January, maybe less than some, mother than others, is a good month for punting, so here are a few of the events coming along that may be worth a glance.
It will require a dedicated punter, as far as the thoroughbreds are concerned, to find the sort of racing that lends itself easily to finding popular markets. Most of the main venues are holding regular meetings, as is true for some of the more far-flung country and bush tracks, but it will not be until February of 2018 until there are any Group 1 races.
January does have two Group 2s, the Perth Cup at Ascot on the very first day of the month. Ascot also stages the Group 3 La Trice Classic. Punters will have either to be knowledgeable about the local gallopers, or have access to an in-depth form guide.
Flemington has the Group 3 Standish Handicap. Moonee Valley has the Group 2 Australia Stakes near the end of the month and Caulfield will hold the Group 3 Blue Diamond Preview for the new batch of fillies starting out.
There is some racing on the international level as well and racing fans may want to see what is going on in Florida in January when the world’s richest horserace, the Pegasus World Cup, jumps for the second time. This go, the prizemoney has been lifted from $US12 million to $US16 million. They could make it forty, however, and they still would not have a Winx.
There are a few futures markets open so far as the AFL and NRL are concerned, which may be the perfect opportunity to have a plunge on some longshot, such as the Brisbane Lions in the AFL or the Newcastle Knights in the NRL winning flags.
So far as live markets are concerned, January is cricket month in Australia. There will also be many markets to be had for the NBL, A-League and Premier League soccer.
The Ashes is receiving a lot of attention, but anyone looking for a nail-biter here is not feeling fulfilled. As this is being written, Australia is having its way with England, which is not surprising, given that half of England’s XI, or 5.5 players, are in detox.
There is a lot of interstate and grassroots cricket being played, far too much to detail thoroughly, but men’s and women’s cricket squads are out in force.
The NBL is enjoying plenty of success in the current season, and January will be filled with meaningful games. The NBL has an arrangement with the NBA, so players who seek fame and bright lights in America, including some promising imports, have raised the level of the game in Australia to the degree that it is not unrealistic to expect the Boomers to again be formidable the next time Olympic play takes place.
A-League finds itself in an equally good spot. Attendance and revenues are up and talk of expansion remains alive, which is always a good sign. The English Premier League is quite active, so these two, along with lead-up markets to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Three of the four major professional leagues in the U.S. are in full swing. The NFL will attract, deservedly, the most attention, as the 2017 – 2018 season has finally arrived at the meaningful playoff series. The Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots seem to control the American Football Conference, but both teams have seen games where they suffered inexplicable collapses.
The National Football Conference is wide open. The Philadelphia Eagles seemed likely Super Bowl participants until they lost potential MVP candidate quarterback Carson Wentz. The Los Angeles Rams, the Minnesota Viking and the New Orleans Saints al seem to be peaking at the right time.
The NCAA gridiron bowl season is running, as the NCAA several years ago discovered the revenue stream available from playing bowl games on other than New Year’s Day.
The NBA is getting to that point in its season where the endurance of the teams is tested. Basketball fans in Australia can see Aussies who have made the leap to the top echelon, such as Ben Simmons, and others, such as Andrew Bogut and Matthew Dellavedova, who are fighting for their jobs.
Again, on the collegiate level, the NCAA is replete with frenetic action by major teams that want to secure a good position in the spring tournament known as “March Madness.”
The National Hockey league is at a similar point to the NBA, grinding through the regular season in the drive for the playoffs that culminate in June with the crowning of a Stanley Cup Champion.
Back in Australia, the first Grand Slam of the 2018 Grand Slam season will be a feast for tennis fans. At this point in time, most of the tennis punting markets concern which players can get into the AO via the wildcard route. As far as the main draws are concerned, all the big men’s names are gearing up, with many hoping for a chance to dethrone reigning champion Roger Federer, who trails only Arthur Ashe and Ken Rosewall as the oldest man ever to win a major.
Australia has its strongest contingent in many years on the PGA Tour. Marc Leishman was phenomenal last season and shows no signs of cooling off. Jason Day and Adam Scott are two who could return to form at any time and Cameron Smith is hungry and armed with skills that belie his tender age.
As anyone can see, we have barely made a dent in the sports markets that will be found in January. All the snow sports are fiercely competitive, as the athletes try to position themselves for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea. Those always make for compelling viewing and despite a climate that is not exactly the best in the world for growing cold-weather sports athletes, there are some Australians looking to fly the flag and grab some gold, silver and bronze.