Spurs equipped to go fourth and conquer
I WON'T pretend to be an expert on the subject, but apparently the ancient Romans believed that the goddess of luck, Fortuna, looked favourably upon those that took risks in life. 'Fortes fortuna adiuvat' was a popular phrase back then -- fortune favours the brave.
But like many members of the fairer sex, Fortuna could be a contrary oul' sort at times and dished out her fair share of bad luck too whenever she felt like it.
I'm pretty sure she was having an off-day last week because my reward for bravery left my betting balance looking a hell of a lot smaller following Sunday's Community Shield involving Chelsea and Manchester United.
As mentioned on these pages, I backed the draw as part of a double and while the horse let me down, I was confident enough about the match ending in a stalemate, so went back to the well for plenty more just before kick-off.
Fortuna must have fancied the Man United players Antonio Valencia, Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov a lot more than she did me; they all fired home to give United a decisive
It was pure greed that got to me in the end and I reckon Horace was about right when he said that the "covetous man is ever in want."
Still, Horace won't stop me having a bet on the 2010-2011 Premier League, where Chelsea and Man United look decidedly short at the top of the outright market, priced 7/4 and 9/4 respectively. An upset with that pair is quite unlikely, but a bet on Spurs to finish in the top four fits the bill for me.
A decent set of young Tottenham players are starting to click -- plus they have the likes of Michael Dawson and Ledley King, who are among the best central defenders in the league. All considered, the 3/1 about Spurs is a pretty good deal.
On the racing front, it's a fairly quiet weekend as punters keep their powder dry ahead of the Ebor Festival, which kicks off at York on Tuesday.
However, I'm going to borrow a couple of quid from my Ebor bank today to back Ouqba, which is generally available at 3/1 in the Group Two CGA Hungerford Stakes at Newbury (3.05).
He put in a career-best performance when second to Paco Boy in the Lockinge Stakes, although it's fair to say that he flopped in the Queen Anne at Ascot one month later. He was racing a good deal better last time out in the Summer Mile Stakes, but he got hampered in the last couple of furlongs and was pushed back to fourth.
First-time blinkers are often a sign that all is not well, but in this case they may just help him concentrate and get back on track today.
The four fat zeros beside Axiom's name hardly inspire confidence, and on paper, he's got plenty of improving to do if he's to make the frame in the Class Two Doncaster Close Building Services Handicap (4.0).
But there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Firstly, he's been gelded since his last race and the word from the yard is that it's helped settle him down considerably.
Secondly, he's received poor draws in his most recent starts and wasn't given much of a chance to make an impression.
Although he'll carry joint top weight this afternoon, his mark has dropped a fair bit lately and at 20/1, I'm happy to take a chance that he'll improve enough to make the placings.
Newbury (2.0) -- Zaidan
Doncaster (2.20) -- Al Muthanaa
Newbury (3.05) -- Ouqba
Doncaster (4.0) -- Axiom
Premier League -- Back Spurs to finish in the top four