THE late American author, actor and comedian W.C. Fields liked a flutter on the horses now and again but he found that it was notoriously difficult to earn any real money from betting.
Fields once quipped that bookmakers were "pickpockets who allow you to use your own hands" and I must admit I was in agreement with him this time last year when losing half a monkey (€250) on Bobs Worth in the Betfair Chase at Haydock.
I suppose it's natural enough to feel robbed when a 15/8 favourite finishes sixth of eight runners but just to rub salt in the wound, the 9/1 winner Cue Card was one I'd put up here as a horse to watch each-way but didn't actually back on the day, having changed my mind for some reason I can't remember now.
But the good (and sometimes bad) thing about racing is that we get to do it all over again and as it turns out, a number of last year's participants will line up again today (3.0) including Silviniaco Conti, Dynaste and Cue Card - with the last-named most likely to head the betting market.
At 11/4 though, I'm not that keen on Cue Card despite the fact that trainer Colin Tizzard reported the eight-year-old as being on top of his game. The worry is, the gelding missed the latter part of last season after he suffered a pelvic fracture in February, and despite attracting plenty of support on his return in the Haldon Gold Cup, he seemed very laboured to me in fourth, albeit with plenty of weight.
It's reported that he had a wind operation over the summer and I suppose he was entitled to be a little rusty after ten months off - but at the prices, I'd rather keep my money in my wallet until he proves he hasn't lost any ability. At 3/1, Silviniaco Conti gets the nod instead. While Cue Card finished ahead of Paul Nicholls' charge on three occasions, the latest meeting of the pair went Silviniaco Conti's way when the eight-year-old showed plenty of stamina to win the King George at Kempton in fine style.
Although Silviniaco Conti also let favourite backers down badly (including this punter) when well beaten at even money in the Charlie Hall Chase recently, it was made clear beforehand that it was a starting point for the season and Nicholls reckons he's now in great shape heading into today's race.
There's no guarantees Silviniaco Conti will bounce back to form either but if both horses end up battling it out in the final stages, I'd rather take a chance on one which hasn't been absent with injury.
That said, Dynaste (7/2) is not ruled out easily. Second in this race last year, he was well beaten in the King George but returned to form at Cheltenham and took the Ryanair Chase at 3/1.
Later, he was beaten by Silviniaco Conti by less than two lengths when they met in the Betfred Bowl and while it's fair to say that both were not at their best that day, there's not a lot between them on all known form.
As it stands, all three are behind Simonsig in the 2014 King George ante-post betting although that may change after today.
BIG Easy (8/1) might be Philip Hobbs' main hope in the Betfair Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle (2.25 Haydock) but it's interesting to note that he's once again booked conditional jockey Thomas Cheeseman to ride his second string, Uncle Jimmy.
That horse benefited from Cheesman's 7lb claim when rallying late on to come second in a handicap at Aintree last month and a 2lb rise in the weights to 145 is not overly harsh. Take him each way at 20/1.
12.55 Lingfield: Four Seasons
2.05 Ascot: Wishfull Thinking
2.25 Haydock: Uncle Jimmy (e/w)
3.0 Haydock: Silviniaco Conti
5.45 Wolverhampton: Mount Hollow
6.15 Wolverhampton: Desert Ace