Much as I love the National Hunt season and the chance to greet old friends as they continue their careers be that over hurdles or fences, I am not one for the cold weather and standing around watching horses schooling is fun – now and again – but generally reminds me why I love the summer so much.
I mention this because it is my time to decide whether or not to apply for accreditation for the Dubai World Cup at the end of March. I cannot say I do not love the place because I do, but I am usually drawn by the warmer weather as much as anything else and I am trying desperately to hold firm in the face of adversity this year!
What that does mean is I am keeping a beady eye on the racing from the Carnival for my benefit and others, though at his early stage I expect surprises.
Although I am sure the racing rules are similar to the UK, I did have a look but I would need a spare lifetime to read them all let alone take them in, it does seem that those with targets later in the season may not be quite as fit as I would expect them to be to turn out in the UK on a racecourse.
Form books no longer seem obligatory, and in a gambling free country even the odds are not as much of a guide as I would hope leaving us all clutching at straws. Luckily (every cloud etc), the lack of betting also means some trainers will happily show their hands bright and early and we can at least make a shortlist of impressive winners.
Meydan has been the centre of attention and rightly so but I was very much taken by the performance of Golden Jaguar at Jebel Ali on Friday morning UK time. Falling out of the stalls before being given a supremely confident ride by Connor Beasley the son of Animal Kingdom cut through them like a knife through butter when asked to win his race before coming home a three and a quarter length winner. It was only a maiden and I must temper my enthusiasm I suppose but on breeding he ought to be far better over further than the five furlongs he faced here, and I will be backing him regardless until beaten at the very least.
Meanwhile, back in the cold this weekend we have racing from Kempton on Saturday afternoon weather permitting of course, and who do we put our money on I wonder?
Nicky Henderson could be in for a very good afternoon if the early prices are remotely accurate, but I will only be backing Top Notch in the 2.05pm who is at least odds against at present. He is class at his best and tough as teak as well and with a blow out over hurdles when third at Ascot in a decent race and less than six lengths off the winner, and if he strips fitter now he will take all the beating.
Meanwhile, anyone who reads my work both here and elsewhere will know I am friends with Nigel Twiston-Davies and a big fan as well. He has more detractors than he deserves and although his horses can run above or below expectations sometimes, he has plenty of winners and is no slouch – just ask his many owners.
Blaklion intrigues at Warwick this weekend as the one-time Grand National favourite returns to hurdles for the first time since finishing a good fourth to Thistlecrack at Aintree in April 2015. His handicap mark today is five ponds lower than his chasing mark which encourages me if no-one else, and as Nigel is always on the hunt for a pot he can win, this is no confidence booster and I feel he can go close this afternoon at an each-way price.
Top Notch 2.05pm Kempton Saturday
Blaklion Each Way 3.35pm Warwick Saturday
Have a good week and fingers crossed as always.