Fry's Harry has what it takes to do a double
While I was obviously happy to collect a decent few bob at 9/1 on last week's main selection Guitar Pete, (won the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap at Cheltenham), the success felt a bit hollow as he won only because Starchitect sadly broke down, sustaining a fatal injury.
A mate of mine, who also backed the winner, sipped his pint and nonchalantly declared "a win is a win". But, having owned a share in a horse that died in action a number of years ago, I found it hard to enjoy the success and almost felt guilty making a profit on that particular event.
That said, the battle with the bookmakers can dish out its fair share of bad luck stories for punters too, and sometimes the cookie crumbles in your favour, even though circumstances were less than ideal.
It's all part and parcel of the sport we love, and it was simply a freak accident which could have happened just as easy away from the racecourse.
Anyway, the money gets banked regardless, and we move on today to other opportunities to make a bit of cash, which is always welcome this side of Christmas. Priced around 7/4, he's a lot shorter than Guitar Pete was, but, in my view, that's still great value for the Harry Fry-trained Unowhatimeanharry in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot (2.25), which has attracted nine entries.
A winner in this last year, a 6lb penalty was enough to hold him back in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury three weeks ago, allowing Beer Goggles to claim a surprise victory at 40/1 - but he lost nothing in defeat and looked as good as ever.
One of the best staying hurdlers in the business, his only defeat at Grade One level came at Cheltenham in the Stayers' Hurdle, but he bounced back with a win at Punchestown in the equivalent race and should prove hard to beat here off level weights.
If the official ratings are accurate, he's got 6lb in hand over nearest rival Lil Rockerfeller - last year's runner-up - and I reckon that's how the placings will finish again in this year's renewal.
Neil King's charge finished ahead of the selection at Cheltenham so remains a serious threat, but he's less consistent than Unowhatimeanharry and I wouldn't feel too confident backing him around 9/2.
Lil Rockerfeller beat another of today's rivals L'Ami Serge in the Coral Hurdle here in November, but he was receiving 6lb so this will prove at lot more difficult.
The other Nicky Henderson runner, Thomas Campbell, is also worth a mention. He's got youth on his side aged five and looks like an improver, although he's still got a huge amount to make up with the market leaders and it may take another few runs before we see the best of him.
For something at a bigger price, consider backing On Tour around 8/1 for the Lavazza Silver Cup Handicap Chase (3.0 Ascot).
A rating of 140 looks quite lenient here and I was particularly impressed with his success in a competitive handicap chase at Aintree in November, a career best for the nine-year-old.
Most recently, he was going well off today's rating in a similar race at Newbury when unseating his rider four out, and he actually traded at 1/2 in-running having went off at 11/2.
I'm almost sure Evan Williams' gelding has improvement to come, and once again the 5lb his talented jockey Mitchell Bastyan will claim can come in useful.
At Lingfield, Master The World looks a couple of ticks too high around 5/2 in the betting for the Listed Betway Quebec Stakes (1.45).
David Elsworth's gelding seems at home on the artificial surfaces and won at this level here in November. John Gosden's Utmost also has claims although he's failed to follow up his debut success in three attempts.
Occasionally seen on the flat, the Seamus Mullins-trained Fergall is rated 140 for the Racing Welfare Handicap Hurdle (3.35 Ascot) which I reckon leaves a bit of wriggle room.
Last seen when finishing a respectable seventh place in the Galway Hurdle having been left with a lot to do late on, the ten-year-old ran surprisingly well for a 22/1 shot in a Grade Three handicap in May off this rating, in which he would have finished second had he not crashed out.
Charli Parcs also has strong claims here around 5/1 and may go off as favourite but this looks competitive, so a chance is taken each-way on the selection which looks the value horse at 25/1 in the early markets.
1.0 Haydock: Cap Soleil
1.45 Lingfield: Master The World
2.25 Ascot: Unowhatimeanharry
3.0 Ascot: On Tour
3.35 Ascot: Fergall (e/w)