Monday, October 31, 2011
- Coyle looks for Bolton positives
- Hurricane Fly targets second Champion Hurdle
- Big Bucks set for comeback
Posted: 31 Oct 2011 08:05 AM PDT
A tough opening set of fixtures was always going to afford Owen Coyle some leeway in this early stage of the season, but after defeats to two of the newly promoted sides as well as struggling Sunderland, their poor start is threatening to turn into something terminal.
Eight defeats from ten games has left the Trotters second from bottom, mercilessly kept off the foot by Lancashire neighbours Wigan.
But what is worrying Trotters fans the most is the manner of their performances so far. They knew anything they took from games against the Man Utds and Chelseas of this World would be a bonus. But they were swept away with worrying ease, justifying their status among the favourites in the relegation betting.
Their 24 goals conceded is comfortably the worst in the division and an alarming trend Coyle is desperate to halt if he is to get his side's season back on track.
The Scot was certainly fighting after Bolton's latest loss, this time away at Swansea, calling on his players to stand up and be counted.
"People forget that when I came into the job we were second from bottom," said Coyle after watching his 10 men slip to a 2-1 defeat at the Liberty Stadium. "We addressed that with plenty in hand. Without looking for excuses, we have some top players out with injury, but we have players who are good enough to win games. You take your medicine and go from there, show your character.
"We need players who when they cross that white line believe in themselves and show their ability," Coyle added. "I have to be fair to them, I think in the most part they did that, but when the sending-off comes about you still have to retain that organisation, that belief."
Despite Coyle's words, those who bet on relegation are still backing his side to struggle this season and to find themselves in the Championship next term.
Posted: 31 Oct 2011 06:03 AM PDT
The Champion Hurdle is many people's favourite race at the Cheltenham Festival and last year it didn't disappoint with a star being born in Hurricane Fly.
The Irish-trained horse answered any critics by winning on his first ever run in the UK, after missing his one other scheduled Cheltenham run through injury two years ago.
Before the race, it was difficult to judge the form of the seven-year old who had always looked impressive when beating Solwhit on three occasions last season, including the win the Irish Champion Hurdle. However, all three runs were in small field races and the ability to handling the hill at Cheltenham was also brought into question. Even those looking at the date of Cheltenham Gold Cup 2012 will have been impressed.
After his victory at the festival, there was no doubt that Willie Mullins-runner was a star hurdler who had an exceptional turn of foot in the closing stages of a race. The George Creighton-owned horse has now won six consecutive races over the hurdles.
This season's renewal of the feature race on day one of the festival will see Hurricane Fly go off a lot shorter than his starting price of 11/4 earlier this year. He is a currently a 7/4 shot in the Cheltenham Festival betting with most firms in the early ante-post market for the race.
It is likely that Binocular will return for another shot at the race he won in 2010. The Nicky Henderson-trained runner surprised all when landing the contest two seasons ago. He was ruled out of the race by connections leading up the running, but made a remarkable comeback to make it to Prestbury Park and then go on to win in by over three lengths.
Posted: 31 Oct 2011 05:56 AM PDT
Three-time Cheltenham World Hurdle winner Big Bucks is likely to return to action this season in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, on the same came as the Hennessy Gold Cup from the Berkshire racecourse.
The Paul Nicholls-trained runner has been many people's banker of the Cheltenham festival in recent seasons, and it is the World Hurdle once again that connections are aiming for this time around with their star eight-year old. People looking for Cheltenham betting tips should remember this.
Last season Grand Crus established himself as a serious rival to the French-bred horse, but Big Bucks relished the challenged and defeated the younger rival twice, first at Cheltenham and then at Aintree a month later in April.
For the past two campaigns, the Stewart family-owned horse has ran just four times. Following the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, he is kept until near the end of the year for Grade One Long Walk Hurdle at the same track. We would be unlikely to then see the great staying hurdler until the Cheltenham festival 2012.
The feature race of the meeting on the Thursday of the Cheltenham festival is expected to see Grand Crus try to take on Big Bucks once again. However, there is likely to be the inclusion of Oscar Whisky this year. The six-year old ran in the Champion Hurdle last season but support has come for the Nicky Henderson-trained runner for the World Hurdle, suggesting the longer distance route is going to be tried this season with the horse.
Thousand Stars could follow suit with Oscar Whisky by joining him in the race in 2012. Willie Mullins- runner was a surprise fourth in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham earlier in March. He proved he is capable of winning at the World Hurdle trip when scoring at Auteil on his latest run under Ruby Walsh.
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