And so it is, dear reader, that another weekend passes and the cold blackness of a further wintry Monday morning portends yet another week of drudgery at the office... unless of course you like your job, or you are happily retired / already on holiday.
For those of us who work (my work is producing, supporting and promoting this little blog, and I love it!), there are not so many days to go until Christmas. I know this for a fact, as I was forced to watch the film, Elf, yesterday. Such a sickeningly candy-coated flick should surely be reserved for the big day itself, or at least the evening before. But no, I imagine there will be more nausea scheduled for those festive days...
Incidentally, I did have a balanced viewing Sunday: I also managed to see for the first time the very excellent The Royal Tenenbaums, which immediately makes it into my top ten favourite films. If you've not seen it, I heartily recommend it. If you have, you'll know what I'm talking about.
The reason for all this movie consumption was simply down to the fact that there was little equine action to stir the pulse.
Cheltenham's mouth-watering (almost literally for us horse'y saddos) card was washed away, not in a tsunami of saliva but rather by an endless hibernal squall that rendered the course unraceable.
Just as a forewarning for events at the same venue in March, I remember reading a brilliant piece by the marvellous racing writer, Nick Mordin, where he talked about the peculiarities of the chalk hills upon which Cheltenham racecourse is situated.
He noted that the hills facilitated extraordinary natural drainage for the track, which explained why it is so very rarely soft ground there. The fact that the going was to be heavy on Saturday, and that there was standing water on the course, implies that the water table (that is the correct geographical term, I believe, for the "The upper surface of the zone of saturation of groundwater above an impermeable layer of soil or rock (through which water cannot move) as in an unconfined aquifer. This level can be very near the surface of the ground or far below it.") is abnormally high currently.
Long and short of all this bluster? It may very well come up soft in March, as the water in the soil and the rock beneath is having difficulty dissipating. So, if you're playing ante-post, you may do well to find a mudlark. Halcon Genelardais for the Gold Cup anyone?
(Despite finishing 4th this year, beaten just 16 lengths by the currently sidelined Denman and doing much the best of all the runners late on - with doubtful stayers in the mud, Kauto Star and Neptune Collonges in 2nd and 3rd - he is still available at 50/1 with pretty much all books. That's fat and I've availed myself of all the 75 (all gone for now) on betfair, and I've also gone in at 16 on betfair for a place.
If he lines up on the Friday in March, and if the going has soft in the description, I can't see him out of the frame. Let's hope for a big run in the Welsh National between Christmas and New Year.
There, you asked for more ante-post, you got it! (And, as you know, you won't get a tip from me for racing on a Monday to follow up Saturday's 5/2 - astonishing price! - winner, Racketeer).
So no Graded action from Lingfield or Cheltenham, and little else of note. However, there was still a small amount of potential action from Project Betfair to keep the system trial ticking over.
Alas, after Friday's four from four, and Saturday's only runner not qualifying due to the price in the end, there were also no runners yesterday. Thus, the score remains at four from four to date. (A quiet weekend all round).
Today, dependent on the odds, the qualifiers are:
1.25 King Barry
3.40 It's Rumoured
Two points to note:
1. You can get a copy here.
2. The vendor is now offering a tipster service for an additional monthly charge. Given their performance in locating the runners so far, I'd be a little wary of using this service (although I don't have any evidence to say they are picking the wrong ones in this service).
From now until Christmas is typically a quiet time for racing, until the explosion of action on Boxing Day. As such, I may use the rest of this week to look at some of the major National Hunt ante-post markets. At this stage, any findings will be speculative (a la Halcon Genelardais above), but then you'd expect nothing less! ;o)