Bobs Worth can put best foot forward to start season in style
I WAS flicking through some science magazines in the local library last week when I came across an interesting article about handedness.
Apparently, around 92pc of men and 90pc of women are right-handed, but scientists are still unsure as to the exact reasons why.
Most agree that genetics play a part but it's also believed that the left and right sides of the brain divide up the body's tasks in different ways – with most brains preferring to delegate manual work to the right side of the body.
There's nothing too startling about that but I did find it fascinating to learn that animals are also not immune to handedness. A preference for one side of the body over the other is called 'laterality' and it can be seen in lots of types of creatures, including horses.
In the betting world, people often argue whether or not it's possible for a horse to have a preference for running at a left or right-handed racecourse.
I used to be sceptical about this, but scientists have shown that if a horse's laterality is on the right-hand side, he will take bigger strides with his right foreleg. And if he takes bigger strides with his right foreleg, this pushes him in a slightly left direction when running.
If this happens to be true, then today's Betfair Chase at Haydock (3.0) favourite, Bobs Worth, may well have a dominant right side, as his record around left-handed courses is seven wins from seven races.
Right-handed, he's raced five times, winning two. Coincidence? Maybe so but it does give me that bit of extra confidence as I back him today at 9/4 around left-handed Haydock.
This year's renewal is arguably the best we've seen since the race was established in 2005 so it will take a lot more than the correct laterality for Nicky Henderson's charge to cross the line ahead of his seven rivals.
But, in my book, he's the best staying chaser in training and the eight-year-old showed true character and grit to win the Gold Cup, having looked well beaten three out. He also goes well fresh, so there's no concerns over the fact that he hasn't been seen since Cheltenham.
Paul Nicholls' Silviniaco Conti was in contention when falling in the Gold Cup but whether or not he would have had the stamina to see off Bobs Worth is something we'll never know. He has a chance to prove himself again today but, with the pace likely to be strong, I have my concerns.
The seven-year-old's jumping was a bit sloppy in the Betfred Bowl at Aintree last time, which is a slight worry – although he did win this race last year and if he gets around unscathed, it will make for one hell of a contest.
For those looking for an each-way bet, I wouldn't put you off Cue Card around 7/1. He was disappointing in the Haldon Gold Cup Chase at Exeter last time but he was giving weight all-round and an early mistake scuppered any real chance of victory.
Dynaste and Tidal Bay also have claims but Bobs Worth's consistency makes him something special and I'm confident he'll kick off this season's campaign with the best possible start.
AT 33/1 and higher, bookmakers give Monetary Fund very little hope of winning the Betfair Cash Out 'Fixed Brush' Handicap Hurdle at Haydock (2.25).
With Grands Crus, Dynaste and Diamond Harry among the recent winners of this race, Monetary Fund does look a little out of his depth; yet he's consistent enough and rarely makes mistakes. A win looks unlikely but I'd be surprised if he runs as badly as those odds suggest.
12.20 Lingfield: Flashy Queen
2.05 Ascot: Al Ferof
2.40 Ascot: Zarkandar
2.25 Haydock: Monetary Fund (e/w)
3.0 Haydock: Bobs Worth