Sunday, December 21, 2008

Festive fare

The only thing that makes Christmas half-bearable is the racing on Boxing Day. Last night somebody who clearly has little regard for their own money asked me for an each-way outsider in the King George; I came up with 20/1 chance Snoopy Loopy. I figured if connections have stumped up £10k to supplement the horse, they must think it has some sort of chance. Previous King George winner and current favourite Kauto Star will generate plenty of press interest. However his stablemate and Gold Cup winner Denman has a surprise entry in the 2.55 hurdle race at Wincanton on the same day; teletext reports a decision regarding his participation will be taken on Tuesday. In the meantime, if you're in desperate need of rescue from the whole horror of Christmas, I recommend ploughing through the Boxing Day declarations to see if you can spot a cunning plot; should you happen to stumble upon one, please let me know.

Many will think that within the space of half an hour at Ascot on Saturday they saw the next Champion and World Hurdle winners in Binocular and Punchestowns. After winning on Binocular McCoy had a dig at the BBC's proposed coverage cuts with a quip that the only chance viewers would have to see the horse again would be on Top Gear.

A couple of midweek results caught my eye. Bannister Lane bounced back to form to win the three and three quarter mile handicap chase at Bangor on Wednesday while Ron Hodges' Dream Falcon was backed in from 20/1 to 7/1 before taking the two and a half mile novices' handicap chase at Ludlow on Thursday. At Ascot on Friday Medermit and Dee Ee Williams fought out a thrilling finish but perhaps the horse to note was Wendel who had every chance coming to the last; that form represents a big improvement on his previous two wins at Plumpton. Quoting Charlie Mann in the Weekender - "I have some very nice novice hurdlers this season and I think he could be the best of them." Earlier in the season Black Jacari was touted as a possible Triumph Hurdle hope but the horse has patently failed to deliver; he runs with first-time blinkers applied in a Class 4 juvenile novice hurdle at Hereford tomorrow.

It might be Christmas but the press still likes nothing better than a bad news story - they've been hinitng for a few weeks now that ten household High Street names are in danger of going to the wall in 2009. I wonder if William Hill is one of those ten names. And, finally, a phrase to strike fear into the heart of any sports administrator is 'suspicious betting patterns'. Last week snooker came under the spotlight...

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