Best bets for 2014
Our tipping team pick out their best bets for 2014 across a host of sports.
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War Command may not have impressed everyone with his rather workmanlike win in the Dewhurst Stakes, but he nevertheless looks by far the most solid candidate in the betting lists for the first British Classic of the season and I'll be surprised if he isn't sent to post at less than half his present odds on the day.
Market-leader Kingman has questions to answer having gone missing since taking the Solario Stakes way back in August, while the selection's stablemate Australia appeals much more as a 10 or 12-furlong horse and may not even go for the Guineas if connections opt to go down the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial road instead.
His impressive Coventry Stakes success aside, War Command might lack the glamour factor of some of his potential rivals in the 2000 Guineas, but he has a likeably straightforward attitude and looks to me a very sensible addition to any ante-post portfolio for 2014.
The World Cup is clearly the big event of the football year and I reckon there is already a spot of value to be had in Sky Bet's specials.
South Korea have been placed in Group H with Algeria, Belgium and Russia and I'm already pretty confident that they will progress to the last 16.
They are in one of the weaker-looking pools and can be expected to make it through with Belgium, probably behind the Premier League all-stars, in second.
That would set up a clash with Germany and there the run comes to an end. The 5/2 for South Korea to be knocked at the second stage is a good price and much better than the more highly-fancied Russians.
Everyone knows by now that a lot went wrong for Rory McIlroy in 2013. Whatever the causes, McIlroy simply didn't produce results on the golf course until December, when he won the Australian Open at Adam Scott's expense. But that victory at Royal Sydney will have done him the world of good and it's just the springboard he needs for a massive 2014.
Augusta, Pinehurst, Hoylake and Valhalla are the major venues for the season and 4/1 about him conquering one of them is fine, but I'm willing to be more specific and nominate Valhalla given the obvious negatives which the Open Championship in particular brings to the table. Valhalla is a Jack Nicklaus design which is right up Rory's street and he won't be 14s come August if, as I expect, he returns to his brilliant best.
Tiger Woods won the US PGA when last it visited the Louisville layout but it's Rory who takes my fancy at a course which allowed for low numbers back in 2000, and could see a big-hitting star like McIlroy shoot the lights out, particularly if rain softens things up a tad. Here's hoping.
With the season now under way, many specials have now been taken down but this one remains and looks worth backing.
Edberg has announced he'll work with Federer for "at least 10 weeks" this season although it's not known exactly which weeks those will be. However, given the Swede is a former two-time champion in SW19, the Wimbledon fortnight could well be among them.
Even if it isn't, there must be a good chance the relationship is extended beyond June, in which case this bet will land. To me, 7/4 just looks too big.
It's not going to take much for Salford Red Devils to improve upon last season's finishing position. They propped up the table with just 11 points.
Yet their prospects are much brighter for the upcoming campaign thanks to an aggressive recruitment drive that has seen the likes of Rangi Chase, Gareth Hock, Adrian Morley and Tim Smith join the club.
Assessing how far up the ladder they can climb is difficult, but they are clearly expected to at least get in the play-offs with a top-eight berth a 2/9 shot.
However, they can possibly go a little bit further than that. It's all about building to an end-of-season peak for the top clubs, with Leeds the best example of a team that can finish fifth and go well in the play-offs.
With that in mind, perhaps Salford can sneak a top-four place. Certainly, at 6/1, they are worth a small poke.
Picking out a best bet for the 2014 Formula One season is a daunting task, but there might just be some mileage in taking on Red Bull in the Constructors' Championship.
Make no mistake, we are opposing the dominant F1 team here but there are reasons for doing so. Firstly, the all-conquering Sebastian Vettel has a new team-mate to work with in Daniel Ricciardo, and while the bad blood between Vettel and previous number two Mark Webber means this could be taken as a positive, this is nonetheless a big test for the Australian and, as we saw with Sergio Perez at McLaren last year, there's no guarantee he'll slot straight in even to the uber-efficient Red Bull outfit.
Secondly, the latest rule changes brought about by the FIA should, in theory, make life tougher for Red Bull and give both Mercedes and Ferrari, in particular, real hope of bridging what was an admittedly wide gap. Mercedes should be best placed, but the departure of Ross Brawn comes at the wrong time and they're probably priced about right at 2/1. Ferrari, however, could be the ones to sneak up on Red Bull, especially now that they've arguably the strongest driver line-up on the grid, with Kimi Raikkonen joining Fernando Alonso. How that dynamic works remains to be seen but here we have two truly top-class world champions and a team with a proven track record of taking advantage of significant changes to car set-up. Behind the scenes, the acquisition of James Allison from Lotus is a further boost in that regard and should help them marry chassis and engine quickly and effectively.
There is no doubt that any bet on the F1 season at this stage must fall into the speculative category, but Ferrari have cause for optimism heading to Australia and look a shade overpriced.
Mo Farah has nothing left to prove on the track having clinched another long-distance double at last summer's World Championships and now our Olympic hero is planning to conqueror the 2014 London Marathon.
The 30-year-old, who will turn 31 before making his eagerly-anticipated marathon debut on the streets of London in April, has upped his training regime to more than 120 miles per week as he continues to put his body through the mill in order to fulfil all his career ambitions.
Nobody needs reminding about the sacrifices this incredibly dedicated athlete has made in the past and there can be no doubt whatsoever that Farah will leave no stone unturned to ensure he's in the mix to thrill the London crowds this spring and become Great Britain's first home winner of the event since Eamonn Martin in 1993.
Farah can be backed at 5/2 right now but I wouldn't be too surprised to see this price shorten in the days leading up to the race.