I take no pleasure at the boys in green performance against Croatia in our opening game of Euro 2012 despite having tipped up the latter to win the tournament a couple of weeks’ ago at a massive price.
You can’t give goals away at the highest level like we did at both the beginning and the end of the first half and frankly we were disappointing throughout the 90 minutes.
A gloomy game was compounded by the way the ball came off the post at a ridiculous angle to hit Shay Given on the back of the head and bounce into the net for their third goal.
Royal Ascot begins next Tuesday so I’ll be having a look at the first couple of days this week but one thing I won’t be doing is opposing Frankel, currently 1-4, in the opening day’s Queen Anne Stakes.
Instead I’m going to opt for my mammy’s horse, Sole Power, in the King’s Stand Stakes on the same card and although I am obviously biased, I think 8-1 is a fair price about a horse who was rather unlucky on his last outing in the Temple Stakes at Haydock last month.
The winner of that race, Bated Breath, is favourite for this contest, but our fellow was squeezed out soon after the start and then jockey Paul Hanagan didn’t enjoy a clear run and was forced to switch him outside approaching the furlong marker and he kept on brilliantly to get beaten a neck on the line.
I overheard a couple of pundits the other day saying that they thought Bated Breath was a worthy winner and that Sole Power is always an ‘unlucky’ horse having finished runner-up on his last three starts and a close third in the Abbaye at Longchamp last season.
They are fully entitled to their opinion but I think the difference in price between our horse and the favourite for a neck beating in arguably unlucky circumstances is reason enough to back my selection and listen, he will come right in a big one soon.
The Royal fixture has loads of great conditions races but also a couple of brilliant betting handicaps including Wednesday’s Royal Hunt Cup and while I would love to see an Irish winner, the stats tell me that this is unlikely as our last scorer was Seamus McGrath’s Continuation in 1966.
So I’m going to opt for Edinburgh Knight who was backed into 12-1 (from 16) with us on Sunday and is a horse that I have been waiting to reappear since his fourth in the Lincoln at Doncaster back in March.
This fellow was chasing a hat-trick at Town Moor but even though he didn’t win, connections must have been absolutely delighted with the performance as the first two home were drawn 12 and 21, while third placed Fury, a head in front of Edinburgh Knight, came out of box 9 and my fancy was even lower drawn in stall two.
I’m only guessing now but I reckon the reason that he hasn’t been seen again since is that trainer Paul D’Arcy has been protecting his handicap mark for this meeting.
Returning to Euro 2012, as woeful as Ireland were in their opener I’m going to stick with them against Spain on Thursday as I didn’t think the defending champions were great in their start against Italy.
So although a draw may not be enough to keep us in the tournament, I think we might be capable of producing such a result at odds of 9-2 and let’s face it, we’d all be delighted with this outcome after the Croatia fiasco. Spain looked better with substitute Fernando Torres but might be a nervous outfit now.
Thursday, 7.45pm - Ireland to draw with Spain
Tuesday, 3.05pm, Royal Ascot - Sole Power
Wednesday (June 20), 4.25pm, Royal Ascot - Edinburgh Knight