Sunday, February 01, 2009

Points of (some) interest

Ferdy Murphy's Kalahari King won the John Smith's Race Extra Smooth Novices' Chase at Musselburgh today and is now quoted as low as 10/1 for the Arkle. At the same meeting Nicky Henderson won the Triumph Hurdle trial with Giorgio Quercus but hinted the horse may miss Cheltenham in favour of either Aintree or Punchestown.

Paddy Power has taken a particularly dim view of Big Zeb's fall at Punchestown this afternoon and now price the horse at 14/1 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

At Sandown on Saturday Celestial Halo beat Osana but of the two I, in common with many I suspect, prefer the latter. Osana is currently quoted 10/1 second favourite for the Champion Hurdle with Celestial Halo 12s.

In the last fortnight Christian Williams has ridden two Saturday big-race winners for the Nicholls yard, both at Doncaster - Big Fella Thanks and I'msingingtheblues. It looks as though Sam Thomas is paying the price for a couple of high-profile falls earlier in the season. Any talk of Doncaster and you immediately think of the St. Leger but you wouldn't be advised to stay in the Grand St Leger Hotel if the recent report compiled by The Times' mystery guest counts for anything.

Listening to Radio Five Live's broadcast of the Liverpool v. Chelsea match, I heard the commentator tell listeners that he'd just received some racing news - Tony McCoy did not win the 4.10 at Fontwell. For that matter neither did Dominic Elsworth, Jamie Moore, Christian Williams, Aiden Coleman and Jack Doyle amongst others. Tom O'Brien, who did win the 4.10 at Fontwell, also failed to get a mention. You can understand why the champ, still two winners short of the magical 3,000, will be glad when the milestone has been reached and business can return to normal. If the predicted snow arrives, it's likely he'll have to wait towards the end of the week before he can try again.

Denman is scheduled to make his reappearance this weekend, either at Newbury on Saturday or over in Ireland on Sunday. I'm not a great one for ante-post betting but perhaps now is the time to consider the 3/1 offered by Coral and William Hill about Kauto Star to win the Gold Cup. If Denman's return proves to be below par, Kauto is likely to shorten; even if Denman delivers, Kauto still has an excellent chance, particularly if the race is run on decent ground.

Finally, here's a salutary tale to finish on. A colleague of mine popped into a William Hill shop early last week, took a pre-printed football coupon from one of the several holders found in such establishments and invested £2 of his own money on an eight match accumulator. The writing at the bottom of the slip indicated he would collect £70 should his eight predictions come to pass. As a matter of interest, he later logged onto his computer, typed in the same eight selections on the William Hill website and was horrified to discover that the online payout would be £88. Fortunately for him, West Brom failed to beat Manchester United.

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