Buddy can make light work of rivals to take spoils for Mullins
TRAINERS tend to treat the handicapper's decisions in a somewhat similar way to how football players deal with referee's calls.
When the trainer is unhappy with the handicapper's ratings, he will let him and probably a few more know about it. When the opposite is the case, you can be sure he is keeping a zip on his lips.
Tony Mullins is not exactly a taciturn character and his colourful analysis at Cheltenham preview nights ensures that he is booked for plenty of them. He will surely have been pleasantly surprised that his colt Cheers Buddy was dropped 2lbs in the weights for today's Navigation Road Nursery at Cork.
The son of Acclamation made his handicap debut at The Curragh two weekends ago and would have been first or second with a clear run. He travelled very well and was just about to make his bid when snatched up badly over a furlong out when in a close fifth.
Meanwhile the winner, Suntan, powered up the centre of the track, winning well on the face of it. He was given a 10lb penalty by the handicapper, yet Cheers Buddy's rating effectively dropped from 69 to today's 67.
Assuming the Mullins runner has progressed from that -- and the yard's horses have been in blistering form over the past month -- he should be hard to beat in today's contest. Bobskier is the tissue favourite but has to give the selection 7lbs on the basis of winning an egg-and-spoon maiden in Sligo.
At around 7/1, Cheers Buddy would rate a cracking bet.
Cheers Buddy to win at Cork, 1pt at best morning odds
LIVERPOOL look to have been written off rather prematurely on the basis of one disappointing season, in which the players seemed to generally lose faith with the methods of boss Rafa Benitez.
Benitez probably became exasperated by the financial constraints imposed on him, but Roy Hodgson knows -- or at least hopes that he knows -- what is in store and he takes over a very talented squad. In four of the past five seasons, Liverpool have finished in the top four. They have not, contrary to expectations, lost Fernando Torres; nor has Steven Gerrard left, while the effective swapping of Yossi Benayoun and money for Joe Cole is an astute one.
Obviously, the expectation is that Manchester City will make a bold bid this season, but they remain a flaky outfit and Liverpool look excellent value to finish in the top four at 7/4.
Liverpool to finish in the top four of Premier League, 3pts at 7/4 (general)
PUNTERS who banked on Dermot Weld's exceptional record in Galway this week were embracing a winning strategy. The Rosewell House trainer's love for Ballybrit has never left him, even though the calibre of its contests pales when compared to the top-class races he has snared worldwide.
Gentleman Jeff will be a warm order to enhance Weld's particularly strong record in jumps races in the first this afternoon. However, it should pay to oppose him, as this rather slow horse will surely struggle to win over today's trip of two miles and a furlong.
The grey so nearly got off the mark over fences midweek, but that was over a trip of two miles and six, and he was staying on dourly at the finish. He has only ever won twice over hurdles, most recently on heavy ground a three-mile hurdle race in Leopardstown last January.
Today's contest is not as weak as it might seem. Kilmurry looks a major threat, Wise Old Owl has strong claims on the form of his Tipperary run recently (only his second career start) and Wikaala could easily outpace Prince Erik at the death too. The latter's tissue price of 11/8 looks very short.
Lay Prince Erik to win at Galway, 1pt at 2.5 approx (1.5pt liability, Betfair)
YEAR TO DATE
Profit to €10 stake: €138.58
Still running: €85