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When I was seventeen, it was a very good year. A very good year for small town girls and soft summer nights. We’d hide from the lights, on the village green, when I was seventeen. Except I was stuck in a CPVE course at Kettering Boys’ School (where the missing Russian satellite was detected by our physics teacher which NASA couldn’t find I’ll have you know) whilst darting in and out of Roy Christie bookmakers whenever I could to watch the racing. This will only become relevant when you get to the bit about dear old Combs Ditch.
After double-figure price runners-up in the Betfair Hurdle and Betfred Grand National Trial for the last two weeks in Big Race Focus, I’ll be trying to go one better in tomorrow lunchtime’s copy with an early look at the BetBright Chase and Eider. I’ve never attended either race but both have been fairly lucky races for me down the years. I do think that with staying chasers is where I have always been strongest, certainly more so than sprint handicappers.
We’re going back a while but I remember having my 50p on Peaty Sandy in the 1987 Eider. I always backed Peaty Sandy come rain or shine. I doubt I knew that he was a 13-year-old back in those days though. Into The Red was another successful Eider punt under an uber-patient ride from Norman Williamson at a time when I was brassic so that was much needed and, most latterly, Companero at a nice price in the year when it looked like none might get round and there was a massive hoo-hah about it. I can’t say that it fussed me much.
The BetBright Chase has lost its way a bit. I remember in 1994 it featured as many as four Cheltenham Festival winners just over three weeks later but it has only featured one Festival winner during the same season since La Landiere won this race and the now defunct Cathcart 13 years ago. That was Same Difference who was sixth before winning the Kim Muir. Class regularly comes to the fore with 12 of the last 17 winners carrying over 11st. Combs Ditch was my favourite winner (what a Saturday in 1987 that must have been for me!) though last season’s race didn’t turn out too shabby with my shortlist comprising of the 1-2, Rocky Creek and Le Reve. More of the same to make up for the last two weekends would be nice.
Good to see Bubba Watson hold his nerve better than his rivals to close out the Northern Trust Open on Sunday evening having suggested him as a bet at the half-way stage in Saturday morning’s blog. He won the same event before he won The Masters two years ago so he was cut to a top price 16/1 for the first Major of the year which takes place the same week as the Crabbie’s Grand National Meeting which I’m not particularly enamoured about. Proper man time though. I made a few in-running notes for next year's Northern Trust Open which I like to do for any sporting event as the little things that can make a big difference can be so easily forgotten in 12 months. Back KJ to be Top 20 xext year, DJ to be Top 5 and oppose all course debutants wherever I can etc. etc.
The next PGA Tour stop off is the Honda Classic and the following week is when I start previews of my idea of the 12 best events of the season in the Sport section with the Cadillac Championship at Doral which is the first of the World Golf Championship of the year as part of the All-Inclusive Service. The other 11 events I will be covering will be the World Matchplay, The Masters, Players’ Championship, PGA Championship, US Open, The Open Championship, USPGA, Deutsche Bank Championship, BMW Championship, Tour Championship and Ryder Cup. Maybe a couple more if I have a strong fancy. Not long now until I get the old faithful baffler out. The clubs usually remain in the garage from between the Arc and the Lincoln. My son doesn’t know it yet but there is dishwashing liquid, a plastic bucket and a brand new toothbrush heading his way soon.