Sunday 17 December 2017

Fiveforthree seems a good deal

Johnny Ward

T HE World Hurdle does not look quite the formality it seemed for Big Buck's earlier this season and is now shaping up to be one of the most alluring of the Grade Ones at Cheltenham.

In pursuit of his third successive win in the stayers' race and his 11th victory in a row, the son of Cadoudal has drifted out to odds-against recently. Given that he touched even-money on track last year when there was nothing of much note to bother him, it is tempting to predict that he could go about 7/4 before the off on Thursday week.

Potential backers are probably better to restrain themselves until the day as Grand Crus, Solwhit and the Willie Mullins-trained pair of Mourad and Fiveforthree all rate viable opposition. It is the grey, Fiveforthree, that is perhaps the most attractively-priced of the four in the market that ignores the fate of Big Buck's.

Fiveforthree has had a chequered career with injury, with the racing public having only a vague idea as to what stopped him racing between the Punchestown festival of 2009 until his comeback run last month. It seemed -- going on Willie Mullins' updates -- that there was no serious problem during that time and he was produced in fine shape of late at Punchestown to hammer Newmill over an inadequate two miles. Prior to that, the Arzanni-bred had bolted up in Punchestown's Grade One stayers' race two seasons ago and considering that he has only raced eight times over hurdles, there has to be potential for progress.

I doubt there is much between him and Grand Crus, while Solwhit may not find the improvement stepped up to three miles. At 8/1 non-runner no bet in the market without the favourite, he rates a fine each-way bet (at quarter the odds, three places).


Fiveforthree in World Hurdle without Big Buck's, 1pt each way at 8/1 non-runner no bet (Bet365)

ANTE-POST picks Kilkenny are on course to make the Allianz NHL final after two wins and they should make light work of Wexford this afternoon at Nowlan Park.

The Cats were below par against Dublin in the Walsh Cup last weekend but that reverse will give Brian Cody some motivational fuel. The gulf between his team and Wexford needs little elaboration and even-money about the Cats to win by nine points or more seems a gift.

Where will Wexford's scores come from? Even in the dregs of Division 2, they were no sharpshooters last season. Their attack (0-6) and general performance against Galway on week one was insipid, while a tally of 0-12 against an undercooked Waterford since should be seen for what it is.

Cody's decision to bring in TJ Reid, Eoin Larkin and James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick to his forward division will have Wexford's defenders engulfed by trepidation this morning. Galway beat the Model by 21 points and Kilkenny should manage a double-figure win. Evens is on offer with one bookmaker, while the next-best advice would be to take the same price on the Cats minus 9.5 points on Betfair.


Kilkenny -8 to beat Wexford, 3pts at evens (Setantabet)

TODAY'S Premier League joust between Liverpool and Manchester United looks about a 50-50 game but the overrated visitors can be laid at around 9/10 in the draw-no-bet market.

United's deficiencies in midfield are there for all to see. Andy Carroll -- who may make his 'Pool debut -- should relish facing a centre-back pairing of Wes Brown and the promising if inexperienced Chris Smalling.

Manchester have only won four away games in the league and they face a Reds team that has grown in belief under Kenny Dalglish. Liverpool have fared better against the league's top four sides this season than any other team.


Lay Manchester United draw-no-bet to beat Liverpool, 1pt at 1.88 (0.88pt liability, Betfair)


Profit/Loss to €10 stake: -€46.69

Still running: €135

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