Posted on | May 14, 2013 | No Comments
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Prince Khaled Abdullah, has reported that the owner’s Hot Snap is by no means certain to take her chance at Epsom on May 31 in the Investec Oaks.
The Sir Henry Cecil-trained filly had been all the rage for the Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket earlier this month after putting up a tremendous display on her seasonal reappearance on the Rowley Mile course in mid-April when powering away from Sky Lantern to win the Group 3 Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes over seven furlongs.
On the back of that effort, the daughter of Pivotal was heavily backed in the in-play hints markets for both the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks, but things failed to go to plan for the favourite in the first fillies’ classic of the season as Hot Snap surprisingly appeared ill-at-ease on the downhill run into the dip having failed to travel with her usual zest.
Driven by Tom Queally to pick up on the rising ground, Cecil’s filly failed to show any significant change of gear and just stayed on at one pace as Sky Lantern returned to top form to come through late and catch Just The Judge in a tremendous finish. Cecil’s market leader finishing a disappointing fifth, beaten just over five lengths by the winner.
Grimthorpe has reported that the Newmarket run took more out of Hot Snap than had originally been thought, and with the clocking ticking away down to the Oaks at the end of the month he is uncertain as to whether or not the filly will be ready in time to take her chance and face an extra half mile for the first time.
The odds on Royal Ascot have Hot Snap pegged at a top price of 20/1 in a market headed by Aidan O’Brien’s 1000 Guineas third Moth, at 7/2.
Posted on | May 14, 2013 | No Comments
After competing as massive underdogs yet still managing to win one of the most coveted domestic trophies in world football just three days ago, most clubs wouldn’t have yet stopped celebrating. Unfortunately, Wigan’s players didn’t have the opportunity to even begin the celebrations, with the Latics all but certain of losing their top flight status should they fail to beat Arsenal this evening. The Gunners are also a side that have everything to play for and following Tottenhmam’s victory at the weekend, the club require maximum points to put them back in the driving seat for 4th position.
There have been plenty of talks about a crisis at Arsenal over the past season and for the first time in many a year, Arsene Wenger has come under an increasing amount of pressure from his own supporters. However, as long as the Gunners finish their last two games strongly, they are at least guaranteed of Champions League football. At the moment, they sit in 5th position but with two points and a game in hand keeping them from 4th place Tottenham, it’s certainly in their own hands. Judging by recent form, fans shouldn’t be too concerned either with the club unbeaten in all competitions in their last nine. Nevertheless, they have drawn their last two at the Emirates Stadium and Arsene Wenger will know the importance of not dropping points on a third occasion as they prepare for the visit of the FA Cup winners.
Wigan’s story over recent years is nothing short of miraculous and when Ben Watson’s 90th minute header looped in to gift them the Cup on Saturday, most of the country was most likely on their feet. Unfortunately, there is a huge chance that it is going to be something of a bitter-sweet campaign for the Latics, with Robert Martinez’s men all but certain of the drop unless they can pull two huge results out of the bag. Over the last couple of years they have launched fantastic comebacks towards the final month to preserve their top flight status but with just two games remaining and four points keeping them adrift of safety, you would be foolish to back against the club plying their trade in English football’s second tier next term.
As for team news, Arsenal have been boosted defensively with goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski and defender Kieran Gibbs back in contention following spells on the treatment table. However, it’s not all good news, with Olivier Giroud poised to miss out due to suspension. Wigan are in the fortunate position of having no fresh concerns, although Roberto Martinez still has some players nursing long-term injuries. Maynor Figueroa, Ronnie Stam and Ivan Ramis fall into this category, although he may be able to call upon Jean Beausejour as he nears a return.
While Wigan may have been at the centre of a miracle on Saturday, we think their campaign is going to end disastrously. They played exceptionally well at Wembley and for that reason we think they’ll be good enough for the draw – but that really won’t be enough and will effectively relegate them on goal difference. Bearing this in mind, our tip is a 1-1 score line.
Posted on | May 11, 2013 | No Comments
This is the other Premier League game that has taken on a completely different angle ahead of the weekend, with Manchester United fans poised to mourn Sir Alex Ferguson’s impending retirement rather than celebrate the title they have recently won. Opponents Swansea will be travelling to Old Trafford with absolutely nothing on the line, with the Swans guaranteed a top half finish in yet another sterling season for the Liberty Stadium outfit.
There were suggestions in the early portion of the campaign that Manchester United were far from their best, with several poor results and numerous defensive frailties prompting many to believe that they would not be capable of wrapping up yet another title victory. However, with two games of the term remaining, United are already ten points clear at the top and look set to end Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season in football on a high. It would be fair to say that Ferguson’s decision to leave the game shocked the whole industry and while he may be the wrong side of 70, many were under the assumption that he would carry on indefinitely. Now that’s not the case, the interesting issue isn’t really this upcoming game against Swansea, but more on how his replacement David Moyes is going to fare in his new role.
Swansea know exactly what it is like to go through a period of transition, with many unsure on how the club would fare following Brendan Rodgers’ departure in the summer. As it turns out, the club have progressed to the next level and are certain to better last year’s 11th place finish. Michael Laudrup has adopted to English football superbly well and while the Dane has announced that he will remain at the Liberty Stadium for next term, one has to question whether this will be the case if any of the rumours surrounding potential suitors proves to be true. For now, he’ll probably be looking to end Swansea’s season on a high, with the club winning just one of their last eight.
As for team news, there are doubts as to whether or not Wayne Rooney will feature following his recent request to quit Old Trafford. Rooney’s absence could pave the way for Danny Welbeck, who could return to the starting eleven following a knee injury. Elsewhere, Rafael will not play due to suspension. The visitors have plenty to report and Michael Laudrup could be boosted with Ki Sung-Yueng, Michu and Chico Flores all set to return following spells on the treatment table. However, it’s not all positive, with Angel Rangel and Michel Vorm doubtful through fitness concerns.
In terms of a prediction, we think Sir Alex will bow out of Old Trafford on a high. Swansea haven’t looked like their best through recent weeks and bearing this in mind, we think United will triumph with a 2-0 victory.
Posted on | May 10, 2013 | No Comments
Both of these clubs have everything to play for at the Stadium Light this Sunday, with both sitting precariously above the drop zone. Admittedly, the fortunes of both have improved over recent times, yet with Sunderland sat three points and Southampton sat four above the drop zone the pressure will certainly be mounting.
Some Sunderland fans would argue that their club was doomed for the depths of the Championship a few weeks ago, with Martin O’Neill simply unable to lift them from the slump they found themselves in. While his replacement Paulo Di Canio is a controversial figure at the best of times, nobody can dispute that he has eased their fears of relegation significantly following a return of seven points from the five matches he has overseen. There were some concerns after relegation rivals Aston Villa pulled off a shock 6-1 win over the Black Cats a couple of weeks ago, but Di Canio’s men responded solidly and recorded a 1-1 draw with Stoke in their most recent game which has moved them within touching distance of survival.
Southampton are another club down at the bottom who have changed their manager and with the move being an unpopular choice at the time, supporters will cast a decision at the end of the season on whether or not their board made the correct decision. At one point, it looked as though Saints were cruising to safety, although they have hit some rocky form over the last few weeks having failed to win in their last four. Nevertheless, with four points keeping the club above the bottom three, one would have to assume that they have just about done enough to secure their Premier League survival with two games remaining.
As for team news, Sunderland have been hit heavily by suspensions with Craig Gardner and Stephane Sessegnon both set to miss the clash following disciplinary issues. However, they are the only absentees that Paulo Di Canio has to cope with, with the Italian still having Danny Rose available as he prepares for his final game for the Black Cats. The visitors are not the only club with disciplinary problems, with highly-rated Gaston Ramirez missing out as he serves a ban. Richard Chaplow is another who won’t play as he struggles with a back problem, but Mauricio Pochettino will at least have Danny Fox back in contention after he completed his suspension.
It’s been a roller-coaster ride for Sunderland fans already since Paulo Di Canio’s arrival, and we have a feeling that this weekend could be one of the Italian’s more positive games. Opponents Southampton have been poor of late and with Sunderland holding the home advantage, our tip is going to be a 2-0 victory for the Black Cats.