Stephen Hendry takes ‘Name That Table’ test

BetStars put Stephen Hendry to the test to see if he could remember some of the highs and lows of his trophy-laden career in ‘Name That Table’.

We presented the seven-time world champion with three significant situations from the past, but would he be able to recognise the tables when the pressure was on?

Click on the video below and hear the Scot talk about what those matches meant to him.

Stephen Hendry was speaking on behalf of online betting site BetStars. #Callit at BetStars.

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Starc issues warning to England

Mitchell Starc has warned England that they should expect things to go from bad to worse for the remainder of the winter’s Ashes.

Starc has been in blistering form, taking 14 wickets in Australia’s two victories so far, and believes he and his colleagues have the scope to step it up another gear when the series heads to Perth.

England have not won in Perth since 1978, and Australia only need victory their to regain the Ashes with an unassailable 3-0 lead – regardless of what happens in the final two tests after.

The Aussie bowler is already licking his lips at the prospect of putting England under immense pressure, on a pitch which has been long renowned for being one of the world’s quickest.

“The exciting thing is our bowling group can still get better,” said the 27-year-old left-armer.

“We’ve obviously managed to take 40 wickets in the last couple of weeks and do some really good things, but I think there’s still a lot of room for improvement.”

Starc added: “‘Gazza’ (Lyon) is bowling outstandingly at the moment.

“That allows the other three of us to do what we need to do from one end if need be.

“Then Josh does what he does and allows Pat and me to bowl as fast as we want.

“I hope we see a nice, fast, bouncy wicket – a WACA of old – and we can get stuck into their batters again.”

Slater wary of Widdop threat in World Cup final

Australia full-back Billy Slater has signalled out his former Melbourne team-mate Gareth Widdop as England’s main threat ahead of this Saturday’s World Cup final.

Widdop started his career with Melbourne juniors as a full back, but has now switched to stand-off because of the presence Slater posseses in the number one jersey.

Widdop made the move to St George Illawarra four years ago, and has been such a success since the change in position, that he was named the Dally M stand-off in 2017.

Despite success in the role at domestic level, Widdop has found himself playing in his old full-back role with England, and has been pivotal in England’s surge to the final.

“Gareth is just a natural footy player,” Slater said. “He can play anywhere really. As long as he has got the ball in his hands, he is going to be a danger to the opposition.

“He’d always had this sort of potential. We all know what Gareth Widdop is capable of.

“He has got a running game but is more a skilful passer of the football. He poses a threat out the back and distributes the ball on to his outside men.

“Being aware of where Gareth is at all times when they are attacking our line is probably key for us. He is a big indicator of where they are going to go. He is probably their strike weapon.”`

Might Bite Set to Step Up in Class in King George VI Chase

Last season’s RSA Chase winner Might Bite has opened up as the bookmakers’ favourite to win the King George VI Chase this year, where he is set to take the step up in class for the first time now he is out of novice company.

Nicky Henderson’s chaser made his seasonal reappearance at Sandown earlier this month, where he did not put a foot wrong in his victory as he prevailed by eight lengths. A return to Kempton on Boxing Day will come exactly 12 months after he fell at the last fence in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase where he had the race wrapped up before his mistake.

horse racing
Credit: Racing Post via Twitter

When Might Bite ended his 2016/17 campaign, there was no doubt he was the leading novice in his division. He led for the majority of the race in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. After jumping the last, the eight-year-old veered to the right, which allowed his closest challenger Whisper to make up ground up the hill at the Gloucestershire racecourse. Fortunately for connections, he found a second wind and got back up by a neck to land the 3m contest. Just weeks later, he followed that success up with victory in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at the Grand National meeting at Aintree.

Along with Might Bite, Champion Trainer Henderson has a number of novices who will be taking on the older generation in the new campaign, including Altior who is included in many pundits’ five horses to follow this season. If his novices make the step up in class successfully, he is likely to defend his title and become the Champion Trainer for the fifth time in his career.

Thistlecrack on Course for Return to Action

In 2016 Thistlecrack was one of the most impressive winners of the King George that we have seen in recent years. The first-year chaser blew a strong field that included Cue Card and Silviniaco Conti and, as a result, became the new favourite to win the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Sadly for connections of the former World Hurdle winner, he picked up an injury in January which ruled him out of the Festival.

Colin Tizzard’s runner has not raced since his setback 10 months ago, however, he did have a racecourse gallop a couple of weeks ago at Wincanton and connections have been positive about how their superstar has schooled in recent months.

Despite winning the King George in 2016, the nine-year-old has only ever run in five races over fences in his career so far. If all goes well at Kempton, he is likely to appear in January again in the Cotswold Chase before his first shot at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

Thistlecrack recorded an official rating of 174 over hurdle and with a second win in the Boxing Day feature in the UK, he could at least match that figure over fences. The talented chaser is a top price of 7/2 to become the fourth horse in this millennium to defend its crown in the King George.

Gold Cup Winner Sizing John Expected to Line Up at Kempton

We could be seeing a lot more of the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John this season in the UK, as not only does he have an entry in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, he is included in the latest declarations for the King George.

HR 2
Credit: Racing UK via Twitter

Since stepping up to the 3m division earlier in 2017, Sizing John has been in the form of his life with victories also coming in the Irish Gold Cup and Punchestown Gold Cup. Jessica Harrington’s runner won lots of prize money when he was campaigned over 2m, however, he often bumped into Douvan where he had to settle for second place in many of the top races in the UK and Ireland.

The seven-year-old was one of the youngest ever winners of the Gold Cup back in March, therefore, connections must be hopeful that their horse can continue to improve. He is 7/2 to come out on top at Kempton which is the second leg of the Chase Triple Crown this season.

The King George is part of a packed card on Boxing Day which also features the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase and all the leading races can be seen live on ITV1.

Loftus-Cheek won’t let injury dampen positives from England bow

Ruben Loftus-Cheek will remain positive after a back injury cruely cut short his second appearance for the England national team, during the goalless draw with Brazil at Wembley on Tuesday.

Loftus-Cheek, who is currently on loan with Crystal Palace from Chelsea, put in an eye-catching performance on his debut for the national side against Germany last week.

The 21-year-old was then rewarded for that positive display by being given the chance to start for England when they faced Brazil.

However, the midfielder was only able to complete 35 minutes of the game with the South Americans, when a lower back problem flared up.

After the match, Southgate said he expected the issue to “settle down fairly quickly” and praised the contribution of Loftus-Cheek, whom he coached in the under-21s, as “absolutely outstanding”.

In a post on his personal Twitter account after the game, Loftus-Cheek wrote: “Disappointing to have my night cut short after being on the pitch with some amazing players. Will stay positive after a good week.”

An update on whether Loftus-Cheek will be available for Palace’s upcoming Premier League match is expected when Roy Hodgson holds a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

The Eagles currently sit bottom of the table, and have picked up just one point since recording their first and only league win of the season, when they defeated Chelsea on October 14.

‘I’m a work in progress’ – Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku has sent a message directly to any of his critics, saying he should not be judged right now as the ‘finished article’.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was left gobsmacked by the lack of support for his striker following last weekend’s vital victory over Tottenham at Old Trafford.

The £75m price that the forward cost United has clearly left some of the fanbase expecting more, despite Lukaku having scored 12 goals in his first 11 games.

Despite the electric start, the Belgian has, however, gone six games without scoring. That shouldn’t stop punters from backing the striker to find the net on Sunday against his old club Chelsea, which means it could be a good time to use betulator.com to work out your maximum winnings.

During an interview with Sky Sports, Lukaku asked for the patience of United fans, and insisted he wasn’t close to being the finished product.

“I’m just focused on improving year in, year out. That’s the most important thing. Every time I try to add something to my game that wasn’t there.

“I think a lot of people are judging me as the finished article. I’m 24. You can’t judge me as the finished article. I’d rather have a career where year after year I improve rather than going to the top and decline.

“I know I have a lot of talent, I know I can do a lot of stuff. I can score goals with my left, with my right, with the head but I want to be a creator, I want to have more assists, I want to make sure that when my team is in difficulties that they can count on me.

“I want to be a winner. It’s not about me as an individual, I want to win, and I think here I’m at the perfect stage and at the perfect age where I can take my career to the next level.”

Sunday sees United head to Stamford Bridge to face the Premier League champions Chelsea, as they look to prevent allowing leaders Manchester City from opening a larger gap at the top than the five-point advantage they already possess.

Mourinho won’t be the only familiar face to make a return to Chelsea, with Nemanja Matic set to play against his former side.

The Portuguese manager admitted he was surprised when he was given the opportunity to sign the midfielder, during an interview with Sky Sports.

“I was surprised when (Matic’s) agent called me to say, ‘Do you want him?’

“I was surprised, but he’s an agent I know well. Normally he’s very direct and objective, he doesn’t waste time, he doesn’t try to get people to be interested in his players to improve their situation at their club.

“So when he told me, ‘You can have him if you want’, of course I want.”

Third-bottom Everton sack Koeman

Everton have announced today that they have relieved Ronald Koeman of his duties as Everton manager.

The Toffees are currently sitting third bottom in the Premier League, after winning only two of their opening nine league games.

Koeman had led Everton to a seventh-place finish last season, securing Europa League football, but has paid the price for their disastrous start.

A statement from the club read: “Chairman Bill Kenwright, the board of directors and major shareholder Farhad Moshiri would all like to express their gratitude to Ronald for the service he has given to the club over the past 16 months and for guiding the club to seventh place in last season’s Premier League campaign.”

Alex Lozowski signs new deal with Saracens

Alex Lozowski
Image source: @alexlozowski10 on Twitter

England international back Alex Lozowski has signed a contract extension with the current Aviva Premiership leaders, Saracens.

The deal will keep Lozowski at the reigning European champions until 2020.

Lozowski, 24, has been a crucial player for the Saracens since he joined them from the Wasps last year, offering options not only at fly-half, but centre too.

His form has seen him rewarded with two England caps, whilst on the Argentina tour four months ago.

“We are delighted that Alex has agreed a new deal,” Saracens rugby director Mark McCall said.

“Alex will have an important role to play for us as he continues to develop as a player, so naturally we are very happy to announce that he will be staying at Allianz Park until at least 2020.

“In his brief time at the club, Alex has already shown how good a player he is, but the most exciting thing for us is how much improvement we believe there is to come from him alongside our core of young, hungry, home-grown players.”

Lozowski is not the only player to sign new terms with Saracens in the recent weeks, as he follows Owen Farrell, Jamie George and Nick Isiekwe to sign on the dotted line.

“I have really benefited from being in the environment and from being around good players and good coaches,” Lozowski said.

“I think being surrounded by the calibre of guys that we’ve got here is only going to bring your game up. I am really grateful to be part of this team.”

Mane injury is a huge blow to Liverpool

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 Source: Sadio Mane via Facebook.

Liverpool have suffered another major setback in their quest for a top-four finish, after dynamic winger Sadio Mane was sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Even more frustrating for the Anfield outfit is the fact that Mane suffered the injury whilst away on international duty with Senegal. It’s a major blow for the club, who rely heavily on his creative attacking runs down the flanks and his lightning pace in the final third of the pitch.

He was substituted in the 89th minute of Senegal’s win over Cape Verde and Liverpool have now confirmed the injury to the press.

The exciting forward was named in the 30-man shortlist for the 2017 Ballon d’Or on Monday, but unfortunately, he is now set to sit out even more games on the bench. The injury blow comes having just returned from a three-week suspension for a dangerous tackle on Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson Moraes in their clash back in September.

It’s an all-too-familiar scenario for Reds fans, who will remember him playing in the African Cup of Nations last season and subsequently missing the whole of January. Liverpool failed to cope with his loss sufficiently and slumped to their worst month of the 2016/17 campaign.

Despite being absent for that entire month, as well as another six weeks at the end of the year because of a knee injury, Mane still managed to score 13 goals last season.

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Source: Sadio Mane via Facebook.

Coach Jurgen Klopp now faces a massive challenge to keep the club moving forward in its push for a top-four finish. Big-spending Manchester City have set the pace so far and are the favourites to win the title, with Premier League betting sites pricing them at 4/6. Manchester United are hot on their heels at 11/4, and Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal seem to be the remaining teams who will fight it out for the remaining Champions League places.

Attention will now no doubt turn to who can replace Mane on the wing during the player’s absence. It could mean a first Liverpool start for new signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who joined the club in a £40 million deadline-day deal.

The Senegal could miss as many as eight games for the Reds, including three of the club’s critical Champions League clashes, with a potential return against Chelsea at Anfield late November.

Adam Lallana is another player that could fill the void if he can get back to match fitness sooner than expected. The England International recently travelled to Qatar where he is trying to speed up his rehabilitation at the Aspetar Sorting Clinic. He is still recovering from a ruptured tendon in his left thigh which he sustained in a training exercise at the beginning of August. The club said that they weren’t expecting him back in October, but are hopeful he could make an earlier return.

Liverpool will hope that they can find someone to fill the vacant forward position without too much trouble, and that it doesn’t impact on the clubs attacking style of play.

Worcester sign Lance on short-term deal

Jono Lance
Image source: @WorcsWarriors

Worcester have confirmed the signing of fly-half Jono Lance on a short-term deal, in the hope the Australian can boost their Aviva Premiership campaign.

The 27-year-old playmaker will help to add experience to the Warriors’ ranks at fly-half, alongside current players Sam Olver, Tom Heathcote and Jamie Shillcock.

“Jono is a player who’s got vast experience at the top level having won Super Rugby titles with different clubs,” said Worcester rugby director Gary Gold.

“He will help drive the competition for the number 10 jersey and we’re looking forward to seeing what he has to offer.”

Lance admitted he is looking forward to the move, adding: “I’m really excited about the opportunity to represent the Warriors in the Aviva Premiership.”