THOSE of us who write about horseracing usually start looking at the potential runners a few days in advance and, unless the race in question has a strong ante-post market, we don't always have the luxury of forecast prices available.
But, strangely enough, this has proved beneficial to me as it forced me to learn how to price up races for myself.
If the first thing you do is look at the prices when trying to figure out a race, your judgment will inevitably be clouded when trying to find the most likely winner.
Although it's difficult, pricing up a race from scratch is something I would encourage all readers to try and, once the race is over, it can be very interesting to compare your notes to the industry SPs and also the finishing positions of the horses.
Yesterday morning, I priced up the Guinness Handicap (6.50) and had Dermot Weld's Show Court as a 6/1 shot so I nearly choked on my Coco Pops when the first round of tissue prices were issued which had him down at 20/1.
Not all bookmakers will let you have a bet the day before but some will, so I got on the phone and rang around to see if anyone would bite anywhere near those odds.
Occasionally, you will get your bet on at a great price doing this although lately, I find that bookmakers have become a lot more cautious and now seem to take their lead from the exchanges on the day of the race.
Unfortunately, I didn't get on this time and the second round of forecast prices had him down at 8/1. But that's still a couple of points higher than what I had him priced at so it's a value bet to me.
I guess that some people will be put off by his latest race when last of six runners in a handicap at the Curragh but that was simply a case of shaking off the cobwebs after nine months off and he is best judged on his previous race when second in a good quality handicap at Leopardstown. He's down 1lb to 87 and we should see a rejuvenated animal today.
Panama Hat (4/1) and Egyptian Warrior (5/1) have claims too, while Aidan O'Brien's top-weight El Salvador also catches the eye with Donnacha O'Brien's claim likely to prove useful.
In the following Guinness EBF Maiden (7.25), the O'Brien-trained colt Falkirk (nap) is tipped at 2/1 to see out the mile and a half distance ahead of Weld's filly Massinga (15/8).
He should have won a maiden at Gowran last time and was leading two out, but he carried his head a bit high and seemed to get distracted in the final furlong. His loss was mostly down to inexperience but it was a big improvement on his debut and further progress can be expected today.
5.10: Maxim Gorky
5.40: Bleu Ciel Et Rouge
6.15: Shamiran (e/w)
6.50: Show Court
7.25: Falkirk (nap)
7.55: Botanical Lady
8.25: Shu Lewis