The Monaco Grand Prix is the showcase of the Formula 1 season and it would be simple to think that Red Bull will run away with this race having watched the previous five races.
The Red Bull is the best car this year as it generates the most downforce through it’s flexible front wing compared to the competition and a whole host of other clever Adrian Newey initiatives including the blown exhaust system. However, Monaco is a track that requires low level of downforce and low speed cornering is more important which means a number of cars can win the race. Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes can all finish on the podium. Read More…
Two years ago in the 2000 guineas betting market there was a lot of hype about a potential superstar in the making. Craven stakes winner Delegator was a well fancied 3/1 shot to win over the Rowley mile and cement his place in the history books. However it was an Irish horse at 8/1 who emerged as the superhorse as Sea the Stars not only won at Newmarket, but in the Derby at Epsom and the Arc at Longchamp – A true great of our time, a wonderhorse, a supercolt. But what of poor old Delegator who gallantly chased home Sea the Stars to lose by just over a length? Having raced against the worlds best in group 1 races at Royal Ascot and the Breeders cup it appeared that he just wasn’t a top class, group 1 miler.
Deegator changed hands to Godolphin as a 4 year old and they have finally had the nouse to drop him back in trip and try him over the shorter distances. He won, when dropped back to 7 furlongs, in his first outing at Newbury, albeit in listed company. And when tried at Group 2 level (over 7F) he flopped as favourite at Newmarket. Again he was tried and outclassed in the Breeders cup mile before finally being tried at 6 furlongs recently at York. This was his first ever run at 6 furlongs, in Group 2 company and he won cosily. He was immediately given a quote of 10-1 for the Golden Jubilee. I think this race is perfect for him and although he is yet to win in group 1 company there have been many sprint horses that have broken their duck in this Royal Ascot showpiece and I foresee Delegator to be a real star in the making. The danger with Ante post betting is getting your fingers burnt and backers of pre race favourite Rocket Man will be disappointed he doesn’t take his chance. The Asian sprint superstar has swerved Ascot and this makes the 10-1 look even more attractive. Unfortunately Delegator’s price has dropped as a result and the 11/2 about him now is a touch short. However I think he may be a real star for the future and this price stills looks attractive enough given that this race is likely to be a below par renewal.
Golden Jubilee 18th June -
Delegator – Win @ 11/2 with William Hill
Make no mistake this edition of the Giro has provided a challenge unequalled by a grand tour parcour for decades. In some respects it is simply too tough. The Grossglockner turned into the Grossflopner perhaps due to the shadow of the mighty Zoncolon rearing up over the horizon. This mountain is surely the equal of anything in pro-racing, it is unrelenting torture. Nibali tried bravely to test Contador as did the ever gallant Scarponi but the Spaniard is that bit too strong, too fluid, too classy. He wouldn’t have minded the partisan boos of the Tifosi as he crested the finish line behind Igor Anton. Nibali may have been left cursing the cancellation of the Monte Crostis descent but the truth is Contador looked capable of clawing time back on the ascents, and the Crostis descent looked terrifying even for a descender of Nibali’s quality. I think the DS’s were correct to pressure the organisers into a cancellation. Read More…
Sports Leviathan contributor Chris Nash produced two outstanding innings over the weekend scoring a sparkling century in the four day format on Friday guiding Sussex to another impressive win over title favourites Somerset. Nashy’s 120 included 16 fours and another substantial opening partnership of 201 with Ed Joyce. Both players have now passed 650 runs for the season with Nashy 5 ahead of his teammate on 656.
On Sunday Nashy weighed in again leading the Sharks to a 19 run victory over Kent. Nashy’s 124 not out came off 119 balls with 9 fours and a six. It was his highest score in the pro40 competition and illustrates the red hot form the man from Horsham is in, scoring runs in all formats of the game. This week Sussex have a brief rest from the County championship programme when they play Oxford UCCE at the Parks before playing Yorkshire at Hove on Sunday.
The IPL is compulsive viewing for a cricket fan and whilst it isn’t the Sports Leviathan’s favourite, it is exciting. Today the Kolkata Knight Riders set a decent total of 175 and defended it with aplomb…until the last few overs when the wheels spectacularly came off. Mumbai Indians spearheaded by James Franklin (45 off 23) scored 58 runs off the last 5 overs, needing 21 to win off the last over! Franklin started the over with four 4’s before Rayudu smashed a six to win the game. A great comeback for Tendulkar’s men who now play the Knight riders in the playoffs but crucially have home advantage as a result of their win. I only turned on when the Indians needed 12 an over and immediately I was cheering them on to try and pull off an unlikely victory. There is something habitually British about supporting the underdog and there is a similar level of excitement when a team or performer produces a comeback or revival from an unlikely position. This weekend was full of sporting ripostes which seemed to be evident whichever sport I watched.
Starting with Football, it appears Carlo Ancelotti has finally reached his stop on the Oligarch express with the news breaking of his departure – hardly surprising given Abramovich’s merry go round style of employing managers. With the topic of comebacks high on the agenda and in light of Gus Hiddink claiming today he has been working at Chelsea as an “advisor” for the last two years it may be the canny Dutchman who returns to the helm at the Bridge.
Survival Sunday didn’t fail to disappoint, with team’s fortunes changing more times than Chelsea’s managers. In fact with 3 minutes to go Wolves were down (and the Leviathan was smiling) but late goals from Hunt and Pavlychenko condemned Birmingham and Blackpool to the Championship despite the Tangerines heroic efforts in Manchester. Both sides have had an awful end to the season with Birmingham only picking up 8 points after their Carling cup victory against Arsenal, ending with 5 losses and a draw from 6 games. On New years’ day Blackpool were 8th! They only picked up 14 points for the remainder of the season as they produced streaks which saw them lose 5 in a row and then draw once and lose 5 out of 6 games; sadly for Ollie’s band of zesty warriors that is relegation form and their inability to reach the hallowed 40 point mark cost them dear (despite only spending 22 days in the bottom four). In contrast Wigan were 2-0 down to West Ham last weekend with 30 minutes to go – Half an hour to save their season the commentator noted. They not only won that game 3-2 but then beat Stoke to survive, somehow Martinez has led a monumental revival and their achievement ranks as one of the premiership’s greatest comebacks.
In Horse Racing a past selection came back in style today. Misty by Magic was a fancy of mine in the 1000 Guineas but didn’t seem to enjoy things at Newmarket – She had never raced in Britain before, having had all her previous success in Ireland and France. She was clearly below par on Guineas day and reversed a 17 length defeat to stablemate Together with her victory in the Irish 1000 Guineas today. There is talk of a tilt at the Oaks but I think she may go to the Diane (French Oaks) at Chantilly instead. The race is 2 furlongs shorter than the English Oaks, so there will be no issue with her not getting home, and the way she swooped late today illustrates the step up to 1 mile and 2 furlongs looks ideal. Either way Aiden O’Brien’s string are in great form and that bodes well for Seville, who although disappointed in the Dante will hopefully be spot on for Epsom. Given his price remained unchanged after the Dante the news regarding him must be fairly positive. I will be doing a more in depth look at the Derby after final declarations but I am very intrigued by Pour Moi and think, if a confirmed runner ,will shorten in price a fair bit, so it may be worth a little ante post punt to ensure the best odds – He is currently best priced 10/1
A note too on Ian Poulter – He was asked before the Masters why he couldn’t transfer his Ryder Cup form to tournament play. Poulter said that he was due a win and felt he was swinging the club really well, citing the camaraderie and nature of matchplay events better suited his mental approach. Poulter seems to thrive in the match-play environment and he duly succeeded in the first matchplay event since his quote! Sometimes it pays to believe what you read in the press.
The Heineken Cup final on Saturday saw another impressive comeback – the biggest in Heineken cup final history. Northampton led 22-6 at the interval until Johnathon Sexton ruined the Saints party. ”We were shellshocked and needed leaders. I said comebacks happen in finals – I knew we could come back.” Said Sexton who, by all accounts was inspirational. Sexton used Liverpool’s Turkish turnaround as motivation and it clearly worked. Leinster replied with 27 unanswered points to lift Europe’s premier club trophy. Having the right mental psyche in situations like this is vital in maintaining your self belief. The best performers are the ones who can ‘chalk off” their errors and mistakes and not let them effect their future performance. This is crucial in golf and the match-play format makes it easier to do this. I would suggest Poulter needs to develop his mental dexterity to ensure he can produce a good swing consistently over 4 days and not let his mistakes get the better of him before he is going to win a major, though is his getting closer. In rugby and football the half time break provides the ideal forum for this psychological regrouping. Teams often come out galvanised in the second half and an improvement in performance is immediately evident as a result of a change in their psychological approach – conscious or not . The process of resting and regenerating our bodies mental capacity is crucial in succeeding in professional sport.
And how else could I end an article about comebacks but mention Bernard Hopkins. The new Light Heavyweight champion of he world is old enough to be David Hayes father but give him credit; he was impressive against a very disappointing Jean Pascal and at the ripe old age of 46 is the oldest man to hold a world boxing title. Sometimes the idea of running around like a teenager again fills the mind with excitement, but it seems Hopkins isn’t just thinking it; he’s living it and fair play to him.
Dun Dun Dun Dun Dun Dun Dun Dun Nash AHHHHH he scores another run for us!
Sports Leviathan are thrilled to welcome Chris Nash as a contributor. Nashy will keep us updated on the goings on at Sussex cricket club, give us an insight in the life of a cricketer and preview some of the up and coming Test and ODI cricket over the summer – Thats if he’s not on the golf course!
For seasons Nashy has been questioning his path into cricketing stardom. And despite the stewardship of Graham Dilley, once he was dispatched through a 5th floor window by a Northants Second XI player it was evident that it was with the willow in his hand where his strentgth lay. Two seasons ago Nashy was the third highest run scorer in the County Championship Division 1 and has regularly passed 1000 runs in recent seasons. His form earned him a call up to the England Performance Programme and also saw him represent Otago in New Zealand. He is one of the most consistent run scorers in the County Championship and alongside his 2 league winners medals lie a C&G success, a Pro 40 title as well as a 20/20 trophy. He has won it all in the domestic game and has also played in the Champions league of Cricket. Nashy bowls a bit too and his off spin has proven a useful tool for Sussex. The spiderman has been known to take crucial wickets and can add Michael Vaughn and Justin Langer to his prize scalps. C’mon lets be kind and call him an ‘all rounder ‘ and hope his blogs meet the standard of his batting or more realistically his bowling!
“With the cricket season in full swing I can give my early thoughts on how the summer is shaping up. Although it is only mid-May most teams will have completed 7 championship games by the end of the month. Thankfully with the good weather we have played on good wickets and haven’t lost many days to rain. Division 1 looks like being a real close one. Sussex, after a poor start have produced a couple of brilliant results winning against 2009 champs Durham and 2010 champs Notts inside 3 days. This has given us real confidence in the competition so we will be looking to continue this against Somerset this week. It looks like a really hard competition to predict with all sides having good players and once a team gets on a roll they could move quickly up the table. Our one day form has been very strong since our opening game loss to Derbyshire with 3 wins in 3 so we have good momentum to take into the busy month of June. June also signals the start of T20 which is an exciting time for all players. Currently the tough schedules of 4 day games mean very little time off to hone the golf swing. However the late starts during the T20 season gives me some great opportunities to work on my handicap. As is the case with most cricketers my driving can be wild but long which isnt always a good recipe. Hopefully the next few weeks can give me some time to work on that, coupled together with some more runs and I’ll be very happy.”
In the County Championship Nashy has currently scored 402 runs with 4 fifties at an average of over 50.
On the fiery slopes of Mount Etna Alberto Contador blew away his rivals with a devastating attack that saw him back to his very best. Scarponi tried to match the Spaniard and quickly paid for it by sending himself into the red. It always looks worse with Scarponi than it truly is due to the massive gear he rides, but lets not fool ourselves he was blown. To Scarponi’s credit his greatest asset is his doggedness and he will remain a threat.
So what of the other GC men? They seemed to think better of it and sought strength in numbers to limit their losses. Kreuziger looks as good as I have ever seen him, Garzelli continues to perform strongly and Vincenzo Nibali? Well I thought he rode well, whether he couldn’t or wouldn’t follow Contador (the former I suspect) he showed maturity to not get caught up in the moment on home soil and risk losing a packet of time.
Contador gave us prior warning on the stage before Etna that he was in aggressive mood by attacking off the front and nicking some GC time. It seems he is riding with a point to prove since last years TDF where he was not at his best and subsequent allegations followed. He looked incredibly fluid maintaining his famous bursts long enough to even shed the purest of mountain goats Jose Rujano. Interestingly Rujano also seems back to his best after a few years in the wilderness, Contador will now watch him closely also.
There are still many mountains to climb and descend in this Giro that will twist and turn the GC as well as the riders muscles. Yet Etna gave us a genuine selection and thus a good indication of GC contenders. Contador has sent a message, barring mechanicals, accidents (god forbid) or a big off day, he will be very tough to beat. Despite the possibility that his team may not prove adept at protecting him in the mountains or the fact he must now defend the Maglia Rosa – Contador is good enough to do it on his own. Perhaps an alliance between other GC contenders to upset him could work but is unlikely. Maybe the demon descending of Nibali could create a problem? We will see.
In other areas… The sprints continue to be shared out randomly, and seemingly quite literally in the case of Petacchi and Ventoso! Hope you havn’t been punting these? One more stage for the fast men and then most of them will head to the beach given the forthcoming parcours.
Also Corinthians picks in the domestique category have been showing well. Hoogerland and Lastras both in good breakaways. Lastras making a bold bid for the Maglia Rosa on Etna of all places. Most impressive of all is Kiryienka who made the selection on Etna – that even got Sean Kelly of Eurosport excited!.
In light of Andrew Strauss’ sparkling 150 on what must have been a road at Uxbridge, given that Middlesex didn’t even take a wicket in the first innings, AlphaSpur responds to KP’s comments on whether the 3 captain rule is a valid one.
The England cricket team has broke new ground recently, voting ‘Yes’ to the Alternative Captain system. Three formats now means three skippers! But with high profile players such as Pieterson admitting that ‘no-one knows whether it’s going to work’ what is the idea behind the forward thinking and will England’s decision to appoint different captains for each format of the international game be a success? Read More…
Manchester is twinned with Los Angleles and Saint Petersburg – I don’t know quite how the ‘twin’ thing works because I couldn’t imagine 3 more different cities. However these two heavyweight, world cities illustrate the context in which we must judge our second largest city. What about Birmingham? a snuffly nosed brummy questions through his nasal passage. He is of course right in terms of population, where Manchester sits behind Birmingham and Liverpool in 4th place. However in a European study of LUZ (larger urban zones) Manchester sits 15th in Europe and 2nd in England. This is probably a better indication of Manchester’s size, industry and stature so we will work with this statistic.
Manchester is a breeding ground for good music and its premier acts read as a who’s who in the formation of popular culture – in particular indy music. The Smiths, Joy Division, New Order, Oasis, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays…in fact the list is endless. I visited Manchester recently and the music scene is really on another level. However whilst the music industry seems to have flown into orbit in Manchester, its roots lie in a much less glamorous form of industry. Read More…
This weekend unfortunately starts with a rant on a topic which is not only dear to my heart but also been battered to death in the press so I will keep my opinion relatively short, if at all possible. The team I support enjoyed a golden period whilst I was growing up. I was blessed with treble the amount of FA cup finals as my Dad had had in his lifetime, I had a plethora of European trips to various cities and I saw us lift an array of different trophies both domestic and in Europe. I was an ever present at FA cup, League cup, and European matches and had a fortunate taste of success few teeneagers could have dreamed of. But there was one day in the season that was most special. Every year. The FA cup Final. Read More…