Sunday 26 February 2017

Noble Prince can get back on track by landing Arkle crown

Johnny Ward

ONE had to feel for the Gowran executive yesterday, when the course's showcase Thyestes Chase day was abandoned for the second time this week.

Leopardstown officials were always more confident that today's Irish Champion Hurdle card would be realised. The feature again pairs Solwhit and Hurricane Fly, with the best-priced 1/2 on offer about the Willie Mullins-trained runner understandable. Solwhit needs his speedier adversary to have an off-day.

The other Grade One, the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Steeplechase, is more open. It may seem safe enough to oppose Noble Prince based on his rather toilsome bid over course and distance shortly after Christmas, but that effort can be extenuated.

The Montjeu-bred seemed to labour on the deep ground and his jumping suffered too. It was not that he ever threatened to hit the deck, but rather the protracted manner of getting from A to B left him further from the pace than he ought to have been.

That speed was set by Saludos, which returns today. His front-running manner and that of Flat Out should ensure that they set strong fractions up front, which ought to help Noble Price. The Paul Nolan inmate stays further than today's distance and Barry Geraghty might be keen that he is not too far off the pace.

His chase debut produced one of the truly impressive efforts by a novice this term. Travelling better than Saludos, that errant rival barged Noble Prince two out, but he was still able to come back on the bridle and beat a hot field in a dismissive fashion. He was a very smart hurdler previously.

The ground was good to yielding during his chase bow and it is expected to be soft this afternoon. As the opening chase event on the card, the Arkle septet will get the best of it.

Flat Out and Realt Dubh stand out in the betting. Flat Out was novicey on his chasing debut, wants further and Emmet Mullins cannot claim his allowance. However, he is feared most today for Willie Mullins, given his hurdling form and top-class potential.

Realt Dubh beat Noble Prince last time. Interestingly, the Noel Meade runner was a 10/1 chance, while Noble Prince was sent off 5/1. Nolan was not happy with that run: he knows it was not true. His last two runners won so any reservations about the yard's form are invalid now.

RECOMMENDATION

Noble Prince to win Irish Arkle,

1pt at 6/1 (Boylesports, Totesport)

RHODE and Kilmacud Crokes know all about cancellations too, their Leinster SFC final joust belatedly taking place today at Portlaoise. If the Dubliners can curtail Niall McNamee, at least to some extent, they should win -- but expect a spirited Rhode effort.

Take a chance at 11/2 that the favourites go in at the break behind before rallying to win. Crokes were seven points adrift in their quarter-final success over Portlaoise, and again they trailed at the break in the semi against Garrycastle.

Like Dublin under Pat Gilroy, Kilmacud believe in the need to make second-half changes to finish strongly. Two years ago, they trailed Rhode at half-time before winning the Leinster title and 11/2 about a repeat seems long.

RECOMMENDATION

Rhode-Crokes half-time/full-time,

1pt at 11/2 (Boylesports)

GREEN BAY and Pittsburgh both go into today's conference finals as 4/7 favourites, but both can probably be taken on at those prices.

A double can be laid at under 7/5 on Betfair. If the exchange odds are correct for both games, a fair price about both teams winning is almost 6/4.

Hosts Chicago Bears can take the Packers, who are probably over-rated after their win over Atlanta, while the New York Jets have every chance of winning their third game running on the road when they travel to Pittsburgh.

RECOMMENDATION

Lay Packers-Steelers double,

2pts at 1.36 (2.72pt liability, Betfair)

YEAR TO DATE

Profit to a €10 stake: -€38.50

Still running: €140

valuebet@independent.ie

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