For non stop to stay on rise
SO then, 2011 is almost done and dusted and there's only a few hours to go before we reach 2012. The year just past has been a tricky one for the country as a whole and we'd all like to believe the words of the 1990s pop band D:Ream, who sang that "things can only get better".
What lies in store for Ireland in the next 12 months is anyone's guess, but I do think we are a resilient bunch of people and we will come out of this mess eventually.
I'm not really one for making resolutions, but if I can pass my driving test I'll be a very happy man indeed.
I wish I'd learned to drive years ago when my parents gave me a few bob for lessons on my 18th birthday, but instead the money went straight into the till behind the bar at the local and it took me more than a decade to eventually get behind the wheel.
Getting my full licence is a good enough goal but, as always, I'd also like to improve my betting in the coming year and horse racing is a sport in which one is never done learning.
But we've one more day of racing left in 2011 so it would be nice to go out with a bang.
For Non Stop might be the one to help me out on that front in a cracking Novice Chase at Newbury (2.05).
Readers may remember the gelding performing well in the past over timber and although he fell on his chase debut at Cheltenham, he's since redeemed himself by making Al Ferof work hard for his prize money at Sandown last time.
While For Non Stop didn't win that time, it was a top-drawer performance and connections will be mulling over their choices for Cheltenham in March.
Alan King's Walkon might be the one to chase the selection home. He never came off the bridle when seeing off Zaynar and Notus De La Tour on his chase debut at Exeter earlier this month. Zaynar has since gone on to win a Grade Two race and Walkon should have a bright future ahead.
That said, he's quite injury prone and he missed a lot of races as a hurdler due to niggling fitness issues. He seems a little delicate so you'd have to factor that in if having a bet.
Cue Card was another top hurdler in his day and also won his chase debut at Chepstow back in October. He can't be ruled out with ease, but the 5/2 about the selection looks a good price.
Earlier on at Warwick, Terra Bleu looks a solid option in the William Hill Home Of Betting Novices' Handicap Hurdle (12.35), priced around 11/8.
He won his first race for Brendan Powell last time when taking a conditionals handicap by an impressive 13 lengths, but he's escaped a penalty for that victory and is therefore well treated at these weights.
Vendor is an interesting entry for Alan King's yard in the Betfred The Bonus King Juvenile Hurdle (12.55 Newbury). He's a French import and is yet to race in Britain, but he's regularly made the frame across the Channel and a couple of his half-brothers have already won races.
THE Tom George-trained Olofi is one of those reliable animals that can always be trusted to give you a run for your money.
It's a couple of years since he actually won a race but he's a consistent handicapper and impressed when finishing strongly in second to Brampour in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham last time.
Based on his recent form, the totescoop6 Levy Board Handicap Hurdle looks winnable and early odds of 6/1 seem a shade too high.
12.35 Warwick: Terra Bleu
12.55 Newbury: Vendor
2.05 Newbury: For Non Stop
3.05 Newbury: Fingal Bay
3.40 Newbury: Olofi (e/w)