Carrigmartin looks rock-solid
CARRIGMARTIN should win at Sligo this afternoon. The son of King's Theatre scrapes into the Guinness Handicap Hurdle, a race open to hurdlers rated no higher than 116. He has a mark of 116, is clearly the class act of the race and the winning purse of just shy of €8,000 is attractive for the grade.
We are lucky in Ireland, despite an inevitable decline in recent years, that prize-money levels remain competitive. The worsening situation in Britain is a matter of extreme concern and the incentives to own a horse over there are diminishing year on year.
JP McManus hardly needs the money but he will surely be tempted by a wager on Carrigmartin. The six-year-old's profile as a horse bidding to take advantage of a lower chase mark is one to be wary of -- but he has the versatility to avail.
The positives about his chance are plenty. He has been in proven form, having won readily at Punchestown when last seen in early May. That success brought his chase rating up to 132.
He has form around Sligo, winning comfortably at the track there nearly a year ago over hurdles. The forecast easy ground is no issue, as he has won twice on soft. If it dries out, that is no issue.
Carrigmartin would not want the race to be run at a sedate gallop today, but that seems unlikely. Bachelor Affair, which will have little chance if conditions are any way soft, is likely to front-run; the errant Mission Possibly nearly always does so as well, often at a scorching pace.
Thus Mark Walsh should be able to bide his time on the Eddie Harty-trained selection.
Carrigmartin has only had 16 runs, so he is hardly exposed. Potential danger Silver Reef surely will not run after flopping at Cork on Friday and Par Five -- also owned by McManus -- seems the only real danger, as he has considerable scope for improvement.
With jumps racing's most celebrated owner thus bearing responsibility for perhaps the two most likely winners in the race, the market will be particularly informative.
Carrigmartin to win at Sligo,
2pts win at best morning odds
PRIOR to the Macedonia qualifier, I thought Ireland were a terrible price at around 5/4 to win in Skopje. We did drift out to around 6/4 on Betfair before winning -- with luck as an ally, as it often has been for Giovanni Trapattoni.
Whether I was right or wrong, the victory was massive and sets us up nicely to finally end our miserable succession of failures when it comes to reaching either of the tournaments that matter. We top the group, with Slovakia to visit Dublin; Russia have to go to Bratislava and, critically, lost at home to the Slovaks. All in all, with the momentum we have, Ireland can expect to come second at worst; indeed, we have a definite chance of topping the group.
With the fallback option of the play-offs, Trap's men are entitled to be no better than even money to reach Euro 2012.
Ireland to qualify for Euro 2012
2pts at 6/5 (Totesport)
SAINT Patrick's Athletic are probably a little short at 4/5 at home to Dundalk today. Lay them at about that on Betfair.
Admittedly, Dundalk are one of the league's more unpredictable teams. They led in both games against Pat's this season (by two goals at Richmond Park) and lost both.
However, Pat's are having their fourth game in a weak and a half, all of them hard-fought, and the freshness of the Lilywhites arguably enhances their chance. Two bookmakers quote 4/5 about the home side and this will be an open game, assuming Dundalk are on a going day.
Lay St Pat's to beat Dundalk
1pt at 1.78 approx (0.78pt liability, Betfair)
YEAR TO DATE
To a €10 stake: -€210.12
Still running: €160
Sunday Indo Sport