Stan Hey: 6-5 Against

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The Independent Online

Rather like the weather, the sports betting year is at a point of transition. Just eight days after the massacre of punters at Cheltenham – take a look at Breughel's "The Triumph of Death" to know what it felt like – the Flat season on turf starts today at Doncaster.

There are just seven games left for most teams in the Premier League but county cricketers are already oiling their bats. Tennis is in Florida, as is golf, before hitting Georgia for the Masters and the return of you know who.

This is tricky for punters. Do you stick with the known "knowns" – football, rugby, jump racing – or dip into the unknown "knowns"?

There doesn't seem to be much juice left in the football season. Then again, I have a sneaky feeling that at least one of the top three will drop points today, with injuries and preparations for the Champions League being factors. Time to bet on a few draws – Birmingham City v Arsenal is 100-30 at Bet365; Chelsea v Aston Villa, 7-2 generally; Bolton Wanderers v Manchester United, 7-2 at Boylesports. Have £5 on each, and £5 on the treble, just in case.

The Flat not only ends with a whimper but starts with one. Today's Lincoln Handicap at a soggy Donny, could be the other seasonal bookend, the November Handicap. There's no hidden Group horse in the field and most runners seem exposed.

The plunge on Penitent, now 3-1, seems plausible, as he has an ideal draw and a top jockey. But I'm still in purgatory after Cheltenham. Guesswork says the Jamie Osborne-trained Lang Shining, who has twice won first time out ; try £5 each-way at 33-1.