When it comes to taking the piddle out of punters no one can quite manage it as well as off-course bookmakers, says Pat Keane.

They were at it again in the wake of that brilliant display by Too Darn Hot in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket last Saturday.

We know the son of the superb stallion Dubawi is better right now than any of his contemporaries and is certain to head the juvenile classification at season’s end.

But, I would contend, he is not exactly miles clear of a number of his potential rivals for the 2000 Guineas, next May.

This week John Gosden’s charge varied between 5-4 and 7-4. By yesterday 6-4 was the best price available, and they are some odds to be offering for a race that is so far away.

The brave people at Boylesports think 5-4 is a fair price, while the Paddy Power and Ladbrokes outfits go 6-4. Stand back there now in case you are killed in the rush!

Look, if the 2000 Guineas was being run today, given what we know now, then you would have to be with him, but it’s not and there is so much water to flow under the mythical bridge in the coming months.

There are horses running every day of the week, at 5-4 and 6-4, that represent far better value than Gosden’s flying machine.

And that is not to take away from the horse, who was scintillating in landing the Dewhurst. Horses that find for pressure, and then find some more, are always the ones most likely to boost the bank balance.

Too Darn Hot’s performance was exemplary, given he was too free in the early stages and then looked to be in trouble, at least momentarily, with more than two furlongs to cover. But when Dettori went for him he exploded and was worth more than the two and three quarter-lengths he had to spare over the smart Advertise at the line.

That clearly gives him the edge over all of the two-year-olds we have seen throughout the season, but do you need to be sitting on such paltry ante-post ‘value’ for so long?

I’ll guarantee you this - no one who wants to back him now will be turned away at a counter in a betting office. Your chances of being humiliated are nil.

Arrive with the wad in your hand and it will be accepted faster than you can mutter the words: “that was surprisingly easy.’’

Don’t be amazed either if you are invited in for tea and biscuits and given a delightful 2019 diary as you leave!

The bookmakers know so much can go wrong between now and May 4. It would only take something minor to happen, always a possibility, to see Too Darn Hot’s preparation go pear-shaped.

Take, for instance, another two-year-old of Gosden’s called Calyx, who had 2000 Guineas possibility written all over him when he was a deeply impressive winner of the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot last June, beating the aformentioned Advertise by a comfortable length.

He then had a setback and hasn’t been seen since, although figuring high up in the ante-post lists for the 2000 Guineas. The impressive son of Kingman is a good example of just how quickly things can change in this game.

Add in the likes of Quorto, Persian King and the totally unexposed pair of Ten Sovereigns and Madhmoon and, even if Too Darn Hot is firing on all cylinders come early May, he is still going to have to do a lot more than just go down and come back. Too Darn Hot is just too darn short.

WE are well aware racing is a long way removed from being an exact science, but, that said, there have been some results of late that were especially difficult to comprehend.

Take the listed Martin Molony Stakes at Limerick last Saturday when the Aidan O’Brien-trained Sir Erec hammered the heavily backed favourite, The King.

If the handicapper was right then Sir Erec simply could not win. But meeting The King on 15lbs worse terms compared to a handicap, he slammed his opponent by four lengths.

Then at Limerick on Sunday you had the 25-1 outsider of six runners, Percy Veer, taking what looked to be a decent novice hurdle in the proverbial canter. His overall profile, and previous neck defeat of the rather disappointing Macgiloney at Listowel, simply rendered it impossible to make any sort of solid case for him.

At Navan on Sunday you had many punters left frustrated, after a-five-and-a-half furlongs Listed event.

Aidan O’Brien ran two, with the impressive Dundalk winner, Never No More, leaving the gate a particularly strong even-money favourite.

But he ran like a jennet, a never dangerous seventh of nine, with O’Brien’s other runner, All The King’s Men (8-1), making all of the running to score in smooth style.

Finally, at Gowran Park on Monday, odds-on punters were left gasping for oxygen, after the O’Brien- trained Il Paradiso failed to deliver in a one-mile maiden.

He did look as close to a certainty as you can get and was backed accordingly, taken from all sorts of odds-on rates to end at 4-11.

But that sort of punter behaviour is for the birds and we struggled to muster any sympathy for those who played and then had to suffer the agony of watching Il Paradiso failing dismally to get in a real blow on eventual winner, Millswyn, trained by Aidan’s son, Joseph. Yes, indeed, this punting game sure isn’t for the faint-hearted!

I THINK Aidan O’Brien’s twice-raced Magna Grecia is a horse with a real future. The son of Invincible Spirit made a winning debut at Naas on September 30.

Although going off the 2-1 market leader, he was easy enough to back, but shot away up the inner in the straight to win by three and a half lengths.

O’Brien then pitched him up in class at Newmarket last Saturday, when tackling Group 3 company.

Magna Grecia ran a cracker, going toe-to-toe all the way to the line with Andre Fabre’s 2000 Guineas candidate, Persian King, before going down by a neck.

Such a challenge was altogether more demanding than contesting a relatively modest Naas maiden and there was so much to admire in the attitude displayed by Magna Grecia.

It is worth noting that the Newmarket contest was Persian King’s fourth, so he had a major advantage over O’Brien’s colt when it came to experience. It would be great to see Magna Grecia again, before he departs for winter quarters.


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