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The punter: Get on French to go all the way

By Robert Fenton

Rugby gets serious from Friday with the start of the World Cup in France.

And straight away, no messing about - get on the host nation at 15-8 to reach the final (Totesport).

Playing at home is always a big advantage and the key match for Les Bleus will be against Ireland.

Victory there to top Pool D, will see them miss New Zealand and Australia on their way to a semi-final clash with South Africa.

With stars such as Yannick Jauzion, David Skrela and Frederik Michalak, they are peaking at just the right time.

There will be no shortage of markets on offer, with players to score the most points and most drop goals etc.

In the former, it's hard to look past New Zealander Dan Carter at evens, as he's liable to stack up the points in the matches against Romania and Portugal. This is the same man who totalled 36 against the Lions.

As for Ireland, Andrew Trimble is worth a few quid at 7-1 to get most of the Irish tries. He certainly has a good a chance as any, including over favourite Dennis Hickie (11-4).

Totesport go 250-1 that England can become double World Champions by the end of October with victory in France and in cricket's Twenty20 competition in South Africa this month.

Absolutely no chance.

The best option here is Australia at 40-1 but it's a contest best avoided.

Totesport: World Cup Doubles - Rugby and Twenty20; 14-1 New Zealand; 40-1 Australia, South Africa; 250-1 England

England stage of elimination; 4-7 quarter-finals; 12-5 semi-finals; 10-1 runners-up; 12-1 group stage; 25-1 winner.

Name the Finalists - selected ones: 2-1 New Zealand v South Africa; 5-2 NZ v France; 9-1 NZ v Australia; 11-1 NZ v Ireland; 16-1 NZ v England; 18-1 SA v France; 20-1 SA v Australia; 33-1 France v Australia; 66-1 France v England; 80-1 Australia v England; 100-1 Ireland v England.

Hemispheres competing in the final: North v South - 8-11; South v South Evs; North v North 33-1.

To Make the final: 1-6 New Zealand, 6-4 South Africa, 15-8 France, 18-5 Australia, 5-1 Ireland, 8-1 England, 14-1 Wales, 16-1 Argentina, 50-1 Scotland

Paddy Power: Without New Zealand: 7-4 South Africa; 2-1 France; 4-1 Australia; 8-1 Ireland; 12-1 England; 25-1 Argentina; 50-1 Wales; 150-1 Scotland; 200-1 bar.

Player to score most points: Evens Dan Carter (NZ); 5-1 Butch James (SA); 6-1 Jonny Wilkinson (Eng); 6-1 Ronan O'Gara (Ire); 10-1 David Skrela (Fra); 14-1 Frederik Michalak (Fra); 20-1 Nick Evans (NZ): 20-1 James Hook (Wal); 33-1 Chris Paterson (Sco).

Henman set for final job at Wimbledon

What will be the first thing Tim Henman gets involved in once he leaves his tennis racket in the locker room?

Paddy Power have created a market for Tiger Tim now that he has brought a 15-year career as flag carrier for British tennis to an end.

It's just 5-4 that Henman commentates for BBC TV in next year's Wimbledon men's final and a nonsense 6-1 that he comes out of retirement to play in the championships.

There is no doubt the Beeb will use him in some capacity.

The firm also are having a laugh in quoting 12-1 that Tim joins Martina Navratilova in next year's mixed doubles at Wimbledon.

Other bets on what he does first include 20-1 to be appointed Davis Cup captain and 500-1 that he appears in a Wimbledon men's final - as a ball boy!

WHAT WILL TIM HENMAN DO NEXT? (PADDY POWER): 5-4 commentate for BBC on the 2008 Men's Wimbledon final; 6-1 come out of retirement to play in the men's singles at Wimbledon in 2008; 6-1 Light the Olympic flame in 2012; 10-1 Andrew Murray's next coach; 12-1 enter Wimbledon 2008 mixed doubles with Martina Navratilova; 20-1 GB Davis Cup Captain; 33-1 Launch a range of Tiger Tim tennis products; 66-1 head of the LTA; 100-1 Watch one of his children win a senior Wimbledon title; 100-1 Appear in pantomime at the Wimbledon Theatre this Christmas; 150-1 Become a property developer of Henman Hill housing estates; 500-1 ball boy in a Wimbledon men's singles final.

Stan can make it a Groovy Derby night

Trainer Paul Hennessey has been chasing the Irish Greyhound Derby dream for most of his life.

And now he's triple-handed for Friday night's final at Shelbourne in the chase for the winner's prize of €175,000.

Hennessy had both semi-final winners in Tyrur Rhino and Tyrur Laurel last Saturday but it is his third dog, Ardkill Jamie who carries the main hope and is 6-4 favourite with sponsors Paddy Power, to give Paul his first Derby triumph.

Ardkill is a class act, having won the Laurels, the Easter Cup and Ladbrokes 600 this year, but from trap one, he has to make sure of a good exit.

He was slow away last week before storming home from the same box behind Tyrur Laurel and a similar exit could prove his undoing again.

The value in the race lies with Groovy Stan who should have won last time when going down by a short head to Tyrur Rhino.

Stan has tons of ability but has a mind of his own and at times, being interested in other things.

But he has the perfect draw in trap 3 and at 4-1 is a great each-way touch (1/4 odds 1,2), just so long as he keeps a cool head.

It would be a fairytale end for his new owner who took the chance in buying him in view of the dog's reputation.

The line-up in trap order with sponsors prices is: Ardkill Jamie (6-4); Express Ego (7-2); Groovy Stan (4-1); So Determined (20-1); Tyrur Rhino (10-1); Tyrur Laurel (9-2).

Belfast Telegraph


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