Toubab has quality to prove sensible option
ACCORDING to psychologists, January is by far the most depressing month of the year. The holidays are over, the weather is dismal -- and we probably haven't accomplished half of the things we hoped we would in the year just passed.
It's no wonder people feel lonely and sad at this time of the year, but if you think that nobody cares about you, try skipping a few credit card payments and you'll get plenty of attention!
Ah yes, we've the bills to deal with too, but it's not all January doom and gloom as the expected snow at Chepstow on Thursday night turned to rain instead and punters can finally get stuck into the rescheduled Coral Welsh National (1.45), for which the Jonjo O'Neill-trained Synchronised heads the early markets at around 4/1.
I've spent a number of hours on this race, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to leave it to better racing brains than mine as there are at least half a dozen horses that have a serious chance of winning.
Certainly, the favourite has claims. He won the four-mile-two-furlong Midlands National in March at Uttoxeter in a mud-bath, so today's expected soft going over three miles and five furlongs won't cause his connections to lose any sleep.
For his followers, the main problem is his price, which is artificially short due to the AP factor. Bookmakers are playing a cautious game here and know that punters will latch on to the fact that the Welsh National is one of the few big races that McCoy has never won -- a very dangerous situation for layers.
They took a hammering in the Aintree Grand National and don't want to make that mistake with the Antrim native again. Maktu, I'moncloudnine and Magic Sky are others to consider at bigger prices, but I think it's a race best watched and I'll keep my money in the wallet for this.
Instead, I'm going to have a bet in the five-runner Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown (2.40). The jolly, Toubab, is the one to side with here and early odds of 11/10 look like a steal as I expected the Paul Nicholls-trained five-year-old to be odds-on.
The French import's second place to Soldatino in a Grade Two novice hurdle at Kempton back in February is even more impressive given Soldatino has since gone on to win the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.
The Swindon Hurdle at Haydock -- where he wasn't disgraced in fourth -- was very competitive and he looked a confident, more mature animal when winning the Listed Newton Novices' Hurdle at the same venue in November.
I'm confident that he'll leave me queuing outside the payout window in my local bookie shop this afternoon.
I was surprised to see the early markets go as high as 7/1 about Free World in the 32Red Handicap Chase (3.15 Sandown), although that's partly due to the fact that he hasn't won in two years. But he's a consistent sort that's usually thereabouts and will appreciate the return to two miles this afternoon.
1.0 Sandown: Banjaxed Girl
1.10 Chepstow: Sam Winner
2.40 Sandown: Toubab
3.15 Sandown: Free World
Followers of 'The Betting Ring' column had a good start to 2011 last week when the main bet of the day, Tartak, took the Victorchandler.com Chase at Cheltenham, priced at 8/1.
Tom George's charge traded as high as 139/1 in-running on Betfair after a mistake early on, but he finished strongly to deny Carole's Legacy at the line.
The eight-year-old is likely to take in the Ascot Chase in February before heading back to Cheltenham for the Ryanair.