Ball can banish Fenton's blues
IT was not a week that either Philip Fenton or Brian O'Connell will recall with great relish -- but they can gain a modicum of consolation in Mallow this afternoon.
Ball Of Blue is the horse with easily the most potential in a competitive Newmarket Handicap Hurdle and is worth backing to win at a morning price of approximately 8/1. The market might be made by Meadows Thyne thanks to his connections, but he is clearly ordinary and has little apparent scope to improve much.
Ball Of Blue, because of the ability he showed in bumpers, should be able to prove superior to his present modest rating of 90. In all three of his runs on the level, he finished a relatively close second to horses trained by Willie Mullins during the latter's annus mirabilis of bumper wins here last season. The ill-fated but very talented Citizen Vic was one of those to beat him.
The market implied in his maiden hurdle runs that the son of Presenting would be of more betting interest once handicapped, and so it proved on his debut after being given a mark. Again quite weak in the market, Ball Of Blue was sent off at 10/1 to finish third at Fairyhouse to Molly's Boy, which might well endorse the form in the 4.40.
Given his pedigree, today's distance of three miles should be close to the gelding's optimum. Indeed, he was outpaced turning in at Fairyhouse, only to run on and nearly dispute the lead approaching the last -- before tiring up the run-in.
It was still a very promising effort and there is a suspicion that punters will be keen to latch onto him today. With that in mind, take his best price in the morning. It would be a surprise if he were not to prove at least a stone superior to his present rating sooner or later.
Ball Of Blue to win at Cork,
1pt at best morning odds
THE sight of some Premier League footballers enjoying a Burger King meal in Cheltenham during the week -- while hardly what their manager might want to see -- at least illustrated that some of them can still mix easily with the common man.
It is doubtful that Gianfranco Zola would advocate such a calorie intake at West Ham, but the Hammers will need more than a healthy diet to improve on their poor form.
Going into the weekend, the London side were level on points with Wolves, which seems an accurate enough assessment of how things are. Therefore, surely Wanderers should not be as big as 10/3 to win at Upton Park on Tuesday night, with your stake returned should the game finish level.
Wolves to beat West Ham draw-no-bet 1pt at 10/3 (VC)
THERE is little doubt that Arsenal and Barcelona's Champions League quarter-final match-up is easily the most alluring of the four games.
Barca arguably play the best football in a technical sense that any team has produced in the history of the game; Arsenal aspire to better them.
Are Barca the good things that some Betfair punters believe them to be? They are looking to back them at just over 2/5 to qualify. The answer is 'probably not'. The key factor to justify a lay here is that Arsenal are very capable of scoring at Camp Nou, which is, of course, critical to their prospects of causing an upset.
The Gunners are in no way flattered by the progress they have made under Arsene Wenger this season and, given the relative strengths of La Liga and the Premier League, it is arguable that they should be no bigger than 2/1 to progress. By extension, the Catalans do not deserve to be any shorter than 1/2 to do the same.
Lay Barcelona to qualify against Arsenal
3pts at 1.41 (1.23pt liability, Betfair)
Year to date
Profit to €10 stake: €120.10
Still running: €220