Irish set to sink Flagship
Greg Wood believes Sound Man can bring the Viking era to an early close
Wednesday 13 March 1996
The champion arrives with two impressive victories to his credit already this year, and his latest quote of 11-8 will find plenty of takers. Unless you were lucky enough to take the big odds a few months ago, though, there are three good reasons to oppose David Nicholson's runner this afternoon, and they all have an Irish accent.
Viking Flagship has certainly been impressive when winning at Kempton and Newbury this year, but his achievements to date do not stand comparison with those of Sound Man, who with Strong Platinum and Klairon Davis forms the most concerted opposition Viking Flagship has ever faced at Cheltenham.
If, as seems likely, last year's five-length defeat of Deep Sensation represents the peak of Viking Flagship's form, this time around even his best may not be good enough. The clear leader of an average generation, the defending champion must now contend with the new young breed, and despite the minor setback he suffered a fortnight ago, SOUND MAN (nap 2.50) is an excellent bet to depose him.
Any 2-1 still available about Eddie O'Grady's runner should be taken this morning, before on-course punters realise that his three wins this year represent the form of a maturing and outstanding performer. On a strict point of form, Klairon Davis, who narrowly beat Sound Man in last year's Arkle Trophy, could be a value bet at around 8-1, but Sound Man has improved considerably this year and his learning curve has not peaked yet.
Hopes of an Irish success will be strong before the Coral Cup Handicap too, not least because of Aidan O'Brien's unfortunate decision to declare Hotel Minella, who was ninth in yesterday's Champion Hurdle. Though most unlikely to run, Hotel Minella has compressed the weights, giving those in the handicap proper an advantage which few, including ante-post punters, expected them to have.
The most obvious beneficiary is Time For A Run, winner of the race two years ago when he landed a typically huge gamble for J P McManus, his owner. After an unsuccessful attempt at chasing, Time For A Run is now, according to Timeform, "difficult to assess", an uncertainty which may persuade McManus's bookmakers that this morning is not a good one to answer the phone.
This is not a race in which to back a short-priced favourite, however, and while the declaration of Hotel Minella has done nothing to benefit his chance, Allez Wijins (next best 3.30), a French import who won his first British hurdle race last time out, may still have enough improvement left to spring a surprise. At around 20-1, it is worth chancing.
In the card's two staying events for novices, the juvenile Sparkling Yasmin (2.15) is over-priced at 16-1 over the timber, but there is no getting away from the brilliant young chaser Mr Mulligan (4.05) in the Sun Alliance Novice Chase. In the fascinating Anglo-Irish dispute between Andanito and Wither Or Which (5.50) in the Bumper, the visitor is the one to back. The Irish know a good bumper horse when they see one, and their confidence about this one is overwhelming.
Latest in Sport
England vs Japan: Watch the moment Laura Bassett's own goal saw England knocked out of the 2015 Women's World Cup
David De Gea to Real Madrid: Manchester United goalkeeper spotted arriving at Madrid airport
Morgan Schneiderlin to Manchester United: Transfer news live - Robin van Persie to leave, Saints and Tottenham battle for Toby Alderweireld
Wojciech Szczesny was 'lied to' by Arsene Wenger over future after £11m transfer of Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’
- 1 David Cameron refers to 83-year-old Labour MP Dennis Skinner as 'Jurassic Park'
- 3 Russell Brand condemns moment of silence for Tunisia attack victims as 'minute of bulls**t'
- 4 'Help me I'm trapped in a factory' messages keep being found on bottles of vitamin water
- 5 Alwaleed bin Talal: Saudi Prince to donate entire $32bn fortune to charity
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...
£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...
£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...