GERARD DAFFY'S UBET NEWS – THURSDAY 4TH JANUARY
The fifth and final Ashes test gets under way in Sydney today (Thursday), and there are those around who think that England can end the series with a victory. They weren't that far away in the fourth test, and actually England were well and truly in the betting in the first two tests as well, so the backing for them is understandable. Opening prices had Australia at $1.65, England $4.25 and the draw at $4.50, but England are now $4.00, however with rain around at the start of the day, England have eased slightly to $4.50 with the draw in to $4.25. It is worth noting that the last four SCG tests have all been draws, and all interrupted by weather.
We are well and truly into the Big Bash season, and two things have become evident. It is no disadvantage to bat first, and outsiders are to the fore (again). From the 15 matches played so far, only six favourites have been able to win.
Tip: BBL - Renegades Sat night against the Stars ($1.82)
So, after 17 weeks and 256 regular season games, the NFL Playoffs are finally upon us. As is custom, proceedings begin with the always entertaining wildcard round, where the teams seeded third to sixth in both the AFC and NFC do battle for berths in the divisional playoffs. Of the four sudden death games, the Panthers-Saints stoush on Monday morning may just be the pick of the bunch, at least when it comes to posting points. Carolina twice went down to the Saints during the regular season, twice allowing New Orleans to rack up 30 plus points, but this, as they saying goes, is a whole new ball game. The showdown between opposing big time quarterbacks Cam Newton and Drew Brees promises to be something to behold. As for punters, the strongest early lean is toward the Jacksonville Jaguars to cover the 7.5-point line against the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo snapped an 18-year drought when they scraped into the Playoffs on the back of a few other Week 17 results, but the early money trail suggests their fans' much-reported-on jubilation will be short-lived, as the Jags are $1.86 and firming at the line.
Round 14 started with a surprise with the heavily backed Sydney FC drawing 2-2 with the unfancied Newcastle Jets in their top-of the table clash. The action continues tomorrow (Friday) with the Roar and the Wanderers colliding at Suncorp Stadium. Brisbane would be confident of coming out on top after their 2-1 away win over Adelaide, not to mention the fact Western Sydney is on the quick back-up after facing Melbourne City on New Year's Day. Punters certainly like the Roars chances, chipping away at their $2.50 quote. Perth and Adelaide also do battle tomorrow night and the early interest there is in the Draw at $3.50.
With so many new movie releases in Australia over the Christmas/New Year period, it is time to open up the betting on the Academy Awards, and the Best Picture is the first one up. 3 Billboards Outside of E.M is the UBET opening fav ($3.75) just ahead of Lady Bird at $4.50, The Post at $5.00 and The Shape of Water at $6.00. As we know there will be a lot of movement (and talk) about the main contenders before we know who the nominees are, but the early money has been with Lady Bird and also Dunkirk ($6.50) as well as Call Me By Your Name at $13.
The Super Rugby season kick-off is only six weeks away, and the Six Nations gets under way in four weeks' time from this weekend. Round 1 matches have been opened for some time and while there hasn't been a lot of activity there, the outright market has proven quite popular. England head that market at $1.70 from the well backed Ireland at $3.25, and there has also been solid interest in Scotland ($9.00) and Wales ($11), with the least popular sides being France ($13) and naturally Italy at $501. England are $2.75 to complete a Grand Slam however 'No Grand Slam Winner' is the favoured way there at $1.70. There is an interesting trend in the last six winners of the Six Nations. England won the last two, Ireland the previous two, and Wales the two before that, so the big question is can the Poms break that sequence of '2's' and make it a 3-peat?
There is always AFL news around, and there has been a bit of activity on the market for 'most losses' in 2018, or to 'win' the Wooden Spoon. As we know the Gold Coast have lost Gary Ablett, and it is hard to see their new signings having a big enough impact to keep the Suns away from the bottom part of the ladder. UBET punters have reacted and the Suns have firmed from $2.50 into $2.40, clear favourites from North Melbourne and Brisbane at $4.50. Those two sides haven't really attracted much business, but the next side, Carlton, have. After opening at $8.50, the Blues are now $6.50, and have been the best backed side behind the Gold Coast.
The first US PGA Tour events for the New Year are always in Hawaii, and that is the case again this week with the Tournament of Champions which will be played at Kapalua. It is always a select field of those who were able to win on Tour during the year and Jordan Spieth heads the market at $6.00, with Rickie Fowler at $8.00, ahead of Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas both at $8.50. Thomas is the defending champion, Spieth won here in 2016 and Johnson won in 2013, so there is plenty of form on the course around those in the betting. Hideki Matsuyama finished second to Justin Thomas last year and has some fans at $14, as do both Australians in the field, Marc Leishman at $19 and Cameron Smith at $41.
Tip: Justin Thomas to take out the Tournament Of Champions ($8.50)
The Summer of Tennis is also well under way with the Hopman Cup and the Brisbane Internationals featuring prominently this week. Brisbane lost Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori to injury before that tournament got under way, and Andy Murray limped into town on the back of a very limited preparation. If that wasn't enough, Novak Djokovic pulled out of an exhibition tournament this week with an elbow injury, and that has put his Australian Open campaign in jeopardy. Currently Roger Federer heads that market at $2.75 ahead of Nadal ($6.00) and Djokovic ($8.00) but with doubts around that pair as well as Murray ($12-$26), there has been big money for Alexander Zverev ($15-$9.00) and Grigor Dimitrov ($41-$10) to win the final.
The Australian Open women's market has seen some major changes with Serena Williams out to $6.50 from $5.00, after being beaten first up in an exhibition match as well. Williams clearly needed the run and there is still ample time for her to be a lot fitter when Melbourne gets under way, so we are not writing her off. Garbine Muguruza is second pick at $8.00, then follows Karolina Pliskova at $9.00 and Simona Halep at $10. There are a host of tournaments around Australia and Asia leading into the Australian Open and UBET will have live coverage on all of those matches daily.
Australian Open Markets
* Prices are correct at 1:30pm Thursday.