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greyhounds: Open Check: Apple at 13-8 picks himself for National.

Byline: Jonathan Kay

APPLE RAMBLER has still not gained due recognition for the quite stunning form he is in, and sponsors William Hill could be the latest to find out just how well he is running.

Take the 13-8 they offer about Linda Jones's dog in the second semi-final of the Grand National at Wimbledon tonight. The theory about taking on Apple Rambler seems to be that he is easily beaten if he doesn't lead, and is certainly fine in principle. The problem is he always leads!

He certainly looks plotted up on the fence inside Greenacre Silk, who is not short of early himself and may act as a `buffer' between Apple Rambler and the rest as the Jones dog inevitably flags in the closing stages.

Biggest danger is Springbok winner Rossa Ranger, whose berth in five need not be as bad as it looks on paper, but who is still capable of the odd jumping blemish. This is arguably the stiffest test of his hurdling career and he will be put under extreme pressure.

Ballmac Keano has been back to form in the National, but his draw outside Apple Rambler and Greenacre Silk is a nightmare, while Autumn Merlin is getting the hang of things here and could stay on to qualify, although it is hard to see him actually winning.

Having opposed Tuttles Minister in the first round a week ago because he was drawn outside Lukes Sapphire, I feel I must be consistent and do the same tonight even if the defending champion is now trapping better than at any stage of his career.

The problem is that he will have to ping given the proximity of Lukes Sapphire and I cannot play at odds-on, preferring instead a small wager on Kish Jaguar, who looks big at Chandler's 12-1.

The only other open this evening is at Monmore, where Ouch looks a solid choice in the 8.25pm over 480m. John Wileman's dog has won his last three here and only the fact that he is drawn outside the speedy Goleen Dan is cause for concern.

BETTING

John Henwood 1st National semi (without Tuttles Minister): 11-10 Opus Air, 3 Here Comes Ken, 7-2 Lukes Sapphire, 9-2 Kish Jaguar, 7 Kerbal Go Free

2nd semi (without Rossa Ranger): 5-4 Apple Rambler, 2 Ballmac Keano, 3 Autumn Merlin, 8 Greenacre Silk, Kanturk Canon
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 24, 2001
Words:395
Previous Article:Greyhounds: Open Check: Sireco can sparkle in Pall Mall on a Sunday saturated with opens.
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