Take a chance on So Young to make most of heavy going
YOU rarely hear much about him these days, but back in the 1920s and 30s, Will Rogers was one of the most famous people in the world – along with acting, he presented a radio show, wrote about travel, penned a newspaper column and even spent time as a circus performer.
Well known for his one-liners, the Oklahoma native once said that money, horseracing and women were the "three things the boys just couldn't figure out."
Some things never change, it seems, and when it comes to figuring out the sport of kings, the job of the sportswriter is made twice as difficult in the winter months as we first have to predict which meetings are likely to go ahead before we even attempt to find a winner.
You can spend half your day studying the form and checking your facts only to find out late in the day that a meeting has been cancelled.
That can prove quite stressful, but at least Haydock and Ascot made the calls to abandon today's cards quite early, which gave punters and racegoers a chance to make alternative plans.
In Britain, only the all-weather meetings have survived (at the time of writing!) and it's a real shame to see the Peter Marsh Chase, the Champion Hurdle Trial and the Victor Chandler Chase all cancelled.
But half a loaf is better than no bread at all and, all going well, we'll still have some decent domestic action at Naas, including the Grade 2 Woodlands Park 100 Club Novice Steeplechase.
Aupcharlie should take all the beating in that one, but at 1/3, his price is too restrictive, so it's a race best watched with your money in your wallet.
Earlier, another odds-on shot will go to post in the Grade 3 Limestone Lad Hurdle (1.35) but Solwhit looks far too short at 4/7, considering he hasn't won a race since taking the Dobbins & Madigans at Punchestown Hurdle in November 2010.
I suppose there was no shame in coming second to Hurricane Fly in all three subsequent starts that season, but it's a major concern that he was later sidelined due to injury for almost two years, and there's no guarantee that he retains all his old ability.
To give him some credit, he ran reasonably well on his comeback run in a minor event when second to Bog Warrior at Punchestown on New Year's Eve, but whether the now nine-year-old still has what it takes to make an impression in the top races remains to be seen and I don't fancy taking 4/7 to find out.
Instead, a chance is taken on Willie Mullins' So Young, a proven performer in heavy ground.
He came up short in all four races at Grade One level, but gave a good account of himself in the Grade Two Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown when finishing third behind Monksland and Zaidpour, where it could be argued that the three-mile trip stretched him a little.
He's down in class, he's down in distance and with Ruby Walsh on board, he makes plenty of appeal as an alternative to Solwhit, priced around 9/4.
FAST FINIAN has three little ducks next to his name, but he's a consistent enough sort and will give you a run for your money at 10/1 each-way in the lingfieldpark.co.uk Handicap (3.10). At four years of age he's one of the younger horses in the field and the all-weather specialist is still improving with every race, notching up three wins in 2012. The handicapper has left him in with a chance and he can make his presence felt once again this afternoon.
12.50 Lingfield: La Sylphe
1.35 Naas: So Young
3.10 Lingfield: Fast Finian (e/w)