For most people autumn is signalled by falling leaves and darkening skies. For punters it is the arrival of the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket today.
As a lad, supporting Liverpool City RLFC, autumn was when the season started, with Hunslet heading into the cauldron of Knotty Ash stadium. These days "League" is a summer sport, reaching its climax this evening, the Grand Final.
Just like last year, it is St Helens against Leeds, with the latter hoping for a repeat – they finished second to Saints in the League, got beaten by them in a play-off, then ambushed them in the Grand Final, 33-6. This year, Saints again finished top and thrashed Leeds 38-10 in the play-off only to see the Rhinos get through by beating Wigan. Saints are odds-on favourites, 4-9 outright at William Hill, with the Rhinos best-priced at 27-10 (Totesport). Saints powered their way to the Leader's Shield with a long unbeaten run after a shaky start and I'm backing them on the handicap: £10 win (-8pts) at evens, Bet365.
With 35 runners on the bleak expanse of Newmarket's Rowley Mile, the Cambridgeshire can resemble a Mongolian horde, and it often terrifies the bookies. They will fear the runners of two wizards of the handicap Luca Cumani (Swop, Ask The Butler) and Sir Mark Prescott (Master Of Arts, Caravel). I'm with Yaddree (£10 win, 10-1, general) and Ada River (£5 each-way, 25-1 Paddy Power). Twenty euro go on Vision D'Etat (8-1) in the Arc at ultra-chic Longchamp tomorrow – me, I'm off to autumnal Wincanton on Thursday.
*Last week, Flipando was done by the draw and watered going at Ascot, while Nick Heidfeld won points in Singapore but not enough for a return.Reuse content