A quick Geegeez catch up of all that's been happening today. I've got news on Fantasy Football, my weekend with someone you might know, an update on the ante-post front, and something hot to look out for tomorrow.
Firstly, I was lucky enough to spend the weekend in South Wales with my great mate, Gavin Priestley, from NagNagNag and Festival Trends, as well as his lovely lady and young Dylan, my godson (oh, and Gavin's son!).
And great fun it was too. We went to watch Cardiff vs Scunthorpe on Saturday afternoon - a slightly dour 1-0 home win, where the likes of Bellamy and Bothroyd threatened more than they actually delivered in the game. Before that though, we'd seen the incredible scenes from Newbury.
Now much has been written about this elsewhere, and I don't intend to spill too much virtual ink on the subject. I will however say this. There can be no case to answer for horse racing on the matter, as it was - quite simply - a terrible accident that could not possibly have been foreseen (based on the current perceptions of what did occur).
Such an incident could just have easily transpired in a school, or an office building, or a church. And we should be thankful for the small mercy that it was 'only' two horses that suffered the ultimate sentence.
Everyone is shocked (absolutely no pun intended) by what happened, and it will be remembered for a long time as one of the most bizarre things to happen anywhere in sport, not just in racing. It is simply impossible to mitigate for such a freak occurence. Onwards and upwards for racing.
After the game on Saturday, it was off to Penarth's finest balti house for some ruby tucker, before the big 'G1 Jockey' showdown on the Wii. Lest you don't know (!), G1 Jockey is a horse racing game where you ride the virtual nag. Having once had the misfortune to ride a real horse (terrible experience fronted up by classic pedagogic schoolmistress whose preference for animals over humans was crystal clear), I can tell you that the pixelated version was a quantum leap easier. Thankfully.
I managed to win a couple and lose a couple, with set up my bravado for the big Scrabble grudge match against my host, Gavin. Now Gavin and I are both acceptable Scrabblers. Not excellent, far from rubbish. I may know a few more words than Gavin (and he may contest that), but I've always thought of him as a slightly better 'tile tactician' - he plays the board very well.
That slight divergence of core strength generally makes for close - and hotly contested - encounters, and of course the exchange of some currency to spice things up a tad more!
Saturday's head-to-head was as one-sided as I can remember, however, with the first game going to me in a relatively tight 28 point verdict (or Â£5.60 as I like to say, converting my lead into cold cash at 20p a point!)
The second game was what's known in the trade as a drubbing. He won't thank me for saying this, but Gavin gave best by fully 106 points (or Â£21.20 for cash). Worse, far worse, than the financial transaction was the humiliation of that heavy defeat. Indeed, I wonder if Gavin has yet been able to sleep after that crushing loss. Sorry mate! 😉
Sunday saw my turn for a crushing loss, as young Dylan handed me a lesson on the console. This time the medium was Fifa 11, a football game. If riding horses on Wii is far easier than the real thing, this felt a good bit harder as my random all fingers and thumbs assault on the contorted hunk of plastic in my mitt bore little resemblance to the actions of the pixels on screen.
The long and short of it was that, after a brief and false dawn when I went 1-0 up, there were seven unanswered goals - one for every year of his age! - scored by Dylan. I don't need to tell you how much he enjoyed that!
Just time for a spot of luncheon with the team before the murderous Sunday afternoon drive back to Geegeez Towers. It rained the whole way, the visibility was awful, the traffic was murderous, and five hours later we arrived home. Poor old Mrs Matt, who was doing the driving.
Still, it was well worth it for an excellent weekend with Gavin and the clan.
Incidentally, Gavin had put up what I considered to be an excellent shout as an ante-post horse for the Gold Cup. The events of the last three days have seen that nomination look inspired, as first Kempes - the horse in question - won the Hennessy Gold Cup in grand style on ground he would have hated, and then my own Sizing Europe was removed from the declarations for the race, meaning that ticket can be recycled...
Kempes was 66/1 when Gavin backed him. He was the same price when I checked last week. I meant to have a cheeky each way bet. I didn't. He's now a best priced 16's, and most of that is gone. He's generally 12's and 14's and, in what I believe is a wide open year, that could still represent some value. I've certainly had a bit of 'after time' action on him.
There was little else of note on the ante-post front, aside from another disappointing defeat for hype horse, Zaidpour. It's hard to see him winning off the back of two reversals, whatever excuses connections may cite. Also, Solwhit - another small ante-post tickle on my part - has been extracted from the Champion Hurdle betting, with the World Hurdle apparently a likelier target.
Oscars Well (Zaidpour's vanquisher) and So Young, both winners in Ireland last weekend, have been backed in the Neptune Investments Hurdle, and now vie for favouritism with Bobs Worth. I'd backed So Young at 12's after he romped home over Christmas on his hurdling debut, and he's still yet to be asked a question in two facile wins.
So Young is targeted at the Neptune, so at this stage I might actually get one running for me! However, easy wins against moderate opposition are somewhat different from earned victory against top class animals. So Young may have lots of scope for improvement, but he'll need it as he's yet to pass a rival of import.
Another loss as favourite for Mikael d'Haguenet, who continues to demonstrate one or both of the following. Either a) he cannot jump fences, or b) he is simply not the horse he was before injury. In either case, I would go nowhere near him over the larger obstacles. He's still in the World Hurdle, and that's the place I'd be inclined to send him. Ditto Punchestowns who scraped home against League One opposition last week to give Nicky Henderson his 2,000th winner.
Another Irish winner at the weekend, Unaccompanied, has taken second spot in the Triumph Hurdle betting almost by default. There seems to be a real dearth of prime contenders for this prize this year, and that is illustrated best by the fact that Grandouet - the ante-post favourite for the Triumph - is also the ante-post second favourite for the Fred Winter Handicap (an event which is like the consolation race for juvenile novices).
I've had too many goes at trying to get a live one here - and seen too many horses subsequently trade at longer prices than my ticket shows - so I'll accept that I have Third Intention and Sam Winner running for me, and cheer them accordingly. That race may very well set the Friday placepot up for a big payout.... IF you can get through it.
Just four weeks to go now... 😀
Finally, a couple of points of order on the football front. First, a very late update on the Fantasy Football League which over 150 of you joined at the start of the season.
Having been top of the pile for a number of months, Richard Halliday's Diegoforlanova has slipped back a bit to 8th spot. And, as we head into the key period of the season, one manager has opened up a tidy 70 point advantage on the field.
Step forward, John Spencer. His 1,506 points is an impressive haul and good enough for 3,945th spot outright (from a total entry of 2,408,331!).
As things stand, it looks like the prizes will be heading to John. His closest pursuants are Kerry Davies, Dean Bentley and Colin Metcalfe, all of whom are within ten points of each other and 70-80 points behind our leader.
At the other end of the table, the strongest player in the league (propping up all the rest, hoohoohoo) are Kevin McGuigan's 'Sons of Pitches'. Nice name, naff team Kevin! 😉 741 points is not enough for even half of the leader's score, and is good enough for 178th position! Must try harder...
Me? You want to know how I'm doing? Not very well is the succinct answer. More specifically, I'm buried about a third of the way through the field in 64th spot with 1,239 points.
Getting back to the meat of the matter, can anybody catch Mr Spencer. It's unlikely but far from impossible. Let's hope for a tight finish yet.
And, before I go today, I want to tell you about a special footy service I've been tracking for some time. In fact, I've been tracking it since it started. It has been ultra-consistent and highly impressive in that time. Alas, it has also been off the market.
And it still is... that is, unless you're a reader of Geegeez! I've managed to persuade the guys behind it to open up, just for a few days, and just for Geegeez (and my other websites) readers.
The service has QUADRUPLED its bank since the start of the season, which is four times as much money whatever stake size you use! We're putting the finishing touches to the special page right now, and I'll have more news on this tomorrow morning.
But you'll need to be pretty quick, because I've only managed to get the guys to offer this until the weekend when the backdoor will be locked up again.
So do please look out for an email from me tomorrow at around 11am.