Thursday 24 May 2018

Sit back and enjoy flying Frankel

I'M not the type of person who is mean with my money but, even still, it never ceases to amaze me how much every family event seems to cost these days.

My only daughter makes her First Holy Communion today and, between paying for dresses, jewellery, hairdos and handbags, I've hardly a shilling left for a bet. And that bill just covers the missus; never mind the little one herself.

But I wouldn't change it for the world and, despite the fact that religion has been in decline here in recent years, First Communion is still a massive occasion in a young person's life, particularly in Ireland.

Even though I'll miss a load of sport on the box, I'm really looking forward to a great day out with my family and friends.

Recession or no recession, the kids make a fortune and it's an absolute certainty that she'll earn more today than the pony (25 quid) I made on my big day back in the early 80s.

Perhaps she'll lend her old man a few bob after Mass for a few choice wagers.

Speaking of certainties, Frankel is priced like one for today's Lockinge Stakes (3.40 Newbury) and I'd be surprised if the Galileo colt goes off above 1/3.

He's just overcome a leg injury and, while he's said to be fit and well again, I think it's best to take a watching brief for this race, just in case.

While recognised as the best horse in the world on ratings, Frankel has a rival today at least in the shape of Excelebration, a horse he's beaten a number of times already.

Excelebration was impressive at the Curragh in April in his first race for Aidan O'Brien (since switching from Marco Botti's yard) and the fact that he comes here with a run could stand to him. But, if Frankel is on top form, Excelebration will have to settle for minor honours once again.

For a bigger-priced bet then, Riot Of Colour is the one to side with at 4/1 in the Blue Square Richard Hughes My Autobiography Maiden Stakes at Newbury (5.50).

She was runner-up on both her juvenile starts last season and put yet another duck beside her name last month at Newmarket, but she's improved with each run and I'm a bit surprised she's still carries the maiden tag.

In rugby, an Irish team will be crowned the winner of the Heineken Cup for the fifth time in seven years and I can't see past a third Leinster victory in four years.

It's hard to find many weaknesses in the reigning champions, who also topped the Pro12 table and although Ulster have performed brilliantly to reach the final, I reckon they will fail to cope with the extra experience and class that Leinster bring to Twickenham.

Leinster are warm favourites (3/10) to become the second side to retain the Heineken Cup but there are still some other decent bets on offer and the 8/13 with some firms on Leinster in the half-time/full-time market has to be the bet of the day.

I'm also going with Leinster to win both halves at 11/8 (Bet365), while the 4/7 on offer (Paddy Power) on there being a yellow card should give an easy boost to any betting bank.

Finally, it could be worth taking a chance on Rob Kearney to be Man of the Match at 9/1 provided, of course, he overcomes his late injury scare.

The Leinster full-back has been superb all year and if anything, he's peaking in the last few weeks in perfect time.

EACH-WAY OUTSIDER

AT 14/1, Dark Castle makes appeal for today's Coral Sprint Trophy Handicap at Newmarket (2.45).

This three-year-old is getting better all the time and was most impressive in his latest outing at Kempton when taking a reasonably strong handicap in good style after a break of 12 weeks.

This is a fair step up in class but I reckon his rating of 84 still leaves room for manoeuvre and he's definitely one to stick in the notebook this season.

• Last week's each-way selection, Bonnie Brae, was placed at 11/1.

TODAY'S SELECTIONS

2.15 Newmarket: Thought Worthy

2.45 Newmarket: Dark Castle (e/w)

4.30 Newmarket: Tharawal

5.50 Newbury: Riot Of Colour

Irish Independent

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