Oasis to get fans dancing
JAMES Joyce once called Guinness "the wine of Ireland" and as I sipped a pint of St James' Gate's fine vintage last week, one part of my weekly double, Available, came home handy enough at 5/2.
You'd think a 5/2 winner would be a cause for celebration, but unfortunately the other part of my double involved Chelsea beating Birmingham in the FA Cup so my mood down the local was muted.
Odds of 1/3 suggested the Londoners had a 75pc chance of winning but it soon became clear that they were vastly under-priced and a 1-1 draw was the best they could manage.
Daniel Sturridge made sure they weren't completely disgraced but Tuesday's defeat to Napoli in the Champions League has put further pressure on Andre Villas-Boas, with bookmakers reporting plenty of interest in the 'next Chelsea manager' markets.
Rafael Benitez is the current favourite for the job at 6/4, but these markets can be notoriously difficult to make money from and I'd rather be a layer than a backer as various names shorten up and then drift back out.
Thankfully, a win for Giles Cross at 4/1 ensured that I finished the day a couple of points in profit, but with Cheltenham just over two weeks away it would have been nice to have added a bigger sum to the Festival coffers.
Still, there's plenty of races between now and then, and one of those that could boost the betting pot for the column is Oasis Dancer, which is generally available at 11/4 for the Listed bluesquare.com Cleves Stakes at Lingfield (2.50).
I've been doing well on the all-weather of late so I've decided to stick with that code for the day.
Ralph Beckett's gelding put in a career best last time when winning a competitive handicap here in early January, and I stuck him in the notebook as one that should win a valuable race sooner rather than later.
He'd loads in hand on that occasion, as he did when finishing off a disappointing 2011 on a positive note by winning a minor event at Wolverhampton in December.
The word from Kimpton Down is that the five-year-old has kicked on nicely in training over the winter and I'm confident that we'll see another bold run this afternoon.
That said, William Knight's Palace Moon can't be dismissed easily and he's a horse that's come on in leaps and bounds since having a breathing operation towards the end of last year. He also had plenty in hand when winning a good handicap here a couple of weeks ago and this race could well end up as a match between the pair.
Loyalty is worth a punt around 4/1 in the bluesquare.com Winter Derby Trial Stakes (3.20 Lingfield). He rarely runs a bad one, winning five times last year and his latest race (seventh of 11) can be ignored as he was badly hampered at the start.
LAST week's selection finished one spot out of the placings but I'm hopeful that Picansort can make up for that today as he takes on 11 rivals in the Blue Square Sprint Series Grand Final Handicap at Lingfield (2.15).
While he's had to settle for second in his latest two starts at this venue, he does handle the Polytrack quite well and one of his two career wins were at this course. He's creeping back up in the weights but he may just get another victory into him soon before the handicapper gets his measure, priced around 12/1.
Likely favourite Sulis Minerva is in great form and has strong claims -- but top weight may prove too much of a burden this time and he's a bit short at 9/2.
1.45 Lingfield: Za'lan
2.15 Lingfield: Picansort (e/w)
2.50 Lingfield: Oasis Dancer
3.20 Lingfield: Loyalty