Stand by for another Frankel tour de force
Even the mighty can be humbled at York - just ask old timers about Brigadier Gerard's shock defeat on this day in 1972 - and there comes a price on Betfair at which every horse is opposable.
But is it worth opposing Frankel at around 1.171/6 as he bids to extend his unbeaten run in the Juddmonte International Stakes at 15:40?
On balance, the answer has to be no. Every horse can have an off day and Frankel faces a trip 30 per cent in excess of anything he has tackled before. However, this astonishing colt has now won eight Group 1 contests by a total of 42 lengths and relaxes in a manner which gives him excellent prospects of staying middle distances.
Windsor Palace and Robin Hood look set to set stern fractions in the hope of boosting the chances of stablemate St Nicholas Abbey.
And St Nick is a very obvious favourite in Betfair's "without Frankel" market, but I'm in no mood to oppose Frankel.
Indeed, both the fan and the rational analyst in me suspects that a searching pace could lay the foundation for Frankel to lay down a performance which will be talked about for as long as racing folk continue to gather on the Knavesmire.
* * *
Chippendale to give Moore an armchair ride in the Voltigeur
Compelling races don't always throw up strong betting angles and I must admit I'm struggling slightly with a knotty renewal of the Great Voltigeur Stakes at 15:05.
In-play punters will be well aware that Thought Worthy is the likeliest pace setter and his price could contract accordingly in the run, while the Derby runner-up Main Sequence is clear top rated on Timeform and deserves to be favourite.
However, don't rule out Thomas Chippendale by any means. This colt has really blossomed in the last two months. A 3lb penalty incurred for wearing down Noble Mission and Thought Worthy in Ascot's King Edward VII Stakes prevents me from going overboard, but his smooth travelling style and the presence of Ryan Moore in the irons for the first time give him some back-to-lay mileage at 5.04/1 and bigger.
* * *
Western to have eyes on the staying prize
Now to the best back-to-lay angles on the day one card.
And Western Prize looms large among them in the 16:15. Ralph Beckett's gelding is far less exposed than most of this field and has caught the eye on both his last two starts, winning snugly in a Salisbury handicap which has worked out well then coming home strongly having conceded first run to the highly progressive Montaser on his debut over two miles at Ascot.
A 4lb rise looks very fair and Western Prize is the type of progressive, smooth traveller who looks sure to travel well and run a very bold race.
Sir John Hawkwood is another improver with plenty to recommend him in the finale at 16:50.
Sir Michael Stoute's colt got stuck in the mud over a mile when well fancied at Newmarket's July meeting but looked a completely different horse back at a mile and a quarter there on his latest start, shrugging off some minor traffic trouble to win a well-contested handicap with real authority.
Hajras looks a big danger having quickened well to overcome a moderate tactical; ride at Ascot, but Sir John Hawkwood still looks open to improvement and I'll be very surprised if he isn't still well treated from a 6lb higher mark.
Last but not least on day one, a quick line on the enigmatic Mass Rally in a brutally competitive opener at 14:00.
Very few horses can travel with the swagger this gelding displays in the heat of big sprint handicaps. Sealing the deal has proved tricky - and he might well say "after you Claude" if things get really tough - but Mass Rally has a hood to accompany his usual blinkers this time and it will come as no surprise to see him breezing along and trading fairly short as they charge past the furlong pole.
Back Mass Rally in the 14:00 and lay off at 4.03/1 and 2.01/1 in-running
Back Thomas Chippendale in the 15:05 and lay off at 3.02/1 in-running
Back Western Prize in the 16:15 and lay off at 3.02/1 in-running
Back Sir John Hawkwood in the 16:50 and lay off at 3.02/1 in-running