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by Roy Brindley |  Published: Jan 01, 2010


Back the Long Shots to Last
I’m finding it difficult to tap away on this month’s contribution to Card Player as the increasingly popular television show, X-Factor, is proving to be an unlikely distraction.
My disdain for all commercially orchestrated music, such as the array of karaoke performers on display before me, remains undiminished but, as stated before in this column, such shows often offer outstanding punting opportunities.

As ever these television shows — listed as ‘novelty markets’ by the bookmakers and numbering the likes of Strictly Come Dancing, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, and Big Brother — have their fair share of no-hopers and, ironically, these are the people that should be backed in the ante-post markets.
Jonathan and Edward
As two young Irish twins, who call themselves Jonathan and Edward and resemble a pair of albino rats nurtured in a laboratory, strut their stuff across the stage in complete discord I’m reaching for to back them to win the competition.

Odds compilers and most impartial viewers may laugh until the pee runs down their ankles but history proves that backing such no-hopers at the outset of these competitions is a proven way to make money.

Hopeless contestants making it through to the latter stages of TV shows is an incongruity that happens time after time and the key to winning money on these markets is backing quirky outsiders at the outset and laying them off at far shorter prices towards the series’ conclusion. Spade Suit

Get the Big Bucks
Now, a selection with genuine winning credentials at a current price which far outweighs the probability of him winning — the Paul Nichols trained Big Bucks in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at next March’s Cheltenham Festival.

Let’s be totally practical, very few sports offer a genuine unforgettable spectacle but the Cheltenham Festival most certainly does. So what better venue to land a life-changing windfall?

It may be several months away but I am looking forward to six minutes of sheer ecstasy that the three mile World Hurdle will surely be for the supporters of the 2009 winner, Big Bucks.

Quite simply there is not a statistic in the book which indicates the defending champion can be beaten and the odds of 2/1 generally available as 2009 draws to a close should be snapped up.

Just consider: Big Bucks is the highest officially rated hurdler in training and he is also unbeaten over hurdles on UK shores. He is attempting to become a dual winner in a race which has thrown up back-to-back winners such as Baracouda and Inglis Drever in recent times.
Big Bucks
Going into the 2010 rendition, Big Bucks will be a seven-year-old, an improving one at that, which bodes well when you consider no four or five-year-old has ever won the race. Similarly there has only been one winner older than nine (Crimson Embers in 1986).

No winner during the last decade has started at odds of over 8/1 and so all the demographics clearly point to a Big Bucks victory, but what about his opponents? In short, there aren’t any.

In 2009 Big Bucks defeated Punchestowns (into second) who is now going novice chasing. Third-placed Powerstation is also running over the bigger obstacles while fourth-placed odds-on favourite Kasbah Bliss will be running exclusively on the flat for the remainder of his career.

This leaves very few contenders from the old guard headed by Fair Along who, admittedly, was impressive on his seasonal debut but was beaten 30 lengths by Big Bucks in last season’s race.

Triumph Hurdle winner, Zaynar, looks to be a staying hurdle star of the future but he only has three national hunt races on his odometer and, most importantly, he will be just five next spring. A doubtful runner worth putting a line straight through.

Fiveforthree, a grade one novice hurdle winner at the 2008 Cheltenham Festival, could be considered. But he beat only trees when scoring over three miles at the Punchestown Festival on his last start and has plenty to find on official figures. Additionally he is Irish trained and no Irish trained horse has won this race in 14 years.

I could go on and on but if you are not sold on Big Bucks now I suggest you find a bookie who will offer odds on the sun rising from the east tomorrow. Spade Suit