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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Saturday's Irish Independent article, Ireland v England

Hi folks,

Just back from a workout with a crowd in Dublin called Urban Fitness. A mate asked me to go down - he's been doing it for a while. Absolutely shattered! Great workout though. I'm quite fit as regards running but I haven't done any circuit training since I was in Karate about 7 years back so it was very tough. Feeling much better for it though and I'm glad I went - think I'll give it a go again and see if I have 'come on for the run' to use a racing expression.

There's one selection on the favourites strategy, 2.40 Warwick - Fago. However, it clashes with my selection in today's Irish Independent.

Absolutely can't wait for the Hennessy at Leopardstown. I could be made look like a right wally here but I really can't see why people are so forgiving of Sir Des Champs. 

Today's Indo article:

MOST bookmaker markets couldn’t separate Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs throughout the week for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown (3.20) but having watched plenty of re-runs of the Lexus Chase since Christmas, it’s a pure no-brainer for me and Flemenstar can be backed with confidence at 5/4. As it turned out, both horses were beaten but Sir Des Champs definitely ran the worst of the pair and I’m struggling to see why punters are so forgiving. Fair enough, he had a fantastic novice campaign including a very impressive win in the Jewson at Cheltenham - and while it would be foolish to dismiss any Mullins runner after one bad race, it was difficult to ignore his mediocre jumping last time out and he simply didn’t sparkle. He was off the bridle very early looking laboured throughout (clouting the tenth fence), and despite rallying well and staying on for third, he never truly looked like winning. Those who backed Flemenstar at 1/10 in-running were left cursing Ruby Walsh and Tidal Bay who snatched it at the death; but otherwise Flemenstar put in a solid performance and looked the best horse in the race until the dramatic finish. On any other day, he would have claimed the prize and he deserves a chance at redemption before he heads to Cheltenham, even though the three-mile trip might not be ideal. In the rugby, Ireland host England tomorrow in what could be a championship decider, even at the early stages of the competition.  We have a great record against the old enemy in the championship in recent years and haven’t lost at home since 2003. Both sides were impressive in their opening round wins last weekend but I reckon home advantage can see Ireland over the line.  Many of Ireland’s main injury concerns have not materialised and England will be weakened by James Haskell replacing Ben Morgan and Billy Twelvetress retaining his starting berth ahead of Manu Tuilagi. If the Irish set-piece and breakdown operate near the levels of last week, then the superior back-row and backline of the home-side should be enough to secure the win. I’ll take a chance on backing Ireland at just over evens; but the standout bet for me is Ireland/Ireland in the half-time/full-time market at 7/4 (Boylesports).  If they can get parity at the set piece then I think they’ll have greater firepower out wide and they should start well and hold England at bay. It’ll be a feisty encounter and England will try to do what Wales didn’t by preventing Ireland getting quick ball at the breakdown.  Therefore, the 1/2 on there being a sin-binning (Paddy Power) is as close to free money as one can get.  

I was chatting to Gordon Elliott about Cause Of Causes recently and it was clear by the tone of his voice that he holds the gelding in very high regard. Considering Elliott’s record with overseas raiders, I was tempted to back him in today's Betfair Hurdle (3.35 Newbury) but you can't help feeling that off 152, the handicapper has his measure for now. Instead, a chance is taken on the Emma Lavelle trained Claret Cloak which is somewhat unexposed having tackled hurdles just four times. He’s up 3lbs to 136 following his third place in his handicap debut at Ascot in November which is lenient enough considering he's won three races from six. Don’t be surprised to see him finish in the money today, priced around 14/1.

Horseracing: WITH seven wins from seventeen runners, Paul Nicholls knows the sort it takes to win the Denman Chase (2.25 Newbury) and Silviniaco Conti can add to that tally this afternoon, priced around 8/13. A bold ride from Ruby Walsh saw the seven-year-old pick up his first Grade One in the Betfair Chase and with his jumping quite polished, he’s clearly a star in the making. Whether he’s ready for the Gold Cup remains to be seen but for now, he can continue his progression into chasing’s top ranks.
Soccer: I’M still not convinced that Manchester United have rectified the problems across their backline and with Everton playing some decent football of late, the Red Devils could have their work cut out for them in tomorrow’s Premier League clash at Old Trafford. That said, the Toffees are also vulnerable in defence and with United scoring two or more goals in all but one league game this season, the ‘both teams to score’ bet could be the weekend football banker, priced around 8/13. 

* Last week’s double was successful on both legs at an overall price of 2/1.

1.30 Warwick: Kells Belle
2.25 Newbury: Silviniaco Conti
2.40 Warwick: Majala
3.20 Leopardstown: Flemenstar
3.35 Newbury: Claret Cloak (e/w)
Rugby: Ireland to win
Rugby: Ireland HT/FT
Rugby: Sin-bin to occur

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