Sunday 17 December 2017

Lions can hit rivals for six

Wayne Bailey

SOME amazing bets were struck this week in the Cricket World Cup, when Ireland caused one of the greatest sporting upsets of all time by beating England at their own game.

Ireland got off to a terrible start and the 327 England clocked up should have been enough to see the favourites through.

Before Kevin O'Brien stepped up, it looked all over for the Irish and, at that stage, England were trading at the basement odds of 1/100 in-running on Betfair.

Some €3m was traded on the exchange at that price and those poor souls who thought they were buying some money must have been left devastated.

I can never understand people who bet at those prices, risking a hundred quid to win one. If you have a hundred quid in the bank, you don't really need one more, and it just goes to show that there's no such thing as a cert when it comes to betting.

I must admit, though, that I had to do a crash-course in the rules of cricket before the game started.

Indeed, it was far from the 'gentleman's game' we played as kids in the working class estates around Ballybrack -- a game of rounders with a hurley stick was as close as it got!


Luckily, a mate of mine from the leafy suburb of Sandycove knows all about the sport and he reckons Sri Lanka are a decent bet in the outright market -- the Lions are priced around 11/2. South Africa's AB de Villiers for top run-scorer at 4/1 could be worth a punt, too.

On the racing scene, it's a fairly quiet day, with most of the good horses now under wraps for Cheltenham or Aintree.

The main race of the day is the Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Newbury (3.0) and this year's renewal looks extremely competitive, where Ikorodu Road is likely to go off as favourite.

The Martin Keighley-trained gelding was on his way to winning at this venue in a novices' handicap chase last time out when unseating at the last; and it's fair to say that he's still running off a fair mark (6lbs higher) which gives him a very realistic chance of winning.

I wouldn't put anyone off backing him but I'm not interested in taking a single-figure price about anything in this race so instead, I'm going to take an each-way chance on Prince De Beauchene, which is generally available around 12/1.

Howard Johnson's eight-year-old loves a bit of mud and would probably prefer the ground a bit softer, but he's not too heavily burdened with 11st 1lb and I'm expecting him to put in a bold bid for the prize pot of a thousand ponies (£25,000).

He started off as a chaser in France but found success over sticks when brought to Britain by his current trainer, winning a novices' hurdle at Ayr back in 2009. He returned to the bigger obstacles last season and rarely ran a bad race so I'll be surprised if he's not in contention for a place at the very least at this venue, which is one of the fairest courses in Britain.

Charlie Mann's Fine Parchment is also in with a shout at a double-figure price and is nicely near the bottom of the weights. The recent drop back in trip has seen him come on in leaps and bounds and his form at Warwick last time, when second to Hey Big Spender, looks solid.

Each-way outsider

Awesome Freddie is not particularly strong in the betting for the Green Tick Win More Every Race Handicap Hurdle (2.10 Doncaster) but he ran well when third to Stow here off a revised mark and could be a bit of value around 8/1. He'll stay the trip and trainer Alan King says he's in "good order" at home.

Today's selections

2.10 Doncaster: Awesome Freddie (e/w)

3.0 Newbury: Prince De Beauchene (e/w)

3.40 Kelso: Ballabriggs

Irish Independent

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