Guava to bring festive cheer
GROWING up in the 80s, it was rare to see Christmas lights up before December 8 and, now that we've passed that date, I'm finally starting to get in the festive mood.
We used to get off school for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and my mother would put up the tree on that day, while it was also the date when families from the country would come up to Dublin to shop.
As I took down the Christmas decorations from the attic of the family home on Thursday, I came across the remains of some old Christmas wreaths which myself and a few mates used to make as kids to sell door-to-door around the Dublin housing estates.
Times were tough back then, so we came up with a novel scheme to maximise profit and get a great return on investment. After we had done our rounds, one of the lads would go out in the evening and revisit the doors of the houses where we had sold wreaths and 'borrow' them back for resale in another estate the following day.
Some would call it unscrupulous, but I like to think we were pioneers in the 'reduce, reuse, recycle' business!
Our enterprise came to an abrupt end when one of the lads let the cat out of the bag following a grilling from his parents who were wondering how a 10-year-old managed to have a couple notes with Jonathan Swift on them in his back pocket.
There was absolute murder, and our parents made us spend hours making new wreaths to appease our now highly disgruntled customers.
It was a more innocent decade and times have changed, although one thing that remains constant is the need to accumulate cash before December 25.
So, with that in mind, we go back to battle with the bookmakers today in the hope of continuing the good streak of form this column has enjoyed over the past couple of weeks.
It's not the most exciting race of the day, but a good opportunity exists to make a few Christmas euro by backing the Richard Hannon-trained Guava at Wolverhampton (7.50).
She gets some allowances here, including a few pounds off for being a filly, and should be hard to beat at the weights.
That said, she's never raced beyond seven furlongs, so the step up to just over nine furlongs is a bit of an experiment -- although I reckon that risk is reflected in her price of 5/2 which seems about right. She ran to form when fourth at Lingfield last time and has been holding her own in handicap company of late, most notably when winning at 10/1 at Nottingham in October.
A potential spanner in the works comes in the guise of Let Your Love Flow, the only other filly in the field of 10. She registered her first win over a mile at Wolverhampton last time out a month ago and the word from Lambourn is that she's making a big impression with her work at home.
At 20/1, Woolcombe Folly has been overlooked by punters in today's Spinal Research The Atlantic 4 Gold Cup Chase at Cheltenham (2.30). He's not Paul Nicholls' first string and he didn't manage to get the better of Gauvain here last month, which was disappointing. But he's a genuine sort that jumps well and has plenty of ability. If having a good day, the gelding is well capable of springing a surprise.
1.05 Doncaster: Saint Are
2.25 South: Shieldmaiden
2.30 Cheltenham: Woolcombe Folly (e/w)
3.05 Cheltenham: Overturn
3.35 Cheltenham: Oscar Whisky
7.50 Wolverhampton: Guava