Thursday, 24 October 2013

Will Armageddon Spoil The Picnic?

According to the newspapers last weekend, scientists have predicted that a giant asteroid could collide with Earth on 26th August, 2032, just two days before the start of Cartmel’s August Bank Holiday weekend meeting. 

The rock, which is 1,345 feet across (about two furlongs – or the distance between the grandstand and the Cartmel scout-hut, for those with a good knowledge of local geography), could cause an explosion fifty times as forceful as the most powerful nuclear bomb. This will obviously be bad news for racegoers and could spoil a lot of picnics. I thought it only fair to warn you, as Cartmel customers are renowned for booking their tickets and accommodation very early. 

So how likely is it that the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory, located in southern Ukraine, have got this wrong? Astronomers in Italy, Spain, Britain and Russia have confirmed the presence of the rock, although the consensus is that the chances of it actually hitting us are about 63,000–1. I regularly place bets with odds of similar probability, so I’m not sure how much comfort to take from this. However, I have devised a little test. 

I suggest that you place a £1 accumulator bet on the following four horses running in Grade 1 races later this season:
  • Captain Chris  at 25/1 in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day – a great price about a horse who is sure to be aimed at the race and will be there or thereabouts.
  • The New One at 4/1 for the Champion Hurdle in March – skinny price, but he has already been out and advertised his championship claims this season. 
  • First Lieutenant at 14/1 for the Gold Cup, also in March – slightly disappointing on his recent seasonal debut, but will be trained with Cheltenham in mind.
  • The Knoxs at 33/1 for the Grand National in April – you might have to ask for a special ‘quote’ from your bookmaker on this one, but he was bought a few months ago by the connections of last year’s National winner and will surely be trained for the race. 
The combined odds are slightly more than the chances of being hit by the rock from outer-space, so if they all win we should start to get worried. Although if they do all win, we can have a big party and forget about Armageddon for a while – we should have at least another 131 racedays at Cartmel before the meteor strikes.

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