Brendan Duke: There are always winners to be had if carefully selected

It wasn't going too well for Dukey over Christmas - but some inspired punting put him back in the game ...


Christmas all boxed off for another year. I shall remember it with particular fondness, for it delivered onto me a minor miracle. For three days I bounded into Leopardstown. After each day I traipsed out.

A succession of losers taking its toll. Occasional dips into foreign betting waters fared no better. England and Wales were wagering wastelands. On the fourth day I rose with a muddled head. Wedding celebrations, not mine, the previous night had seen me awake into the wee hours.

I hummed and hawed about whether to go racing. Ultimately the masochist in me prevailed. I would see this financial fiasco out to the bitter end. There was certainly no bounding in this time. The first man I met, a school teacher, offered me his sunglasses. He feared my haunted and bleary eyes would frighten small children.

The first horse I backed lost. Of course it did, everything I backed that week lost. Then, scenes…

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Unprecedented, scarcely believable scenes. Two 8/1 winners, and a 14/1 winner, in the space of four bets. All losses recouped, with interest, in less than two hours. Just variance of course, but try telling me that. I feel invincible.

So much action over the Christmas that I’d be here all day analysing it fully.

Here’s my brief summary. Carnage for those who like shorties. Buveur D’Air, Santini, Getabird, Adjali and Kalasnikov. All I fancied, all were chinned. Buveur didn’t jump great. He’s usually very accurate, and is still the one to beat at Cheltenham.

Santini was undone by a surprisingly pedestrian gallop. He too will take plenty of beating in the RSA Chase next March.

Footpad looked all over a winner, until nabbed close home by Simply Ned under an inspired Mark Walsh. The King George VI Chase fell asunder. Thistlecrack jumped about as well as he can though.

That gives hope that Clan Des Obeaux could be for real. Jockey Harry Cobden is definitely for real. A rare talent. Kemboy won the Savills Chase. Another race run at a crawl. A triumph of initiative for David Mullins. Not form to trust. Altior won. He jumped particularly well. He’s a pure joy to watch.

On the cusp of 2019, a man’s thoughts turn to resolutions. Mine are learning how to breathe properly while swimming. A man of my years needs to put away childish things.

Needs to accept that developing gills is a pipe dream. Also to back more winners!


Finally, a Festival tip for the New Year. Carefully Selected had a couple of entries over Christmas. He didn’t take up either engagement.

He’s still entered in the Grade 1 at Naas on Sunday. It’s unlikely he will start his season there. He will surely run somewhere in the next couple of weeks though. Paddy are 20/1 for the 3m Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. That’s a price worth taking.

He shapes like a horse that wants a true test of stamina. His proven Cheltenham form is a big plus. He will ultimately want fences but will take plenty of stopping over hurdles.

There is a chance he will be targeted at the 2m 5f Ballymore Novices Hurdle. I’m fairly confident that they will look at the stiffer stamina test though of the Albert Bartlett. At 20/1 it’s a risk worth taking.

*Prices correct at time of publishing

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What do you think?