A couple of months back I managed to bag myself a couple of free tickets to Warwick races; I asked my youngest offspring if she cared to accompany me to their final jumps meeting of the season on Wednesday and she answered in the affirmative.
A spot of lunch in the Zetland Arms, washed down with a selection of our favourite beverages, was followed by a short stroll to the course just in time for the opener.
Warwick (something of a favourites' course? Five out of seven obliged on this card...) hasn't been particularly kind over the years but the night before I thought I'd winkled out something to have a bet on in the shape of Polly Peachum in the mares' handicap hurdle. The Racing Post tissue said 7/1 but unfortunately Kevin Morley ran a piece in sister publication RP Weekender on the Wednesday morning which highlighted her chance.
In the paddock beforehand Polly took a particularly keen interest in the spectators who reciprocated that interest by backing her in to 3/1 favourite.
Out on the track she appreciated the better ground (good to firm in places) and scooted up the home straight to win unchallenged by some 14 lengths. With a mares' listed handicap already to her name, she was entitled to win this Class 4 event as she did; the time however was slower than the opening maiden hurdle.
All of which led me to take a closer look at the mares' listed race at Newbury tomorrow (2.55).
Top weight Toubeera stands her ground but has to give at least 13 pounds to her field; the bottom six race off a mark higher than their long handicap rating (although in some instances this is negated by a conditional jockey's claim).
In the past decade a five or six year old has taken the spoils on nine occasions while three trainers boast a decent recent record (or perhaps I should say a recent decent record) - Nicky Henderson, Oliver Sherwood and Alan King.
Henderson saddles Polly Peachum's stablemate Free Thinking. This one was beaten by Molly's A Diva in a Sandown bumper on heavy ground last year but Molly finished well behind Alan King's Midnight Cataria over three miles at Ludlow the last day.
King's other runner The Pirate Queen held Oliver Sherwood's Luci Di Mezzanotte (pig Latin / Italian translation: Midnight Lights) a head in a Taunton bumper last year; the last day Luci finished fourth, seven lengths adrift of Toubeera in third, over three miles at Doncaster and is weighted to turn that form around. Previously she was beaten 19 lengths by Woodland Walk, second to Polly Peachum in Wednesday's race.
Polly, Molly and the Midnight Lights, and I haven't even managed to mention Lily, Joanne or Mrs Peachey yet - it's all a trifle confusing...
The Sporting Life tips up Luci Di Mezzanotte and that tip reminded me the mare was on my radar last year.
At 20/1 Luci Di Mezzanotte is the each-way selection in Newbury's 2.55.