Most of the big names will be taking this week off after the WGC Cadillac Championship won by Patrick Reed, and that will ensure wide betting for both European and US events this week.
Morocco will host the Trophee Hassan 11 in Agadir on the European Tour, and George Coetzee and Ross Fisher were the opening $15 favourites ahead of David Horsey at $17 and Finland's Mikko Illonen at $19. There has been money for both Horsey and Illonen, and a look at their form at Agadir would explain why. Horsey won in 2011 and finished 3rd last year behind Marcel Siem, also in this year's field at $34, while Illonen finished 2nd last year and was also placed in 2010. The Finn has slowly been recapturing his form recently and looks hard to beat.
In the US, Harris English and Jordan Spieth head the betting at $18 to win the Valspar Championship to be played at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbour Florida, and Speith has been the best backed early on in betting. Matt Kuchar is just behind that duo at $19, followed by Luke Donald ($21), Jason Duffner ($23) and Justin Rose also at $23. Donald has won here previously in 2012 but hasn't been playing anywhere near the form that he was in at that time. K.J.Choi ($41) is a two time winner at Copperhead ((2002 and 2006), while there has been some specking for last year's winner Kevin Streelman who was $51 in the opening market.
The Melbourne F1 Grand Prix is always an exciting event each year as there are so many unknowns, and the same applies this year. There have been a multitude of rule changes, and views differ on who that will suit, but punters have settled on the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg as the ones to beat. Hamilton has impressed in recent practise sessions and has been $2.75 into $2.60 since the market was first opened a few weeks ago, while Rosberg has been solid at $5.00 on the second line of betting. Jenson Button has a fantastic record around the Albert Park course having won 3 of the last 5 races held there, but he has been neglected in early betting. There has been good support for last year's winner Kimi Raikkonen at $13 even though he is a much longer price than his Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso who is at $7.50. The Red Bulls have had a horror lead up to Melbourne and even World Champion Sebastian Vettel is talking down their chances. Vettel is $12, and there has only been lukewarm interest in him, but that will all change if he can post decent times on Friday. Betting will close while the practise sessions are conducted and re-open soon after.
The V8's will also be in action in Melbourne this week, and although the 4 races due to be run will not be part of the 2104 Championship, we still expect the racing to be competitive as usual. Two races will be held on Friday, one on Saturday, and the 4th on Sunday, with the last 3 races using the finishing positions of the previous race as grid positions. It is essential to be at the head of the grid around Albert Park, and Jamie Whincup is the $4.00 favourite to win race 1 from Craig Lowndes at $4.50, but the big mover has been Scott McLaughlin in a Volvo. The youngster impressed all in Adelaide, particularly punters, as he has been $8.50 into $5.50 to win race 1.
The big clash between the Brumbies and the Waratahs takes pride of place this week in Super Rugby, and TattsBet couldn’t split the pair, opening both at $1.90. Punters are thinking along similar lines as betting has split between the two, although there haven’t been any big wagers recorded in early trading. The Brumbies return from a win in Wellington and have a healthy record of 4 wins from their last 5 meetings with the Waratahs in Canberra, and the Waratahs are returning from a bye. It should be a great game, and a win for either extremely important in what appears to be an open competition.
The Crusaders got out of jail last week against the Stormers while the Rebels conceded 32 points in the 1st half against the lowly Western Force. That would suggest that the Rebels would have little chance against the Crusaders this week, but they are at home, and they aren’t favourites! In fact there has been good early support for them at $3.05 and also with 6.5 points start. The Crusaders have a growing injury list, and in two previous encounters between these sides, it is a win apiece, both to the side playing at home. This one has a potential upset written all over it.
The Reds flew out to South Africa on Sunday so should be well prepared for Saturday night’s match against the top of the table Sharks. This will be the Sharks 4th home match in 5 weeks, and have won their last four encounters at home against the Reds. The Reds haven’t had much joy in South Africa the last two seasons having lost all four matches, and their fans don’t rate them too highly this week as they have been unwanted at $3.75 while there has been good money for the Sharks to beat the 7.5 point line.
Round 1 of the new NRL season looked tough on paper and that is how it worked out when only 3 of the favourites were able to win, with only 2 of those covering the line. There is always a lot of curiosity around live betting trends when a team comes from a hopeless position to get up and win, and that’s exactly what Melbourne did against Manly. The Storm were down 20-4 at half time, and there were plenty of big bets for Manly at $1.04, including one bet of $50,000. It is always amazing looking at the turnaround in prices early in any season, particularly based on one round of football, and there is a good example this Friday night. Manly went down to Melbourne, have lost Brett Stewart, and take on Souths who beat the Roosters when most had written them off beforehand. Now Manly travel to Gosford this week as the forgotten side at $2.70 while punters are all over Souths at $1.48! Souths are the new favourites to win the title as well, now $4.75 ahead of the Roosters at $5.00, with Melbourne next in line at $7.00.
The big Queensland derby at Suncorp on Friday night had some life breathed into it when the Cowboys had to come from behind to beat Canberra and the Broncos had an unexpected win over Canterbury. So both head into this week’s clash with plenty of wind in their sails, and that has meant we have a serious betting duel on our hands. The Cowboys are $1.71 with Brisbane at $2.15, and it is bet for bet. The Cowboys were favourites in Brisbane in 2010 at a similar quote ($1.80), but Brisbane got the 2 points.
The two biggest early moves in betting this week have been the Gold Coast and Canterbury. The Titans opened at $1.35 to beat the Tigers but quickly moved into $1.28 with the line moving 2 full points to 10.0, while a growing injury toll, and further ASADA rumours have seen Cronulla blow from an opening $2.65 out to $3.00 against the Bulldogs who are now $1.40.
The AFL season starts Friday night, and in a novel move the opening round will be split with four games this week and five next week, including a Thursday night match.
Historically, Fremantle are a side that not many want to be on whenever they travel, but that has all changed, and they trek to Melbourne as well backed favourites to topple Collingwood on Friday night. The Dockers would have been better suited by the wide open expanses of the MCG, but this game will be played at Etihad Stadium. Fremantle were $1.80 at the start of the week, but sustained support, including one bet of $10,000 at $1.80, has seen the price continue to come in to $1.70. Collingwood have admirers as they ease out to $2.17, but nothing like the money for Fremantle.
TattsBet announced this week that they are an official partner of the Gold Coast Suns, and everybody is expecting the Suns to be a major threat this year. They showed in season 2013 that they were not far away, and the Suns look a big hope of starting the season with a win on Saturday night against Richmond. Teams travelling to the Gold Coast always struggle with the humid conditions, and scoring opportunities are at a premium. Richmond always start the season well and are at $1.58 to beat the Suns who are $2.40, with a line of 11.5 points. As expected, there is plenty of support for the Suns and the bets for them outnumber Richmond by 2-1. Gary Ablett is the key factor for the Suns, and the reigning Brownlow Medallist is the $7.00 favourite to go back to back. The week leading into round 1 is always busy with the ‘futures’ markets, and the Brownlow Medal is no exception. Paddy Dangerfield has been backed to win close to $50,000 at $11, while there has been constant support for most of those well up in the betting including Trent Cotchin ($15) and Scott Pendlebury.