Pulling out an early tip
Booking a dentist's appointment for an implant at 10am on Tuesday morning, 14 hours after walking in the door after a heavy-pounding four days at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown, wouldn't be the wisest choice I have ever made.
But I thought I would rather pull teeth than tip a 7/1 chance, ante-post, in a 30-runner handicap hurdle- until along came Mack The Man in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday.
This horse has one serious chance from a handicapping point of view, and that is not where the positives end.
Let's deal with his mark of 130 first, though.
You may think the assessor has had a fair go at catching up with him by raising him 15lb for his Warwick and Sandown successes, but a closer analysis of those formlines suggests he hasn't gone far enough.
He is 15lb higher than for his 2-length Warwick success in November but the runner-up Lightly Squeeze has been raised 28lb since after rattling up a hat-trick and is among the entries here.
The selection was put up 8lb for his heavy-ground 1 3/4 -length Sandown defeat of Protektorat but the second is now 16lb higher after a Cheltenham win and Grade 2 -placing since under a 5lb penalty. And the third, Song For Someone, has gone up a total of 7lb after his second to Thomas Darby at Ascot last time.
All the evidence suggests he could be thrown-in here.
Better ground could suit
I backed and tipped Mack The Man for that Sandown race and I was worried about whether he would find the heavy ground too deep for a lightly-raced 5yo (he was five at the time, obviously).
He proved such concerns were unfounded but the way in which he tanked through that race suggested better ground could well suit. It is currently soft at Newbury but the forecast looks bright and dry until Saturday.
His profile is one of a horse on a steep improvement curve then, and the form of the yard further fills you with confidence.
The Evan Williams yard was chugging along at a strike rate of just 10% in December but they are flying at the moment, with 10 winners since January 21 going into Tuesday's racing at a strike rate of just over 25%.
You may think that taking 7/1 at this stage is a bit hasty considering you will get enhanced place terms on Friday night, too.
But the Betfair Sportsbook are already offering five place to go with the industry-best 7/1 and it isn't out of the realms of possibility that this horse could go off at half the price (in odds, if not percentage, terms) at the weekend.
I tend to laugh at people who quote ten-year betting trends at me, and they clearly have no relevance to the chances and likely odds of Mack The Man on Saturday, but it is a fact that five of the last 10 winners of this race have been 6/1 or less.
Make of that what you will, but I think you have to have Mack The Man on your side at 7s, five places, here.
Not So Sleepy was another horse to do me a favour in December - I know, I will stop slapping my own back now - and I immediately began nibbling away at him for the Champion Hurdle on the exchange after that hugely impressive Ascot win, as well as chucking a few quid on him at 40s each-way on the fixed-odds front.
Part of me - well, all of me - was hoping Hughie Morrison would send him directly to Cheltenham so at least I would get a run for my money, but clearly I think he has to be a major player off 144 here, even if that is 17lb higher than for that Ascot rout.
If he wins, then great, but I think he could have a job on giving a stone to the likes of Mack The Man.
Flegmatik another that catches the eye
Of course, there are another fair few in here you can make a case for, but most of them reside towards the top of the market, notably Oakley.
But I am going for a win-only saver at a much bigger price in the shape of Flegmatik at 26.025/1 or bigger on the exchange.
He is currently 32.031/1 to back, with money available at the immediate lower tiers, but anything about 25/1 or bigger is acceptable.
His trainer described him as more of a chaser after winning at Wetherby last season but I reckon he looks to have more winning to do in this sphere before taking to the bigger obstacles.
Now, it is easy to pick holes in the bare form of his second at Wetherby in November.
The winner has been roundly stuffed in his three subsequent starts, and the third home was no less than the old (but well handicapped, in theory at least) rogue Flying Tiger.
And he went up 2lb for it, too.
But I was taken by how he cruised into the race there - his first after a summer wind op - and Harry Skelton may well have pressed the button sooner if he was given the chance again. As it was he finished off his race really well, and the way he travelled throughout suggests a big field and the expected strong pace will suit him at Newbury on Saturday.
That race was run in a very good time anyway - and the fourth Aristo Du Plessis gave the form a belated boost when winning on Monday, and a further positive is that the fifth home did win at Haydock next time up - so it is certainly not all doom and gloom.
It is interesting that Skelton saw enough at Wetherby to put this horse aside for this hugely valuable race - though, of course, he may have just have had a setback, I suppose - and the potential is clearly there after just four starts over hurdles.
And I also love the fact that Dan Skelton, who knows what he is doing when being patient in 2m handicap hurdles, didn't mention the horse in any stable tours he did earlier in the season!
Silence could well be golden.
I was keen to get the Betfair Hurdle piece out there, especially as I fear that 7s Mack The Man will go, but I will be back on Wednesday morning with a further look at the other weekend ante-post races.