We had a bit of fun back in September putting together a list of five horses that might be worth following this season. The huge caveat that went with it was that by Christmas at least one was sure to have disappeared without trace. At least I got that bit right!
Anyway, with nothing much happening let's have brief look at how the famous five have performed so far.
The star performer. Two wins (4/1 & a well-backed 9/4) and two close seconds from five starts means we have made a decent profit on the Sue Smith novice chaser. Here's what I wrote;
He’s chucked in off a mark of 100 and I expect him to be rated at least 20lbs higher by the spring having picked up at least a couple of chase wins along the way.The seven-year-old has excelled expectations, having already improved 23lbs to a perch of 123. He's had some hard races but there could be another win from him yet. I expected him to revel in a stamina test and yet he's yet to be tried beyond 2m 6f.
Despite his rise in the rankings, he ought to be worth a second look if they opt to send him over 3m next time out.
BEG TO DIFFER
A frustrating start to the season but all may not be lost. He wasn't straight when running with promise behind Feltham runner-up Southfield Royale but I expected much more when he finished only third next behind Aubusson at Uttoxeter.
His finishing effort was again disappointing but perhaps he still needed the run. I did my dough that day but didn't back him next time when he recorded a much better effort in line with his useful hurdles form.
Despite making several minor errors he got round Cheltenham and proved that staying is his game, getting the 3m 2f trip as good as anything behind the progressive winner Perfect Candidate.
I must say I thought they would remain over hurdles with him this season as he has just turned six after all. However, he's a strong horse who seems to jump well in the main.
I'd love to see them reach for cheekpieces. He showed rather lazy tendencies over timber which meant that I felt he hadn't shown his hand to the handicapper. I still think he's potentially much better than his current rating of 133 implies, which is just 5lb above his last winning mark over hurdles.
This horse relishes heavy going and he may yet deliver in a decent handicap over the coming months.
This horse was off for 18 months prior to couple of spins over fences last season. It therefore reflects poorly on this author that the beast ended up in the list. I must have said it a dozen times since starting the blog - don't back horses that have been seriously crocked!
I don't know if there's a more reputable site out there that has run the numbers on horses coming back off a lengthy injury absence, but I suggest that, while some do recapture former glories, fewer than 10 percent return to the winners circle.
There was a horse from the same Lucinda Russell yard that ran the other day called Mysteree. He too is young enough to put an injury behind him, and he looked as good as ever when winning a two-runner affair at Wetherby.
However, from a betting perspective, I'm very wary of horses like this, and while I gave Mysteree every chance of winning the other day, his somewhat tame finish could mean that he is still feeling or remembering something.
I'm no expert in the field of equine injuries. But purely from a punting angle, it's a costly exercise to assume a horse retains all his former ability post-injury. They may travel like they used to, but under the gun, are they willing or able to let themselves down?
As for Revocation, I hope he still has the chance to prove me wrong, although his absence from the track since May suggests he has another problem.
Another yet to be sited this season but I'm hoping upon hope that the shrewd Dianne Sayer outfit have a plan for this big mare in the coming months.
She's shown virtually nothing on the track and has a mark of 80 to reflect that. I just think she's hiding her light under a large bushel. We'll see.
Donald McCain will be hoping 2016 will be as good as 2015 was bad. I was hoping that this staying chase prospect might fly the flag at a low level for the beleaguered trainer but perhaps not.
A solitary outing over an inadequate trip at an unsuitable track was never likely to play to the horse's strengths but the way he stopped just as the race began in earnest suggested something had gone amiss.
That was over a month ago, and I haven't seen an entry for him since. I hope they found something that was ailing him at Sedgefield and that it is only a minor setback. He still has time to regain his upward curve.