Wayne Bailey: 'Cash in on Ten Sovereigns in the Guineas'
Backing horses with Ruby Walsh on board has earned plenty of money for the Betting Ring column down through the years, so I simply must start off this week's article with a thank you to Walsh and all the other jockeys who put their bodies on the line every day.
Their sacrifice allows people like me to shout from the stands, or indeed, sit in my local with a pint in my hand and enjoy a bet on this great sport - with the biggest risk being to my wallet, and not to my life.
Equally too, he's cost me money by being so good. There was nothing worse than when the horse you'd backed was out in front but you could see Walsh looming in the background on his mount. It's always a sad time when a legend in sport retires, but not all jockeys get to go out at the top with their health mostly intact, so it's also a time to celebrate a brilliant career.
On Wednesday, Walsh was interviewed by RTÉ and asked about some of the greatest horses he has rode, but he was reluctant to compare horses from different generations, and label a single one as the best ever.
Each had their own talent, and each were the best in on their particular day - but 'the greatest' title can be transient, and I think Walsh would agree that also applies to jockeys too. As a punter, I'm often asked who I think is the greatest jockey of all time and it's not a question I like to answer as there are so many who are talented in their own unique way.
As a pure horseman who could judge an animal's temperament and pace, Ruby Walsh was peerless. If you wanted someone with grit and determination who would never give up on your horse, Tony McCoy was your only man.
On the flat, Mick Kinane gave some great rides and I love watching repeats of Sea The Stars in the Arc, while Frankie Dettori brings style and fun like no other man can to a sport which can be very traditional and somewhat rigid. I could write a whole column about Lester Piggott, but it's actually unfair to start mentioning names here with so many others deserving of praise.
I won't go into the facts and figures about Walsh today but we are all familiar with his record in the top races, especially at Cheltenham, and he really came into his own on the big stage where he could be as cool as ice and handled the pressure so well.
I'm biased towards modern jockeys, having only been watching racing since I was a child in the 1980s. I've spoken to people who watched the great jockeys in the '70s, '60s, '50s and before when times, and the sport, were less forgiving in some ways although simpler in others.
Actual racing conditions were tougher for sure in the past, but on the plus side, you didn't have 10 different TV camera angles watching your every move - and an angry mob on Twitter to criticise you afterwards.
Anyway, it's sufficient to say that Ruby Walsh was among the greatest we've seen in our lifetime at least, and there will never be another quite like him. Best of luck Ruby, with whatever lies in store!
But the racing world keeps turning, and there's money to be won and lost in the betting rings across Britain and Ireland - so as the national hunt winds down, we kick on with the flat and the first classic of the season, the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket (3.35).
It's fair to say that it's not the greatest renewal this year with a load of prospective runners now injured, but I'm hoping I can play that to my favour in a way. There's been concern expressed as we build up to the race that my selection, Ten Sovereigns, might not get a mile. He drifted in the betting for a time until it became clear that Ryan Moore had chosen him over stablemate Magna Grecia.
And while I recognise that Ten Sovereigns' breeding does not suggest it's an ideal trip, he may have that extra bit of class to overcome that apparent handicap, provided the opposition are not up to scratch.
It would be a different story if Too Darn Hot or a few others had showed up here - but this looks like a wide-open and somewhat weak race, and concerns about the trip are built into his odds of 7/2.
Magna Grecia is proven at the distance but I thought Ten Sovereigns had a bit left in the tank when winning the Middle Park Stakes so I'm not ready to buy into the argument that he won't get the trip. Of the rest, a case could be made for Skardu, Madhmoon, Advertise and Royal Marine but Aidan O'Brien's record in this race speaks for itself and he'll have the colt primed.
Tomorrow's 1,000 Guineas (3.35) also lacks a stand-out star, but I'm going to side with another O'Brien horse, Fairyland. At 8/1, she's not too strong in the betting with Roger Varian's Qabala set to go off as favourite around 3/1. Fairyland got progressively better last term, culminating in a Group One Cheveley Park Stakes win.
Do the double
They’ve been pretty poor in the League with losses to Leicester, Wolves and Palace, but Arsenal got back on track and came from behind to beat Valencia in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday. They welcome Brighton to the Emirates tomorrow and the Gunners look a good bet to land the half-time/full-time bet at even-money against a Seagulls side which have scored just once in their last eight games.
Odds of around 100/30 seem a shade too high for the talented Young Rascal in the Group Two Roaring Lion Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket this afternoon (2.55). Trained by William Haggas, the four-year-old finished fifth behind one of today’s rivals Defoe when last seen in the Group Three John Porter Stakes three weeks ago, but he looked in need of the run and wasn’t given a hard time once it was clear he wasn’t going to make an impression.
He was trading at 8/1 yesterday evening, which is a little bit shorter than my usual each-way selections, but I’m convinced that Tarboosh can make the placings at the very least in the Group Three Zoustar Palace House Stakes at Newmarket (2.20). Trained by Paul Midgley, he hit 1/5 in-running on Betfair when third of eight runners in a conditions race at Musselburgh recently, but I get the sense that it was simply a pipe-opener and that he’ll come on plenty for that run today. The six-year-old finished off last season with a nice display when winning a handicap at Doncaster back in October, and he looks smart enough to tackle races around this level.
2.20 Newmarket: Tarboosh (e/w)
2.55 Newmarket: Young Rascal
3.35 Newmarket: Ten Sovereigns
3.50 Punchestown: Benie Des Dieux
4.25 Punchestown: Fakir D'oudairies
3.35 Newmarket (tomorrow): Fairyland