Diala's odds a real treat
DESPITE the fact that Halloween is originally a Celtic festival, it's getting more Americanised every year. Growing up in the early '80s, we used to knock on the doors and say "any apples or nuts?" but I'll give you 1/100 that all you'll hear is "trick or treat" when kids come calling on Monday.
Just like on the US TV shows.
Still though, it's a nice time of the year and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into a big plate of colcannon.
My mother used to put money in our dinner and we've kept that tradition alive in our own family, although the missus was less than impressed last year when I came home after a few jars and blew up the microwave heating my grub, having forgotten about the €2 coin stuck deep in my cabbage.
In medieval times, Samhain marked the end of the harvest as summer came to a close, but for me, the arrival of November is a signal for the National Hunt season proper to kick off with races like the Paddy Power Gold Cup, the Betfair Chase and the Hennessy at Newbury.
We still have Doncaster on the Flat, but, for the most part, that code will wind down over the next couple of weeks.
Before attention turns to the new jumps season, where the form is sketchy to say the least, I'd like to find the last of the betting opportunities on the level.
It could be worth taking a chance today on Diala at around 7/2 at Newmarket (3.55).
In her debut race, she was beaten by less than one length by Lyric Of Light, a Street Cry filly which has since gone on to Group One success, so it's clear she has potential.
She was arguably more impressive last time out here when taking a maiden fillies' race, barely coming off the bridle and easily sprinting clear in the final stages. Judging by that performance, the step up to a mile won't cause any bother and I must admit that I'm surprised to see that she's not down as the jolly in the early markets.
Trading around carpet (3/1), Oojooba will probably go off as favourite and she's a promising filly based on her exciting debut victory last time at Haydock.
Readers may remember her dam, Ameerat, winning the 1,000 Guineas back in 2001 and I know she's held in very high regard by the yard.
She'll definitely pose a big threat, but the selection is slightly better value and can take it by a small margin.
Over fences, Micheal Flips is the one to side with in the Ascot Beginners' Chase (4.50).
For a novice, one couldn't help being impressed by his second place to Cue Card at Chepstow three weeks ago. Andy Turnell's charge had gone back to hurdles following a mediocre chasing debut last year, but in his latest race, he jumped well and looked mature enough to make his mark over fences.
Races don't come much trickier than the Newmarket Home Of Racing Handicap (3.15), but save a few each-way shillings for the Mahmood Al Zarooni-trained Double Dealer, which is generally available at 12/1.
Frankie Dettori has abandoned the three-year-old in favour of Roayh and Ahmed Ajtebi takes over -- but I'm not letting that put me off.
He was staying on well when beaten by a neck last time at Sandown and a rise of 6lbs is not particularly harsh.
2.15 Wetherby: Alasi
2.40 Newmarket: Hazaz
3.15 Newmarket: Double Dealer (e/w)
3.55 Newmarket: Diala
4.50 Ascot: Micheal Flips
6.50 Wolverhampton: Desert Philosopher