Friday 19 January 2018

Harrington hope is Rock-solid

Johnny Ward

BACKING the class act in a handicap is not a bad rule of thumb and Gimli's Rock fits that profile in Ballinrobe's feature EPS Pumps Handicap Hurdle today.

Trainer Jessica Harrington, remarkably, was responsible for all three reserves in the Galway Hurdle, none of which got into the race. Of the three, she was keen to state that her best chance was Gimli's Rock -- so it is pertinent to note now that another of them, Alpine Eagle, bolted up next time in a decent contest at Sligo.

Gimli's Rock is a typical offspring of his father, Rock Of Gibraltar: tough, ground-versatile, consistent and a middle-distance horse on the Flat. His form going into today's race, incorporating both codes and excluding his hurdling debut in which he was brought down, is: 143144214224.

The four-year-old's last run over hurdles was against some smart four-year-olds at Punchestown. He made light work of them and is consequently rated 129 today, but the chances are he is still better than that.

This afternoon, he has to contend with a conglomeration of ordinary handicappers in the main. Save My Blushes might be better than that, but he could be taken on for the lead by Roseska -- helping to set the race up for the selection -- and the form of his Roscommon win during the week looks a shade flattering.

Gimli's Rock should relish the forecast conditions and he looks a 2/1 shot in my book, so if bookmakers are offering anything like the Racing Post's 9/2 tissue price, let them know your views on the matter.


Gimli's Rock to win at Ballinrobe, 1pt win at best morning odds

BASQUE rider Igor Anton is overpriced at 16 on Betfair to land the Vuelta Espana, which commences next Saturday.

Two-time former winner Denis Menchov leads the market and has the profile of a vulnerable favourite after the exhausting effort he made to finish third in the Tour de France. Indeed, he has just confirmed that he will be leaving his Rabobank team next season.

Anton, an out-and-out climber, skipped both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour. His Euskaltel team has plenty of climbing allies to help him win and he looks to have a better outright chance than that implied by his present price.

It is worth remembering that the 27-year-old finished second in the Vuelta a Castilla y León to Alberto Contador, whom Anton even dropped on the race's main mountain-top finish.


Igor Anton to win the Vuelta Espana, 0.5pt at 15/1 (Betfair)

BETFAIR allows a punter to become a bookmaker if he so wishes and the activity that goes on in ante-post horseracing markets can be especially volatile.

Just after the Great Voltigeur at York on Tuesday, Rewilding's smooth triumph had catapulted him into a price of 6/4 for next month's St Leger on the exchange.

However, the bookmakers -- who are far more clued-in than the average punter -- quickly restored order and quoted prices like 7/4 and 2/1 (which is still available with the sponsors, Ladbrokes).

With Snow Fairy's emergence in the Leger picture, Rewilding is too short at around 2s on Betfair. He was getting weight from Midas Touch on Tuesday and, more tellingly, was the benefactor of a very intelligent ride by Frankie Dettori.

Midas Touch and Johnny Murtagh were prisoners to the very strong gallop at York: the horse ideally needs further and clearly the plan was to be close to the speed. When they go too fast, but your horse is a stayer, you are in something of a No Man's Land.

Rewilding was able to settle away from all the madness and thus preserved considerable energy. At Doncaster, Midas Touch arguably has every chance of reversing that form.


Lay Rewilding to win the St Leger, 1pt at 3 (2pt liability, Betfair)


Profit to €10 stake: €190.72

Still running: €75

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