We look at the Manchester derby, the weekend's racing fallout and the re-emergence of Tiger Woods in this week's ante-post betting column.
We don’t often flag events up in this column which are only a week away but it’s hard to see Manchester United going off 5/2 for Sunday’s huge Premier League derby.
Eight points off the pace already, they are approaching must-win territory but there’s plenty to suggest they are capable of taking the three points and finally stopping City’s unbeaten run.
For a start, they’ve won all 10 games they’ve played at Old Trafford in the campaign so far. Secondly, City are clearly vulnerable right now. They’ve needed a late goal to win their last three games, two of which saw them fall behind.
Even then, Sunday’s victory against West Ham would not have been had the Hammers taken one of two glorious late chances.
They are clearly missing the injured John Stones at the back and simply can’t afford to keep putting themselves into awkward situations. I think it’s fair to say if they do so at Old Trafford, they will find it harder to recover.
Yes, United will miss the suspended Paul Pogba but Jose Mourinho will doubtless produce a tactical plan to suit his objectives which will surely be to stifle City – just as recent, weaker opponents have done - and hurt them at the other end when they get the chance.
They were certainly deadly on the break at Arsenal on Saturday night and although David de Gea won't be able to replicate that sort of performance at will, I'd also be surprised were United to give up so many chances on home soil in this one.
Few, if any, Premier League coaches are as tactically astute as Mourinho and so a best price of 5/2 simply looks too big here.
Our betting partners Sky Bet tell us that they have never had United that big to win a home Premier league game - the biggest price they've gone off at was 12/5 in November 2005 when Chelsea arrived at Old Trafford on an unbeaten 40-game league run. United won 1-0 thanks to a Darren Fletcher header.
Certainly I’m not a fan of backing City to go through the season unbeaten given the chinks in the armour we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks – that’s now a best price of 10/1 (Ladbrokes, Coral).
The industry has multi-million pound liabilities on City in such specials markets, including them to win the Treble and even an unprecedented Quadruple. Sky Bet go 22/1 and 66/1 respectively.
However, if you are looking to get with them right now, a better way looks to be to back them at odds-against to set a new Premier League points record.
Chelsea’s 2004/05 mark of 95 is the one to beat and 15 games in, City already have 43. To set a new record, they need 53 points from their last 23 games – that’s 17 wins and two draws.
Sky Bet currently go 5/4 which given the situation City have already put themselves in seems perfectly fair. (Andy Schooler)
It was a red letter Sunday for Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown at Fairyhouse, and of their three Grade One winners it's Death Duty who piques my interest from an ante-post point of view.
While Apple's Jade will take all the beating in the Mares' race at next year's Cheltenham Festival, all being well, she's priced to do so while Sky Bet Supreme favourite Mengli Khan looks there to be shot at despite an impressive enough victory in the Royal Bond.
Death Duty, however, might be ready to justify his long-held reputation and there's even be scope to split stakes between the JLT Novices' Chase and the RSA given that the Arkle has understandably been ruled out.
The six-year-old is a best of 12/1 for the JLT and 14/1 for the RSA, both with Coral, and it's easy to suggest that he'd be shorter than the derived 7/1 for either come March.
The bet, though, is the JLT, over a trip at which he's unbeaten, after Elliott said: "I might have been getting it wrong with him last year, saying he needed three miles.
"Davy (Russell) said there today he's loads of speed. He wouldn't be an Arkle horse, more JLT (Novices' Chase)."
Death Duty's form stacks up - he beat the highly-touted Monalee convincingly over hurdles, and Irish National winner Our Duke in a bumper - and left-handed tracks appear likely to suit best given that he can edge that way when jumping.
Another option for connections would be a step out of novice company for the Ryanair Chase, for which the only firm quoting go 25/1, but that would be a move out of left-field even considering who his owners are and with the JLT route surely favoured, he can pick up another win before starting favourite at a third of these odds.
Saturday saw Total Recall prove himself a well-handicapped horse indeed as he reeled in Whisper to land the Ladbrokes Trophy, but the advice is to avoid backing him for the Grand National.
Willie Mullins' charge is Sky Bet's 16/1 favourite and no bigger than 25/1, but throughout the first half of what was the Hennessy made the sort of clumsy mistakes which can be punished rather quickly at Aintree. (Ben Coley)
Tiger Woods made a highly-encouraging return to competitive golf with a top-10 finish at the Hero World Challenge, where he briefly hit the front in round two and, after a difficult Saturday, rallied with a fine final-round 68.
Woods impressed many observers with his swing speed and there were no signs of the back issues which have plagued the 14-time major champion, so it's no surprise bookmakers have taken evasive action where next year's majors are concerned.
He's now a best of 28/1 for the Masters, 40/1 for the US Open, 50/1 for the Open Championship and 33s for the US PGA, while Sky Bet go 5/2 from 14/1 this time last week that he makes the US Ryder Cup side and bet365 make him 40/1 for the Money List.
Without question, the major Woods is most likely to win is the Masters. Since his last major victory in 2008, he's bagged twice as many top-six finishes at Augusta National as he has in any of the other three and even in 2015, when struggling for any kind of game, he finished a respectable 17th.
That said, there's surely no juice whatsoever in the price when you consider that he's shorter than reigning champion Sergio Garcia and the US Open title holder Brooks Koepka. Woods should be around the same price as his old sparring partner Phil Mickelson at 50/1, and if you didn't jump aboard early last week the ship has sailed.
Of the above options, the Money List makes some sort of appeal - even if he's giving Justin Thomas a start of US$1,766,500. Woods topped it as recently as 2013, whereas his last major was five years earlier, and it's possible to envisage a scenario in which he picks up titles at his favourite PGA Tour stops, enough perhaps to sneak a place.
I do expect him to do enough to make the Ryder Cup side and am not surprised in the slightest that his odds have hardened so dramatically. Bookmakers were, for once, extremely slow to react to positive noises from various peers of Woods and the revised 5/2 may still underestimate the various routes he has to that team.
Woods might have stolen most of the headlines over the first three days of the event, but Rickie Fowler did his best to change that with a stunning final-round 61 for what was ultimately a convincing victory over Charley Hoffman.
Fowler started the day seven shots back only to cruise home by four in a performance which underlined that he should be winning majors. Unlike some of his rivals, the 28-year-old is the complete package from a technical standpoint, combining good driving, accurate iron play and a deadly short-game, and I'm in the camp which remains convinced his time will come.
When Jordan Spieth won the Hero in 2014, he came out the next year and won the first two majors and it'll be disappointing if Fowler can't collect his first soon enough. Regrettably, he's into 20/1 for each of them and with the depth currently on display, it's difficult to argue that there's obvious value to be had now.
If you are looking for a bet as the PGA Tour breaks for Christmas and did not follow the ante-post advice to get on Patrick Cantlay for the Money List, he still looks way overpriced at 80/1 with Ladbrokes having already ticked the first box, securing his breakthrough victory to sit fifth in the standings at this early stage.
That win means he's in all next year's most valuable events and he's en route to world-class status. I wouldn't be surprised were he among the stars of 2018 - in fact I'll be disappointed if he isn't. (Ben Coley)