Diamond's dazzling potential is worth a long-term investment
T HE Hennessy was all about Denman last weekend. 'The Tank' was bidding to win the race for the third time, despite the burden of a mammoth weight, and produced an honourable and game effort in third place.
He rightly received plaudits for his laudable bid -- at one stage he looked a threat to the winner Diamond Harry -- but, to me, Denman is not the horse he was. He did not hack along like he used to and connections' decision after the race not to run him until the Gold Cup is taking freshness to another degree altogether.
He is available at 8/1 to win the Gold Cup, but he was trounced by Imperial Commander last year and I struggle to see that form being reversed, assuming Nigel Twiston-Davies' charge is on his game. However, the value at present for the race looks to be the 16/1 available about Diamond Harry.
The seven-year-old's bubble burst somewhat when he ran a shocker in the RSA Chase last March, a performance at odds with his previous efforts over fences. Yet he had won at the track twice before, so perhaps it was just an off-day.
Do not underestimate what he achieved at Newbury. Jumping very fluently in the main and always travelling all over everything else, he won easily despite being up with a strong gallop throughout.
Effectively running off a mark of 156, he ran away with a seriously competitive handicap. Remember Denman winning it for the first time? That was off a mark just five pounds higher back in 2007, leading to his Gold Cup demolition job later that season (albeit at the chief expense of an under-par Kauto Star).
Diamond Harry now has the path clear to go all the way to the top, considering that he was a very smart hurdler and has only had four runs in total over fences. He is being aimed specifically at the Gold Cup now and, should he show up in March in the type of form he was in on Saturday, 16/1 would represent a very big price.
Imperial Commander still looks the one to beat, but he is priced accordingly. Kauto Star will be 11 and Denman's best days are likely behind him.
Diamond Harry to win the Gold Cup, 1pt win at 16/1 (Betfair, Coral)
BARCELONA brought football to a new level in El Clasico last week, restricting Real Madrid to the role of extras in a movie -- looking on but with nothing to add. Barca are a joy to watch and every aspiring footballer should look at Xavi, Iniesta and Messi and learn what he can.
The Catalans are already certain to top their group in the Champions League and that is why they are as big as 4/7 to beat Rubin Kazan in Camp Nou on Tuesday. But having nothing to play for is no obstacle to this side -- they simply love playing the game and represent a good bet at that price.
Barca are vastly superior to the Russians and the price reflects punters' overreaction to a team not needing to win a match.
Barcelona to beat Rubin Kazan, 2pts at 4/7 (Betfair)
FOR similar reasons, Copenhagen look plenty short enough to beat Panathinaikos, also in Group D. The Danes -- the competition's surprise package -- are just 9/20 to get the better of the Greeks, who have nothing to play for.
Apart from their matches against Barca, Panathinaikos have conceded just two goals in their three European ties, securing a couple of draws in the process. They are not so bad a side that Copenhagen -- who have overachieved in the group -- should be such a short price to beat them. A draw should suffice for the hosts in their quest to finish second.
Lay Copenhagen to beat Panathinaikos, 2pts at 1.45 (0.9pt liability, Betfair)
YEAR TO DATE
Profit to €10 stake: €337.47
Still running: €145