Sport Horse Racing

Thursday 28 August 2014

Grab your own pot of gold courtesy of Finian's Rainbow

Wayne Bailey

Published 16/02/2013 | 04:00

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BACK in the 1940s, a musical named 'Finian's Rainbow' ran on Broadway for an impressive 725 performances and, such was its popularity, they even made a movie of it in the late '60s starring Fred Astaire and Petula Clark.

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The main protagonist, Finian McLonergan, emigrates from Ireland to America with a pot of gold and all sorts of shenanigans ensue as he tries to keep it hidden without much luck.

It's terribly cliched and the accents are absolutely woeful, but it's a bit of fun to watch if you don't take it too seriously.

Something I do take seriously, though, is the horse of the same name and I must admit I have a soft spot for Nicky Henderson's Finian's Rainbow ever since I stuck half-a-week's wages on him to win last year's Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

It was a much-needed cash injection for me as I'd lost as small fortune on Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle the previous day, so I'm looking forward to seeing the 10-year-old back in action today in the Betfair Ascot Chase (3.50).

He's been out twice since the festival. He won the John Smith's Melling Chase at Aintree in April, but he left his 5/6 backers reeling in the Amlin 1965 Chase at Ascot when he came in last of four runners.

He seemed unfit and the heavy ground certainly didn't help, although it's since been revealed he had a wind operation afterwards, so there may have been other underlying problems that account for his disastrous run.

I'm hoping the soft ground won't get too testing as he attempts to get his campaign back on track and as third favourite behind Cue Card and Captain Chris. I reckon punters are being unnecessarily harsh on the gelding after one poor performance. That's not to say the market leaders haven't got serious claims. Captain Chris beat the selection in the Arkle back in 2011 and once again in the Amlin in November – but he may have been somewhat flattered in that race with both For Non Stop and Finian's Rainbow not performing to their best on the day.

Still, a win is a win and Philip Hobbs' nine-year-old is highly rated.

Earlier on the same card, Rocky Creek should take all the beating in the Sodexo Prestige Reynoldstown Novices' Chase (2.05). He found only Harry Topper too good on his chasing debut at Exeter, but there's no shame in that defeat as Harry Topper has gone on to success at Grade Two level.

Rocky Creek has since won a couple of novice chases cosily enough at Doncaster and Warwick and should have the measure of his rivals today, priced around 11/10.

Each-way outsider

At 33/1, the markets don't give Lively Baron much of a chance in the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock (2.55), but he stays all day and he won't mind the going, so he shouldn't be dismissed as a no-hoper. He shaped better than the bare result when eighth in the North Yorkshire Grand National Handicap at Catterick last month, having previously landed the London National at Sandown in December.

If his jumping holds up, he can land a place this afternoon.

Selections

2.05 Ascot: Rocky Creek

2.20 Haydock: Trustan Times

2.55 Haydock: Lively Baron (e/w)

3.35 Wincanton: Zarkandar

3.50 Ascot: Finian's Rainbow

2.30 Market Rasen: White Fusion (tomorrow)

Irish Independent

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