Thursday 22 February 2018

Get Pistol Jack firing for you

THE Curragh stages a card with an emphasis on quality today, as the Moyglare heads a bill comprising four Group races.

Maybe is a standout in the feature and is expected to extend her unbeaten sequence, while Roicead demands the utmost respect in the Flying Five, the main proviso being that rain would harm his chance.

It may pay to go west for the day's best bet and Pistol Jack has each-way credentials in the Ryans Event Cleaners Handicap Steeplechase at Galway. This 0-109 has attracted a glut of horses that are not talented enough to pay their way among the 17 declared.

The likelihood of at least 16 running means four places and this will give backers of the selection a real platform to go to war: he has had seven chase outings and completed all. He has finished third or better the last three times and impressed in winning at Kilbeggan last time.

The pace was admittedly modest but Pistol Jack travelled all over his rivals throughout at a track quite similar to Ballybrit. Though he won by just two and a half lengths, his actual superiority was arguably much greater than that and a rise of just six pounds in the handicap can be considered lenient.

Underfoot conditions are likely to be in his favour, his trainer Dessie Hughes is a master of his craft and three-pound claimer Bryan Cooper is already better than most professionals in Ireland. One of the horse's main form rivals, Carheenlea, was left for dead by the son of Pistolet Bleu at Kilbeggan.

The nine-year-old merely needs to run to form to win or go close and he has yet to exhaust his reserves of improvement. At his tissue price of 11/2, he stands out this afternoon.


Pistol Jack, 5.10 at Galway today, 1pt e/w at best morning odds

SHAMROCK Rovers' achievement in Belgrade on Thursday night meant more to me than any Irish international result and many League of Ireland fans -- who do not support Rovers otherwise -- will gleefully admit the same.

Supporting the domestic game amounts to something of a tribal pursuit and Rovers' astonishing achievement will be deemed belated vindication. My team, Galway United, may be embarrassingly bad nowadays but Karl Sheppard and Steven O'Donnell played for us last season.

That is what people who ignore it fail to grasp: nearly every League of Ireland team has at least one gifted footballer. Rovers can now set a standard that others must strive towards and the marketing boost for Irish football is unquantifiable.

Amid the sheer euphoria, Friday's draw was still seen as a bonus. The Hoops have no chance of topping Group A of the Europa League and that leaves Tottenham, Rubin Kazan and PAOK.

Spurs were the top-rated side in the entire Europa League. The Premier League is the highest-ranked in Europe, whereas Russia is sixth and Greece 12th. Harry Redknapp's men excelled in the Champions League last term and are a fine bet at evens to top their quartet (as short elsewhere as 4/9).


Tottenham to win Group A of Europa League, 3pts at evens (Ladbrokes)

WORLDLY Wise has always struggled to get home over hurdles and is worth laying at 11/10 or thereabouts in Galway's opener. The stiff finish is a pressing concern, as is the eight-year-old's tame bid on the Flat last time.

If you are not matched before the off, leave the bet in-running on Betfair: he usually travels strongly. Something can outstay him again and, while it is not an especially competitive maiden, there are a couple of useful bumper winners in the race.


Lay Worldly Wise, 2.25 at Galway today, 1pt at 2.1 approx (1.1pt liability, Betfair)

Year to date

Profit to €10 stake: €125.43

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