Tartini can give Sir John a run for his money
I see most of the banknotes of the euro currency have been updated recently but to me they still lack character and if I'm honest I couldn't name any of the buildings, bridges or other pieces of architecture that are displayed on the seven notes.
Give me James Joyce or even Jonathan Swift on my tenner any day - I just can't warm to this monopoly money even though we've had it for years now.
Then again, I suppose each generation prefers what they grew up with - and even though I thought it was very cool to hold up a pound note to the sky in the 1980s and see Lady Lavery in the watermark, the previous generation were mostly disappointed to see the allegorical figure of Ireland known as Kathleen Ní Houlihan relegated to a faint image in the corner.
Lady Lavery had featured on the banknotes from 1928 right up until the 1970s and her famous image was, of course, painted by her husband Sir John Lavery. Born in Belfast in 1856, Sir John became one of the best-known society portrait painters of his time and I believe one of his paintings, 'The Cello Player', sold for €132,000 at Sotheby's in London last year.
Top-class Whether it's euro, pounds, shillings, pence ... or cents, you'd need quite a lot of them to make a few quid today if you choose to back the Aidan O'Brien-trained Sir John Lavery in the Listed Betfred Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield (2.30).
Priced 6/5 yesterday, the Galileo colt is a general 14/1 shot for the Derby itself but I can't bring myself to back him at 6/5 today simply based on a maiden victory last October which he won at Gowran at odds of 8/13.
He was beaten on his debut and although he's closely related to some top-class horses and is in the best hands in the business, I'd sooner see him race once or twice more before parting with any of those banknotes.
With the favourite priced so short, some decent odds are available elsewhere and I'm quite keen on the John Gosden-trained Tartini under the housewives' favourite jockey Frankie Dettori.
Expected to go off around 4/1, he's bred to stay the middle distances and he showed a cracking turn of foot on his debut to upset the market in a maiden at 25/1 back in October when beating subsequent winner and stablemate Azam into fourth.
Tartini later finished fourth to stablemate Cracksman at a Derby trial at Epsom last month but the pace was a bit off and he ran out of room a furlong out.
Perhaps he'll want even further than the Derby distance or today's shorter trip - but he's a better horse than his latest race suggests and I reckon he will put it up to the favourite this afternoon.
Zamfir is also worth a mention here. Charlie Appleby's charge won a useful maiden at Leicester last month and the word on the grapevine is that Godolphin are quietly confident he can win some decent races this summer.
While I reckon Sir John Lavery is too short, I do fancy Aidan O'Brien's Pocketfullofdreams under Ryan Moore in the opening Oaks trial on the same card (1.55), despite the fact that she's yet to win in four starts.
Priced around 2/1, the Invincible Spirit filly badly burned in-running punters on Betfair when hitting 1/10 in a maiden at Cork last month before being collared by Caherdaniel.
The selection stepped up in class and certainly wasn't disgraced last time when second in a Listed event priced 8/1 at Navan, although I'm slightly concerned that she once again looked like the winner in-running before being worn down when the going got tough. Still, she seems to be improving each time and I'm sure she'll lose the maiden tag very soon.
About 60 miles away at Ascot, Fire Fighting appears to be overpriced for an each-way bet at 12/1 in the Carey Group Buckhounds Stakes (2.50) for Mark Johnston under jockey Martin Harley.
Now aged six, he's generally a reliable sort that runs to form although he put in a rare poor day at the office last time when third of four runners in a handicap at Ripon recently - but an easy lead didn't really suit and he appeared to pack up shop when a challenge was made.
He's had quite a few jockeys and riding styles in the past year or so, but I think he's best when he stays mid-division and makes a move two or three furlongs out.
That's easy for me to say I suppose but I'll be pleased if Harley keeps him under control, at least for a bit this afternoon. Uae Prince will probably go off as favourite and is respected having won the Silver Bowl Handicap at Ripon last time out.
A little later at Haydock, a price of 3/1 or thereabouts looks fair for Oh This Is Us in the Listed Pertemps Network Spring Trophy Stakes (3.45).
With six wins and five places from 18 races, Richard Hannon's four-year-old rarely puts in a bad run and has been winning and placing in some strong handicaps lately. He appears to have improved after a spell in Dubai early this year.
I really like these consistent sorts and even if he's beaten, it's unlikely that you'll be left feeling short-changed afterwards.
rusty Back home in Ireland, Laganore is tipped to land the Group Three Irish Stallion Farms EBF Blue Wind Stakes at the Curragh (3.55) for trainer Tony Martin, and I'd certainly be happy to take the forecast odds of 3/1.
She was perhaps a little rusty when third to Aidan O'Brien's Somehow in a Listed race at Gowran a couple of weeks ago but she shaped well enough and can build on her success last term in which she won a Listed event at Newmarket, and was placed in a Group One in Rome.
Jim Bolger's Turret Rocks looks the biggest threat to the selection. She's a number of big-race entries for later on this season and has a Group Two win to her credit although it was quite a while ago now. She's mostly raced in Group Ones since but appears a little out of her depth, so the step down in class gives her a boost.
There's been a number of big-priced Victoria Cup winners in recent years and it's never an easy race to decipher. With 27 runners, quite a few are in with chances and the likes of Remarkable, Kadrizzi and Fastnet Tempest all have claims at reasonably good prices (4.0 Ascot).
I must admit that I'm finding it a little hard to make a call here but Paco Boy's son George William gets a tentative vote each-way, priced at 14/1 in the early markets.
A winner of a competitive handicap when rated 90 on his penultimate start, he was fourth in a similar race at Newbury last time off 94 when taking on some quite talented runners. A 1lb rise in the weights for today is not too harsh.
1.55 Lingfield: Pocketfullofdreams
2.30 Lingfield: Tartini
2.50 Ascot: Fire Fighting (e/w)
3.40 Lingfield: Qemah
3.45 Haydock: Oh This Is Us
3.55 Curragh: Laganore
4.0 Ascot: George William (e/w)