Dancer looks ace in the pack
AFTER I lost the shirt on my back at Cheltenham, the missus was none too pleased the other night to find myself and the lads sitting around the kitchen table with a 10-year-old bottle of whiskey, playing cards.
I've always told her that I wouldn't learn how to play poker as I do more than enough betting as it is. So when she asked what I was doing, I told her we were playing an old German game called Pochspiel and she seemed happy enough with that explanation.
Technically, I wasn't really lying as Pochspiel is actually the 15th century game from which poker originates.
OK, we were playing Texas Hold 'Em, but so long as the bills are paid and the dinner is on the table she doesn't really mind and, I must admit, I'm really enjoying the learning curve.
I'm slowly realising that like horseracing, poker is simply a mixture of luck, strategy and odds -- and if you can learn to count well and play your hands when the odds are in your favour, you should be able to give yourself an edge over time.
Speaking of odds, I reckon that the 11/2 about Dansili Dancer is definitely in the punters' favour for the Sportingbet Supports Heros Winter Derby, and this Clive Cox-trained gelding may be the ace of the day (sorry).
He's the OAP of the bunch, aged nine, but he showed plenty of zest last time when dead-heating with Mastery in a Listed race at Kempton. Mastery has since gone on to frank the form by winning the Group One Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin and I reckon the selection will run a couple of pounds better than his rating of 110.
The fact that he likes the Polytrack ticks another box and I'm quite surprised that he's not vying for favouritism in the early markets.
Nideeb will probably go off as the jolly and he's definitely a big danger. He also likes the Polytrack, but we've a pretty competitive field today and odds of 2/1 are a little on the short side.
The Jeremy Gask-trained Nice Style is another one to watch. Readers may remember this gelding winning four races in a row for Ger Lyons a couple of years back and he was runner-up in this contest last year, priced 9/1. He's performing well for the new yard and should manage the placings at the least.
Up at Bangor-on-Dee, Seeyaaj is overpriced in the puredarts.co.uk Handicap Chase (4.55). It's disappointing to see just three horses go to post, but it saves us time studying the form and 6/4 is well worth taking. He's won off a higher rating in the past and is a lot tougher than he looks.
The Ferdy Murphy-trained Seigneur Des Bois is the outsider of the trio at 7/2 and he deserves to be that price as he hasn't shown much since he arrived in Britain back in October.
Robertewenutter will probably go off as favourite and despite the fact that he won last time at Catterick, he's not well handicapped here off bottom weight and will need to improve a bit to be in contention.
Nicky Henderson has a number of horses entered in the European Breeders' Fund Mares' National Hunt Novices' Hurdle Finale (2.50 Newbury) and I reckon his best chance could be with Whoops A Daisy, despite the fact that Barry Geraghty has opted for Line Freedom instead.
Carrying top weight of 11st 10lbs won't be easy, but she's a reliable sort that has plenty of scope for improvement and is worth taking each-way at 12/1.
2.05 Bangor-on-Dee: Chrysander
2.50 Newbury: Whoops A Daisy (e/w)
3.10 Lingfield: Dansili Dancer
3.40 Lingfield: Musawama
4.55 Bangor-on-Dee: Seeyaaj