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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot

Alan King's Smad Place

Some good racing from Ascot on today but unfortunately, I'll miss half of it as I've to go and do my Christmas shopping :-(

Shouldn't moan though, it's a nice time of the year for kids and Santy still comes to our house. It's just all the crowds and madness I hate. Looking forward to later on tonight as I'm going for a meal out with a few friends.

On the favourites strategy, Smad Place is the selection at Ascot (2.00) priced around 9/4. That fits in nicely with my Irish Independent article for today:

ALAS, the world has not ended after all and here you are reading Saturday’s newspaper, hopefully at your leisure. Some people took this Mayan prophecy business quite seriously and I’m told that hundreds assembled on Mount Rtanj in Serbia yesterday to watch the world crash down around them. In Ireland, one bookmaker was offering 5000/1 that the end was nigh and while I’m sure it was meant as a joke, a friend who is employed in the risk management department told me they had actually taken more than one bet on that market. I would have liked to see those punters wade through fire and brimstone to collect their winnings at their local turf accountant had the bet been successful! The mind boggles. As Einstein once said, only two things are infinite; the universe and human stupidity. While they didn’t take a hit on the end of the world, here’s hoping some damage is inflicted on the bookies this afternoon by Smad Place, which is the general 11/4 favourite for the Long Walk hurdle at Ascot (2.00). Unfortunately, we won't see last year's winner Big Buck's make an appearance as he's out for the season with a tendon injury but his absence does at least make for a competitive betting market. Alan King's five-year-old looks the one to beat, provided he's back to his old self following a disappointing run at Wetherby on his reappearance last month. He just didn't seem right and King wasn't too happy with him when he returned home to the yard; so they subsequently missed the Hennessey meeting at Newbury in order to give him a rest. They gave him a good gallop at home on Saturday and the word from the yard is that the sparkle is back. He unseated Robert Thornton previously in the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree in April but that came on the back of Cheltenham where he gave a fairly good account of himself when finishing behind Big Buck's and Voler La Vedette in the World Hurdle. He'll surely come on for his Wetherby run and deserves his place at the top of the market. Another one with claims is Trustan Times, trained by Tim Easterby. His jumping over fences is a bit suspect but he's come back to life recently over timber and showed some very smart form when winning the Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle at Haydock last time under a heavy burden. Despite two wins over hurdles already this term, he still has room for improvement and while this is a big step up in class, it would be no surprise to see him thereabouts this afternoon. Earlier on Lingfield's polytrack, the Alan Bailey trained Strictly Silver looks overpriced at 10/1 for the six-runner Happy Christmas From All At Lingfield Park Conditions Stakes (1.55). On paper, his sixth place of fourteen runners in a class two handicap at Doncaster in September doesn't look too inspiring but a line can be drawn through that form as he almost unseated his rider early on, and he later got hampered by a number of horses. Otherwise, he's been improving all the time and it's a little surprising to see him friendless in the early markets.

THE Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Double Ross looked certain to win a class two handicap at Haydock recently and traded as low as 1/6 in-running - but a bad mistake at the last meant he had to settle for fourth place. At 16/1, the market doesn't give him much chance in the Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle at Ascot (3.10) but he loves the heavy ground and may have a bit more to come before the handicapper has his measure.

Soccer: WIGAN have conceded 17 goals at home in the league this season and face a tough 90 minutes this afternoon at home to an Arsenal side who are fresh from beating Reading 5-2 on Monday. The Gunners have won ten of the 14 Premier League meetings of the pair and it makes sense to back them to do so again this afternoon, priced around 8/11.
Horseracing: PUNTERS on this side of the world may not be too familiar with ten-year-old Shadow
Gate as he spent most of his life in Japan - but he was a decent sort in his day and won the group one Singapore International at Kranji back in 2007. He's now based with Takashi Kodama at the Curragh and proved that he still retains plenty of ability when winning is first race for his new yard at Dundalk in October. Priced 7/2, he can make his presence felt in today's listed Quebec Stakes at Lingfield (2.25).

12.00 Newcastle: Fourjacks
1.55 Lingfield: Strictly Silver
2.00 Ascot: Smad Place
2.25 Lingfield: Shadow Gate
3.10 Ascot: Double Ross (e/w)

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