ALAS, the world has not ended and here you are reading today's newspaper. Some people took this Mayan prophecy business quite seriously and I'm told hundreds assembled on Mount Rtanj in Serbia yesterday to watch the world crash around them.
Here, one bookmaker was offering 5,000/1 that the end was nigh and while I'm sure it was a joke, a friend in the risk management department told me they'd taken more than one bet.
The mind boggles. As Einstein once said, only two things are infinite – the universe and human stupidity. While they didn't take a hit on the end of the world, here's hoping some damage is inflicted on the bookies this afternoon by Smad Place, which is the general 11/4 favourite for the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot (2.0).
Unfortunately, we won't see last year's winner Big Buck's as he's out for the season with a tendon injury but his absence does at least make for a competitive betting market.
Alan King's five-year-old looks the one to beat, provided he's back to his old self following a disappointing run at Wetherby on his reappearance last month.
He didn't seem right and King wasn't too happy with him when he returned to the yard, so they subsequently missed the Hennessy meeting at Newbury to give him a rest. They gave him a good gallop at home last Saturday and the word from the yard is the sparkle is back.
He unseated Robert Thornton previously in the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree in April but that came on the back of Cheltenham, where he gave a fairly good account of himself when finishing behind Big Buck's and Voler La Vedette in the World Hurdle. He'll surely come on for his Wetherby run and deserves his place at the top of the market.
Another one with claims is Trustan Times, trained by Tim Easterby. His jumping is a bit suspect but he's come back to life recently over timber and showed smart form when winning the Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle at Haydock last time under a heavy burden.
Earlier on Lingfield's polytrack, the Alan Bailey-trained Strictly Silver looks overpriced at 10/1 for the six-runner Happy Christmas From All At Lingfield Park Conditions Stakes (1.55).
His sixth place of 14 runners in a class two handicap at Doncaster in September doesn't look inspiring but a line can be drawn through that as he almost unseated his rider early on, and he later got hampered by a number of horses. Otherwise, he's been improving all the time.
THE Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Double Ross looked certain to win a class two handicap at Haydock recently and traded as low as 1/6 in-running – but a bad mistake at the last meant he finished fourth.
At 16/1, the market doesn't give him much chance in the Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle at Ascot (3.10) but he loves the heavy ground and may have a bit more to come before the handicapper has his measure.
12.0 Newcastle: Fourjacks
1.55 Lingfield: Strictly Silver
2.0 Ascot: Smad Place
2.25 Lingfield: Shadow Gate
3.10 Ascot: Double Ross (e/w)