Formlines point towards Joncol
N O Denman, but if today's Hennessy is the poorer for his absence, it is at least a more interesting betting medium as a consequence too.
Much of the talk has been about Cooldine, which was bizarrely backed into favourite after having started the week only third in the betting list. Willie Mullins, his trainer, was not the only one somewhat perplexed by the money for last year's RSA Chase hero.
Simply put, Joncol is the horse to beat this afternoon and he owes his price (11/4) to some extent to the strength of the support for Cooldine. There is slight doubt about Paul Nolan's giant quite getting the trip, but even allowing for that he is hard to oppose today.
The son of Bob's Return has to prove the form of his Lexus defeat to Money Trix wrong over the same course and distance, but I would be surprised if -- under more considerate handling -- he fails to do so. Nolan's stable star got very tired after the last but given that he had been involved in a duel for the lead with Notre Pere for most of the race, which suited neither, he can be excused that on grounds not relating to perceived stamina issues.
Money Trix, cannily ridden by Davy Russell, was handled with more restraint and was able to overtake Joncol in the last 100 yards. However, things will hardly fall onto his lap today as they did then.
Joncol jumped superbly in the Lexus but was ridden too aggressively for a horse racing over that trip for the first time under Rules. Expect him to be switched off today and to be held onto until between the last two fences.
Notre Pere has a chance on his best form which we have not seen this season. Cooldine has a chance too, but he was pulled up after being gambled on in the Lexus and Mullins does not sound confident at all that he will win. He was visually brilliant in the RSA Chase but he is flattered by that performance (Carruthers went off at a crazy pace) and ran moderately subsequently at Punchestown. Joncol's odds should surely be no better than the price Cooldine is now on offer at.
Joncol to win the Hennessy, 1pt win at 11/4 (general)
Kerry's side for their Allianz NFL opener against Dublin in Killarney features ten players who did not start in the All-Ireland final against Cork -- but that is somewhat misleading, as Jack O'Connor has still named a very strong team.
Paddy Power only offer 4/9 about a home victory and perhaps a fair price would be somewhere between that and the 8/13 on offer with William Hill. Ladbrokes go 1/3 that Dublin finish in the bottom half of the table and, given their well-known problems on the road, it is very hard to see them winning at the home of the best team in the country.
Moreover, Dublin's defence today is inexperienced and faces the sublimely talented half forward line of Paul Galvin, Declan O'Sullivan and Donnacha Walsh.
Kerry to beat Dublin in the NFL, 2pts at 8/13 (Hills)
Manchester United's performance against Arsenal last weekend signalled to everybody that fears about their deficiencies have been generally overstated. The quality of their attacking play followed on from the Carling Cup victory over Manchester City and Alex Ferguson might have his first-choice defence available when they take on Milan in the Champions League later this month.
The Rossoneri have not been convincing under Leonardo and look long odds-on again not to win the Serie A, which is clearly considerably inferior to the Premier League. Lay Milan to qualify at 8/5 on Betfair.
Lay Milan to qualify against Manchester United, 2pts at 2.6 (3.2pt liability, Betfair)
YEAR TO DATE
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