It's already been a magnificent summer of sport, dear reader, but things are about to ratchet up a notch this weekend.
Having drawled our way through the Derby Festival and Royal Ascot; the most incredible group stage of a World Cup ever (and the 'round of 16' aka the last 16, which was less spectacular but still had two of the best 0-0 draws I can recall); and the first part of Wimbledon...
...we now go into overload mode, with the finals of the tennis, the quarter-finals of the football, some super competitive racing, and the beginning of the Tour de France on Yorkshire's roads! By 'eck, c'est magnifique!
And, coursing through every kick, serve, head bob and pedal is a bet waiting to be struck. Now, I'll be honest, I don't much like the tennis. And, hey, you might not go a bundle on le Tour (though I'd urge you to give it a try). But, somewhere in the midst of this heavenly sporting constellation there will be something to float every punter's boat.
Better yet - yes, it actually does get better - the bookies are joining in the fun with more wacky 'free money' opportunities. As well as bookie offers, this post is dedicated to various other ways to enjoy the sport being delivered to a bar stool or sofa near you in the coming days...
Let's start with the World Cup. It's quarter final time and, after my main hope Chile were seen off by Brazil, my other hope Colombia take on the home side at 9pm Friday evening. Can they beat Brazil? Sure they can. Will they beat them? Well that's another question entirely.
The bookies obviously think this match is a closer call than the odds available (which, basically, makes Colombia the value bet). And, as a consequence, if you don't have an account with one or more of Paddy Power, and Betfred (or totesport), you can back all three outcomes for nice profit. Here's how:
Betfred and totesport are both offering new customers 4/1 on Brazil (£10 max) to win in 90 minutes. Let's bet £10 on them.
Paddy Power are offering new customers a choice of 4/1 Brazil, 9/1 the draw and 12/1 Colombia. Let's back the draw for £5.
BetVictor are 3.8/1 about Colombia winning for all customers. Let's back Colombia for £10.
We've staked £25, and we'll return either £48, £50 or £50 depending on the outcome. That's a nice win-win-win situation!
If you don't have accounts with Paddy and either totesport or Betfred, you really should do this. There is no other possible match outcome, so it's completely free money.
If you're betting the early game - France vs Germany - Winner Sports are offering new customers 4/1 France or 3/1 Germany (players must deposit £25 or more, and enhanced odds are for £10 only, i.e. not £9 and not £11). They'll also double match your first bet of £25 with a free bet of £50. This is a very strong offer indeed!
Then of course there's my new favourite bet, the Colossus Pick 4. Small stakes (like, 20p's) can win big money. In fact, last week I took over £1,000 for a 20p bet (as part of a £36 perm)... and then the syndicate I convened took over £1,500 for a 20p bet (albeit as part of a much larger £400 perm). The account screenshot makes for pleasant reading! (Click the image to open in a new window)
There's a small rollover of £26,000 into a guaranteed £50,000 pool for the Pick 4 starting at 5pm today, and I intend to be involved.
You can find out more about Colossus Bets, and how they'll match your first three days' deposits up to £100, here. This is going to be massive next football season, and it's already gaining huge momentum. I've seen some brilliant four figure wins for £1.50 bets already. It's definitely worth a try. I love it.
Away from the football, the other huge sporting event this weekend (Wimbledon aside), is 'Le Grand Depart' of the Tour de France, a 190km stage from Leeds to Skipton. Now, I used to follow cycling pretty closely, but these days my interest is largely extended only so far as the three Grand Tours (France, Giro d'Italia, and Vuelta a Espana).
Luckily, there's a fellow I know who is an absolute wizard judge on the sport and, best of all, he gives most of his information away completely free. He has one of those 'donate' buttons on his page, and I dropped him a couple of quid because I really rate/value what he is doing.
You don't have to unless you'd like to - Bryan would appreciate it, of course - but do check his stuff out. It's really well researched and, like I say, he's a bloody good judge of the wheelers.
His website, wheeliebets, is here: http://wheeliebets.com/category/2014-season/
For what it's worth, I've backed Vincenzo Nibali at 33/1 to win the King Of The Mountains, and that's my only bet so far. I'll be getting stuck into a few of the stage markets through the race but haven't time to look right now.
Now then, for those of you who do like the cycling, there's a cracking free 'Fantasy Tour de France' game at http://www.velogames.com/
They have some decent prizes, but I'm doing it just for fun. It only take five minutes to pick a team (unless you want it to take longer), and you might beat my team, Hackney Hopefuls. In fact, you probably will beat my team!
Oh yes, there's also some pretty good racing on this weekend. I'll have a preview of the Old Newton Cup and maybe a couple of other races for you tomorrow, but today I quite like the look of the progressive Chain Of Events in the 4.10 Sandown. It's a very open looking race and, with Air Pilot now a non-runner and nothing else standing out, Chain Of Events comes here on a four-timer and a course and distance hat-trick. He's only three pounds higher than his last win, and should again be able to track the early pace before making his bid. He'll get found out soon, no doubt, but it may not be today, and 17/2 looks fair BOG value.
In the 4.45 at the same track, Hi Note is consistent under these conditions, and may be over-priced due to her unfashionable connections here, at around 16/1. She was third over course and distance, and in this grade on this ground on her last flat start, and can be involved in the finish again today.
Meanwhile, over at Beverley, we see one of the first mile and a half handicaps to allow three-year-olds to race. They receive a stone (less a pound) from their elders at this time of year, and there's no better exploiter of this than Mark Johnston. His record at Beverley with this type is incredible, and since 2010 his form figures with such runners reads 4161276911119. That's six winners from 13 runners, for a 12 point SP profit.
Johnston's Enquiring is rated 56 in this 0-60 and yet only carries 8-11, due to the weight for age, and I'd expect Frannie Norton to bounce him out and try to make all. While he's not Joe Fanning from the front (who is?!), he's pretty pretty good, and I reckon 9/2 with BetVictor at time of writing is almost an each way bet to now't.
And finally, thank you so much to the 286 of you who have responded to the annual geegeez survey. I'd love to get that over 300, so if you haven't yet offered your thoughts, now is the last time both to do that, and to be entered into a draw to win a lifetime subscription to geegeez Gold. Woohoo! 🙂
Here's the survey link, and thanks a million if you're able to find five minutes to fill it out.
p.s. thanks also to those wonderful geegeez Gold subscribers who took time to complete a special Gold only survey. Incredibly, over a third of all Gold subscribers responded, which says a lot both about Gold, and about the cool caring sharing people who use it. As they say in the US of A, that's freaking awesome. (sorry)
Right, that's all from me. I'm off to stock up the fridge with beer and salted snacks, in readiness for a sporting pentathlon this weekend. Do take advantage of those opportunities which align with your own tastes, and good luck!