It's that time of year. I'm distracted.
Earlier today I purchased my copy of RP Weekender's Cheltenham The Ultimate Guide (just £2.99 at most good newsagents, as they used to say); I've been reading that rather than looking closely at tomorrow's form.
In addition, around this time of year you tend to come across previous losing selections that are trying their luck once again and you're faced with something of a dilemma - should I stick or should I twist?
Two such selections from tomorrow's entries are Godsmejudge (3.30 Doncaster, previously pulled up in Sandown's London National) and Jumps Road (3.15 Newbury, previously recorded as 'never better than mid division' in the Betfair Hurdle at the same track).
Godsmejudge is one of twelve declared for the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster. The official ground is good which makes me wary of treating recent form too literally.
At the time of writing Monbeg Dude and Court By Surprise are vying for favouritism. The former is trained by Michael Scudamore, Tom's brother and son of Peter. I mention this casually in passing only because every time I see a comment from a Scudamore in the press, the subject of family seems to come up. Michael cunningly works in a mention in today's Times while Tom regularly repeated the trick when he wrote a column for the same paper a couple of years back.
I had begun to wonder whether family members had on-going wagers with each other on the matter... Enough. Monbeg Dude, like Godsmejudge, is looking to this as a warm-up for the Grand National in April.
Since 2004 there has only been one winner younger than nine years old (Cloudy Lane 2008) and only two with an official rating higher than 131 - Grey Abbey in 2004 together with the aforementioned Cloudy Lane. In the same timeframe just one favourite has obliged - Always Right in 2011.
This evening layers don't appear to agree about Donald McCain's Real Milan; bet365 offer 13/2 while William Hill go 10/1. This one looks less exposed than some in the field while the yard has been in decent form of late; the trainer expects his charge to improve for the better ground.
The doubt in my mind is I'm not certain the gelding really stays this extended three and a quarter miles. At 10/1 Real Milan is the each-way suggestion.
I haven't totally given up on Jumps Road (Newbury) but for a horse that started 33/1, 28/1 and 100/1 on his last three runs, the 6/1 on offer with Ladbrokes and Stan James this evening just doesn't look quite big enough...