As the biting cold of an Australian winter edges closer with each passing day, the hearts of Australian punters will be warmed by knowing that the month of April provides a veritable cornucopia of wagering markets.
We will begin with a look at the domestic markets and if space permits, we will move onto the international stage.
Thoroughbred racing is at its autumn peak during the month. The only thing that puts the slightest damper on the racing calendar is that the first big Saturday meeting of the month fall on April 7.
All eyes will be on Royal Randwick, where every race on the card is Group 3 or above. Group 1s include the Doncaster handicap, the T J Smith Stakes, which will unfortunately be without Chautauqua this time, as the Grey Flash seems to have developed a severe case of barrier-itis, the Australian Derby for the stayers and the Sires Produce Stakes for the juvies.
The only Group 2 race at the meeting will be the Chairman’s Stakes, another one for the stayers.
The Group 3s are the Adrian Knox Stakes, the P J Bell Stakes, the Kindergarten Stakes and the Carbine Club Stakes.
Of course, there will be daily racing at tracks all over the country and those who like to punt the trots or the hounds will also have ample opportunities.
The 2018 AFL Premiership competition has gotten underway, with Round 3 set to go. It is too early to make any predictions, as play for premiership points has only just started, but the early favourites to take the flag, the Adelaide Crows, might regret the mind control training the club undertook during training on the Gold Coast, while the Sydney Swans seem to be on the rise. One of the interesting story lines of 2018 will be how Gary Ablett fares in his return to Geelong after his wallet-enhancing sojourn with the Suns. Ablett currently ranks fifth in the Brownlow Medal futures market, behind Dustin Martin Patrick Dangerfield, Tom Mitchell and Nat Fyfe.
The NRL is also moving strongly into its season. Super Rugby is also in the thick of it. The Sydney Roosters lead the pack in the premiership lottery, followed by the 2017 champion Melbourne Storm, North Queensland Cowboys and the St. George Illawarra Dragons, but even as far down at the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Parramatta Eels cannot be ruled out in the 25-game fixture and the chase to qualify for finals. Gareth Widdop currently sits atop the betting line for the Dally M Medal, but Jason Taumalolo and Cameron Smith can be expected to mount a challenge as the season progresses.
In Super Rugby, the Rebels lead the pack, followed closely by the South Africa Lions. The Crusaders, leaders of the New Zealand Division, are in third overall, followed by the Crusaders and the Hurricanes.
If we may be permitted to be cynical for a moment, with the understanding that no matter how cynical one gets, it is never enough to keep up, the top cricket market should be over/under for Australia to finish international play with a full XI, following the disreputable sledge Captain Steve Smith and his partners in crime laid on the game with their blatant ball tampering.
The Indian Premier League will get under way on April 7 and that outfit may find itself missing some of the Australian players that usually head over there when they are done with other domestic and international obligations.
For those who enjoy punting on motor racing, the Australian Grand Prix may have come and gone, but there are F1 races in Bahrain, China and Azerbaijan during April. Slight departure from domestic to international markets, but right here at home, Supercars offers some of the most thrilling racing on the planet. Events for April are the Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint April 6 – 8 and the WD-40 Phillip Island 500.
Supercars has added two races to the fixture this year, so the calendar now offers 16 events, making the season championship an even tougher test of endurance.
April is a prime tennis month and there is too much going on to provide complete details, but highlights include Davis Cup Quarterfinals, the U.S Men’s Clay Court Championship, the Monte-Carlo Masters, Barcelona Open and several others as players take the opportunity to acclimate to clay surfaces ahead of the 2018 French Open in May.
For golf aficionados, April starts off with a bang with the first Major of the year, The Masters in Augusta, Georgia. Tiger Woods is back and is showing the sort of form that makes him a threat every time he tees it up. Rory McIllroy and Dustin Johnson are ahead of Woods on the Ladbrokes betting line. Jason Day is the top Australian in the betting, with a $17 quote and Marc Leishman cannot be counted out. Adam Scott is in, courtesy of his win in 2013.
As for the rest of the month, the Houston Open finishes on April 1 and Aussie sensation Cameron Smith has one final chance to punch his ticket to The Masters with a win.
After the Masters, the RBC Heritage, the Valero Texas Open and the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, with its unique two-man team format, round out the month. Cameron Smith won there last year, along with his partner Jonas Blixt.
Elsewhere in the U.S., the NBA season is coming down to the wire.
The Toronto Raptors, the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers, including Aussie rookie sensation Ben Simmons, have all qualified for finals in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. The Central Division offers the Cleveland Cavaliers, always a contender so long as LeBron James can lace his sneakers, and the Indiana Pacers. The Southeast Division has no teams with a guaranteed spot, with nine games remaining in the regular season.
In the Western Conference, the Norwest Division has yet to provide a secure slot, but the Portland Trail Blazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder are putting on a show. The Golden State Warriors have the Pacific Division sewed up, as do the James Harden led Houston Rockets, owners of the best record in the league to this point in the season in the Southwest Division.
Major League Baseball will get underway in April with a 162 game regular season schedule that will test the arms and bats of the best.
The National Hockey League is, like the NBA edging closer to finals play.
The Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets are staging a fierce battle for Metropolitan Division supremacy. The expansion Vegas Golden Knights look to have a spot for the playoffs, even if it is hard to imagine the possibility of ice existing in Las Vegas during April and beyond.
There you have it. Just a brief look at the codes that will offer punters thousands of markets during the month of April.