Legend will take some beating
T OMORROW'S Irish Grand National does not stand out as a vintage renewal or one that demands a bet.
The favourite, a reserve reliant on something that got into the race being scratched, appeals as the most likely winner if -- as is likely -- he is allowed to partake. However, 6/1 seems no more than fair.
The horse that interests me most today is Bideford Legend in the Friday Evening Racing at Cork Racecourse Handicap Hurdle. The trip of two miles and three furlongs is undoubtedly on the sharp side for the Charles Byrnes-trained seven-year-old, but otherwise this looks a clever bit of placing on the part of the Limerick trainer.
Byrnes' ability to improve handicappers is remarkable. Jack Cool recently finished second in a competitive handicap at the Aintree festival off 136. Just four runs prior to that, he was rated 97 in Ireland. Chaser Alfa Beat improved over three stone in the space of five runs after joining the yard.
Bideford Legend is not yet exposed and reportedly needed his first run for the trainer at Naas in January. He travelled well before finishing fifth and should be sharper today. He ran perhaps his best race over hurdles at this time last year when clear second in a 17-runner handicap at Fairyhouse. Only five pounds higher in the weights today, his handler's namesake Brian can also claim three off his back. Given that he stays three miles, a slow gallop today would undoubtedly harm his chance. That seems unlikely, however, with habitual trailblazer Salesin -- which won over two miles last time -- among what is otherwise an ordinary field.
Go through each runner and it is easy to find fault after fault, yet Bideford Legend could be available at around 6/1 this morning. With a winning purse of almost €18,000 on offer, it makes sense that his ultra-shrewd trainer will have him ready and he should take a bit of beating if he gets the breaks.
Bideford Legend at Cork, 1pt win at best morning odds
PORTUMNA did not even reach last year's final but bookmakers have them at 1/2 to win the Galway SHC which began yesterday.
The Shannonsiders are not in action today but both Beagh and Athenry appeal in the betting to begin the championship with victories. Beagh are as short as 4/7 to beat a Kinvara side that went no further than the preliminary quarter-finals last year, yet has since been ravaged by emigration and injuries.
Ger Mahon's absence is a major blow and Beagh have a full panel from which to choose. They appeal at 4/5.
Athenry, managed by Joe Rabbitte, should make light work of a weakened Pádraig Pearses team and even at 2/7 are worth inclusion in a double that pays over 13/10.
Beagh (4/5) and Athenry (2/7) to win, 2pts double (Boylesports)
THE Europa League has gone a little off the radar here since Manchester City and Liverpool exited the competition, even though neither has an Irishman in their line-ups.
The ground-breaking football of Barcelona has challenged our nation's irrational infatuation with the Premier League and La Liga outfit Villarreal seem underrated in their semi-final with Porto. The Yellow Submarines deserve more plaudits than they get which makes them a good betting proposition.
Porto have dominated their domestic league but Villarreal are fourth in Spain, which is far more competitive. Should Porto advance, they would probably face Benfica in the final -- what an atmosphere rabid fans of those rivals would generate.
Consider those two obstacles Porto must overcome. Moreover, ask why three of the most profitable bookmakers around offer 6/4 that they win the competition. Then decide: are they too short at 7/5 (to lay) on Betfair?
Lay Porto to win Europa League, 1pt at 2.4 (1.4pt liability, Betfair)
YEAR TO DATE
Profit/loss to €10 stake: -€21.59
Still running: €150
Sunday Indo Sport