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The Punter: Red Rose and Jonny to bloom

By Bob Fenton

England expects - that's the cry from punters, especially the patriotic ones who believe Jonny Wilkinson can kick them into World Cup history. No team has retained the Webb Ellis trophy and England are 9-4 to do so this weekend.

If backing them, or even South Africa, make sure it is to lift the trophy and not in 80 minutes, as that allows for a draw and extra time while the prices for the two outcomes, are virtually the same.

Forget the 36-0 opening game victory for South Africa over the Red Rose.

This will be a very different kettle of fish and, after disposing of Australia and France, England with a nine points start on the handicap (10-11) is a cracking bet.

Wilko can put the boot into the layers big time and he is worth an interest at 100-1 to repeat his extra-time drop-goal winner back in 2003.

And with England looking to be crowned world champions in not one but two sports in less than 24 hours, the English look set to go patriotic potty on the rugby team and Lewis Hamilton's F1 chances.

If the double is attained, it will be the biggest sporting occasion in England since Alf Ramsey's 1966 World Cup football triumph.

Paddy Power go 100-30 for that to be achieved.

Hamilton had seemed such a racing certainty to win this year's BBC Sports Personality that the firm have already paid out on the F1 new boy.

But if it is a case of here comes Jonny with the golden boots, then Wilkinson could yet beat Hamilton to that particular chequered flag with a customary late kick.

BBC Sports Personality: 1-4 Hamilton; 9-2 Wilkinson; 12-1 Ricky Hatton.

World Cup final: 1-3 South Africa; 9-4 England.

Match betting (80 mins): 4-1 South Africa; 22-1 draw; 23-10 England.

Handicap betting: 10-11 S Africa -9 points; 20-1 handicap draw; 10-11 England +9 points

Power to their elbow

Congratulations to Dublin firm Paddy Power on bringing a touch of reality to the on-going shop picture dispute between SIS and TurfTV.

While most of the big firms, including locals, have refused to take the service from racecourses which have a deal with TurfTV, Paddy Power have bitten the bullet and broken away from the pack.

TurfTV has emerged as a rival to SIS who before provided all the pictures and data to every bookmaking shop in the country.

In other words, the important customer - the punter - was able to see every race.

But not now. And it threatens to get worse from January as the leading tracks, such as Cheltenham, Epsom, Haydock, Newmarket and Aintree, have signed up to the new provider.

"It was a no-brainer," says Paddy. "It is an insult to punters to refuse to provide televised coverage of racing from six TurfTV courses which will grow to 31 on January 1.

"TurfTV have the pictures, our punters want the pictures, so we have taken the pictures.

"It is a bit rich to say to your customers, 'sorry, it's too expensive to show you the races we want you to be on' when they see the millions of profit made by bookmaking companies each year."

Kauto star 5-1 to repeat treble

It will not be long before the stars of jump racing begin the long road towards Cheltenham glory next March.

It promises to be a great season with Gold Cup king Kauto Star taking on the young turks, eager to take his crown, such as My Way De Solzen, Exotic Dancer and Denman.

Keep on the right side of the latter who may just be the one to oust Paul Nicholls' stablemate come Festival time.

Kauto, meanwhile, is the 11-8 ante-post favourite to retain his King George VI Chase title at Kempton Park on Boxing Day and only 5-1 to repeat his magnificent treble of last season when taking the Betfair Chase along with the King George and Gold Cup.

Alan King's My Way De Solzen, who won the Arkle at Cheltenham, is 4-1 second favourite for the Kempton race which is likely to be his seasonal debut.

King GeorgeVI Chase (Coral): 11-8 Kauto Star; 4-1 My Way De Solzen; 6-1 Exotic Dancer; 12-1 Monet's Garden; 14-1 bar.

Belfast Telegraph


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