What Happens Next? Seeking ante-post betting value

Last Updated March 20 2017, 12:21Racing

An 80/1 US Masters suggestion, a double figure fancy for Cheltenham 2018, a boxing upset and a Champions League wager feature in this week's ante-post betting column.

Horse Racing

Few would have begrudged Special Tiara his victory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase but not many of them will be lining up to back Henry de Bromhead's star for the 2018 renewal.

Douvan could well return and plenty would like to see the Altior v Douvan clash but after finishing in front of Gold Cup hero Sizing John on no fewer than seven occasions already and Djakadam coming up short again, it would be no surprise to see the seven-year-old sent in pursuit of the blue riband event.

At a Sky Bet backed Cheltenham Festival preview night in Doncaster, Adrian Heskin, having ridden against both horses, was in no doubt whatsoever that Douvan would come out on top if he and Altior were ever to meet.

Douvan is 3/1 for the two mile chase crown with the Arkle winner - whose performance divided opinion - a point shorter but Douvan is not the only speedster housed in the Willie Mullins stable.

Min may have been brushed aside by Altior in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle but there is no guarantee that the same would have happened over fences and the pair were around 7/4 and 4/1 in the ante-post Arkle markets before Min was ruled out with injury.

One (arguably) less than impressive performance later and Altior is 2/1 and Min is 12/1. 

The six-year-old son of Walk In The Park could be back in action later this season and if he wins a Grade One at one of the spring festivals then we could already be sitting on an attractively priced ante-post ticket.

Mullins is a master at placing his horses and so it would be no surprise to see Min rack up a sequence of impressive victories in Ireland next season and by taking the 12/1 now, we could be in a strong position in 12 months time. (Ian Ogg)

Click here to back Min for the Champion Chase with Sky Bet


Atletico Madrid could quite conceivably be battling for favouritism for the Champions League following the quarter-finals and backing them to reach a third final in four years makes a significant amount of appeal.

Firstly, the draw. With Borussia Dortmund or Monaco guaranteed a place in the semis and two of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus set to bow out, it’s clear Diego Simeone’s side will be in a very strong position should they safely negotiate a path past Leicester.

The Foxes, completely rejuvenated since unceremoniously ditching title-winning boss Claudio Ranieri, are coming in for support ahead of their trip to Madrid on April 12 but Atleti are 1/3 favourites to claim a first-leg advantage and should they deliver as expected there’s no better exponent of the away-day counter-attack than Simeone.

Bayern Munich are feared after thrashing Arsenal and it’s principally the German champions who put me off the outright market given their ability to match Atletico when it comes to defensive solidarity.

It would be a fascinating battle should they meet next but Atletico always represent excellent value against Barca and Real, who are both struggling to contain sides.

Real have kept just one clean sheet in 10 matches while Barcelona (one shutout in their last seven) continue to play their wide-open, attacking football which would leave them open to Atletico’s sucker-punch.

Juventus, not too dissimilar to Atletico in terms of style, could give Barca a thorough examination but with Atletico able to completely focus on this competition having fallen 10 points off the pace in LaLiga, it’s Los Rojiblancos who look to have everything in their favour and greatest potential to contract significantly in the markets. (Matt Brocklebank)

Back Atletico Madrid to reach the Champions League final


It’s been a month of upsets and more than a few raised eyebrows so far in the world of boxing.

Tony Bellew beating David Haye in their London grudge match, fearsome puncher Gennady Golovkin taken the distance and fortunate to get the nod on the cards against Danny Jacobs and Nicaragua’s Roman Gonzalez losing for the first time in 47 fights as he relinquished his WBC world super-flyweight title to Wisaksil Wangek are just three that readily spring to mind.

As a treble, these three results would have netted you a small fortune!

Boxing is not the easiest sport for the punter to navigate as so often there is a huge odds-on favourite in what is a two-horse race.

But every now and again – as this month is proving – there is the opportunity for a decent return by siding with a perceived underdog.

One looming on the horizon that has caught my eye is Liam Walsh who challenges American Gervonta Davis for the IBF world super-featherweight title on May 20.

Cromer’s Walsh (21-0) – the British and Commonwealth champion – will have home advantage in London and boasts an unbeaten record, yet can be backed at 4/1 in what will be a battle of the southpaws.

Davis (17-0, 16KOs) is eight years younger at 22 and caused an upset himself last time out when he ripped the title away from the highly-regarded Jose Pedraza with a seventh-round stoppage in January.

He is also a protégé of Floyd Mayweather Jr and while I will not argue that he should not be odds-on, I do believe Walsh’s greater experience and home advantage could be crucial and he looks to be the next underdog to show his bite. (Simon Crawford)

Click here to back Liam Walsh with Sky Bet


Marc Leishman is not a household name, and his victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational has had a nominal impact in antepost markets when compared to wins for Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler over the last few months.

Yet when we consider two things - that major champions had so often won earlier that season, and that Leishman might, granted better fortune, already be a major champion - there's quite a strong case for the impact of his one-stroke win being underestimated.

Leishman played alongside Adam Scott in round four when the latter became the first Australian winner of the Masters, far from the only time he's indicated a liking for Augusta National, yet remains a bigger price (80/1) than soon-to-be debutants Thomas Pieters and Tyrrell Hatton, both at 66s, neither likely to have won in the run-up.

He's a markedly bigger price than Jon Rahm, whose abundant potential and win at Torrey Pines has combined to see him ducked completely at 33/1. It's understandable, but it makes Rahm borderline unbackable.

The Arnold Palmer Invitational champion is also the same price as Tiger Woods, who won't be playing, and Matt Kuchar, who hasn't won in a long time and whose opportunity to win a major championship has probably passed. If it does come, it's unlikely to be at Augusta.

Now, Leishman has not suddenly elevated himself to elite level at the age of 33, but the impact of winning can be significant and there are many examples of 30-somethings who've taken the next step having previously and subsequently appeared a shade below the very top class.

Last year, Danny Willett was the youngest of the four major champions, the only one in his 20s, and experience still goes a long way in the biggest events - even with the sport changing so rapidly. In other words, don't assume the likes of Rahm and Thomas will take their PGA Tour-winning form to majors. It took Dustin Johnson a very long time and even the likes of Day and McIlroy a few seasons of competing with the best.

It remains quite difficult to feel like the top of the Masters market can be penetrated, but Leishman will arrive at Augusta with a blend of course and current form which few can match. His wife is expecting their third child and he'll feel on top of the world right now. Coral's 80/1 looks too big.

So too is the same firm's 125/1 about Leishman winning the Open Championship. Here he's alongside Andy Sullivan, who is laughably short at 66/1 in a place, and Ian Poulter, who is still searching for a return to form after injury problems and a loss of the ruthlessness which was once so admired.

Leishman is also the same price as Jimmy Walker, out of form and without any kind of links pedigree, and bigger than Lee Westwood. Take the lowest price, and he's three-times the odds of Hatton.

Yet Leishman has come closer than any of these - even Westwood - to winning an Open Championship. He lost a three-way play-off at St Andrews in 2015, a tournament which in truth he should have won, and was fifth in 2014. 

He grew up playing in the wind and now has three victories on three very different golf courses, all at the expense of high-class opposition. It's fair to say this former rookie-of-the-year has taken a while to get the hang of things and there was luck involved at Bay Hill, but it would be no surprise if this proved the springboard to another big week in a major. (Ben Coley)

Back Marc Leishman for the Masters and the Open with Sky Bet


Roger Federer lifting the Australian Open title was a shock for most, but few were amazed to see him land the Indian Wells title on Sunday.

For all the history that it will make, even fewer will now be left in shock if he goes on to claim this year’s Wimbledon crown.

The 35-year-old became the oldest ever Masters champion this weekend but his unprecedented success in the game and stunning form mean nothing is now off the table, even a return to No 1.

Federer was priced up as long as 25/1 with Coral for the 2017 edition of Wimbledon following last year’s semi-final exit but is now as short 4/1 with the same firm.

However, 13/2 is still available with Betfair and Paddy Power, with no changes in either bookmaker’s market despite a triumph which proved the Down Under success was more than a final flourish.

While his body is obviously more susceptible to physical problems now, as a 22/1 (Betfair Sportsbook) shot for the French Open, the Swiss star will prepare better for SW19 than his rivals, knowing little is to be gained from clay-court grafting when an eighth Wimbledon triumph will be his Holy Grail.

Federer is currently tied on seven titles with Pete Sampras and will also be aware that a 19th Grand Slam title will take him well out of the reach of his great rivals and safely remembered as the greatest of all time. (Tim Clement)

Click here to back Roger Federer for Wimbledon with Sky Bet

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