Wednesday 17 January 2018

Take Tennessee for Derby waltz

THANK the Queen for Carlton House, who saved the Irish Derby.

A race whose pomp has been on the wane in recent years, how uninteresting would it be today if the Epsom Derby third did not make the trip? We would be left with seven runners whose names most people will have forgotten by next year, four of them from Ballydoyle, battling for €1,250,000 in prize-money.

Aidan O'Brien cannot be blamed for his habitual scatter-gun approach to the race. The tired adage "if you think you have three Derby horses you probably have none" does not apply to the Irish equivalent and Ballydoyle have snared the last five runnings.

It is an incredible statistic on paper but it merely serves to emphasise the lost lustre of a race which, for seven years now, the Epsom winner's connections have been content to swerve. The French, meanwhile, seem positively indifferent.

Carlton House looks a vulnerable favourite at 5/4. He had excuses at Epsom but has to reverse form with Treasure Beach and one has to be wary of how he will fare over a stiff mile and a half on testing ground.

Carlton House did not have an ideal passage and the temptation is to suspect that Memphis Tennessee, the pace-setter which finished fourth, was flattered.

I am not so sure. The time of the race was good, the winner came from last and Memphis Tennessee generally went a fair gallop under Joseph O'Brien. What was impressive was how, when Treasure Beach came up to seemingly run him down with ease, Memphis Tennessee rallied gamely.

At the wire, the son of Hurricane Run was beaten a length and three parts, despite being eased close home. He is prominent in the Leger betting and today will demand more stamina from the winner than was the case at Epsom.

The likelihood is that Joseph O'Brien will again be able to dictate -- ask Richard Hughes about the dangers of letting him do that. Memphis Tennessee has only had five runs and, on pedigree, has a big chance of coping with soft ground. His father, Hurricane Run, won twice on heavy going and won today's race back in 2005, while his half-brothers also like dig in the ground.

On a line through Recital, Memphis Tennessee progressed markedly from his fine Derrinstown run at Leopardstown to the Derby.

If he improves again since, he should be in the first three today. This race lacks strength in depth and he is 14/1 on Betfair.


Memphis Tennessee to win Irish Derby, 1pt each way at 14/1 (Betfair)

CARLOW face Wexford in what the bookmakers predict will be a fairly comfortable win for the Model at Croke Park. Wexford's forwards have excelled in the Championship so far and the prospect of more than a couple of goals in the game looks strong.

If this game were in somewhere like Portlaoise, the bet would make less appeal, but 4/7 about at least two goals in this match at Croke Park is too big.


More than one goal in Carlow-Wexford 2pts at 4/7 (Ladbrokes)

SHAMROCK Rovers were pretty poor against Sligo on Friday night and things are now quite congested at the top of the League of Ireland Premier Division table.

Rovers have the strongest squad but their starting 11 is hardly any better than Sligo's and rumour reigns that Alan Mannus, their excellent goalkeeper, will soon be departing.

Lay the champions outright at around 7/10. They face a stern examination of their quality and character after two poor recent results and St Patrick's are now league leaders.


Lay Shamrock Rovers to win Airtricity League 2pts at 1.7 approx (1.4pt liability, Betfair)


To a €10 stake: -€221.82

Still running: €140

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