Status symbol worth a punt
THE cold spell has already forced Sandown to abandon today's meeting, but organisers at Ffos Las are hopeful their card can go ahead with milder weather forecast for the Carmarthenshire region of Wales this afternoon.
They've some pretty good fare on offer, the highlight of which is the Welsh Champion Hurdle (2.45) and the market leader Oscar Whisky is definitely the one to beat. At 1/2 though, it's not worth the risk and it's a race best watched instead.
So, for betting purposes, I'm going to take a look towards the all-weather at Lingfield where today Status Symbol is worth a punt at a juicy 10/1 in the Blue Square Bet Handicap (3.35).
He was racing well back in the autumn, winning a competitive handicap at Newmarket and went on to place in an even stronger race at Haydock in September.
His form tailed off somewhat towards the end of the year but a good spin over hurdles last month seems to have rejuvenated the gelding and connections are expecting him to put it up to market leader Art Scholar, whose record at Lingfield isn't the greatest.
In the rugby, I'm confident that Ireland can reverse the form that saw them knocked out of the World Cup at the hands of Wales in October.
The Irish provinces are in top form at the moment, Ireland have far fewer injury worries than Wales -- and we have a great record at home to Wales in recent years.
Ireland are generally 1/2 to win tomorrow's Six Nations opener which is about right, but I think that the 10/11 on offer on Ireland --4 points (Boylesports) represents better value as does the 6/5 offered by Blue Square on Ireland HT/FT, as most firms go evens or less.
Ireland got caught cold in the World Cup match, but I expect them to come out all guns blazing tomorrow and will be backing them in the race to 10 points at 4/6 (Paddy Power). For those looking for a longer priced bet, I'd suggest backing the first score to be an Irish try at 5/1.
Finally, the world lost another great character this week when Cecil 'Sacki' Bailey passed away on Monday.
Regular racegoers at Leopardstown will remember Sacki setting up the hurdles and fences during the jumps season, or doing the gate and other odd jobs around the course during the flat.
He loved his work at Leopardstown and will be sadly missed by all. Sacki, a cousin of mine, used to have great craic slagging me on Saturdays when any of my Irish Independent selections would lose, and watching the racing in the local pub just won't be the same without him.
The huge turnout at his funeral showed how much he was loved. May he rest in peace.
This afternoon sees the inaugural running of the William Hill West Wales National (3.20 Ffos Las) for which Incentivise looks a little overpriced around the 14/1 mark.
While he's 1lb out of the handicap, the word from the yard is that he's been impressive in his work and is expected to run a few pounds better than his mark suggests.
3.20 Ffos Las: Incentivise (e/w)
3.35 Lingfield: Status Symbol
2.55 Punchestown: Big Zeb (tomorrow)