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WALK IN THE PARK; John Shaw's racing betting column in association with.

IF there's a best time to cop a payout on the horses, it's probably the weekend directly before Christmas. The second best time to cop a payout on the horses is, well, any other day.

I sent out my Christmas cards early this year with both my Visa and Mastercard now completely maxed out, so I'm pinning my hopes on backing the winner of today's JLT Reve De Sivola Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.

I've scrutinised the field meticulously trying to find a horse who can take on warm favourite UNOWHATIMEANHARRY and the more I look at the card the more convinced I am that the 7-4 about last year's winner represents terrific value.

The fact that Unowhatimeanharry is trading at near enough the 2-1 mark is largely because of a sub-par performance in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury - a race won by 40-1 shot Beer Goggles.

Had Harry Fry's nine-year-old won that race at the start of this month, then he'd probably be trading at a shade of oddson today.

I can forgive Unowhatimeanharry a bad day at the office and, besides, he gave weight away to all his rivals at Newbury whereas all today's runners will be carrying 11st 7lb back in Grade 1 company.

It's the consistency of Uknowwhatimeanharry that makes him such good value. Before that defeat he'd won 10 of his last 12 races Lil Rockerfeller looks the best of the rest but he was comfortably beaten by my selection in this race last year.

Lil Rockerfeller's best bit of form came when finishing runner-up to Nichols Canyon at Cheltenham with Unowhatimeanharry back in third. But Fry's star then beat Nichols Canyon at Punchestown in his next race with Lil Rockerfeller languishing way back in 10th.

L'Ami Serge, who was second to Lil Rockerfeller in the Coral Hurdle last month, often flatters to deceive and is not one I would want to be backing. The horse who looks a good each-way shot is Thomas Campbell.

I'm thoroughly looking forward to the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day and can't see anything beating Nicky Henderson's MIGHT BITE, who was imperious at Sandown last month.

It will be fascinating to see how he copes with the likely front-running tactics of Bristol De Mai, and how Fox Norton handles the step up in distance.

FAMOUS FIVE

What if there were no hypothetical questions? Here are five of mine

1 Should the Derby have been moved to a Saturday or kept to Wednesday?

2 Royal Ascot or the Cheltenham Festival?

3 Do you, like I, miss the days when the crowds made faces behind John McCririck's back?

4 Favourite Arc memory -- Dancing Brave's late dash, Sea The Stars' effortless run or Indiana Jones shooting that big bloke with the sword?

5 What's your favourite song with a racing theme? No Runner no bet, by Bob Marley, is mine

GAMBLING WISDOM

My mate tells me I'm so obsessed with gambling, I relate everything to playing cards. What a joker.

CAPTION(S):

HE'S A KNOCKOUT Unowhatimeanharry is the model of consistency with 10 wins from his last 12 races

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Article Type:Column
Date:Dec 23, 2017
Words:520
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