Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Hourigan should enjoy Moment

Johnny Ward

SLIGO racecourse officials will be chuffed with their card this afternoon, the first in 2010 at the western venue.

Often derided as one of the worst tracks in Ireland, Sligo have invested heavily in their drainage and it is already reaping dividends: Noel Meade entered Muirhead this afternoon, while Willie Mullins runs Flat Out.

The Closutton handler also saddles Deutschland in the Belfry Hurdle and his chance is obvious, but the odds will likely reflect that and Michael Hourigan's Awkward Moment is a solid alternative. With eight runners, he appeals as close to an each-way bet to nothing.

The race looks effectively between Deutschland, Awkward Moment and Head Of The Posse. However, the summer conditions will certainly suit the selection, which was promoted ten pounds in the ratings to 130 after chasing home Our Gar at Punchestown.

That still leaves him ten pounds below the top weight, but -- allowing for Adrian Heskin's claim -- the six-year-old gets nine pounds off the John Kiely runner. Heskin's ability needs little illumination, while all three of Head Of The Posse's wins came on soft or heavy ground.

Awkward Moment has been steadily progressive since sent hurdling, producing by far his best run yet over today's trip on similar ground at Punchestown. He was two and a half lengths clear of the 135-rated Ainama and Hourigan's runners continue in excellent form.

Deutschland is probably the one to beat, though he has very little in hand at the weights and his price has more potential to be too short than too long. Awkward Moment at around 4/1 makes more appeal.


Awkward Moment in the 4.50 at Sligo, 1pt each way at best morning odds

LADBROKES and Paddy Power are offering quite contrasting odds about the tally of goals in this evening's National Hurling League final between Galway and Cork. Ladbrokes offer a tempting 4/5 that the game produces at least three green flags, while Paddy Power quote 8/5 that there will be two or fewer.

Looking further afield, both firms cut Cork footballers' price for All-Ireland glory after their dismissal of Mayo last Sunday. Skybet have not reacted, but perhaps they should have and punters can avail of 11/4 about Conor Counihan's men.

Cork look exceptionally strong and won the league without ever threatening to perform at their best. Tyrone and Kerry both disappointed and while that itself is not a major cause for concern, they are struggling to replace key ageing or departed players.

Cork will have learned plenty from last season and they do look the best team in Ireland at present.


Cork to win the All-Ireland SFC, 1pt at 11/4 (Skybet)

INTERNAZIONALE'S performance when somehow getting through against Barcelona to the Champions League final was the latest proof of Jose Mourinho's genius (even if Barca had a second goal wrongly disallowed). RTÉ pundit John Giles dismissed the nexus afterwards between the outcome and Mourinho's tactical game plan, in the process unwittingly proving why he was never destined for managerial greatness himself.

After that mammoth show in Camp Nou, Inter now switch their focus to retention of their Serie A crown, but a visit to Lazio today should test the Nerazzurri. Lazio are in pretty good form, led up front by the tireless Tommaso Rocchi and surely the champions will suffer some fatigue after their clash on Wednesday.

Stan James go 1/2 Inter, while the majority of their rivals quote 4/9 -- so there is a sound enough basis for laying the Milanese on Betfair at 1.46. Bettors often over-react when one team has an apparently greater than normal need to win a particular game, with Manchester United short at 2/5 in Sunderland as well.


Lay Inter to beat Lazio, 2pts at 1.46 (0.92pt liability, Betfair)


Profit to €10 stake: €173.13

Still running: €240

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