Wednesday 23 January 2019

Bolger's colt to deny O'Brien record victory

Trainer Aidan O’Brien. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Aidan O’Brien. Photo: Sportsfile

Betting Ring: Wayne Bailey

Little Dunmow, a small village in rural Essex with a population of less than 300, is the original home of the Flitch Trials which now take place in the larger nearby town of Great Dunmow.

I'm not quite sure how it works nowadays, but back in the 12th century the trial was for married couples to live without any quarrel whatsoever for a full year and a day. The prize was a slab, or flitch, of bacon and a jury would decide, after spending time with the couple at a day-long family event, whether they were worthy enough to 'bring home the bacon'.

I was reading up on the trials recently and apparently, there were only eight winners in 500 years, although, if it were up to me, I'd give a prize to any couple that lasted a week.

The phrase, of course, has evolved to mean success, often monetary, in a particular endeavour and Aidan O'Brien has certainly brought home the bacon this year as we reach the final British Group One of the season.


The maestro of Ballydoyle is now level with the late American trainer Bobby Frankel, who set the record for the most top-level Group or Graded wins in a year at 25 in 2003.

You'll always hear the odd comment saying it's easy to win big races when you have the money and the firepower, but O'Brien is truly a genius at what he does. His attention to detail is sometimes mind-blowing and, as a sport-loving nation, Ireland should be incredibly proud of O'Brien and what he's achieved in the sport both here and abroad.

Understandably, he's got a few entries in this afternoon's Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster (3.25), including Saxon Warrior, expected to go off as favourite around 6/4.

Last seen when winning the Beresford Stakes, he comes here with solid claims and the form of that race has worked out well producing a couple of subsequent winners.

However, I think punters are looking to be part of the record-breaking story by backing Saxon Warrior a little too heavily and there's not much value left.

If you are looking for an O'Brien horse, The Pentagon, which is also prominent in the 2018 Derby market, looks better value and his latest Group Three victory from Leopardstown gives the impression he's got more to come.

He's most likely improved at home since then but, as much as I'd like to see the record broken today, I'm siding with Jim Bolger's Verbal Dexterity, expected to go off around 7/2.

I'm keeping an eye on the weather but if it comes up soft, I'll be increasing my stake on the son of Vocalised, which reversed the form with Beckford in the Railway Stakes to win the Group One National Stakes at the Curragh.

Admittedly, it wasn't the strongest renewal with Gustav Klimt a late withdrawal, but he loved the step back up in distance to seven furlongs and I'm guessing the mile trip will see an even bigger improvement.

At Newbury, Best Solution might be the one to side with in the Group Three Worthington's 'Indigo Leisure' Stakes (2.15) at 6/1. He ran poorly in a German Group One last time but was runner-up in a similar race previously, and won the Derby Trial at Lingfield in May.

While we still have the November Handicap to look forward to before the Flat season finishes, the jumping game continues to get into swing and I quite like Cobra De Mai in the Randox Health Handicap Chase at Cheltenham (3.10) at 7/1.

Dan Skelton's gelding was hampered several times in a novice race at Sedgefield last time but found plenty to win at 9/1.


It looks like Spring Loaded will go off as favourite for the Sun Bets Responsible Betting Handicap (4.0 Doncaster). He won the Portland Handicap here in September which is noteworthy - but he's up 10lbs since, and single-figure odds make little appeal in what looks a competitive renewal.

Instead, a chance is taken on outsider Coolfitch, which should go off in the region of 25/1.

David O'Meara's filly has went astray since winning a solid handicap at Ayr in July but official ratings in the 90s were too high, and she's finally been cut some slack with a mark of 88. She was out of her depth in a Listed race last time but, back in handicap company off this rating, I suspect she'll run a little better than her odds suggest.


1.45 Doncaster: Staxton

2.15 Newbury: Best Solution

2.50 Newbury: Nebo

3.10 Cheltenham: Cobra De Mai

3.25 Doncaster: Verbal Dexterity

3.55 Newbury: Hikmaa

4.0 Doncaster: Coolfitch (e/w)


Do the double

Soccer: Antonio Conte  has said he’s not feeling under pressure regarding his position at Chelsea following a poor spell and they’ve got back on track with wins in the League over Watford and Everton in the EFL Cup. The Blues have a reasonably good record on the road this term and, priced 4/7, can easily beat a Bournemouth side which have lost six games out of nine.

Racing: Charlie Hills has described Nebo as “fresh and well” ahead of this afternoon’s Group Three Horris Hill Stakes (2.50 Newbury) and Frankie Dettori can steer the colt to his second career victory, priced around 11/4. Although beaten odds-on in a Group Two last time, the six-furlong trip was too short so he’ll appreciate both the step up in distance and the step down in class.

* Last week’s double was successful at an overall price of just over 5/2

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport