So, the ten month rollercoaster begins again this weekend with the traditional curtain raiser to the season and the opening set of fixtures in the Football League.
There’s a Manchester derby at Wembley on Sunday as league champions Manchester United take on FA Cup winners Manchester City. United have been in imperious form in pre-season and I like the 13/10 about a win for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.
The Championship gets under way on Friday evening as Hull take on relegated Blackpool before big spending Leicester City travel to Coventry City in Saturday’s early kick-off. Sven Goran Eriksson’s side are terrific value at 11/10 to get their season up and running with a win against a side I think will struggle this season.
Nottingham Forest face Barnsley in Steve McLaren’s first game in charge of the Reds on Saturday before fellow promotion contenders West Ham host Cardiff on Sunday.
League newcomers AFC Wimbledon host Bristol Rovers whilst Crawley Town face a tricky away tie at Port Vale.
The ATP tour arrives in Washington DC this week for the Legg Mason Classic. One of the top twenty tournaments in the world, David Nalbandian is looking to retain his title but will face stiff competition from the likes of Gael Monfils, Marcos Baghdatis, Fernando Verdasco and Victor Troicki.
South Americans won every Kitzbuhel tournament between 2003 and 2008 and Juan Ignacio Chela is 6/1 to keep up that record. Philipp Kohlschreiber and Ivan Ljubicic are the joint 9/2 favourites.
35 European Tour players head to the Firestone Country Club this weekend hoping to continue the Tour’s stunning recent run. European Tour players have won the last six Majors and four of the last six WGC events and Rory McIlroy is the 12/1 favourite in Akron.
Open champion Darren Clarke won this event in 2003 and is 100/1 to win this weekend, as is Simon Dyson who is an excellent each way bet on current form. Sergio Garcia will also tempt many punters at 40/1 after his excellent recent run as will world number one Luke Donald, available at 18/1.
Tiger Woods has won the WGC Bridgestone Invitational an astonishing seven times and is a 20/1 chance, whilst Jason Day may be one to watch at 33/1.
Even though the Test series between England and India takes a break this weekend, there’s still plenty of international cricket action to look forward to.
The First Test between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh takes place in Harare this weekend, whilst Saturday sees a Twenty20 fixture between two of the world’s best limited overs sides; Sri Lanka and Australia.
Canada play Afghanistan in a one day international match on Sunday.
Ireland travel to Scotland on Saturday with several players missing as Brian O’Driscoll, Stephen Ferris and Gordon D’Arcy are all set to miss this match through injury. In the other match, England coach Martin Johnson will continue to assess his squad as they face Wales.
After their comprehensive 40-7 win over South Africa last weekend, New Zealand host Australia in the Tri-Nations. Australia’s form has been patchy of late but I expect them to give the All Blacks a better game than the Springboks did.
The Carnegie Challenge Cup reaches the semi-final stage this weekend with four of the leading Superleague sides in action.
Two of the sports big rivals meet at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones stadium on Saturday as Wigan take on St Helens. Wigan are the 4/5 favourites to lift the Cup for the first time since 2002 whilst the Saints won a hat-trick of Cups between 2006 and 2008. It promises to be a terrific match, but I think Wigan might well just nick this one.
In the other semi-final, Castleford play Leeds at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium. The Tigers have defeated Wakefield and Huddersfield in the last two rounds and therefore shouldn’t be underestimated. However, I tipped Leeds before the last round and I expect the Rhinos to win this one. The 16/5 on them lifting the Cup on 27th August also looks good value.
Saturday’s most entertaining meeting should be at Ascot as the Shergar Cup returns. Teams from Great Britain, Europe, Ireland and the Rest of the World will be up against each other with Richard Hughes’ Irish side looking to land another victory.
Newmarket hosts the Group 3 Sweet Solera Stakes on Saturday while the Rose of Lancaster Stakes is the highlight of the Haydock meeting.
Elsewhere there is racing from Ayr, Lingfield Park and Redcar.