To start I thought I would give a quick mention to what is by far the most important event of the day and one that has ensured I’ll be a bag of nerves all afternoon.
My beloved Arsenal return to the Nou Camp this evening, scene of their 4-1 humiliation last April and I’m not sure I could endure a similar result this time around.
I’m managing to cling on to some hope. I think we are a considerably better side this year and I can’t see us being bossed in the middle of the park in the same way as last time. Both Fabregas and Wilshere are fit and they are certainly an improvement on the midfield line up from April 2010.
I can’t honestly say that I am feeling confident of an Arsenal win (though the Totesport quote of 17/2 seems way,way out of line, I can’t bet in an Arsenal game on principal ) but one thing is for sure, Barcelona are substantially weakened by the absence of Puyol and Pique . The importance of Puyol to Barcelona cannot be overestimated. They are not the same side without him and I personally feel (despite him having the worst hair in football and the kind of face that would make a mother cry) he’s the best centre half in the world bar none. Busquets and Abidal certainly doesn’t have the same ring to it as Puyol and Pique and I can’t help but feel that Arsenal can take advantage.
Whatever happens and whoever goes through (please, please, please let it be Arsenal) I can see it being a real goal – fest again and the 1.5 on Betfair for overs looks like buying money to me (though, as I have said, I will not bet on Arsenal games). The 2.3 for over 3.5 goals looks like value as well.
COME ON ARSENAL!!!!!!!!!!!
This time next week the Festival will be underway and the Champion Hurdle contenders will be circling down at the start. I will be glued to the television ready to cheer Peddlers Cross to victory. Should he win, I am guaranteed to turn a profit on the festival whatever happens in the final 3 days and I’m pretty sure I’ll break even as long as he places. Unfortunately, he’s not my idea of a banker despite him being by far my largest ante- post ticket. He was a pure value call at the 20/1 in the autumn – that more than priced in the doubts over the Champion being his ultimate target – doubts which I knew to be unfounded 😉 ! That being said I think he’s still progressive, we haven’t seen the best of him yet and I’m confident of a bold bid.
For my banker, we have to look forward to Wednesday and the RSA Chase.
It’s not particularly original but I struggle to see Time for Rupert not winning this and even 9/4 looks big. I had hoped that Paul Webber would let Rupert take his chances in the Gold Cup but it’s not to be. I could see him having them all at it coming up the hill in the Gold Cup so, for me, he’s a stone cold banker in the RSA chase.
I’ll return to the Festival in a post later this week but I’m aware that I’m only adding to the general hubbub that surrounds the event and that’s something I’m not particularly keen on. I posted my thoughts on Cheltenham in general around this time last year and you can read that post here if you’ve a mind to.
Final word goes to the other code. Before we know it the Flat season will be upon us and that point was further hammered home to me by the fact that a horse I own a share of is running in the Lincoln trial at Wolverhampton on Saturday. The Lincoln itself is only 3 and a half weeks away and I plan to be at Doncaster this year. Let’s just hope that my horse, Charlie Cool, sees fit to join me there! I haven’t decided what I will be putting in the first half of the spring double yet but, as I told you last week, Backstage will be filling the second berth on my ticket.
Have a great week