Richard Forristal: Sunday service
Outsider to note: With Speed
Tomorrow's opening novices' handicap hurdle at Cork is a fairly drab affair, with just one of the 18-strong field managing a placed finish on their most recent start.
That one, Man Of Principles, a three-time runner-up, may struggle to get a better opportunity than this to win, but With Speed merits consideration at double-figure odds. Trained by Ronnie O'Leary, With Speed ran poorly at Thurles last time.
The reason for that is unclear, but he had put two solid efforts together previously. Under tomorrow's rider Denis Hogan, With Speed finished third at Hexham in October, before recording a career-best to be a good second at Naas. That kind of form might just be good enough if he can leave his most recent performance behind.
Cork 12.20 -- With Speed
Cork 3.20 -- Osana
Cork 3.50 -- Back Of The Pack
Huntingdon 2.50 -- Kalahari King
950,000 -- What Soinlovewithyou, a limited maiden winner for Aidan O'Brien in 2007, sold for in Guineas at Newmarket recently. The five-year-old is a Sadler's Wells half-sister to Duke Of Marmalade, and is in foal to Sea The Stars.
95 -- Pat Smullen's tally for the season going into the final Flat fixture at Dundalk last night, one better than the now six-time champion's previous best.
16 -- Days since the last National Hunt meeting in Ireland took place at Thurles.
Quote of the week
"It has been a stressful 24 hours, but it's all systems go and I'm now raring to return. If I didn't feel ready, I wouldn't risk making a mess of riding Master Minded. I felt a million dollars riding Kauto this morning." -- A relieved Noel Fehily on Thursday evening, having finally been passed fit to ride at Cheltenham yesterday, despite initially being told that he wouldn't.
Three things we
learned this week
1 Diamond Harry will now head straight for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, connections confirmed yesterday, but you'd have to question the wisdom of that.
Diamond Harry has always been an awkward jumper. Mistakes cost him his chance when third to Mikael D'Haguenet over hurdles at the festival in 2009, while really sloppy fencing saw him pulled up in the RSA Chase in March.
He has won his three other chasing starts, but he still needs practice. Beef Or Salmon had also run just four times over fences when he first lined up in the Gold Cup in 2003, and few will need reminding how that ended.
2 Next week is going to be busy; or at least we hope it will be. The ever-changing domestic fixture-list now features a jumps card every day for the next eight from tomorrow, with Fairyhouse's fifth and latest attempt to stage their big winter meeting on Wednesday completing the schedule. If they all go ahead, five Grade Ones will be held over five days up to Saturday.
3 Even Brian Kavanagh, HRI's chief executive, is sceptical about how the government will implement its plans for taxing online betting operators. Kavanagh's post-budget contention that "the devil is in the detail" regarding what will be complex legislation was just part of a fairly bleak picture painted by the top brass during the week.
Monday: Cork, Ayr, Plumpton, Wolverhampton (AW).
Tuesday: Punchestown, Catterick, Folkestone, Southwell (AW).
Wednesday: Fairyhouse, Bangor, Kempton* (AW), Lingfield (AW), Newbury.
Thursday: Clonmel, Exeter, Kempton* (AW), Southwell (AW), Towcester.
Friday: Downpatrick, Ascot, Southwell (AW), Uttoxeter, Wolverhampton* (AW).
Saturday: Navan, Ascot, Haydock, Lingfield (AW), Newcastle.
Sunday: Thurles, Navan, Carlisle, Kempton (AW)