. Their league position has worsened since then so the big question when betting on this game is will he play a full team? We have to say no. He’s known as the tinker man and he knows that the game at Burnley on Tuesday is massive. If they lose that then with United next they could end up very close to the drop line at the start of Feb....
Mourinho returning to Wembley?

Mourinho returning to Wembley?

Southampton are this morning reveling in a great win at Anfield that has given them the first spot at Wembley. They are now in the great position of just sitting back and watching the second semi to see who will join them. If the tie had been balanced at 1-0 you fancy this would have been a real tussle. However, the 2-0 first leg victory for Man Utd leaves Hull with a mountain to climb. Hull do have home advantage and with nothing to lose there is every chance they will see this as a shot to nothing. They played well at Chelsea at the weekend and can feel a little aggrieved to have come away from there with no points. It should still give them confidence that they can match the big guns and there is little doubt they will be going all out for this tonight. Man Utd are one of the form teams at the moment. They are most definitely playing the best they have since Mourinho took over. The last two matches are indicative of the attitude they have now compared to the last few years. Late goals against Liverpool and Stoke earned them draws that they would not have got in recent times. Those types of games are generally the ones that give you the belief that you aren’t going to be beaten. All players and managers are involved in the game to win trophies but managers like Mourinho need trophies. He has a reputation that needs rebuilding somewhat and if he can secure a trophy for Man Utd in his first season in...
Can the Kop lift Klopp?

Can the Kop lift Klopp?

EFL Semi Final – 2nd Leg In sport things can turn around pretty quickly – for good and for bad! Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is finding out the hard way that when things start to go wrong they are hard to stop. Klopp’s problems really started when he tried to rest players to get through the FA Cup tie at home to Plymouth and then tried to squeeze something out of the first leg of the EFL semi. Such is the game that when you take liberties you end up getting punished elsewhere. A late Utd goal denied them points at Old Trafford and then you can’t resurrect it against a poor Swansea side at home. The players will now be a little short on confidence at just the wrong time of the season. Liverpool’s opponents in the EFL semi are experiencing a slight upturn in their form and will fancy their chances of getting through to the Wembley showpiece. They are hardly flying themselves but three wins in their last four fixtures will give them the spur they need to go to Anfield and get a result in what will be no doubt be a great cup tie atmosphere. What will be of concern to Klopp will be conceding three goals at home to Swansea at the weekend. A defensive performance similar to that and they will not be making the trip to London. You have to believe that they will score as that is their main strength but at the same time they will be wary of Southampton getting an away goal and making life much more...
Mullins and Moore Clash in Clarence House Chase

Mullins and Moore Clash in Clarence House Chase

Ascot is the premier destination for racing on Saturday as the two-mile chasers take to the Berkshire track for the Clarence House Chase. Packed full with potential Champion Chase contenders, including last year’s winner Un De Sceaux, who is going for back to back victories in the race, we’re certainly expecting fireworks. Nine-year-old Un De Sceaux was favourite to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham last year, following his victory in this race. However, a resurgent Sprinter Sacre had other ideas, taking the victory in what would turn out to be one of the final races in his career. Making his seasonal debut in the Tingle Creek Chase it was a hard-fought victory, with Sire De Grugy battling all the way to the line in what was an epic finish to the Grade One.  His jumping wasn’t on point in that race and he will need to up his effort here if he is to secure back to back wins. Second favourite in the betting, and who bookmakers believe to be the only challenger to Mullins and Un De Sceaux is Gary Moore-trained Ar Mad.  Renewing their rivalry from Sandown earlier in the season, the seven-year-old will be looking to get back to winning ways following his poor performance there. Forced out of the Festival last season, he put his unbeaten record on the line at Sandown and unfortunately due to a jumping error he was unable to maintain it. With six horses set to compete in the Clarence House, bookmakers will be paying out on two places, and if the two favourites in the betting haven’t...
Can Conte Be Caught?

Can Conte Be Caught?

The title race is hotting up and the chasers need to keep their foot on the gas as table toppers Chelsea show no signs of slowing down. First up on Saturday are third placed Liverpool. The play host to a Swansea side desperately in need of points at the other end of the table. Swansea’s chances of getting off the bottom of the table are really dependent on them being able to shore things up at the back. Their heads go down when they concede and that more often than not leads to at least another goal soon after. In Liverpool they are taking on a team that was putting all teams to the sword earlier in the season, but recently the goals have dried up. Something has to change here and it doesn’t seem likely that that change will be a sudden sturdiness about the Swansea defence. Expect Liverpool to rediscover their shooting boots and put this one to bed in the first half. A correct score of 3-0 is the one to be on here. One of the interesting 3pm games is West Ham’s visit to Middlesbrough. Maybe not one for the purist and one that will slip under the radar. It does however give us the chance to see what West Ham will show up. They really are a hit or miss side in a big way. After last weeks super performance against Crystal Palace it wouldn’t be too much to hope for them to be in similar form this week – but that is not the West Ham of this season. Middlesbrough have become a...
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