Take King's Advocate to reign
LEOPARDSTOWN'S paltry attendance last Sunday was another illustration of the challenges Irish racing must contend with.
It was by no means a poor card and patrons also had the chance to cast their eyes post-racing on the horses galloping. The main ones had Cheltenham pretensions, but one horse unlikely to make the trip to the Cotswolds had many people talking.
His name is Rare Bob and, mainly on the strength of his workout last Sunday, many will fancy the eight-year-old to defy top weight and take the honours in today's Lucan Racing Leinster National Handicap Chase at Naas. However, there are reasons to oppose him.
Rare Bob caused a surprise when landing the Grade One Champion Novices' Chase at Punchestown last April (in which Cooldine flopped), but he has only run once since. That was in January, admittedly over an inadequate distance, but the Bob Back-bred finished tailed off last at 2/1.
Visually, it was hard not to be taken with how Rare Bob worked last Sunday alongside Ryanair Chase fancy Schindlers Hunt, but one must be cautious about the significance of such gallops. For example, we can only guess how much more weight Schilders Hunt had on his back than his stablemate. "We put him in on Sunday because there really are no races for him," trainer Dessie Hughes explained, which is an understandable stance: Rare Bob will have to carry top weight and he will do very well to justify a rating of 154 this afternoon.
Remarkably, only two horses of the eight today were not pulled up or tailed off on their last run. Everything points to King's Advocate going close and, at a morning price of around 7/1, he makes considerable each-way appeal.
A close sixth in the Irish National four runs ago, Tom Taaffe's ten-year-old has performed well on his three starts this season -- all over trips too short. His jumping has been impeccable and the smooth manner of his travelling suggests that King's Advocate retains all his enthusiasm for racing.
Today, he runs off a mark four pounds below his Irish National rating that day, while Conor O'Farrell's claim means that he is getting 32 pounds from Rare Bob. Everything seems to be in his favour and it would be very disappointing if he failed to place at the very least.
King's Advocate to win at Naas, 1pt e/w at best morning odds
WHEN Tipperary were initially due to play Kilkenny in the NHL, a sustained gamble on the Premier men saw them backed into 5/6.
However, the Cats are once again favourites (with the game finally to take place today). Tipp are as big as 5/4 after their quite dismal defeat last Sunday against Dublin. It is not the easiest match to call, but there is certainly value in the total goals market.
Paddy Power quote 4/11 that the green flag is raised at least thrice in Thurles, with Ladbrokes a generous 8/13. It is arguable that a fair price would be somewhere in the middle.
Three goals or more in Tipperary-Kilkenny, 2pts at 8/13 (Ladbrokes)
SCOTLAND, who were 11/4 for the Wooden Spoon prior to the start of the Six Nations, are now 4/6 to prop up the sextet by the end of the tournament. Key to avoiding that ignominious outcome will be victory over England next weekend -- and coach Andy Robinson may be able to get one over his former employers.
The Scots have lost their three matches so far, but narrowly enough each time. They were anything but disgraced in their only home game -- against France -- and England simply have not shown enough this season to merit a quote of 8/15 in Murrayfield.
Lay England to beat Scotland, 2pts at 1.54 (2.08pt liability, Betfair)
YEAR TO DATE
Profit/Loss to €10 stake: -€3.90
Still running: €340