Saturday 25 November 2017

Starluck looks the one for real Christmas value

STARLUCK offers an opportunity at 7/2 to win Kempton's Christmas Hurdle, which is to form part of a belated top-notch card tomorrow.

The Arctic snap has hit racing at a time when it needed a boost rather than further barriers to survival. Many trainers, struggling as they are to get beleaguered owners to pay their bills, have had to deal with no racing and frozen gallops atop all their other woes. To their credit, they have reneged on the easy option of complaint and Leopardstown and Kempton will, it is very much hoped, be able to showcase the best of the National Hunt game.

The Christmas Hurdle has attracted some of the best hurdlers, among them 5/2 favourite Binocular. He remains a dubious market leader for the Champion Hurdle, which is again his main target for the season. However, he will likely struggle to get the better of Starluck, who beat him in the race last year and again had his measure at Newbury last time in the Fighting Fifth.

Binocular is all too vulnerable in slowly-run races. Though Overturn ought to take them along tomorrow, there is no guarantee whatever that he will set a brisk pace in a field such as this. It would only suit his rivals if he were to do so and the first three in the market are all hold-up types.

Starluck is not reliant on a fierce gallop as he settles and has bundles of flat speed. He was beaten a short head in the Christmas Hurdle 12 months ago, with Binocular held in third. His Fighting Fifth effort represented a cracking reappearance behind Peddlers Cross and he should look down on everyone else in tomorrow's betting at exactly the type of flat track on which he excels.

Instead, Paddy Power offer 7/2, with a quarter of the odds a place. That represents excellent each-way value.


Starluck to win Christmas Hurdle, 1pt each way at 7/2 (Paddy Power)

THE Milwaukee Brewers are a fine bet at 33/1 to win the National League half of Baseball's misleadingly-named World Series. They have generally been cut to that price or shorter to win the whole thing, while two of the three firms offering odds about the National League quote 16/1 or shorter.

Milwaukee have worked hard to improve their pitching options in the off-season and they are considered a lively threat to the bigger Major League sides. Take the 33s before it evaporates.


Milwaukee Brewers to win National League in Baseball, 0.5pt at 33/1 (Blue Square)

MANCHESTER UNITED are pretty strong favourites now to lift the Premier League. They have achieved this even though the man widely acclaimed as their best player has played as if his confidence has disintegrated, perhaps a karma-related consequence of repeatedly cheating on his pregnant wife with a prostitute.

Moreover, they are unbeaten in both domestic and European leagues, yet limited. Their midfield will again be shown up in the Champions League and the 6/5 at which they are available to lay on Betfair against Marseille in the quarter-final first leg seems too short.

Marseille beat Chelsea in the group stages at the Stade Vélodrome. That was their fourth win on the bounce in the competition, during which period they scored 12 without conceding one. Admittedly, they will likely struggle to break down the English side, but United have not exactly been prolific in front of goal so far in the competition.

Barcelona's staggering ability and the weight of money behind them prompted bookmakers to cut them into 2/7 to qualify against Arsenal. What Barca do not get due credit for is their intense hunger when they do not have the football, a trait Arsenal are generally alien to. Even at 2/7, it does not seem a good play to lay the Catalans.


Lay Manchester United to beat Marseille in first leg, 1pt at 2.22 (1.22pt liability, Betfair)


Profit to €10 stake: €239.90

Still running: €120

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