Sunday, February 15, 2009

The week in focus

Paul Nicholls was surprisingly upbeat about Denman on Saturday's Morning Line. To my mind the trainer appeared to hint that, with hindsight, he may have sent his charge to Kempton a little undercooked. It's too early to write 'the tank' off just yet but bookmakers aren't taking any chances by offering just 5/1 last season's Gold Cup winner can repeat the trick next month.

As Tom Scudamore passed the winning post on Madison Du Berlais at Kempton, he beckoned to his rivals (in particular Ruby Walsh on Denman) to try and keep up. A week later and another big chase, this time at Ascot, but there was no waving from Tom this time around - he was too busy pushing and shoving on Tamarinbleu who was left for dead by Voy Por Ustedes' classy display.

My advice to rookie paddock watchers, particularly when the going is on the soft side, is to look for the biggest horse in the field and bet it. In future similar advice offered to Eurostar passengers entering the country means they'll probably chance upon Mark Wallinger's sculpture, 'the Angel of the South'. The work is to be modelled on his own stallion, a grey called Riviera Red, but will be thirty three times bigger. Riviera Red won a Class 7 Classified Stakes at Lingfield on Tuesday.

With the Festival just around the corner, you may be interested to learn that The Raceform Update Cheltenham Guide 2009 will be available (from all good newsagents) on Friday 27th February, priced very reasonably at £2.99. Now, I really must go and order my tickets for Champion Chase Day...

Valentine's Day falling on a Saturday often leads to disagreements in the Tips' household. I know I'm the wrong side of twenty seven, but Mrs Tips is still not amused when I suggest a trip to the races as 'something affectionate we can do together' on the special day. Originally hailing from Wrexham, it appears I'm not the only one who lacks something in the romance department. This year Arriva Wales put on a 'love bus' in the area in an attempt to encourage romantics to hop on and 'pop the question' . There were no takers. My guess is the locals know full well that getting hitched is going to cost them a little bit more than a day return to Llangollen.

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