Back in the saddle, dear reader, after a couple of days off down in Dorset with my family. It's been an interesting few days with, like many of you I imagine, far too much of... well, pretty much everything really.
Too much food, too much booze, too many gifts, too many arguments, too many bets, and so on!
So, as much as I enjoyed my little holiday, in many ways it's great to be back and doing what I love: writing about horse races and horse racing systems.
Talking of horse races, there is never a shortage of top drawer racing action at this time of year, and we managed to find a couple of winners on the blog too, though nothing fancy to write home about.
Typically, because of the fall of Punjabi (who must have beaten that one-paced goat, Harchibald, had he remained hooves down head up instead of hooves up head down), I lost over the five races.
Breedsbreeze set me up nicely, as I'd taken the 9/4 (which was a good bit bigger than I was expecting to be available), but I went long on Punjabi at what seemed very generous odds of 6/4. Barring the fall, I suspect they would have been very generous.
The King George was a procession for the Star that is Kauto, and hats off to him and his handlers for a brilliant performance.
Although the Pipe pair were pretty poor, solace for me came in a much improved performance from Albertas Run, which gives some hope for Cheltenham, where I have a small ante-post voucher.
The Welsh National was ultimately disappointing, as Officier De Reserve came to win the race, but was knackered and gave best first to Notre Pere, then - at the wire - to Cornish Sett and Halcon Genelardais.
Halcon ran a great race having been outpaced early, and I'm very surprised that he's been eased in the Gold Cup betting given that he was ceding lumps of lead all round in this affair.
Assuming that the big one is still his target, I reckon double digit place odds are extremely fair. Neptune Collonges has no chance of making the frame again and, behind the front two, there are any number of dodgepots who are unlikely to run their race.
The recent history of the Gold Cup reveals a few dour plodders who have perenially made the frame (such as Sir Rembrandt and Harbour Pilot), and Halcon still has a chance in my book, especially if it comes up testing (which would be against Kauto as well as Neptune, and would certainly test any frailties in the fibrillations of Denman's dicky ticker).
Exotic Dancer came up trumps over at Leopardstown in the Lexus Chase, and takers of the 11/2 early would have been happier than the happy people who cashed 4/1 winning tickets on this chap. He has a touch of class but is not quite good enough to win a Gold Cup. Like The Listener and Beef or Salmon before him, this may have been his Gold Cup.
Elsewhere, and in the wonderful world of horse racing systems, it was an interesting time for the products from the Geegeez / Nag Nag Nag stables. TrainerTrackStats had a plethora of runners (as did all racing systems over this frenzied period), and some juicy fat winners to put us strongly back in the black.
Those winners included Sentry Duty (20th Dec, 12/1); Ordre De Battaile (26th, 4/1); Quazy De Joie (26th, 9/1); Supreme Keano (26th, 8/1); Walkon (27th, 7/2); Ingratitude (27th, 5/1); Pemberton (27th, 4/1); and, Santa's Son (who else?! 27th, 5/1), amongst others.
Because both Gavin and I have been away, the opportunity to get TTS to the end of the season still exists, and will do until the turn of the year. So, if you'd like to get full member access from now until April 30th (when the season finishes), click the link below:
Over at Laying System, it's been a bizarre, frustrating, and ultimately I think highly promising month.
One of the laying systems (there are three in the members' portfolio) has a price threshold of 14/1 to lay at.
In the four and a half years of results data I had researched, there were twenty winners at 14/1. That's an average of one every 2.7 months.
We've had THREE in a MONTH!!
Remarkably, despite that statistical aberration (which I fully expect to be righted by an extended spell where no such winners appear), Laying System remains level for the month.
Of course, it's highly frustrating for me that during the period of free trial, these big winners (and therefore big losers) have struck, but that's the nature of trials. It's exactly for this reason that I offer a free period, and that I strongly suggest members paper trade.
Those that understand the cyclical nature of the statistical based systems, and that are comfortable with the downside risks in the short term, will be as heartened as I am by the overall results.
I expect the next few weeks to redress the imbalance of those nasty 14/1 shots (two of which were subject to inspired rides from their pilots), and push Laying System members further into the black.
The bad news, lest you were interested in getting access to these runners, is that membership is still closed, and is likely to be for a while to come. At the risk of repeating myself, when I do reopen the doors (probably not until at least February), the price will be a wee bit higher than now.
I have very high confidence in the long term performance of this service, and - when the time comes to promote the service more widely - it will carry a premium price tag befitting a premium service. Those who took advantage of the Geegeez special offer will be sitting pretty. :o)
The pick of the day's racing is over at Leopardstown again today, where the hurdlers take centre stage. The news over the weekend that Sizing Europe was struggling with lameness is enough to put me off backing him today, even though - if fit - he'd surely be the one to beat.
The old stagers, Hardy Eustace and Brave Inca, come back for more, and Brave Inca could take some stopping if not suffering from the dreaded 'bounce' (running below par on the second start back after a prolonged absence).
But the one that may represent some value, assuming Sizing is not quite right, is Muirhead. He jumped a bit sloppily on debut last time, and will strip a good bit fitter today. 9/1 or thereabouts is a fair each way price, and he'll have to run into the money here to have any realistic pretensions of Champion Hurdle glory.
With doubts over the favourite though, it may be a race to watch rather than wager.
As for a punt today, why not try Silver Blondin in the closing bumper at Newbury. He's bred to be super good (daddy won the St Leger and was 2nd in the Derby; mummy was a half-sister to Champion Hurdlers Morley Street and Granville Again).
There are lots of nice horses in the race, including Francois Doumen's French smoothie, Doctor Pat, who is fancied to run well.
But, with his amazing strike rate in this type of event, Nicky Henderson's Silver Blondin will do for me.
Right, its planning time now. I'm going to have a good head scratch about what will be in store for next year, and the feedback you've already kindly provided will form a key part of that.
p.s. Fortysecond Street (11/4) and Planet of Sound at 13/8 (Betfair SP just shy of 2/1) just won to give TTS punters another pair of winners. Sign up for the rest of the year here NOW!