Twice The Craic looks excellent bet to revel in tough conditions
W HEN it rains it pours, as they say. It was more the snow that frustrated them at Fairyhouse, but the adage is otherwise apt.
On the back of revelations that the inside track at the home of the Irish Grand National faces extreme long-term problems, the last thing officials there wanted was to abandon both of this weekend's meetings. They will amalgamate into one next Thursday.
The flip-side for punters -- if not the Fairyhouse executive -- is that entry will be free on Thursday, with three Grade Ones to take place. The advice then, as it would have been this morning, is to back Twice The Craic in the Batterstown Handicap Chase. This bottom weight is forecast to be a double-figured price and I expect him to go close.
Tissue favourite The Burrow Vic went up 13lb for winning an egg-and-spoon race in Sligo and in general this race is all about stamina, with most of the runners unproven over the trip (three miles and five furlongs).
Twice The Craic won a point on heavy ground and a hunters' chase on soft. He was flat out in his last couple of races over two and a half miles, but finished in the frame both times. He is open to improvement, is generally an excellent jumper and his feather weight is an obvious plus with the terrain set to be very testing.
Twice The Craic to win at Fairyhouse, 1pt at best morning odds
IRELAND have drifted out to 4/1 for the Six Nations, which may be an over-reaction to the generally disappointing series of autumn internationals, albeit an understandable one.
We face the big two -- England and France -- on home soil, and Declan Kidney will have a better idea then about what his best team is. Today, the experimenting continues to a degree against Argentina, a match that pairs the teams ranked seventh and eighth in the world. The winner climbs to sixth.
Ireland should win but there are better 2/5 shots about and it seems improbable that they will have it easy. Argentina will bring their characteristically physical card to the table, facing an Irish front three with worryingly little experience of playing together.
Argentina are limited but then so are Ireland and this should be a close game. Kidney's men make plenty of appeal to win by 1-12 points at 17/10 on Betfair and it is certainly difficult to envisage it being much easier.
Another tempting price available is the 8/11 about the hosts leading at the break, given that the Pumas are only 7/5 (backed in from 13/8) not to score a try. Ireland might be a bit nervy early on, however, and the advice is to back them in the winning-margin market.
Ireland to win by 1-12 points against Argentina, 2pts at 17/10 (Betfair)
TAKE on Tottenham in their Premier League game at home to Liverpool this afternoon.
Spurs are 11/10 to win the match with most bookmakers, yet you can lay them at the same price on Betfair.
Spurs' price owes something to the visitors being minus Steven Gerrard. This does not appeal as a match in which Gerrard would necessarily thrive and Liverpool have Lucas, an improving midfielder who was excellent in the victory over Chelsea, back from suspension.
Spurs are likely to be without the excellent Rafael van der Vaart and they remain relatively weak at the back in the context of a side considered outside challengers for the Champions League and indeed the Premier League.
Liverpool will try to contain the hosts and generally are solid defensively. When most bookmakers -- who year-on-year post enormous profits -- are more than happy to offer any price about a Premier League team, it generally makes sense to lay them at that price if you can.
Lay Tottenham to beat Liverpool, 1pt at 2.1 (1.1pt liability, Betfair)
YEAR TO DATE
Profit to €10 stake: €348.47
Still running: €160