Racing Preview – Sunday’s top selections

Your club’s new betting service comes complete with an extensive suite of horseracing markets and every day we will be providing you with a preview of the day’s racing and offer what our experts feel will be the value bets of the day. Among other winners on Saturday, we gave you a winning 7/1 nap at Chelmsford, winners at Warwick priced at 15/2, 5/6, 5/1 and 3/1 and winners at Lingfield priced at 3/1,7/1 and 7/2. Here is our Sunday best…

AW racing

FIELD OF VISION (Kempton 3.40) was a little unfortunate to twice bump into Karl Burke’s promising filly Quiet Reflection on his last two starts, as he was twice second at Ayr (Listed) and Newmarket (Group 3). Joseph Tuite’s sprinter made his only AW start a winning one (at Chelmsford City last August) and returns after a three-month hiatus. Placed in seven of his 10 starts last year, he holds a leading chance in a cracking Class 2 event and has always looked as though he would improve for this extra furlong, which he tackles for the first time.

SHIRATAKI (Kempton 2.35) has been knocking on the door in a couple of low-grade Lingfield handicaps since 7lb claimer Lulu Stanford was booked by trainer Peter Hiatt. The eight-year-old saw the 1m5f trip out well enough last time but ideally prefers this 1m4f and runs off the same mark of 49. We feel the Cape Cross gelding has a fair chance in another lowly contest.

SELECTIONS FOR SUNDAY, JANUARY 17, 2016

KEMPTON: 1.00 Blue Bounty, 1.30 Ocean Legend, 2.00 Jethou Island, 2.35 Shirataki (nb), 3.10 Rebel Collins, 3.40 FIELD OF VISION (NAP), 4.10 Royal Normandy, 4.40 Bridge Builder

PUNCHESTOWN: 12.50 Una’s Pleasure, 1.20 Our Duke, 1.50 Golan Lodge, 2.25 Bamako Moriviere, 3.00 Killer Crow, 3.30 Killultagh Vic, 4.00 Aspen Colorado

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EL CLASICO: THE MCB PREVIEW OF SATURDAY’S CLASH

By Calum Chinchen

Spain’s biggest two clubs face-off at The Bernabeu on Saturday evening, in the first El Clasico of the season. Meetings between Real Madrid and Barcelona rarely seem to disappoint and we expect Saturday’s game to be no different. Last season’s two La Liga clashes saw the sides share seven goals and an astonishing 17 yellow cards.

Hosts Real Madrid (2.50) are coming off a 3-2 away defeat to Sevilla last time out, and many of the Los Blanco’s faithful still seem unsure about manager Rafael Benitez. The former Valencia, Liverpool and Napoli boss was surprisingly handed the reigns at Real Madrid when his predecessor Carlo Ancelotti was relieved of his duties after failing to win a single major trophy last season.

BENITEZ
Benitez: Not convincing everyone

 

In truth, Real had a fairly low-key summer in comparison to their usual activity. Former employees Kiko Casilla and Lucas Vasquez returned to the Bernabeu on permanent deals, while Casemiro and Denis Cheryshev were both re-included in the first team squad after season-long loan spells away from the club. Young talents Danilo and Mateo Kovacic were also bought in from Porto and Inter Milan respectively, signalising a potential change in philosophy for the Spanish giants. While many neutral fans seem to be applauding Benitez in his removal of the club’s Galactico policy, the Real Madrid natives aren’t too happy – and it’s beginning to show.

The iconic Real Madrid front three of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema don’t appear to be gelling as well as they have done in previous years, with Madrid attacks often looking hurried and forced so far this season.

Casemiro has been one of the bright sparks for Real since arriving back at the club after his loan spell at Porto. In previous year’s the club have lacked a defensive minded midfielder, but the Brazilian seems to be an ideal fit due to his positional awareness. The former Sao Paulo man appears to have learned from his loan spell in Portugal and now finds himself in an almost indispensable role for Los Blancos, as he seems to liberate the five players in front of him with some well needed defensive discipline.

CASEMIRO
Casemiro: Now vital for Real

 

Barcelona (2.75) have kicked on from where they finished last season and find themselves in a familiar position at the top of the La Liga table. The Catalan giants have been forced to promote from within after a transfer embargo was recently placed upon the club, with academy graduates Munir and Sandro Ramirez both playing a key role so far this season.

That said, the transfer embargo didn’t prevent Barca from adding to their squad over the summer, with two of last season’s most impressive performers in La Liga moving to the Camp Nou. Arda Turan joined from Atletico in a big money deal, while Aleix Vidal arrived from Sevilla after a fine season. However, neither will be able to feature in the game, as they cannot make their debuts until January due to the embargo placed on Barca.

Lionel Messi hasn’t played for Barcelona since injuring his left knee against Las Palmas back in September. Some reports are suggesting that Messi will be back in the squad for Saturday’s game, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see him absent once again. Luis Suarez and Neymar have taken on the goal scoring responsibility in his absence, sharing 20 of the club’s last 23 goals between themselves.

SUAREZ NEYMAR
Suarez & Neymar: Both in the goals

 

Discipline has always been an issue for both sides during previous Clasico games, however Luis Enrique and Rafa Benitez are both placid men, so we don’t expect to see any eye gouging (think Mourinho) or any pig head’s being thrown onto the field (think Figo) in this meeting. That said, we really wouldn’t be surprised to see a red card to be shown during the 90 minutes, especially with the likes of Sergio Busquets, Dani Alves, Pepe and Sergio Ramos being present.

In truth we fancy Barcelona here, and would be tipping the straight win if Messi was definitely fit, however we are erring on the side of caution in case of his absence.

VERDICT: REAL MADRID 2 BARCELONA 2 @ 11.50

BEST BET: BARCELONA (DRAW NO BET) @ 1.95

 

NFL PICK SIX – Your betting guide to Week 4

MyClubBetting handicapper and Lindy’s Sports UK Editor Simon Milham takes a look at the betting trends and some of the best bets ahead of Week 4 of the 2015/16 NFL season. The odds are correct at the time of writing and are industry average.

(Handicap is denoted by +/- for the home team)

BALTIMORE at PITTSBURGH

Friday, 01:25

(+2.5, Total Points 43.5)

Michael Vick
Steelers are dogs: Vick sees the irony

The AFC North division could have an unusual look about it after this clash, which has major ramifications for the AFC playoff race.

Pittsburgh’s defence had plenty of questions to answer heading into the season, but there were no such worries over the offensive juggernaut, led by Ben Roethlisberger.

The quarterback is likely to be sidelined between four to six weeks after straining an MCL and suffering a bone bruise, having initially feared he had suffered a season-ending ACL tear.

The keys to the juggernaut have been turned over to Michael Vick – an experienced backup, who is a 56 percent career passer. Roethlisberger was tallying 75.3 percent in two and a half games this year.

To be fair to Vick, he has not been blessed with such a supporting cast in his career. It may be that Vick suddenly becomes more accurate.

Pittsburgh have a 2-1 record, their only loss coming at the hands of the champion New England Patriots on opening night.

The trail 3-0 Cincinnati in the ultra-tough AFC North and the visiting Baltimore Ravens have got off to their worst start in the John Harbaugh era. Though winless after three games, the Ravens have enjoyed a distinct advantage over the Steelers when Big Ben has not started against them, going 6-1 against them in seven meetings.

Baltimore are already entering must-win territory – all three of their losses have come by less than one score and they are not as bad as their record would suggest. They also have winnable games against Cleveland, San Francisco and Jacksonville upcoming. A win at Pittsburgh and the situation will become much brighter.

However, Heinz Field is never an easy place to win, with or without Big Ben. This could come down to whoever runs the ball better and Baltimore’s running game has regressed from last season, averaging 72.6 yards per game. Off a short week, it is arguable offensive coordinator Marc Trestman can get it turned around so quickly.

It is not a game to have too many definite opinions about, but we will side with the hosts to win outright (11-8) and the points are a bonus.

BEST BET: PITTSBURGH +2.5 @ 2.10

NEW YORK JETS at MIAMI

Sunday, 14:30

(+1.5, Total Points 41.5)

Tannehill
Holding pattern: Tannehill needs to improve

We have already discussed the possibility of a UK franchise this week and the first game of this autumn’s three International Series regular-season games is another first for the UK – the first time a division game has been played outside of the United States.

At the start of the season, many were predicting the Miami Dolphins as pretenders for the AFC East title after the addition of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to an already potent Miami pass rush.

As with most big signings the Dolphins make, this one has not come off. Not yet at least.

The Dolphins were walloped 41-14 by Buffalo on Sunday and to many eyes, it appeared as though the team had quit on the coaching staff.

The Dolphins sit at 1-2 and were a Jarvis Landry punt return away from being 0-3.

Ryan Tannehill looks awful behind a line that badly misses tackle Branden Albert (hamstring), but he does himself no favours by waiting for plays to develop instead of getting rid of the ball quickly.

The Jets won their opening two games – against Cleveland and Indianapolis – before starting slowly in a 24-17 home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Jets are attempting to win their fourth consecutive ‘road’ game against Miami (who are the hosts at Wembley) for the first time since 1998-2001 and are favourites by 1.5 points to do so.

The Dolphins have looked a mess in their opening three games, while the Jets have shown improvement, although it is clear that veteran passer Ryan Fitzpatrick does not possess an accurate deep ball and the Miami defence may get better results when applying pressure this week.

Miami has the advantage of experience, having play at Wembley last year, but the Jets will relish the experience and many will expect them to feast on the rotting carcass of the Joe Philbin era.

We still hope the Dolphins will have some fight in them. This is a pivotal game for both and we take the Dolphins to sneak it.

BEST BET: MIAMI +1.5 @ 1.91

OAKLAND at CHICAGO

Sunday, 18:00

(+3, Total Points 44.5)

Week 4 of the NFL season is often a time to re-assess out pre-season forecasts. A little recalibration is often required.

The Oakland Raiders are a case in point. A year ago, they were being thumped on a regular basis but rookie quarterback David Carr threw 21 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions on a team that went 3-13.

Carr
Carr: Driving force

To succeed, they will need playmakers like running back Latavius Murray to keep the chains moving and the confidence soaring. So far, so good. Carr, Murray and rookie receiver Amari Cooper have looked very sharp, largely thanks to the arrival of Rodney Hudson, who has been an upgrade at the center position (he was Kansas City’s best lineman last year).

Head Coach Jack Del Rio has still to improve a defence that allowed more points than anyone last season and produced just 22 sacks, but the signs after three weeks have been great.

While they lost to Cincinnati on opening weekend, their victories against Baltimore and Cleveland – while narrow, were fully merited.

The Chicago Bears are 0-3 but have played three of the best five teams in the NFL in Green Bay, Arizona and Seattle, without their starting quarterback Jay Cutler, who is struggling with a hamstring injury. He may well start, as Jimmy Clausen has never looked like an effective back-up, never mind a starter.

Chicago traded away linebackers Jared Allen and Jonathan Bostic in return for draft picks earlier this week and that may be a smart move. Nose tackle Jeremiah Ratliff also returns after service a suspension and he is a stout run-stuffing presence.

If Cutler returns and Martellus Bennett is a big part of the Bears’ game-plan, we can see him taking advantage of Oakland’s weakness against decent tight-ends. They have a weakness in mid-field pass coverage, so look for Matt Forte to be targeted from out of the backfield.

While the Raiders are on the rise, we look for the Bears to win a tight game and the points are a bonus.

BEST BET: CHICAGO TO WIN @ 2.4

NEW YORK GIANTS at BUFFALO

Sunday, 18:00

(-5.5, Total Points 45.5)

Odell Beckham Jnr
Big talent: Odell Beckham Jr

The manner of Buffalo’s victory over Miami sent shockwaves through the AFC and they are 5.5-point favourites to move to 3-1 for the season when hosting a New York Giants team that is still trying to find its identity.

While the Giants defeated Washington in a crucial NFC East battle last Thursday and have had extra time to prepare, they have to overcome a little history against Buffalo. For the Giants have never won three consecutive games against the up-State upstarts.

Bills fans will not need reminding that ‘wide right’ will remain in football folklore forever, following Scott Norwood’s missed field goal in the 1990/91 Super Bowl, which the Giants won 20-19. The teams have faced each other six times since, with honours even, although the Giants have won two of their last three trips to Orchard Park.

The Giants lost close games to Dallas and Atlanta before downing Washington but they are struggling at the receiver position without their best foil; Victor Cruz is ruled out with a calf injury and with Odell Beckham Jr likely to be double-teamed, the G-men will have to rely more on a sub-standard ground game against one of the best front sevens in football.

We see the Bills rolling to a win, although the handicap line looks high enough, so we chance the Giants to keep within it.

BEST BET: NY GIANTS +5.5 @ 1.91

CLEVELAND at SAN DIEGO

Sunday, 21:05

(-7.5, Total Points 44.5)

Cleveland are 3-0 in September/October trips to San Diego, who seek a fourth straight home win against the Browns, whose 3-1 odds in some places defy belief.

The Chargers, like the Browns, are 1-2 on the year, having lost to the Bengals and Vikings in successive weeks.

Philip Rivers2
Philip Rivers: Sacked 10 times

The good news is that Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is completing 74.5 percent of his passes and has thrown for 890 yards already this season.

The bad news is they are walking wounded along the offensive line and Rivers has been sacked 10 times already this season. While the Browns’ pass rush has not lived up to the hype, they may well pad their stats this week.

The Chargers also have a major problem in stopping the run. Their defensive line has been a paper tiger and their one sack this season did not come from a defensive lineman. They have conceded 135.7 yards per game on the ground at almost five yards per carry.

Both starting cornerbacks were either missing or limited last week in defeat by the Vikings and starting strong safety Jahleel Addae was also ruled out with an ankle injury.

The Browns have also had problems stopping the run and they will have a bunch of trouble covering slot receiver Stevie Johnson, and fellow wideouts Keenan Allen and Malcolm Floyd.

This is a tough game to call, particularly with the Chargers having some injuries at key positions.

However, we fancy an upset and take Cleveland with the points, in a game where the total points is likely to go over the 45-point mark.

BEST BET: CLEVELAND +7.5 @ 2.00

GREEN BAY at SAN FRANCISCO

Sunday, 21:25

(+8.5, Over 48.5)

Jarryd Hayne
Bright spot: Jarryd Hayne

This one is easier than most. Despite going across country, we take the high-powered Green Bay Packers offense to cover the handicap with ease against a 49ers team that is starting to look as dreadful as most prognosticators expected them to be.

The Niners have won the last four meetings and last won five consecutive against the Packers when beating them six times in succession from 1956-58.

San Francisco was trounced 47-7 by the Arizona Cardinals last week as quarterback Colin Kaepernick was intercepted four times, with two being returned for touchdowns. He completed just nine of 9 passes for 67 yards.

Kaepernick, who supported the Packers as a boy, is 3-0 against them but even he will struggle to work his magic with such a porous offensive line in front of him.

The lone bright spark for San Francisco this year has been rugby convert Jarryd Hayne, who isn’t getting as many touches as fans would like. His 37-yard punt return against the Cardinals was one of the few Niners’ highlights.

The Packers are a well-oiled machine and those looking for a shock in the last games on Sunday, won’t find it here.

BEST BET: GREEN BAY -8.5 @ 2.00

Odds and handicap lines are subject to change. You must be 18+ to bet.
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