Saturday 20 January 2018

Northgate to strike for Murphy

Johnny Ward

DUNDALK is not for all punters but the decision by Horse Racing Ireland to introduce a winter programme at the track was almost universally lauded.

When HRI made its announcement earlier in the summer, it came as something of a surprise: not long previously, the same body had insisted that the money was not there. Where there was a will (of bookmakers, among others), there became a way. While the Turf Accountants will salivate over the prospect of a series of poor all-weather contests over the winter months, we must all shudder at the prospect of it regressing to resemble the fodder that clogs up the fixture list in Britain.

HRI produced a sensible programme given the financial constraints. Dundalk's principal function is to provide good to high quality Flat racing and this afternoon's Irish Stallion Farms EBF August Handicap is classy.

Mark Johnston brings over Oceanway as the Scot bids to improve his excellent record at the track. She is one of six runners in the race rated at least 93 and another, top weight Northgate, has plenty going for him.

Last back end, his owner/trainer Joe Murphy extolled the horse's hurdling potential to me at Louth's only racetrack, before parting with an impish admission that the horse was for sale. For whatever reason, he continues to run in Murphy's colours and he could be rewarded with a winning purse of just under €30,000.

There ought to be a strong pace on with Elusive Ridge, Oceanway and Jackaroo all contenders for the lead. Northgate is drawn perfectly in one to sit in off the speed and hopefully get up to realise his third course win.

He has finished in the first three on seven occasions at this venue, including off a higher mark in October, and ran a cracker to finish second at The Curragh last time -- particularly given the inadequacy of the trip and his winless record on Turf. This is a competitive contest, as one would expect, and he merits an each-way play at around 10/1. Pires has been frustrating but, given the make-up of the race, he is also feared.


Northgate to win at Dundalk,

1pt e/w at best morning odds

DUBLIN face the daunting prospect of Tipperary today but, irrespective of how many the Premier beat them by, it has been a memorable year for the Dubs.

The sight of youngsters around the capital with hurls in their hands has become common and one wonders how long will it take Dublin to be installed as favourites for the All-Ireland SHC.

Tipperary are 1/16 to win today. Their goal expectancy is around two and a half. The bookmakers generally expect around 38 scores in total.

One can get 22/1 about the first score being a Tipp goal and there is therefore reason to believe that is too big. They hit Waterford for seven and remember that the Déise's subsequent win over Galway and loss to Kilkenny were notable in that each game's opening score was a major.


First score to be a Tipperary goal, 1pt at 22/1 (Bet365)

SCOTTISH football is in a bad state. Rangers' early exit from the Champions League was a horrible result for the club's coffers but it was also significant in terms of the SPL's coefficient.

Soon, Scottish teams will be ranked only a few places higher than their League of Ireland counterparts, testament to our clubs' improved fortunes and the declining state of Scottish football.

Rangers can be taken on against Maribor in the first leg of the sides' Europa League game in Slovenia midweek. Lay them at around 13/10 on Betfair.


Lay Rangers to beat Maribor,

2pts at 2.3 approx (2.6pt liability, Betfair)


Profit/loss to €10 stake: -€196.57

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