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Martin's happy handicap knack points to Lochan Lacha support

ARKLE is the most illustrious previous winner of the Thyestes Chase and, while Lochan Lacha may not replicate his achievements, he offers great value at 16/1 to win this year's renewal.

Tony Martin could well be double-handed in Gowran's biggest annual race, yet it is a little baffling that the relatively exposed Hold The Pin is generally priced up shorter than his stablemate in the betting, purely because he finished sixth in Leopardstown's Paddy Power Chase over the Christmas period. The son of Oscar ran on past beaten horses and is generally very hard to win with.

Lochan Lacha, for whatever reason, has been grossly underestimated by the bookmakers through no fault of his own. The nine-year-old was in touch in the Paddy Power when he got crowded somewhat by horses at the second-last and unseated Tom Doyle, but the way that he was travelling implied that he would have been in the first three at worst.

The son of Taipan stays well. The ground was only yielding at Leopardstown, but is likely to offer more of a test of stamina at Gowran and that will very much play into his hands. Two of his three wins came on heavy terrain and he is basically an out-and-out stayer, somewhat like Dun Doire which won the race for the stable in 2006.

If Lochan Locha is still well-handicapped, what of the ante-post favourite, Beroni? Willie Mullins' recruit from the Michael O'Brien yard shot up 20 pounds for winning the Troytown effortlessly in Navan, but the form of that success is a little suspect: the bulk of the fancied horses either failed to complete or underperformed.

He is probably still likely to be thereabouts, but that sort of weight hike has to be a considerable negative and it remains to be seen how good he is. Second favourite Siegemaster ran a cracker in the Paddy Power to finish second, but will have plenty to deal with if, as seems likely, he carries 11st 8lbs at Gowran. The trends are generally against those with high weights in this contest.

Martin suggested on Friday that, while the weather has hindered him somewhat, it has not been a major drawback and he remains one of the best trainers in Ireland at winning handicaps. Lochan Lacha appeals as a horse still ahead of the marksman and at 16/1 on Betfair, or 14/1 with Ladbrokes, he merits support.

Looking to Cheltenham, I remain unconvinced that Dunguib should be quite as short as he is for the Supreme Novices Hurdle. While bookmakers remain happy to lay him at 6/4, he can he offered at shorter again on Betfair.

The Masters begins in snooker today and Betfred are offering a "special" to be considered. Sometimes in doubles the odds seem better than they are, but rough mathematics imply that Ronnie O'Sullivan is overpriced at 16/1 to triumph and to add the World Championship to his 2010 tally as well.

The best price about him winning the Masters is 11/4 and he is certain to shorten for the Crucible (7/2) if he wins that.


Lochan Lacha to win Thyestes, 1pt win at 16/1 (Betfair)

Ronnie O'Sullivan to win the Masters and World Championship, 0.5pt at 16/1 (Betfred)

Lay Of The Week

Dunguib to win the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, 2pts at 2.46 (2.92pt liability, Betfair)


Sunday Independent