Wayne Bailey: 'Buckler's forgotten 'Flow' is one to remember at Uttoxeter'
Serendipity, the word used to describe a chance occurrence that's happy or beneficial, was coined by the English writer Horace Walpole in 1754, who based it on an ancient fairytale called 'The Three Princes of Serendip'.
Serendip is the old Persian name for Sri Lanka and, in the tale, the princes were "always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of."
On Tuesday, I bumped into an old family friend by the name of Morty Donovan, who, just like my mother, is from Eden Villas in Glasthule - known locally as the 101 (that's how many houses are there). A place which produced many characters.
We had a pint, as you do when you meet someone you only see about once every five or ten years, and when he began to slag me about last Saturday's 'Betting Ring' column, in which I had a woeful day without a single winner, I was half thinking I should have stayed at home.
But you have to have a thick skin in this game, and we eventually got chatting about Cheltenham, as he knows a thing or two about the horses. That's where bumping into him became a serendipitous event, as he asked me my thoughts on Frodon for the Ryanair Chase, a horse he likes.
To be honest, I was 90pc sure I was going to back Un De Sceaux or Footpad, but when I went home that evening and watched a few re-runs of Frodon's races, I began to reassess. Luckily, I changed my mind on Mullins' horses, backed Frodon, and won a nice few bob on Thursday under Bryony Frost. And while I've no idea if my friend backed Paul Nicholls' gelding himself, I'll buy him a pint the next time I see him - which may be in another five or ten years.
Morty told me he doesn't like favourites, so he's unlikely to take my advice today and back The Captains Inn for the Marston's Brewery Novices' Hurdle (4.10 Uttoxeter), but I reckon he's decent value around 2/1 on this Saturday after Cheltenham, always a bit of a strange, anticlimactic day.
Trained by Ben Pauling, he was a runner-up in an Irish point-to-point at Lingstown last year, and while he only managed sixth of 14 in his debut under rules in a Warwick bumper in December following market support, he raced much better than expected when winning a Leicester novice in some style at 20/1 last time.
He's surely got more to come, and should be able to see off Back On The Lash, which won a novice at Ludlow back in January.
In the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter (3.35), last year's winner Regal Flow is getting overlooked in the markets around 33/1, making him a viable each-way option. Now rated 138, he was 9lbs lower when scoring for trainer Bob Buckler last year.
On that occasion, he defied a 6lb penalty for a previous win at Taunton, put in a fantastic round of jumping, and won by ten lengths. He's raced a few times since, mostly in handicaps while rated in the 140s, which was simply too high.
He was third of eight runners off 137 on Monday, also at Taunton, and while he's not quite in the same form as last year, he wasn't disgraced either and it was an improvement on some recent runs.
He's now 12 which is of some concern as the last horse of that age to win was Knock Hill in 1988, although in fairness there hasn't been too many 12-year-olds taking part. A little bit of improvement before today is encouraging, and the negatives are built into his price, making it a good deal.
Do the double
I’ll be happy to take even-money for Darling Du Large in the Sun Racing Download The App Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Newcastle (2.0). Tom George’s six-year-old showed reasonable form in bumpers, but was a little keen on her hurdling debut, finishing third. She seemed more settled when also finishing third in her latest novice race at Exeter, won by Epatante which finished mid-division in the Dawn Run Mares’ race at Cheltenham. She’ll improve with experience.
Stoke look a good bet at home around 5/6 to beat Reading in the Championship. Reading are five from the bottom and were well beaten by Leeds on Tuesday, leaving them priced 2/1 for relegation. While the Potters sit just three places ahead and have won only once in six matches, the remaining games were draws so they’ve been at least holding their own and have been somewhat consistent.
2.00 Newcastle: Darling Du Large
3.00 Uttoxeter: Stowaway Magic (e/w)
3.35 Uttoxeter: Regal Flow (e/w)
3.50 Kempton: Darling Maltaix
4.10 Uttoxeter: The Captains Inn
5.50 Uttoxeter: The Cob