Backing 12-year-olds is probably one of the quickest ways to the poor house, but I can’t help thinking Oiseau de Nuit has a tremendous chance of landing his first victory of the season here.
A little over twelve months ago, Colin Tizzard’s old boy landed an Aintree handicap in fine-style off a mark of 149, and finds himself off a 1lb lower mark in what looks a very winnable race. He does have to give 24lb to likely favourite Sonofagun but may simply be too quick for him.
Oiseau de Nuit 9/2 or better
Horse Racing – Powers Gold Cup – Fairyhouse – Sunday
With 58,000 Euros to the winner, the sponsors are probably a little disappointed with the small turnout, but it’s still a fascinating four runner affair. Royal Sun Alliance favourite Ballycasey once more takes up the favourite’s mantle and, as Willie Mullins’s runner didn’t look an out-and-out stayer at Cheltenham, this drop back to 2 miles 4 furlongs may prove ideal. However, I’m not a fan of horses who’ve had a hard race over a distance too far, and much prefer to side with second favourite Rebel Fitz. Michael Winters’s stable star was considered for Cheltenham but, kept fresh for this, should be 100% primed for his big day. The other two runners, the Gigginstown Stud pair of Bright New Dawn and Mozoltov, haven’t got much to find on the book with preference being for the former who also gave Cheltenham a miss.
Rebel Fitz 5/2 or better
Horse Racing – Irish Grand national – Fairyhouse – Monday
A polar opposite in terms of runners with thirty horses due to line up and, as always, it’s a difficult puzzle to solve. No trainer or jockey has managed to win the race more than once in the last ten years, whilst there have been eight Irish trained winners and two English trained winners in that time. In the same period, 1 six-year-old, 2 seven-year-olds, 3 eight-year-olds, 1 nine-year-old and 3 ten-year-olds have been successful, whilst the most compelling statistic of all though is no winner has carried more than 10-8.
Bearing all that in mind, I’ll be splitting my stakes between two horses that ran in the same race last time, and look to have had this race as their long-term target all season. Tony Martin’s Gallant Oscar was really well-backed before his March victory and, though he has been raised 13lb, he was delivered late over three miles for what to looked a very comfortable success. The horse that finished second to Gallant Oscar that day was Saoirse Dun (gave winner 6lb), and with jockey Conor Ring’s 7lb claim he’s a massive 16lb better off for 3½ lengths. Philip Rothwell’s charge was held up out the back that day before making significant late progress and, if he relishes the extra distance of this race, he must go close.
Gallant Oscar each-way 14/1 or better
Saoirse Dun each-way 28/1 or better
Football – Premiership
With title chasing Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea all short prices to keep their title hopes alive, it may pay to concentrate on Arsenal and Everton whose battle for the final Champions League spot looks likely to go down to the wire. Arsenal have the easier task on paper but their match away to Hull is pre-runner to the FA Cup Final, and Hull, who are comfortable in mid-table, may be able to play with a little more freedom than the Gunners. The same can probably be said about Manchester United who travel to Goodison Park with nothing to lose and still an outside chance that they could sneak fourth place if Arsenal’s and Everton’s wheels truly fall off over the last few games. Victory here, and defeat for Arsenal, would make it really interesting.
Manchester United 2/1
And the double best price.