Monday 19 February 2018

Big freeze aids Ruby's recovery

Johnny Ward

R UBY Walsh looks too big a price at 10/1 to reclaim his Irish jump jockeys' title.

Often a difficulty for gamblers is taking odds that are shorter than those previously available and this is such a case. Walsh had eased out to 20/1 after suffering a fracture of his tibia and fibula in his right leg in early November on the day that Kauto Star won at Down Royal. He was a little adrift of leading rider Paul Carberry at the time and the gap he had to overcome, allied to an expected absence of three months, prompted bookmakers to dismiss his chance.

When a colleague of mine brought up the harsh previous winter and the potential for another one at the time to support an argument that Walsh was worth a bet at 20s, it seemed a speculative argument. How right he was, with racing's calendar decimated over the past three weeks.

Carberry sustained injury too in the past month, while Davy Russell and Andrew McNamara have not had the opportunity to clock up winners due to the weather. Moreover, there is every chance of more cancellations between now and the end of January, at which time the champion rider is expected to return.

As of today, he trails McNamara, who picked up a win yesterday, by 16 and Carberry by 14. Crucially, he is just six adrift of Russell, who has been the only rider to offer a semblance of a challenge to Willie Mullins' stable jockey in recent campaigns.

Walsh missed Punchestown last season (and around ten winners as a consequence) yet still won the championship by 18, a staggering 52 clear of third. In 2008/2009, he had 38 winners to spare. He will have the guts of four months to claw back the deficit.


Ruby Walsh to win Irish jockeys' title, 1pt at 10/1 (Bet365)

He may have been cleared of allegations of match-fixing that so besmirched snooker earlier this year, but John Higgins' UK Championship success last weekend did more to illustrate his immense courage under duress.

His gripping decider against Mark Williams was a timely advertisement for the sport and the Scot has been promoted to Masters second-favourite. Yet a punt on Mark Allen, whom Higgins defeated in the UK Championship semi-final, is advised at 22/1.

Allen has to face Ronnie O'Sullivan in his opening match but he is only 7/4 to beat the Rocket and victory would set him up for a breakthrough success.


Mark Allen to win the Masters, 0.5pt at 22/1 (Blue Square)

THE clamour within racing to ensure that Tony McCoy wins the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award tonight has, in the main, served merely to highlight the insecurities of those trying to promote the sport.

The premise that a victory for AP would do wonders for racing is plainly spurious. This is a competition that numbers among its past winners Zara Phillips, yet no jockey has ever won the award and nor has any other racing personality. Lester Piggott never made the frame, while McCoy has said of his own chance: "Sure Frankie Dettori couldn't win it, and unlike me he actually has a personality."

Thankfully, not everyone is like Dettori but McCoy's deadpan manner would not necessarily endear him to the wider public, whose vote decides the outcome. There has been a sustained gamble on him from much bigger prices into his present 8/11, but consider the nexus between gambling and racing and it is easy to conclude who is forcing the plunge.

Racing's appeal remains limited in the broad sporting spectrum and McCoy cannot be backed at his present price. Only one Irishman has ever won the gong since it began in 1954.


Lay Tony McCoy to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year, 2pts at 1.75 (1.5pt liability, Betfair)


Profit to €10 stake: €254.90

Still running: €110

Sunday Independent

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