Who will ride Rock On Ruby at Cheltenham?

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There is a choice ride still going spare at the Cheltenham Festival with Harry Fry searching for a jockey to ride 2012 Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby in the World Hurdle.

Noel Fehily has ridden the 10-year-old on his last 14 starts since being in the saddle for his victory in the Champion Hurdle. Since then, Rock On Ruby has had an aborted career over fences and has been stepped up in trip in time to tackle the three-mile World Hurdle at the Festival.

However, Fehily is contracted to ride Zarkandar for the Paul Nicholls stable in the World Hurdle and that has left Fry on the look-out for someone to ride Rock On Ruby.

Rock On Ruby

So who will Fry give the leg-up to on Thursday March 12?

It seems unlikely that Harry Skelton, who was on board for Rock On Ruby’s first two hurdle runs, will be given the nod.

Ruby Walsh rode him a few times before opting for Hurricane Fly in the 2012 Champion Hurdle. Walsh is likely to be called on to ride the 2013 Cheltenham Bumper winner Briar Hill for Willie Mullins.

The only other jockey to have ridden Rock On Ruby in a race over hurdles is Daryl Jacob. He was narrowly denied by First Lieutenant in the 2011 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival before then being in the saddle when Rock On Ruby was third at Aintree. However, Jacob is likely to partner Reve De Sivola in the World Hurdle. Jacob has ridden Reve De Sivola the last twice, when he beat Zarkandar in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot before Christmas and when second to Saphir De Rheu in the Cleeve Hurdle on Cheltenham Trials Day.

The name of champion jockey Tony McCoy has been thrown into the ring as well. The Cheltenham betting news for the World Hurdle was given a recent shake-up when it was confirmed that last year’s winner More Of That would not be fit enough to defend his crown. McCoy would have ridden More Of That in the JP McManus colours and the horse’s absence led to suggestions that the retiring jockey could switch to Rock On Ruby. As it stands, though, McCoy is expecting to ride World Hurdle outsider At Fishers Cross, who also runs in the McManus green-and-gold silks. Yet, if emotion is to come into a decision, you would not be surprised to see McCoy given the opportunity to ride Rock On Ruby as he has yet to win the World Hurdle during his illustrious career.

If it is not McCoy, then who else could Fry turn to? Barry Geraghty is a big-race specialist, but he is likely to be claimed to ride Whisper for Nicky Henderson. With Whisper having won the Coral Cup at the Festival last year and then the Grade One Liverpool Hurdle over three miles at Aintree, it would be hard to see Geraghty deserting the horse.

It could end up being Nick Scholfield who is given the mount. Scholfield rode Rock On Ruby on his Bumper debut and does ride regularly for Fry. If logic trumps sentiment, then Scholfield seems the most likely jockey for Rock On Ruby at this stage.

Heaps Of Winning Chances In Live Casinos Online

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The Man to Beat

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It goes without saying that AP McCoy will be the man in the spotlight for the remainder of the jump season. The great man’s announcement that he was to retire at the end of the campaign has put him in the spotlight even more than was the case before – which takes some doing. But in the process all the column inches and all the televisual focus are bound to detract attention away from his rivals. There is a sense that the next few months will become the AP McCoy show.

If that feels as though it is slightly out of step with the ethos of what is, after all, one of the most democratically competitive of sports, imagine what it feels like for his fellow jockeys. Never mind being gladdened by the prospect of seeing the back of him – something they have all done all too literally many times already – it would be a surprise if there were not one or two slightly bruised egos amongst their ranks. They are after all a competitive bunch.

At the time of going to press, McCoy – inevitably – sits atop the Jockeys’ Championship table, although the figure of 202 wins which the table shows will no doubt be out of date before the metaphorical ink is dry. Perhaps equally inevitably, however, is the name in second place.


The Runner up

Not for the first time, the runners’ up berth behind McCoy is occupied by Richard Johnson (123 wins). It is hard not to think that Johnson of all people will be ready to see the curtain finally come down on the McCoy era.

Johnson has finished second to McCoy in the Championship race no fewer than 15 times. The 37-year-old boasts a career tally of more than 2,800 winners. That is more than anyone barring you know who and he is relishing the prospect of a shot at the title. He is, he says, ready to give it everything he has got. Johnson is evens favourite ahead of the likes of Sam Twiston-Davies, Tom Scudamore and Barry Geraghty. It says much about the long shadow that McCoy casts that even though he has declared his retirement so emphatically in recent weeks he still makes that list.


Mixed Emotion

But that favouritism – like so much else without McCoy involved – has a hollow ring to it. As Johnson has been quick to point out, winning the title is one thing. But winning the title and beating the greatest jump jockey to have set foot in a stirrup would be an altogether different achievement.

Before we get too carried away with ourselves, let us remember that the current campaign is far from over. Never mind taking anything for granted come next winter, there is no guarantee that Johnson will even be at the races next season. As he enters the veteran stage of his career, Philip Hobbs’ jockey of choice will be all too aware that the vagaries of fitness and good health are not something that he can necessarily take for granted.

A Sentimental Send off               

Doubtless, McCoy will be buoyed around the country on a wave of sentiment over the coming months – and quite rightly so. He is still the greatest proponent of his sport any of us are ever likely to see. What he has achieved is simply off the scale. When you look at the numbers – 4,300+ winners compared to Johnson’s tally of 2,800+ and his winning ratio of 30% (this season) the extent of his dominance is inescapable. It is almost as though he has not been competing on the same turf as his rivals.

But it would be perhaps fitting if Richard Johnson were to steal the limelight in one of the season’s very biggest races. After so many long, hard years in the great champion’s shadow, now would be the perfect time to show the public just how good McCoy has had to be to beat him.

Sam Twiston-Davies can come of age at the Cheltenham Festival

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Sam Twiston-Davies is already enjoying his best season in the saddle and he could also now come of age at the Cheltenham Festival.

Since being appointed as Paul Nicholls’ No.1 jockey last April, the door to a stable brimming with top-class horses has been unlocked for Twiston-Davies.

Last season, Twiston-Davies rode 115 winners. He is already passed the century mark this season and will, barring injury, set a new personal best by the time the campaign concludes.

He will also now be hoping the quantity is matched by the quality when it comes to the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Twiston-Davies has ridden two Festival winners in his career to date. He was just 17 when he won the Foxhunters’ on his father Nigel’s Baby Run in 2010. He then landed the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle two years ago on board The New One, also trained by his dad.

Though he is stable jockey to Nicholls, Twiston-Davies came to an agreement so that he could still ride The New One.

Twiston-Davies has a leading Champion Hurdle ride in the guise of The New One, despite the horse’s laboured win in the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock.

However, connections are happy with how The New One came out of that race and attributed the lacklustre nature of the performance to the ground.

Given that The New One was an unlucky third in last season’s Champion Hurdle, he has the potential to give Twiston-Davies a big win on the opening day of the Festival.

Now that he is riding for Nicholls, the 22-year-old, who grew up barely half-an-hour from Cheltenham, has decent chances in the feature races on each day of the Festival.

The improving Dodging Bullets will take in the Queen Mother Champion Chase after winning the Tingle Creek Chase and the Clarence House Chase on his last two starts.

Twiston-Davies was in the saddle for the Tingle Creek win, but missed out on the Clarence House as it was the same day he rode The New One at Haydock.

Dodging Bullets lowered the colours of the returning Sprinter Sacre at Ascot and showed a tremendous fighting spirit to win. He has improved immensely this season and has to be feared at Cheltenham due to the doubts about main market rivals Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy – the last two winners of the race.

The Thursday of the Festival should see Twiston-Davies take the mount on Al Ferof in the Ryanair Chase. The pair finished third in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, but the Ryanair trip will be more suitable.

The World Hurdle, meanwhile, will likely put Twiston-Davies on board either Saphir Du Rheu or Zarkandar. Twiston-Davies received backing from Nicholls after his ride on Zarkandar at Ascot just before Christmas, when he was beaten by his stable predecessor Daryl Jacob, drew criticism.

Gold Cup day brings the Festival to a close and also one of the horses in the Nicholls yard which Twiston-Davies doesn’t ride – Silviniaco Conti.

Currently favourite for the Gold Cup, Silviniaco Conti is ridden by Noel Fehily and won the King George on Boxing Day.

So that will leave Twiston-Davies to ride Sam Winner, who was third to Road To Riches in the Lexus Chase over Christmas.

Sam Winner, like Silviniaco Conti, is heading to the Gold Cup without another run. He has already tasted success at Cheltenham this season in a race run over a longer distance than the Gold Cup.

He needs to improve to win the Blue Riband of National Hunt racing, but he doesn’t possess the stamina doubts that still linger over Silviniaco Conti.

There will also be plenty more races in which Twiston-Davies will have a chance at the Festival and the local lad will be eager to make his mark.

Haydock trial will give clues to Grand National winner

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All eyes will be on Haydock Park on February 14 as the course plays host to the 35th Grand National Trial Day.

It’s the most fascinating of all the trial races because it takes place so close to the big race at Aintree on April 11. It’s also run after the Grand National Weights have been announced, so trainers can run their horses without worrying that success might lead to a hike from the handicapper.

Runners have not yet been finalised but there is little doubt that many of the market principles, such as last year’s winner Pineau de Re, will be trotted out.

Two horses that won’t be lining up under starter orders are Long Run and Double Seven. Both horses have been ruled out of the Grand National as they recover from injuries. But they’re not quite ready to retire yet.

The jury’s out on another market favourite, Unioniste. This seven-year-old is a rising star and it has been assumed that he’ll challenge for the Grand National crown. But there are whispers that his connections are waiting to see how he performs at the Grade 1 Irish Hennessy Gold Cup Chase on February 7.

Depending on his performance, Unioniste may be pushed towards the blue riband of National Hunt racing, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, instead.

Trial races give punters vital clues about performance in the run up to the Grand National.

It’s a race that is notoriously difficult to predict.

Only five favourites have won in the last 20 years and it is generally considered an open field.

That’s partly because the course is so gruelling. At four-and-a-half miles it is one of the longest steeplechases in the world. On top of that, horses and jockeys have got to overcome 30 fences so daring that some of them, like The Chair and Becher’s Brook, have become famous in their own right.

The size of the field – 40 runners and riders – presents its own challenges as jockeys fight for position and often have to avoid loose horses which earlier unseated their riders.

Even trials like Haydock’s can offer no clue to guaranteed success.

No winner of the Grand National Trial at Haydock has ever gone on to win the Grand National although two of the placed runners have claimed the crown – 100-1 shot Mon Mome in 2009 and Neptune Collonges in 2012.

So how can punters get the edge in such an unpredictable sport?

Keeping pace with the latest news is your best bet if you’re having a flutter on the Grand National. In fact, any serious bet on horse racing is best made from a position of knowledge.

Get the latest news from sports websites like bet365 which give you early indications of any injuries or changes in strategy. Jockeys’ success in other races and the inside track on what’s happening at individual yards as well as how the market is shifting as the race approaches will all prove invaluable as you make your final selection.

Changing times, changing markets

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The popularity of digital technologies has changed the betting world in ways that would have been unimaginable a few years ago. Whereas traditional on-course and high street bookmakers were prepared to take the occasional special – the winner of the next general election, snow at Christmas – their stock in trade was very definitely sporting runners and riders.

That simple sporting proposition has been radically extended. We are now routinely offered prices on anything from the value of the yen to the winner of the Great British Bake Off. As an illustration of how far this move away from the race-track and the football pitch has taken us the bet365 website, for example, now offers a minute by minute market on a range of financial indexes.

You can back the yen to rise against the dollar, you can take a price on the moves of the FTSE, or you can put it all on Wall Street. This is, in effect, combines the essence of gambling with the fundamental mechanism of capitalism. Market moves now represent the terrain on which a secondary market is formed. For number crunching gamblers this must be a dream come true.

But the digital revolution is not just about the numbers. Bet365 and their competitors have not been slow to see the advantages of a consolidated offering. Within the scope of a single website, and using just the one account, it is now possible to flip between sports and casino gaming – to click between measures of judgement to games of chance and tests of skill.

It’s not quite the same thing as something for everyone – but it certainly comes pretty close.

There are estimated to now be over 170 million online gamblers globally. There are millions more who play gambling themed games with virtual currencies rather than actual cash. There has been a universal swell in the popularity and the social acceptability of enjoying a bet. In sum, the world has become a more gambler-friendly place.

There has also been a growing convergence of media and gaming providers. Whereas once upon a time these were entirely separate entities, it is increasingly common to see broadcasters offering betting opportunities (e.g. Sky Bet), just as it is to find betting sites carrying their own broadcast streams – e.g. the bet365 site carries commentaries of every Premier League game, as well as live video streams of other overseas matches.

Meanwhile, the bet in play offerings of those sites have revolutionised what it means to bet on a live contest. It is not simply a one bite of the cherry exercise – punters are continually challenged to back their reading of a game. No wonder bet in play is such a massive hit.

Interactive markets, multi-player casino games and the breadth and speed of markets have all seen the bookmaking world changed out of all recognition in the past 20 years. And that begs an inevitable question: what is next?

The speed of innovation in the industry shows little sign of letting up. If anything, as competition increases so does the pressure to come up with the next ‘big idea’. But predicting what that idea will be is far from easy. Techies, bookies, MPs, grinders and punters – all are going to have some sort of a say.

It’s perhaps fitting that this is one game where predicting too far ahead really is a mug’s game.

Why punters with hunches lose out

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For the average punter several things take place when they put their money down for a bet. Or to put it another way, different people see their bets in different ways, each picking out that part of the overall scenario that suits them best. Some just like the buzz, some like the idea that they might be proving themselves to their mates, and others like to pit their wits against the shrewd minds of the bookies. Whatever the motivation, there is – more often than not – a lot more going on that simply taking a punt.

Professional gamblers, of course, have their own rationale, and it is one that more intelligent punters will have already made themselves aware of. If gambling is about predicting the future outcome of a contest, any edge there might be lies in the quality of the information that informs that prediction.

Insight is everything. It is on that basis that bookmakers establish their prices in the first place. But in putting a value on a given runner’s chances the bookie is committing himself to a fixed position – however temporarily. With the right access to up to the minute information punters can begin to chisel into some of the value that the bookies are offering.

Increasingly sites like http://www.bet365.com/news/en/betting are enabling gamblers of all flavours the same level of insight as the people who set the odds. It makes the battle of nerve and judgement which lies at the heart of the exchange all the more visible.

At the same time the industry has changed massively with the advent of online betting in all its forms. It has made the process of placing a bet immeasurably more streamlined and efficient. And in a setting where the currency as well as the accuracy of information has a value, that in itself is a game changer.

If you now before the next man that Diego Costa will be out for the rest of the season, or that Jimmy Anderson will not take part in next year’s Ashes series, that information can be taken to market and traded.

Not every piece of sports news carries this inherent value. It has been said that 80% of all news is based on what someone has said. But press conferences and interviews only seldom directly have a bearing on any sporting action. As often as not, they are little more than the media equivalent of wallpaper.

But every so often someone will let something slip that reveals either a specific piece of information – such as in injury or a disciplinary issue – or their demeanour will point the way to some sort of competitive repercussion. Kevin Keegan’s famous melt-down when he was manager of Newcastle is still the best example of such a painfully revealing display.

At moments like these there is the opportunity to read the conditions factoring into the contest in question in a way that was not previously available. It gives punters – whatever their motivation – the opportunity to make a judgement and to back that judgement quicker than the market can react. Getting the right information at the right time is crucial, and a reliable information source is fundamental to that. Everything else is just a hunch.

Excitement builds ahead of Grand National

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With memories still fresh from this year’s Crabbie’s Grand National, focus has already switched towards next year’s event at Aintree Racecourse following the release of tickets for the 2015 festival. The world’s most famous steeplechase race had its 167th birthday in April, with Dr Richard Newland’s trained Pineau de Re romping to victory after starting at 25/1 to cap off a memorable weekend in Liverpool.

The dates for the 2015 festival have been set for April 9-11 next year, with further details set to be revealed regarding traditional days such as Friday’s Ladies Day. Over 600 million viewers watched the weekend’s festivities this year, with over 150,000 visitors passing through the Aintree gates over the course of the three days. The weekend culminated with winning jockey Leighton Aspell handing John Proven his first National winner. Despite starting at 25/1 with bet365, Pineau de Re raised a number of eyebrows by coming home five lengths clear from Balthazar King, Double Seven, Alvardo and Rocky Creek in a fascinating race, with bet365 paying out for five places on each-way bets.

While there are months to go until the 2015 Grand National, the bookies are already taking bets on next year’s race. Pineau de Re currently finds itself at around the 25/1 price he started last year’s race. The 11-year old hasn’t been active since triumphing in this year’s National but he is expected to be given plenty of run-outs before defending his crown in April.

The early betting favourite is Shutthatfrontdoor, who is coming off an impressive season that was topped off by BJ Geraghty riding the seven year old to the Irish Grand National Chase title. The Jonjo O’Neill trained gelding looks great value at 25/1, with it looking extremely likely those odds will significantly lengthen in the weeks running up to the race. Last year’s third placed Double Seven is another early favourite who could give racing betting fans an opportunity for value, and bet365 fans could do worse than to throw a few quid on the Ireland-based horse.

While most betting websites only pay out for three or four places, bet365 has long put itself ahead of the opposition by giving their customers the chance to make each-way bets covering five places in the Grand National. With so many options available to betting fans for the most watched horse race in the world, being able to back horse for five places make bet365 one of the most popular online betting sites.

Online Slot casino play to win

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Online slot casino is referred because the most haphazard game of likelihood enjoyed by most gamers primarily based worldwide. Gambling being a beautiful choice to build cash, each player needs to become made through it. However, not all players will get lucky as some could find you losing everything. this can be wherever comes the importance of knowing that game to pick, once to begin enjoying and the way a lot of ought to a player bet and finally once to prevent.

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Setting up your bankroll:

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Opt for the attainable highest paybacks:

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Play the one pay line slot machines:

For little bankroll, the one on-line slot casino machines are a decent possibility. This single pay lines area unit relatively cheaper possibility. Casual players will play the one line games for long as probabilities of striking a jackpot is often there.

A better way to free bets on the races

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These days, the bookmaking world is a highly competitive one and most major bookmakers have special offers of free bets, bonus cash, matched deposits etc. These are changing all the time so it’s always worth keeping an eye out for the best ones. And because it’s such a highly competitive business we, as customers trying to make the racing game pay, would be fools not to take full advantage.

But there may be an even better way of achieving the same goal. If the bookmaking world is competitive, it’s still nowhere compared with the world of online casinos.

There are good reasons for this. Casino operators know (and have known ever since the dawn of the first casinos hundreds of years ago) that the house edge is everything. It means that, according to the laws of probability, we’ll all lose out if we continue to play pure games of chance for a long enough period. Along the way, we’ll have a few inevitable wins and we may even read about lucky punters who have won life-changing amounts of money. This is all “grist to the mill” for casino operators. They know that such win and such press coverage will keep us all coming back for more – so the more volume they have, the more money they’ll make form the all-conquering house edge.

Consequently, the introductory bonuses are even more generous in this world than they are with bookmakers. And it’s up to us to take full advantage of this – then find a way of getting the cash into our sports betting accounts.

So here’s how to achieve just that…

If you click here to play at 32red.com, for example, you’ll soon see that you can pick up a free $32 for each $20 of your own money down. There are similar deals at many other online casinos such as 888 and Skyvegas to name just a couple. And the offers are generally getting better all the time – and are changing continually within sites.

The trick is in finding an online casino that also runs a comprehensive sports book. The 32Red site is one such example – though there are others. If you then play through the requisite number of casino games (this varies from site to site) you should hopefully have enough left to transfer to your sports betting account and to “reinvest” in horse racing – where it’s far more a matter of judgement than it is of pure chance as with most online casino games.

In other words, where judgement calls are made – we punters have a fighting chance of beating the bookie. We certainly have a far better chance in this regard than we do of beating the house edge. This can also be a great way of trying out a new system or betting theory etc., in a way which should be either very cheap or maybe even completely cost-free if you’re fortunate enough.

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