The trouble with going to the well too often, dear reader, is that - sooner or later - the pail will come up dry. For this reason, allied to the fact that the trends are not terrible strong, I am loathe to honour my duty in taking a look at the Bet365 Gold Cup.
Nevertheless, preview it we must, for there is a winner in the midst of the fifteen declared runners. And, by processes of elimination, we should at least get nearer to it.
A strong-ish trend is that 8 of the last ten winners carried less than 11 stone. This is consistent with most long distance chases, where it is tough to lug a big weight against less-exposed, and more lightly-weighted opponents. Fortunately for us, if we believe that stat will hold tomorrow, we can strike out six of the field.
Let's do that, and make it an nine runner race - much more manageable (assuming we still have the winner in the nonet!)
Supporting the notion about unexposed runners, chasers in either their first or second season have won eight of the last ten renewals. This counts against Laskari, Church Island, Bowleaze, Oodachee, and Briery Fox.
Just four left at this point, and they are: Oscar Park, Hennessey, Verasi, and Zacharova.
Now let's think about class for a moment. Only one of the last ten winners had failed to achieve at least a silver medal in a Class 1 or 2 race earlier that season. Oscar Park pulled up on his only start this year, and is excluded. Hennessey, too, hasn't troubled the judge in top company, so is ruled out.
Verasi has enough P's in this season's form figures for TWO Scrabble sets, and needs it soft anyway, so is readily eliminated despite his shrewd connections.
Finally, then, Zacharova... alas, he has only won three Class 3 chases this season. In what looks a sub-standard renewal with very much an 'after the Lord Mayor's show' feel to it, he might be good enough.
Certainly his trainer, Venetia Williams, has a fine record at the track, and neither trip nor going should be a major incumbrence. Bounce Back won as a 6yo back in 2002, so age is no barrier either.
In summary, it's a weak looking contest, and - despite 'failing' the last stat - Zach is by far the best qualified horse on trends, and is the most likely winner. At 16/1, he looks good value... But don't quote me on it! ;o)
Have a great weekend - it's the last game of the football season for me tomorrow (should have retired years ago!), followed by the end of season drink up in Islington's finest Irish bar (yes, O'Neills!), so expect no word from Geegeez Towers until at least Monday...