Monday, November 10, 2008

In brief

Cheltenham's three-day Open meeting starts on Friday. The unique Cross Country Chase is the feature on the first day, the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle the feature on the final day and sandwiched in between, on Saturday, is the highlight of the whole meeting, the Paddy Power Gold Cup. It's early days yet but one horse I won't be backing (on grounds of value alone) is Paul Nicholls' Silverburn - at the time of writing the horse is 7/2 favourite with most bookmakers but only 100/30 with the Tote. In the past I've found the trainer has tended to be pretty bullish about this half-brother to Denman but in my mind the horse hasn't always delivered. I think two and a half miles will suit but it's interesting to note that Silverburn has only won once when racing over further than the minimum trip; last season he didn't appear to stay three miles. During the week I'll look closely at Nicky Henderson's runners as well as Alan King's Ouzbeck, (apparently preferred by stable jockey Robert Thornton to Il Duce), although the layers aren't taking any chances by pricing him up at just 8/1. Meanwhile Finger Onthe Pulse has the Rehearsal Chase as his target.

It's not that often BBC Radio Four throws up a racing story but sixteen stone Dominic Prince, journalist and jockey, has wasted to a mere twelve in a journey he describes in 'Jumbo to jockey'. The programme is to be aired on 23rd December with an accompanying book due out next spring.

Talking of books, another to hit the market just in time for Christmas is Brough Scott's 'Of Horses and Heroes: A Racing Tribute'. Thought I'd mention it, in case you were struggling to come up with ideas for a Christmas present...

It would appear it's not just the banks that have been affected by the credit crunch. Bookmaker William Hill has begun negotiations with several of the aforemetioned banks about refinancing a large chunk of debt. Hmmm... no sympathy from these quarters!

I was preparing to monitor Straw Bear and (the somewhat salaciously-named) Tara Two Hills at Exeter tomorrow. Straw Bear hasn't been declared on account of the ground and I guess the same comment applies to the other horse as well. Last week Steve Taylor's 'Behind The Stats' column in the Weekender highlighted Alan Honeyball's operation, with Tara Two Hills being aimed at the mares-only novice hurdle due off at 4.10. At the time of writing the going at Exeter is described as heavy, waterlogged in places. There's a 7.30 inspection scheduled for the morning - my guess is we'll be lucky to see any racing at Exeter tomorrow.

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