Ed Chamberlin: Follow the Star
Ed Chamberlin fancies Flemenstar to win Sunday's John Durkan as he previews the weekend's sporting action.
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This weekend's racing revolves around Aintree and Sandown on Saturday and then Punchestown on Sunday.
With the ground drying up Claret Cloak looks a good bet to win the Henry VIII Novices Chase. He'll relish the decent surface and should be able to turn round the Exeter form with Manyriverstocross on 5lb better terms. Claret Cloak travelled like much the best horse in that race and his fluent jumping will be a big advantage around Sandown.
Over at Aintree I fancy Roberto Goldback to run a big race in either the Becher Chase or Grand Sefton. He ran well on his reappearance at Ascot, one place behind stablemate and Hennessy hero Triolo d'Alene. Nicky Henderson's horses are coming on a lot for their first runs and Roberto Goldback is back on a winning mark.
A busy week just gone started with Super Sunday at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool's defeat at Hull summed up the season so far with its unpredictability and the ability for any team to beat any other.
What followed was an impressive display of power from Chelsea as they steamrollered Southampton in the second half at Stamford Bridge. It was like the Mourinho and Chelsea of old; the manager transforming his team at half-time and his team producing the kind of display we got used to a few years ago when they consistently over-powered the opposition. At the start of the second half there was wave after wave of Chelsea pressure and eventually Southampton gave way.
The boys in the studio were particularly impressed with Eden Hazard on Sunday and he was emphatically the star of the show at Sunderland on Wednesday too. Hazard could be on the verge of finally fulfilling all the promise and the flashes of brilliance he's shown in his Chelsea career to date. If Hazard and Chelsea can find consistency and get on a roll then they are in business.
Sky Bet have trimmed Chelsea to 3/1 to win the League.
After the show it was a race to get to Leicester Square for the premiere of the 'Class of '92'. Seeing G.Neville, the movie star, working the red carpet will live long in the memory. If you haven't seen the film, I highly recommend it.
Monday saw the annual HWPA Lunch at Lancaster Gate. The Sky Bet team were there in force to give me some stick for my lamentable performance in last week's Hennessy Tipping Competition, while the awards and lunch were as entertaining as ever and had their usual splattering of controversy as racing's numerous factions aired their views on stage. All very entertaining.
It was a shame my fellow columnist Graham Cunningham didn't scoop the broadcaster of the year award, as he would have been a thoroughly deserving winner.
After the racing awards on Monday I hosted the first ever League Managers Association Leadership dinner at the top of the Gherkin in central London. A stunning venue and an excellent evening in the company of numerous Premier League managers.
My role was to interview Roberto Di Matteo about his career in football and it was fascinating to hear a unique insight in to the life of a manager and what it was like to lead the Chelsea team in the Nou Camp and on that famous Champions League winning night in Munich. Di Matteo is clearly a deep thinking manager and will certainly be back in the game soon.
Wednesday night was spent at St Mary's to see a thoroughly entertaining game between Southampton and Aston Villa. It's three defeats on the spin now for Mauricio Pochettino's side, who need to halt the slide but now also have injuries to key players to deal with. Next up is the small matter of Manchester City, who proved they can win away from home this week and will want revenge after defeat at St Mary's last season.
Super Sunday this weekend comes from the Emirates.
First up is an intriguing game at Craven Cottage and a big one Rene Muelensteen after defeat in his first match in charge ended in defeat against Tottenham. However, Fulham were much improved on Wednesday night after Muelensteen made seven changes to the team. Sunday won't be easy as Villa proved again at Southampton how effective they are away from home and how dangerous they are on the break. Punters may be tempted by Sky Bet's 8/5 on an away win.
After the game at Craven Cottage we get the chance to see the League leaders Arsenal take on Everton, who will be buzzing after their win at Old Trafford. Arsenal will be looking to keep their momentum going and their lead at the top. They are currently second favourites at 9/4 in Sky Bet's title odds behind Manchester City at 6/4.
It's not hard to picture a scenario where Arsenal are still a few points ahead after Christmas. They could be the hare being chased down in the New Year by the juggernauts from Manchester City and Chelsea.
Now that would be a title race to savour.