Sunday, November 29, 2009

Points of view

Denman put in an exceptional performance yesterday, carrying 11 stones 12 pounds to victory on soft ground in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury; the horse is clearly back to his very best. Over the past two Saturdays we have seen Kauto Star win by a nose at Haydock and Denman demolish a high-class field at Newbury. Anticipation for their clash in the Cheltenham Gold Cup next March has started to build already; this evening Blue Square bet 9/4 Kauto Star, 5/2 Denman, 8/1 Cooldine, 10/1 Imperial Commander.

Just for a second or so, as Denman and What A Friend raced to the final flight, it looked as though Sam Thomas' mount took the lead judging from the reverse camera angle used by the Channel 4 team in their replay. Thomas' mount seeemd to wander around slightly at the last but Denman powered away on the run-in to take the spoils. Thomas will have had mixed emotions talking on television afterwards, having ridden Denman to victory in the same race two years ago; he spoke eloquently and deserves plenty of credit.

As Alan Lee pointed out in Thursday's Times, Richard Dunwoody hasn't been afraid to put the cat amongst the pigeons in his latest book 'Method In My Madness'. Amongst other things, Mr. Dunwoody has suggested that Richard Johnson might have had a better chance of being champion jockey with a different agent and that jockeys' titles should be settled on prize money rather than winners. Writing in the same paper the next day, Tom Scudamore picked up on the latter point... 'To me, the mark of a champion jockey is consistency throughout a season, not just brilliance on the biggest days.'

A story that ran through the summer months (seems such a long time ago now) was the search to find a buyer for Ayr racecourse. This business snippet was spotted in last week's Sunday Times, suggesting the Reuben brothers, who took over Northern Racing two and a half years ago, are on the verge of doing a deal.

Finally, I was annoyed to have missed the Pantomime Horse Grand National which took place in Birmingham City Centre last Sunday. Spank the Donkey won the fillies event while Hoof Hearted took the colts race. Must make a note of the date for next year...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hennessy Saturday and the Fighting Fifth

During the day two non-runners have been declared for tomorrow's Hennessy - Casey Jones and New Alco - leaving a field of nineteen to face the starter at 2.40. My view is basically unchanged from the opinions epxressed in yesterday's post; of the principals I like The Queen's Barbers Shop. Those looking for something at a bigger price may want to consider Nenuphar Collonges (now as low as 14/1 with several books) while Niche Market strikes me as a value play at 40/1.

Big Buck's will be expected to take the Long Distance Hurdle at 1.35 but he'll be no price and the remainder of the Newbury's card looks decidedly tricky...

Up at Newcastle there are just seven runners in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle which is due off at 1.50. According to the market this is a race between Binocular, third in the Champion Hurdle last March, and Irish raider Solwhit who showed an impressive turn of foot to beat Muirhead and Hurricane Fly at Punchestown thirteen days ago. Charles Byrnes, Solwhit's trainer, doesn't sound particularly confident beforehand. In stark contrast Robbie Hennessy, trainer of another Irish raider Sublimity, was pretty bullish about the chances of his charge when writing on his blog earlier today. The favourite has won eight of the last ten renewals of this race; Binocular has to be the selection.

Sublimity travelled over with stablemate Donegal who goes in the 12.40. This one, an expensive purchase at 200,000 guineas, has been well touted but he steps up in distance to two and three quarter miles here which makes me inclined to oppose. I'll take a chance with Ferdy Murphy's Going Wrong; in a recent article his handler said, 'For me he is one of those horses you get up early on a cold morning for.'

Cheltenham's Albert Bartlett winner Weapon's Amnesty continues his chasing education in the 1.15 - there's plenty of room for improvement. He showed a tendency to jump left the last time and then fell at the eighth. In contrast Abbeybraney's second to Barbers Shop at Sandown last December reads well - Abbeybraney gets the vote with Mumbles Head an interesting contender from west Wales.

The finale, the listed Rehearsal Chase, looks competitive. In the past decade the market has proved a decent enough guide with the winner coming from the first three in the betting on seven occasions. Keith Reveley's Jass is one that I like; he should benefit for his reappearance four weeks ago - I'll consider an each-way interest at 12/1 or bigger.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thursday thoughts on the Hennessy Gold Cup

The Hennessy is one of my favourite races in the calendar and it certainly looks a high class renewal this year with Denman set to carry top weight and any number of talented rivals keen to take him on with what racing folk would describe as a 'racing weight'. Denman's problems last year have been well documented, so his performance in finishing thirteen lengths second to stablemate Kauto Star in the Cheltenham Gold Cup was excellent; three weeks later he fell two out in the Totesport Bowl at Aintree - the suspicion was he would have struggled to contain Madison Du Berlais on that occasion. The question everyone is asking now is 'Has he fully recovered?' Saturday's running should give a good indication. Trainer Paul Nicholls is on record as saying he expects the horse to come in fourth or fifth; at around 7/2 he offers no value from a betting perspective.

Nicholls saddles two others, What A Friend and My Will. The former, part owned by Manchester United manager Sir Alec Ferguson, carries plenty of stable confidence but I'm not convinced. He ran below par in the RSA Chase last March and has tended to do most of his winning in small fields.

Nicky Henderson's operation is in very good form at the moment (two winners today); his entry, Barbers Shop, ran seventh in the Gold Cup last March and should have strengthened up over the summer break. With just ten stones eight to carry, he looks to hold every chance - should he win, the press is likely to have a field day as the horse is owned by Her Majesty The Queen. The trainer feels the horse's best trip is an easy three miles, although he will stay. After discussions with various jockeys, connections have decided to try him in cheekpieces for the first time, just to help the concentration. For me, this is the one that makes most appeal of the market leaders.

Evan Williams runs two, the 2006 winner State Of Play and 2009 Cheltenham Foxhunter winner Cappa Bleu. Stable jockey Paul Moloney rides the former but the long-term aim is the Grand National next April, whereas Cappa Bleu is unexposed and has had this race as his target for some time.

Two that have run respectable trials are Nenuphar Collonges (sixth in the Badger Ales at Wincanton) and Killyglen (seven lengths second conceding sixteen pounds to Knockara Beau over an inadequate two and a half miles at Carlisle).

Mon Mome was 100/1 when he won the National in April, so Ladbrokes current price of 50/1 may not be the best indication of his chance here; on his day he's a jolly good horse who will not be inconvenienced by further rain. Trainer Venetia Williams' charges have started to run into some form over the past week or so.

The 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition gets in here with just ten stone six and is quoted at 33/1 with most books. Having said that, this race often goes to a young, up-and-coming chaser - there's a suspicion that at the age of ten he may be past his prime; another Irish raider Casey Jones makes more appeal.

At the moment, of those at the head of the market, I prefer Barbers Shop. Two that make some appeal at bigger prices are Alan King's Nenuphar Collonges (25/1 Coral) and Bob Buckler's Niche Market (40/1 Bet365) - this one won the Irish National last April and finished eighth in the Badger Ales on his reappearance, six and three quarter lengths behind NC and some twenty seven lengths behind winner Ellerslie George.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The weekend debrief

I've watched the finish to yesterday's Betfair Chase several times - every time I think Imperial Commander wins!

Other notable performances this weekend included Diamond Harry carrying top weight to victory in the three mile one furlong fixed brush hurdle at Haydock and Zaynar displaying a rare turn of foot to take the Coral Ascot Hurdle. Earlier today Vic Venturi was another to carry top weight to victory on soft ground, winning the Becher Handicap Chase despite an alarming drift to 7/1 in the market. Dessie Hughes' charge asserted after the last to win by five lengths and is now a 20/1 chance with Paddy Power for the Grand National next spring.

Franchoek's chasing debut at Huntingdon was far more low key; he found very little at the business end of the race and came home thirteen lengths behind the other 11/10 joint favourite Bergo.

I thought Santa's Son ran a decent enough race behind Fix The Rib in Saturday's Carey Group Handicap Chase at Ascot. Howard Johnson's inmate was prominent for much of the way before fading into sixth, occasionally jumping to his left; that leads me to think he's better going the other way around, and probably with more cut in the ground. He won the Castleford Chase at Wetherby last year, and I wouldn't be surprised to see connections target the same race this Christmas.

What's Peter Scudamore up to these days? Well, he's assistant to Lucinda Russell 'whom he first met three years ago. They became a couple not long afterwards...' reports Martin Hannan of the Scotland On Sunday newspaper. Hannan's interesting profile points out that Russell is currently Scotland's top NH trainer. The article highlights the chances of two horses in particular, Silver By Nature and Etxalar who 'may be good enough for the Cheltenham Festival'.

How are Wrexham playing these days? Well, not particularly well actually, but the club is making headlines as it prepares to share its Racecourse Ground with Newport-based rugby league team Crusaders who are experiencing financial difficulties.

On Saturday viewers of The Morning Line were encouraged to email in names for 'the best jockey never to be champion'. There were plenty of worthy suggestions but not one mention of the first name that came into my mind - Richard Johnson.

Finally, with Christmas just around the corner, I thought I'd nonchalantly ask Mrs Tips what she wanted during one of the many commercial breaks that litter Channel 4's coverage on a Saturday afternoon. Naturally I was expecting a modest request along the lines of chocolates or perfume following an appropriate delay while Mrs T. collected her thoughts, but her reply was out practically before I'd finished speaking. 'Sky TV, please!' Nonplussed, I stuttered something incomprehensible before she added, 'For the tennis!' Sorry I asked - I'm still trying to come to terms with the fact that they're going to switch off analogue Teletext in the near future...

Friday, November 20, 2009

The return of a Star

Reigning Gold Cup champion Kauto Star returns to the track in tomorrow's Betfair Chase at Haydock, provided, of course, the weather relents. There has been plenty of build-up during the week, with several commentators voicing doubts over Kauto's ability to act on the track and the likely heavy going. Underfoot conditions will suit Irish raider Notre Pere who fell before the race had started in earnest in the Champion Chase at Down Royal a fortnight ago; normally he's a safe conveyance. Last year Madison Du Berlais was something of a revelation, taking the Hennessy at Newbury in November, the Levy Board Chase at Kempton in February and the Totesport Bowl at Aintree in the spring; Tom Scudamore prefers to ride here rather than go to Ascot for another of his favourites, Lough Derg. On the subject of the track, I'm sure I read somewhere over the summer that Paul Nicholls had been less than complimentary about certain aspects of its layout; later the champion trainer was said to be pleased with the adjustments made. On official ratings Kauto Star has 19 pounds in hand over Notre Pere and 17 pounds over Madison Du Berlais; the value about Notre Pere went early in the week - at the prices on offer Kauto Star has to be the selection.

Only four go to post in the Tune Into Timeform Radio Hurdle at 1.15; on official ratings Mr Thriller, an easy winner of the Silver Trophy at Chepstow four weeks ago, has the beating of Starluck. He steps back to two miles here and this sharp track will suit Starluck but Mr Thriller gets the vote.

The opener looks between Pepe Simo and Any Given Day. The latter looks 'well in' on official ratings but, although he has won on soft, most of his form is on better ground. He's been kept busy enough over the summer months while there might be more to come from Paul Nicholls' charge. I'll be tempted to take a chance on Pepe Simo provided he's not chalked up favourite.

We have to move down south for better ground where the feature Coral Ascot Hurdle, due off at 2.35, looks trappy enough. On ratings former champion hurdler Katchit would be the one but he was a disappointment last year, failing to win any of his five races. There's a suspicion he may just have become a little lazy - he has never won over the distance and Alan King's string have only recently started to find their form, many needing the first run. From the same stable Karabak will be riden by AP for owner JP - this one could make up into a World Hurdle horse come next spring. Triumph hurdle winner Zaynar puts his unbeaten record on the line here and tries this trip for the first time; he hails from the in-form Nicky Henderson operation and looks the one they all have to beat. The winner has come from the first three in the betting in the last ten renewals, with the favourite obliging on six occasions. Having said all that, I know connections hold Time For Rupert in high regard; he's an unexposed sort who has plenty to find with the principals but if the eight make it to post I'll pass by Zaynar and take a small each-way interest.

In the 3.10 I was considering taking on Voy Por Ustedes with Planet of Sound but Philip Hobbs' yard has been a little hit and miss of late - I'll adopt a watching stance.

Finally in the concluding bumper I'll keep a close eye on the progress of Any The Wiser who won with plenty in hand at Uttoxeter the other day. This is far more competitive, especially with a penalty, but I'd expect a reasonable show on the back of that victory three weeks ago.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sunday best?

There's some interesting Sunday fare on offer tomorrow, something that can't be said all that often...

Master Minded makes his seasonal reappearance in Cheltenham's Connaught Chase at 1.45; the race probably represents Well Chief's best chance of overturning the current two mile champion chaser in receipt of ten pounds. Owner David Johnson issued a bullish statement a couple of weeks back saying he thought his horse might surprise a few observers this year. Tataniano, currently a 10/1 chance with most layers for the Arkle in March, will be a warm order to take the opener while the feature race on the card, the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, looks typically difficult with 19 set to face the starter. If you're brave enough to be considering a wager, it's worth noting that only one four-year-old has won in the last ten years, a big weight isn't necessarily a negative and the market is a reasonable guide more often than not - in the last decade the winner has come from the top two in the betting on seven occasions. As two near the top of the market (James De Vassy and Ronaldo Des Mottes) are both four-year-olds, it follows that Harry Tricker would be worth a look. Nick Williams has his team in fine form and Reve De Sivola brings the best form to the table in the Cleanevent Novices' Hurdle at 3.30. In the last ten years the winner has come from the top four in the market but it's worth noting that favourites have won only three renewals while second favourites have won four. Of Lidar, who runs in the concluding bumper, Alan King said in a recent Racing Post Stable Tour article, 'You could say he's been the apple of my eye ever since the first day he walked into the yard... He's done remarkably well over the summer...and his work has always been of the highest class.'

At Punchestown Sizing Europe (7/1 joint favourite with most firms for the Arkle) goes in the Craddockstown Novice Chase at 1.05 while Hurricane Fly, Solwhit and Muirhead lock horns in the 2.40.

Back this side of the Irish Sea, the going at Fontwell is described as heavy, waterlogged in places. If racing goes ahead the runners in the three and a half mile Southern National Handicap Chase (3.10) will need stamina in abundance. On the same card it's interesting connections have decided to go the novice chase route with Helium (12.50). L'eau Du Nil is unlikely to take his chance in the claimer (1.25) having finished third at Wetherby earlier today while former Philip Hobbs inmate Bureaucrat is well known as a top of the ground performer.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cheltenham Open meeting - Paddy Power Gold Cup

The rains have started and, according to the weather forecasters, they're set to continue through Saturday, accompanied by high winds for good measure. The result is it's all change at the head of the Gold Cup market where the sponsor's offer to refund losing single stakes if a Nicholls-trained horse wins really catches the eye. Over the past couple of days there has been a strong word for Nigel Twiston-Davies' Ballyfitz who heads the market this evening - William Hill offer 13/2 while Ladbrokes go 5/1. This one stays three miles, something of an advantage in the circumstances, but his jumping let him down once or twice last season; he may be best fresh but, on balance, I'm not convinced. Tranquil Sea comes over from Ireland, will handle underfoot conditions and has come in for plenty of support during the week - he attempts to take this prize back over the Irish Sea for the first time in 29 years. Andy Stewart, owner of Tatenen, has said he thinks his horse will be suited by the ground with the result the Nicholls-trained gelding is now as low as 13/2 with some layers. I note that he hasn't raced over this trip previously and that a five-year-old hasn't won this in the last ten years, the latter fact also tempering enthusiasm for Chapoturgeon. Writing in the Weekender Alan King says of Tarotino '... he would prefer decent ground and any rain wouldn't necessarily be to his advantage.' My Petra would have been the selection had it stayed dry but Nicky Henderson's note in a recent Racing Post Stable Tour article marks our card: 'Fast ground is essential for this mare.' Poquelin is another who wants top of the ground so I'm going out on a limb and will have an each-way dabble on Tartak at 18/1. His jumping when returning to action at Aintree three short weeks ago was desperate. His handler says he's schooled well since; on the balance of his form I'm prepared to forgive that effort. If he puts his best foot forward, that price will look big.

Barizan goes in the opener and is one of the best juvenile hurdlers seen out so far this season. In my opinion he was more impressive when winning at Market Rasen on his penultimate start. The last time, when he raced over this course and distance, his hurdling was nowhere near as fluent. Trumpstoo ran a bit green at Wetherby the other day - the tissue prices him at 10/1 which would be worth a second look while Olofi could be anything. I'll probably sit this one out.

Powerstation, third in the World Hurdle last March, has found the fences getting in the way in the interim. He reverts to the smaller obstacles in the 3.10 and may have a fitness edge over a number of his rivals. Philip Hobbs' decent claimer Giles Hawkins takes a valuable seven pounds off; I'll consider an each-way wager.

A disappointing turnout of just three for the novice chase at 1.20 but I wouldn't be for taking a short price about Pettifour on his first try over fences.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cheltenham Open meeting 2009 - Friday

Some of this year's Open meeting looks like taking place on soft, perhaps heavy going, if the predicted rains arrive. That has tempered my enthusiasm a little for the first day - I feel cautious rather than confident.

Some Present, second behind Dunguib in the Festival bumper last March, is the suggestion for the Sharp Novices' Hurdle at 1.50. On his comeback run he was surprisingly beaten by Sweeps Hill at Punchestown but that was a small field and a tactical affair; he'll certainly handle the expected easier going. Paul Nicholls saddles the four-year-old Tito Bustilo who wears a tongue-tie for the first time; I'm always a little wary of horses wearing toungue-ties racing on testing ground. I like Twiston-Davies' Cootehill but the balance of his form appears to be on better ground.

Nicky Henderson is in good form at the moment and his French Opera will have plenty of supporters in the 2.25. Course and distance winner Tramantano beat Beggars Cap the last time at Aintree but we can expect Ferdy Murphy's horse to be a different proposition on this course - at the age of ten have we seen the best of the Twiston-Davies inmate? In an open-looking race I'll consider an each-way wager on the top-weight Song Of Songs. This one doesn't have too many miles on the clock and should be competitive - there may a slight question surrounding his jumping.

I won't get involved in the Cross Country Chase - Garde Champetre has become something of a standing dish and is likely to be priced accordingly. On offical ratings the favourite will have plenty to do giving Silver Birch twelve pounds; having said that, he has had the benefit of a warm-up spin over hurdles three weeks ago.

In the finale I'm going to stick with Knockara Beau despite the top weight. His defeat of the well-regarded Killyglen at Carlisle the last time reads well - I hope this doesn't come too soon. Ashkazar appears to have two ways of running but is very good on his day; he beat nothing on his first try over fences. Aigle D'Or is described by his handler as 'an enigma' and doesn't appeal to me on his chasing debut. Whatever happens, this is an interesting race which should give us some pointers for the future.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Sunday evening drivel...

Following his impressive win in yesterday's Elite Hurdle at Wincanton, this evening Celestial Halo is as low as 6/1 with Betfred for the Champion Hurdle next March - William Hill go 9/1. Earlier today Big Zeb won with any amount in hand at Navan; Totesport now offer a miserly 4/1 about the horse for the Champion Chase, Ladbrokes 8/1.

This time of year I tend to wander into a bookmaker's shop during my lunch hour, not because I think I might be able to back a winner you understand, but because the chances are I can watch the odd jumps race. A couple of things I noticed last week - Ladbrokes are now displaying Timeform ratings in their shops while at William Hill's city centre outlet in Coventry the Press Association's Daily Form Guide was available on touchscreens sited around the office.

The small ads in Private Eye have always been a favourite on mine (those labelled Eye Bet used to be of particular interest). In a previous life I also regularly scoured the Eye Need column in the vain hope that it might provide a small spark of inspiration as to how to make an awful lot of money without expending too much energy... Of course, in those days I happened to be a lot younger. And whatever happened to Major Bonkers?

Finally, I know on occasions the tips may leave something to be desired, so I thought I'd try to do you a favour by pointing out that First Quench Retailing has gone into administration. This company owns the Threshers and Wine Rack off-licences. Quoting from Saturday's Times: 'The fuse was lit last night on the biggest high street firesale since since the collapse of Woolworths...' If you keep your eyes peeled, you may pick up the odd booze bargain with Christmas just around the corner...

Friday, November 06, 2009

Saturday's selections

Short on time today, so I'm going to crack on. The feature race on a decent card at Wincanton is the Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase. Eighteen go to post over a trip just short of three and a quarter miles. Of those at the head of the market, Paul Nicholls' The Tother One is hugely talented but quirky and far from an easy ride. The Package is another with plenty of ability, nicely weighted here but he failed to go through with his effort last time at Ludlow in a race he should have won. Alan King runs two - Nenuphar Collonges and West End Rocker; stable jockey Choc Thornton has chosen to ride the former. In a recent RP article, the handler hinted the Hennessy may be the target for NC while he describes the latter as 'a good, solid fun horse'. The Hennessy is also the target for Exmoor Ranger but he lost his confidence after a fall in the Jewson at Cheltenham last March - trainer Victor Dartnall, writing in this week's Weekender, says the Hennessy entry will depend on how he races beforehand (i.e. tomorrow!) Beat The Boys comes here after making all at Chepstow which is well known for being a front-runners' track. Two horses I like are Carruthers and Niche Market; Carruthers is likely to struggle racing from the front with top weight while I'm not convinced Niche Market will be ready on his seasonal debut. In a difficult race, I'll have a small each-way interest in Nenuphar Collonges who jumped better as last season progressed.

The Elite Hurdle at 2.15 is interesting. Champion Hurdle second Celestial Halo is the likely favourite but has to give weight to some classy rivals including Blue Bajan who is fit from the Flat and the mare Whiteoak. Katies Tuitor isn't always easy to catch right but bounced back to form at Kempton last time; the claimer takes off five pounds here. If I have a wager in this, I'll look to oppose Celestial Halo with Katies Tuitor.

No bet for me in the novice chase which is no foregone conclusion even though there are only four runners. On balance I prefer Emma Lavelle's Kangaroo Court as Paul Nicholls tempered press enthusiasm for Gullible Gordon after his Chepstow victory, saying the horse needed plenty of time between races.

Alan King saddles Over Sixty in the mares' handicap hurdle at 1.45. The intention is to send her to the paddocks in the new year, with connections hoping to pick up a decent prize before then. In this evening's tissue she's priced up at 8/1 - if those odds are available tomorrow I'll take an each-way interest.

The Nicholls runner Valentine Vic looks the one in the bumper but he'll be priced accordingly.

Over at Sandown only three runners in the novice chase at 1.05 but one of them is Emma Lavelle's Crack Away Jack. He'll be no betting proposition but many will be watching how he fares jumping fences for the first time; Sandown is a tricky track for novices. His trainer has recently been quoted as saying he has always jumped fences well when schooled at home.

At Kelso it will be interesting to see if Santa's Son can give weight to all in the Mayfield Restaurant Limited Handicap Chase at 2.25 while over at Down Royal the Champion Chase and the Chase catch the eye. Notre Pere is likely to start a short-priced favourite in the former but his trainer Jim Dreaper has been upfront in letting punters know the horse will come on for the run. Two to consider if you want to oppose are The Listener and Joe Lively. Arkle winner Forpadydeplasterer returns in the three o'clock; I won't get involved but I wouldn't be inclined to oppose the favourite.

Finally, for those thinking about the Breeders' Cup I suggest purchasing a copy of the Weekender for Nick Mordin's guide - runners and riders can be found on the Sporting Life website.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Racing snippets

Plenty of drama at Wetherby yesterday - a thrilling finish in the Charlie Hall while Barry Geraghty would be the first to concede it was not his finest hour when taking the wrong course in the mares' listed hurdle. He received plenty of cat calls from disgruntled punters for that blunder but, fair play to the man, he was on national television a few minutes later holding up his hands and accepting responsibility. The stewards hit him with a twelve day ban which starts on November 14th, Paddy Power Gold Cup day.

As if all that wasn't bad enough for Geraghty, over at Ascot the Henderson stable bagged a couple of winners with French Opera and You're The Top - both ridden by one AP McCoy.

I always associate the specialist miler Cesare with Ascot. Connections have decided that the eight-year-old has been a little disappointing this season so James Fanshawe has indicated he intends to send his charge hurdling - I'll watch with interest.

Racing folk will always tell you there's more money in the Flat game; a couple of notes, just to prove the point... Teletext report Eddie Stobart CEO Andrew Tinkler has recently spent over £400,000 guineas on a gelding named Royal Diamond while the stud fees for Sea The Stars make interesting reading. In his debut season he will cover in the region of 120 mares at a cost of 85,000 euros (£77,000) a go. Over three years the horse, set to stand at the Aga Khan's Gilltown Stud in Ireland, will generate income in excess of £50 million.

Having said that, at the other end of the scale, all weather racing celebrated a signifcant milestone at Lingfield on Thursday - its twentieth anniversary.

Finally, a pointer from today's NH card at Carlisle... Knockara Beau (a horse about whom I missed some fancy prices for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle last March) took the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase, beating the well-touted Killyglen and landing a couple of lumpy wagers in the process. He looks worth keeping an eye on this winter.