Punters having a bet on the World Twenty20 tournament, which began last night with England against the Netherlands, have enjoyed the privilege of warm-up games from which they can form an opinion.
Assuming that England won yesterday evening, it would confirm the impression that the hosts are improving. Whether they're good enough to master the favourites, India, or the old enemy Australia, we'll know in due course.
The holders, India, looked ominously good in thrashing Pakistan at a packed Oval but Australia (out to 5-1) may just be unnerved enough by the Andrew Symonds sacking to wobble. South Africa have immense batting power but, like Australia, may not have the spinner to put the brakes on the opposition's scoring. For the moment, I'd have a tenner on India (3-1 generally) then wait for the Super Eights phase before another bet.
No such luxury applies to Derby punters who, after a month of trial races, are still left with the 2,000 Guineas winner Sea The Stars as the favourite. Fame and Glory looked to be Aidan O'Brien's best challenger but was passed over by the stable jockey Johnny Murtagh for the Guineas fourth, Rip Van Winkle. O'Brien hasn't won the Derby since 2002 and his six entries suggests that there is no potential champion available. In which case Jim Bolger's Gan Amhras (£10 each-way, 8-1), third in the Guineas and laden with stamina, may be the one to be on.
*No luck for our French Open bets, Caroline Wozniacki and Gael Monfils, who were both hampered by injuries but are not yet good enough. As for backing Everton at 25-1 for the Cup...