Romain De Senam can sneak place from bottom of weights
Terrence Murphy, an American poker writer, also known as VP Pappy, once said: "A gambler never makes the same mistake twice. It's usually three or more times."
Having settled on the Paul Nicholls-trained Romain De Senam for this afternoon's Grade Three Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Cheltenham (1.55), I'm a bit worried I'll be one of those gamblers that prove Murphy's words are true.
I backed Romain De Senam a couple of times unsuccessfully over the last few years - including last time out in the BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase at the November meeting here in which he unseated his rider, so perhaps I should take the hint.
He's becoming quite frustrating to follow but his early odds of 20/1 are just too tempting to ignore each-way, and I reckon he's got a fair chance of at least landing one of the places in this 15-runner field, rated 137.
Before last month's appearance at Cheltenham, he raced a little too freely in a handicap chase at Aintree off a rating of 138, eventually finishing third.
Having only made it as far as the first fence last time, he's down 1lb for today.
He's now gone seven races without a win so I can see why the market is discounting him, but it's worth remembering that he did win a race in the past off 139 and I feel he's been somewhat unlucky in a number of his outings since.
Fifth in this last year off 145, the hood is back on which his trainer feels helps him to relax in the early stages, and Nicholls has said before that if he can get into an end-to-end gallop on reasonably good ground, he can use his finishing kick to his advantage.
I'm hoping he gets that here, although as readers will have gathered by now, this is a rather speculative bet so I'm not going mad with my stakes.
Nicholls also saddles Frodon, which was second to another one of today's rivals Baron Alco in the aforementioned BetVictor Gold Cup.
Priced around 8/1 at the time of writing, Frodon won the Old Roan Chase at Aintree in October and is a genuine sort that continues to go well under big weights.
He's got plenty of talent in this sphere, having found himself out of his depth in Grade One company last season, although the top-weight burden of 11st 12lbs from a rating of 164 will make life difficult here.
Baron Alco trades a bit lower at 6/1 and is up 6lbs to 152 for last month's success. Gary Moore's seven-year-old is another reliable sort that always gives you a good run for your money, and he's finished in the top two in his last seven races.
He's got more to come before the handicapper catches up on him, and I'll be quite surprised if he's not thereabouts.
It looks like Nicky Henderson's Rather Be will go off as favourite. He was going well in the BetVictor Gold Cup before being brought down, and he remains on what seems to be a lenient rating of 149 this afternoon.
Henderson said he came out of the race well and has completed some nice schooling since, although at a price of 3/1 early doors, bookmakers are taking no chances on the seven-year-old.
Nicky Richards' Guitar Pete is also worth a mention having won this race last year off 3lbs lower.
Third behind Baron Alco and Frodon in the BetVictor Gold Cup, he's racing off 137 once again which puts him at the bottom of the weights at 10st alongside Foxtail Hill and Romain De Senam.
It was announced on Thursday that Willie Mullins's Laurina would not be sent to Cheltenham for today's Grade Two Unibet International Hurdle (3.05), a lack of rain being the reason.
She's a really exciting mare and I'm looking forward to seeing her again but in her absence, I'm going to side with Tom George's Summerville Boy, which is expected to go off around 5/2.
While he could only manage fourth place of five in the Fighting Fifth last time, he looked in need of the run - and based on his victory in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham, he's worth another chance stepped back down in grade.
It would be great to see The New One run a big race for Nigel Twiston-Davies. Now aged 10, he made no impression on his seasonal debut at Ffos Las back in October but he's been a fantastic servant to connections down through the years, winning 20 races including this contest no less than three times.
If he doesn't show much sparkle this afternoon, there's a chance his retirement will be announced.