Fairy to clip rivals' wings
WE saw a couple of own-goals scored in the sporting world this week -- one that was welcome and one that wasn't.
The first came when Armenia's Valeri Aleksanyan helped Ireland go through to the Euro 2012 play-offs when he knocked the ball into his own net at the Aviva Stadium.
Incidentally, a mate of mine had thrown his first goalscorer bet on Richard Dunne in the bin only to discover that own goals don't count as first goal. Later, his missus was peeved to see him empty the bin all over the clean floor in search of the docket when he realised his mistake.
Trap has come in for a fair amount of stick lately but, in fairness, it's nearly a case of job done and we look set to qualify. The odds of that happening are about right at 4/9.
The other own-goal this week was scored by the British Horseracing Authority.
Today was supposed to be about Champions Day at Ascot but instead the headlines have concerned Richard Hughes' decision to hand in his licence until the new whip rules are re-assessed. Furthermore, jockeys are planning a strike day on Monday.
The penalties for breaking the new rules are extremely harsh. I'm all for animal rights but these rules please few. Those that are opposed to the whip in general will not be happy unless there's an outright ban anyway so is there any real point to the changes?
Besides, the padded foam whips used these days don't really hurt the horse; they are used more to cajole and encourage.
It's an unfortunate sequence of events and yet another setback for the sport.
Anyway, back to Ascot, where So You Think will attempt to win the Champion Stakes (4.10) for the first time for Aidan O'Brien. However, I don't think there's as much between that horse and Snow Fairy as the betting suggests.
At 8/1 as opposed to 2/1, Snow Fairy gets the vote. I'm a big fan of O'Brien's horse but Ed Dunlop's filly got the better of him in the Arc when coming third and some of the tactics used with So You Think have been questioned.
Despite a fairly tough race in Paris, Snow Fairy has had an easier season than most of the field and looks a huge danger to the favourite.
Midday has claims too, based on her victory over the selection in the Nassau Stakes, although surprisingly, she failed to beat stablemate Twice Over in the Juddmonte International at York last time.
The Qipco Future Stars Apprentice Handicap at Ascot (4.45) is fiercely competitive but I fancy two horses to run better than the bookies expect.
Last in the betting is the Dandy Nicholls-trained Thunderball at 33/1 and with three fat zeros next to his name, that price is understandable.
That said, he was going reasonably well last time at Doncaster before hanging badly to the left under a strange ride from Leonna Mayor (who continued to use the whip in the wrong hand) and I'd expect improvement today.
Another one to note is Michael Dods' Kiwi Bay at 16/1. While he's never won off a mark this high, he showed guts when fighting off Jo'burg at Redcar last time.
3.35 Ascot: Frankel
4.10 Ascot: Snow Fairy
4.40 Catterick: Just Lille
4.45 Ascot: Kiwi Bay (e/w)
4.45 Ascot: Thunderball (e/w)