HARD to believe that the Festive Season is just two months away. That thought sprung to mind over Sunday lunch when my daughter, Jade, chirped up: “Hey, Dad, can we go to Plett at Christmas – we used to go nearly every year?” “Sorry, daught, it’s been a tough year for your Dad so I think we’ll be staying at home,” was my reply.

“But, Dad, all you’ve got to do is find one of your overseas horses and whack it!”

That got me thinking. A nice double to get me out of trouble – and it could come as early as next weekend. So here we go with two of our four-legged friends – and both are at attractive prices.

SIDONIE – Opened at 8-1 for the Joburg Spring Fillies & Mares Stakes at Turffontein on Saturday.

SOTTSASS – Currently 7-1 for the Arc de Triomphe in Paris 24 hours later on Sunday.

Now I’m still kicking myself for not taking the opening price of 3-1 about Sidonie for her debut a week last Saturday. She hails from a top stud (Lammerskraal) and is a half-sister to one of my favourite horses, Pilou.

I awaited Sean Tarry’s comment to Bonski on Tellytrack on Saturday morning, but the champion trainer appeared to have some reservations about the inside track. We know the result – the daughter of Dynasty romped in by nine lengths.

I read in Turftalk that it’s now compulsory for Cape trainers to give comments on first-timers etc, and I think the likes of Justin Snaith, Candice BassRobinson and my old buddy, Vaughan Marshall, will try to steer punters in the right direction.

However, a good early Christmas present would be some trainer to say “Tell punters to put the house on him”. OK, some get beat, but – like being a Boris Johnson fan which I am – you’ve given your view and backers can listen to you or not.

Wondering where Lammerskraal found the name Sidonie, I googled it and it’s a girl’s name of French, Latin origin and is someone who is charming, witty and a bit “goofy”.

There was nothing “goofy” about the decision of Lammerskaal boss, Peter Graaff, not to send Sidonie to the sales and it might be worthwhile if he and one of the best managers in the country, Sally Bruss, made the trip to Turffontein on Saturday.

Paul Peter – a Joe Cocker “Hats Off” to him for currently leading the trainers log – runs the 5-2 favourite, Vistula. But, in my book, there’s more chance of CNN saying something nice about President Donald Trump than
her giving seven kilos and a beating to Sidonie.

Now as far as the Arc on Sunday is concerned, I’m taking on one of the most popular horses in the world, Enable. She’s the darling of thousands of racing fans and rightly so after another great win at York in August.

It’s worth listening to the words of top trainer, John Gosden. He told reporters “It’s shaping up to be a proper Arc which is what you want. Enable is a slightly silly price (7-10) and that doesn’t reflect the quality of the opposition.”

“Certainly Japan I’ve mentioned as a danger and I thought he was impressive the way he quickened up in the Juddmonte International. Then there is Sottsass who I thought put in the best performance of the year by a three year-old when winning the Prix du Jockey Club.”

“Then add in Ghaiyyatt who destroyed his field in Germany – a horse like him and Waldgeist we should not underestimate.”

Enable worked on Warren Hill in Newmarket last Wednesday and Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for the filly’s owner Khalid Abdullah, said: “It was a good solid piece of work and just what everyone wanted to see. Frankie (Dettori) was happy with her.”

It’s Gosden’s view on Sottsass which got me thinking there’s a big chance of the French keeping the prize at home. Being a three-year-old, he gets the weight-forage allowance and also doesn’t have to travel.

Probably a safer way to bet would be to couple Enable and Sottsass in the exacta – Frankie will again be giving it all he’s got to ensure the superstar filly retires on a winning note.

Even so – with thoughts of the beach in Plett – I’ll be getting hold of the best bookie clerk in the country – Eric who works for Lance Michael. “A double please Eric – Sidonie and Sottsass – should be around 75-1.”

As far as the international side for the November meeting is concerned, Larry Wainstein has done well to get two of the UK’s top riders, Andrea Atzeni and Paul Hannigan, to make the trip.

Although Frankie Dettori loves SA (particularly Mala Mala), he’s had another great year and has probably earned more than many of the overpaid Premier League footballers. Pretty impossible to tie him down to another trip here without a considerable incentive.

Nevertheless, Atzeni is also Italian and hails from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia – I’ve been there and it’s got great beaches and parma ham! He doesn’t come from a racing family – his father was a farmer and mother a dentist yet he made it to the UK and is now in the top flight of jockeys.

Any trainer who draws Paul Hannigan for their runners should be happy as the now Malton-based rider demonstrates his talent time and again – mainly for his retained stable, Richard Fahey. He’ll prove a tough opponent for the SA side.

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