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Ireland fly-half Jonny Sexton's kicking has been more impressive than Owen Farrell's

Ireland fly-half Jonny Sexton's kicking has been more impressive than Owen Farrell's

Ireland fly-half Jonny Sexton's kicking has been more impressive than Owen Farrell's

BACK in the 19th century, circus workers would parade through village streets on noisy, colourfully decorated wagons to drum up business and let the locals know the circus was in town.

By the end of the century, American politicians had mimicked the idea and were using bandwagons when out campaigning for votes. If you liked a particular politician, you could hop on their bandwagon and show your support.

The fact that I'm married to a Canadian allowed me to jump on the maple leaf bandwagon myself this week for the Winter Olympics, and it's been good craic having a beer while cheering on the Canucks.

But from a betting perspective, I've found it impossible to make any money from the Olympics and I'm already down a ton so far, which has started to take the fun out of it.

If the truth be told, I haven't the foggiest idea how half of these sports work so I guess it serves me right.

Therefore, I'm packing in my Olympic betting today in favour of less exotic but more familiar sports such as racing and rugby in an attempt to dig myself out of the hole I've created.

Better the devil you know I suppose and at Kempton, Activial might be the one to help me out at 3/1 in the Grade Two betbright.com Adonis Juvenile Hurdle (2.05).

The grey's career got off to the best possible start when he won a bumper for Guy Cherel in France in September, and he later showed promise when second in his sole British start in a juvenile hurdle at Newbury for current trainer Harry Fry.

That Newbury race was won by Paul Nicholls' Calipto, which has since recorded a novice hurdle victory and now sits second in the market for Cheltenham's Triumph Hurdle at 7/1.

For an inexperienced horse, Activial's jumping was particularly impressive and the four-year-old could be one to keep onside over the coming weeks. Meanwhile in the rugby, Ireland travel to Twickenham with a Triple Crown the immediate reward on offer, along with the hope of keeping the quest for Grand Slam glory alive.

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The visitors will be hoping to exorcise the memories of being annihilated in this fixture two years ago when an early injury to Mike Ross helped the home side power their way to a crushing 30-9 victory.

It's remarkable that a mere 24 months on, there is some doubt about whether the English front-row will dominate to anywhere near the same degree, as Ireland have four excellent props in their squad.

Joe Schmidt's men will also be boosted by the absence of Dan Cole. England were very unlucky to lose against France and they completely dominated Scotland.

The fact that they only won by 20-0 shows up to some degree the lack of a cutting edge in their young back line. Ireland have yet to concede a try in this year's championship and England have looked solid in defence, too.

I'm expecting a fairly low-scoring game and feel that the English pack will edge the battle up front, but I think Ireland's defence will keep them in touch.

As much as it pains me to do it, I'm going to stick a few bob on England to win by 1-12 points at 7/5 although I'll have to keep my mouth shut about that one down the local.

Finally, Johnny Sexton's kicking has been much more impressive than Owen Farrell's so I will be backing the Irish out-half to have the better kicking percentage of the pair, which is available at 5/6 with Paddy Power.

Each-way

Venetia Williams' Niceonefrankie won the Winkworth Handicap Chase on his seasonal reappearance at Ascot in November in which he jumped well and stayed on strongly at the end.

The handicapper put him up to 140 which saw him struggle in the Sky Bet Chase last time, but he wasn't disgraced in fifth. Now eased to 137, he can make his presence felt today in the Betbright Chase at Kempton, priced in the region of 14/1.

Racing selections

1.25 Fairyhouse: Abbyssial

2.05 Kempton: Activial

2.40 Kempton: Balder Success

3.10 Fairyhouse: Mount Benbulben

3.15 Kempton: Irving

3.50 Kempton: Niceonefrankie (e/w)


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