Trust scandal to raise spirits
I'VE often wondered why Irish people love horses so much and I came across a nice quote the other day from Pam Brown, an Australian poet, which hits the nail on the head: "A horse is the projection of peoples' dreams about themselves: strong, powerful, beautiful -- and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence."
True words, indeed -- but, speaking of mundane, today's racing seems a bit like that following the four days of top-class racing that was Cheltenham 2011.
The Saturday that follows the Festival is always an anti-climax, but I'm hoping that Mark Johnston's School For Scandal can raise my spirits in the Marsh Green Handicap at Lingfield (3.30).
The three-year-old colt made all when winning a maiden at Wolverhampton last time by an impressive eight lengths and is a horse that's rarely out of the frame. He's proven on the Polytrack, which is something that can't be said for most of his rivals here and he's race fit, which might make him a little sharper than the opposition.
I was expecting to see this one go up around 2/1 in the early markets, so I was pleasantly surprised when my bookie offered me face (5/2) over the phone.
Later this evening at Dunstall Park, the Bill Turner-trained My Lord is a tasty price at 2/1 for the Six Nations Free Bets With FreeBetting.co.uk Claiming Stakes (7.20).
They tried him out in handicap company last week with no success, but a step back down in class in a small field should do the trick.
Away from racing, Ireland take on the 'old enemy' in rugby and, though it will make me unpopular with the lads in the local, I reckon England will repeat their feat of 2003 by winning the Grand Slam in Dublin.
Despite a relatively lacklustre performance last week against Scotland, England have been the standout team of the championship and also impressed in the Autumn Internationals.
There is a crisis of confidence in the Irish camp and it's difficult to see them turning things around today.
The majority of the English starting XV are in top form and their bench is far superior to ours. I'll be backing England in the straight win market at 8/13 (Stan James) and in the half-time/full-time market at a tasty price of 6/5.
Chris Ashton has rightly stolen most of the headlines in this championship, but I'll be taking Matt Banahan each-way to score the first try at 14/1 (Paddy Power). The Bath winger is in great form and is almost unstoppable when at his best.
Finally, we can expect quite a cagey affair and it's worth backing under 41.5 points, which is generally available at 5/6.
It's Midland's Grand National day at Uttoxeter (3.0) and last year's winner Synchronised should prove popular following a good victory in the Welsh Grand National back in January. But with topweight of 11st 12lbs, he looks a bit short in the betting around 5/1. Le Beau Bai could be the one to side with each-way at a double figure price. He had a great season last term and while he hasn't seen the winner's enclosure in quite some time, he loves a good test like this and should go well. Ground conditions are ideal and odds of 10/1 are a few ticks too high.
3.0 Uttoxeter: Le Beau Bai (e/w)
3.30 Lingfield: School For Scandal
4.40 Lingfield: Failasoof
7.20 Wolverhampton: My Lord