Fencing can be Curragh master
OUT with the jumps season and in with St Nicholas Abbey. The word seeping out of Ballydoyle is that they expect the son of Montjeu, the form of whose bloodless Racing Post Trophy triumph last back-end now seems even better, to beat all before him this year.
Indeed, there is even talk of bets having been placed that he will earn a higher rating than Sea The Stars.
Whatever about that, he looks something of a good thing for the Newmarket Guineas, but one of his stable allies, Fencing Master, is a noteworthy runner. The son of Oratorio is 16/1, but at 33/1 to win the Irish Guineas -- which will surely have no St Nicholas Abbey -- he is worth a few bob.
For whatever reason, little has been made of Fencing Master. It was an extraordinary performance to finish second in the Dewhurst last season having only run once previously -- in a Dundalk maiden.
Steinbeck, about which Aidan O'Brien escaped his usual anodyne rhetoric to say that "the birds in the trees had been singing about him" before the colt had even run, finished fourth. Because he has been hyped up quite a bit, he is 5/2 for the Curragh race -- a perplexing dismissal of the Dewhurst form's substance.
I expect Fencing Master to run a nice race at Newmarket, an outing from which he will surely improve. The logical step then would probably be the Curragh (like Mastercraftsman last year) and he could well be closer to 3/1 than 33/1 on the day.
Fencing Master to win the Irish 2000 Guineas, 0.5pt win at 33/1 (Ladbrokes)
THE National Hurling League campaign has been very disappointing for Kilkenny, who lost three of their seven games. One of those defeats was at home to an under-strength Galway side and it may be opportune to back the Tribesmen to win the Leinster championship.
One can make excuses for Kilkenny's moderate league form but they are not as invincible as in previous campaigns, as evidenced by their clashes against Tipperary last year. Galway looked set to beat them in Tullamore last summer, but the Cats' craft won out. The Connacht side are a year wiser now.
Experience tells gamblers never to assume that a race involves only two horses, but it would be a major shock if Dublin, Offaly or Wexford were good enough. Paddy Power quote 5/2 about Galway so it may pay to accept the 10/3 on offer with William Hill.
It is worth noting that John McIntyre's men topped the league effectively without their Portumna players and they should be a serious force this summer.
Galway to win the Leinster SHC, 1pt at 10/3 (Hills)
BARCELONA were 2/5 shots to reach the final of the Champions League after they outclassed Arsenal in the quarter-finals. Inter Milan's victory in the first leg has changed the complexion of their semi-final utterly: now Barca are almost 6/4 to qualify.
In order to do so, they must score at least twice at Camp Nou next week. The genius in Jose Mourinho realised that smothering Xavi and Lionel Messi was critical to Inter's chance and that was key to their first-leg win.
Doing that in the San Siro is one thing; replicating it in Catalonia is quite another. Barcelona will create chances in the second leg and should probably be a little shorter to qualify.
The majority of bookmakers quote the Italians to qualify at 4/6, incorporating their own profit margins, so taking them on at ever so slightly bigger on Betfair makes sense.
Jose Mourinho might be the self-styled Special One, but Barca are simply a much more talented team than Inter and they can turn it around.
Lay Inter Milan to qualify against Barcelona, 2pts at 1.67 (1.34pt liability, Betfair)
YEAR TO DATE
Profit to €10 stake: €91.53
Still running: €255