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ALEX DONOHUE

Weblog: A Ladbrokes look at the sport

Jack and his fans got it right when it mattered

MONMORE on Thursday night was everything you could hope for as a sponsor: thrilling racing, a couple of upsets and a vintage final all enjoyed by a bumper crowd on track and connections, guests and colleagues in the restaurant.

It’s always a pleasure to be on Sky Sports and even more so when the cameras visit one of your tracks – the timing also proved to be perfect as we’ve been storing all of our additional branding we’ll need for the Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster at the track so no one watching would have been in any doubt who was supporting the event!

The undercard before the three finals threw up some particularly favourable results, not just for the layers but at least one owners’ table in the restaurant as a huge shout of ‘go on Sue!’ erupted just as the local ran on to take the stayers from a closing Old Refrain.  It must be even sweeter to get a winner at your home track when Sky are in town, repelling raiders in the process!

Credit to Mark Wallis for getting the forecast up in the first of the three finals and thankfully reports suggest Killure Hunter will make a recovery which is the most important thing. 

We had a bit of fun in the build up to the 416 decider by taking on Tony Ennis’s ‘Cheers Tony’ with Richard Harkness deciding to go all the way out to 9/4 from 13/8 until the first show for the hotly-fancied six-dog running for the Sky host.

We got away with it in the end with the stripes not quite kicking home as best as eventual winner Express Chance, but I’m sure we’ll see Enzo in the winner's enclosure again soon enough with his charge losing nothing in defeat.

The 630 was set to be one of the races of the night with many looking forward to watching Summer Stayers winner and all round top dog over the extended trip Airport Captain strut his stuff and win like the market expected him to.

The Captain got out to lead on the rail and it’s safe to say I wasn’t in the minority when I thought that was race over, however Mitch Millward’s Millwards Teddy  never relented to run the jolly down with the line in sight and it was another result for the good guys!

As for the big race, the back story had consisted almost exclusively of a real split in opinions as to who would win, who should be and who will go off as favourite. Jim Austin had made a solid case in his Daily Star column that his selection Viking Jack should be favourite thanks to his perfect draw which was the view also held by Phil Donaldson as Pricewise in the Racing Post.

Jonathan Kay and our traders were of the opposing view that the class act Airfield Paudie was still the one to be with and that had been our opinion throughout the competition and especially in the run up to the final, hence us fielding plenty of Jack at all rates down from a top offer of 9/4.

The McNair runner ended up with the eventually irrelevant tag of big race favourite with both of the front two being well supported in the ring, leaving the field virtually friendless.  The race couldn’t have panned out better for those in the stripes camp with the wide seed cracking out and making the most of his draw before Paudie ran on again to close the gap and with the two market leaders going at it leaving the back straight it was the final we’d hoped for in terms of a spectacle. 

Hats off too to Cabra Scooby who eventually caught Airfield Paudie for second place with the £2,500 prize for the silver medal not too shabby for a night’s work as well as the race and ante-post each-way money I hope the connections picked up.

One of the great perks of the game is that there’s no let up with the action and attention now turns to events at Shelbourne Park where the Irish Derby continues apace. My colleague and fellow blogger Richard Vernon tells me that Lenson Sanchez and Droopys Nidge are the two for cash who’ll leave us with the biggest ante-post headaches if they win.

As ever good luck with your bets and enjoy the sport. You’ll be hearing from both of us again soon.

Alex

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