Tuesday 16 January 2018

Poquelin ready for take-off in Ryanair Chase

IT hardly compares to Tuesday's big story on Betfair where six punters had backed Binocular ante-post at the ceiling price of 999/1; but I see that over €270 has been matched on Big Buck's ante-post at just under 5/1 which looks like a great deal now.

It might not seem all that high when we hear some of the ante-post tales out there, but I'd certainly love to have those odds on today's 'banker' and oh how the bookmakers would love to get this one turned over!

It all depends on how you define value, but even at his current price, Big Buck's looks like the bet of the day and he's sure to play his part in the many hastily arranged new doubles and trebles following a number of festival flops.

I'm sure my editor wouldn't be too pleased with me if I wrote a page about a horse that the dogs in the street know should win -- so I'll finish up on the Ladbrokes World Hurdle (3.20) by simply saying that Big Buck's looks rock solid.

Ruby Walsh and Paul Nicholls team up a half an hour earlier for the Ryanair Chase and Poquelin looks the one to side with at 2.40. The seven-year-old has a good record at the course with three wins from seven races and he came second on another occasion, but no doubt his best performance to date was in the Boylesports.com Gold Cup here in December.

Ruby was happy to keep him off the pace throughout, but after the second last, the Kill man asked him the questions and the gelding responded immediately by powering home up the hill.

The market suggests that the big danger to the bet comes in the guise of Tranquil Sea; and don't forget that this horse beat Poquelin in the Paddy Power Gold Cup Chase here back in November. He did what was asked of him last time at Leopardstown at 4/6, gaining his first graded chase in the process -- but the weights were in his favour that day, so I'm not overly excited about his performance.

Besides, I reckon he'd prefer the ground a bit softer, so I'm happy to swerve him for today. Schindlers Hunt could run a big race, so I'll have an each-way saver on that horse, hopefully at a double figure price.

I was impressed with his third place behind Joncol and Cooldine in the Hennessy gold cup, and he certainly wasn't disgraced when third in this same race last year.

If you take Poquelin for the win and Schindlers Hunt each-way and you'll have a pretty good chance at putting the book in your favour.

The Jewson Novices' Handicap Chase (1.30) was only added to the card in 2005, but I'm not a big fan and these races make me wish the festival was reduced back down to three days.

That said, the Noel Meade-trained Jered is an interesting entry and I wouldn't be surprised if this strong traveller makes the placings. I'm not brave enough to commit money to that opinion however, so I'll sit this one out instead.

The Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle (2.05) usually attracts a large number of entries, but you can eliminate half the field quite quickly by crossing out those with poor recent form. Indeed, nine of the last 14 winners were successful last-time-out, which is a pretty surprising statistic for a handicap.

Irish Independent

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