Thursday 23 February 2017

Roses can thrive in soft ground

Johnny Ward

R OSES For The Lady belatedly looks as though she will encounter something close to her optimum racing conditions at The Curragh this afternoon and it would be understandable if she attracted market support.

John Oxx was keen to downplay the squad he had assembled at the start of the season, his once-in-a-lifetime Sea The Stars having retired after the last campaign. The Curragh handler is instinctively serene and averse to hype but his scepticism proved well-based and he has had a quiet season.

Roses For The Lady can again fly the proverbial flag successfully in the Listed Go Racing In Kildare Festival Finale Stakes. Thirteen take their chance, with the ground forecast to be on the soft side.

Roses For The Lady ran probably a career-best the only time she encountered very deep terrain, which occurred in the Irish Oaks last season. Though put in her place by Sariska -- which was awesome last season but ended her career as a recalcitrant rogue -- the Oxx runner was four and a half lengths too strong for the brilliant Midday, which handles easy ground.

Since then, she simply has not had the chance to show her best as a result of prevailing underfoot condition, yet even her form on fast ground gives her legitimate claims this afternoon. She bolted up in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan on her seasonal debut before finishing just three lengths behind Melbourne Cup contender Profound Beauty at The Curragh.

Still, Oxx has insisted that she needs give in the ground to be seen to best effect and she can make all this afternoon.

RECOMMENDATION

Roses For The Lady to win at The Curragh,

1pt at best morning odds

THIS column has not -- up until now -- ventured into the dubious realms of 'novelty betting', a market category that is growing steadily. Initially designed as a means to ensure cheap publicity for bookmakers, that reasoning still prevails but all classes of gamblers try to exploit these markets for 'ricks' -- wrong prices -- and often do so. The Irish Presidential Election, due to take place in October 2011, has attracted understandable interest from bookmakers keen to make a few bucks in terms of bets and to save another few by getting the media to promote their prices in news stories.

The possible successors to Mary McAleese are many, at least in a nominal sense, but Boylesports seem to have underrated the chances of a couple of them: Michael D Higgins and Brian Crowley.

Crowley has exceptional popularity as an MEP and his relative youth would endear him to many voters. Higgins, in contrast, may be deemed too old for the post ideally, but his appeal transcends the political allegiance of voters and he would fit the ceremonial role befitting a President.

In another first for this column, the suggestion is to back both of them and -- perhaps -- take an added interest in the race over the next 12 months. Crowley is 8/1 and Higgins 10/1, but they are generally much shorter elsewhere.

RECOMMENDATION

Brian Crowley or Michael D Higgins to be next President,

0.5pt each at 8/1 and 10/1 (Boylesports)

ONE did not need hindsight to think that Ireland's position as favourites against Russia on Friday evening was highly questionable. They are readily superior to us in terms of natural ability and, under Giovanni Trapattoni, the only teams Ireland have beaten in competitive group qualification matches are Georgia, Armenia and Cyprus.

For all of that, we somehow nearly scrambled a draw and Slovakia are poor 13/10 shots to beat us on Tuesday. The Irish will find the men from the Tatras -- who lost in Armenia -- much less nimble on their feet and we should be able to secure a result.

RECOMMENDATION

Lay Slovakia to beat Ireland,

1pt at 2.3 approx (1.3pt liability, Betfair)

YEAR TO DATE

Profit to a €10 stake: €221.37

Still running: €140

valuebet@independent.ie

Sunday Independent

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