Ed Chamberlin: United march on

  • Last Updated: March 21 2013, 9:46 GMT

Sky Sports presenter Ed Chamberlin looks at both ends of the Premier League and reflects on the Cheltenham Festival.

Sir Alex Ferguson: Closing on another Premier League title

They are now 15 points ahead and showing no signs of taking their foot off the gas.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United are out to make a statement this season and win the Premier League title as emphatically as possible.

Then you sense next season they will want to show how a title should be retained.

The betting interest through the rest of the season will revolve around the race for the top four and the battle to avoid relegation.

It was a bad weekend for Tottenham, who are out to 10/11 to qualify for the Champions League , after Chelsea (1/7) and Arsenal (8/11) both won.

With no European distractions, you sense Arsenal are set to finish the season with a flourish and are now only four points behind Spurs with a game in hand. Everton are 10/1 and Liverpool 16/1 for a top four finish but both look like they have too much to do.

Sky Bet's relegation betting: Reading 1/16, QPR 1/6, Wigan 10/11, Aston Villa 7/4, Sunderland 7/2, Southampton 6/1 (16/1 bar).

Reading and QPR were the big losers at the bottom and the crucial wins for Aston Villa and Southampton looked like they might cut Wigan adrift as well. Their controversial win against Newcastle on Super Sunday was absolutely vital to keep them in the mix and with Wigan, anything is possible. Sunderland's performance against Norwich in our first live game on Sunday was alarming and they look devoid of confidence and any momentum at just the wrong time.

There was a heated debate in the Sky Sports studio with Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke on whether Norwich's Mark Bunn should have been sent off. However, the most worrying thing for Sunderland fans, as Cole explained after the game, was that their team created virtually nothing in the 60 minutes against 10 men.

Horse Racing

The dust has settled on another dramatic Cheltenham Festival.

Up until 4.45pm on Thursday it was shaping up as another vintage renewal despite the desperately cold weather.

The executive did an incredible job to get the racing on on Tuesday in arctic conditions and I thought the atmosphere might suffer in the freezing temperatures.

Not a bit of it.

There seemed to be a siege mentality amongst the crowd and people flooded outside to give the usual roar ahead of the Supreme Novices Hurdle.

What followed was three days of great racing and brilliant stories.

However, JT McNamara's fall in the Kim Muir on Thursday afternoon changed everything. I happened to be in the weighing room as news spread about his fall and will never forget the reaction and concern of his colleagues.

The jockeys then handled the situation on Gold Cup Day with real class and sensitivity. JP McManus summed the situation up when he said he wanted to be happy winning races but couldn't be, and felt guilty for just being there.

This from the man who ensured that McNamara's family were flown over to England at the earliest possible opportunity to be with John Thomas.

A typical McManus gesture.

The thoughts of the racing world continue to be with JT McNamara and his family.

On Tuesday I was wrong to oppose Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle. It was a fine performance from a true champion but I still don't think he beat a vintage crop of hurdlers.

However, there are stars queuing up on the horizon after a quality Supreme, a stunning display from Our Conor in the Triumph and The New One winning a vintage renewal of the Neptune.

I think we'll be looking back at that race as one of the strongest in recent years and would be amazed if Rule The World, Pont Alexandre, Tarquin de Seuil and Chatterbox aren't all winning top races next season.

My regular readers will know that I've been writing for a while that The New One was a bit special and 8/1 with Skybet is tempting on him winning next year's Champion Hurdle.

However, there are dangers galore as Our Conor (4/1 favourite for 2014 Champion Hurdle) looked like a freak in the Triumph Hurdle, while I can easily see My Tent Or Yours going close despite his defeat in the Supreme.

AP McCoy still has complete faith in the horse and we've seen how Nicky Henderson improved Binocular, Sprinter Sacre and Darlan after placing in the Festival opener.

My Tent Or Yours (7/1) should be a good thing in a speed test like the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton but it's too early to write him off as a flat track bully.

Hurricane Fly is 11/2 to retain his title as a 10-year-old but just like the chasing division this year, I fully expect the young brigade to come to the fore.

Second season chasers dominated the Gold Cup with Bobs Worth now top of the chasing tree and he will be very hard to knock off his perch.

Bobs Worth is the perfect Cheltenham Gold Cup horse.

There's nothing flashy about him but he's a horse just made for this race. When he gets his head down it's hard to imagine any horse out-battling him up the famous hill.

He's 3/1 to retain his crown and unlike the hurdling division, there look few superstars in the novice ranks that look capable of mounting a challenge.

It was alarming how superior the Irish staying novices were over their British counterparts.

Boston Bob would have won the RSA in impressive fashion and Skybet's 20/1 looks big for 2014 but I can't see myself deserting Bobs Worth next year.

After victories for Hurricane Fly, Simonsig, Quevega, Sprinter Sacre, At Fishers Cross and Bobs Worth, Skybet must have been thankful for the handicaps, which were fiendishly difficult and threw up numerous big price winners.

Those races will be worth watching over and over again for future winners. The one horse I will definitely be backing at Aintree is Emma Lavelle's Claret Cloak. I fancied him strongly for the County Hurdle but the rain scuppered his chance on Friday.

He still travelled like a good horse and is one to keep in mind when we finally get some good ground.


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