You have to feel for Kempton, and for National Hunt fans and racegoers in general, with the size of some of these big-race fields for their two-day meeting over Christmas.
Just six apiece in the Grade 1 Kauto Star novices' chase and Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day, and a mere five in both of the Grade 2s 24 hours later, and Shishkin is by no means a certain starter in the Desert Orchid Chase.
I know we can all go overboard at times, but these really are very worrying times for the health and depth of the sport towards the top end, and more prize money being thrown at it isn't going to magically see credible contenders materialise in the short term. Or maybe even in the longer haul.
Anyway, that chat can wait for a later date, or a Weighed In special.
Why you should back the Boy
I can easily leave the small-field Graded races alone - on both days - and I am going to keep this piece short and snappy for once, and concentrate on one horse in the 2m4f110yd handicap chase at Kempton on Boxing Day(1.20pm).
Back Danny Kirwan at 8/1 each way, three places, with the Betfair Sportsbook.
He is a bet at 6s and upwards. In fact, 6s is still very fair.
The reason why this 15-runner handicap is so attractive from a punting point of view is that it has the capacity to cut up badly, and Danny Kirwan looks sure to run, health and fitness permitting.
The win machines Minella Trump and Scene Not Herd are high up in the betting but they are due to run at Ludlow on Wednesday.
And, of the others, Solo is pencilled in for the five-runner Wayward Lad at Kempton on December 27, a race in which Raya Time and Sebastopol are also entered. Given the paucity of runners in that Grade 2 (which offers £29k+ to the winner), you would think that all three are likely to take in that race as opposed to this handicap (just over £11k to the winner).
Jacamar is also entered at Chepstow, and Patroclus and Your Darling also have alternative engagements at Wetherby. And will Patroclus' trainer, Nicky Henderson, run both of his other entries, Bothwell Bridge and Mister Coffey (punted from an early 10/1 in the marketplace), against each other?
Probably but not a definite.
No, I think Danny Kirwan is definitely the way to go, especially as Solo (in the same ownership, as well as the stable) surely goes for the Grade 2 above, a day later. Harry Cobden is already jocked up, too.
Everything looks in place for a big run.
He reappeared to finish an excellent second of five off this mark at Cheltenham, his first start after a wind op and on his chasing debut, and that was despite jumping out markedly to his right.
I reckon he will benefit to returning to a right-handed track, the configuration of his three wins under rules to date, and he won't mind either way if the forecast rain arrives, as he has winning form on good and soft.
And that Cheltenham second has worked out very well. Or, at the very least, well enough.
The winner won a match next time before being pulled up when favourite at Aintree, the fourth beat the third on their following starts, and the fifth has since landed a punt in a Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham.
Off the same mark, this winning pointer (one from one in that sphere), looks a bet, all right, for all he has had issues in the past and has been a touch in-and-out as a result.
If you are punting in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby, be aware that the current weather forecast suggests it is going to be heavy, and then some.
I'll wait for the overnight declarations on Thursday before I tackle that one.
TornadoFlyer at 33/1 each way in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day (15:05).