Some things to consider for the days and weeks ahead, with some fantastic sport to look forward to.
1. Bookies fight for share of Cheltenham spoils
It’s one of the biggest weeks of the betting calendar as the Cheltenham Festival takes centre stage and bookmakers are hoping for a host of shocks to fill their coffers after a chastening fortnight of football results. The headlines will revolve around AP McCoy as he makes his final festival appearance as a jockey, with all eyes on the record-breaking champion as he rides Carlingford Lough in Friday’s Gold Cup. The battle to win the loyalty of the punters, however, begins on Tuesday morning and if you want to make sure you get the best value for your bet, make sure you take stock of all the available offers.
2. Huge week kicks off at Old Trafford
As if a feast of National Hunt racing isn’t enough, punters also have one of the biggest football matches of the season to kick things off on Monday night as Manchester United host Arsenal in the FA Cup. Monday night games are always popular betting events and this one, which is live on BBC1 and accessible to far more viewers, should see stakes go through the roof. Paddy Power will refund losing bets on both teams if this game is a draw – a very generous offer.
3. 7/2 Kane can usurp Aguero and Costa
In mid-December Harry Kane was available at 7/2 to end the season as Tottenham’s top scorer in the Premier League. At the time the young England prospect could be backed at 250/1 to be the league’s leading marksman, but after his brace at QPR on Saturday he is now down to those same odds of 7/2 (generally) to surpass Sergio Aguero (11/8) and Diego Costa (7/4) at the top of the goalscoring charts. He’s just a goal behind that pair and seven clear of his nearest rival at Spurs.
4. Johnson the man for St Andrews
Dustin Johnson continues to go from strength to strength following his return to the golf scene after a self-enforced absence, enhancing the feeling that this could be his year to make a breakthrough in the majors. Johnson has recorded seven top 10 finishes in his 21 major appearances but has come closest to winning at The Open, where his last five results read T12 – T32 – T9 – T2 – T14. He’s a serious contender when he comes over to these shores and at 30/1 with Bet365, an enticing prospect for this summer’s event.
5. Mayweather 4/9 to maintain winning record
There are just seven weeks to go until one of the most eagerly-anticipated fights in recent boxing history, as Floyd Mayweather Jr puts his unbeaten record on the line against Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas. The dust has finally settled on the protracted negotiations and although both fighters may be past their peak – at 38 Mayweather is two years Pacquiao’s senior – this should be an almighty scrap. Broadcasters are anticipating huge box office takings and bookies can expect stakes to be above and beyond what they usually take for a high profile bout. Mayweather is currently the 4/9 favourite (William Hill), with Pacquiao offered at 9/4 by Paddy Power.