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Get on Galway for now

Get on Galway for now

Michael Duffy

Michael DuffyWHAT better way to kick off the National Leagues than with the Dubs and Tyrone in Croker with the 'sold-out' signs up and half a million euro worth of fireworks in the Dublin air.
From the minute this fixture was announced bookmakers made Tyrone 4-6 favourites to win the tie, and some sprightly performances from Tyrone in the McKenna Cup has seen them harden further. We're not sure there's value left to be found so instead we're going to break one of our rules and go for two teams away from home in the opening weekend.
Westmeath were a revelation in the National League last year, winning Division 2 with a shock win over Dublin in the final. Division 1 will be a big challenge this spring especially with midfielder Martin Flanagan still injured and wing-back Damien Healy travelling abroad.
When you also consider that Sunday's game against Galway in Mullingar will be star forward Dessie Dolan's first game back from injury, the task facing Tomas Ó Flatharta's side is a stiff one.
Galway, meanwhile, have enjoyed a fine 2009 so far. Without the Corofin contingent they eventually sealed a Connacht FBD title last weekend against an improved Roscommon, and can be expected to get their National League campaign off to a flyer in the midlands.
Kildare are our 20-1 antepost fancies for Division 2, and while victory in Sunday's opening round game against Laois won't put them in pole position for us to collect, it will be one of the away games that Kieran McGeeney will have earmarked as a real chance of winning. They'll be underdogs for that match and look 'forward' enough to beat the home side. The best prices about both sides are likely to be found on Betfair.
Recommended: Galway (v Westmeath, NFL Div 1, Sunday). Kildare (v Laois, NFL Div 2, Sunday). Already recommended: Kildare 20-1 (NFL Division 2 outright).

THE one and only Forpadytheplasterer lost nothing in defeat at Leopardstown on Sunday when beaten in a driving finish by Golden Silver in the Irish Arkle.
Some bookmakers reacted by easing Tom Cooper's horse for the Arkle at Cheltenham but we took a different view. Better ground will see this fellow in a different light as will the guaranteed strong pace we will get in March. He jumps cleanly, stays well and showed a liking for Cheltenham in the Ballymore Hurdle last year. Hoping that Cooper opts for the two-miler — because it's a race seriously lacking in depth right now — take the 16-1 on offer.
Recommended: Forpadytheplasterer 16-1 (Arkle Chase, Cheltenham, March 11th).

WHEN Ebadiyan was born in 2005, HRH Aga Khan didn't anticipate a hurdling career for his well-bred son of Daylami. But Ebadiyan didn't live up to his breeding on the flat in the care of John Oxx and was consigned to the horses-in-training sale where none other than Oliver Brady picked up him for a bargain.
Brady is well-known for his post-race speeches in the parade-ring should one of his horses win but don't take him for a fool: he runs a decent yard and does particularly well with Oxx's cast-offs.
Maralan and Balapour are two horses who both came from Oxx's and the latter twice ran well without winning at the Cheltenham festival — but this Ebadiyan could be better than both of them. He shaped with promise when third on his debut over hurdles and won easily on his second run.
However it is his last victory in a Grade 2 at Punchestown that has Brady realistically dreaming of Festival glory. None of the front two in the betting (Zaynar and Walkon) took the eyes out of your head with their recent victories and on the evidence we have seen so far Ebadiyan jumps slicker than both. The 10-1 available  in the ante-post market about Ebadiyan is worth a wager now.
Recommended:  Ebadiyan 10-1 (Triumph Hurdle, Cheltenham, March 13th).

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