British raider Canford can deny O'Brien
THERE'S nothing against it in the rules, but presumably Aidan O'Brien is going mob-handed in today's Irish 2000 Guineas (3.45) so he can use some of the no-hopers to dictate the speed of the race and test the stamina of British raider Canford Cliffs.
Sure, the likes of Encompassing and Purple Heart will run to their ability, but the prices of 999/1 apiece on Betfair tell their own story and their purpose at the Curragh is perfectly clear.
While some commentators frown upon these tactics, I think punters should embrace them as they give us a clear picture of how exactly the contest will develop -- and we can be fairly certain of how the race will be shaping up as they sweep around that bend.
After that, the questions will be answered by the market leaders. Remember though, just because O'Brien can dictate the pace, it doesn't make his main fancy Steinbeck a better horse -- and even the best laid plans go awry sometimes.
Cast your mind back to October, for example, when O'Brien was responsible for no less than six of the 13 runners in the Listed Kevin Deering lifetime in racing achievement Finale Stakes.
Despite representing nearly half the field, not one of his horses could get in front of Noel Meade's Silverhand. Obviously, the more darts your throw, the more chance you have of hitting the board but the point is that these type of tactics can, and do, fail sometimes.
With the pacemakers dictating the speed today, the punter must simply decide if Canford Cliffs can stay out the one-mile distance under pressure and it's my opinion that he can.
Regular readers may remember me putting him up as an each-way bet for the English equivalent and while I was concerned about the distance at Newmarket, a smart race in third paid some place money and I'm more than happy with that run.
By my reading of the formbook, today's conditions look ripe for trainer Richard Hannon to land the race he last took with Tirol back in 1990; with Pat Eddery doing the steering back then.
On his website, Hannon is quite bullish and makes it clear that his colt is not just coming over for a trip on the ferry.
Steinbeck is vying for favouritism on the early metaphorical chalkboards and I'll admit that the vibes coming from Ballydoyle are all good -- but if we ignore the hype for a moment, we can see that the colt has a lot to make up on figures if he wants to beat Canford Cliffs.
He won his maiden as expected and also went well in the Dewhurst -- but outside of those races his price is based on expectation rather than form.
Besides, most of O'Brien's horses have needed the run this season and I'd certainly be wary of one that hasn't raced in 217 days. If anything, I'm keener on Fencing Master, who stayed on well at Newmarket and of the Ballydoyle lot, that son of Oratorio looks like a decent each-way 'bet to nothing'.
Over at Chester, Little Scotland is the one to keep onside in the opening maiden (2.25). She hasn't been seen since coming eight place in a Group Two at York back in August but Richard Fahey's team look fit and well at the moment and I'm surprised she hasn't yet got off the mark. He kept her in good company as a two-year-old and that experience should see her through; with plenty in hand on official ratings.
2.25 Chester -- Little Scotland
3.45 Curragh -- Canford Cliffs
3.45 Curragh -- Fencing Master (each-way)
7.30 Lingfield -- Significant Move
7.40 Newbury -- Strictly Dancing
4.15 Curragh -- Music Show (tomorrow)