Byline: Jamie Reid
Michael Schumacher is a prohibitive 1-2 with Sporting Odds to win tomorrow's Austrian grand prix. It seems folly to oppose Ferrari in their present form but, having made money from backing Schumacher so far this season, we can afford to be adventurous.
David Coulthard was successful at Zeltweg 12 months ago but, if there is to be an upset this weekend the Williams team seem more likely to provide it. And Ralf Schumacher could be the one to trouble his brother at 7-1 with Sporting Odds which is paying a fifth odds a place on the first three. Renault's Jenson Button looks a good bet to finish in the points again at 5-4 with Sporting Odds.
Birmingham City should win tomorrow's First Division play-off final against Norwich at the Millennium Stadium. The Canaries, who knocked out the bitterly disappointing Wolves in the semi-finals, are 21-10 with Hill's. But Birmingham, unsuccessful in the play-offs for the last three years, look a stronger team under Steve Bruce and can finally gain promotion at 11-8 with Stanley.
Brentford are 13-8 with Stan James to win today's Second Division play-off final against Stoke City. But the Potters, who pulled off a dramatic upset against Cardiff in the second leg of their semi- final, may just shade it at 7-4 with Blue Square.
Rushden and Diamonds may have been outplayed by Cheltenham in last Monday's Third Division final but the Diamonds have had an excellent season overall and can be backed at 7-1 with Chandler to be next year's Third Division champions.
Real Madrid , who had been favourites for the Champions League since the draw for the competition last summer, should clinch the trophy by beating Bayer Leverkusen in the final at Hampden Park on Wednesday. Unfortunately 4-7 with Super Soccer is now the top price on offer about an outright Real triumph. A Leverkusen victory is quoted at 9-5 by Ladbrokes.
Surrey , so impressive in their opening contest in the County Championship, produced some abject displays in their Benson and Hedges Cup group matches and the holders, tipped to retain the trophy at 5-1, have failed to reach the knockout stage. Gloucestershire by contrast look as good as ever at the one-day game and, though it grates to tip them at short odds having passed them over at 8-1 last month, Mark Alleyne's men are now the team to beat at 100-30 with Coral.
Home advantage can enable Gloucestershire to defeat Worcestershire in the quarter-final on May 21 at 8-13 with Coral. Essex impressed in their group games and look a happier and more united side than 12 months ago. Ronnie Irani's players, cup second favourites at 11-2 with Coral, are capable of winning their quarter-final at home to Yorkshire at 5-6 with Coral.
IG has unveiled its World Cup spreads. The 100 Index has a point scale from 100 to the winners and 80 to the runners-up down to 10 for losing in the last 16. As a first move buy Italy at 41. IG is also running a name-the-finalists market with 50 points for predicting one team and 100 for both. Buy a France v Italy final at 28 and Argentina v Italy at 24. We made over a 100-point profit from our recommendations to buy on Arsenal and Chelsea on the FA Cup.
The new world snooker champion Peter Ebdon, who was tipped each way at 33-1 three weeks ago, is a top-quoted 20-1 with Bet 365 to retain his title in 2003. Ronnie O'Sullivan, who remains the most naturally talented player in the game, is on offer at 7-2 with Blue Square and John Higgins, who also looks capable of claiming a second title, is on 4-1 with Ladbrokes. Stephen Hendry is available at 11-1 with the Tote. The long range each-way value for next year lies with Matthew Stephens, three times a semi-finalist and tempting at 16-1 with Bet Direct as opposed to 7-1 with Ladbrokes.
Bet of the week
Jenson Button to finish in the points in Austria at 5-4 with Sporting Odds.