After an unusually long hiatus, dear reader, a short post to tell you I'm still alive, what I've been up to, and what I'm looking forward to this week.
Firstly, please accept my apologies for the wall of silence that has greeted anyone awaiting a geegeez email. The truth is that I snuck off last week to Bulgaria - specifically, Borovets - for a cheeky cheapie week skiing, with my brother and two teenage nephews. I had believed that there was an internet connection in the hotel in which we were staying, but as it turned out the best I could do was try to tap into an insecure wireless network, which I did only to check urgent email.
So if you contacted me in the last week, or wondered where I'd got to, that's the answer. I think I've now replied to all outstanding emails, and thank you for your patience.
On the subject of skiing, I'm not sure how interesting this video is to the wider world, but it's a short clip of me trying to record my traverses down a red (intermediate to advanced) run. Now, I'm an ok skier - maybe even a good skier - but attempting to hold a camera steady and not use one of the two protruding balance-y thingies (also called arms) is a tough old challenge!
Moving on rapidly, I've news of Geegeez Racing Club horses. After a few weeks off whilst recovering from minor niggles, both Baggsy and Obvious were given entries in the past few days.
Indeed, Baggsy ran on Saturday, and performed in line with expectations when finishing fourth of seven in a Lingfield maiden. She's now had her obligatory three runs in maiden company, and will be allotted a handicap mark this week. Then it's straight to handicaps, and we're hopeful of winning a little race with her soon.
Obvious on the other hand has been a little disappointing thus far. In fact, she's been quite a lot disappointing. Clearly, we don't have a right to acquire a winning racehorse and winners are very much in the minority. That said, Obvious has been beaten by many more horses than she's finished in front of, and the grade of her next contest reflects that.
She's in on Wednesday at Kempton (5.00) and, though the excuses are wearing thinner than a supermodel's waistline, hope springs eternal. Collectively, this mediocre lot have run 420 times, and won 28 races, though very, VERY few of those victories have come in the last two seasons.
Obvious has the best of the draw, but whether she has any inclination to use it remains to be seen. I'll be there, cheering her on along with a few of the other Racing Club members and, on the bright side, if she were to win, she'd likely do it at a fat price!
Saturday saw an extremely welcome return for jump racing, and Kempton's highlight - the Lanzarote Hurdle - was won in commanding fashion by Micheal Flips. He looks like a decent wager for an Aintree staying handicap hurdle, but I'd be happy to oppose him at Cheltenham should he run there first.
Of more interest, perhaps, is the staying novice hurdle run earlier in the afternoon. The Minack took that contest, and did so fully nine seconds quicker than Micheal Flips over the same course and distance. Despite a recalcitrant performance from the runner-up and favourite, Kennel Hill, there looked to be no fluke about this win, so it's all the more disappointing that The Minack will probably miss Cheltenham.
No matter, for he's expected to do much better with another summer on him, and bigger obstacles in his way next season. He'd be a definite short list contender for Ten to Follow entries, and speculative RSA Chase 2011 punters.
Over at Lingfield, the 3.40 race looked well above average, and a time over six lengths faster than standard bears that out. My all weather man, whose own selection (Baylini) finished a frustrating second in the race, makes the winner - Bridge of Gold - a possible Group horse. There are some nice races still to come on the all weather this winter, and Bridge of Gold is certainly one to keep on the right side of.
Conversely, Greyfriarschorista is a horse I'll be taking on next time. Sure, he won by five lengths. But, as a Mark Johnston inmate whose winning time was painfully slow, he's highly likely to be overbet when next appearing, and these are just the types I like to 'get'.
Unbelievably, it's forecast to get very cold with possible snow AGAIN this week, so some of the weekend action may come under further meteorological threat. Assuming it doesn't, there are cracking cards to look forward to at Ascot, Haydock and Leopardstown. The pick of the pile is unquestionably Ascot's Victor Chandler Chase, a Grade 1 affair over two miles and a furlong.
Nicky Henderson, the Pipe's (Martin and David), and Paul Nicholls have won two each of the last six renewals, so it may be churlish to look too far beyond their entries at this stage.
Those runners are Petit Robin, Well Chief and Twist Magic respectively, and they're likely to corner the market.
Twist Magic is definitely better at Sandown than any other track, as he proved when winning the Tingle Creek last time out. He was second in this race last season, behind Tamarinbleu, and I suspect that he might just be bettered by one again.
Petit Robin was put up on this 'ere blog as the best each punt in the Queen Mum Champion Chase when still a 33/1 shot. A comfortable win in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton over Christmas saw those odds truncate to circa 10/1 (as low as 8's in places), despite the trainer saying the horse will probably bypass the big two miler at the Cheltenham Festival. Henderson is not normally one for hoodwinking the public, so such a statement should be treated with respect. That is to say, if you followed me in, you might want to think about following me out - for your initial stake at least.
Back into the context of this race, and a galloping two miles looks right up Petit Robin's street. He's my idea of the winner, despite having something to find with Twist Magic on a strict interpretation of the form book.
The veteran Well Chief continues to run with great credit, but his speed seems to have been a little blunted by the passage of time, and as such, another placed effort is the most probable conclusion for David Pipe's stable captain.
If there's a fly in the ointment for this triumvirate of A-listers, it might be Fix The Rib from the Gary Moore stable. A course and distance winner here in November, he looks booked to run a decent race. Whether he can seriously mix it in a Grade 1 at this stage in his career is a moot point, but odds of 20/1 with the sponsor and Stan James are sufficient to entertain an each way tickle from this quarter.
Best Bet: Petit Robin (9/4, totesport, Boylesports)
Each Way: Fix The Rib (20/1, Victor Chandler, Stan James)