It will be a test of the British and Irish economies to see how much punters lay out at next week's Cheltenham Festival.
Cheltenham is always an escape from drudgery and winter blues, but even in its centenary year, Austerity and Restraint will be among the front-runners.
What punters most need are a few "bankers" to shore up their reserves – Cue Card (Supreme Novices' Hurdle), Quevega (Mares' Hurdle), Time For Rupert (RSA Chase) and Big Buck's (World Hurdle), are short-priced favourites, best-priced at 9-4, evens, 9-4 and 5-4 respectively. I wouldn't try to put anybody off these four but the number of successful bankers at the Festival is usually no more than two.
In any case I'm going for Spirit Son (6-1) in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and Wymott (12-1) in the RSA Chase. Ghizao, winner of The Independent Novices' Chase in November, can continue "our" race's traditions by taking the Arkle Trophy (4-1) on Tuesday, while the Champion Hurdle can go to Peddlers Cross (6-1).
In the other three legs of the "blue riband" races, I fancy Sizing Europe (10-1) for the Champion Chase; Mourad (still 12-1 with 32Red) can come good in the World Hurdle; and Imperial Commander (7-2) could retain the Gold Cup.
If there's any money left by Friday, a few quid can go on Unaccompanied (7-1) in the Triumph Hurdle and the Ebor winner Dirar in the County Hurdle (11-1).Reuse content